Monday 31 January 2011

Busy Weekend and a Blister.

So as mentioned in my previous post, Friday was 'Payday Pub Friday' and as Himself gets on well with many of my collegues he came in to meet us for a drink or two.

The venue = The Lamb and Flag in Oxford. On the plus side they serve real ale at good prices which is a miracle for Oxford where any drink prices are sky high.. On the downside it gets packed to the rafters in term time and they don't serve food.

We had a great night and thankfully some sense did prevail for I turned down the offer of more beer and we headed home on the 11.05pm train. As often happens when it is a beautiful starlit night we had an animated discussion on the way home about various constellations. We are both pretty rubbish on them, other than the ones everyone knows like Orion and The Plough. I have bought Himself a book and my Dad (who was a navigator in the R.A.F back in the days when you used charts and stars to find your way!) has tried to teach, but for some reason the information won't stay put!

Saturday I crawlwed out of bed feeling a tad delicate.

One too many of these the night before you see, thank god I refused any more. Thankfully aspirin, tea, a hot shower and an episode of 'Snog Marry Avoid' on the i-player did the trick, for I had a date with Tescos and there really is nothing worse than a food store on a saturday when you are feeling rough.
I was after ingredients for some Millionaires Shortbread, my contribution to a girls tea party on sunday afternoon.
Sadly mine did not turn out quite as picture perfect as the above ones, but it was yummy so who cares? It was lovely to get a bit glammed up and head out for the afternoon on Sunday, as you know I am usually very dressed down for work. I had a 60's vibe going on with a pinafore dress, purple leopard print cardigan, bouffant hair with a daisy hairband and long boots.Sorry no picture, I know I'm rubbish!
There were 8 of us in all, feasting on my shortbread and also brownies, chocolate and beetroot cake, flapjacks and chocolate orange cupcakes. The January diet thing? I'll start again in February!
I have a 15 minute walk to and from the train station and yesterday I decided to wear my much loved black leather knee high lace-up boots. I have had them over 20 years now and they were the first real purchase I made when I started this job. They cost me £50 and my Mother nearly died at the price. I didn't like to tell her they were in the sale and should have been £100! An awful lot for a pair of boots in those days but they did come from a very posh shop. I have worn the loads over the years and they still look as good as new.

Sadly not only are my calves are not as slim as they were 20 years ago, so they don't lace-up as tight as they used too! They also gave me the most massive blister on my right foot :-(
That has never happened before, they are usually blissfully comfortable so I am really fed-up. Can eating cake give you fat heels? Lets hope not!

Friday 28 January 2011

Happy Hair and a Plug for My Sister-in-Law.

Yesterday my hairdresser, who is also my sister-in-law finally managed to fit me into her manic work diary for a cut and more importantly a colour. The downside of having a successful hairdresser in the family is that she won't let anyone else do my hair but she also never quite has the time to fit me in. Having just complained about her being too busy;
Here follows my unashamed plug for my lovely sister-in-law Caron!

Last year prompted by the shocking treatment a dear friend of hers got from the local NHS recommended wig supplier Caron decided something should be done to improve the service. She was recommended Trevor Sorbie and his My New Hair project and immediatly went and signed up.
Fitting and cutting wigs is completely different to standard hairdressing and she had to go back to basics and retrain, which she did, and passed with flying colours. she is now Trevor's representative in the Oxfordshire area and here is her Long for Hair website, written by my brother and designed by Himself. All I did by way of getting involved was try on lots of different wigs. lol
Luckily for us she still hairdresses and I am often a guinea pig for new ranges of colours, foiling techniques etc which is only fair I guess as she doesn't charge me other than for the product. Lets just say some have been more succesful than others......

Anyways inspired by Landgirl1980's post. I thought I would share a few hairstyles from over the years, prepare to be amused/horrified.


This is me at sweet 16 about to go and see Motley Crue with my brother. I have included this to show not only a first and very bad attempt at backcombing but because I am wearing a vintage mens blue silk dressing gown! Even when being a hair metal fan I wore vintage :-) Sorry the picture is a bit dark.

As you can see the 80's rock chick hair is progressing, shame this is from the side and not the front really. believe it or not after this it got taller, wider and much blonder....oh yes!

This picture is for 2 reasons. Firstly I had thought it was only in the last couple of years that I had FINALLY accepted I have curly hair and embraced the fact. Yet here is a picture of me from the early 90's with my hair in it's natural state of curl and I'm still smiling!?! The second reason is because I have my 'almost antique' waistcoat on(as mentioned in earlier post about dinner jacket) not that you can really see it that well.

Years of abuse and a hairdressing salon disaster lead to my hair having to be cut as it was snapping off and falling out EEK. My hair is really fine anyway so it was not a good combination.

Still trying to believe I had long hair when I didn't. It was in a shocking, shocking condition here Note Himself with the kind of hair I have always wanted, though I'd have had a fringe/bangs with it.

Finally admited defeat and had it all cut off. I had  to have tricologist treatment, it was a couple of years before I could even have it coloured the condition was so poor. This is the colour I decided on when I was allowed. I wanted a change and to hide the grey that was creeping in at an alarming rate.

At the moment it's the longest it has been in years and a kind of golden brown with blonde highlights. No recent picture but as today is Payday Pub Friday and also a friends birthday there may be something to share later!

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Tartan Feet for Burns Night.

Prompted by this post by Penny Dreadful Vintage I went in hunt of my tartan boots to wear in honour of Burns Night! I did finally locate my Docs in the bottom of number 2 wardrobe in a sealed plastic container

along side them where the long red leather pair I had completely forgotten I had!

I think it is about time I sorted my footwear out again..........

As I mentioned in a much older post we have a damp/mould problem in this house. As we are only renting there isn't a lot we can do about it except keep the rooms ventilated, keep the wardrobes ajar and away from exterior walls. After living in the house about 18 months with none of the above in place I discovered my lovely Tartan Docs were covered in mildew along with most of my other shoes and handbags, so was anything wicker, the curtains, some bedding......oh the list goes on.
I was heartbroken at the things that I had to throw away because they were beyond salvation. Bleach and Milton's Fluid became my best friends. Now I couldn't bleach my Docs as they are fabric, so I took the chance and gently scrubbed them with a toothbrush dipped in a solution of Milton's which is a much milder bleach. This could still have taken the colour out but I figured I had nothing to loose as I would only have to throw them out anyway if it didn't work. Thankfully as you can see they survived!

 As did my paisley fabric pair much to my relief. I think the things I am sadest about losing were my 2 vintage straw handbags, my recorder from school, (It was an extremely old woooden one given to me by my music teacher.) and my leopard print velvet platform shoes.
Whilst I'm at it some other happy survivors of the Milton's toothbrush cleaning!

Saturday 22 January 2011

A Busy Week, Purple Shoes and Snowdrops.

Well this week has positively flown by. I'm just taking a wee break from my I-Player catching up viewing and tea drinking to write this.
Not only has work been manic (it's term time) I was also out gadding twice this week, once on a school night too no less, disgraceful! On top of that our grill decided to die on Monday tripping the electric in the process and leaving Himself with still raw sausages rather than lovely cooked ones when he got in. Poor thing had been on a trainning course and had been travelling home for the last 3 hours too. So calls were made and men finally came out on Friday to diagnose that the element had gone and a new one must be ordered in

On Wednesday we went to see 'Tragedy a heavy metal tribute to the Bee Gees'. They were so funny and it's amazing how well the Bee Gees music worked as rock, a sign of a well written song I would say. Having said that my favourite song of the evening was their cover of Donna Summer's - Hot Stuff. Brilliant.

Friday was far more genteel. I met my two best friends for afternoon tea and presents. We haven't been able to get together since before Christmas so we had a belated unwrapping of gifts as well as huge slabs of yummy chocolate cake. Diet what diet??

This morning I had to pop into town as my dear Dad had managed to leave the new broom handle he bought in Wilkinsons on Wednesday afternoon behind somewhere. By a process of elimination it turned out to be in Holland and Barrett of all places. At least he can blame his forgetfulness on age these days, (though he has always been like it) Sadly my brother and I, who both seem to have inherited the gene don't yet have that excuse!

Now due to the blogs of some lovely ladies I follow I have fairly recently signed up with Clarks Shoes. I love the fact that they don't charge postage and that they will either deliver to your house or a local store and if the shoes are no good then that's fine, no charge. I had an email off them this week to say their sale was at 'Up To 70% Off' now and for some reason when I lay in bed last night that popped into my head. There is a tiny Clarks shop in the new shopoing precinct in town and before christmas I had ordered in a gorgeous pair of purple shoes to try out. At the time I decided that whilst I liked them I couldn't justify the price and left them in store. So as I lay in bed last night it occured to me that they just might still be in store and also in the sale........
and do you know what? The shoe faries were smiling down on me for they WERE indeed still in store and they were also at 70% off, as you can imagine the Hallelujah Chorus went off in my head when I spotted them and for the second time this month the no shopping policy went out the window!

My lovely purple shoes. For some reason the colour looks burgandy here, they are actually deep purple. *Happy Sigh*
Finally when I went out to feed the birds I spotted that my lone snowdrop was no longer alone.


The magnolia is also thick with buds, so it's really starting to feel like spring. I must admit I did actually look round the garden today instead of just scooting out to fill the feeders and scooting back in. There is SO much work to do out there! As Scott Bakula would say Oh Boy.

Monday 17 January 2011

My No Clothes Shopping Policy = FAIL!

Yes, yes it's only the middle of January and I have already FAILED.

I went to Debenhams today to pay off my Christmas storecard bill and they had their 'up to 70% off blue cross' sale on. I browsed and then I found this my size.....and it spoke to me.

Look at the lovely detail on the sleeves, and the ruffles at the neckline

It was reduced to £14.20 so tell me, how could I not?

River Island Frock as Promised .

So, yes. I have made a couple of comments on other blogs about there being some good items to be had in River Island over the last couple of years. I also mentioned the fact that they champion London Fashion Graduates with a summer collection. Below are some pictures to show the things that I have bought in there in the last year. Quite honestly it is just an excuse for me to photograph clothes!

Historically River Island was a staple port of call on my places to clothes shop list. Back in the days when I first foraged the high street with my own money rather than shopping with my mother, it was called 'Chelsea Girl' and was way better and way cooler than Topshop!
I can't remember exactly when the name changed to River Island, but I shopped there a LOT back then too. Over time I fell out of love with the shop and hadn't been in there for ages until a couple of years ago. As I say there is still a lot of over priced horror to be had in there but there are some absolute gems to be had too.
Let us begin.....

ok I have no idea why this dress just would not photograph bah! This is the best picture I could get and it really doesn't do it any justice :-(

It is the frock I mentioned buying from the Fashion Graduate range.

I love the fact that it is quite girlie with lovely little puff sleeves and this unusual gathered detail at the shoulder and yet has a hard edge from the zip up the front. I think maybe I need to put it on and get a picture of me wearing it, daylight!

Next up are two pretty blouses.

I just about exploded with bliss when I saw the cat print one!

I loved this cute 50's style bustier top too.

and this equally sweet pinifore dress.

I don't think I have mentioned on this blog before but sadly when at work I am pretty much forced to dress scruffy. It's very dirty, very dusty and pretty physical and over the years I have ruined far too many nice clothes!
Basically it's jeans and jumpers in the winter and jeans and t-shirts in the summer so here are a few tops I have bought for work!

I loved these vintage print tops.
and finally

The Chelsea Girl logo top brought back some great memories....

Now I could do a whole seperate post on my River Island accessories lol.

Friday 14 January 2011

Bargains and Projects.

Today I am feeling much better AT LAST! Still coughing fit to burst but the voice is back and I have some energy = huzzah.

I had to go into town to pay my credit card bill (gulp) and mail two birthday presents so I wrapped up warm and headed out with a bag of bits I had sorted out for charity too. Well by the time I got to the high street I was melting, it's nowhere near as cold out there as I thought it was going to be! I spent the rest of the trip 'glowing' and wishing I could have lost a layer or two.

Once the bank had been done I came back via the many charity shops in my town. I *know* I have sworn off shopping but you have to have a few cheats here and there don't you? and do charity shops really count as shopping? really?

So I found this lovely skirt. It's wool but black and white dots rather than a tweed pattern. I love the kind of mini fishtail effect at the hemline. It's a little big but if a belt won't sort that I can take it in.

Next are a few sewing box goodies. I love rumaging for this kind of stuff. It's like being little and playing with my mum's button tin.

I also found this red glass bead necklace which needs to be restrung, it's hanging together by a thread literally!
I also found the 'something red' for my bloggy swap which I won't show a picture of in case she is reading this ;-)

So to projects.... I had a good sort through all my fabric and bits last weekend and found I had quite a few pieces of fabric with snowmen on, not exactly a surprise I know, but I have pondered for a while what to do with them as they have accumulated. None of them is really big enough to make anything with as such. Inspiration came from some old mags I was reading whilst I was feeling ill. One was a christmas edition and I spotted some lovely homemade bunting in one of the pictures and had the lightbulb moment. I don't have my sewing machine at the moment so it will have to be sewn by hand which could well take forever and drive me demented but I have another project to add to the pile!

Here it is all ironed and ready to be cut out....
If I had enough fabric I would make myself a dress out of the red satin and Himself said he wanted a Hawaiian shirt out of the green you can just see in the first picture.

Oh and here is the Cath Kidston workbox in what can only be described as a very filled condition oopps.

Thursday 13 January 2011

Something to Gladden the Heart.

These last few days I have been feeling more than a little sorry for myself. My cold has been back with a vengeance and I have gone from coughing like Tiny Tim to coughing like someone who has smoked 60 a day for the last 20 years!
It's exhausting and it hurts. My whole upper body aches and to quote The Scarlet Pimpernel 'I'm as weak as a kitten'. I spent most of yesterday in bed feeling sorry for myself, but today I have decided to get up. I haven't actually really done anything all day but I am up!

I did venture out into the back garden to refill the bird feeders. The poor things have had very thin pickings from me over the last week and a half. So it was whilst I was out there that I spotted the thing that lifted my spirits.

My first snowdrop. :-)

I don't know if it is an early variety because it is always the first one to flower every year. I rang it for good luck and thought of my Nan when I did it. She had so many sayings and customs and not only was this one of them but she also adored spring flowers. I always think of her when I see them. The first spring after she died it was an actual physical pain that robbed me of my breath for a moment when I did, but now, though I still miss her I just feel privileged to have had such a wonderful person in my life.

Easter and Famous Five books is another happy reminder. She used to come and stay with us and my brother and I used to get into her bed one on each side of her and make her read to us. She was marvellous at reading aloud, doing all the different voices and adding just the right amount of drama. We would have stayed there captivated all day if my mum wouldn't have shooed us out and on occassions poor Nan would be hoarse from being made to read for so long.
Happy Times.

Tuesday 11 January 2011

The saga of the Sofa Bed.

So yes, back at work for a week and I thought the dreaded cold was behind me but apparently not. I have spent the last two days coughing like Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol (according to Himself) and now today have no voice.

I'm sure he's very happy about that but I'm not. I'm feeling decidedly fed-up and ill and wish I could be tucked up in bed at home rather than here. Bah Humbug.
The thing I have noticed is that when someone asks you a question or says 'good morning' and you croak back, at the same time as apologising for having no voice in my case. You then get bombarded with a plethora of further questions, which you feel obliged to try and answer. Number one is 'How did you lose your voice?' If I had a pound for every time I have heard that today!

All I can say is cough or no cough I had a blissful afternoon on Sunday filling my new work basket and sorting through my fabric. Oh and I have STILL managed not to go shopping for anything other than a much needed big thick jumper which was a bargainous £14.

Now to the Sofa story in the heading!

On Saturday I persuaded my brother to drive us to Furniture Village in the hunt for a new sofa bed. We have needed a new one for about a year now, but getting Himself to even look at them on the interweb has been impossible, let alone in a shop. Finally after the frame collapsed on the side he sits on of the one he agreed we should look in the sales, not sure which actual sales he had in mind, possibly 2012 or later, but I was determined to get proactive.
As is usually the case in things like this, I do the groundwork, narrow it down to a couple of options which I present him with and we then choose the one we both like from those.

I have spent hours trawling through the internet as our requirments are VERY specific thanks to Himself and his computing 'stuff', and a very large rugby playing brother-in-law. I did manage to get Himself to look at a few online which he agreed were no good. Finally I had narrowed it down to a very nice one in above mentioned store which fitted the bill perfectly. I thought we were going there to look it over in the flesh so to speak and buy it.
However.......we got there and Himself threw a sulk. My brother and I tried it out both sitting on it and laying on it whilst Himself stood arms folded and frowned. After much persuasion he did finally try sitting on it, then got on hands and knees and looked underneth it only to stand up and resume the arms folded frowning stance. He then declare that he refused to accept this was the only option available for the money. I kept my cool even though I was starting to lose it at this point and agreed that it was a lot to spend if he wasn't sure and perhaps he should do some research of his own. So we spent a fruitless afternoon looking at some different ones in other stores which were all unsuitable and then went home.
I think because he realised I was a tad cross he then spent Sunday afternoon on the internet looking at sofa beds in all their various glories. A few hours later he said the magic words 'ok, you were right'.

So tomorrow I am going to go and buy the sofa bed with the extra 10% discount still on it I hope!

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Spending the Christmas Pennies!

Just a little blog to show you what I decided to get with some of my Christmas spending money.

Still filled with my new resolution I have managed not to run amok in the clothes shops during my lunch hour now I am back at work and the sales are on.
Today I did pop into Cath Kidston to have a look at their sale. I bought a very cute little jug with cherries on it and was about to depart when I spotted this work basket.

It's quirkiness was a draw and I liked the clever compartments. Sizewise it is the kind of thing I have been looking for but the price was definitely NOT! However, I then found one reduced as 'shop soiled'. I checked it over very carefully and it appeared to have 3 faults.

1.Someone had tried to open the windows on the front which are for decoration only so they were hanging off.

2. It had a small dent in the roof.

3. It had a dirty line running across the middle of the back.

I decided 2 out of 3 were fixable and the price was good so I bought it. Firstly I took a stiff brush to the felt back and apart from the tiniest area the mark brushed off first time = result! A bit of Vanish bar got rid of the last little mark. Next I glued down the windows.

As you can see Himself's stormtrooper belt buckle proved a perfect weight whilst the glue dried!

All that leaves is is the little dent in the roof and I can live with that. I can't wait to fill it up and use it. :-)

A Splendid Dinner Jacket.

So having been propmted by Tea and Crumpets fab and fascinating post on her new skirt, I decided to do this one about my almost antique dinner jacket.

Please excuse the dry cleaning label and the camera flash flare in the picture, or shall I go all 'Most Haunted' and say it is an orb and the spirits are with me or my jacket at the very least? lol

So once upon a time, many years ago, my mum used to help at this annual fete for a local care home. As I was an unemployed moody teenager at the time, slouching around the house getting under her feet she frogmarched me along to help out one year. I have to say once I got there I LOVED it. We spent one day sorting through all the donations and arranging them in this huge tent and the next day selling. Now the best bit about it was that this was a care home for 'distressed gentle folk' so you did get some incredible donations! Oh how I wish I could go back there now, now that I know what vintage clothes are...... *SIGH*

But I digress. Obviously those who helped got first pick of the booty and of various jackets, dinner jackets and waistcoats I chose this one. I think it was because it was a slim fit men's jacket so more my size, though I don't actually recall trying it on, AND it had it's matching waistcoat with it.
I'm not even sure why I have kept it all this time as I have actually never worn it. When I think about all the other lovely things I have got rid of over the years it's amazing I didn't junk it along the way too. *SHAMEFACED BLUSHING*
I can only think it is because it came as a 'set' with the waistcoat and I like to keep sets together, because I have worn and worn and worn that waistcoat. My god the stories it could tell you about me if it could speak!

All these years later I can really appreciate them both. The workmanship and detail as you can see is top quality. I seriously have worn the waistcoat tons and yet it still looks as good as new.

Not surprising when you see that it came from a qualityLondon Tailor.

It was a few years ago now when I was having a periodic wardrobe clearout that I rediscovered it. After checking it over I noticed the makers label in the pocket. I was blown away when I realised how old it was. It is in immaculate condition and I wanted to keep it that way so I got some expert advice on how to care for it which I have followed to the letter ever since.

I also decided to do a little research on the company.

Firstly I contacted the current occupiers of 22 Bury Street to see if they knew anything about the history of the shop. It is now a fab little galllery and whilst sadly they couldn't help they were about as excited to know more about the company of Cooper,Gardner as I was. They gave me some great suggestions and tips, like their landlord's address etc but sadly I drew a complete blank. Amazingly enough the holders of the London archives for that area never even got back to me. Typically they were the only ones who didn't, and they look to have any possible information, very frustrating!
I also drew a blank at other sources like the records office, so I took advantage of the fact I work at one of the worlds biggest research libraries and ordered up a tranch of London buisness directories. From these I was able to establish the company existed from 1912 until 1974 and were Civil and Sporting Tailors. They moved premises 6 times but always stayed in the St. James and Mayfair area and even had a shop in Saville Row at one point.
Other than that I know nothing :-(
I have a few other avenues I can go down but I must confess a million and one other things have been taking up my time and research is a very time consuming thing.......
I must get back round to it one day.

It did make me think that it would be great if they did a programme similar to 'Who Do You Think You Are' but about companies/shops. Maybe in a similar way to this, taking an item and looking back at where it came from, who made it, how they ran their company. I actually have not really had an interest in looking up the person whose suit it was I am more fascinated by the maker.

Monday 3 January 2011

So Far So Good......

Well so far I have managed to stick to my resolution of not buying clothes, it is only the 3rd of January I grant you, but when you factor in the sales that's a pretty big thing for me! I adore sales and am usually out of the door fairly bright and early on the 26th to snaffle a bargain or 6.

This year I had the combination of a stinking cold and my firm 'thou shalt not buy for the sake of it' resolution which meant I didn't actually venture out into the sales until the 31st. This was more a case of the pair of us going stir crazy in the house than any desperate urge to pound pavements.
We went to Reading and after 4 hours I returned with a very modest haul.

1.Some new hair clips.

2.A GORGEOUS purple hat. Himself hates hats, but over the years he has learnt to accept that I love them and did grudgingly admit that it looked ' quite nice' on. No picture of the hat on just yet as I am currently still only one shade warmer than dead in the face department, apart from the nose which is like rudolph's only sorer, and don't want to terrorize your day.


3. this little navy blue bag from a charity shop for £3.

I am very proud of myself. There were other things in previous years I would have just bought anyway that this year I did the will I wear it, do I really need it, is it worth it rule on, then put them back on the rails.

Mind you as it is only the 3rd of January I fear I am probably being a bit to smug...........