Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Just a quick update...

I have been a bit snowed under at the moment with university work- everything is due in at once!

I'm also suffering from a kidney infection which is why I am awake and typing this out now. However, I made some scones to pass the time and because I fancied some ( I made them at 2:00am) They are absolutely delicious. Needless to say, I didn't use a recipe as such ( do I ever?) but they have turned out to be the best scones I have ever made. Typical, huh!

Soon I shall be back with more talk on vintage and make do and mend, I promise!

Toodle pip!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

In which I go to a vintage faire.

After the craziness of the past few weeks of working full time as well as doing university work, I thought that I might treat myself to a well deserved break. Whilst procrastinating I did my usual vintage faire search and found that there was one soon to be hosted at the Salford Museum and Art Gallery which is very close to where I live...and it was free entry. I awoke early- I always try to get there before everyone else has the chance to get the best bargains!

The faire filled up four of the large galleries in the museum. There was a wide variety of stalls and sellers all featuring different treasures from amazing fashion to books to retro home ware. There was even a stall that played old songs from wind up gramophones!

I really enjoyed the vintage faire. It was really great having one so close to me;  It meant that I didn't far to lug my booty ( one wool coat, one leather coat and a scarf) back home. I was particularly happy to see the museum being used well. It sits in the middle of the University of Salford campus and is often ignored, bar the coffee shop which serves impressive steak and onion baguettes, Mmmm! Myself and others must walk past the museum several times a week and always promise ourselves a visit inside but never actually do it. The one little niggle that I did have, however was that the lighting was not that good which has created some bizarre effects on photographs but I suppose a vintage faire is about the shopping experience, not photography which is why it is only a little niggle.

Featured seller- Donald and Miss June Vintage Living.
Whenever I go to a vintage faire I alway choose one seller who I advertise as a really good stall holder. I generally use twitter and facebook to do this but from now on I shall do this on here.

On the corner was a stall that was very strategically placed: it was just where everyone had to walk past it to get to the next room and opposite another stall that was reigned over by a disinterested seller who sold overpriced items. I really dislike stall holders who have this attitude- if you can not look interested in your items and happy to be there I will not buy from you. It is as simple as that.

This is why I went to the stall on the corner. The sellers looked friendly and were happily chatting away to customers. I glanced at the leather coat on the mannequin and thought it was lovely. Straight away the seller came over and started to discuss the item with me; she was enthusiastic, knowledgable and just a downright lovely person! Needless to say, I bought the coat and as I sit here typing I am looking at it adoringly.

The seller informed me that they generally do vintage fayres (find them in the Manchester area) but are now expanding on to the internet. At the moment the website is slightly restricted but I have absolutely no doubt that over time it will grow to be a wonderful emporium of vintage goodies. In the meantime, if you live near Manchester or are willing to travel, please keep an eye out for their stall- it will be the one with the excellent range of vintage clothing and the nicest seller that I've ever met behind it.

Just an odd little something!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Newly in love...

Tally ho there! I have done some more shopping (sometimes, even when embodying the war time spirit, one has to speculate to accumulate as the saying goes!). The best purchase has new bike!

It is a 1985 Raleigh Solitaire Shopper bought from this gentleman's Ebay for a very satisfying sum. I did not want to spend a large amount on something that was essentially a cheap run around for university and to get a pint of milk (and living where I live, there is a high risk of it being stolen!)

I picked up the bike from a short distance away and took it straight home where I promptly removed the original 'accessories' that came with it, namely some reflectors in Kellogg's character shapes, and painted over the Micky Mouse bell. I used some blue lacquer over the Micky motif and I must say, it looks rather smashing! I then used some cheap cream cleaner for 32p on the body work and promptly washed it off taking all the dirt and grime with it. I then used some cheap diluted vinegar on the chrome which added a lovely shine. 

The bike is an absolute pleasure to ride and I can now do a 30 minute walk in 5 minutes on my beautiful new stallion ( it's called Mable in case you were wondering!)

Why this is make do and mend: Whilst i've had to spend money on a bike, I do believe this is make do and mend for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it will reduce how much I will have to use my car- obviously, I can't cycle the 100 mile journey down the M6 to visit my parents but it does mean that I can travel slightly further afield in a shorter amount of time without using petrol. Secondly, buying a previously loved bike has saved it from the scrap heap. Finally, buying second hand means that a new bike, including energy to transport and make has not been used. 

Also, I really wanted one and I look cool on it, so there! :)

P.S. I did try and attach a picture of me riding the bike, but they all looked like I was superimposed in for some bizarre reason. If anyone could offer me some insight as to why that might be I would be very grateful. 

Here is a picture of my visage for the mean time:

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Beauty of Old Books

I always find that there is a beauty in old books. 

I enjoy going to the library and picking up a book that someone else has previously read and hopefully enjoyed. I love flicking through yellowing, crisp pages and I personally find dog-eared pages a hallmark of approval- they suggest that the book has been read many times, hopefully the original owner will have gone back to the story time and time again. 

Sometimes when I go to the library for research into whatever essay I am writing at the time (unfortunately doing an English degree means that I do not get to read for leisure any more) I deliberately choose the most tattiest looking edition on the shelf. Hopefully when I open the book there will be lots of meaningful scribbles and annotations which can offer an amazing insight into the text that I have missed. 

image from
One of the best parts of acquiring a new book is discovering what is hidden within it. This can be an inscription, either mundane or loving or a receipt or an old shopping list that one of the original owners used to mark the page, or an old photograph. All of these little artefacts, however insignificant bring humanity back to the front of my mind- someone else has touched this book and read the same words I am reading. On a frugal point old books are cheap. They can be acquired for free from a library or cheaply from Amazon, Ebay and charity shops. In addition, buying old books is recycling. 

I can understand why some people may want an e-reader: maybe they enjoy the portability that they offer or value the copious amount of text that they can hold, but for me crawling under a blanket with an old tatty book is the only way to read. 

I really would like to share this with you

Gem says to use old leggings but this works just as well with an old pair of tights as well. I've just done it and it literally takes 2 minutes. Amazing!

Please excuse the awful picture!

Friday, 2 September 2011

She blinded me with science!

I am sure that some people will say that you can never have too much glitter. This is certainly true in some aspects but not when it comes to clothes for interviews! 

I had a lovely (vintage, naturally) red shirt that I really wanted to wear for upcoming interviews. I really love the colour; I think it is daring and the interviewer will hopefully remember you and give you the job! However, this red shirt had glitter on it which falls off everywhere all over the rest of my lovely suit so it had to be dealt with.

I pondered for a quite a while as to how best remove all that glitter- I certainly couldn't pick it all off ( there was a ridiculous amount) and tape might damage the item. I knew a chemical was going to have to be used, but which one? All of a sudden I thought of my science lessons at school and wondered whether glue (which attached the glitter) was alkali or acid so I did a quick google and discovered that it is an acid and so I needed an alkali to get it off. I searched my cupboards- shockingly I had no bicarb. I tried toothpaste which was quite effective but I realised I would need approximately five tubes to get all the glitter off. I then tried soap which was amazingly effective: I had an old bar of Lush soap (Ice Blue I think it was) that didn't suit me as it made my skin feel quite dry so I scrubbed the soap all over the shirt and left it for a while. I later came back and gave the shirt a rinse- all the glitter had come off! The alkali soap had neutralised and dissolved the acid in the glue which meant the glitter had nothing to adhere to so it fell off. 

So there have been two lessons here; firstly that to get glitter off clothing just apply some soap, and secondly that paying attention in science class can actually be helpful at some point in your life- I've only had to wait nine years!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Vintage beauty products that I love.

It appears that everyday a new beauty product comes out. These all have a variety of audiences and promise to fix a variety of skin ailments because apparently (if you listen to the adverts at least) all skin is different. I am pretty sure that skin is similar to other skin; all skin is made from the same substance and has the same structure. I'm sure what the adverts are trying to say is that skin has different needs, that skin on the elbows can be dry whilst skin around your nose can be oily and that a teenagers skin may be spotty and their mother's skin may have wrinkles. 

I am going to make a daring statement: there is not a lot you can do about your skin. Often enough oily skin is made worse by over cleansing with products that are too harsh and dry skin can be made even drier if the skin becomes dependant on moisturiser ( have you ever heard of chapped lips becoming dependant on petroleum jelly and getting more cracked and sore when it's not used?) I propose to avoid all of this that we should take beauty back to basics and use what has worked for generations before us. 

In this post I shall discuss what I have found particularly useful in my beauty regime, particularly focusing on cleansing, toning and moisturising the face. 

I shall be honest here; I am a particular fan of The Body Shop Vitamin E Cleanser. This is not because I find it more effective then anything else, I just really enjoy the smell of it! I have a couple more applications of this to use and then I shall start using The Body Shop Passionfruit Cleansing Gel which I have a few bottles of (I got quite a few when a good offer was on). If you think about it, all cleansers are pretty much the same and have the same base; they all work on dissolving grease and grime, which means in theory you could use washing up liquid to get rid of your make up. Also, cleanser is on your face for such a short period of time it doesn't have any moisturising or magical purposes at all. Therefore you could use any old cleanser including good old fashioned soap. Generations before us have used soap (my favourite is Pears which Boots are selling for a pocket friendly 65p) and their faces remain in tact. However, I do recommend the use of an item that gently exfoliates the face, such as a flannel or a facial brush. I personally make do with a good old fashioned flannel (just make sure you wash it on a hot wash regularly to get rid of germs, and always try to dry it out between uses) as it saves me having to use an exfoliator which are often very harsh on delicate skin and can actually cause spots. 

I simply splash my face with some Orange Blossom water or Rose Water which can be found very inexpensively from ethnic food shops. Rose water is particularly hydrating and is said to help with mature skins as well as balancing oily skin too. As an added bonus both smell absolutely lovely too and can also be made into a nice refreshing sweet drink when diluted with water. You can also mix the orange blossom or rose water with a dash of water and put in a spray bottle and keep it in the fridge as this makes a lovely refreshing treat for hot skin. Many shop bought toners have alcohol in them which irritates the skin and can cause drying which makes skin that is already dry sore and oily skin over produce sebum to compensate for lost oils. 

Now this is where advertising comes into its own: if you listen to them you may find yourself believing that you need a different moisturiser for each stage that the moon goes through. It's unbelievable the amount of rubbish that we are encouraged to buy. I simply have one moisturiser Boots Traditional Cold Cream (£2.42 for 200ml) which is very similar to Ponds Cold Cream (£4.49 for 50ml). After washing my face before I go to bed I simply put some of this on. It's rose smell is really pleasant and it simply works. I wake up with super soft skin which means that in the morning all I have to do is quickly wash my face and go, I do not need moisturiser. I do however put a sunscreen on because I am so fair skinned and I do not wish to damage my skin. Furthermore, Cold Cream can be used as a cleanser- all you do is rub it into your skin, leave it for a couple of minutes and then wipe off with a flannel which cleanses the face of dirt and grime and removes make up too! Impressive!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The yellow dress...

Original dress.
I have previously blogged about modifying a little yellow dress that I own.  I had bought it off Ebay a while ago. I fell victim to a (hopefully unintentional) poor shot. The image showed the dress to be a pretty antique cream colour. When it arrived however, it was bright yellow, not a creamy yellow, but a shade reminiscent of what children often use to colour in the sun. Unsurprisingly this colour did not suit me; I am naturally very pale skinned, what most people would call 'English Rose'. This yellow clashed with the pink tones in my skin and It looked awful. 

Now, I could have thrown it in the bin or put it back on Ebay or donated it to a charity shop, but laziness prevailed and it remained in the back of the wardrobe. 

Until recently. 

Dyed dress
I bought a Dylon dye in 'Burlesque Red' which is a deep purple with red tones. I was expecting the entire dress to turn into the shade. However, this was not the case; because some of the dress was made of pure polyester and some cotton, I ended up with the dye taking hold in some places and not in others. I personally prefer this effect. Everyone who has seen the dress now says that the colouring suits me and the clash in colour within the material is just right- not too garish, but also not too subtle to make it look as if it were a mistake. I think it just shows how great taking a punt can be when it comes to fashion. This dress is now pretty much unique- how many will have thought to have dyed it, and of those how many will have used the exact shade I used? So please, be brave and take the dive!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Just a quick note...

I am still alive and kicking. I am sorry for not updating for the past couple of days;  I have been unwell and need to lie in bed drinking lovely hot tea (milk, no sugar please!) and wrapped up in a duvet. 

I have been keeping up with some make do and mend escapades including dying the yellow dress and I soon hope to supply evidence so you can see the somewhat bizarre effect that dye can have on polyester.

In the near future I plan to look at some vintage handbags that I have acquired as well as discuss some old school toiletries that I have a magical affinity with. As well as this, I really want to discuss my love of old, tattered books. 

Hopefully that will give you something to look forward to. If you have anything in particular you would like me to discuss then please comment and i'll see what I can do for you!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Booze infused apples (hic!)

I do hate having left over alcohol. I had a few bottles that were taking up space with dregs unworthy to be considered a measure. I also hate the taste of Rum (please do not ask why I had a bottle of it because I don't know myself) so it was a pleasure to clear the space of that particular beverage. 

I have finally used up the remainder of the apples from my my grandparent's apple tree.  Instead of making the schnapps, I made apple filling which would suit a pie or a crumble. However, it is so versatile and delicious that I will not be limiting its use to this: I have already made up a tub of booze infused apple and yoghurt for my lunch at work tomorrow. 

Here is my recipe (please excuse the absence or approximate measurements- I went into a mad professor haze whilst making this!)

Brown Sugar
Lemon Juice
Left over alcohol- I used a little gin and about 3 measures of rum.
Mixed spice
Warm water
The juice and zest of an orange

  1. Wash and de-core all of your apples. You can peel them if you feel inclined. 
  2. Chop them into smallish chunks and add to a large bowl.
  3. Pour over some lemon juice- approx. 5 table spoons and your left over booze and some sugar to taste
  4. Add zest and juice of the orange and the spices.
  5. Add warm water to cover the apples
  6. Cover with cling-film and place in the fridge to infuse overnight.
  7. In the morning, place your fruit mix into a large pan ( I used a slow cooker) and simmer on a low heat until the apples become soft and mushy.
  8. Wait to cool and serve with yoghurt or ice cream, or add pastry for a pie, or crumble topping!
Now I must warn you that these apples are despicably tasty. As they have been cooked I am sure the alcohol will have been burnt off, but still exercise caution if you do end up eating 20 portions in one sitting.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

30 minutes sewing and a whole new look!

Updated coat. 
I have finished one of my Make Do and Mend tasks: I have updated my winter coat. Whilst it still kept me perfectly warm and it still fitted me in a flattering way, it was looking a little bit dated. It would have been oh-so-easy to discard the item that I had snuggled into in last years snow and headed back to the high street for another disposable coat, but it was even easier to update it. 

It cost me a pocket friendly £1.98. 

I simply bought two packs of ten golden buttons off Ebay and got my little sewing kit out. Furthermore, it didn't take much time, approximately 30 minutes to sew 13 buttons which leaves me 7 spare for other sewing antics. 

What is more, it was actually thoroughly enjoyable fixing up my coat. It is peaceful to sit quietly sewing and exciting to see the end result: it is very satisfying to see an old coat updated to look fabulous (if I do say so myself!).

Old buttons
New Buttons

Close up of finished buttons
Coat in original state

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Up and coming projects

I have a few little projects that need to doing to update some of my clothes. I like modifying my clothes so that they fit better and are a little bit different from everyone makes the odds very slim of someone in the room having the same outfit as you! 

I enjoy buying clothes from vintage shops and Ebay and I frequent charity shops for bargains and those amazing garments you just do not find anywhere else. I have very odd proportions- size 12, 5"5", hourglass which means that often enough, high street clothes just aren't flattering but I do also scout the high street for clothes that can be customised and changed to my needs.

My up and coming projects include:

  • Using up some net material from a petticoat to make accessories
  • Changing the buttons on my winter coat to create an entirely new look 
  • Dying this yellow(!) dress a different colour.

Making apple chutney is the best way to spend a friday night

I'm not sure what most other 20 year old women were doing last friday night but it is fair to assume not many of them were making apple chutney.

I been to see my grandparents earlier in the week and had noticed that there apple tree was covered in apples. I asked my grandparents if they minded me picking a few and they warned me that the apples were still sour but I could help myself to as many as I wanted. And that I did- I walked away with three carrier bags full. 

I decided the best way to use these apples was to make an apple chutney, (roughly) following this recipe. I have made tonnes of apple chutney. The only thing from stopping me making more is that I have run out of jars. I still have one carrier bag full of apples left so I may attempt to make some pie filling and maybe some schnapps from this recipe. 

All of my chutney has now been allocated and snatched up- my grandparents of course will be getting a jar.  It's really nice to think that a very cheap recipe made from produce found in the back garden can create such happiness; I really enjoyed making it, everyone who has been gifted a jar so far is grateful and my grandparents are happy to see the apples go to good use and to reap the benefit.

Blackberry syrup

Ahhh the joys of autumn! I love nothing more than going to pick blackberries. There is something peaceful about hiking over stingers and inspecting the treasure for hidden grubs, isn't there? The reward justifies the stings and being chased around my wasps (in my case!) as it so delicious and can be stored well into the winter.

Blackberry syrup:
You will need:

  • A large bowl
  • A large saucepan
  • A sieve/colander
  • Some Blackberrys
  • Lots of sugar
  • Some lemon juice
  • Some hot water 
  • Some lightly salted water. 
  • A sterilised jar ( I recommend using a dish washer for this)
  1. Soak your blackberries in the salted water. This will wash the blackberries and ensure that and nasty grubs who are gorging on your delicious fruit are killed. Pour solution into the sieve/colander and rinse well.
  2. Add the blackberries, sugar and lemon juice and half a pint of boiling water to the saucepan and turn the heat up until bubbling. If there is any scum, skim this off and throw away. 
  3. If you want your blackberry syrup to be chunky, just lightly smash the blackberries up to release their juice. If you want it super smooth wait until the mixture is cold and then blitz it using a hand blender. 
  4. If you want your syrup really thick and gloopy boil it down as far as you dare!
  5. Add mixture to sterilised jar and store in the fridge.

This mixture can be frozen. It is particularly useful to freeze it in ice-cube trays. I really enjoy the blackberry syrup ice cube dropped into a nice G&T. Yum! I also use the syrup on my morning muesli for a nice fruity burst.


I will try to update this regularly with pictures and stories of my Old Style/ Make Do and Mend activities. I'll hopefully be including the modification of clothes as well as making recipes. I must warn you in advance however that my recipes are never exact and I generally take the 'suck it and see' approach (try it and if you don't like it- change it until you do!) so I apologise if you try any out and find them disgusting.