Sunday, 30 December 2012

Misty, water-coloured memories ...

Isn't is strange how the sight of a simple, long-forgotten object, can unleash a torrent of vivid memories, that you were unaware you possessed?

For me it was a cherry brooch.  It wasn't even the same as the one I had but it just reminded me of that December, many years ago ....

It was December 1973, I was 12 years old and going to my first ever, disco Christmas party at the youth centre I went to every week.  My Mam must have realised it was important for me to look the part, because before then I just wore what she told me to, but not without heated argument on my part!

We went to town and had a lovely day together ... we had lunch in a little cafe, a very rare treat in the cash-strapped seventies, and went shopping for my outfit.  First of all we bought a black, skinny rib polo neck jumper and a pleated, reddish brown skirt.  In the shoe shop I chose a pair of burgundy, sling back and peep-toed shoes with a thick platform and clumpy heels, which I was sure my Mam would  never in a month of Sundays let me have.  But into the bag they went! Just a pair of Pewter run-resist tights and our mission was complete.

The cherries were the icing on the cake ... They finished the outfit perfectly and I felt a million dollars and extremely grown up and sophisticated. With a touch of lip gloss I looked like one of the girls in Jackie magazine ...

I remember buying my Mam's Christmas present too ... she collected Pen Delfin rabbits and I knew she wanted one of the dogs, Pooch was his name.  I had a job helping my Mam delivering Spot-the-Ball charity coupons, so must have saved my wages for this.  We went to the 'Rabbit Shop' and bought Pooch ... he was the last present I ever bought for my Mam because she died 5 weeks after Christmas, aged just 41.

This is for you Mam, thanks for the memories ....

Love, Claire xxx

Friday, 21 December 2012

In the bleak midwinter ...

It's the shortest day today, the Winter Solstice and the first official day of Winter. I'm sure we're all going to be manically busy over the next few days, so I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your company during the last year.  It was my first year of blogging and I have absolutely loved the interaction, the sharing of everyday lives, and the friendship and loyalty I've received from you all.

I know you've seen this picture before, but it's my favourite at the moment!

Have a fabulous time, and I'll catch up with you all soon!

Have yourselves a Merry Little Christmas!

Love, Claire xxx

Monday, 17 December 2012

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

Sadly, I haven't got an open fire ... just a faux woodburning stove, but it doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it? Anyway, I've finally got round to decorating my home for Christmas so thought I'd share it with you, so do come on in!

I got the idea of using my ice skates as a door decoration from Fee, although hers is much more elaborate and stunning than mine. I love the idea though and think that these skates will make an appearance every year now.  And to think I wanted to sell them! I actually have 2 pairs ... bought from 2 old ladies at a car boot sale in the summer. They were dumped apologetically at the side of the stall, in a bin bag covered by old curtains.  "We nearly didn't bring them", they said, "because we didn't think anyone would want them, they're a bit rusty".  Two pairs of vintage leather, ice skates?  "Would £4 for both be ok, love?"

My lovely Dickensian picture which stands at the top of the stairs, facing the front door ....

and vintage vases, planted up with hyacinth bulbs and decorated with charity shop finds (a big bag of toadstools, which seem to be very popular this year. for 75p)

In the back room, my other pair of skates, toasting themselves by the ahem! woodburner.

Lovely little owl decoration (also very popular this year), found in a gigantic bag of vintage decorations bought in the summer for £1.  I think he's very old ... and very fragile too, amazing how he's survived and remained perfectly intact.

Little Hornsea deers, which seem to come into their own at this time of year ...

and their friend Thumper the rabbit! These Hornsea pieces used to be in the free boxes in the charity shops, or very cheaply priced, but I've noticed that they are getting quite pricey now.

Plump robin at home on the mantlepiece ...

A very old copy of Christmas Books by Charles Dickens ... how can a Kindle compare to this?

The tissue-thin pages ...

The smooth leather cover ... oh and the smell! How many people over the years have dusted off this beautiful book, and rediscovered it each Christmas?

And presents wrapped and waiting for The Big Day!

Hand made felt bauble which I treated myself to at the Country Living Fair ...

and Ruby's own bauble ... it even has her curly tail!

And the tree in the back room ... I bought a bigger sofa for the front room and too late realised that there wouldn't be room for the Christmas Tree! The tree has now moved to the back room and I bought a new bare branch tree which takes up less room for the front room.

It's very simple and unassuming, compared to the blowsiness of the Big Tree, but I love it! It twinkles very prettily, and I'd love two next year at either side of the front door.  Where I live, though, they'd have to be tied down and chained to the wall or they'd be flying round the garden!

And the last word has to go to Ruby ...

"D'ya like my Christmas jacket?"

Hope you all have a fabulous week, and looking forward to seeing all your Christmas preparations!

Love, Claire xxx

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Light up the sky, shy Violet ...

Last week, as I was on my way to Harrogate, my phone beeped with a text message.  It was from an old schoolfriend Kris ... we go back years and ours is a long story ... she was texting to let me and Millie know that she had just opened a little vintage shop and tearoom in Ulverston, a place I've taken you to many times before ...

I couldn't wait to visit, but when I eventually did the whole experience was totally amazing, just like entering another world! "Behind Tesco", were the directions I was issued with, but eventually a passing postman had to direct me there. Next door but one to Tesco, between Thomas Cook's and the craft shop,  is what I thought was just a side entrance; however, when you go through, you leave the hustle and bustle of modern life behind and are plunged into Dickensian Ulverston ... I really wouldn't have been surprised if Fagan himself had approached me!

And there in all her glory is Violet and the Peadod! The story behind this lovely name is poignantly beautiful ... Violets were the first flower Kris's Dad bought her Mum when they were courting, and Kris loves all things violets ... the flower, the colour, scent, Parma Violets ... The peapod comes from the fact that Kris is the youngest of eight children and all were like peas in a pod.  The name is a tribute to her lovely parents and family.

Kris and I met at junior school, aged about 7 or 8 and were inseparable for years.  We walked home from school together, dilly-dallying through the park, spent our weekends together, baking (dolly-mixture cakes were our speciality), playing with our dolls and baptising them under the drainpipe!

Those were the days of the eleven-plus and sadly in the September when we were both 11 we went our separate ways to different secondary schools, and lost touch through the fickleness of youth, new friends and life's circumstances.  Last summer I was doing a stall at a vintage fair and Kris waltzed in as a customer, and the years just fell away as we reminisced about those precious childhood years.

My dream has always been to own my own vintage shop, and I discovered that this was Kris's dream too, so I'm so glad that one of us has realised it!

There are lovely twinkly lights above the door and a welcoming sign inviting you in ...

The feeling that you get when you walk through the door is like you're entering someone's home, and not a business premises.  It is so warm and welcoming, and Kris and her sister Rose (whom I worked with many years ago when we were both shorthand-typists in a shipbuilding company) are excellent hostesses, inviting you in, asking you to make yourself at home, look around, sit where you like and have tea and cake ... and more cake, and another fill-up ... excellent, I could have sat there all day long!

There are vintage scales full of sweets and Parma Violets, of course! Displays of vintage china are on every surface, in drawers, cupboards and on the tables, gorgeous dresses hang on the walls just waiting to be tried on.  A sewing machine and balls of wool sit side by side on a wide windowsill, creating a delightful crafty corner.

Happy customers who are welcome to stay there all day, if they so wish ...

Display of vintage violet hats sit amongst the shop's name ...

The dresser is groaning with home-made cakes, all made by Kris and Rose on the premises ... I greedily chose the orange cake, top right of the picture, followed an hour later by the Dotty Cake, named after their Aunty Dot.  Both were very delicious with lots of tea from vintage china.  The lime cake had already sold out, as had the scones, and the shop had only been opened for an hour when I arrived!

Everything is tastefully displayed, but it doesn't have the effect of being in a shop ... it feels like Violet's home ... and you've been invited in.

A beautiful Mary Quant scarf peeps out of a set of drawers, while vintage magazines are placed in a rack for you to peruse whilst taking your refreshments.  Each little corner is a vision of loveliness and it was a delight to photograph.  The bathroom has lots of little finishing touches such as fragranced soap and hand cream, vintage mirrors and a pot plant from a well-wisher.

I stayed for a couple of hours but could have stayed  longer ... I had to pack my car for today's Fair, I'll tell you more about that later.

So don't forget my lovelies, if ever you happen to be in the little market town of Ulverston in Cumbria, a warm welcome will always await you at Violet's ... next door but one to Tesco! Oh, it's open 10am - 4pm, Thursday, Friday, Saturday ... and Tuesdays up until Christmas!

See you soon,

Love Claire xxx

Monday, 3 December 2012

Baby, it's cold outside ....

Brrrr!! Even though it's not officially Winter until round about the 21st, it certainly feels like it!

I hope that the issues with my blog have been resolved, mentioned in my last brief post.  Thanks for all your advice, and I'll try to put some pics on now.  Here goes ...

Sorry ... it won't let me so instead I'll share some of my Instagram pics with you and I'll show you the Country Living Fair and my Vintage Fair later ...

Tickets to the Big Event!

My Advent Swap parcel which I sent last week ... I won't show you the contents because they haven't been opened yet!  This lovely swap was organised by laalaa, and I was linked to gill.  Gill's parcel arrived on Friday morning, so that was a lovely surprise when I got home from Harrogate.  A big, beautifully wrapped box all covered with stars and full to bursting with hand-made bags, each with the number on the front.

This was No 2 ... a lovely little stocking for the tree, containing a lolly and some Climpies.  No 1 was a lovely piece of vintage Christmas fabric, but unfortunately I didn't Instagram it.

No 3 ... opened already, this morning!

A really lovely, handmade needlecase ... I hope Gill isn't too disappointed with mine ... not much handmade in there I'm afraid ... it would have needed to be a very big box to hold lampshades and bedside tables!

Speaking of which, here is one of my 'Granny Chic' lampshades ... I loved making these, very messy, but really rewarding! (That's me, aged 4 in the photo). Oooh, and I can't help telling you before I show you the pictures ... I met Rachelle ... only one of the actual authors of Granny Chic, at the CL Fair! I must admit I was a bit starstruck ...

Ruby's getting in the Christmas mood ...

and in her new Christmas bandana!

Sorry this isn't the post you were expecting, my lovelies ... hopefully all will be resolved soon on the photo front ... but I missed you all so much, I just had to share something with you!

See you soon ...

Love, Claire xxx

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Normal Service will be resumed as soon as possible

Just a little note to say that I will post soon, as I have pictures of Harrogate and the Country Living Fair, but apparently my photo quota is full and I don't really know how to resolve it! I've noticed a lot of other bloggers seem to be experiencing this too, so am wondering if it's some kind of error, because I haven't been blogging very long really, for it to be full already.

Anyway, will try and sort it out soon as I feel like i've been AWOL for ages!

Love, Claire xxx

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Ain't got no time ...

Just a very quick post to touch base and say I haven't disappeared! Everything here at the moment is just busy, busy, busy ... I'm sure it's the same for all of you at this time of the year.  The last two weekends I've had vintage fairs, both were very good, particularly the last one, when I returned home with hardly any stock!    I forgot to take photos of that one though, but here are a couple taken at the previous one ...

I found this little gonk in a box of old Christmas tree decorations, Millie took a shine to him, and he came home with us!

These are two of the lamps I've been upcycling ... they were very popular so my front room is now full of old lamp stands and shades awaiting a makeover ...

A recycled, upcycled Christmas wreath ....

And I still have this to look forward to next week ... eek! I can't wait!

I was overwhelmed by the volume of comments on my last post, I think the majority of us are in agreement about what makes a vintage home ... it's something we've all done for ever and don't really need to be shown what to do ... I thought the second programme was a slight improvement, but really don't understand the concept of the dipped baskets.  Will anyone be trying those or any of the other makeovers?

I might not be around for a week or so, but will still be looking at all your lovely blogs, just not posting one myself ... but hope to have lots to show you after I've been to Harrogate!

A warm welcome to my new followers ... it's really lovely to have you here.

Take care lovelies!

Love Claire xxx

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Welcome Home

Last week, Blogland was atwitter with excitement, preparing for the long awaited Kirstie's Vintage Home which was aired on C4 last Thursday.  Since then, I've heard nothing.  Apologies if you have done a post on the programme and I've missed it, but I thought we would be awash with comments and opinions.

To be honest, I was a tad disappointed ... I thought it was rather contrived ... too colour-co-ordinated, and, dare I say it? A bit fake.

On the other hand, hats off to Kirstie, if she can persuade people to upcycle old furniture instead of sending it to landfill, then that's all to the good.  Forgive me if I'm getting this wrong, I only watched the programme once, so I may have missed things, but when the flat was emptied, I hope the stuff that was going was recycled, because I've found that whatever you advertise on Freecycle, there is always someone out there who will want it.

The true vintage home to me is one full of eclectic treasures gleaned over the years from family, friends and often the grubbiest of charity shops.  It can't be made overnight, but evolves and matures over the years, staying the same, yet always subtly changing with a little find tucked in here and there, easily blending in with the rest of the landscape.

It was a pleasant, easy watch, and I will definitely watch the series, but I do think it's missing something.  I like Kirstie's no-nonsense approach, and  I loved her first series, Kirstie's Homemade Home, but found it hard to believe that she would really be diving into skips on her way home from work!

I must admit the 1960's, which is the era in which I was born, is not my favourite, home style-wise.  While I love the music and the clothes and the sheer exuberance of the decade, I struggle a bit with the decor.  My daughter, Millie, loves all things 60's (especially the Fab Four)  and I love the way she puts different things together from this time.  My sister Helen is also planning a 60's/70's Living Room, and I'm looking forward to helping her source furniture and bits'n'pieces for it. Kirstie is embracing the 1950's this week, so I'm looking forward to that.

I don't really prefer any decade, as I said before, my home is an eclectic mix spanning the past 70 years and even before.  If I like something, I usually find a place for it, I couldn't live in a home which is dedicated rigidly to a particular time, although I admire people who live like this.  My family would object for one thing ... they just about put up with my eccentricities as it is, and I do like the comforts of the 21st century!

The programme reminded me a bit of House Doctor and (I think I've made this up, but you catch my drift) Clutter Busters! Let's face it, the flat was quite messy and unorganised to begin with, and just with a good tidy up and decluttering session, would have looked 100% better, without having to spend an arm and a leg.

The room was stripped bare of any character and a few iconic pieces were added.  The child's mountain of toys was magically secreted away in a Tardis bedding box, revamped by Kirstie.  In the real world, were would they have gone?

It was the bedroom that made me question why it was called Kirstie's Vintage Home.  To be fair, an upcycled chest of drawers was brought in, and a couple of bevelled mirrors were hung on the wall.  But the star of the show was the bedspread, lovingly made with brand new fabric, featuring an image that meant something to the gentleman of the house.  To me, vintage and thriftiness go hand in hand.  I know this is not a rule of thumb, this is only how I live, but really, who has the money to pay for their own bespoke hand-printed fabric.  Surely a vintage bedspread would consist of fabrics taken from long-ago summer dresses, embroidered tablecloths, Nana's antimacassars and Aunty Vi's rosy curtains?

Please don't think I'm trying to say I know everything about the vintage home or that I'm an expert ... I'm far from it ... my home is personal to me and not everyone's cup of tea.  Nor would I want it to be.  I like to be different, but I am always learning.  I think C4 should visit the lovely blogs which I follow, and commission a programme featuring real women who embrace the vintage lifestyle on a shoestring.

Anyone, with a fat wallet, could create 'faux' vintage style in a day ... the high street is brimming with flowery cups and saucers, teapots, lots of ribbon and bows, cupcakes adorning everything from bunting to pincushions, but to me it lacks something ... the faded charm of an old crackled cup and saucer, the frayed beauty of a vintage knitting bag and the glamour that exudes from a much-loved photograph album.

Whilst very pretty, a lot of the new buys don't have staying power.  They're part of our materialistic, throw-away society, which I shy away from.  Don't get me wrong, I do buy new things (usually that look old!) and fit them in along with the genuine finds, but I think that true vintage style has genuine, old items as the backbone, with newer items thrown in to lighten the mix, and not the other way round.

In my head, I always have a wish-list.  A while ago, top of the list was a pair of rosy, flowery 100 inch long curtains for my Front Room.  I found them (above) for £10 at a car-boot sale, but had quite a long wait for them.  That's the secret, you have to be patient ... all the money in the world can't buy true vintage style, it takes time, it takes patience and most of all it takes vision.  The vision to imagine how a certain grubby item can be transformed into an item of beauty that can shine once more.

In my ideal world, if I could pick the presenters of Vintage Home, they would be Tif and Rachelle, aka Dotty Angel and Ted & Agnes, authors of the fabulous Granny Chic.  They definitely know what they are talking about, and would  not be employing a crew of behind the scenes artisans, to actually produce the props, but would be hands-on themselves, each week featuring a different blog writer and giving them their 15 minutes of fame!

In a couple of weeks, I'm off to Harrogate, to the Country Living Fair, where I will be spending my hard earned cash on treasures old and new ... Rachelle is going to be there, can't wait to meet her!

This Thursday evening at 8pm you will find me snuggled on the sofa in my pj's, pot of tea and cupcake by my side, watching Kirstie's Vintage Home ... I'm scared of missing something ... although, I have to say, I've crossed the book off my Christmas list ...

Please don't ring me while it's on... I haven't got Sky, I'm afraid!

Who would you like to present a homestyle show, and what did you think of Kirstie's Vintage Home?

Love from Claire xxx