Tuesday, 22 February 2011

These are a few of my favourite things...

As I've mentioned in some previous posts, I've been feeling a bit down in the dumps recently and had a pretty bad time of it this week. Thank you for all your kind words, it means a lot to have you all being so kind.
I understand from your comments on this post that I'm not the only one feeling a bit down at the moment! In an effort to cheer myself and hopefully the rest of you up a bit, I've put together a list of my favourite things. Stuff that makes me smile.
I'm also tagging a challenge to those of you who said you were feeling down too. Your task, if you choose to accept it, is to list 6 things that make you feel happy, contented or relaxed. Then you ask someone else to do the same, and in no time we'll all be smiling!

1. Fresh laundry
White sheets cracking in the breeze, the smell of laundry dried outside in the sunshine and the feel of clean sheets in bed. Even the view of a washing line covered in clean clothes makes me smile. I can't stand synthetic perfumes in laundry powders, so I usually use soda crystals which leave just the fresh, sweet smell of clean clothes behind.

2. Water
I love water in all its forms. The sea, rivers, lakes, even rain. Swimming in it, boating on it, listening to it, looking at it. I find it all magical and therapeutic.
I love the sound of ships' lines pinging against the mast in the wind and can sit and watch water for hours at a time. One day, I will live by the sea.

3. Lol cats
Yeah, cats who can't spell. I know. But can you really resist laughing at this?

4. Reading in bed
As far as I'm concerned, the greatest luxury. There are so many other things to be done and yet I'm off in a fantasy land and I'm doing it from under the duvet. Get a cup of tea and a pile of soft pillows to prop yourself up and life doesn't get much better.
26/365, laying in bed reading comics

5. Cleaning
Yup, I'll come clean (hehe, see what I did there?), I like cleaning. Not all the time, but I love the focus that goes into cleaning and then when you step back at the end to see a gleaming surface, or kitchen or cupboard, it's so satisfying. Again, I don't like chemical smells, so most of my cleaners are just plain soap with either lavender or tea tree essential oils added and the smell of clean and fresh rooms is just magical!
Cleaning Supplies for Spring Cleaning

6. Unstarted craft projects
Blank note books, uncut fabric, rows of embroidery silks in every colour. Endless posibilities. There's something about craft and sewing supplies untouched and unstarted that makes me all giddy.
sew far sew good
Pen and Paper

OK, over to you. What are your favourite things?

In particular, these ladies said they were feeling a bit down too, so I'm challenging them directly to come up with some of their favourite things, but consider this an open challenge.

The 'Raindrops on Roses' challenge!

Friday, 18 February 2011

I'm afraid I'm going off line for a while. We lost Socks last night. I'll be back soon.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Sick cat stress

 Warning - entirely cat related post
Me and my teddybear
What a week.
I've been dealing with a sick cat this week and it's really taken its toll. From staying up through most of the night on Sunday as I was so worried about him, to spending a stressful hour at the vet on Monday (happy Valentines day!), we then spent several hours wringing our hands waiting for blood test results after a trip to the emergency vet on Tuesday around midnight.
With a £160 charge before you even get through the door of the emergency vet, all I can say is 'thank God for pet insurance'. He's been in the vet's on a drip for 2 nights now and had every test you can imagine, including an ultrasound scan! The charges shot past £1200 last night and I honestly don't know what we would have done if we weren't insured.
If you have a pet and you don't have cover PLEASE get some. We're paying about £8 a month, so the cost has already more than paid for itself.
He does love to sleep
It looks as though he has an inflamed pancreas, so he should get better soon. He's still not well, though, and is having a feeding tube inserted so that we can get some food into him. All that said, he may be able to come home today and we can look after him ourselves, though the prospect of having to tube feed him is rather daunting.

Pet owners and animal lovers won't need any explanation of how I'm feeling right now, and non-animal lovers won't understand it even if I give one. Suffice it to say I've barely slept since Saturday night and am spending my days worrying about him.
How did you get so dirty?

Socks is a rescue cat and we've spent the best portion of his 18 months with us getting him to relax and trust us. He spent the first 3 months or so behind the sofa and was scared of everything and everyone. He's still a skittish cat but has recently relented to being picked up and stopped running away when the front door opens. I'm seriously worried about what this stay in the vets is going to do to him mentally.
I'm sure once we get him home things will improve, but right now I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed by it all.

I am planning a couple of happy posts soon (and my apologies at the morose tone to this one), one being a general 'cheer us all up' post and the other being my first giveaway (welcome to my 100th and 101st followers!). Stay tuned!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Pattern shopping

As I spent most of my weekend shopping (and assembling Ikea furniture), I've managed to have another sewing-free weekend. I did find time to redecorate in here though. Hope you like it, I'm going for a fresh and clean look!

I did do something else this weekend. I was bad.
I saw that Jaycotts had 10% off a number of their patterns.
I've been looking at these first two for a while, so I thought I'd use the sale as an excuse to finally get them!
 Vintage Vogue V1171
This is a pattern issued in 1950 originally, but I think the big collar gives it a vaguely 30s feel.

 Vogue V8604
I was inspired to buy this pattern by Suzy who's just sewn a pair of the trousers for the Cupcake Goddess sewalong. I'll definitely be giving the trousers a go but I like the skirt and the jacket too.

New Look 6007
I've been toying with the idea of wearing a cape for some time, then yesterday I saw a woman wearing a beautiful grey wool one in town and decided I need one. I like view D - short and with a collar. Could be good for spring!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Retail therapy

It seems that the gods of charity shopping are favouring me at the moment. After my reasonable success earlier this week, I had a blindingly successful day yesterday. I've rather failed in my attempt to save my money, but I'm very happy with my little haul!
The first thing I found was this dress. I thought it might be 80s when I first picked it up, but the more I look at it, the more I'm convinced it's a 1940s house dress.
The buttons are far enough apart that the dress gapes as you move, so it's not meant to be worn outside and it has pockets on the front. It did have a self fabric belt at some point from the look of it, but someone has sewn elastic into the sides to gather it in. The bodice waist has a couple of little pleats in and the sleeves have several, which puff the shoulders out a bit. Sadly one of the buttons has been replaced through the years and I don't know whether to try to find a similar one or replace them all.
This label interested me. Apparently 'Tebilized' means the fabric's been treated to be crease and stain resistant. I've found mention to it being a trademark in the 50s but I can't find much more about it, nor date the label any more certainly. Any thoughts about the date? Do you think I'm right about it being 40s?

The second amazing find was this shirt. Again, it didn't look like much till I noticed the collar, and the raglan sleeves, and the pointed fold back cuffs, and the waist pleats...correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure this is a early to mid 50s shirt. The label is 'Keynote', which google tells me was a Littlewoods (British department store) brand which was well known in the 50s through to the 80s, so seems to confirm my feelings. Best of all, this was on sale for £3.75. Bargain!

Then finally, I picked up a wad of 50s and 60s knitting patterns. I'll probably put most of these up on etsy. How cool are the photos though?! 
 Your family could look just like this!

Other great finds were 2 berets
 an Ava Gardner biography
 a pretty blue glass for my makeup brushes
and finally some fabric. It's cotton with a gold lurex and I don't think there's enough for a dress, but I can probably make a big circle skirt from it without too many problems.
What a haul! I came home very happy from this trip and I think I'm going to have to make more of an effort to look round charity shops in the future!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Primarni footwear

I have come to realise that my claims about owning only Clarks shoes is a false one. With a recent splurge of a whole £30, I added 3 new pairs to my collection of Primark shoes. I'm not normally a huge fan of Primark - on the whole their stuff is cheap and poorly made, and there are cheap labour issues, of course.
All that aside, their shoes can often be real leather (something I look for in shoes) and actually quite comfortable. I wear mine quite often and they've aged pretty well.
This is the pair I wore in my outfit post earlier this week. They're so frivolous that they brighten up any outfit! 

I wear these instead of trainers - dancing, hardcore shopping expoditions, popping to the shops. They're so soft that they're probably the most comfortable shoes I own!

I've been a bit wary of masculine brogues before - I worry they make my feet look massive! These ones are quite a narrow cut though, and the low heel gives them just enough of a feminine touch!

I bought these for summer - they're canvas and leather. Perfect sporting shoe for croquet and other genteel summer activities!

I didn't need these, but I loved the cut outs and the raised pleats on the front. These aren't real suede, but they look pretty good. And actually, I'm a bit short on evening shoes, so maybe I did need them!

Seeing as I'm on a budget this year, I think I'll be doing more Primark shopping in the future!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Stylish blogger awards

The very stylish Gemma at Bake do and Mend has passed a lovely award on to me (some time ago – it’s taken me until now to think of 7 interesting things to tell you)! Thank you Gemma!
As part of the award, I have to tell you 7 things about myself which you may not know. So, here goes!
1. I have a degree in Herbal Medicine. I spent 3 years studying the principles of human health – biology, physiology and anatomy and plenty of pharmacology and botany, with a bit of counselling and patient management thrown in. It was a fascinating course and I learnt a lot more about the body and what medicines do to it. It has, of course, been next to useless – I’ve not taken it up as a career (sadly ‘Herbalist’ is the only career option from that particular degree) and other than self-prescribing for colds and PMT, I’ve not used it since graduation.

2. I qualified as a Football (soccer) referee when I was 14. We were paid £15 for an hour’s work, at a time when I couldn’t get a job anywhere else. I jumped at the chance and, although I dislike sports of most sorts, refereed games for under 12 year olds for about a year. It’s the worst job I’ve ever had and I’d never recommend it to any young person. At 14 I was called a blind c*** by a player’s father. Having grown men scream obscenities at you is not the way to spend your Sundays.

3. I love Owls. This may not be strictly something you don’t know about yet, but I think it warrants saying again. Owls are great. If I’m ever rich enough to have the space, I’ll be setting up some enclosures in my garden to take rescued owls in. I have adopted a number of owls at various wildlife and rescue centres, and can’t pass up an opportunity to look in on anything owl related. Needless to say, The Owl and the Pussycat is my favourite poem.
4. I have always been something of a piercing fanatic. I have 15 holes in various parts of my body and although I rarely wear jewellery in most of them anymore, I have a real soft spot for everything piercing related. And no, I’m not posting pictures! Except for this one.

5. I am very interested in genealogy and everything family history related. I have spent many a happy hour researching my ancestors, and those of my husband’s family and love visiting the archives in Kew to look at old records.
Searching through details of people’s lives is so fascinating – the criminal records I’ve found particularly interesting. What crimes were committed, the punishments handed out and, if you’re lucky, blurry Victorian photographs of the inmates.

6. I love to read books. As someone who’s always itching to be doing something, I find sitting down with a book really decadent. I’ll read on the bus to pass the time or before bed to relax but I love to just sit down at a time when I could be doing something else and read. I’ve been known to read to 3-4 in the morning to finish a good book and can happily read a book in one setting if I like it enough. Fortunately, I’m a fast reader so with short paperbacks this isn’t such a stupid thing to do! I have far too many books – they take over several areas of my house and many are stored under beds in boxes and bags. I’ll happily read modern, trashy chick lit one day and then an academic study on something obscure the next.

7. I can touch my nose with my tongue, and I can roll my tongue (I’m really scraping the barrel now!). I’ve always been able to touch my nose, but until I got my tongue pierced, I couldn’t roll it. I think it must have had an effect on the muscle of my tongue some how, but I’m not sure if that’s really true!
I’d like to share the love and so I’m passing the award onto these newly discovered bloggettes who are all terribly stylish in their own ways.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Outfit for another cloudy day

I managed to get up in time for another outfit post today - twice in one week - fancy that!
This is my Simplicity 3688 skirt, worn with a Marks and Spencer cashmillion cardigan and Clarks Cuban Hat wedges.
I've spent some time today sorting out a whole bunch of patterns to sell on etsy. They're all from the 70s and 80s, as these were given to me by my mother in law, who's been a keen home sewist. There are some amazing patterns, and a couple of unbelievable 80s jumpsuits.
Keep an eye out for these, plus some shoes and clothes that should all be going up in the next couple of weeks!

Shameless plug time

My little brother has just released his first EP and I couldn't resist plugging it here.
You can listen, download and donate some money if you feel like it here
The group is called Shadowboxer and the EP is titled Two Cities.
Do have a listen and please pass it on if you like it!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Bargains of the week

In order to lift some of my funk today I popped into a charity shop mid commute. There's nothing quite like shopping when you're supposed to be at work!
I've been enviously eyeing up other people's bargains of late and wondering why I never find anything as good when I go shopping. I'm not sure if I've been looking in the wrong shops or if I've just been in a shopping lull but I came away with four new skirts this morning!
This first is a Marks and Spencer skirt in a loose weave polyester I love the pale blue colour and the boxy pleats. This will look great with a white blouse for summer.
Second is another Marks and Spencer skirt, also made from polyester but this has a texture to it which reminds me of gingham, wish I knew what it was called!
I'm digging the nautical vibe on this and I love the 30s style box pleats in the front and back. This one's a bit big in the waist but is simply made and I'll be able to make some easy adjustments to get it fitting.
Next up is a black floral print viscose skirt. It's really soft and drapey and, although it's really quite a bit too big, should fit with some more simple adjustments.
Last up is this spring floral skirt. Again, the fabric is lovely and a couple of simple modifications will make this perfect for my warm weather wardrobe!
Each of those skirts was £4, so I feel like I have a bargain - I couldn't make them that cheaply!
It's times like this that I'm very grateful for my sewing knowledge - once the thought of taking off a waistband and adjusting darts would have filled me with dread, but I'm happy now that it'll be a quick and simple job and will increase the contents of my wardrobe for very little effort.
I do wish we had a few more charity shops that sold things like fabric and patterns, though. They're very few and far between round here, mostly we get Primark cast offs and rack after rack of VHS...

My other happy purchase, or at least delivery received today, is this collection of teas. I like green tea very much but I find it's often a bit bland and stale. I had a recommendation to try Jing and I've bought this vast array of different teas. I'm trying to cut down on the litres of coffee I normally drink and these should help. I can't wait to dive in and start trying them!