Tuesday 20 September 2011

A Warm Hug From Home...

There is only good thing that can come from living so far away from all your loved ones. It's the one thing that puts a smile on our faces when the postman rings the bell...A big brown box covered in stamps from sunny South Africa! This morning one such parcel arrived, and we hurriedly delved inside. And guess what was in it...? This gorgeous hand crocheted blanket for our little Roo's bed, lovingly crafted by my mum-in-law. Gogsie (that's what the kids call her) has made a blanket for all her grandchildren. Roo's blanket now has pride of place on his big boy bed.

Here are the gorgeous blankets that Gogsie made for my other two sprogs.

Aren't they beautiful? Nothing says homespun charm like a lovingly crafted blanket at the bottom of the bed.

The blanket was not the only surprise inside that box. Hiding underneath it were lovingly wrapped presents for the kidlets. The squeals of delight as my little seven year old opened his parcel could have been heard three doors down! The poor little guy has been under the weather and wasn't well enough to go to school today...But he sure seems to have perked up now! Look at these cuties...


 The boys couldn't wait to try out their new pens! 
Lauren's parcel is still nicely wrapped, waiting for her to come home from school...

We're all trying to guess what's tucked away inside... As for this boy, well he is very pleased with his king of the jungle pen. He also told me that the collection of stones he received are his 'most precious things ever'! That says it all!
A big, big thank you to the best Gogsie in the world!

Gogsie and Kimpa
Much loved and sorely missed! Hope to see them soon!

Thursday 15 September 2011

Thrifting for fashion: Featuring Kidney Research UK

I think you all know by now that I'm very passionate about finding lovely clothes in charity/thrift shops. For too long there has been a certain image of thrift shops as dusty, musty granny closets, a dumping ground for every Tom, Dick and Harry's threadbare circa 1970's plaid trousers. But, thanks to the lovely, feisty Mary Portas, queen of Charity Shops, that image is slowly changing as people's perception of pre-loved clothing is being challenged. The fashion trend for vintage and retro clothing has also meant that people are frequenting these shops in search of those well preserved classics from bygone era's. Not to mention the trumpet call that summons all of us to be more aware of recycling, refashioning and re-using existing items of clothing, in order to take the load off the very heavily laden shoulders of landfill.

So, with that in mind, I'm on a mission to challenge the pre-conceived ideas that label charity shops as mere dumping grounds for tat! Of course we all have to sift through the rails to find that one item (or more of course!) that tickles us pink. After all, shopping is a joyous occasion of hunting and gathering, whether it be in a high street store, designer's boutique or thrift shop. There is nothing more satisfying than finding an outfit you love, and being able to contribute to a worthy cause at the same time!

Over the next few weeks, I'd like to share with you, some of my favourite spots for thrifting, just to entice you to pass by your usual high street shops, in favour of local charity shops. Wander in with an open mind, and hopefully an open purse, and see for yourself if the joys of thrifting get your pulse going!

Today I'd like to cast the spotlight on a Charity that do very important work in the area of kidney research. Kidney Research UK, is the largest funder dedicated to improving the understanding of kidney disease, its causes, treatment and management. The Charity does this by funding ground-breaking research in the hope of finding a cure for all those suffering from kidney disease - which is now at epidemic proportions - with over 3 million people in the UK at risk of developing kidney disease. The Charity are building on the advances and scientific breakthroughs that have been made by researchers - many of them supported by the Charity - during the past forty years. Kidney Research UK are celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year (1961-2011). Thanks to advances in kidney research over half a century 47,000 people in the UK are alive today who would otherwise have died from renal failure, and worldwide, millions can be treated for this ‘silent disease’.

Patron for the charity, Angela Rippon, have strongly supported this cause, to make sure that more people will sit up and take notice of this unappreciated organ and help the Charity shout out about kidney disease.
So, how can you and your closet help? By supporting the shops that are out there! There are 8 Kidney Research shops across the UK, all selling good quality clothing, accessories and bric-a-brac. I frequently pop into our local shop in St. Ives in Cambridgeshire, and have come away with some real treasures. Here is a taster of the lovely things you can acquire!

Lovely accessories, modern and yesteryear

Like most women, I find accessories very exciting! Of late I try to wear something vintage every day, and sometimes this might only be a brooch or scarf pin. Charity shops are a fabulous source for vintage jewelry if you can spot the real McCoy from the imposters. (I'm not a purist, I will wear reproduction pieces too if I find them appealing!) 

This gorgeous vintage handbag is in mint condition. A great find for the vintage fashionista! I also love these accessories. They would lend a feminine touch to any outfit!

As for clothes, I always find something to add to my wardrobe. I found this lovely soft wool jumper (Jane Norman), and the lovely pink plaid skirt at Kidney Research UK. The skirt was very long, but I loved the fabric. So, after chopping off a fair amount and re-hemming it, it is now something quite different!
Now, one thing that has to add joy to your shopping experience is a friendly face behind the counter. I have met the ladies that give up their time to work for the charity, and they're a first class bunch!

Pictured on the left is shop manager Carol Andrews, and on the right Voirrey Butterworth
Now, I hope I have enticed you to go along and support this charity in the very important work that they do. Go along and say 'hi' to the ladies, and try first class pre-loved shopping! Let me know how you get on!
To find your nearest Kidney Research UK store, simply go to
 Happy thrifting!

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Knock-knock...Who's there?

Earlier this morning I heard a knock at the door, and was more than delighted to see the postman standing there with a lovely big box. There is something quite uplifting about receiving a parcel. It immediately feels to me like it is my birthday!

Well, this morning's delivery yielded some wonderful delights. A little while ago I entered a blog giveaway hosted by Vintage Owl Boutique, and when I was informed that I had won, I was over the moon.

I'd love to show you what came out of that big box! I love old/vintage books, and when I unwrapped the first item, I was so excited to see 'The Three Musketeers' by Alexander Dumas. It's going to sit very nicely next to an edition of 'Heidi' which I've had for a long time, printed by the same printers around the same time.

Now, this little swallow necklace is too cute! Mummy and daughter might have to share, as I'm pretty sure my daughter is going to eye it up!

I also received this gorgeous mini straw-hat fascinator. I already have a 'launch date' in mind for it! Hee-hee...

Now, don't you just love this teacup pincushion? It is beautiful, and very practical. It's going to be my companion during many sewing sessions without a doubt!

Lastly, I found this little guy hiding amongst the tissue paper, a little vintage ceramic owl. So sweet, and I love the colour!

To top it off, Vintage Owl Boutique have also thrown in £10 off my next purchase! Hmmm....I shall have a peruse later...

I'd like to extend my thanks to Jennie Davis of Vintage Owl Boutique for a wonderful box of loveliness! If you would like to take a look at the website, go to I'm sure you will be delighted with what you find!

Monday 12 September 2011

Monday Blues...

The wind is tearing through the trees outside, the weekend has abruptly come to end, and there is a feeling of indecisiveness in the air...or at least in the air I breathe. I feel a bit like a chameleon on a Smarties box this morning. I know I have a bucket load of things to do, but cannot quite pin my thoughts and actions on anyone of them. I think it must be the Monday blues...So what do I do? I blog.

It has been a lovely weekend. The kidlets had an impromptu sleepover on Friday as three of their little buddies stayed over. Of course that meant lots of popcorn, hot chocolate, a good film and pancakes for breakfast. I love it when I have a good excuse to indulge in all of these! As for Sunday, more spontaneous socializing followed.

A dear friend of mine wanted to have a peruse at the British institution that is 'The Sunday Car Boot '. So, seven of us piled into the car to head for the rows of clutter-clearing-competitors, to see if we could bag a bargain. And here is my loot...

These gorgeous cushions were a snip at only £2, and they are as new. One still had tags on it!

Who remembers the original Rockem Sockem Robot game? These were first manufactured in 1964, and enjoyed minor pop culture status. I found this version of Mattel in great condition and in it's box, and again for a mere £2! I'm packing it away for Christmas for my little man. Shhh...don't tell him!          

This gorgeous little Clarks handbag, again in mint condition, set me bag a whole pound! I know, cheap as chips, and again, one more tick off the old Christmas list!
After all that hunting and gathering, we were ready for a bit of grub. And what can be better than good old bacon butties? We did in in style though...fried onion and mushrooms, eggs, beans and sausages too boot! Yes, I know...calorific! But, all in moderation right? (Moderation starts tomorrow.) I won't mention the blackberry and apple pie with custard that followed later in the afternoon as we gawked at all the limber limbs of the Strictly Come Dancing crew on the telly...

So, I ask you, how do you face the mundane Monday chores after a weekend like that? Hmmm...I think coffee with the girls might cheer me, ta-ra for now! Places to go, people to see!

Monday 5 September 2011

Essentials: Free wardrobe?

A little while ago in July, I shared with you that I was partaking in a little challenge, which spurred me on to do a clothes swapping party. Well, that challenge has now come full circle, is done and dusted, and I'd love to share it with you. A friend had put me forward to do a fashion challenge for a UK women's magazine, Essentials. After being considered as a possible candidate, I received a phone call from the journalist writing the article, to inform me that I had been chosen along with two other ladies to participate. The challenge was to come up with, and execute ideas to obtain an autumn wardrobe for free. This was right up my street as I'm always looking for ways to be thrifty, especially when it comes to clothes! But, getting a whole wardrobe for free seemed quite daunting, as very little in life comes without a price tag attached to it. However, I sat down and thought about ways to be creative to achieve my goal, and I was very surprised with the results. Anyhow, this is the article as it appears in the October issue which hit the shelves last week.

That's me on the left in front of my wardrobe and in my favourite the sewing machine!

The idea that I had to obtain my free wardrobe was firstly to host a clothes swapping party. As I went into great detail about this in a post I did on the 15th July, I won't talk about it too much now. All I can say was that it was abundant in fun, a great success, and definitely something I would do again. I tied this in with my second idea, which was to invite a few independent shops and charity shops to come along to the swap to sell and promote to the ladies. I was chuffed to bits to have both  Kidney Research UK and Barnardos participating, as well as the lovely Sarah Ruppin from Rehab Vintage, and Olivia and Katie from Vintage White Heart Rose Boutique in Huntingdon. I am very grateful for their willingness to come along, and in return for coming along they kindly contributed to my free wardrobe. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I also look forward to featuring Katie and Olivia's shop on here soon, so do look out for that!

Well, apart from the clothes swap, I also set to work re-fashioning items of clothing I already had. I managed to jazz up a cardigan that I had bought a while back because I loved the colour. It was, however, too big for me, so I took it in, added some new buttons and a lace collar, and ended up with a new addition to my wardrobe!
I have gained some fabulous new clothes, well, new to me anyway. Remember, one woman's trash is another woman's favourite pants!

Black Skirt and Floral Blouse, Kidney Research UK
  And here are some of the new additions to my wardrobe!

 Navy and White Polka Dot Skirt, swapped


Blue striped shirt, Barnardos

Gorgeous Retro Dress, courtesy of Rehab Vintage
So, as you can see I am as pleased as punch with my new garments. If I've learned anything new from this experience, it is that nothing should be discarded to the rubbish heap. Recycle, re-use, re-wear, re-fashion! I would urge all of you to try and do the same. It is immensely gratifying! As I am a keen advocate for supporting charities by either donating, or shopping in their stores, I will also be casting a light on the two charities that gave of their time to attend the clothes swap. If you have never shopped in a thrift shop, I hope that you will think twice before walking by, and would take the time to pop in and look for those pre-loved items that still have a life to live! Please leave a comment below. I would love to hear your ideas on free clothing...good idea or not?

Saturday 3 September 2011

Oh, to be a little boy! little man is two, and I cannot believe he is ready for his big-boy-bed! As I've had a bit of a play in my older two kidlets' bedrooms, jazzing them up before the winter arrives, I thought it only fair to do the same for our little guy. I have had such fun creating a little space for him to play, learn and sleep in, a room that will hopefully grow with him. I thought I'd share some pictures with you of what I've done. But first, let's say goodbye....
The time has come to create a room for imaginative play, and to pack all the fluffy baby things away...

And the room as it is now...

I found the cutest bedlinen at Marks and Spencer. I love, love, love the print!

Using the bedlinen as inspiration, I decided to stick with the theme of 'playful childhood', adding a few vintage and retro touches, as well as some handmade trimmings.

First things first though, I decided that the furniture could do with an update. We had an old orange pine bed which looked like it had seen the inside of a spray tan chamber....eugh! Cream is so much better, so it got a good licking of paint. I also painted a little table and chair in blue, and decoupaged the tabletop using some paper printed in retro childhood images. I'm very pleased with the results!

Those of you who know me will know that I'm a big fan of bunting, so it was only right that some should make it's way into Roo's bedroom. I can honestly say that I love bunting, but making it is not my favourite pastime!. There are only SO MANY TRIANGLES a girl can cope with sewing! But, it does cheer the room up no end.

Of course I always look for an excuse to go thrifting. And a room makeover is the perfect reason to go hunting for new treasures. I had such fun taking the kids to some of my favourite thrift shops, and we were very successful in our little endeavour.
On the shelves are a few new friends we brought home with us. My favourite hands down, is the little orange wind-up bear, dating back to 1980. It still works perfectly! We also found two wooden jigsaw sets (1977 and 1979) which now grace the shelves and will undoubtedly be put through it's paces! The little star teddy was made by me a while back using a set of old PJ's that Roo had grown out of. As a backdrop for the shelves, I used some Cath Kidston fabric I had left over, which I stapled to the back of the shelves. I think it's just a teeny bit more interesting than a blank wall!

The walls looked a bit bare, so I sprayed three frames I already had with white paint. I glued some farmyard figures to card and popped them into the frames, and voila....quirky, and a little bit silly!

No room would be complete without a bit of sewing going into it. I made some applique cushioned squares to sit alongside a few other seaside things I had made a while back.

So, adding a few fresh ideas has hopefully created a room that our busy little two year old can dream and play in, and one that will experience many great imagined adventures....

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