Monday, 18 April 2011

And she's back in the game...

Well, I'm still in a lot of pain! But I've decided that it's time to cowboy up and just get on with things :)  After a lovely relaxing weekend that was mostly spent drinking tea (gin) in the garden, I finally finished my curtain dress project.

I love it. I really really love it! Other than taking some measurements from another dress of similar fit, it was done with no pattern and just my brain going 'errrr, what next?' It's a super-light cotton and will be perfect for summer.  It was vaguely 20s inspired in shape, although I don't think the fabric / pattern is 20s at all.  But yes, I think it's going to get a lot of wear :)

The only problem with not doing a pattern is, how am I going to make another one?!

Jen xxxx

Monday, 11 April 2011

I guess I've been taking a bit of an unplanned hiatus from everything...

At the end of last year, I somehow managed to give myself tennis elbow. And wow, is it painful.  Sadly, over the last few weeks it's been coming back again.  I've got myself strapped up, and will hopefully get to the doctors tomorrow, but essentially when it's sore I can't do anything that puts too much strain on it.  So that's no sewing, no baking, no playing piano... sad times!

However, when things haven't been too painful, a lot of fun has been going down :)

On Saturday some friends and I went to our local bit of greenery, Ferry Meadows, for a picnic.  I love picnics!  A few of us rode our bikes there and back, it felt quite Enid Blyton-esque.  Except with more Prosecco :)

Kayla and I took some time out to go cloud spotting too!

Some other snippets of life-at-the-moment:

Making a very cute dress from these curtains the mamma bear thrifted for £1!

Rediscovering my love of playing piano, and Simplicity patterns being on sale in John Lewis

Learning new songs on my ukulele

Hanging out with Lilycat, because she's all of the adorable :)

Hope you're having fun whatever you're up to!

Jen xxxx

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

(Belated) Weekend Round-up, and the Sew and Save dress premiere!

I've been meaning to write this post for a couple of days but, in all honesty, I've just been too too tired!  After work I've been turning over the garden to prepare some vegetable plots - there's going to be a lot of digging for victory happening this summer :)

So anyway, on Saturday my friend Bob and I went to the March Into the 40s event.  And it was super fun! It started fairly early in the afternoon with some short films about WW2; I may have squeed slightly at the land girl part - they're a bit of an obsession of mine at the moment!  And there were lindy hop classes, where I'm proud to say neither of us fell over or broke the other's toes.  The dance in the evening was also great fun, although the only song we danced to was the Hokey Cokey :) - at these smaller events the dance floor tends to be filled with amazing dancers so I feel a bit more self-conscious.  But the good news is Dave the Spiv, who hosted the event, is trying to set up some dance classes so soon we'll be stepping with the best of them.

Lola Lamour also did a couple of sets, and she's just a total cupcake.  If you've never seen her, here she is singing my favourite song!

But of course, the star of the night was my Sew and Save dress.  Well, not quite.  But I was immensely proud of it.  And here it finally is in all its glory:

Bob was in Navigator dress... ironic considering the amount of times he started driving the wrong way!

Overall, the night was fab.  I managed not to spend any money on the stalls, the gin was cheap, and I found myself doing a couple of victory roll tutorials for some girls I got talking to (as well as swapping tips on setting lotions and how to wash your stockings!).  Thoroughly looking forward both to the next dance event and next year's march.

What did y'all get up to this weekend?

Jen xxxx

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Summer Inspiration

Hi everyone, hope you're all having lovely starts to the week!

Now, I was *hoping* that I'd be able to proudly show off my new 'Sew and Save' dress this evening... but alas, I still have to finish the neck trim and hem the bottom.  I'm feeling very pleased with it though!

So instead, here's some lovely summer outfit inspiration.  As I said, I'm off to Malta at the end of May for a family wedding, and I'm determined to only pack beautiful vintage / vintage inspired outfits.  Especially because my grandma will be there and we love chatting fashion and sewing... she still likes to talk about seeing me get off the train last summer, and how I looked like a filmstar!  I didn't, I'd been on a train for 6 hours in late August, but what a lovely thing to say :)

I love this little nautical inspired number... supercute!
[Image from here]

I would wear all of these dresses... but my absolute favourite has to be the green one with the cherries on
[Image from here]

Bows! And ruffles!
[Image from here]

I've been thinking about needing a new swimsuit too (any excuse to go shopping!)

[Image from here]

Maybe a Jane Russell-esque swimsuit will help me hook a Robert Mitchum-esque chap!
[Image from here]

Yep, definitely feeling the need for summer now!

Jen xxxx

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Weekend Round-up: Events and Observations

I can't believe it's Sunday evening again already! Where did all the days go?

This week seems to have been non-stop, yet not a lot has happened.  Somehow I haven't found time to chronicle or photograph anything that's occurred (including my gravity defying victory rolls last night, I was so proud of those babies!).  But anyway, here's the edited highlights of my week :)

1. I started sewing the frock from the Sew and Save book.  Seriously, I cannot recommend this book enough.  It has loads of useful information on repairs and alterations, but also has a section of patterns to sew.  Because it was published for your average 1941 woman rather than super-talented seamstresses, the patterns are fairly simple but I'm still learning a lot.  However, both my sewing machines are heading to the great craft room in the sky so it looks like I'll be spending tomorrow evening hand-sewing the sleeves and the hems!  I'm off to a 40s dance next Saturday so on a tight deadline if I want to show it off :)

2. I sorted out my community placement!  As part of my Masters, I have to do a 180-hour placement in a community setting.  It's been a real struggle to find anything interesting in my town, but my supervisor had the idea of working with our local credit union.  It sounds really exciting - I'll be learning to be a debt counsellor and working with different community groups - and I can't wait to get started.

3. Yesterday, the mamma bear and my little sister came to visit and we went for shopping and food, the two things we all love!  I found the most beautiful dress in French Connection (I know, I didn't expect that!) to wear to my cousin's wedding in Malta.  And the best bit... knocked down from £185 to £35!  I'm saving it for the wedding, but will most definitely be getting a LOT of photos :)

4. Finally, I've been working my way through the 'Thin Man' movie series.  Nick and Nora Charles are my absolute favourite on-screen couple. Ever.  If you've never seen it, you should!  A perfect blend of detective story, amazing comedy and gorgeous dresses.  Here's a little preview: 

Obviously, there's been a lot of baking and gardening too, but that goes without saying these days!  I'm so looking forward to having all my evenings free (3 more weeks left!) so I have time to both do fun things and talk about them too...

Has anyone else had fabulous weekends?

Jen xxxx

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Weekend Round-up: Cambridge Vintage Fair and not much else!

Hello lovelies, hope you've all had fabulous weekends!

As the post title says, this weekend I headed off to Cambridge with some friends to check out Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair.  There was more than a little excitement involved, as I'd been to the last couple and had always come away with some fab dresses and skirts.  This time around, I sadly didn't find much at all.  There wasn't a lot of 30s/40s stuff (the things that were there were beautiful! but also way more than I could afford this month, sadface), but I picked up some supercute commemorative coronation hairpins from 1953.  I'll put photos of those up soon, but I bought some for my sister too and don't want to completely ruin the surprise :)

The fair always has a lovely tea and cupcake shop, but we've never actually sat down and sampled the goods before so we made damn sure it happened this time.  It was so yummy, the carrot cupcakes were to die for!

I think the best part was that you got to choose your own china!  I'm a sucker for old mismatched china, and there was so much of it!

This is us enjoying our mid-shopping sit down :)  At the beautiful-but-expensive stall, a lady came up to tell me how nice it was to see someone actually dressed vintage at the fair, which was lovely and made me beam.  The fact that my blouse is from Topshop and the skirt's homemade will be overlooked right now...  And check out Amy's polka-dot dress, I squealed when I saw it, it's absolutely darling and I'm so envious of it!

As I spent very little at the fair, I treated myself in wider Cambridge to some yummy biscuits from Crabtree and Evelyn, rose perfume from Cath Kidston and of course the obligatory girly shopping cocktail.  A lovely way to cheer up what had been a most dreadful week.  Can't wait til Judy comes back into town again!  

And as for today? I've been super relaxed... homemade soup, Casablanca and The Thin Man were all that concerned me.  Heaven!

Jen xxxx

Monday, 7 March 2011

What Makes You Happy?

It's been a tough day round here... work has been 'trying', my housemate has been bordering on useless and I quit my job.  Everything is a little bit emotional and skewy to say the least!  But instead of going to bed feeling down in the dumps, I thought it would be nice to think about the top 10 things that make me smile instead :)  So here we go...

1. Lilycat
She's such a cutie!  I think she gets annoyed with me constantly taking photos and singing to her, but that's just how I roll.
Hehe, see what I mean?!

2. Spring
It's starting to get sunny (although still freezing cold at night), the daffodils are poking their heads out and my broccoli is almost 10 feet tall already (I may be exaggerating a little...).  Spring always makes me excited and happy!

3. Baking
In my afternoon break between work duties, I went home and made bread.  Just the smell is enough to make everything feel that little more homely and lovely.  Hmm, might nip downstairs for some toast and jam!

4. Hats
Something about wearing a hat really makes me feel better!  Here's my favourite one from last week...

5. Making things
I go through phases of productivity when it comes to making things, and this is definitely a productive phase.  At the weekend, I changed a too-small dress into a most lovely blouse (must get photos!).  And I'll hopefully be starting on my dress tomorrow for a dance at the end of the month.

6. Audio books
Hehe, I'm such a nerd!  I find listening to people talk really relaxing, so audio books are a mainstay in my life... at the moment, I'm listening to 'The Seven Dials' by Agatha Christie (and read by the beautiful Emilia Fox).  Next up is a double bill of Raymond Chandler!  Highly recommend Audible for anyone who nerds it up like I do :)

7. South Riding
This is a 3-part series that's just finished on the BBC.  I've yet to catch up on the last episode, but so far it's been fab.  It's all about a 'radical' headmistress in the 1930s.  Some of the outfits are just beautiful.
I want this suit! [image and more info from here]
And this hat! [image from here]

8. Ginger wine and apple juice
All the hard work from the last week or so has put me a little bit under the weather, and my voice is always the first thing to go.  Ginger wine and apple juice makes my throat feel so much better, and is just so tasty.

9. A film noir video game?
I like playing video games... sometimes.  It doesn't enthrall me the way a lot of things do, but when I like a game, boy do I like it!  I've just seen this is about to be released, and am already preparing for what could be a good few weeks of hermit-like behaviour...

10. Curling up in bed with a cup of tea, the kitten and an episode of Foyle's war
Which is exactly what I'm going to do now :)

What makes you happy when you've had a bad day?

Jen xxxx

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Peachy Keen: The Dog Ate My Homework...

Robert Mitchum and John Payne... single handedly ruining 21st century boys for me :)

I wanted to write a really fun blog piece today.  I've had a couple of ideas bouncing round my head and they're taking form nicely.  But.  I've just got back from my second of four twelve-hour days this week and all I want to do is have a cup of tea and go to sleep!  So here's just a couple of interesting things I've found on the internet this week...

I have decided to quit smoking! Aaaaaaaargh.  Yes, I've already done this at least once in the history of this blog, but I'm getting a good vibe about it this time.  I'm preparing myself by not taking my cigarettes out the house when I go to work (eek! apparently, I had "attitude" yesterday lol), and my quit date is next Wednesday for real.  I ordered a quit chart from the NHS website, and am going to put it up in my room and use the stickers and try to keep inspired :)  After next week, any more outfit photos of me with a cigarette, please firmly tell me off!

And thinking of giving things up... 4-5 of March is National Unplug Day!  Do you dare to step away from the technology?  I'm going to certainly try :)  It's an idea that's sprung from the Sabbath Manifesto, but even if you don't agree with the religious sentiment, I think unplugging yourself can be a rejuvenating experience sometimes.  I probably won't be parting with my mobile as I'll want to call the Mamma Bear, but everything else will be switched off for 24 hours.  Yikes!  Is anyone else giving this a go?  What will you be doing instead?

Well, I'm a bit rambly and very, very sleepy.  A post of more coherence will occur soon :)  Hope you're all enjoying your week!

Jen xxxx

Monday, 28 February 2011

Show and Tell

Very quick update before I run back out to work again!

So here's what I did with my me-time Sunday... I made a skirt!

I'm pretty proud of this little cutie, it's the first sewing project that a) I've completed in a day and b) had no help with whatsoever. Squee!  It's from the Sew and Save book, which I highly recommend.  The only thing I'd do differently next time is make it in a fabric with more drape.  And also make it a lot smaller lol, think I'll be taking it in again at the weekend!

The cardi is made by moi also, it's from the Stitch n Bitch book and was the first cardi I ever made.  Obviously, the wonkiness is totally intentional and part of the pattern (I've come along a lot since!).

This outfit's had a lot of compliments today, I was pleased as punch to tell everyone it was almost entirely handmade.  Shoes are vintage '40s from my favourite Vintage V, and the t-shirt's from, umm, Topshop... That's Meg the Bicycle in the background too!

Have you made anything you're really excited about recently?

Jen xxxx

Saturday, 26 February 2011

100 Years of Solitude

Okay, maybe not 100 years, but I do love my exaggerations... 

Earlier in the week, my housemate had a crash in his car.  He's fine, fortunately, but his car is more than worse for wear so he's been staying with his girlfriend who lives much closer to his work.  And I've been flying solo in the house all week.

Now, I've often found that when you live with family, friends, lovers - as opposed to random houseshare which I've thankfully never done - your alone time is often limited to going to bed or taking a long, long bath.  So it's been quite odd having the house to myself for what is almost a week.  I don't think I've lived on my own for over two years now!  I really enjoy my alone time... as lovely as it is to see friends, go for coffee or go out dancing, I also crave hours of my own company.  And I never get bored; I'm always baking, crafting or cleaning, usually with some radio 4 drama in the background (Raymond Chandler this week!).  Being alone was the best thing.  Ever.

Or so I thought...

It had gotten to the point yesterday where I was going to bed super early because I couldn't think of anything to do!  The house was clean, dinners were cooked, laundry was done, so I may as well just go to sleep.  Hence the lack of updates round here.  Today, I said no to apathy... I got up, went into town, took a leisurely stroll round my favourite thrift stores then came home, did some gardening and cooked up a yummy veggie bolognese.  I've just had a lovely long soak in the bath and now plan to do this for the rest of the evening...

Mmm, gin and a good book!

... tomorrow I'm going to get up bright and early again and carry on cooking, then have a bit of a pamper session in preparation for what's shaping up to be about 50 hours of work next week...

A lot of my girlfriends hate to be on their own.  If their lovers are busy, then they surround themselves with friends.  I'd go crazy!  But sometimes it helps to reinforce just how nice alone time can be, and I know I'll be really happy to see people again come Monday rather than feeling all 'socialled out' :)

So how about you guys?  Do you like alone time?  What's your favourite thing to do when you've got no one else around to entertain you?

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Peachy Keen 22.02.11

Happy Tuesday everyone, hope you're all having a super start to the week :)

Spring is here! Actually, it's still freezing here and not feeling much like spring at all.  But the spring clean is definitely on.  Today was my first day off with no uni work for months (hurrah!) so I cleaned, baked and planted like the domestic goddess I sincerely wish I was.  In the kitchen we now have fresh homemade bread and yummy sweet potato and lentil soup as well as peppers and onions planted in containers ready for sprouting.  I love home days.

This week's Peachy Keen is a short one, I'm looking forward to having lots more time to waste on the internet! (That's a joke... kind of)

Miss James has a darling blog, and she recently linked to these old / new photos by Irina Werning.  Such a cute concept!

I'm a massive Haruki Murakami fan, his novels are amazing.  And I absolutely can't wait for the film of Norwegian Wood.  Check out the trailer here.

These gin cocktail recipes are making me long for lazy summer evenings.  The Blue Moon sounds particularly delicious!

And finally... someone has turned The Great Gatsby into an 8-bit game.  It's a little bit genius actually, but I had to stop on the second level because a) I'm rubbish and kept dying and b) I really need to go to sleep!

Right, that's it for me... super tired and already curled up in bed with a chai latte, what a lovely way to end the day!

Jen xxxx

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Weekend Round-up

Hi everyone! Hope you've all had lovely weekends :)

I was planning on doing another Saturday Morning Cinema yesterday, but I fell asleep during both movies, oops!  So instead here's a quick round-up of what the weekend had in store for me...

1) I got up super early on Saturday and baked lots of yummy cupcakes to take home for the mamma bear and my sister:
They are so so tasty... I used this recipe for a simple vanilla cupcake and then tried lots of different flavoured buttercreams... there's some mixed with blueberries, some with rose syrup and some with a plum and cinnamon jam (they're definitely my favourites!)  Happily, they went down a storm!

2. My sister needs things to do while her beau is working away, so while we were both together I taught her to knit.  She did really well! After a couple of glasses of wine though, it got a bit silly...
What a cutie :)

3. And finally, I finished my last ever essay for my Masters!!!! Well... I still have my final placement to do, and my dissertation if I want the full award (which I do).  But it's my last 'proper' essay and that's a lovely feeling.  Can't wait to print it off and post it, I think a celebration is in order.

What fun have you been up to this weekend?

Jen xxxx

Friday, 18 February 2011

Crafty Inspiration Needed!

Me, tired and grumpy!

So since Tuesday the week went downhill rapidly... On Wednesday the doctor completely butchered me trying to replace my implant, leaving me with a rather smashing bruise and a whole lotta pain.  And work yesterday was so busy that I didn't get time to go post my essay which meant today was spent travelling to uni and back just to hand in my assignment.  I am a grumpy little bunny right now!

Normally when I'm in this mood, I get a-crafting to cheer myself up.  But I'm in the mood for instant gratification; I could carry on knitting my cardi but it won't be ready to wear in the morning, and both my sewing machines are broken so I can't whip up a skirt or pillowcase.  I need something that will bring me instant joy!

So what are your quick evening off craft favourites?  Any websites I should be perusing for information?  Any hints would be much appreciated!

Hopefully after a glass of wine and a good night's sleep, normal service will be resumed tomorrow :)

Love Jen xxxx

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Peachy Keen 15.02.11

Hello lovelies!

Well, I've had a rather super Tuesday.  Most of the day was spent being highly productive with my uni work (yay!) and I've had a fab evening cooking up a storm.  Because the next two days are 12-hour workdays, I try to do lots of cooking on a Tuesday so I've got lots of easy things to heat up.  On the menu today was satay vegetable cous cous, leek, potato and honey camembert soup and asparagus pizza. Yummy!

I was feeling a bit casual today, so here's what I wore to hit the books.

My high waisted jeans are such a go-to item of clothing when I'm feeling lazy!  While I was taking photos, Lilycat was meowing on the side, so I figured she wanted her moment in the limelight :)  Does anyone else have to pull all their hair off the face when they're concentrating?  I can't think if there's fringe in my eyes!

And onto what's been gracing my screen this week (when I've not been writing essays lol)...

I loved this story about a couple who have used the same Valentine's card for 70 years. Cuteness ahoy!

This animation from 1936 is amazing.  And also kind of adorable.  Rainbow dance!

Not sure if I've mentioned it before, but I still love climbing trees. Think it's a Robin Hood thing. This treehouse is just the coolest thing ever.

Charade is one of my favourite blogs ever.  And I love the post Megan wrote for Yes and Yes.  Everyone needs a bit of luxury.  My luxuries would have to be a glass of Prosecco, some big band on the stereo and an Agatha Christie novel :)  What's your favourite treat?

Last but by no means least... I want this dress!!!

Hope you're all having a lovely start to the week!  It's early but I'm going to hit the hay with a cup of tea, and maybe check out one of the films in my film noir collection.

Jen xxxx

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Great Fur Debate: Am I Faking It?

So, I've noticed a bit of a storm around certain blogs regarding what people view as acceptable or unacceptable to wrap our bodies in.  Solanah especially has been particularly brave in putting her views across and, whether you agree or not, you've got to admire her courage for facing down everyone who has blasted her.  Anyway, there was a little occurrence over the weekend that got me thinking about fur, so I thought I'd put my two cents in.

A little bit of background before I get started: I've been vegetarian for almost 23 years, ever since I was 4.  Dead things gross me out; I have a phobia of taxidermy, could never cook meat for any of my lovers, and when the vet recommended I give my cat some chicken I instantly went out and bought a box of disposable latex gloves so I didn't have to physically touch meat.  I have owned, and still do own, leather shoes even though I don't particularly like the idea of where they came from.  For environmental and welfare reasons, I've dabbled in veganism although brie is always my downfall!

So you can see, I'm really not down with the dead animal thing.

I wore fur once.  At the Wansford 40s dance last September, I got talking to a lady in the bathroom and asked her if her stole was vintage.  She explained it wasn't, but it had been humanely culled as part of a typical agricultural process; she'd seen it hanging up and her husband lovingly turned it into a stole for her.  So it wasn't farmed for fur, and was going to be killed anyway.   She asked me to hold it while she went to the loo, and it lasted long enough round my neck for me to take a picture:

By this point I was freaking out at the idea of having a dead thing round my neck, and with great relief gave it back to its owner.

This weekend, I went home and in my absent-mindedness completely forgot to take a coat with me.  Raiding the cupboard under the stairs, I came across a coat I had bought at uni and completely swooned at it.  When I bought it, I never wore it because it suddenly occurred to me that it might be real fur.  But the mamma bear and I conducted a series of experiments (burning, wetting, stroking, ripping the lining to see the back of the fabric) and came to the conclusion that it was indeed a fake.  I'm 98% sure it's not real fur... and that other 2% is the same worried part of me that panics every time I eat a veggie burger in case someone's put real meat in it.
So, check it out!

I've now got to wondering though... would I still wear it if it was real fur?  I've stopped criticising people who wear *vintage* fur - it's been long since killed - although in Britain today there is absolutely no need for new fur, other than fashion, and I will never, ever agree with killing things just to look nice.  However, I never ever saw myself as being someone who would even wear old old fur.  It just wasn't me, and the thought of it made me feel kind of queasy.  But I love this coat.  It's warm, it's pretty and it feels like it was made for me.  So maybe it's bad, but I kind of don't want to know if that 98% of me is wrong.  And that's going to take a lot of getting used to.  I might even change my mind in a day or two and retire it back to the cupboard under the stairs.

So what are your thoughts on fur?  Would you wear it?  What do you think of people who do?  Do you see a difference between vintage and new fur?  

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Saturday Morning Cinema - Sun Valley Serenade

Along with the books I ordered this week came this little beauty...

I must admit, I only bought it because it had the Glenn Miller Orchestra in it, but this baby has everything!  Love, giggles, ice skating, fabulous ski suits...  I put it on when I got in from work last night (working until 9 on a Friday evening... cue the violins?) and it was the perfect vintage fluff to head off to bed with.

I was going to put a clip of my favourite scene, but it turns out it's the finale so I don't want to give it away!  Have this instead :)

They look like they're having so much fun! How did those trombone players not knock each other out?

Right, I'm off to pack for a night away in the country.  Toodle pip!

Jen xxxx