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

Friday, 11 February 2011

Fangirl Friday 11.02.11 and What's My Motivation?

Oof. Uni work is boring today! I've read and researched for almost a million hours (no exaggeration...) and must now accept that the time has come to actually start writing.  It's feeling like a real struggle, and I keep finding so many more fun things to do.  Tomorrow I'm packing my bags and going to the mamma bear house in the hope that some countryside quiet will let me focus.

So tell me... how do you get motivated when you really don't want to do something?  I need all the help I can get!

And on with the roll call of what's been distracting me from 4,000 words of youth work management theory this week :)

Sadly not a lot apart from textbooks!  However, some things I ordered from Amazon arrived today, so added to my must-read list are Henrietta's War: News From the Home Front 1939-42 by Joyce Dennys and Wartime Women: A Mass Observation Anthology: A Mass-observation Anthology of Women's Writings, 1937-1945 by Dorothy Sheridan.

Dancing to:
A lot of Glenn Miller, as usual!  I've discovered the amazing effect opera has on my levels of concentration, so I've also been playing a lot of The Magic Flute.  And here's my two favourite songs of the moment...

Best TV introduction ever?

I've hardly turned my TV on in the last week or so!  But when I have, I've been mainly watching / falling asleep to series one of Land Girls  Thoroughly fluffy and enjoyable :)

Generally loving:
Any time I'm away from my uni work.  Soy vanilla lattes.  Practising my ukulele.  Writing plans.  Convincing people in the office they should cheer every time I walk in the room.  All the pictures my sister sends me of her baby bunnies.  Catching up on The Archers.  Buying tickets for more dances :)  Twitter!  I finally understand it (maybe)... find me @Nana_Jen

And that's it!  Hope everyone's got a lovely weekend planned.  In with the studying, I'll hopefully be off to watch Black Swan, finally!

Jen xxxx

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Peachy Keen 08.02.11

Hello lovelies! Are you having a good start to the week? Mine's been mostly filled with essay work, boo, but in a week's time it'll all be done (for now!) and the fun can start again...

Otter love! Just because we all need some cuteness sometimes :)

So what's been happening in my world of the internet this week?

I've been planning lots of things to do and read once my work's out the way.  And Persephone books is definitely responsible for my to-read list growing!  I'm tempted to try the 6 month subscription... it's a vintage reading geek's paradise :)

I love the film noir genre.  There's a super box set sitting on my table, again waiting for me to finish my work.  Radio 4 has this interesting background piece on some of the big names in film noir; I've not listened to any of the shows, but I want to!

This article on book collecting is a bit like my 'ghost of Christmas yet to come'.  Yep, I really am a book geek... the bookshelves on my landing are arranged my colour and then alphabetically, the ones in my room are all my favourites (still two book cases' worth) and are organised into genres :)  Secret librarian fantasies maybe?

I found this super interesting.  I spend a lot of time worrying that I'm not achieving enough, and reading this article was exactly what I needed.

I'm not an online game person, but Winterbells is just adorable. Bunny in the snow!

And finally...

Katy Carr! I'm learning to play this on my ukulele at the moment :)

Just in case the otters didn't fulfill your daily cute quota...

And now it's time for me to catch up on Lark Rise to Candleford!

Jen xxxx

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Hedna's Vintage Nightclub and fangirl happiness!

Hey chaps!

So last night Bob and I headed over to Hedna's Vintage Nightclub at The Stables in Milton Keynes.  I was so so excited about seeing Katy Carr and then getting my swing on.  And of course, before we went my housemate took a couple of photos :)

Hehe, we wanted to do a very 'formal' pose, and then show off our dancing skills :)

So then we were on our way!  It was lovely when we got there, everyone was all dressed up and there was a photographer wandering round (when the photos are up I'll link them).  

Katy Carr was first on and she was brilliant.  She played 'Lili Marlene' which is one of my favourites, and loads more but I'm on a time limited internet here :)

ANYWAY.  The main point of my story!  After Katy had played, Bob and I headed out for a cigarette, but first I went to tell Katy how fab I thought she was, and get a photo because that's how much of a fangirl geek I am...  She was pretty much the nicest person I've ever met and took us into her dressing room and made us coffees and gave us cake and we spent ages talking about Swimbridge (a tiny village in Devon that I love, and in fact is how I discovered Katy because she'd played at the village hall there!).  So yep, my night was pretty much made :)


Hedna's overall was fab, the music was great and everyone looked lovely.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that at the next one there's more room to dance!!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Getting my knit on...

Despite the ever impending university deadlines, it's not all work work work round here.  I'm having a bit of a knitfest at the moment (my knitting comes in waves of productivity) so I thought I'd show you what's currently on the needles!

As an after Christmas treat, I bought myself a copy of Vintage Knitwear for Modern Knitters.  I'd been tempted with it for a while, but I buy so many pattern books that I kept putting it off.  Finally I gave in and settled into my first project.  It's a lovely little cardigan from the 30s.

Isn't it darling?  Given that most of my knitting happens on the bus between offices, I think it's progressing quite well.  The wool I'm using is more navy than in the photo (silly camera phone!), and I'm  contemplating using a lovely 'Gryffindor Gold' that the ladies in my office gave me as a birthday present for the accents instead of white... any thoughts?

After seeing this beautiful suit, I'm really inspired to go back to another work-in-progress that fell by the wayside.  This is from a lovely little 1940s pattern book that I stumbled upon in a charity shop near my work:

It's lovely but the pattern is very monotonous and I have the world's shortest attention span... I'm about 6 inches in having started it in August.  Oops!

So there's my projects... is anyone else knitting up a storm these days?

Love Jen xxxx

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Peachy Keen 01.02.11

Image from A Softer World.  Love it!

Happy February everyone!  Can't believe we're a whole month into the New Year already, whew.

So this weekend one of my housemates moved out to his very own batchelor pad.  It's a bit strange because he was the first friend (rather than boyfriend) that I've lived with, and he will be much missed, but also I'm excited as we suddenly have lots more space and it's time to get rearranging!  I've spent all day moving furniture and cleaning, now there's that lovely knackered feeling where I just know curling up in bed is going to be great :)

So what's been good on the internet this week?

I'm loving the Tea, Love & Anarchy blog at the moment.  She's just started a series about frugal living, which is something I love and really need to try harder with.  I'm there on the food and general living side, but just can't resist lattes and pretty dresses lol.

Failing to help me in my bid for frugality is Puttin' on the Ritz.  They're a made-to-measure vintage repro business and it's all just beautiful.  Someone hide my purse!

Rod's 1940s' Events Calendar is an essential for all you vintage enthusiasts in the UK... I find out about all the best events here.  Roll on Hedna's at the weekend, yay!

I felt bad when I giggled at this.  But I still giggled.