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A butterdish, a bin, books and a brooch

Home from the holidays, and what a cracking time. Ramona and I spent the first week with a friend and her tiddlywinks camping on a farm in Weymouth. The combination of roaming animals, mountains of haybales to climb, eco credentials, a cheap and perfect organic shop and a whole coastline to itself made this a place we will be heading back to every year for the rest our lives I think!

And this last week, all three of us went away with my folks to hike around the Cotswolds. Every single day involved a charity shop trawl/ car boot, a mammoth amount of reading and a ramble through the countryside. Perfect.  My parents are equally as devoted to charity shopping as Tim and I (my Dad actually recently took up collecting vinyl again just so he could keep my Mum company- love, right there, innit?) so needless to say we came back with a car twice as full as going.

Here are a few of the things that made me yelp Hooray…

We have been looking for a new-old butter dish for a while as our current one smashed and 3 kinds of glue have failed to keep it together. They turn up a lot in charity shops and I am always surprised at just how ugly a butter dish can be! But a few months of hunting and I think this one, with it’s delicate flowers, is really delightful.

 

I think probably one of my weirdest small collections are retro bins. (Mwhaha that totally makes me a bin collector.)  We have one in every room but when I saw this one, with it’s Eric Carle style design I knew I’d find a corner for it. Weird, but handy, no?

 

I am so pleased with the stack of ancient hardback books I got from a car boot. They were 70p each and I got them primarily for *whispers* crafting but since getting them I have opened them up, and read their words and felt their pages and now I really truly couldn’t possibly NOT just leave them be.

The cover of the Book of Common Prayer is falling apart but the colours inside are still resplendent.

 

And it has an inscription to a kind old soul for donating coal to the poor from Churchill’s granddad!

 

I am especially in love with my Hans Christian Andersen Fairytales find- the illustrations are so whimsical.

 

 

And one last illustration, because it is after all Monday- and Magpie Monday at that!

 

Today’s final find is this 20p brooch. Awhite bird flying into a blue cloud, or a seagull into the sea, depending which way you pin it. TWENTY PEE! Hoorrayyyyyy!

Of course, we bought about a million other things too but they didn’t begin with B so they didn’t meet the grade today, I’m afraid. But I am sure they’ll turn up one other Monday in some other bizarre grouping.

Did you find any little Holiday Hoorays this summer?

You are joining in with the Charity Shop Blog Hop, yeah? Linking up on Thursday 13th September? Cool. Just checking.

 

 

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Our recycled kitchen – a makeover from new to old

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Around this time last year I posted that my dearly beloved had ripped out the kitchen due to us finding a retro cooker that we wanted to install. It just felt rude to bung such a nice nostalgic beast in our existing Nineties kitchen so we decided to let our love of all things old reign supreme.

Another year later and it is about time I did the final update, our makeover from new to old.

The before pictures aren’t terribly good. They never are, eh?  I think this is because there is often nowt to shine, but also because of some deep reluctance to spend too much time peering at it all. Let’s just say there was ALOT of pine cladding.

Left hand side BEFORE

A low hanging ceiling with weird fake beams. Laminate flooring covering up stunning Victorian boards.

A huge pantry – it was an original, ancient cooling sytem but it just took up so much space. A boring tin sink with an ill fitting cabinet.

It was all so very dark and dreary.

*extreme makeover  voice* It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears but here is our new bright and cheery family kitchen….

We ripped out the cupboards. We were lucky to find some exactly matching vintage tiles in the basement of a derelict house round the corner, we popped those up to cover the spaces we’d exposed.

Tim runs a youth club in the place I used to go to Seacadets as a kid- they were chucking out the old benches so we made shelves out of them. The very benches I would have been resting my sorry, freckly young ten year old self.

The enamel tins are our new pantry- we found them in France when we drove 12 hours to a car boot.

And we pulled the excellent bench tops out of someone’s skip (with permission, of course!)

These are old lights from a butchers- we found them on Ebay, £17 for the pair. To find them we didn’t type “vintage” or even “traditional” but “trditional.” Is it terribly wrong to benefit from other people’s mistakes?

Tim found this whole sink for £25 on Gumtree, and got to grips with plumbing to install it. Using some old table tops and doors from an old cabinet he carpentered a unit for it. (Cor, Kiwis are bloody ace. Do marry one, if you can.) The tiles, we  swapped with a local cafe, in exchange for building them some veg beds.

The retro blind is really a sneaky table cloth, and some of our Midwinter crockery sits upon a shelf we found in a bin and painted blue, and you can also spy the hooks I made from vintage spoons.

And here is the star of the show, our beguiling old oven. He was casted off, into the streets, along with these cupboards either side. A good clean, and a lick of paint on the cupboard doors, and they add a cheer from yesteryear to our kitchen.

When our fridge broke we took the opportunity to get one that fitted in with our theme. We had to hire a van to bring it home from the furtherest corner of Essex but we are so glad we did. It isn’t that old so is still efficient (although its huuummmm would tell you otherwise) but hails from the States which is why it looks so different. It has an ice maker much to my husband’s utter joy.

And this little corner adds a little pop of colour – we found it in someone’s garden and snazzied it up with some paint.

We had help with plastering the ceiling, and Tim picked up enough to some other walls, but other places we just exposed the brick. I love the texture of all the rubbly walls, recycled wood and shiny, colourful kitchen paraphernalia.


We spend such a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking, drinking coffee and eating so we are pleased we did this, despite saying we initially wouldn’t bother. I know it isn’t your usual makeover, and loads of you are possibly looking at the BEFORE pictures thinking it looks miles better HAARHA. But we love it’s quirky little self, it gets my heart all a flutter.

What do you reckon on this cornicopia of found objects?

PS The small and superior photos were taken by Jenny Harding during the Pretty Nostalgic shoot. She does a lot of gorgeous vintage style shoots.

PPS I’d love you to enter my giveaway – retro and Cath Kidston fabric, a 1982 Twinkle, a Midwinter tea cup and a glue gun! (An obvious mix!) Come over and say hi!

Sew old skool

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I have been sewing since I got my first second hand machine for my eleventh birthday. I got into it immediately, once my aunty passed on her know-how. I felt such achievement whipping up easy pencil cases and cushion covers. I never excelled at sewing in school though – I found the projects inane (why get teens to sew a picture of a house?? Rather than a boob tube?) So I spent most of the class hand stitching my fingers together.

Still, on the quiet, I kept at it through my teenage years, mixing up typical clubbing (er, I’m gonna be honest with you here: slightly chavvy) attire with the odd home made number. I have ZERO skill – I simply can’t get my head around patterns, but get by with my fair share of stitching a line/ trying it on/ unpicking/ stitching another line…

I left that original sewing machine at my In Law’s home in NZ, they are kindly looking after it for me. So for our last 5 years here we have been on the hunt for the perfect one – ending  up with a bit of a collection. (Even though since motherhood my sewing has mostly been ornamental – cards out of vintage  kids books and the like- or 5 minute jobs – like whimsical lace flapper bands.)

I began with this beautiful old singer on the top shelf- my mum gave it to me for my birthday, it was a bargain £15 from the Oxfam in West Wickham. I can’t seem to find out how old it is. There is no pedal, only a hand wheel, so quite old- possibly early 1900s? It came with a beauty bundle of little bits and peices and a stunning wooden box.

Just days after being given this my husband saw a similar wooden coffer by a wheelie bin on the street. He bought it home and we had some fun trying to gently break into this locked box. Once we did we discovered an almost identical but just much less loved machine. There he is on the bottom shelf.

Whilst they look incredible, they are a bit slow to work with! For my next birthday Tim found me this beautiful retro Singer on Gumtree:

Like most electric Singers it is an absolute DREAM to work with. We have much fun, this old machine and I. However, it doesn’t do Zig Zag. I use Zig Zag stitch quite a bit so I do miss it. When we came across a machine in a charity shop called the ZIG ZAG O MATIC, we did have a bit of a laugh and pounced on it immediately. (Read all about that adventure here – it was my first Magpie Monday link up. Ah, fond memories!)

It ran well for a while but then started playing up, getting all clunky and it quickly got relegated to the bench.

And our fifth and final machine is also tucked under there, keeping Zig Zag company. He was another discarded box on the street, hauled home and broken into. We borrowed the motor from Zig Zag to get him whirring again and now he is a happy little mite.

Ramona loves fishing out the reels of cotton from their jars, popping them on every sticking out thing she can. She turns their wheels, fiddles their dials. Learns a lesson about not playing with sharp things every time the needle pokes her. (BAHA, jokes, we have removed those, promise.)

We are a loving rehab for old sewing machines. I think they are beautiful, filling little corners of my home with their history. I love imagining the stories they’d tell – the hands working their wheels, the hundreds of  fabric, fashions of the day, they would have had fed through them, who they first belonged to and who eventually forgot them.

Meanwhile, my quest continues. My dream machine is retro enough to look beautiful on our side board but new enough to work smoothly and have zig zag. Can you keep your eyes peeled for me?! Or if you’d like to do a swap, let me know…!

Linking up with the magical Liz and Magpie Monday – celebrating all things secondhand.

Shake your yoghurt maker

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So how good for you is yoghurt? Like, WELL good. Amazing protein, jam packed with gut protecting bacteria and also, umm, I dunno, other good stuff I suspect. Calcium and things.

And it is incredibly delicious – my little lass Ramona puts nutritious yoghurt away like the Hungry Caterpillar getting through the treats page. (She is OBSESSED with the treats page – you know;  ice cream, chocolate cake, lollipop, cherry pie. She doesn’t want to read the rest of it. We just stare at the treats and when I have finished reading the list of yummy morsels out she implores “More?”  and I read it over and over and over again. Really, what’s so important about the transforming into a butterfly bit anyway? Back to the treats, mummy!)

But, for real, HOW EXPENSIVE is yoghurt? Especially if you get the organic, live, probiotic stuff.

So imagine my delight when, for 50p I discovered THIS at a jumble sale:

Why is a seventies curling set gonna help with my yoghurt conundrum I hear you ask?! I can understand your confusion. Let me explain.

It is actually a yoghurt maker.

It is a retro Bel electric yoghurt machine, minus a plug. We popped one of those on the end and got straight to work experimenting with the best home-made yoghurt recipe. It is incredibly simple and basically just involves making yoghurt from yoghurt. (You couldn’t make it up.)

I’ll give you the recipe we use, because you might come across one of these bad boys at a car booty (these were ALL the rage in the seventies) or Ebay. You might also try one of the many other options like wrapping some jars in a tea towel and leaving in the hot water cupboard/ making it in a thermos. Have a look here for more detail on yoghurt-maker-less yoghurt-making.

We have six cups in our machine so fill each one with the amount below. The whole batch comes to 50p – about a quarter of the shop bought cost.

To make one cup of yoghurt

  • A cup of  organic UHT milk (or milk heated to exactly 47 degrees – it has to be perfectly sterile.  We find UHT is the same cost and without the faff.)
  • A teaspoon of milk powder (this makes it thick and creamy)
  • A teaspoon of existing fresh, probiotic yoghurt (so we save a bit from the last batch to make the new batch)

Firstly, make sure you use super clean utensils as a bit of dirt can stop the good bacteria getting it’s action on.

Mix the milk powder thoroughly in with the milk, then stir in the yoghurt.

Plug it in over night (or set it up in a constantly warm place) – 12 hours seems to get the thickest result.

Put in the fridge for a little while, and then you get cold, seriously creamy, majorly cheap, incredibly healthy pro-biotic yoghurt!

You can eat it plain but we tend to get a bit naughty and stir in a teaspoon of lemon curd. Heck to the Yes.

Don’t you just want to slurp that right up?

The wonder that is Miss Lizzie B, host of Magpie Monday has flown the nest to a stunning resort in Portugal, where she is bathing in glorious pools and frolicking in the sunshine. *no really, not in THE LEAST jealous*

So I am STOKED to be having the Magpie Mondays over here at my place today. WOOT.

Just click this little guy to see and add the links:

Thanks for linking up or even just visiting. *Pops the lid from a jar of lemon curd yoghurt* *Offers round spoons*

Vintage Toys and a mother’s second hand strategy

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As soon as Ramona and I enter a charity shop or a jumble sale I zoom straight to the kids section and pick out the nicest (by nicest I mean oldest/ most wooden/ cheapest) toy or coolest kids book and place it into her hands with an excited exclamation of “LOOK- this is just the ticket!!”  I then move straight away from the kids section, out of danger territory. It may seem a bit mean, or a bit against my “child-as-unique-independant-person” philosophy but I simply CAN’T take home another giant, ugly, fluffy toy circa 1998- and this IS the thing she will choose if left to her own devices.

It is something we have to face, as parents. Kids toys ain’t often pretty – or perhaps often too pretty; pink, beribboned, cuddly. They can take up a lot of space and ruin the aesthetics of a room. I’m sure many of you don’t care, and I wish I didn’t.

But I do. I just dooooo.

Fortunately, the world of second hand provides a mountain of eyeball pleasing kids options. I am always on the look out for retro looking, vintage play things and have found some gorgeous numbers that Ramona loves too.

We have one area where the ugly (by ugly, I really only mean new. Why are new things so damn ugly?) things live, in an ancient deep drawer hidden to the side of the sofa.  And I have just recently launched an Exhibition of Old Children’s Things, on quite a prominent shelf, that all three of us enjoy looking at.

Apart from the Ukeleles, which were gifts,  all of these are second hand. I picked the abacus and clock up from a charity shop in Blackheath a couple of weeks ago for One Squid and found these little playmobil bike riders on that Legendary Farham visit. Eeek, I just love ’em.

I always keep my eyes peeled for little music instruments so that when Ramona’s chums come over we can all have a bash and a sing. We have an immense Salvation Army heritage- all my 3 generations on both sides, my parents, Aunties and Uncles are all ministers in the Barmy Army and Ramona does them proud as she tinkers with this “timbrel” (tambourine) I got for 50p last week at a Bootie.

She is singing “Wind the bobbin up” -which mostly just involves her saying “Pull, Pull” over and over and over. It is her favourite song, she bursts out in it approximately six times an hour but it also sounds a lot like her sound for “Poo” which results is us spending lots of time each day on unnecessary but tuneful potty visits.

And finally, just a couple of weeks ago at my local car boot in East Dulwich I found this pretty ancient skipping rope with a couple of scary mushroom guys for handles.

PS little while ago I posted about some other vintage toys and included some secondhand toy pillaging tips – have a broose. (That’s Scottish for browse.)

PPS Have you found any thing retro for your kids recently?

PPPS I am linking up with the magical Magpie Monday over on Liz’s blog – if you get a chance do go and have a squizz at all their wonderous second hand goodies.

PPPPS Have you noticed my new header? Can you tell me why it is blurry, the blithering, bladdy, blurry &a*t%r&!

PPPPPS If you enjoy reading this old blogaglog of mine, have you had a moment to put me up for a MAD blog award? There are loads of catergories but you could especially vote for me in the “Most Over-Vintaged Up Photo Editing ever” or “Most amount of Made Up Words In a Post In The World”.  No, seriously, I reckon Home/ Thrift/ Craft catergories are possible themes of mine? Muchos Gracias.

Vintage handmade cards – cowboys, swallows and deers

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When I was nine I sent an anonymous card to a girl in my class that I didn’t like much.  It said “You and your family smell like egg.” Obviously I failed at the disguise-your-handwriting bit and they totally busted me and I had to miss Neighbours while I wrote her an apology letter.

My cards don’t tend to be so cruel these days. They are mostly non existent, which is a bit better, but still rubbish. If I am going to see someone on their birthday then they are lucky and get a nice hand crafted number. But out of sight, out of mind- well, in mind, but not in envelopes or hands which is really more important. This is a problem as half my family live in New Zealand so they are never in sight. However, this is the Year of Change and I have pledged to send a little summin’ on people’s special days.

To make this Actually Happen, and in most thrifty of ways, in a spare half an hour yesterday I cut up some of my vintage Twinkle kids books, placed the images onto some ancient sewing pattern (this is the BEST craft resource – if you don’t already have some sewing patterns, do pick some up in a charity shop for 20p. Great for all sorts) and sewed it onto card.

Well simple but the graphics are cute and retro enough to work mostly by themselves, I reckon. And the old sewing paper just adds an abstract element- those random lines and letters and numbers, and texture. As for the sewing, I only really do this because my sewing machine is so big I can’t lose it where as keeping track of Pritt stick is beyond me.

Cutie little deer, a bit twee, but wouldn’t you like him as a pet?

Love soldiers, hate war.

Got a thing for cowboys? ME TOO!! Check out my Cowboy and Indian jars.

Swallows make my heart sing. Nice poem too- but did you know they had Twitter in 1974? NEITHS!

Needless to say Ramona is in LOVE with this duck card.

Ah, retro adventures.

Got any good quick, thrifty card making tricks?

If you like the look of these kids book graphics – have a squizz at the other things I whipped up with them.

PS If you get any of these cards sent to you anonymously saying you smell like egg IT WASN’T ME.

It’s been framed: thrifty home decor

My tea towel. I love it. I bought it in a Faversham charity shop for 50p and knew instantly that it’s destiny had changed. It was not going to end up drying soapy water off Nutella jars disguised as cups. It would be art. Hung with great joy upon our kitchen wall.

I bought the frame for £12 from another charity shop (ripped off I know, it is just an Ikea one) and painted it white. It now sits on our brick wall and adds a massive oomph of Old Skool England into our rather Frenchy kitchen.

There is a thrifty principle here. (Although you have clearly realised this is just an excuse to show off my tea towel.) If you see something pretty and it is kind of flat- frame it! Prints are expensive, framed prints even more so, we have only TWO actual arty prints in our whole house, but our shelves and walls are filled with nice bits and bobs stuffed into frames. Here are some things I’ve framed.

Photos (hahahahahahaha, just kidding)

Record Sleeves

Buttons

Wrapping paper (Map prints/ London underground prints)

The graphic from a reusable bag (the bird – a native NZ Tui – here)

A swatch of fabric

Obviously some of these things are more to provide background depth to a collection of things you have on a shelf (like the fabric) and others are more to be a central piece on your wall.

Just for example, a retro tea towel would work quite well:

Keep your eyes peeled for anything lovely that captures you, and always buy good frames if you see them in charity shops. Especially big ones as they are hard to come by. I nearly always end up giving my frames a lick of paint. White frames can be overdone these days but sometimes a white frame just provides an unobtrusive way to show off your goods.

This tea towel is so old it is Made in the UK – when did we last have a tea towel industry here?!

Done anything thrifty lately? Why not get on board with #ThriftyThursday! Or tell me about it in the comments box…