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A posh ceremony and bargain glamour

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It is not every night you tuck a loofah under your hair and get on the bus to a posh awards ceremony, eating dry Wheetos out of your handbag in case the three course dinner takes a while to arrive. I was excited and nervous in even measure- like the equilibrium people have when they carry a bag of supermarket shopping in each hand, and you ask if they need help. “Noooo! It’s fine-  I’m all balanced out.”

I was heading to the MAD blog awards ceremony. I was SO looking forward to meeting the tens of other bloggers I interact with almost daily on Twitter, but there was a tiny bit of anxiety about not knowing anyone in real life, and a big bit about whether I would be the kind of person they think I am! Such a strange thing.

Turns out, every single person I met there was in fact EASILY equal to their Internet presence. Lovely, funny, intelligent. The Real Life to Internet and back again vortex doesn’t really distort people very much at all.

I met a whole load of bloggers and Tweeters from scratch too- my whole table was full of people I’d never come across before and I can not tell you what fun we had. I genuinely laughed until I had tears streaming down my face and had to rest my forehead on the table.

I am afraid to tell you that I didn’t bring back any gongs in the two categories I was in, but rest assured they went to absolute GIANTS in those areas – Red Ted Art for Craft and Queen Frugal for Thrift. And getting to meet my rival crafty and thrifty nominees was just a total, magical joy.

I keep thinking about the chats I had with all the different souls dotted about the room and smiling.

I am going on a bit, I know. Sorry. It is just, people are great, aren’t they?  I’d link to them all but I am too lazy. (Obviously, not that great. HA TOTALLY JUST KIDDING.)

As if I am some kind of fashion blogger…  I feel you all were so diligent in your advice on what I should wear I need to update you on all that:

Despite pretty much every single one of you reckoning on The LoveBoat, I chose Princess Royal. (What, think this is some kind of democratic utopia?) I was fully prepared to do it, in order to make you all proud, and then I woke up with the MOTHER of shoulder pimples, putting that strapless number right out of the picture.

Also, I love fashion, I do; colours, fabrics, patterns, new clothes. But when I leave the house I want to also leave my thoughts about my outfit there too. I spend a bit of time getting my gear on, but then it is on and I am done with it. No tugging, tucking, straightening, smoothing, standing up tall, holding tummies in, for me. That it why I will never be a true fashionista.

Every single thing I own is second hand, and it fills me with total glee to surprise people with that. If they like my on-trend coloured trousers, and I can say they were £5 from the Hospice shop, that pretty much makes my day.

I wanted to hit the glamour stakes on Friday in order to be a walking advocate of  the pre-loved life and the Oxfam Fashion Team with their seriously chic Boutique in Notting Hill massively helped me do that. I couldn’t normally give two hoots about designers but wearing something that is ordinarily well dear did make me feel The Business  (I guess that is how the whole brand thing works, eh?)

Just so you lot wouldn’t think I was a total wuss for ditching the saucy frock I went BIG TIME on the locks. This, a huge amount of liquid eyeliner (Okay, actually I am too cheapskate for that, I just put a paintbrush in my mascara) and gluing glitter on my shoes added the razzmatazz the dress needed.

 

Is that bargain glamour and the BIGGEST BEEHIVE IN THE WORLD OR WHAT!!!

I started work on it at 3pm, thinking it would take several goes and hours to do, but I was so happy with it after 15 minutes – and some help from a loofah and a pair of tights- that I left it. Which meant I spent the afternoon peering down at Ramona from my lofty space instead of getting in the den with her, lest she touch it. It wasn’t the “Seen and not heard” philosophy that made parents of the Sixties so aloof with their kids- they just didn’t want them bashing in their boufs.

I can totally understand.

I needn’t have worried- Even even the wind turbine of the Northern Line didn’t make a single dent and it arrived in tact and the bits and pieces didn’t fall out once. HOORAY!

Linking up with all those other marv second hand lovers over at Lizzie’s place. 

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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.

Secondhand- how low can you go?

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We have found some totally schwing things around the streets in the last week or so. Stuff we have uncannily been in need of.

I kid you not, the day Tim found this haul below, including massive enamel bowls, we had just bitten the bullet about having to buy a new washing up bowl from Pounduniverse. Then we got three cool looking ones for the price of one! (Which was free.)

It also included a couple of giant heavy based pots (perfect for our old gass cooker) . Someone was just clearing out their house and had stuck it all in the skip.

The morning we found this long runner for our corridor  Tim had just commented to young Ramona “We really need to get a better mat for this entrance.” Then, tada! Outside the estate around the corner. Pristine too. Weird, eh.

(Sorry that I am so Instagram happy, the thing is, without this retro filter these are just crap photos of a rug and a pot. But now, cos of the wonders of Instagram, they look like old crap photos of a rug and a pot.)

But anyway, with this secondhand cookingware, it could have been used for all sorts of business. As sick bowls for the frail and infirm. Chamberpots. Boiling up neighbourhood cats.  Yet now they have pride of place in our kitchen; we use them for our pasta and noodles and potatoes.  It has made me wonder about the oddest second hand thing you have ever bought/found/used?

Personally, second hand saucepans barely scratch the surface.

My worst?

Earplugs.

(But hey, I got a GREAT sleep in an airport as a result and what’s a bit of earwax between, um,  strangers? It was posh earwax too, very clean I ‘spect, as I pinched them out of First Class on my way out the plane.)

Tell me. Anyone wearing any charity shop pants?

My new (ancient) Zig-Zag-o-matic sewing machine. Guess what it does?

ZIG ZAG!

For my birthday this year my husband bought me a beautiful retro Singer sewing machine, but we quickly discovered it didn’t do zig zag stitching. I use zig zag alot as it requires less precision  with pesky single stitch you have to follow a line and can easily come away from the fabric, especially if you are talking/ holding the baby/ eating breakfast at the same time. Zig zag is like playing snooker with the cue the wrong way round.

So we have been keeping our eyes peeled for another old machine (it has to be aesthetically pleasing as I don’t want to have to hide it away when not using it) but within zig zag era.

We were in a charity shop in Sevenoaks last week (worth a visit for charity shopping-  5  mostly  overpriced shops but with a good selection of quality wool jumpers, boots and DVD’s) and like some kind of cosmic joke there sat an old sewing machine called the ZIG -ZAG-O-MATIC! It was £50 but when the guy heard our discussion (not intentionally loud, I’d never try and rip off a charity shop. When I say “never” I mostly mean “not that much”, and often rather than trying to bargain down I just don’t buy and then complain about how charity shops are soooo expensive. I know, I know, what a cheapskate) about how we only had a £30 budget he piped up with “How about £30 then?!”  Despite dropping it on the way to the train station it survived the journey home, and here it is, in all it’s glory. Our De Luxe, Grand, Zig-Zag-0-Matic, with it’s little box of extra goodies and quaint manual.

I love that they couldn’t really decide on the name so just called it all three things. You can see that diplomatic outcome taking it’s course in their boardroom, eh.

I really like all these little badges. So styley. More badges please, you people of the current design world!

All the little details, the dials, etc. They don’t make stuff this classy these days, eh.

And, I don’t know if I mentioned this but, this machine, yeah, it does ZIG ZAG.

The manual explains “This machine, by virtur (sic) of it’s design, permits you to do zig zag sewing…” Ummm. As if you could have got to page 35 of the manual without realising this feature.

These were the great days when you could just add “omatic” to everything and create an instant “does what it says on the tin” brand. Now you have to read the back of things to figure out what they do because product names are so cryptic. Ipods: Musicomatic. Easy. Although, it could get a little unweildy. Iphones: everything-you-can-ever-conceive-of -finding-out- or-buying-or-playing-or planning- plus – talking-on-the-phone- omatic.

Hmmm, also imagine what the 50’s would have called tampons.

And here is the little accompanying box, which I probably would have paid £30 for by itself because it is so cute.

Today I am linking up with Miss Lizzie B’s spectacular Magpie Monday where basically people get together to show of their recent bargainous swag. I have since been introduced to the most tenacious charity shopping extraordinaires- I mean, I thought I was obsessed, but some of these vintage-hooked peeps make my efforts look totally feeble. I am in awe.