Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Elvis Chutney

This is the batch of spiced apple chutney I made before Christmas, a Nigella recipe (How To Be A Domestic Goddess). It's really smooth and lovely but with quite a kick - not unlike Elvis.

What better way to enjoy listening to the old hip shaker himself than on a bright red portable record player - and here's the one Santa brought my daughter!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Decking The Halls

Cloves and an orange are the ingredients for this Oldskool Christmas make. Mask the orange with tape so you know where the ribbon will lie then stud the orange with cloves - use a skewer and a thimble or you'll have sore finger tips.

The pomander really needs to dry out in a paper bag for a few weeks with the help of orris root or it may go mouldy - but this one will only be hanging by the tree for a few days over Christmas so I missed that step out.
It gives off the most wonderful Christmas scent ...

I rustled up a batch of mince pies for the army of tree decorators...

And finally - I bought a couple of new decs this year. Kitty Cat is from Paperchase but the reindeer prancing with baubles is from a pound shop up the High Street - result!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Christmas Frock In A Day

OK so here was the challenge - would the Christmas fabric I ordered online arrive before the jive party on Saturday? Could I run up a frock in a day? 

The answer is yes and yes!

I really fell for the range of Christmas crafting fabrics from Sherri Berry - mostly used for patchwork I suppose and small craft projects. Making a frock out of such seasonal fabric limits me to how often I’d wear it - although at first glance the Christmas titles on the record sleeves are not blindingly obvious, neither are the snowflakes on the background        …        from a distance
It was the dinky record players that made this fabric oh so perfect for the rock 'n' roll party at my regular jive dance class.

I had wanted to use this vintage pattern from the stash I blogged about here ... 

But on opening the packet - disaster! All the dress pattern pieces were missing - I could have made the cape, but that wouldn’t have covered much and baby it’s cold outside…
So it was back to trusty old New Look 6375.
The frock did only take a day to put together (although I pre-washed the fabric the day before) as I’ve said it’s such a simple pattern.
I think I could have pressed the seams a little better before I went out mind you!

Right that’s it - I’ve made 6 frocks from this pattern and it’s time to move on, get out of my comfort zone ...
... which is exactly what I did for the Christmas poinsettia swing dress I made along side this one - next post folks!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

I Made A Happy Birthday

My daughter requested a Victorian Sponge with fresh cream and strawberries for her birthday. I was happy to oblige!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Paris Cafe Pom Pom Frock

As an antidote to the cold weather, pour yourself a cocktail and view the Paris Cafe Pom Pom frock I made in the summer. I used my trusty New Look 6375 as this is a dress I go dancing in and this pattern really rocks when it comes to jiitterbug. By the time the night is done and the band have gone you can wring out any dancing frock I've worn .. it gets that hot.

The pom pom trim is an echo of a wonderful full circle skirt I had in the 80's that had 3 tiers of much larger pom poms - I've obviously mellowed with age.

The frock is decorously draped over my recently acquired vintage Ercol chair bought from Yesterday Furniture, run by the wonderful Gabrielle Sharp who sources fabulous pieces internationally and has storage here in East London.
So comfy for curling up on with coffee/book/Mad Men on the box.

Friday, 26 November 2010

I Made Stollen

Stollen is a traditional German Christmas cake, more of a bread really packed full of dried fruit and marzipan. It's my favourite Xmas treat although mince pies come a close second. I made this one to take to our annual family pilgrimage to the Log Cabin.

Quite frankly it weighed a ton, light and fluffy it was not. The dough refused to rise before baking and I was worried the thing might be inedible.

Once the loaf was out of the oven and dusted with icing sugar, I decided it was an homage to David Lynch - er, for all those who are familiar with the Eraserhead baby..

It was a pretty dense loaf - but I have to say, lightly buttered and with a mug of steaming coffee (damn fine) it tasted wonderful! It is served here on my latest crockery find - a 30's spotty plate I picked up from a boot fair last month ... and I got two tureens to match, all for a couple of quid.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

I Made A Start on Christmas Shopping

Ah November! The month when I flounce out of the High Street declaring that everyone will get a thrifted or homemade gift for Christmas. I don’t always come up with the goods but at least I made gift tags last year from thrifted playing cards.

Vintage Fairs are a great place to go for Christmas goodies and with quite a few in London it’s useful to have a mental list of what you’re shopping for and how much cash you’re willing take - larger fairs will accept cards, smaller outfits can be cash only.

I was optimistic as I headed for the fair that was the precursor to the Inaugural Vintage Throwback Night at Bloomsbury Lanes in West London. The 1st class retro bowling venue had opened its doors to vintage vendors from 12pm til 5pm to get everyone warmed up before a spectacular line up of retro music, talks and burlesque in the evening.

Entrance to the Vintage Fair was only a quid and a stamped hand guaranteed a discount to the club night later. This was good; sometimes parting with upwards of a fiver on the door can leave a bitter taste if I come away empty-handed. A good shopping experience means plenty of stock and a great atmosphere - happily the Bloomsbury Lanes had both.
There’s nothing like shopping for timeless stuff in a retro environment - the bowling lanes under the Tavistock Hotel tell of times gone by with retro graphics on the wall, a fully functioning diner and great music. The lanes were open and the rumble and scatter of pins being bowled over was a cool backdrop.

The place was dark and labyrinthine with stalls crammed shoulder to shoulder, but the traffic flowed once I got into the belly of the place. The Lipstick and Curls girls were there if you needed a pampering, I saw one guy having his ducktail seen too and another shopper came away with a head full of fabulous curls pinned into place. Sustenance is essential - I need to punctuate my rummaging with constant coffee top ups so thankfully there were cupcakes a plenty and very reasonably priced rolls and wraps if you didn’t fancy the full on burger and chips experience at the diner.

I’d come to this Fair with my vintage loving daughter and we both have different agendas, to her vintage speaks of gaudy 80’s knits, altered skirts and ankle boots whereas I am most definitely a 50’s throwback with a 40’s vibe. It is so much harder to find good quality mid century clothes at vintage fairs these days that aren’t out of my price range - a different tale to the early 80’s when I stuffed my wardrobe with full skirted frocks Doris Day would have died for at only a few quid.

The stalls had a reasonable variety of clothes and accessories. The Fair was just the right size - a huge fair makes the whole experience a bit of a chore, too small and I come away frustrated. The ladies toilets were decent enough size for try ons and vendors were happy for you to examine clothes nearer mirrors with more natural light .. a good co-operative vibe with reasonable prices, excellent food and bowling to boot made the afternoon extremely enjoyable.

My daughter bought the most, I bagged some smaller pieces of jewellery as gifts. Naturally the worst thing about buying vintage as gifts for others is all the stuff that I want for myself…
Honestly - I did need a pair of winter boots. So rather than pay over the odds for overrated slippers I nabbed a bargain with a pair of 80’s does 40’s fur trimmed black leather ankle boots - so tacky they’re cute and only £15!

Ever wondered what to do with all those fabulous postcard flyers that vintage vendors hand out at these events? Watch this space.
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