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Saturday, 29 January 2011

New magazine

The February issue of the local magazine that I edit came out yesterday with the pansies photograph on the cover. It's always good to see my thrifty finds earning their keep. I found the blue tureen years ago at a table top sale, and the fabric last summer at a car boot sale.
I have tried out all sorts of covers: buildings, local views, nature shots - and the ones people usually mention are the still life photos. As a free magazine, we need to find a way of keeping our copies on the kitchen table and out of the recycling bin. Making an attractive cover has to help the cause!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Colourful interludes

The new issue of BBC Homes and Antiques fell on my mat this morning. It's my favourite UK magazine at the moment: I like the fact that the homes featured are not interior designer 'greige' domains that look as if they have been put together on a mood board in some design studio and never lived in. I much prefer the quirky vibe of the H&A look. And anything that says Thrifty Chic on the cover automatically gets my vote.

I found these wonderful old skeins of mending wool (top) in a charity shop for 25p each. I took all the bright ones, although I wish I'd scooped the whole batch now, as the labels are fantastic. I am building a good collection of needlework accessories.
Finally, my Marilyn Moore shirt has to make an appearance as I am loving colour this week. These clothes are beautiful, but they are way, way beyond my budget. Then I discovered that a local clothes shop discounts them by 70 per cent at the end of sale time. I waited and waited, and finally, today, there it was. A proper bargain.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

More brightness

These crochet blankets are still making a regular appearance in interiors magazines and on style blogs, I'm glad to say. At one time, I amassed a huge collection of them, but I've since whittled this down to a pink version and a green one. I am always looking for them when I'm out on a vintage hunt, but it's rare to spot one with truly great colours.
I like this blog which gives the blankets a new twist. Somehow, they always look a little bit more glamorous and desirable in a Scandi or Dutch interior, I don't know why this is.  

Monday, 24 January 2011


The colourisation of my house goes on....stripes on an M&S towel and bathmat (top and bottom photo, Vintage Home range) and a secondhand scarf from Oxfam (middle), bought today.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Book love

I love old school text books, and this watercolour painting book is a favourite. Perhaps it is because I am partial to both tulips and birds, and there are plenty of each in here. It gives very precise instructions on how to paint them. I had not realised that watercolour painting was so prescriptive until I went on a painting course just before Christmas and we literally made a picture almost by numbers. It's very different to my usual haphazard method of trial and quite a bit of error -  but some of it was useful.

Books have been on  my mind a lot this week with the news that 600 public libraries are to close in the UK.
It is causing controversy, I am glad to say. I am a huge supporter of libraries and I use mine every single week, sometimes more, and have done for years. The habit began in childhood, as with so many people, and it has never left me. My mum would take my brother and I to our large old Victorian city library every Friday: I can remember getting picture books as a tiny child, then pony stories and school tales, and as a voracious teenage reader, finally being let loose in the adult section. 
But it's not just nostalgia which makes me so cross about the library closures. The implication is that they are a bit outdated but I see how many people use my local one, and I am sure it's not unusual. When I was there last week, it was buzzing. The computer stations were full (mainly young people doing college work). A large home schooling family were in the children's section. There were older citizens reading the newspapers, and many people browsing the shelves. I use the online reservation service all the time and have sourced some wonderful new titles this way.
We cannot all afford to buy books on Amazon or access them on Kindle e-readers or iPads. Books are civilising, something our society really needs, and it will be a sad, sad day if these cuts go ahead. 

Saturday, 15 January 2011

High Street vintage

I was very interested to see that Marks and Spencer are doing a vintage homes range. I picked up their free magazine yesterday and read it while on a train journey to London to meet some friends. I had my notebooks, my little Roberts radio plugged in (I still prefer it to my iPod sometimes) and wiled away a very pleasant hour in transit.
I liked some of the stronger colours in the M&S range, and it reminded me of this fabric (top), which came in a box of linens that I bought a few months ago. The old linen was a previous find - I love the old price label. The two should make a great cushion - my project for today.

In passing, I found this lovely Seventies bag in a charity shop yesterday. I am trying so hard not to buy new clothes but for £4.95, I thought this counted as a thrifty purchase.....

I am just editing this post to show the finished cushion. I couldn't wait to get started on it, and I like the way it has turned out. The tea cup and saucer are by Midwinter, and they are not my usual style but the blue tones made me get them out and pose them with the cushion. I think it is must be the Angie Lewin mid century modern influence that made me buy all six of them (that and the £2.99-for-everything price tag)....

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Making a picture

Working on a local magazine means that we have a limited budget for our photography and editorial. But that doesn't mean that we don't try very hard to make it the best we can. Today, photographer Dave and I spent a couple of hours working on a cover shot. It was not the easiest task: there was very little natural light and we only had the garden centre pansies to create some colour.
Although I look as if  I am about to eat the cover stars, I was actually propping them up with cocktail sticks and misting them with a water spray. We shall see if we did manage to get something we can use for our February cover. I have huge respect for those stylists and photographers who create the images in many of my favourite magazines. It is not an easy task!

Sunday, 9 January 2011


I woke early, full of ideas and plans. I put this down to an inspiring new book purchase, Plants and Places by Angie Lewin. Last evening, I was completely engrossed in this, and it has totally fired me with enthusiasm. I love the way that the book shows the artist's inspirations (seedheads, feathers, coastline etc), her sketches and preparations, and then the finished artworks.
It sent me to my fabric stash to sort out some material to make a new cushion (I can only sew in straight lines, but at least it means I can make cushions). I shall put this together later on. Then it was off to the auction centre to collect two lots that I bid for on Saturday. A slightly mad collection of old sewing items, and three small suitcases to add to my growing leather mountain.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

In search of colour

Today the sun shone! I was in search of some plants to use for a front cover shot for the local magazine that I edit, but of course, there is very little to be had at the moment, so it really had to be pansies.

Back in the summer, I purchased a lovely old copper saucepan at a car boot sale, and I've been waiting for an opportunity to use it. Last night, I polished it until it glowed, and I shall see what the photographer thinks of the idea on Tuesday. There is a back up plan. A pretty old lidless blue and white tureen that was one of my first ever vintage buys (a very, very long time ago). I found the fabric piece at a car boot sale, too.
The thing I like best about this old pan are the initials in the copper, a beautiful detail.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Looking ahead

I know we should appreciate each season for its attributes, but I can't help it, I would like to fast forward through January and February. I am looking at bulbs and plants, and longing to see some green shoots poking through the soil (although my snowdrops are making a reluctant appearance). So, today I thought I would cheat and use a couple of spring-like shots from last year.
The anemones in the basket are real. I took the photo on a sunny March day after a visit to the market. The second shot is on location at my friend Tracey's florist's shop Foxtail Lilly in nearby Oundle, a wonderful place to anticipate the growing season.
Today, I cheered myself up with a quick and very thrifty shopping spree: a gorgeous leather granny purse from my local Sue Ryder charity shop and a little box of vintage Liberty print hankies. Flip the lid and there they are, a riot of colour. I shall photograph them when the light is better.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Time to......

Last precious days of holiday give time to paint watercolours and spend time sitting with the radio on, candles lit and plans in the making.....

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New year, new finds

Paper heart garlands from a lovely website They are so delicate and pretty and a snip at £4.95. My plans for hearty walks over the holidays have been thwarted by bronchitis, so I've turned inwards to home projects to keep me sane.
I never, ever, ever find vintage fabrics in a charity shop, but I was lucky just before Christmas when I found this piece of 1950s print. I don't necessarily want to live with this look, but there is something amazing about this design.
And it brings a welcome splash of colour to a very grey and damp day outside.
Happy New Year. I hope you come back again soon.