Friday, 30 March 2012

Homage to hippy

                                                        I love a maxi. You may have noticed.

                       I have amassed quite a collection of 1960-70s beauties, both dresses and skirts.

                                                                      See? Maxis galore.

But looking at them all, they tend to be of the more dressy variety. I wouldn't say I do the casual caftan hippy thing at all.

So this 1970s Indian cotton wrap maxi skirt is something of a departure for me. Sure, it's a maxi. But it's cotton! And hippytastic! And the hem is sitting a bit wonky, but hey man, it's cool, straight lines are for... well, straights.

So now I'm feeling the need to show you my latest millinery find, a 1950s (maybe?) straw hat. Nothing like mixing up your eras for a bit of excitement.

It is indeed me under there, but I am working on the assumption that if I can't see the neighbours, they can't see me. And I'm in disguise anyway, they'll never recognise me. That's the way to deal with photos in the garden.

The hat came from my happy hunting ground of Chesterfield flea market. One of these days, I'll take some photos and show you the delights of the market, it's great. There are an increasing number of vintage stalls, some of which have prices out of my league, but I have got to know a few stall holders and they cut me a reasonable deal as a regular customer.

   Look at this cute little turquoise 1960s Peter Barron dress. I think it's slub silk, it's beautiful quality. £6.

All these items were photographed straight after being pulled out of my bag, so they are looking a little crumpled and shabby. But they will scrub up well, and once I've had a trying on session, I'll decide which are keepers and which will go on Ebay.

                                            Love the cheerful tulip print on this Jaeger pleated skirt. £4.

Mint green 1970s Mexican cotton sundress, with embroidery, ribbon and crochet detail. Almost too much joy. £4.

1970s autumnal print angel sleeve dress, £4. You must know by now that I am a pushover for an adorable angel sleeve. It must be because of my angelic nature. Just ask my children. On second thoughts, don't.

                    And finally this delightful detail is from a 1950s silk tourist scarf from the Bahamas. £1.

So the kids have broken up for the Easter holidays, the jumble sale, coffee morning, school discos and parents evenings are all behind me, and I can relax and enjoy some peace and quiet. Yeah, right....

1970s Indian maxi skirt (flea market, £4), black t-shirt (no idea, found it in a drawer), sunglasses (vintage shop), bangles and tan sandals (charity shopped), silver/gold pendant on leather thong (Zakynthos, another lifetime)

                                                                             Peace, sisters!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

I was looking for a job and then I found a job....

                     ... and Heaven knows, I am a little bit miserable now, because I can't take it.

I am one of those women trapped in the position of not being able to earn enough to pay for the childcare I need to work. I was lucky enough to be offered some hours working as a receptionist in a local GP surgery, and though the pay was a low hourly rate, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get back into paid employment. But when I checked out the childminding costs, it just doesn't stack up financially, especially considering that in the school holidays (all 13 weeks of 'em), I would be paying out double what I earned.

It's been hard to do, but I've had to say no. I can't bring myself to work for not much more than nothing, given all the additional stress and hassle which accompanies working when you have young kids. Is that the right decision? I don't know, I'm conflicted about it. Reality has slapped me in the face like a cold wet fish; I probably won't be in a position to work until the kids are old enough not to need childcare. And Smallest is only 6...

Work isn't the be-all-and-end-all, is it? I have a young family, and I do a ton of voluntary work at school and for the PTA, and I sell clothes on Ebay. So why do I still - after 6 years - find it so tricky to answer that loaded question, "What do you do?" I do a lot. I just don't get paid for it.

     Right. Got that off my ba-bongos (thank you, Karen, for improving my vocabulary on a regular basis).

              And anyway, you wouldn't want to give your urine sample to this woman, would you? Haha!

Yes, I'm back indoors. And do you know why? Because the gloriously unseasonal sunshine in the UK is bringing the neighbours out into their gardens, and I'm too shy to take my tripod out and pose with them watching. How do I get over that? I don't generally care too much what anyone thinks of me, but the charge of being vain or narcissistic makes me feel very embarrassed. I don't blog pictures of me because I think I'm beautiful, far from it. But how to explain it to neighbours?

   1960s Mr Darren maxi dress (Ebay), vintage fruity hair decoration (flea market), bangles (charity shop), turquoise pendant (gift)

            Oh good grief, I think we've had enough angst for one post. It's too gorgeous a day to be moaning.

                                                      So I'll try to make you ladies laugh instead.  

A couple of weeks ago, lovely Clare sent me this beautiful cheongsam (and a great Jaeger blouse and a vintage scarf too, will post about those later.) I love the dress but oh dear, it's a little big. And that caused me to pull this face. It ain't pretty...

                                                                             That's more like it!  

This is how I want it to fit, but since I can't go around with clothes pegs nipping in the back of my frock, I need some expert seamstress advice. There is a side zip, so my usual trick of taking a dress in down both sides won't work. Will it look lopsided if I just take in one side? I can't take the zip out, as I'll never be able to get the dress on! Should I cut it down the back and create a seam there? How do I ensure it sits flat? I don't want to ruin this dress, I love it, but it needs to fit. Help!

I have decided I need to up my Ebay game and get selling a bit more, so this is in my pile of vintage frocks to photograph and list. Isn't it a fabulous blast of 1980s kitsch?

                          Look at those Carmen Miranda-inspired shoulders. Mine's a pina colada. Cheers!


Monday, 26 March 2012

New York, London, Paris, Munich, everybody talk about pop music

These trousers (and the wall) are not dissimilar to the colour of my legs, so despite the wonderfully warm weather, I can't get them out until I've slapped on some fake tan... I'm hoping to distract you from the dull bottom half by a frenzy of pattern on the top - has it worked?

1960s dress (vintage fair), 1980s sunglasses (vintage shop), kimono-style jacket, knit trousers, leather belt, bangles, bead necklace, patchwork leather bag (charity shopped), Art Company sandals (some website sale, worn to death)

The lovely Vix tagged me a while back, and as it's a music-based tag, I've tried harder than my usual lazy response (ie. complaining it's too difficult, I caaaaan't, and then ignoring it).

I'm not repeating all the rules or tagging anyone else, I'm just inflicting the tracks of my teenage years on you.

But it's been a tricky task, it really has. How do you narrow down your teenage musical tastes and influences to a shortlist? Do you choose songs which meant the world at the time, but you never listen to now? Or those songs/albums which you continue to enjoy?  Oddball one-hit wonders which are completely of their time? Or serious musicians with long illustrious careers? Aaagggh!! I can't decide!

Now is probably the time to come clean and reveal how terminally uncool I am. Laugh all you like, I'm used to it. I utterly refuse to go along with the notion of guilty pleasures. If you like it, you like it - nothing to feel guilty about. They're only songs.

My grammar school years were 1976 - 1982. Just so you know the context.

Abba's glory years were probably the mid to late 1970s, and I adored all those songs; SOS, Fernando, Mamma Mia, Knowing Me Knowing You, Dancing Queen, Take a chance on me, The Name of the Game, Summer Night City, Gimme gimme gimme, Chiquitita. It's a shame they have been rendered hackneyed and boring by repetition and over-use, because they are perfect pop songs which take me back to the long hot summer of 1976 and beyond, to those early, emotion/hormone-fuelled years of "big" school. 

My next selection is Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street. While my friends were donning ripped t-shirts and pogo-ing in 1978, I was in love with this song. I have no idea why a song about separation, deluded dreams and failure so appealed to me, or why a grumpy, bearded alcoholic Glaswegian bloke spoke to me in a clearer voice than the angst-ridden teenagers of punk, but there you go. I was an old soul.

Another 1978 record was Kate Bush's The Kick Inside. I loved this album, all of it, but particularly The man with the child in his eyes. Kate's work is unique, individual, inspired and intelligent. This song is hauntingly beautiful and I still love it, and her quirky genius.

Everyone owned a copy of Dare by the Human League in 1981, so I have to choose Don't you want me? I'm sure it was a subliminal reason for opting to go to university in Sheffield. I imagined I would be bumping into Phil Oakey in the supermarket, and he'd ask me to join Joanne and Susanne as a backing singer. I'm still available, Phil.

Songs to Remember by Scritti Politti was the accompaniment to my A Level revision. My mum insisted I couldn't possibly concentrate with loud music playing. I could then, probably couldn't now, but I still happily listen to this album. The Sweetest Girl remains a gorgeous track.

And finally. I first heard Dimming of the Day as an album track covered by Any Trouble, a little-known, barely successful Manchester band of the 1980s, loved only by me, I think. I adored this song, and noted it was written by "R. Thompson". To my shame, I didn't know who R. Thompson was. I went on to discover the whole wonderful catalogue of Richard Thompson's melancholy genius, with Fairport Convention, ex-wife Linda, and his solo career. Dimming of the Day still makes my soul contract with joy. It's beautiful.

This was such a difficult but enjoyable task - thank you, Vix, for taking me back! I wanted to include some Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, the Grease soundtrack, Gary Numan, Adam and the Ants, Blondie, Roxy Music, Fleetwood Mac, Robert Palmer, Squeeze, Any Trouble, Heaven 17, Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder, Steve Winwood...

I could go on and on, and you'd all die of boredom.

So why not listen to the 1979 one-hit-wonderness of M? Shoobedoobedoowop...

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Girls just wanna have fun

When I had my first child, 10 years ago yesterday, I did not imagine I would be posting photos of her and me and her yet-to-exist sister on the internet. Funny how life can surprise you.

This photo shows you the difficult conditions under which I blog. There I am, in my finery, trying to take pictures in the garden, and this is the result. I'll give that arse a slap in a minute if you don't get it out of shot.

                                              No prizes for guessing what this expression was saying.

                                                                    Posing lessons from Smallest....

                           ... who is quite the comedienne. If you find pulling faces funny. Which I do.

                                                     The girls are fascinated with boobs. Aren't we all?

               1970s wrap maxi skirt, bangles and necklace (charity shop), 1970s felt hat (flea market), sandals and black top (retail)

Eldest had 4 of her lovely friends over for a sleepover last night, including a karaoke session (did you know karaoke is the Japanese word for sound of small strangled animal?)  This morning, they watched Grease while having a breakfast of popcorn and swiss roll. It's all about the carbs and the singing in this house.

I took her out into town today to buy her something to wear from a proper shop (ie. not a charity shop). My kids are really good about me acquiring their clothes from chazzas, jumble sales and hand-me-downs, but I did feel that she deserved something new for her 10th birthday. However, she wants Converse high tops. They are £40. For canvas shoes? For fucks sake! Haven't bought them yet (they didn't have her size) but despite the crazy expense, I did promise...

                                                                    Embarrassing Mother alert.

                         That's a face that says "Stop being such an arse, mother, and buy me those Converse."

                                               Happy Birthday to my beautiful double-digited LB!

                                                Hope you are all having a simply splendid weekend.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

I've been busy

Life has been a bit hectic for the past week, so I must apologise for not being around. I will be catching up on my blog reading and commenting as soon as humanly possible - I've missed my girls!

Firstly - Bristol. What a lovely city. We had a great time. Of course I only really took photos of the kids, which is poor blogging behaviour. I won't bore you with them, don't worry, but these pictures manage to capture something about my eldest two children.

We visited Bristol Zoo, which was great, and the kids wanted to go on the Zooropia experience. Here is Eldest LB in action.

And here she is again, striding along, high up in the air, while her younger brother clings to the pole for dear life. I think he may be traumatised for life by the experience. It was supposed to be fun...

                         It's true that an image can take the place of a hundred words - this one says it all.

        This was more to Smallest LB's liking - pretending to be a penguin chick hatching out of an egg.

                                                                                Cabot Tower....

                                      ... with a view of the majestic Clifton Suspension Bridge....

     .... and on a clear day, you can see Canada! I waved to you, Melanie Coconut, Ariane, Karen and Melanie!

                                                        Blue skies for a stroll by the harbourside...

                                           ... before we said goodbye to Bristol and headed for home.

           I've been experimenting with my tripod in the garden, starting with my inconspicuous corner...

... then moving further down the garden to the cherry tree (I'm showing you my non-grey roots, been to the hairdresser's - hurrah!)

                                                                    Trying a different angle...

                                             ... and now feeling highly visible and not a little foolish!

1970s Co-op crimplene maxi skirt (vintage fair), sheer purple blouse, belt, denim jacket, leather patchwork bag and boots (charity shopped)

   Will do my best to drop by all your blogs over the next couple of days, I want to know all the gossip!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Is that is tripod, or is the postman just pleased to see me?

                        I must be taking this blogging lark seriously, I've just bought a tripod for my camera.

Sadly it hasn't made my photos any better but at least I'm outside, and the camera is no longer balanced on the ironing board resting on a marker pen...

When I get braver, I might actually move around the garden, but at the moment I'm tucked in a corner out of sight of the neighbours.

How do I stop my photos being so over-exposed in the sunshine? I can't seem to adjust anything when the camera is set on the timer. It's only a point'n'press, so don't get too technical with me. I might cry.

Isn't it funny, I was gagging to wear my new hideous red shoes, but when I tried them with this outfit, it was all a bit too much, and I had to revert to my black boots. Still love the shoes, just need to figure out the tights to go with them. I'm not a natural at this styling thing, I have to try lots of options and frequently get it wrong.

                                                                     Oh well, they're only clothes!

1970s dress and boots (Ebay), cardigan (jumble sale), denim jacket and tights (charity shop), belt (Oasis sale), beret (gift from Patsy), black beads (gift from Helga)

I am collecting the kids from school at lunchtime tomorrow and we are all heading off to Bristol for the weekend, where we will be meeting up with my sister and her partner. We are all very excited.

Now I need to pack, so I will catch up with you all after the weekend. Have a good one, whatever you're doing!