I Am a Winner!

I Am a Winner!

:: Steeling Sheep – Shut Eye :: Dutch Uncles – Fester :: Cashier No. 9 – Lost at Sea ::
Recently, I was lucky enough to step through my front door and stumble across a wrapped, shiny brand new edition of Grazia magazine. Perhaps lucky was the wrong word choice, considering I nearly knocked my front two teeth out. A magazine subscription? Check. For ME? Check.
A week later, the same thing happened… the Grazia magazine I mean, not the tripping (that would just be careless). Grappling with my conscience, I decided to ring the magazine company and ‘fess up. The man assured me on the phone that it was indeed for me and I’d paid for it on my credit card, yikes. After a few panic stricken minutes, which involved me reciting the last 4 digits of all my major cards, he agreed to suspend the account.
It sometimes sucks to do the right thing. Even though Grazia is not my magazine of choice, it’s quite nice to come home to a glossy magazine and a hot bath. Ah the simple things in life! However, within ten minutes, there was an answering machine message awaiting me. I had won a competition! Little old me! Who’d have thought?
Ages ago, in the summer holidays, I’d bought a stick of Dove deodorant, filled in a competition form, popped it in the post and subsequently, forgot all about it. For the price of a second class stamp (every penny counts, or about 20 of them in this instance) I am now the proud winner of a year’s worth of Grazia. Even my mum is pleased, as it means she’ll get my hand me downs.
Do you have a magazine subscription? If so, what are you subscribed too? Does it brighten your day too?
As always, much love,
Donna (EBay addict extraordinaire!)


:: Bombay Bicycle Club – Evening/Morning :: The Weakerthans – Plea From A Cat Named Virtute :: Pavement – Cut Your Hair ::
Every year, I look forward to the Manchester Christmas markets. I love the hot pork barms with sage and onion stuffing,the Glühwein and the many sweet pastries on offer. Best of all, it reminds me of visiting Christmas markets in Berlin only a few years ago. So, with a Christmas shopping trip planned to Manchester, it was inevitable that we’d end up at the markets.
You’ve probably noticed that it’s got a wee bit nippy out there today, unless you’re lucky enough to be living in warmer climates. I always find it difficult to choose practical, yet warm, clothing. “But we’re only going shopping!” is a comment often passed by my other half. I absolutely adore my floral Henry Holland dress, but so often it sits in the wardrobe, neglected, because it’s too thin for winter yet too dull for summer.
Over the summer, I bought two basic cable knit jumpers from H&M. I really begrudged paying £30 for jumpers in summer. However, I knew they were a bargain and would go with everything! Now I love them! Layered over my dress, it has meant another item in my wardrobe is not going unworn anymore!
I didn’t want it to look too delicate, so I added my Topshop patent boots, grey socks over my green tights and voila…I felt less girly. The coat is Topshop (via eBay). I bought it recently as a work coat, but I couldn’t resist wearing it today.  It is black and subtle green tweed with a peter pan collar.
Green tights. I know. I can’t help feeling like an elf today. Ah, it’s nearly Christmas…who am I kidding? These were a Primark 80 denier pair for £2. Impressed as always with Primark tights.
My Cambridge Satchel is also out in force, it’s a little too matchy matchy for my taste but it has become my staple as it’s so practical. Everything fits in it and it matches most outfits. I’m sold.
Outfit details
:: Floral dress – Henry Holland at Debenhams (ages ago) :: Cable knit – H&M (summer) :: Burgundy patent boots – Topshop (recently) :: Elf tights – Primark :: Ammolite necklace – vintage (60 years or so) :: Tweed coat – Topshop via EBay (last week) ::
As always, the markets never fail to disappoint! My recommendation of the day? Gingerbread strudel. If the stall wasn’t kitsch enough to melt any vintage loving heart, the strudel was like heaven in my mouth!

Will you be going to the Christmas markets this year? If so, what will you wear? What are your favourite market buys?



:: Kindness – House :: Theme Park – Two Hours :: Band of Horses – Is There A Ghost ::

Two years ago, I found my dream home. A 1930s, semi-detached home with stunning, original features. We’re talking Art Deco stained glass windows, a spindled staircase, huge bay windows… it was way over budget and needed complete rennovation, inside and out.

I. Was. Sold.
Three months later, I was a homeowners. 16 months later, and a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears, I finally started living in my dream home. Since I moved into my new home, it’s been populated with ‘days’. The day the fridge came, the day the sofa came, the day the carpets came and today, my most favourite of all, the day my piano came.
I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t play the piano. Obviously, I wasn’t born playing a miniature piano and there was indeed a time when I couldn’t play… I just can’t remember it! My first piano lesson was when I was 5, a reception child. Growing up, I studied and completed many graded examinations, played in school assemblies and performed for whoever would watch. Naturally, my piano is my link with childhood.
Before my piano arrived… I had a dining room. I know, a dining room. How ordinary! A room for a dining table and chairs.
Since buying the house, I’ve always wanted the back room to be a music room.  A place without television or mod cons. In summer, the late afternoon sun shines brightly in this room. It’s somewhere I can imagine letting the troubles of the day soak away, whilst listening to or playing music. However, I also want the room to have a homely feel and, in future years, it will have a large, tartan chair in the bay window and a stitching project draped over its arm.
Inspirational pieces
I’m a fan of most things Kirsty Allsop, let’s face it, she rarely puts a foot wrong. The most recently aired episode of ‘Kirsty’s Vintage Home’ drew attention to that fact that, sometimes, it can be hard to see the beautiful pieces you have, if they are not displayed properly. In my opinion, when you see an object day in, day out, it can lose its wow factor and becomes wallpaper.  This rang true for me. In my garage, lurks boxes full of sentiment and a lifetime’s treasures, which I have received as presents, thrifted or acquired over the years. Since moving in 3 months ago, most of my belongings have yet to see the light of day. Venturing inside the garage, I was able to select pieces that I  haven’t seen in month and really love. Here are my inspirational pieces.
1. A framed photograph of my brother and sister-in-law on their wedding day.
They bought me this frame for Christmas last year with a matching trinket. Even back then, as soon as I saw it, I knew the piano was a perfect place for it.
2.  1970s mock rococo clock.
I found this clock in a charity shop in Lancaster, years before I even thought about buying a house. I love how ornate it is, despite it being practically worthless.
 3. Jimi Hendrix painted vinyl. I’ve had this for about ten years, so long, I can’t remember where it came from! It wasn’t expensive, but I’ve always liked the colours and it ties in with my music room theme.
4. Cream manuscript holder. This is one of my most recent finds. It was purchased from a car boot sale in Warrington for £2. The seller even offered to include a matching napkin holder too. Erm, how kind? But, seriously, no thanks!
      Thrifty Wishlist
Whilst I love how these few, simple pieces gave a homely look, in the future, I would really love to create a picture wall of golden frames and prints of 60’s icons to hang over the piano. This would really bring the musical theme to life!
Over the next few months, I shall be on the look out for:
1. A variety of golden coloured frames, as ornate as possible!
2. Black and white photographs of 60s musicians; The Kinks, Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell would be perfection.
As always, I will show you the results.
Do you have certain ‘days’ in your life? What has made you feel homely recently? Or, do you have a music room?


Playlist (Theme – sentimental)

:: The Lumineers – Ho Hey :: Bon Iver – Skinny Love :: Of Monsters and Men – Little Talk :: Mumford & Sons – I Will Wait :: Tallest Man on Earth – I Won’t Be Found ::

Christmas wrapped up
I adore I’m addicted to Christmas time. The decorations. The films. The music. The wrapping. The excitement.  Tradition. Love it.

When I think of Christmas wrapping, I’m instantly taken back to the Spice Girls’ 1998 version of The Waitresses’ classic. For those who weren’t fans, The Waitresses’ hit was, erm, revitalised, on the B-side to ‘Goodbye’. This is one of my favourite Christmas songs, despite the shocking proposal that they will give Christmas a miss. Madness.
Christmas gives us an opportunity to be thoughtful, without embarrassment. It’s the one time of the year we can say thanks. Thanks for making me a brew in the morning, for the best part of a year. Thanks for letting me whinge about my day and still being my friend (even though your ears are bleeding!) Thanks for completing my bodyweight in photocopying. Thanks, just thanks. I’m not saying that this is the only time of the year we can show our appreciation, but for most of us… it is.
 In a bid to be organised. I’m that excited for Christmas this year, I’ve already purchased and wrapped most presents. In the height of my boxing day sale euphoria last year, I purchased eight rolls of posh wrapping paper at ridiculously reduced prices. Despite the quality of shop bought wrapping paper, there’s something rustic and charming about brown parcel paper finished with a few home touches that make it my absolute favourite.

Materials needed for low-cost sentimental wrapping
:: brown parcel paper :: patterned ribbon :: Christmas coloured fabric :: embroidery thread :: needle :: Christmas spirit/s ::

Patterned Ribbon

I purchased 5 metres of red polka dot grosgrain ribbon for £1.69, including post and packaging from UK seller ‘wheresmybooknpen’. (That name though, ha) The 5 metres of gingerbread man ribbon were also purchased from eBay, but from a Hong Kong seller. They were a snip at £1.50, again, post and packaging included. Whilst international postage can take longer to arrive through your letter box, I have found it’s always worth the wait.

Personalised tags
You may think spending at least an hour on one gift tag to be a little excessive. Personally, when I see the end results, it makes all the time worthwhile. Here is a padded heart gift tag I made for my friend’s little girl, Livvy. Her present was a ballerina necklace, but I’m sure, knowing my friend, the tag will be hanging somewhere in their pretty cottage come Christmas. Again, you can see my love for polka dots, stripes and brown packaging!

In addition…

I recently discovered ‘Yet Another Lifestyle Blog’, the blog spot of Sarah Montrose, a self proclaimed ‘thing’ magpie and Mollie Makes Prod Ed. Sarah’s  take on Cranny+b’s yarn wrapped letter H really caught my eye. It’s such a simple idea and I agree with Sarah, what a wonderful way to personalise a gift.

I’ve decided to try this as my next project. I intend to use materials that I can get my mitts on quickly. Sturdy card, left over wool and display lettering (freely available on the internet) should enable me to try my own version of this. I may even push the boat out and use polka dot ribbon! No doubt, I’ll let you know how it goes!
Do you enjoy wrapping Christmas presents? Is Christmas wrapping a chore best left until the last minute? Or, is it an excuse to crack open a festive tipple, break into the chocolates and watch Home Alone 2?


Make Do and Trend!

For most, the idea of a second hand jumper would conjure up images of snot lined sleeves, bobbled underarms and shrunken hemlines. I will admit, until a few months ago, I would have agreed, believing it better to buy knitwear knew. 

That was until I purchased a house and became the proud* (*see poor) owner of a mortgage and my life of being eternally skint really began.

Buying clothes at boot sales has always been a bit of a taboo subject. In the dark, damp light of 7am, it’s sometimes impossible to see what you’re getting. I’ve bought stained, ripped and damaged clothing, all because it was barely light. But for 50p and £1 a pop, it can be worth the gamble. Most of the time, the things I have purchased have always been in good or excellent condition. With a quick wash and iron, they’ve been ready for eBay (more about that another time).

Sometimes, just sometimes, I do keep some for myself.
So, quite recently, I was fortunate to stumble onto these three jumpers at a local car boot sale.
From left to right:
:: Dove pattern grey long jumper £1 Be Beau :: Grey basic long jumper 50p New Look :: Black and white monochrome squirrel jumper £1 Be Beau ::

I’ll be honest, I kept all three! The dove jumper did have some minor bobbling and has been incorporated into my ‘no heating until Christmas’ pajama wardrobe. The squirrel jumper is in immaculate condition and is freshly laundered awaiting Christmas and bright tights. Which left my least favourite (now favourite) of the three, the charcoal grey round neck jumper.

At the time of purchase, I was on a prints ban, a self-induced prints ban. Everything in my wardrobe had a pattern, be it skulls, floral, animals,  hearts, polka dot or stripes, nothing was plain. This made mixing clothes, and making full use of them, a perpetual nightmare. It was clear that I needed to invest in plain basics, problem was, I’ve never been a fan  of patternless clothing. Although, I should admit here, that I *adore* basics with a twist.

Make Do and Trend
As much as I disliked the grey jumper, I couldn’t release it to the charity bag just yet. So what if the seam had come loose and a button was hanging off? It was nothing that a novice stitcher like me couldn’t fix. For weeks, the jumper sat in my laundry basket awaiting its fate, until one night, browsing eBay, I discovered red, felt hearts.
I am a huge fan of heart prints, heart shaped objects and, generally, hearts that beat! The seller was offering 12 red felt hearts in an assortment of sizes for a meagre £2.50 (including post and packaging). A few days later, through my letter box they popped and sparked my enthusiasm. Of course, it became obvious, a few hearts added to a plain jumper would add instant cuteness and avoid being a plain Jane.

Now, everyone has a collection of buttons they’ve salvaged from old clothing and boot sales, and are saving for a certain project. Just me? Didn’t think so. The jumper’s original buttons were charcoal grey, dull and lifeless. Trimming the loose button, I decided to have a rummage and found a number of buttons awaiting an exciting new life.
Make it
1. Lay out your jumper and place fabric hearts, buttons, charms where you think you would like them. Play around with layout. Take a photograph, just incase.
2. Stitch buttons on first, these can be fiddly to apply and you’ll want to avoid scrunching your felt hearts.
3. If you’re adding charms onto your heart, attach these first.
4. Place heart/s in desired place, use fusing web to iron in place and secure with small stitches same or contrasting colour.
5. Admire your work!

Imagine it
I’ve worn my new (to me) jumper once since making it fancy last night. I wore it with a Yumi Peter Pan collared mustard dress…there’s just something about charcoal grey mixed with mustard! I’m pretty pleased with the result. I plan to add studs to my eagle t shirt next, or maybe studded loafers? The possibilities are endless.

What do you think? Is it better to buy knitwear new? Or is the lure of a 50p knit just too tempting? Have you had any clothing bargains at a boot sale? Charity shop?