Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Feeling crafty

A friend recently loaned me her stash of 1970s CRAFTS magazines, which she inherited from her mother. It was so nostalgic to look through them and think back to the world as it was then. She told me that she and her mum were always doing craft projects together. It was a large and defining part of her childhood.

Along with an annual, we always got some kind of craft kit for Christmas.
There is so much inspiration in them, you could keep yourself busy for months.
My recent craftiness has taken the form of sewing. I've been wrestling with an enormous pair of Schiaparelli pink velvet curtains for the dining room. They have a paler pink lining and a contrasting chartreuse pom pom trim.

I like colours to hit off each other. Well actually I just like colour, any which way.
I also scored this fabric in a charity shop at the weekend. There's about 4 yards of it. I wasn't sure to begin with but for £2.95, I was prepared to take a chance.

I'm a bit wild like that.

Yeah, I know, a regular wild child. Don't try to tame me.

Anyway, now I love it.

I'm going to make either this or this with it. For lounging. Which one do you reckon?
I am linking up to Wendy at Young Heart with her weekly thrift thingy.

Monday, 28 January 2013

All quiet on the film front

Last night we watched The Artist, a present from my little sis. Have you seen it?

There were so many things I loved about it including the old style Hollywood houses, the costumes and the lively heroine, but my two favourite things were the relationship between the dog and the star of the show and the smile of the leading actor.

Here's how he looks in the film (left) and in real life (right).

Well, it IS Monday and as Mary Poppins says, 'a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. In a most delightful way.'

Don't say I never do anything for you.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I loved the style of silent movies. It was the interiors and costumes which captivated me. The stand out star, for me, was Theda Bara (anagram of Arab Death) aka The Vamp.

I had a 1930s velvet jumpsuit which had the label VAMP. It was very Greta Garbo in Queen Christina, with a white starched voile collar. I lost the jumpsuit along the way, but retained the label.

The minute I got my own room (aged 16) I started on the decor. By the time I got to Uni, here is what my room looked like. Since it was the 80s, my perfume of choice was Opium! 

The gold and white fabric was a sari of my mother's. 

I've had this kaftan since I was four or five. It was bought in a souk in Kuwait in the early 70s. In my teens I wore it with a vengeance. On this occasion my parents were dragging us out to a fancy dress party with them. I wore what I was going to anyway, and said I was going as Cleopatra.

Plus ca change.

I am clearly a method actor. Just not sure whether my role was Theda Bara or sulky teenager.

There's only one possible soundtrack to this post and it is Siouxsie Sioux and Arabian Knights.

Monday, 21 January 2013

I won!

On ebay. Yep, I'm a winner.

Lucky, huh? All those people who say they never win anything are entering the wrong competitions.

First prize were these little off-cuts of fabric with the most beautiful swiss images hand-embroidered onto them. The fabric is very light and I see the tiniest hint of a dart in a bit of it, so I reckon it could have been a nightie originally, or maybe a blouse.

The embroidery is so incredibly fine; each image is only a couple of inches tall and some of the stitching is tiny. There's a little voice inside which is saying it could have been part of someone's trousseau, so much time and effort has gone into it. I wonder.
My little sis gave me this edelweiss braid for Christmas. She knows me so well. It came all the way from the US of A.

I have plans for all of it.

Next win, the lottery?

That's one of my favourite questions, to find out what people would do if they won the lottery. I love to hear about people's dreams.

Me, I'd sort out some things for my family then go off travelling. So many places I would love to see while I am still in good health and before 21st century globalism ruins all the remote places and ways of life. So many fascinating people to encounter and so many lessons to learn.

If it's not too nosey a question, what would you do if you won the lottery?

Thursday, 17 January 2013

False eyelashes and other important business

I always feel and look worn out in January. The other day a lady at work said, 'oh dear, you look weary'.

She was being kind.

The word she was looking for was haggard.

But not any more. I've been to seek help. In the form of eyelashes. My local beauty salon had this incredible offer on. Half set of lashes for £10. I didn't really realise what a half set meant, but here is what it is; they stick a false eyelash onto every other natural eyelash, all across the top.
The red lips and cheeks came free, courtesy of the weather.


I am so pleased with myself that I am linking to Patti's visible Monday and Lakota's Ta-dah! Tuesday.

The other person I want to link up with today is sweet Clare at MissSimmondssays. It all started with Helga dressing up as Frida Kahlo, then Clare also paid tribute and suggested a bit of dressing up fun to liven up January if anyone in Blogland wanted to join in.

Well I do!

And look who I am going for! Only our Liz!
My criteria was that the person must have dark hair, distinguishing make-up and I must have a suitable outfit. Check, check, check. Queen of the Nile it is!

The dress is a 1960s maxi which I got off ebay a few years ago. I love the back detail. The headdress was from my first holy communion. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Apartment tour: Sweden

We visited our friend A in Sweden last year and stayed in her adorable little apartment which she shares with her Maine Coon cat, Osheri and her man.
She bought the apartment from a man she worked for. Initially, when she first moved to the city, she drove a tractor for him but then he asked her to clear out this apartment which had been in his family since it was built in the 1940s. It had been full to the brim of stuff, apparently you couldn't even get in the front door without having to get rid of things. I think she said she spent about two weeks just getting rid of telephone directories. Once it was cleared he asked her if she wanted to buy it. 
 A is the kind of person who things happen to, because she has the most open attitude of anyone I know. Adventures and people gravitate towards her. She has been globe-trotting since she was 16, working on a farm in India, singing in a karaoke bar in Japan (most popular request: Abba), walking through the desert in Morocco, learning Hebrew in Israel. Now she runs a healing school.
Some of her treasures were inherited from her Grandmother. 
She tells you the most amazing stories in quite a matter of fact way.  I love to be around her, she has such good energy. 

Monday, 14 January 2013

Snow excitement

Is it too predictable to post about the snow? When it first arrives, I still get excited. Obviously by Thursday I shall be whinging as loudly as everyone else.
I've had these wellies for years. When I first got them, I wore them to do a bit of gardening at my old house. My neighbour laughed his head off and called me Margot Leadbetter. I was rather pleased. I'd always seen myself as more of a Barbara Good; small but lifting heavy things and doing the dirty jobs with a touch of mud on my face. 

That said, I have been known to deliver the words 'Thank you very much, Jerry' in quite a convincing way when the man of the house steps out of line. He's not called Jerry, but he knows.

I'd love to know, which one are you, Margot or Barbara? Or maybe another character? I got Marge when I did the 'Which Simpson are you?' quiz.
We finished the puzzle. All the pieces were there, which I was very pleased about.  It was an addiction for about three days.
I forgot to mention we went to Saltburn over Christmas. Seems like they are the yarn-bombing centre of the universe. They even yarn-bomb their dogs!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

My favourite writer - Lisa St Aubin de Teran

I remember the first time I encountered her, although the detail is hazy. It must have been nearly 30 years ago, in a magazine article. There was a photo of her in her bedroom and she was wearing a beaded flapper dress. She talked about her life and her love of vintage clothing. I tore the article out and periodically returned to reabsorb it.
copyright Susan Lipper - great excitement at finding this, which is very similar to that photo I saw all those years ago, only in the other one you got to see her face.

copyright Susan Lipper
Around that time I also wore vintage clothing and bought a stuffed bear's head, because I believed I would need it when I moved into my castle.
My bear was Victorian and I felt that given he was already long dead, the least I could do was house him and love him, which I did for many years until I sold him to a grand house in Dorset where he would have  lots of chums. They told me I was welcome to retain visiting rights. I called him Sackville after Vita Sackville West. Well, I was young.
Lisa St A de T became a hero of mine and remains so to this day. I would always look in Waterstone's to see if she had brought out anything new. Once the internet came along that was a lovely way of keeping in touch, to see which fascinating part of her life she was playing out in which corner of the globe.
The cover of Joanna is a painting of Jeanne Hebuterne by Modigliani. After he died she threw herself out of a window killing herself and her unborn child. It is my favourite piece by him.

I remember reading that she lived in Amsterdam. Somehow after the Venezuelan Andes and rural Umbria it didn't seem quite right. But it turns out she is now in Africa. Wonderful Africa. Ah, that's better.
Her autobiographies are my favourites

As well as ordering this new book, I've just discovered she has a blog!  What an amazing thing!

For those of you who don't yet know her, she seems to me to be a true original. She has lived a life of adventure based on a love of travel and people, and having the courage to take chances and not follow the rules too closely. Often done in beautiful outfits. I hope that description hasn't diminished her.

Ile Sainte-Marguerite, near Cannes
A few year's ago, we went on holiday to Cannes for a week, most of which we spent on Ile Sainte-Marguerite. Apart from being famous for the fortress which housed the Man with the Iron Mask, it was a beautiful island covered in the most wonderful vivid bluey-purple flower, called Morning Glory. I remembered how desperately she tried to grow it in the Andes to no avail, and I thought at the time, Lisa St Aubin de Teran would like it here.

I seem to have come over a bit arty farty today. Normal service will be resumed very soon, but before it does, do you have a favourite writer? I'd love to hear whose writing transports you.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

And relax...

We've had a wonderful time with our guests. A few young people came to visit and everyone knows that leaves you with one simple choice; walkies or trouble.

We chose walkies!

But now we've finished visiting and being visited and today all I feel like doing is lounging around.

My 1940's house coat, which I bought here. I have just altered the sleeves a bit so I can get my arms in without having a panic attack. 

The dress has such lovely detailing. These are the tassles which are on the zipper down the front of the dress. I bought these shoes in Bath many years ago. They are called Nite-Aires Leisure Lovelies. I feel like Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind whenever I put them on. 

The dress is handmade and by a complete coincidence I found almost the exact pattern on ebay this morning in this shop.

Here's a gratuitous shot of Vivien Leigh just lounging around. I think I might rather like my boudoir like that.
Amazingly, I have found time over the break to do a bit of this as well. The first (book) is set in Alaska and, the second (film) India. Couldn't be more different. I love to read, but only do it when I have time because I know that once I start, I can't stop. Everything else goes by the wayside.

I bought this Eastern European folk plate in a charity shop and promptly broke it. There was a bit of a kerfuffle in Asda ladies and this was the result. Sigh. I also acquired a rather lovely linen tablecloth with a map of Australia plus various animals and plants. I'm a bit of a sucker for a nice tablecloth.