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Category Archives: Home and Leisure

Art Fever UK Custom Blinds

Art Fever UK Custom Blinds

Well, I was hoping that by October, Betsy would have an awesome new bed and slight theme change in her bedroom.

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, but I did get one thing done at least! Although she has blackout curtains, the early morning and late afternoon summer sunshine beamed through the top and sides at ridiculous-o-clock each day. I decided to get her some blackout blinds and fancied some with stars on. I just could find anything quite right! I didn’t want a pattern, but more the feeling of looking out at a magical night sky.

I luckily found Art Fever UK on Etsy. Located in Warwickshire, they have a super little workshop and a really friendly service. My messages were answered quickly and I decided to go and meet them and collect my order instead of waiting for the courier!

How great does this look? You can literally choose from thousands of stock images or use your own photos to get printed on custom blinds or canvases! The quality is fantastic and as they are made to measure, it was the perfect fit for Betsy’s window.

I had a wonderful time chatting in the office and meeting their two resident doggies. So flipping cute!

I can’t wait to get a different design for our bedroom now! If anyone else suffers with migraines, you’ll know how important a really dark room is and sometimes curtains just aren’t enough. So whether you are redecorating in the new year and want to theme a room or just want a decorative blackout blind for a better night’s sleep, I definitely recommend these guys!

You can find their website HERE.

Wyevale Stratford’s Santa Breakfast


On the first Sunday of December, we booked the Breakfast with Santa at Wyevale Garden Centre!

I thought a good old English breakfast was a fine way to start the festive season and as I had never had one at Wyevale, this was the perfect opportunity.

Crackers festooned the tables, twinkling lights welcomed us and Father Christmas’ favourite elf helped bring drinks, answer queries and add to the wonderful atmosphere. We had pre-chosen our meals (hot breakfast all round!), so it was just a case of getting our hot drinks (all refilled for free!) and await our food. It did take quite a while to arrive, BUT it was worth the wait. I would rather not compromise quality with speed, I mean… what would you rather have? Cardboard bacon cooked hours ago and put under a hot lamp or freshly cooked-to-order yumminess? Exactly.

The wait wasn’t that bad as the children were all given ginger bread men and icing pens, could go in the soft play area and had colouring sheets with crayons too.

After our hearty meal, the elf encouraged all the children to shout for Santa and low and behold he answered their screams of excitement. Bell in hand, he walked around every table, talking to the visitors, high-five’ing the kids and offering cuddles to anyone who wanted them!

Once he had done the rounds Father Christmas took a seat and awaited the children and their wish lists. After a chat with their favourite festive celeb, the kids got a chance to choose a gift from an overwhelming display of soft toys, crafts and games. I was really impressed with the wide choice available and got rather jealous too…

The experience is £8 for adults (inclusive of full English breakfast, toast, free refills on teas, coffee, cappuccino etc), £10 for children (inclusive of mini full English, soft drink with free refills, gingerbread man with icing pens, visit with Santa Claus and a choice of gift). If you think that a full English is about £7, the fact that you get as many tea and coffee refills as you like is a really sweet deal. I think maybe giving parents a 10% discount voucher for the store would be a nice gesture too and I may suggest this to Wyevale myself.

I felt that the experience was definitely worth the money and the fact that they have an indoor soft play area really helps. The staff were cheerful, attentive and helpful, whilst the food was fresh and delicious. I will definitely be back for more breakfasts in the future!

Circus Themed Baby Bedroom


It didn’t actually start off with this theme! We had a seaside idea in mind, but I got over excited in Ikea after spotting the bed canopy and everything else seemed to fall in place! You may recognise the awesome metal suitcase shelves that we used to have in the bathroom of our previous house. They are perfect in Betsy’s room and are now adorned with vintage Ladybird books and toys! The bedding set is from Asda Living and came with a quilt, bumper and a couple of sheets. I adore the retro lion and tiger cushions, mini suitcases and melamine plates! They are from Dotcomgiftshop and tie everything in together! The elephant cushion was a recent buy from Sass & Belle. It is so funny and they do a zebra wearing a cowboy hat too!

After scouring the internet for a hot air balloon light, I decided to make my own. The ones I found were either too expensive or had teddy bears, bows and pearls everywhere. I am so pleased with how it turned out that I am now taking commissions! I even made little peg people of Richard, Betsy and I! If you would like one with your choice of theme (Imagine a steampunk version!), then message me for details.

So here it is, I hope you like it! Her room is very small, but I tried to fill it with lots of cheery things and sensory objects!

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Christmas 2015


Well I hope you all had a wonderful Yule! I was lucky enough to perform at a Masonic event in Birmingham again, singing Christmas crooners and vintage numbers. They put on a lavish banquet and we had a marvelous time!

Christmas Eve was spent in our favourite cafe The Forteas in Stratford upon Avon! I serenaded them with some more yuletide numbers and 40’s classics as people sat and enjoyed their afternoon tea. It was hard not to turn all my attention to Betsy as she was wearing an adorable Christmas dress and would light up whenever I turned to her. Her smile really does cut through the dullest day.

On Christmas Day, we spent time with the family and my sister flew back from the USA to be with us all. Betsy is still too young to appreciate the festive season, but she was still spoiled with some amazing gifts from family and friends. It will be fantastic next year (and years to come), when she can get excited over the twinkly lights and wrapping paper. I wonder what she will think of her first snowfall?

So here are a few pictures, I hope you enjoy them and forgive me for not posting anything for a while. Babies sure do take up all your time and energy and it is a rare thing to have the opportunity to sit at a computer nowadays!

 

Betsy Rose got this adorable deer hat from Aunty Siss!

Betsy Rose got this adorable deer hat from Aunty Siss!

 

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Just before my performance at the Masonic Christmas event

Just before my performance at the Masonic Christmas event

 

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Our wonderful day at The Forteas

Our wonderful day at The Forteas

 

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Aunty Siss! She also bought Betsy that toadstool rattle!

 

 

 

A fantastic gift from Lil' Siss! Star Wars Christmas jumpers!!!

A fantastic gift from Lil’ Siss! Star Wars Christmas jumpers!!!

WW2 Doll Pattern




I found this fantastic doll pattern on Etsy, which is a copy of an original American WW2 doll pattern. It is very basic and that suits me down to the ground! I wanted something I could alter without too much hassle!

I decided to change the WAC uniform to British ATS and a red head (of course!). This was the first time I have tried embroidering a doll face, so was a new challenge for me! The eyebrows are Marino wool to match the hair but the eyes and lips are just formal sewing thread that I tripled in the needle before using.

The pattern includes 3 types of uniform (skirt, jacket, hat and blouse), but because I didn’t want the jacket to open, I just made the front of the blouse, collar and tie out if a scrap of one of Richard’s old USO shirts! I had used the other half of it for an act, so glad I kept the scraps!

The wool fabric was bought at a local haberdashers and although expensive by the metre, I only bought a 30cm width so wasn’t too bad and I have enough left for a matching boy doll and more. I also bought a sample swatch of leather as the pattern used more embroidering to depict shoes (literally just shoe laces). After some playing around I came up wit a basic pixie design and matching belt.

Here is my first attempt…

So, I was quite pleased apart from the head. The doll ends up with no neck, so I tried creating one which wrinkled the face and my stupid permanent pen guides I had drawn for the facial embroidery ended up spreading, making her look like an old lady!

I ended up doing a Marie Antoinette job on her head, which I had made all the more complicated as I had inconveniently sewn the blouse collar and jacket to the body. I drew around the head template again onto the plain cotton, but this time I added a neck! I sewed the new head on as best I could and tidied the wound with a strip of leather. Lucky it just neatens the area and doesn’t make her look like a 40’s themed dominatrix. 

So here you go! The finished doll and, for my first attempt, I think she is pretty good! I want to add some buttons on her jacket using thread, but just have to figure out a way to do this.

I am planning to use the pattern for different themes, not just military, but will re-draw the body so that she has more of a neck before trying another one.





Bournemouth Photos!


I had a wonderful time in Bournemouth when I went there to perform at a Blitz Ball! I have never really walked around the town before, but once you look passed the chain stores, there are some real treasures! It is a relatively new town, born in 1810, so the architecture is a gorgeous mix with some fabulous 1920’s bits thrown in (and the obligatory modern catastrophes!). There is one place we found just outside the town with a whole street of vintage and antique shops, so for a whole day we staggered open-mouthed around a treasure trove of curiosities.

The Blitz Ball went really well and was held at the Bournemouth Flying Club at the airport. Unfortunately due to the weather, the daytime event was postponed, making the dance less popular. It was a shame as the DJ was fantastic and the hosts a delight. I have experience myself of hosting Blitz Balls and know what hard work they are and how much money can be lost through the expense and hard work it takes. ST Events did a grand job, but obviously couldn’t help the weather that had scuppered its big day. Ah well, other people’s loss is my gain as there was more room to dance!

The people that were there were dressed up to the nines, whether they were 1940’s enthusiasts or not! I did a singing set early in the evening before donning my bomber girl corset for a fan dance at 10.30. Low and behold one of the staves snapped just as I was finishing my last spin! The feathery swine!!!

For the rest of the evening I wore a gorgeous original 1940’s gown with red and white stripes that I bought at Stoneleigh Militaria and a pair of pale blue Johnson’s Originals shoes, with a hair bow to match.

I hope you enjoy the photos below, I will do a separate post about Russell Cotes House as it was too incredible not to warrant its own article…

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Wartime Novelty Gifts for Morale and Funds


As Britain pokes its meerkat head out of another recession hole, it got me thinking about how things like this effect people’s buying habits. As some people may know, I am a creative writer at a gift company in the week (no, I don’t know how I fit it all in either!!!) and in the recession’s lowest period, people didn’t stop buying, they just bought cheap novelty gifts which were affordable for the occasion and morale boosting too.

I love collecting WWII novelties and took some photos of a few of my favourite bits and bobs. I started collecting music sheets and brooches, but thanks to my friend’s in America sending me some fantastically tacky specimens, this has now taken off! Fundraising was a huge part of the homefront. From homeless families to wounded soldiers, cheap and often fun items were made to aid the war effort and people’s dwindling spirits. We often put rose tinted glasses on when looking back at this awful time and although there was a lot of comradery, we cannot forget what a horrendously dire time this was for all involved. A novelty compact mirror in the shape of an officers cap may not be able to raise the opposition’s white flag, but I am sure it raised a smile! Whether bought by a soldier to send to his girl, or bought by a lady supporting her man’s efforts in the service, such things were a little light heartedness in a dark time.

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I have some fabulous 1940’s jewellery and am a lover of brooches. I have chosen some that are specifically of this era, but it can be difficult to tell when it comes to lucite jewellery as people were carving them well into the 60’s! In the war, these were generally made from the windscreens of crashed German aircraft and sold for the war effort or given to sweethearts. Reverse carving them, the shapes would be painted to give a real 3D effect to the flowers or objects. I have a lovely Spitfire one, of which I wear often! You will also see a wonderful Bundles for Britain charm bracelet which is a real stunner. Bundles for Britain was an American charity, raising money for us. You may come across the emblem, which is usually a rearing lion in a white shield with a red and blue striped ribbon. Another fantastic piece is my silver bomb set! A necklace and earrings in the shape of torpedos, they are subtle with a cheeky twist.

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Men’s jewellery was also a great novelty. You could get tin versions of the service rings for children and even some of the men’s sweetheart rings had lockets or secret compartments in them. We have a lovely one from America and you can see a V for Victory tie bar behind! As men were not often in civvies, there was no real need to produce ties and other novelty gifts for men as they could not be worn anyway, so hankerchiefs or other items that could be kept in a pocket were sent over, along with funny greeting cards or a letter record. These are like a vinyl record made of cardboard with a thin layer on the top. A message to a soldier or from a soldier to a family could be recorded at a shop and sent to the recipient in an envelope). I have a few of these and have played them, but as they were made to only be played a few times, they can be very difficult to hear depending on how worn they are.

Now to tableware. The flame that sparked my love of these vintage novelties was a set of Victory Bomb salt and pepper shakers. Made out of chalkware or plaster, they are crudely painted in cheerful red, white and blue! How can you not love these? Well…back then, they may have been thought of as tacky and vulgar, but just like Christmas cracker gifts, they were loved for a short period of time, which is what they are all about. I am also now the proud owner of a War Against Hitlerism teapot! I have wanted one of these for as long as I can remember. They were produced for Dyson and Horsfall who surrendered their aluminium teapots to be recycled as allied armaments. It is covered in allied flags and of course the inspiring slogan ‘Liberty and Freedom’ on the other side. The Victory vase (also a favourite bought by our friends!) is another great example and a strong symbol of the time. Everyone recognises a V with …- as the victory sign and it has become a very iconic image. Doesn’t it just fill you with strength and pride just looking at it?

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So keep looking around those vintage stalls and take a gander at some of those museum quality pieces. There are some fantastic money boxes (oh for the love of a bottomless bank account…) and some very funny propaganda items such as chamber pots with Hitler’s face in them and even pincushions of Hitler bending over looking rather uncomfortable with a the cushion being is rear…

Helen & Dai’s Medieval Wedding


My gorgeous friends H P Saucy and Dai got married at St Mawes Castle in Cornwall, late September. The theme was a Merlin/ Game of Thrones/ Medieval affair! I helped Helen with her styling, did her hair and makeup and also made Dai’s doublet! It was my first time making anything medieval and managed to make my own dress and matching bag AND Mr Moo’s Richard the Lionheart outfit too. Here are a few photos of the beautiful day… I know, don’t I look different?!

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Helen and Dai!

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St. Mawes Castle in Cornwall – The wedding venue!

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Our outfits. I made my gown from crushed velvet and stiff silk with a woven pattern.
I made Richard’s ‘chainmail’ cowel, which I knitted, rolled with silver paint and then finished by painting an antique gold line around the rim. The tunic is hand painted crushed velvet.

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Game of Thrones inspired wedding outfits. You can just see the doublet I made from heavy duty cotton velvet with hand sewn brass findings and purple velvet ribbon. I also applied embroidered appliques to Helen’s gold and a gold belt with matching arm ribbon.
Dai’s cloak is a 1930’s opera cloak (velvet) with a vintage fox fur.
This is reminiscent of a Merlin character’s cloak.

 

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I know, too adorable right?

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My stone! Helen’s Ma collected heart shaped stones from Cornwall beaches and then Dai painted them all with people’s names. What a wonderful token of their day!

 

 

 

Festival of Quilts 2013


On 10th August I went to the Festival of Quilts with my family at the NEC in Birmingham. I have a fondness of quilts, purely through the fascination of memory quilts and for sentimental reasons; one that used to be on my bed at Grandad’s house. This is one craft I would not be any good at. Following a strict pattern and everything needing to be just-so, my techniques are more organic and I prefer to just dabble and go with the flow as opposed to be regimental with my methods.

The amount of work that went into these gorgeous pieces was astounding and the creativity truly brilliant. It wasn’t all hexagons and bowties either. People experimented greatly with different mediums, painting, embroidering words and taking modern approaches to a traditional craft.

I imagined a chocolate box image of women working at their little Singer sewing machines on an evening, listening to the radio and nibbling on biscuits whilst muttering distastefully at the sex scenes on The Archers…but oh how times have changed! I was gobsmacked to see huge embroidery machines that could work on a king size quilt and embroider swirls and feather designs with ease. This somehow put a dampener on my view of the quilts as I expected them all to be worked on differently to this, but I supposed with the size of these things it would have taken many more years to complete without such tools.

Here are some photos I snapped on my phone before the battery died. Impressive works indeed!

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Swirl quilt made from tiny hexagonal pieces

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Bee quilt!

flower circle quilt

One of my favourites. Beautiful flower like circles with beading, buttons and great colours!

poppy quilt

Poppy quilt with a wonderful burst of sunshine.

swirl quilt

How incredible is this? Can you imagine drafting this as a pattern?!

sea life quilt

Great use of patterned fabrics in this sea life quilt.

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A modern interpretation of quilting and a very effective one too!

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A quilt made entirely of neckties!

landscape quilt

A stunning landscape, I cannot stop looking at this one

Disguising Modern Items in your Vintage Home


There is nothing worse than creating a wonderfully authentic living room, only to plonk your big TV and computer on top of all your fine work. From bank statements to makeup, here are a few handy tips to discretely store your modern items in a sympathetic way to your vintage style!

The first is your television. Unless you have a tiny one in the wooden cabinet of a 40’s or 50’s model, this is usually out and proud; playing fisty-cuffs with your antique furnishings and snarling at your original lace doillies. Why not stash it away in a sideboard! It took me a while to find the right size admittedly. My first idea was to use a Tall Boy so that I had storage for the DVD player also, but it was far too small and now houses part of my DVD collection instead!

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Kitten von Mew’s Art Deco sideboard housing a TV

This Art Deco sideboard was bought at a carboot fair for £15 and as the inside wasn’t in a great condition, I had no worries in making a hole in the back board for the plugs and wires. I actually do not have a stand on this 28″ television set, it is resting on an old wooden drawer with no movement at all. The great thing is that you can shut it away when not in use and you wouldn’t know it was there at all! We also use it to play CD’s through the speakers, which is great when you don’t want the blue screen of the TV glaring at you! I stripped some of the dark varnish from the doors as it looked very dull and picked out the odd detail with gold paint. I recently painted the sunburst on the inside of the doors, which gives it more of a cinema feel when you are watching a film! We also store some of our more frequently watched DVD’s in a big vintage suitcase underneath the sideboard for easy access.

The second (and our favourite!) is the fishtank! Having aquired a 50’s wooden television cabinet, there were no gubbins and whatsits to tear out, which was fabulous. Our fishtank is actually larger than it looks in the set and sits on bricks so that we can pull away the cabinet easily for feeding and changing the water. By placing in WWII themed ornaments, it almost looks like you are watching a movie and keeps us transfixed for hours. Fish are wonderful pets for reenactors as they don’t need quite as much looking after as any other!

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Our 1952 television fish tank!

So what about paperwork, bills and unsorted mail? Well I am a huge fan of Manor Bindery who have everything from false book doors to lever arch files that look like antiquarian books! All handmade in the UK with amazing workmanship, you can just imagine a set of them on a bookshelf. Visit them at www.manorbindery.co.uk!

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Old book style lever arch files

And finally makeup and hair products. Before becoming a vintage model I had a brush and a black eyeliner pencil to my name. Now I could set up my own shop! I have found that a great way of storing such items is a sewing table with lift up lid or these Cream Metal Office Boxes from Dotcomgiftshop! Another great idea is a small vintage suitcase of which you could always stick a mirror inside. The brilliant thing about any of these is that you can have your suitcase, tin boxes or sewing table in your livingroom or bedroom and they wouldn’t look out of place!

vintage storage tins dotcomgiftshop

Vintage style storage tins from Dotcomgiftshop