Wednesday 29 January 2014

Two of a kind

I took some outfit photos a couple of days ago but didn't have time to put them into a blog post; 
then I took some more today, and it occurred me that the two looks are pretty much the same, apart from the colours...

See what I mean?

But that's OK, I suppose most of us do versions of similar silhouettes and styles.

For me, this week at least, it's been all about knee length skirts, fitted waists, boots and berets.

This version is 1970s French Schoolgirl Chic;

Cardigan, top, 1970s St Michael skirt, beret and bangles - charity shopped
Boots - retail (old)
Brooch - flea market
Necklace - gift from lovely Leisa

This one is Left School and Got a Job in a Bar on the Rive Gauche.

Top - street market
Skirt - flea market
Vest (just seen) and bangles - charity shopped
Belt, tights and boots - retail (ancient and/or half price)
Beret - gift

I did wear a maxi in between, but the photos turned out badly, I couldn't use them.
Well, I could, but my ego won't let me.

 You know that line in the song Maggie May; "the morning sun when it's in your face really shows your age"...
Well, that was me. Delete, delete, delete.

I don't generally think of myself as particularly vain, but I don't want to post photos of myself looking really awful. We all choose the images we think are the most flattering, surely? Is that vanity, or just good sense?

I went to four charity shops on Tuesday, and came home with a pair of tights. 
I've been so thrifty this month, I'm shocked at myself.

I've been out at the pub quiz for Trace's birthday tonight; we did appallingly. It was so difficult, it wasn't even funny. Though of course we did laugh, a lot. And at least I knew that Vincent Furnier was Alice Cooper's real name. One of our team said who's Alice Cooper
Is it any wonder we lose?

Cats on the prowl, and snowdrops. It's been wet and windy, but so mild, the garden seems to think it's Spring. 

I feel as though I have dragged my way through January, without much enthusiasm or oomph. That's no good, I'm boring myself here, never mind you lot. Must Do Better.

 I'll be linking this post to Judith's next Hat Attack on Feb 1st. Hope to see you there!

Edited to add; linking to Sacramento's Share-in-Style too. Rive Gauche Goes Gothic!


Sunday 26 January 2014

Hold onto yourself, Bartlett, you're 20 feet short


It's been a quiet weekend; I felt like staying home and drinking tea and reading and relaxing and watching films, rather than braving the wet and wild conditions outside.

So that's what I did. 

I passed up a jumble sale and a vintage fair. What's wrong with me?

Actually, nothing. As much as I like to browse, I knew I wasn't in a position to buy anything, and it felt quite liberating to let these events go on without me. 

I need to get selling again on Ebay before I can consider buying, and I never bother with January, it's been horribly slow in previous years.

We watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with the kids; I can't remember when I last saw it, it must have been when I was a child. I have to say I don't rate the songs much, but the kids seemed to enjoy it.

The real movie joy this weekend was watching The Great Escape with the Seldom Seen Kid. The girls weren't interested, but it was  great fun to watch such a familiar movie with someone seeing it for the first time. Simon and I kept saying ooh, this is a good bit, and asked him to guess who gets away (he was right about Danny, Willie, and Sedgewick, but gutted that he was wrong about Hilts.)

And we had a discussion about our favourite characters. You can keep Steve McQueen as Hilts the Cooler King; it's James Garner as Hendley the Scrounger all the way for me!

We are compiling a list for future film nights; SSK has quite eclectic and grown-up tastes, so we can extend the range beyond kids' films and action adventure movies. Some classic thrillers might be good, and not-overly-horrific horror and sci fi.

What else?

In culinary news;
I've tried again to make decent shortcrust pastry, always a challenge for me; Eldest (a fan of The Great British Bake Off) criticised my soggy bottom...

Homity Pie. Tasted good, but I think my hands are too hot for pastry. 

Any tips?

Minnie watched the rain from the safety of the back of the sofa, and tried to catch the raindrops.

1950s tweed jacket, cardigan, tights, scarf, beret and bangles - charity shopped
1970s dress - vintage shop (heavily reduced because it needed repairing)
Boots - Ebay
Leather gloves - gift
These photos were from earlier in the week, a day when the sun put in an appearance.

On this week's agenda;
  Littlest joins Cubs, there's a PTA fundraising cake sale at school, a parents' evening for Eldest, a night out for Tracey's birthday, and a sleepover at the weekend as a belated birthday treat for Littlest.

It's going to be busy. Hope my cakes turn out better than my pastry.

I'm joining in with all the Visible loveliness over at Patti's.
 See you later! 

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Fifteen minutes


There's always something to ponder in life, isn't there?

Not necessarily the Big Questions; just silly, farty, devil's-in-the-detail sort of stuff. Logistics, finances, time, people, they all take some sorting out...

As always, the best response to such nonsense is to wear some brightly coloured bit of vintage finery, to chase the cobwebs and befuddlement away.

1970s English Lady maxi dress - flea market
Faux fur coat - vintage fair
Cardigan, hat and bangles - charity shopped
Gloves and flower - retail (sale)
1980s boots - Second to None
Scarf - gift

One of the many questions under consideration at the moment is homework. More specifically, that of the Seldom Seen Kid.

We have Learning Log Issues.

I have a well-nigh pathological dislike of parents who do their kid's homework for them.

You might know the ones; they take over as though it was their own task, and produce fabulous work on their child's behalf, to the astonishment/irritation/amusement* of onlooking teachers and slacker parents like me who prefer to let their children live or die by their own efforts. (*Delete as appropriate, or feel free to add your own reaction.)

 As my children have moved through school, I have consistently struggled with deciding where the boundary lies between offering them support and encouragement, and taking over so that the work is no longer their own.

We had decided on a Back Right Off policy for Seldom Seen. He's 10, he knows what is expected of him, and I thought he could manage to take some responsibility for his own learning.

It appears I was wrong, and this approach has failed, rather spectacularly.

So in an alarming volte face which has me stifling my resentment ("It's not my homework. I DID my homework") and gritting my teeth, we are now trying to approach Learning Logs as a team effort. I can't deny that spending more time with both SSK and Littlest (Eldest is thankfully independent and self-starting) is improving the quality of their work. And I am hoping that the ability to plan and edit and summarise will eventually rub off on them... 

But at the moment, I feel I am in the driving seat, when I really want be reclining in the back and looking out of the window. 

Still, Seldom Seen has been quite engaged with recent explorations of both Cubism and pop art.

Here's his homage to Andy Warhol, courtesy of PicMonkey.

We  talked about the Factory, we listened to the Velvet Underground and looked at the cover of the Warhol "banana" album, we read about Valerie Solanas and Edie Sedgewick, and he asked me to define hangers-on and drag queens. We discussed whether a bottle of Coke or a tin of soup is a good subject for art, and whether a cartoon-y image of Marilyn Monroe is as beautiful as Botticelli's Venus or the Mona Lisa. We admired the remarkable prescience of his observation that In the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes, in this age of reality TV and the internet.

Sure, I was asking the questions, but he was doing some thinking, and he was interested and engaged, and that's when learning happens. Not when you're bored and under pressure and lonely and anxious. 

I'm learning right along with him, and not just about art.

I'm not always very good at admitting when I'm wrong.

But I have underestimated what my son needs from me at the moment, and I need to make it right.

And now he rather likes the Velvet Underground, which is a bonus.

 A teacher at school, with whom I get on very well, recently described me as intractable, and I recognise the accuracy of the description. But I am trying to be less so. Intractability when you've clearly screwed up is just plain old pigheadedness, right?


Sunday 19 January 2014

One day like this a year would see me right

When I finally levered myself out of bed this morning and threw those curtains wide, it certainly was a beautiful day.

Stunningly blue skies, mild and bright and lovely. In mid-January? I'll take that.

Drinking in the morning sun
Blinking in the morning sun
Shaking off a heavy one

Very apt, since last night we were at our friends Diana and Jim's for a winter barbeque party, and as always, I was the last to leave...

One photo; that's all I took. The company and the chat and the wine made a poor blogger of me, but were conducive to an excellent night!

Still, I got up to take the kids swimming, and as we walked home, we spotted eight ducks on our local stretch of the River Sheaf. Four pairs, which we are hoping will produce some ducklings later in the Spring. Maybe the sunshine fooled them into thinking it was already time to get courting, and that's why they were all so perky.

A good day to wear my favourite 1970s Feminella coat, a gorgeous red-and-white checked confection in lightweight wool, complete with its original vinyl belt and the glorious piping detail. I always feel smart and sassy in it, even if I'm bleary-eyed from the night before.

1970s Feminella wool coat, cardigan and bangles - charity shopped
1970s dress and boots - Ebay
Tights and necklace - gifts

My tabby beauties, Jess and Willow.

I am a bit downhearted, having failed to be offered an interview for the job I applied for. A handful of hours, at minimum wage, and I didn't even get a look in, that's really worrying. Not to mention humiliating.

Oh anyway;
it's looking like a beautiful day...

Someone asked in a recent blog post which song we never get tired of hearing. (Please tell me in the comments if it was your post and I will personally apologise for my dreadful memory.)

it was Rachel, and she was kind enough to give me a Sunshine Award too. So thanks for that, Rachel, and what synchronicity that the name of the award links so well with this post, all by pure chance!]

I have many, many songs which fall into this category, and this is one of them. Uplifting, epic and anthemic, swooningly beautiful, yet typically Mancunian in its vocabulary and downplaying of emotion. Perfection.

And now I need to take my chamois-creased face off to bed!


Wednesday 15 January 2014

Two green dresses

Since both the post-Christmas finances and my secondhand shopping mojo have gone astray this month, I am relying on 
some Old Faithfuls of the Wardrobe to see me through January.

I suppose it's possible that the softer green of the tie-front cardigan would have blended well with the muted, sludgy shades of the 1950s print dress on the left; and the bright green cardigan would have picked out the same shade in the Deco-esque print of the 1970s maxi.

But that's too obvious, right? And I would have felt too subdued in the first version, and overly neon in the second. 
So I wore my greens like this.

And that's the way (uh huh, uh huh) I like it.

1950s dress - gift from Goan beach babe Vix
Cardigan, earrings, bangles and tights - charity shopped
Boots - community fair
Necklace - gift from op shop queen Leisa

There's that peacock feather bangle again. I've worn it so much, the paint is coming off. Thank you, Tania of the Disappearing Blog (and come back soon please!)

I have had a Big Tidy Up. 
It took all day.
And I only did one room, that's how bad it was.

But it looks better, and I have numerous books, games, puzzles and other toys the kids have outgrown to either donate to charity shops, or keep for our next school jumble sale. I should really do the latter, but it isn't till March, and I want that stuff out now that I've gone to the trouble of sorting it.

I figure that if a room takes a day, and assuming (which is foolhardy) that I don't lose my motivation, we could be shipshape by the end of the month.

That's the plan...

1970s DL Barron maxi dress and mohair tie-front cardigan - flea market
Sequin beret, boots, necklace and bangles - charity shopped
Flower - gift from my darling Sarah

Why is it that I find housework so difficult?

I know it's pointless and dull, but I do feel so much happier when the house is in a reasonable state, and I'm not ashamed of it (and myself.)

Actually, during the years when I lived alone, I was pretty organised and tidy. So it's clearly Simon and the kids' fault.

There, that's solved the mystery. An aversion to housework brought on by Other People's Mess. 


I may like a 50s frock, but that's where my affinity with a 1950s housewife begins and ends, I'm afraid.

One of my friends dusts and polishes her house every week. Every week. Is this normal?


Which are you, a Dusting Divinity or a Slovenly Slackarse? Be honest, now!


Sunday 12 January 2014

Colour my world


Not my favourite month, but I am trying not to be miserable about it, and it's never a good plan to wish your life away. Not when you're probably over half way through it. (I'm 50 this year, it's got me thinking!)

Colour, that's what I need. Colour, print, and a vintage frock.

The girls and I headed into town to the Crucible Theatre on Friday evening.

Oliver! was great. I am not the biggest lover of musical theatre, but the production and performances were strong, and of course I know all the songs. It's been such a long time since I saw any live theatre, I had forgotten that wonderful sense of excitement and expectation when the house lights go down and the music starts. 

I know Littlest looks as though she's nodding off. She wasn't, she was just being a twit. She was actually saucer-eyed, and because she didn't know the story, she was horrified that Nancy was murdered. 

I was rather taken with the Dickensian street girls' costumes, and feel I may have to do my own Oom Pah Pah tribute post at some stage. So there's something to look forward to.
I am also inspired to read some Dickens for the first time in 30 years. I'm an English Literature graduate who has never read Bleak House, and that's a bit shameful.  This year, I am trying to intersperse my usual reading with the occasional Piece of Literature I Should Have Read But Haven't. 
I started with Heart of Darkness, because it's short. I'm aware of how shallow that sounds, but it's the truth!

On Saturday, we went out for brunch, taking in the River Sheaf and a playground along the way.

As you can see, Seldom Seen's new specs have been glued back together, and he is rocking them. Give him a sharp 1960s suit and a gun, and he's Harry Palmer.

1960s Tom Jones for California maxi dress - vintage fair
Cardigan, bangles and necklaces - charity shopped
Boots - Ebay
 (The peacock feather bangle was a gift but I can't remember from whom... Was it you, Princess Tan-Tan?)

There is stew with dumplings in the oven for tea, as befits our first major frost of the season (my poor camellia will suffer even more) and a chilly day. 
Homework has been done (albeit painfully).
The week's plans include a PTA meeting, tidying up (Must Be Done), an attempt to sort out the Cupboard of Doom (ditto), and maybe some sewing.

And what better way to start the week than by meeting up with Patti and her friends for Visible Monday? 
See you there!