Saturday, 23 March 2019

Sweet charity

We're more than halfway through March, and Spring has officially sprung. I'm usually bored with my Winter wardrobe by now, and this year is certainly no exception.

In all honesty, the season could hardly be classed as Winter in terms of weather. We've only had a handful of frosty days and there was even less snow than usual. Instead, it seemed like one long, grey and wet Autumn (the nasty stage!) merging into early Spring.

No wait, we already had Spring, didn't we? It was the sunny intermezzo we had for two weeks or so in February, which was followed by very windy and very wet weather.

This is the time of year when I'm critically eyeing my Winter wardrobe, looking at any unworn items and putting aside anything I don't think I'll ever wear again. This, mind you, isn't an easy task, as I usually find it hard to part with things I once loved. But I'm learning! Baby steps, though.

The absence of a really cold Winter means that there are quite a few - more than usual - unworn things in my wardrobe. My warmest dresses, woollen skirts and jumpers: I hardly had any use for them and, unless we're faced with a very late Beast from the East, I'm probably done with them for this season.

Last Saturday, as a last attempt to wear any other items which remained unworn, I pulled out this handmade shift dress, which has the grooviest of prints.

When I found it at Blender Vintage Shop, a gem of a shop that's sadly no longer trading, the sleeves had turned-up cuffs closing with two gold buttons.

However, the turn-ups made the sleeves a tiny bit too short and too narrow, which is why I hardly ever wore it. But oh, I loved that print, and pretty much else about the dress, apart from those pesky sleeves. So, I took it out, had a good look at the cuffs and noticed that the finish looked quite alright on the reverse side. Thus, I removed the buttons and moved them to what was once the inside of the cuffs, making the sleeves longer and less restricted in the process. Oh, and I replaced those boring gold ones with ... green buttons!

It's obvious that it's not going to exit my wardrobe any time soon now!

I topped my frock with a burnt orange cardigan, to which I pinned a brown-bodied cat brooch, a present from Goody.  Brown vintage beads and a plastic orange ring with shimmering green specks were my other accessories.

The rain had temporarily stopped, but with a gale force wind blowing, the weather was best suited for staying indoors. However, we did escape for a brief charity shop rummage after lunch.

I was back to wearing my Princess coat and was glad of its warmth with all that wind. My sage green beret came from Think Twice and the orange plaid scarf was a charity shop find.

So were the boots, which cost all of € 2, and which I've been wearing constantly. They are super comfortable, their only disadvantage being that they are pull-on ones. I'm also wearing an old pair of green opaques.

We drove down to a charity shop we hardly ever visit these days, to have a look at the leftovers of Retrodag. I almost got a fit when I saw a vintage handbag - OK, it was a nice one but still - priced at € 50. I actually threw it down in disgust ...

Purely out of habit, I had a look at the jewellery, some of which is displayed in a - very scratched - glass topped drawer built into the counter. I thought I detected a carved celluloid brooch, and if my eyes weren't deceiving me, its price label said € 1.

I wasted no time in asking if I could have a look at the drawer's contents.

These are the ones that came home with me for the ridiculous total price of € 7. I admit I couldn't help gloating just a little bit.

On the top left is the brooch I'd first spied. Continuing clockwise, this one is very similar to one I've already got, but at € 1 I wasn't going to leave it behind. In the end, it turned out to be sufficiently different to justify keeping them both. 

The delicate brooch on the bottom right might be missing some of its little flowers, but € 0,50 seemed a fair price for it. The little holes on both sides of the stag brooch (bottom left) are a clear indication that something is missing from it, although I have no idea what. It's perfectly wearable, though, and at € 1, I was prepared to give it a home.

Scottie dogs were a popular subject for brooches and other novelty jewellery from the 1930s onwards. I'm presuming these two are 1950s.

The twosome of dogs on the left used to have movable heads but age, possibly with the aid of some glue, has put paid to any further movement.

The brown Scottie beating a drum was priced at € 0,5. This in itself was sweet revenge for the ridiculously priced handbag, as I already have two of these brooches. See here. I don't remember what I paid for the plain green one which was bought from an antiques shop in Cardigan, but my blog tells me I paid € 20 (with reduction!) for the black one, found at a flea market last year.

I'm always on the lookout for cheap 'n cheerful vintage novelty brooches. These charming ones were € 0,50 each. My favourite is the one on the bottom right, the girl holding an umbrella over a gaggle of ducks.

Needless to say, I'm very pleased with my haul, as brooch pickings had been rather meagre lately.

Before going home, we stopped at the charity shop in our village, where the Retrodag remnants included six egg cups with matching spoons, still in their original packing, as well as an Emsa party dish.

The egg cups have been added to our kitchen display, while the party dish has already been roped in to house some of my jewellery collection.

So that were our charity shop finds, but I still need to show you what I picked up earlier that week at Think Twice, who were having another one of their famous sales.

It had been quite a while since I had a decent haul there as well.

The floral Diolen frock with its butterfly sleeves was € 5. Its print is very reminiscent of the one in this dress.

As a lover of green, I simply can't have enough green frocks! Isn't this one fabulous? I fell in love with its mix of plain green and printed bodice and its gorgeous chevron patterned skirt. This was € 5 as well.

This plain green dress (yes, another one!) isn't even vintage but from Belgian label Wow To Go. 

Back in 2012, I used to have the same model of dress but in burgundy, with a burgundy and turquoise striped bodice. I dearly loved that dress but it had become too snug, so eventually I gave it away to a friend.

You can see part of it in this photo dating from way back. Note the very short hair and the tiny spectacles. And Phoebe!

As this green version is a perfect fit and in pristine condition, I couldn't hand over my € 4 fast enough.

Meanwhile, I've selected some dresses and other stuff I no longer love and bagged them up ready for our next trip to the charity shops. 

There, you see, I can do it!

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Oh no, retro!

Although I keep claiming that my blog is my on-line diary, it sometimes feels as if I'm writing a piece of history, as my posts are constantly lagging behind real life.

So, dear diary, this is what I did on Saturday 9th of March!

It was the day of that yearly charity shop event called Retrodag (dag is day in Flemish!), the day all Belgian charity shops are selling the vintage stuff they've saved up in the past year, often at ridiculous prices, creating what someone on Facebook aptly called artificial scarcity with stuff they've been given for free!

We used to make a day of it, starting out early and taking a picnic, driving from one shop to another. Disenchanted with the same old-same old overpriced stuff on offer, we have lost some our initial enthusiasm for the event, and only visit some of our favourite shops.

We were both feeling a bit tired as well, which rather put a damper on it all, but as I didn't want to give in and have my day spoiled, I decided to go for full-on colour therapy.

What about coral? I've had this dress in my wardrobe for absolutely ages, but I don't seem to wear it much anymore, as I've sort of gone off polka dots lately.  Still, it is getting at least one outing a year, and I thought this was the perfect day for it.

I'm struggling what colour to wear with it and always seem to end up pairing it with shades of blue. This colour has clearly got me stumped!

So, blue it is then. I picked cobalt blue opaques, then dug around in my suitcase full of belts, where I found this matching leather one. My beaded necklace and plastic flower ring, both in a similar shade of blue, were flea market finds.

The charity shopped cardigan with its two-tone chequered print provided a welcome contrast to the dress's polka dots. Still staying within the colour scheme, I added an orange vintage brooch bought from the Brooch Lady in November 2016. One of the advantages of blogging is that I can now track down what I bought where, and when!

The first shop we were headed to always has a huge rail of vintage clothing. I picked up armfuls of stuff to try on, eventually settling on a skirt suit, a dress and two skirts.

The handmade skirt suit has a wide flouncy skirt and a short, fitted, wide-lapelled jacket. The main part of both the skirt and the jacket is black sprinkled with tiny red flowers, while an explosion of blowsy Summer flowers adorns the skirt's hem and the jacket's lapels and cuffs.

The dress, with its tropical white, chartreuse, orange and yellow print, is handmade as well. It has three-quarter length sleeves, a V-neck with a neat little collar, which in the pictures is a bit lost in the print, and a single pleat at the front. 

The first of the skirts is a midi length one and has a blue and white flower print on a dove grey background. Angelica is wearing it with a short sleeved yellow knit jumper, to which I pinned a blue butterfly brooch, and a yellow belt.

The second skirt is knee-length and its print has a profusion of moss green, orange-red, white and brownish flowers. Angelica is wearing a coral openwork knit jumper and a sage green belt with it.

While queuing at the till, I spotted this set of jewellery, consisting of a brooch and clip-on earrings.

They are stamped on the back with the words "Il Etait Une Fois" (the French equivalent of "once upon a time"), which after some googling I discovered is a contemporary French jewellery company, established in 1987, which produces pewter jewellery plated with silver or gold.  I paid € 5 for the set, which turns out to be more than a good deal, as I found a similar brooch on its own, priced at € 35, on their website.

Then we drove down to our second shop, where we had a car picnic, after which we decided to clear our fuzzy heads and make a quick circuit of the park.

The groovy boots I'm wearing were actually picked up on a previous Retrodag event back in 2017.

I bought the vintage plaid swing coat at our most local charity shop a couple of years ago and it has been a firm favourite ever since. I love its shorter length and the half belt.

The frilly blue scarf was another charity shop find, and if I remember correctly the beret was from Think Twice.

The weather was another disappointment, which was a first for this event. Looking back at the previous years, which my blog enables me to do, we had gorgeous spring weather for three years in a row.

It was chilly and a fierce wind was blowing - a prelude to the storm we'd be having on Sunday - and the park was looking a bit forlorn, as if it had suddenly been shifted a couple of weeks back in time.

On closer inspection, February's springlike temperatures combined with the recent lashings of rain, had triggered a growing spurt in the park's vegetation.

I was happy to discover a good-sized clump of Oriental hybrid hellebores with delicate pink veined flowers.

There were daffodils in bloom as well: apart from the usual little yellow daffs which were dotted around the park, there was a host of cheerful white, yellow trumpeted, ones.

Pink blossom decorated some of the shrubs which were bare only a fortnight ago, while ground-hugging Vinca minor was sprouting new shoots and opening the first of its violet-blue flowers.

Rain was imminent, so we briefly nipped into the charity shop, but we shouldn't have bothered, really.

Or should we?

Halfheartedly browsing the bookshelves, my eyes suddenly zoomed in on a pictorial travel book with a familiar name on its cover:Victoria. Picking it up for closer inspection confirmed that its subject was indeed Victoria, British Columbia in Canada.

Why all the fuss, you might wonder? Well, I actually know someone who lives there. It's my fabulous blogging friend Sheila, who blogs over at Ephemera! It goes without saying that I bought the book, especially as it's got a chapter on Sheila's castle!

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday over at Not Dead Yet Style, as usual!

Friday, 15 March 2019

Too good to be true

I knew it was too good to be true. To be honest, it didn't feel quite right, either. Still, I enjoyed every minute of the gorgeous, spring-like weather we had back in February.

But even if it was to be expected, it was still a bit of a letdown when the weather gods decided that enough was enough. I bet they were laughing behind our backs when they turned the thermostat several degrees lower, hid the weakly protesting sun behind a layer of grey clouds, and gleefully opened heaven's sluice gates.

To make matters worse, the weather gods seemed to have conspired with the charity shopping goddesses, as we came back virtually empty handed from our charity shopping trip on the Saturday before last.

There was nothing for it but to admit defeat, but not before showing you what I wore that day.

My frock, which was charity shopped many years ago, never fails to put a smile on my face whatever the weather, its feathery print in shades of navy, red and pink creating a pleasing chevron pattern in the skirt. If you look closely, there's even a little bit of green to be detected.

Although I've worn both red and navy with this dress in the past, this time I took the lead from its pink hues. Enter my hot pink, lurex edged cardigan and raspberry opaques, which do seem to look a bit reddish here. Sometimes, it is very tricky to get colours right when photographing an outfit.

I love how my beloved lilac 1980s belt seems to have found its perfect companion in the dress.

The necklace with its multicoloured wooded discs I'm wearing here came from Accessorize, who used to have a shop here in Antwerp many years ago.

A posy of violets and roses adorns the oval plastic brooch I pinned to my cardie and I've included a close-up of my sparkly, pink-hued, holographic ring.

I've been trying the wear my Winter coats on rotation this year but this one hadn't seen the light of day since our trip to Zeeland back in November.

To combat both the weather's gloominess and the drop in temperature, I added my red scarf, which has a hint of purple, and my rather fancy red beret.

Oh, and I forgot to mention my navy booties. They were bought from a local shop a couple of years ago and, together with the opaques, ring and necklace, are the only retail items in my outfit.

Being forced to spend the rest of the weekend indoors, we finally finished a little project which had been living in our heads ever since our old pendulum clock decided to call it a day back in December.

Not wanting to spend a fortune on having it repaired, Jos removed the clock's face and its movement, leaving us with a neat little display cabinet.  A string of battery operated fairy lights leftover from Christmas was tacked to the inside and a shallow Plexiglas shelf was inserted at the bottom of the clock face's window.

Then, it was ready for the fun bit.  I gave three of my vintage Barbie dolls the special treatment and put them in the lower part behind the leaded window where the pendulum used to be.

I thought the round window would be perfect for displaying some of my Skipper sized dolls (for those who are not familiar with them, Skipper is Barbie's little sister). However, my plans were thwarted by the fact that the dolls turned out to be just a tiny bit too tall for the available space, until I hit upon they idea of making them sit on the shelf.

Don't they look just cute sitting on their lofty perch?  The downside is that I can only use bend-leg dolls, though.

Here's a closer look at the inside of the clock, err, cabinet!

The weather on Sunday was even more dreadful, with hardly any let up in the rain, which kept pelting down remorselessly.

Still in the mood for playing with my dolls, I thought I'd redress some of them in appropriate rainy weather gear.

Here are my # 5 Ponytail (1960) sporting the 1964 outfit Stormy Weather, which came complete with wellies and an umbrella. Imitating her in a smaller version of the outfit is Skipper's friend Skooter. She's from 1965, and so is the outfit she's wearing, which is called Rain or Shine.

Here is Skipper herself! She's from 1964, but her adorable floral vinyl coat, called Flower Showers, dates from 1967.

On her left is Twist 'n Turn Barbie (1969), who's wearing Poncho Put-On (1971), a yellow and orange checked jumpsuit topped by a yellow vinyl poncho with orange trim and a funky yellow knit hood.

Our final duo are Francie (1966) and her friend Casey (1967). They are both Mod girls (Francie was marketed as Barbie's MODern cousin, and no, my CAPS lock didn't get stuck), who are bit smaller and less buxom than Barbie.

Francie is wearing a very groovy outfit consisting of a green play-suit with hot pink and yellow dots, and a see-through, geometrically patterned raincoat. The outfit is delightfully called Pazam! and dates from 1968.

Casey's outfit is a red vinyl coat and headscarf set called  Polka Dots 'n Raindrops (1966), which includes a pair of covetable red boots. Casey was an eBay find and arrived in a Thermos flask carton, which had my Dad, to whose address she had been sent as this preceded Jos's retirement, quite flummoxed.

Compared to the girls, I wasn't wearing that much colour that day, opting for more sedate blues and greens.

My Viyella flying duck skirt from Scapa of Scotland, charity shopped back in February, is the perfect skirt for lounging and doing some lazy pottering around the house.

Lounging doesn't necessarily mean leisure wear in my book, so I added a sparkly blue pussy bow blouse, a € 1 find from Think Twice, its bow secured with one of my scarf clips.

The belt was charity shopped but I cannot remember where I bought the ring.

The short-sleeved cardigan was another Think Twice find, but I only wore it while briefly stepping outside between showers for outfit photos.

Linking Saturday's outfit to Tina's Pink Friday this week!

Monday, 11 March 2019

Three years and counting

Isn't it crazy how time flies? It's quite scary, really. One minute I was typing the very first words of my very first blog post and whoosh ... suddenly it's three years later! Yes, dear readers, I've just celebrated my third blogiversary. It was on the 5th of March and no, I didn't forget. I actually started writing this post on the 5th, but by the time you are reading this, it will be three years and counting!

I've never regretted the decision to finally take the plunge for one minute. While I'm the first to admit that blogging takes time (a lot of time) and dedication, it has been nothing but a joy for me.

And while I'm blogging for myself in the first place - my blog is, after all, my on-line diary and photo album combined - it is you, dear readers, who make the experience worthwhile.

Back in March 2018, I wore this dress which used to be in a Flemish film

To celebrate this third year of blogging madness, I trawled through the archives as I thought I'd show you some of my favourites from year three. I was rather spoilt for choice so it wasn't an easy task. In the end, I went with my gut feeling and picked one or two (or three, in one case!) from each month.

Almost coinciding with my blogiversary, I was nominated for a Sunshine Blogger Award by the lovely Veronica of Vronni's Style Meanderings. Thank you, Veronica, the timing couldn't have been more perfect!

I'll be weaving together my answers to Veronica's questions and my favourite photos in this post, so let's waste no further time and get started!

Pattern mixing on an early Summer's day in April 2018

1) Why did you start blogging?

I'd been following various blogs behind the scenes for a couple of years, which inspired me to start my own. I have always regretted not keeping my teenage diaries and have considered starting some kind of diary many a time, as I felt I could do with some structure to my day-to-day life. Apart from holidays and any special occasions, the years just seemed to roll past, leaving me with only the vaguest recollection of what I'd been up to during a particular year.

Walking among daffodils in Bruges, May 2018

Blogging seemed the perfect solution, as it would give me an incentive to keep it up.

Being a keen photographer, I also wanted an outlet for my creativity, as most of my photographs were just languishing in digital files. And, finally, it would give me the opportunity to share my passions, in particular my vintage and second hand finds.

A lawn full of daisies, May 2018

I came up with my blog's name in August 2015, though it still took me until March 2016 to actually take the plunge.

It's only fair to thank my lovely friend Inez for nagging me until I finally gave in!

Frilly blouse and floral trousers, Shropshire, June 2018

2) Has your blog changed since you started it?

Definitely! I thought I would just share some photos of me posing in one of my vintage frocks once or twice a week and show you my latest finds, adding only a few words.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that words would flow so easily, that I'd be blogging about so many different subjects, or that I would be writing series of travelogues. It's not just all about vintage fashion anymore!

And never in a million years did I think that my blog would attract so many readers and followers.

Meeting Vix and Lynn, Chester, June 2018

3) Blogging is time consuming - what are the challenges you find in finding the time?

I am passionate about my blog so, even if I do admit blogging is time consuming, I don't consider this a challenge.

In spite of having a full-time job, I will always find time for things I'm passionate about.

I'd move heaven and earth to get a blog post finished and published, as the rewards far outweigh the time I'm putting in.

Vix and yours truly, Attingham Park, June 2018

4) When do you write a post - in the morning or the evening?

Even though being a full-time working girl means the brunt of my writing is being done in the evenings, I do keep adding to my posts constantly. I often jot things down during my commute, which I will then quickly add to my draft once I get to the office. I find that once I have an opening line, the words just keep flowing.

Instructions for a heatwave, July 2018

Finally, I add photographs and edit my flow of words. 

As one of my trademarks are collages, these often take longer to assemble than it takes to actually write the post. Especially since I'm such a perfectionist!

Garden party, August 2018

5) What is your favourite topic?

I think outfit posts are and and will remain the main staple of my blog, but travelogues have become a close second. I can't wait for our next trip just after Easter!

Jumpsuit at the seaside, September 2018

But I'll write about anything, really: childhood memories, the seasons, walking, nature, my home ... 

I love putting a bit of poetry and things that please the eye in my posts, as I think there is enough ugliness in this world as it is. My blog is my happy place!

In dreamful Autumn, October 2018

6) What's the thing you love most about blogging?

I love the fact that I can share my passions with you, my readers, and I treasure each and every comment I'm getting from you. Blogging is such a great way to meet kindred spirits. I was lucky enough to meet two of you in real life last year. Meeting Vix and Lynn definitely was one of the highlights so far and thinking about those days back in June still makes my heart sing.

Soaking up some sunshine in Zeeland, November 2018

What I didn't expect to happen is that I love writing part of it so much. I did try to put pen to paper before and once even started writing down some autobiographical notes, some of which have already made it into my blog, but I never thought I would do anything with them.  I certainly hadn't the faintest idea whether I could actually write or that people would appreciate my ramblings.

More pattern mixing, December 2018

7) What's the thing you like least?

There isn't anything really. Apart from the odd, annoying, spam comment, I haven't got anything negative to report about my blogging experiences.

Walking on Christmas Day 2018

8) Where do you see yourself and your blog  in five years time?

I'm not in the habit of  thinking too far into the future. I'm living in the moment and I'm only thinking ahead in bite-size little chunks.  But I'd like to think I'll still be blogging then. Hopefully with a bit more time to spend to spend once I'm no longer working full time.

Double trouble, January 2019

I've thought long and hard about whether to nominate anyone at all. In the end, I decided not to nominate anyone in particular. 

Brightening up a January day

If anyone wants to take up the challenge, here are my questions:

1. What inspired you to start blogging?
2. How does your blog influence your daily routine?
3. How long does it take you to write an average blog post?
4. When and where do you take your photos, and who is your photographer?
5. What is it that you enjoy the most about blogging?

Answers on a postcard, please, or you could just mention them in your comments. If you're a blogger, you could even write a blog post featuring my questions. It's all up to you!

Muppet coat and snakeskin booties, February 2019