Tuesday 29 January 2019

Pink frost

I had it all worked out in my head. As on Saturday before last, the eternal rain had temporarily stopped and had been replaced by temperatures barely above freezing point, I intended to wear one of my vintage jumpers. I'd chosen my blue one, which has three rows of openwork flowers caught between two rows of tiny red hearted daisies.

I even had two choices of skirt in mind. It was going to be either my red plaid pleated skirt or my light grey one criss-crossed with multi-coloured diagonals.

At least, that was the plan. 

But then the red-hearted daisies reminded me of a velvet skirt, its print featuring pink flowers, which was languishing in my wardrobe. Thus, out it came. But it didn't look right at all with the jumper. However, now that I'd finally got the velvet skirt out, I was determined to wear it. So, taking the lead from the pink flowers, I scanned my wardrobe's shelves for a suitable jumper and happened upon this pink, grey and brown zig-zag one, which I charity shopped a couple of months ago. 

Satisfied with the result, I started building the rest of that day's outfit around it.

This is a typical Saturday morning occurrence at Dove Cottage, which I'm using to illustrate the way my outfits often come together. Trial and error. Playing with colours and prints. 

After a week of mornings when, still half asleep and bleary eyed, I'm mindlessly putting on one of the outfits I've assembled the weekend before, Saturday morning is my happy time, when I can play with the items in my wardrobe to my heart's content.

The velvet skirt is part of a suit I bought at Think Twice in September 2016, partly paid for by vouchers my friend Inez got me for my birthday.

I'd forgotten how fabulous it is! The short, fitted jacket is edged in faux leather and has faux leather covered buttons. I wore this for these photos only, as it was far too cold to go it alone, with just the jacket as outerwear.

I added my burgundy faux fur wrap and hot pink gloves, both of which were bought in last Winter's sales, as well as my vintage dusty pink Kangol beret with pom pom.

To tie in with the blue and turquoise in the skirt's print, I pinned a turquoise flower shaped brooch to my jumper. If you look closely, you can see that its heart is edged with tiny pink stones.

The necklace was a retail buy from back in the mists of time, and features graduated wooden beads in pink, purple and orange.

Instead of a cardigan, I opted for a black fake fur cap-sleeved vest, and obviously only pink opaques would do! 

Look at all that space in the wardrobe!  Sadly, it isn't mine: it's the wall-length fitted wardrobe in the master bedroom at my parents' house.

Outerwear consisted of a recently acquired purple fake fur jacket, and a charity shopped red and purple fringed scarf.

Comfortable footwear was essential, as we were off to our first flea market of the year. My feet were thanking me for choosing my trusty slouchy tan boots, which have just the right height of heel for trawling the flea market aisles.

Only minutes after entering the flea market venue, I was irresistibly drawn to this beehive shaped object, complete with three large-eyed bees attached to it by tiny coil springs.  It's a piggy bank, similar to the one I had at my paternal grandparents' house. In fact, we already owned one, minus the bees, which we picked up at another flea market many years ago. 

We were going to sell on the bee-less one at next Summer's flea market, but when we got it home, we noticed they aren't the same at all. So, for now, we are keeping them both.

Another book for our already seriously groaning shelves, but I'm sure you'll agree there was no way Jos could leave this one behind ...

This flea market, which is held on a monthly basis and for which we take out a season ticket saving a small fortune on entrance fees, is the perfect place to browse for brooches and other jewellery.

I was instantly smitten when I laid eyes on this fabulous pendant with its Tiger's Eye gemstone. At € 12 it was my most expensive buy that day.

I ended up buying six brooches from various stalls.

The plastic medallion with its trio of roses and the cute pair of tiny deer both came from the same stall whose owners live in the same town as we do.

And then there were these treasures. Clockwise from top left: a gold tone dragonfly with filigree wings, a silver swirly knot and - my favourite - a burnished gold tone posy with red plastic berries.

On the bottom left is the pink frost the post's title is referring to. That night's frost had decorated our pink metal garden table with a pattern of frost ferns. Aren't they magical?

There's one more brooch I have to show you. When trawling one of the last aisles, my eye was caught by an unusual carved celluloid brooch hiding among a jumble of jewellery on one of the stalls.

Now I regularly come across similar brooches, and even have some in my collection, but I'd never seen one with a green frame.

I carefully extracted it from its precarious position and, as it seemed to be in great condition, I nonchalantly asked for its price. Needless to say, I couldn't hand over my € 5 fast enough!

To end this post, I'm treating you to a look at my other carved celluloid brooches. 

They were all flea market finds, except for the souvenir brooch of the Notre Dame in Paris, which was picked up in a charity shop for € 0,50.

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style!

Friday 25 January 2019

Sunshine on a cloudy day

Courtesy of the Polar Vortex, we are currently in the middle of a cold snap, and we even had our first batch of snow earlier this week.

For the sake of this blog, however, I 'm having to take a few tiny steps back in time, to the Saturday before last.

One look outside Dove Cottage's window confirmed that it was going to be yet another one of those interminably grey and depressing January days, so that there was nothing for it but to create my own bit of sunshine.

Oh well, when life gives you lemons ... wear yellow!

My yellow cardigan and beret were complimenting the yellow and golden hued print of my navy blue Diolen frock. Its in your face pattern includes huge, blowsy flowers as well as a double border of seashells at the hem.

A posy of cheerful looking pansies adorns the brooch I pinned to my cardie. It was love at first sight when I spotted it in a Welsh charity shop a couple of years ago. The ochre plastic beaded necklace came from good old Think Twice.

The dress came with a tie belt but I chose to accent my waist with an ochre leather belt. I'm sure you're beginning to see a pattern here. Although I love it when a dress retains its original self-belt, I usually prefer to wear it with a different, contrasting belt.

The orchid brooch pinned to my dress's collar was a flea market find and doubles as a pendant. It matches the colour of the necklace and belt perfectly.

Apart from my burnt orange tights and my tan slouchy boots, all items are pre-loved.

Even my coat was a charity shop find. And here's the frilly turquoise scarf again. That too was charity shopped. It's the perfect lightweight yet surprisingly warm scarf and consequently it gets a lot of wear. Or maybe I'm just in a rut ... 

A mustard beret and leather gloves in the same delicious colour completed my outerwear.

It rained almost non-stop all day, so we only managed a quick dash to the charity shop near the park, where two more necklaces were waiting for me. 

I used to complain about the lack of great jewellery finds at our charity shops but, judging from the haul I've had lately, there seems to be a definite improvement

This kitsch faux wood wall plaque featuring the ubiquitous crane popular in the late 1960s to early 1970s was a snip at € 0,50. We already have quite a few of these plaques, but this is the first one we've come across in coloured plastic rather than just plain cream or brown. It needed some TLC, so it just needed to come home with me.

There's nothing much to tell about Sunday, when we continued our hard slog at my parents' house. 

The magnificent beech tree in the front garden was hosting a parliament of rooks. And no, I didn't know what the collective noun for them was, and had to look it up. They were chattering and seemed to be arguing a lot, so parliament sounded just about right!

The dullness of the day is making this look like a black and white photograph and I think it does look a bit sinister.

The week that followed continued to be wet and dismal, with only the odd short-lived ray of sunshine.

Antwerp's main shopping street was brimming with puddles, this one framing the topsy turvy top half of one of the city's landmarks, a 1930s Art Deco skyscraper.

During one lunch break, the relentless rain drove me inside a bookshop, where I spent a happy half hour or so browsing.  A book about Vintage Jewellery? Yes please!

There's a wealth of information and exquisite illustrations recounting over 100 years of jewellery design.

Decade by decade, the book explores key designers and jewellery houses, as well as technical developments and cultural influences that shaped historic design styles.

I'm sure it will be an invaluable reference for any future finds.

The rest of the working week was quite stressful, spent in preparation of a visit from my boss. One day, Jos was in town and came to my office, so I asked him to take a photo of that day's outfit for you.

It is a bit blurry as it was taken in the building's lobby and with my phone's camera, so I included some close-ups for a better look at my dress's fabric, as well as my brooch and necklace.

Oops, is that the time? 

I do have to leave you now, but not before showing you the wacky watch my boss's wife bought me!
I love its loopy script numbers and the hot pink second hand with its little pink heart.

Now that another stressful week at work has finally come to an end, my regular posting schedule is about to be resumed.

Thanks for bearing with me. Hope to see you again soon!

Saturday 19 January 2019

Mad about plaid

It was the last day of the holidays and I was feeling quite sorry for myself. My twelve days of freedom, which seemed never-ending at first, had dwindled to nothing. And what did I do? Exactly, nothing! Or not much anyway.

The weather was commiserating with me by cloaking itself in grey and sending some little black rain clouds my way. I had to run an errand in town, hoping against hope that being out and about would cheer me up.

Now, my hometown isn't the least bit exciting. It's the kind of place which is neither a village nor a town. If it was still somewhat rural back in the 1960s and 1970s, it had grown too big for its boots when I returned after 13 years of living in the big city.

Butchers, bakers and grocers have upped and left one by one until only an inadequate handful of essential shops remain in the High Street, the others replaced by the usual chains stores which seem to have colonized all Belgian High Streets. The only plus is that there are now two bookshops where before there were none.

There are a couple of small boutiques as well, and it is to one of them that I seemed to be drawn like a moth to a flame. Looking left and then right to check that I wasn't being followed by the vintage fashion police, I gingerly stepped inside, and promptly fell in love with a skirt!

Yes, dear readers, I did succumb to the lure of the sales. But don't tell anyone, please! It's our secret, right?

But look at that plaid pattern, which is such a classic! Surely this calls for a little jig! I love its midi length, which against all rules I do think suits my petite frame. And there's enough fabric for a twirl or two!

As I wanted to share my naughty buy with you, I waited until the weekend to wear it. I've included a close-up of the fabric, and the wide self belt which came with the skirt. As the belt is a bit floppy and wouldn't stay in place, I opted for a tan leather belt, which you can see below.

First wear this season of my beloved belted tweed jacket, which I accompanied with a blue beret and - again! - my frilly turquoise scarf. It is my current favourite, and perfect for the mild weather we continued to have. 

You can catch a glimpse of my curry opaques and the navy booties I'm wearing.

Let me show you what's underneath, which was a chocolate brown cardigan edged in ochre yellow, layered on top of a blouse which I will show and tell you about in a moment.

First things first though!  I couldn't resist sneaking in a peek at my vintage slip, one of a couple I charity shopped in the holidays. They both belonged to the same elderly lady who, as testified by the name tags, must have been residing in a nursing home. As they were both crisp and pristine as well as squeaky clean, I didn't mind taking them home, tags and all.

When I returned to work, Think Twice's sales were in full flow and down to € 4. I pounced on this vintage C&A blouse, with its frilly collar and yoke.

In my mind's eye, I could already see it paired with the plaid skirt and, for once, my mind's eye was right. It was a perfect match!

Its high collar called for a brooch, so I added the chunky green glass one I bought in a vintage shop in Middelburg back in November.

In the close-up on the top right, you can see the gold thread which is enhancing the neutral colours of the plaid.

The lovely ochre yellow beaded necklace was part of a late birthday present from my friend Ingrid, which she gave me on New Year's Eve. She'd also crocheted a pair of blue and yellow pot holders to tie in with our kitchen's colour scheme. And then there was a crochet covered clothes hanger which I'll be using to display some of my most precious necklaces.

Phoebe immediately claimed the wrapping paper, which we still haven't been able to take away from her. For some strange, unfathomable reason only cats understand, she loves lying on it.

It was still uncharacteristically warm that first weekend of January. And no, I haven't just thrown in some photos of last Summer's flowers to cheer you up on a miserably grey January day. These flowers, and many more, were still rearing their little heads in the vicarage garden earlier this month!

There was no let-up in the rain, so any walking was off the cards. Instead, and for want of a better thing to do, we did some charity shopping. Oh well, needs must!

I love browsing the nightwear and lingerie rails and couldn't resist this vintage quilted dressing gown with its pretty design of floral baskets and hearts, and its frilly nylon trim at the collar and cuffs.

This velvety hot pink (Sheila would say PANK) jacket still had its tags on, showing its original price of € 89,95. It was mine for € 6 and will make a nice change from my regular denim jacket next Summer. Not only was it a perfect fit, I thought it went rather well with this skirt, which was another one of my Think Twice bargains from the week before.

My final Think Twice buy was this forest green maxi dress, with a print of pale green and purple diamonds interspersed with lilac Paisley motifs. I picked up the splashes of lilac by adding my 1980s lilac belt, but I'm not convinced that it works. I will have to style it differently - and wear it myself! - soon.

It's been a manic couple of weeks, what with work related issues, and our weekends still partly taken up by clearing and cleaning the parental home ready for sale. Hence, blog posting might be a little erratic, but please bear with me, as I will return to my usual schedule shortly.

I'm leaving you now with what might possibly be the most hilarious piece of shell art work I've ever come across in a charity shop.

Linking my plaid outfit to Nancy's Fancy Friday and Tina's Pink Friday.

Sunday 13 January 2019

Pleats please!

As the year was creeping steadily towards its end, we spent our days happily doing nothing much at all.

We slept late, which in our case meant getting up past 8 am, and made plans for the day while enjoying a leisurely breakfast. Then, it was time for me to play with my wardrobe. Oh happy days!

On this day at the tail end of December, I had a craving for pleats! The fit and flare frock, with its pleated skirt, was a Think Twice find back in 2017, which I customized by adding a new set of buttons (see here). I love the sprinkling of pink flowers on a cobalt blue background.

Clouds had gathered, chasing away any lingering sunshine, but as there was no sign of rain just yet, we cleared our fuzzy heads with a walk in the park, halting at the new playground for outfit photos.

Gymnastics, particularly of the climbing variety, have never been my forte, so there was no way I was going to climb this rope ladder, especially as there would be much protesting from my bad knee if I did.

Nature seems to be in a state of confusion. She certainly has her seasons mixed up, thinking it is one long Autumn rather than Winter, displaying a profusion of fungi among the mushy carpet of leaves.

Elsewhere, there were early signs of Spring, as some of the bare pussy willow branches were already sporting the first of their furry catkins.

Meanwhile, back at the playground, I was still doing my acrobat impersonation. Rather unsuccessfully, I hasten to add. 

But at least it allowed me to show you a close up of my dress's print, my lilac opaques, blue boots and a bit of my vintage slip.

On top, I added my faithful fake fur, a red scarf, a cobalt blue beret and a pair of golden gloves.

Only the gloves and opaques were bought news. They were both bargains picked up at last Winter's sales. 

Jos is still happily wearing my Dad's coat, this time accompanied by a new-to-him green hat, a € 5 find at December's flea market.

Winter allows the park's bare bones to shine through, with the skeleton trees in a starring role. 

Well away from the beaten path, this heron had found a quiet place for a spot of fishing. But then I came along with my big bad camera. I tried to tiptoe closer but then it took wing.

Mid afternoon, and it was already getting dark. This really is the bleak midwinter, even though we were spared the frosty wind, nor was there any sign of snow.

Actually, it was unseasonably warm and mild enough to wear my coat open and show you my dress, with my snakeskin belt at my waist. The wooden disc necklace was bought from Accessorize, who used to have a shop here in Antwerp many years ago, while the vintage brooch pinned to my cardigan, a grey plastic dog wearing a sugar pink collar, was a flea market find.

We nipped into the nearby charity shop before returning home. My loot that day were a handful of necklaces, a small green evening bag and a blue glass bracelet.

I immediately recognized it as the little sister of the red one I already had and which I bought brand new at the time. I certainly paid a lot more for it than the € 0,50 I paid for its little sister. Their pretty glass beads remind me of one of those Millefiori paperweights!

Another day, another pleated dress! I wore this one a couple of days later. It is very similar in style and shape as the one I wore the other day. Its print has lots of tiny squares in blue, pink, red, lilac and turquoise, and its bodice closes with a row of small red buttons.

I wore turquoise tights and added a wide turquoise belt and a teal and pink cardigan with the cutest buttons ever, both of which were charity shop finds.

Accessories were a funky white metal necklace, which I've had for such a long time that I can't for the life of me remember where it came from, and a fish brooch bought as a holiday souvenir in Ypres.

My outerwear consisted of a vintage new wool jacket in a gorgeous shade of teal, with a strokable grey furry collar. I've bought it at Think Twice a while ago, but I seem to have forgotten to mention it on the blog. My fluffy turquoise scarf and raspberry beret completed my outfit, which I wore to run some errands in our village. I really don't need any reason to dress up!

And then it was New Year's Eve, which we hosted this year. 

I initially planned to wear something completely different, but when push came to shove I felt more comfortable and confident in this vintage maxi dress.

It was a very impromptu outfit, which came together without any forward planning. I just threw my yellow, cropped, short-sleeved cardigan on top, and added the lime green beaded necklace I'd found at the charity shop earlier that week. I was also wearing these holographic floral velvet booties, but they weren't caught on camera.

Jos wore jeans and a red striped shirt with a waistcoat on top. The Ascot he is proudly wearing was a gift from Vix and Jon when we met them back in June.

We had our friends Inez, Ingrid and Maurice over. Ingrid provided the appetizers and the starter, a tasty smoked salmon cocktail.

The main course was ours: chicken fillets on bacon, topped with onions, mushrooms and herby butter, baked in foil in the oven, and accompanied by fried potatoes and a salad. But I'd forgotten to take photographs by then, so you'll have to use your imagination!

Inez came bearing marzipan petit fours for dessert, while Jos donned his cook's apron and was having a barista moment.

And of course, the girls had to pose for a photograph like we did last year!

So, that was 2018, done and dusted.

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style when the link is up!