Bank Holiday Thrifting

This bank holiday weekend I was lucky enough to have a wander round some charity shops (I am almost never in town on a Saturday or weekday) AND go to a car boot with Naomi. Despite 100 days I let myself spend money, and as none of it cost much, I don’t feel bad. Here is my haul…

 

Red sequin high heels. In my size. £3.49. Yup, would have been rude not to. Intended for burlesque and the dressing up box, but might wear them to work on a dreary Pin Up Monday, just to make myself smile.

IMG_9276

Car boot haul – two tea set trios (£2.50 and Naomi had the other two), an unread set of Narnia books with the same covers as the ones I had as a child (£2, bargain), a box of vintage lace (£2), a ridiculous number of books considering I’d set myself the target of not buying any books… but one is an all time favourite I have been after for ages, Katie Fforde’s Wedding Season. Candles (£1), crystals (£1) and my most expensive but most bargainous buy of the day, two pre-cut leather purse kits (£4).

IMG_9280

 

Saturday also yielded this beauty – haven’t decided whether to keep it as a scarf or use it as a throw. Its colours speak to my soul, somehow.

IMG_9275 

I also bought a dress, for £2, that needs significant altering before I can wear it – will share that when it’s in progress.

It was a glorious weekend – I need to wander, and eat cake, and do lovely things with lovely people more often. I feel more relaxed than I have for ages. It’s a soaring happy feeling… and one that is slowly becoming more frequent, which can only be a good thing.

100 Days Challenge – 6 weeks update

Haha… 100 days of no spending… with the few weeks I’ve just had my resolve has been sorely tested. My bank balance is still looking a bit sad, but certainly better than it would have been if I’d been spending with complete abandon. Good.

Wedding week was a write off – I knew that when I started the challenge. Loads of expected and unexpected expenses, so just tried to be sensible. Charges still cropping up and my credit card bill is horrific.  And I may have indulged in a magazine or three for the flight home. Oops.

Otherwise I’ve been very good – had one slip up for a grey maxi dress which I can wear to work, and have totally failed to keep my three-dinners-out-a-month rule – it seems more like three a week at the moment! But you only live once.

I’ve been exercising on skates and on the bike, both of which are free – and really looking forward to burlesque class tonight, I missed a week for wedding, skipped a week due to tiredness and there was a week with no class so it’s been AGES since I danced!

Camping weekend yielded much loveliness, most of it free/swapped – which is brilliant. By the end of this year Poppy will be sporting a badge-free exterior, a spoiler, red engine bits and maybe a twin exit exhaust. Excellent.

I have sold some makeup on ebay and will be adding more makeup, clothes and other things as I clear out, and the DF shop is slowly building sales too. Mainly in stationery, oddly!

I have also taken part in two craft swaps and the things I received were amazing – will definitely be doing more of these, it’s so lovely to receive presents and is challenging me creatively too 🙂 (my polka dot swap is yet to be sent to its recipient – that’s this weekend’s job!)

Not much on my wishlist – have been too busy to notice much besides the things I want for Poppy!

So overall for these first six weeks I’d give myself a 6 out of 10 for achievement and an 8 out of 10 for effort. Definite room for improvement – and I’m planning a nice gentle August!

I wrote this last Thursday. I am a terrible blogger!

I know it’s now Monday, but I was so enthused when I wrote this post, and having been to Startup Saturday I’m even more determined, so I thought I’d share it anyway. I promise the next post will be relevant. Or at least up to date 🙂

Wow, how is it already Thursday?!

Feel like I need more than a week’s round up… I had last week off following the Jubilee, with the intention of spring cleaning. Instead I passed the week in a delightful blur of family, friends and making, with so much inspiration along the way!

I spent time alone and with people, at home and out exploring and with family and friends old and new. I made plans and dreamed, created and experimented, and felt my drive and ambition return – they took a hike a while ago and I was left somewhat floundering.

I was inspired, delighted, busy, saddened, gloriously happy and newly determined – and that was a snippet of how I feel my life should and could be. Will be, if i can only work out a few small details like financing it.  Changes shall be afoot!

So what did I get up to?

Did quite a lot of helping parents to move house – and we managed to have a bbq!

Dyed my pointe shoes, did some sewing, finished first burlesque routine… and laughed a lot with friends. Had brunch with two fab people I don’t see often enough, and wrote letters to some I see even less often! Carbooted (on a Wednesday, which felt delightfully quirky) and came home with a sewing machine and two vases.

Had a whole day in London with Lou and talked and ate and talked and ate – and made friends with the lovely couple who run Lily and Lush / Fairy Gothmother in Spitalfields.

Then Friday I met Louise Craftyguider and the fabulous and very well behaved craftyguidelets (I wonder, if I have children will they be ducklets or ducklings?!) for a gorgeous pizza express lunch and borrowing of badge machine. It was so nice to meet in person after lots of tweeting!

My Gran turned 83 so we did lots of eating to celebrate, mostly of cake.

Miraculously, the bridesmaid dress still fits. May have to get some Spanx to go underneath, but at the moment it looks just fine 🙂

I spent a fabulous Saturday shopping and lunching with my mum, then decadent afternoon cocktails and food with Annastasia and Dan – so inspiring! Blogging workshops, crafting, a fair at which we hope to share a stall, burlesque and just the general goodness of life… Wonderful. Must do that more often.

Sunday I did attempt to go to Pulse London to look at expanding what the DF shop offers, but unfortunately the trains broke so I went home again.

And now I’ve done almost a whole week at work, spent the first two days in a state of emotional exhaustion and now the sun has come out I feel like a different person. Also started a new burlesque routine last night which is fast, fun and has the added benefit of an.old friend joining us 🙂

So let’s see where these days have led me, and how I can change my life to match my dreams 🙂

Decisions, freedom and infinite possibility…

I am typing this on the train, sitting next to a woman with an ipad and an iphone. I feel a strange mixture of clunky (my laptop is ENORMOUS in comparison and I don’t have mobile broadband) and smug (I can type so much faster and more accurately than she can, mweeheehee).

The last few weeks have changed my life, overwhelmingly for the better. For various reasons I can’t talk about any of those reasons in detail, but one of the net results is that I have signed up for a season ticket loan for a train ticket, which means I’ll be at work for at least another year. This will give me time to get my finances straight and live my life a little without worrying so much about the future and what’s round the next corner (in the job and finances side of life, anyway).

Secondly, I have decided to put my shop plans on hold for the foreseeable future and concentrate on making things for fun and learning, rather than pressurising myself. The same with vintage homewares and clothing – I’ll buy them for me or for presents, and I’ll continue to research them and blog about my finds because I find them fascinating, but I need to remove the pressure for a while so I can focus on other things.

2012 contains, among other plans, my best friend’s wedding, my parents’ long awaited move into their new home and another rally, closely followed by a Canada trip to watch ice skating in early 2013, so now is not a good time to be starting up. Quite apart from the fact that although I know I’m capable of running a business, my finances are most definitely not, and I’m not sure I’m yet ready to sacrifice my social life in favour of it.

Thirdly, but possibly most importantly, after the weekend that’s just passed I am left with a feeling of happiness, peace, freedom and infinite possibility. My sense of self is fully restored and my inner pin up is well on her way to being part of my everyday life! Although I am never taking a train that far again – driving is SO much more fun and less hassle!

So I’m going to make the most of feeling like that, use the sense of purpose to get my flat and my life in order, and then focus on doing fun stuff… and blogging about it all, of course!

Sorry, this is somewhat of a stream-of-consciousness post, but it does feel good to write it down rather than just have it floating around in my head! A little part of me still can’t quite believe I’ve come this far and made this life for myself. When I look back to how I was four short years ago, and realise just how much I love my ‘new’ life… I wonder how the Carla I am now and the Carla I was then can possibly be the same person. I wouldn’t go back now if you paid me, I love who I’ve become and everything that I do. It’s amazing, empowering and really rather lovely. Ok, enough of the soppy crap now.

Right. Before you all throw up, I’m going to get off the train and go and make sausages and chips for dinner 🙂

Happy Thursdays… times two!

A double dose today, as I don’t think I was organised enough to do a post last week…

Last week:

Unexpectedly meeting Val for lunch at Nandos

Corsets – hehe, see my posts on Project Pin Up

Tentatively enquiring whether our drunken ‘yeah, let’s do a rally round Ireland’ could become reality and getting a very enthusiastic response from the other teams. Hey, plans made at 3am in an obscure part of Europe under the influence of alcohol are clearly the best ones!

Spending an entire evening talking boys and horses with Lizzy

Type-writing a letter to Dan (another one – I’m improving!!)

Treasure hunting with Mum

Awesome numberplate on a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream van

Deciding we should drink the last bottle of Romanian rum and toast Rusty sometime

Starting my Vivien of Holloway dress fund.

This week:

Lunch with some of the girls from work last Friday, which was fab, as I got to speak to some of the ones I never see during work time

Going through the R2R photos again and reliving the whole thing

Mum coming round and making me soup after a truly hideous migraine on Tuesday

The sense of achievement that comes from having almost built a whole website for a dear friend

Vintage hair and makeup workshop (I really need to blog about this separately too) at Make Do and Mend in Chelmsford with the lovely Mimi and Lou, led by the equally lovely Hannah

Spotting a hedgehog under a tree on the way home from work one evening

An unexpected, glorious, sunshine-filled, warm roof-down blast round the Suffolk countryside on Sunday afternoon

Extended phone and text conversations – I have wonderful people in my life

Finally booking a haircut – I don’t want to lose any of the length but it’s long overdue, it’s lost its swish!

Lights near Bishopsgate in the evening

The general soaring happy feeling I’ve had most of this week 🙂

 

Fully aware I should have photos in this post but I’m absolutely shattered so may have to add them tomorrow. But really can’t go two Thursdays in a row without posting or next week’s will be utterly ridiculous!

Vintage treasures

**This is an old draft from a month or so ago. Since then I have decided to put the shop launch on hold indefinitely, and sort out myself, my life and my finances first. Which seems surprisingly sensible for someone as impulsive as me! Stay tuned…**

  Mum and I went stock hunting for my new Etsy shop (launching soon! Squee!) a couple of weekends ago. To nobody’s surprise, I couldn’t resist adding a couple of pieces to my own collections as well as buying things to sell on. I am an incurable hoarder!

First up was this gorgeous musical box, shaped like a bookshelf. I couldn’t not bring it home!

 

IMG_6343

Then I was relatively good for the rest of the day, until ten minutes before we left when I spotted this little beauty, and decided that even if he was expensive he had to come home with me. He wasn’t, and he did, and now lives on my mantelpiece!

IMG_6342

In true Carla style, I could quite happily keep all the stuff I’ve bought for the shop – but I will do my best to keep it as stock. Unless it refuses to sell…

Homemade Sloe Gin (Vodka?)

Last weekend I was round at my parents’ house, and my uncle popped across with a bottle of sloe gin, for a sundowner in the unseasonably warm weather. We even coaxed Gran outside!

While we were drinking it, Mum and Dad remembered we had some homemade sloe alcohol kicking around the house, so Mum went and fetched it… and here it is:

DSCF4892

And on closer inspection of that gorgeously retro Tesco vokda bottle…

 DSCF4893

 

Yep – almost exactly fifteen years old.  Which means I was still in primary school (just – I left in 1997) when they made this, which is muchly exciting! It tasted pretty good too – I’d go for the vodka over the gin, it’s slightly sweeter and suits my palate better.

Thrifty, homemade AND vintage… does it get better?!

October – the month of buying nothing unnecessary

I haven’t even looked at my bank account, because although today is pay day, I know that the total is going to be massively depressing (once I’ve extracted my monthly rent & bills, my £400 train ticket and my credit card bill). There is a transfer to be made from savings to cover the credit card (because it’s the flights from the rally), but otherwise it is what it is. Obviously I’ll be using the overdraft as I do most months but the intention is to bring this usage down slowly over the next few months. (with Christmas and my car insurance due… hah, who am I kidding?! But worth a try, certainly).

 So… Buy Nothing Unnecessary, aka phase 2 of Project Thrifty Chic. I have an enormous amount of stuff in my flat, most of which I don’t even know that I still own. Quite a lot of which is makeup – cue some more beauty blog posts!

I have some lovely things planned this month for which I’ve already budgeted, but outside of those I am going to try, very hard, for just one month, to not buy any more stuff. (I also have a freezer full of food, which I’m going to use up before buying any more. Apart from vegetables, which I’m nearly out of.)

 Now just to test this theory, I am going into town tomorrow (1st of the month… whoops) and there are some things I need while I’m there… I have a small separate budget for the beginnings of Teasets to Typewriters, but aside from stock/packaging for that (and the packaging I really should buy in relative bulk, online), I’m going to be good. Well, I’m going to try!

(and in the evenings, I intend to skate, blog, work on the secret projects ready for launch… lots of things! Hopefully none of which will involve too much money… also intend copious use of the slow cooker for both convenience and thrift 😀 )

PS I would apologise for the continued thrifty posts… but I keep getting good reactions so I won’t 🙂

Project Thrifty Chic must start in earnest…

Whoops… have just checked my bank accounts on the way to work. One is overdrawn, one is down to its last £10, and I still have £206 I have to spend on train tickets this month, quite aside from anything else.

There has obviously been the rally, which is why the savings account is down to its last £10 – I shall be transferring some more to cover the flights which are due to be paid off my credit card on 9 October, and then I really shall be knuckling down to not spending so much and getting my finances back on track.

This month has been a bit daft – aside from the trip, I’ve bought a couple of ponies and a few bits for the house, and done my usual ridiculous spending on magazines, plus stocked up on cosmetics and toiletries, and my Asda shop replenished loads of storecupboard staples I’d run out of like sauces, marinades, oils, spices etc. October will be better 🙂

So parts of Project Thrifty Chic, which I touched on briefly a few weeks ago shall begin in earnest! I have already embarked on meal planning, sat down on my return from the rally and decided that as well as helping my budget, planning food would also help my health and enable me to experiment with new recipes – I love to cook but the constraints of my job and the lack of time I have in the evenings mean I often fall back on making the same old food time after time.

My fridge and freezer are full, my slow cooker is bubbling away at home as I speak (ragu sauce for lasagne tonight) and the dinner I was meant to go out for this evening has been put back to next month as we’re all busy and broke. So, you know, at least I’m in good company! Work lunches are what usually do my budget in, but I have cheese and butter in the fridge, so am going to buy myself some bread and crisps and make my sandwiches. From a health point of view I’m bringing cereal to work in the mornings, and I aim to stop buying so much chocolate too – they’re all small costs but they really add up.  I’m also not going shopping again till the end of the month – I have plenty to keep me occupied in the evenings and at the weekends.

There’s only one more weekend left between me and payday and it shouldn’t be too costly as I’m going down to see my godmother with my parents, the MR2 is due an oil change on Sunday, but Dad usually pays for the oil & filter. Worst case scenario I’ll put it on my credit card and sort it out in December. The intention is to have a really good October and a well planned November, then I’ll be out of overdraft and able to pay for my car insurance without too many issues in December. Christmas this year is going to be less about the gifts and cards and more about spending time with my family and making a donation to Woking Hospice and Macmillan Cancer Care in memory of Nick, who they helped so much before he died.

I love the independence of adult life and living alone, but the financial side can be the teensiest bit stressful! But life is too short to get down about it – I’ll just tighten my belt a bit and sort it. I always think that good money management is not never going over your means, but knowing when you’ve exceeded them and taking measures to bring yourself back into the black.

 

Vintage/thrifted finds this week

A mixture of locations this week, I snuck into town while the boys were out playing golf just once during my time at the Open, but in the couple of hours I was there found an utterly gorgeous green tea dress with laced detail back. It is so unassuming on the hanger that I’ve failed to get a decent picture of it, but will put it on and shoot it soon 🙂

I also nearly bought a 50s tablecloth with pub signs on it from Vintage By The Sea, but couldn’t justify £25 on a tablecloth and the proprietor’s attitude changed a bit when she realised I was uncertain about buying it, which put me off. The shop, on the other hand, was so pretty I had to take photos (not very good ones, I admit):

DSCF7842

DSCF7848

 

DSCF7846

 

Then while I was out with Mum on Saturday, I found:

Polka dot work dress:

DSCF7736

 

Donkey cross stitch kit

DSCF7721

Vintage glass jelly mould – which is going to look awesome in my kitchen!

jelly mould

 

Sewing book – this is both wonderfully nostalgic and completely hilarious, it has sections in it for things like ‘The Tummy-bulge Type!’ and ‘The Half-size, or Diminutive Type’ which cracked me up!

sewing-book-(2)

Inside detail:

sewing-book-(1)

I’m going to try and make something from this and see how good their advice is – it was published in 1958-1960 so will be interesting to see what’s changed (if anything!)

 

Also picked up a couple of particularly pretty scarves:

DSCF7724

and of course there are my bottles and tin from Brighton. A good week for thrifting, I’m sure you’ll agree!

Inspiring Brighton

I adore Brighton. I don’t go very often, but whenever I do I bounce around like a lunatic before the trip, and I’m just so excited while I’m there. It’s full of the most gorgeous shops, people and things.

This time, as before I went with lovely Lou, who is also fabulously inspiring. We had somewhat of a pin-up inspired day, and I came home with three prints and two sheets of wrapping paper covered in vintage style pin up ladies (my three prints are all Gil Elvgren, I have a book of his which I also adore). Photos of these are being withheld until I’ve finished redecorating my flat in August, as they feature quite heavily!

Following the theme, I found a beyond gorgeous book just before we left, about lingerie design and construction. Which sounds quite weird, but with Floozie Friday and all, and having a couple of talented sewists in my circle of close friends, I think it’s high time we branched out into making knickers! More of that to come… but here’s the book and its amazon link, everyone who loves sewing should own a copy. It’s almost like a blog in book form, beautifully put together.

IMG_4375

IMG_4376

IMG_4381

Longer review to come 🙂

We found a cat in a (different) bookshop, too:

DSCF7731

We did some of the antique/flea markets too (although I could happily spend six weeks doing those, I swear… I never see everything!) and Lou found the perfect vintage dress, while I found a fabulous tin that once housed saddle soap, and a collection of old glass bottles (which I really hope have survived the journey home from Brighton via Kent to Essex :S) Planning to display them in my living room, possibly as vases, possibly on their own. 🙂

IMG_4358

IMG_4362

IMG_4371

IMG_4373

How was I supposed to resist a glass bottle that said ‘Princess Alice’?! (centre of bottom row)

Things that make me happy Thursday

Ok, so I’ve missed a couple of Thursdays… this week I’ve been ill Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and off work Tuesday and Wednesday, so have had more time than usual to scribble stuff down that makes me happy.

  • Weddings. I love wedding blogs, I love helping to plan my friends’ weddings, I love going to friends’ weddings. They just make me daftly happy!
  • Inspiring business planning with Lou at the weekend – I think between us we might do the kick starting we’re not really managing alone while working full time and juggling all our other commitments.
  • Skating – see previous post, I think I have a new addiction!
  • Daft girlie films – Legally Blondes, Aquamarine, Glee…
  • My blue hair had its first outing and got lots of compliments, this made me happy 🙂
  • Slapa 2! For those not in the know, Slapa was lovely Les’s car (yep, an MR2, how did you guess?!) which sadly met her demise on a corner in Tuscany… she rolled. Les and Anne got out unhurt but Slapa is no more. This made me incredibly sad, but yesterday they posted that they’ve found a new Slapa, she’s silver and can have the plate transferred – so they’ll be at CAE with a ‘2! 😀
  • Christina Perri. I have a bit of a (unrealistic, as I don’t do tattoos lol) style crush and I love Jar of Hearts. Which I very much wasn’t expecting to! Adore the dress she’s wearing in the video as well!
  • The Pinup Body workout. I’ve not been to one of these yet, but Naomi happened to mention it and it looks amazing! Definitely on my to-do list 🙂
  • A new member for Etc Collective, on the strength of our exhibition – can’t really put into words how happy this makes me. However this also means the pressure is on to find a new exhibition space!
  • My vintage duvet cover – it’s absolutely gorgeous! And fits my floral/vintage room perfectly… and is so much better quality than I could buy new. And has withstood three hot washes without shrinking or damaging or fading. Perfect.