Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Happy Hooking

I've been boring everyone with my determination to learn to crochet this year, and was very excited when my craft group finally gave in to my demands decided that we'd have a six week course in the noble art of hooking. Anyway, I thought you might like to see what I've been up to.

Good huh?! Who's for starfruit?

Oh alright. I didn't make the lovely fruit platter above, it was boy2's birthday present from my friend (and guest craft group teacher) Jessica. She's sharing all her expertise with us and how do I repay her? By producing the granny square of doom below. Actually I'm pretty pleased with it, considering it was my first go and we were using random odds and ends of yarn. Now I want to go and buy lots of lovely wool and make hundreds more in slightly more pleasing colours.

The eye of Sauron

 But how cool is crocheted play-food? Craps all over the plastic offerings of the Early Learning Centre from a great height. In the Yummy-Mummy shops of Kensington you'd play a fortune for that (as long as it came in a carbon-neutral organic basket, naturally). 

If you want to see what a crocheted BLT looks like - and why wouldn't you? - check out Jessica's blog 

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Giveaway winners announced!

I had a great response to my first ever giveaway - who knew pyrex jelly-moulds would prove so popular? It closed yesterday, so I settled down last night to torture myself with the latest episode of Glee (it's a love/hate thing) and Mr Charity Shopping independently adjudicated the draws a la National Lottery. Incidentally, perhaps my American readers can shed some light - is the name of the Glee club supposed to sound rude or is it my British ears hearing American accents? I mean, Nude Erections? Seriously? Anyway, I digress.

I started with the draw for the craft magazine. First name out of the cut glass and silver dressing table pot - or was it a tupperware from the kitchen - who can tell when bloggers fib?  - was:

Hope you get lots of crafting inspiration Janys.
Next up was the Cath Kidston book Stitch with a free cross-stitch project, which will be winging its way to:

Tea and cross-stitch and Antiques Roadshow and you'll be more British than me!

And finally - drum-roll - the winner of the much coveted jelly-moulds is:

LandGirl1980! I expect to be seeing those cucumbers in aspic or another war-time treat please.

Could the winners please email me their address details at and I'll get the prizes in the post. If you didn't win, then not to worry, no doubt I'll do another giveaway on a spurious premise in the not too distant future. I reached 100 followers yesterday, but maybe that's a little soon ;-)

Finally - at the request of  Mizz Scarlett - here's a picture of the pirate cake I made for my 3 year old's birthday. You can't tell so much from this photo but I had a bit of a disaster with the victoria sponge and it's several broken bits welded together with vanilla buttercream! Still, he liked it. Professional cake decorators look away now.

Shiver me timbers, it's the fearsome Cap'n Marshmallow

Enjoy your Tuesday everyone. I have craft group tonight and have been frantically practising my crochet all week. Tonight's the night for granny squares. Very exciting!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

A magpie's eye

As the great Patsy Stone once said, you can never have too many hats, gloves and shoes. Edina pointed out that she meant accessories, and I'm inclined to agree, although I'd go for jewellery, bags and possibly tights.

Apologies that I've been quiet the last week - March is always a hectic month for me. Just had smallest boy's birthday - a pirate cake of course - and every weekend has been busy. As I believe I've mentioned before, some bloggers clearly just never sleep (or possibly drug their children - do you use Medised?). Anyway,  back to business - here are my most recent thrifty accessory finds.

back - safety pin bracelet and zip corsage - home made
3rd row - charity shop brooches to be used in hair
2nd row - rings from museum shop and Ideal Home Show £1/£2 each
Front - Various earrings £1.95 a pair

Very Molly Ringwald.

Not sure what occasion calls for purple pansy earrings.
 But they are one of my favourite flowers.

I got love for you, if you were born in the 80's, the 80's...

These are great - the earring back has two strands attached so
it looks like the whole earring goes through your ear.
How does everyone feel about second-hand earrings? If you google, you'll discover a lot of hysteria on the subject, but I'm inclined to think that this comes from the same sort of people who are squeamish about second-hand clothes. Now I'm not a complete idiot, and did clean the pairs I've shown you thoroughly (boiling water if the material allows, and anti-bacterial spray), but given that the majority of blood-bourne pathogens only survive outside the body for a few hours, earrings that have probably sat in a charity shop/antique shop for weeks are highly unlikely to present any risk to your health. Also, my piercings are completely healed and have been for many years. That said, I wouldn't take any risks with getting a piercing and would only ever use brand new jewellery for the actual procedure.

A lovely beachy ring for the Summer, made of bits of shell and beads.

I got loads of these beaded rings, as they were only £1 each.
Hope some poor child in Bangladesh didn't make these [guilt]
Nail varnish by Nails inc.

I bought the rings from the Ideal Home Show - for once not coming home with some kind of 'miracle' cleaning product which sits in a cupboard, or a vicious 'multi bladed cutting solution'. I went with my Mum, and in addition to sampling lots of chocolate and booze, we entered all the competitions we could find. It's possible I may have won a front door worth £1,000 - but I don't know for sure. I had to roll six dice and spell the word 'SPRING' which I did first time (approx 1:66 chance), so whilst they seemed to suggest I was a definite winner, on reading the small print it appears I merely enter 'the winners draw'. I will do a post on my 'comping' exploits soon, but it will be more impressive if this win is confirmed. I really need a new front door too - mine is hideous and I hate it - so please keep your fingers crossed!

My remaining recent accessory finds are two pairs of shoes which I found in the Fara Charity Shop in Battersea. Prices are high for a charity shop, but they know their merchandise and were especially strong on footwear when I went in.

Versace shoes £20 - Fara
Ok, not £2, but Versace darling! How much new?

Jones the Bootmaker slingbacks - Fara

I have clothes to show too, but a) hate photographs of myself and b) only have time in the evening when there is no light. Until I resolve this dilemma, I shall remain faceless (aside from my ear, you've all seen that now - is there no mystery?).

XOXO. Gossip Girl.

Linked up to Thrifty Thursdays at Born Again Crafter.

Linking up to The Pennyworthy Project, Flea Market Finds .
Also the newbie party and Thrift Share Monday, along with Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays and Twice Owned Tuesdays

Friday, 18 March 2011

Treasure hunting by my youngest pirate!

My finds have pretty much all been clothes recently, and I haven't photographed them yet. But boy2 (age 2) did find this sweet 1960s Chinese pincushion for me - and best of all, it was only 50p. Good work smallest boy!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway here. Open to international readers too.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Sewing Machine Vs Lakota - The grudge match

"Wind the bobbin up
Wind the bobbin up
Pull, snap, tangle, f*ck crap..."

If you spend any time singing nursery rhymes with a toddler you may be familiar with the above ditty, which I have doctored only slightly. You may also have surmised that my sewing machine and I are not the closest of friends. I would like to change this, really I would, although as I've just taken up crochet I imagine the machine will be left to lick its wounds under the dining table for a little longer. However, I did finally manage to come up with this bunting for boy2's bedroom, which I have cunningly a) hung very high up, and b) photographed from a distance, thus making me look vaguely competent. This is my submission to the Monthly Make challenge, run by Annie at The Felt Fairy

Ta-Dah! Ingredients include bondaweb and swearing. No toys were harmed. 

My crochet practise currently resembles a half made dishcloth - for a mouse. I would show you the photographic evidence but I've realised my crap photos are always the ones that show up on other people's blog lists, and I'm frankly too embarrassed. Still, I shall stumble on, as this is one craft I really want to master. 

Is there anything you're desperate to learn or achieve this year? If it's craft related, have you seen my giveaway over here?

Also linking to White Lily Green's Handmade Thursday

Monday, 14 March 2011

Faith Hope and Giveaways!

Right lovely people, to celebrate winning a blog award, and in the spirit of  getting rid of clutter  thanking my loyal readers, I have a few prizes to offer in a my first ever giveaway! Oh yes, be excited. I have tried to make them vaguely relevant to my posts so far, but sadly all the birthday cake is gone - so I can't offer any black iced sponge delights. Shame. Anyway, here are the three fabulous prizes on offer (open to international readers too)

Two small vintage pyrex jelly moulds so you can start your own collection . Or just stick 'em on a shelf to gather dust.

In honour of my utterly lackadaisical approach to embroidery at craft group; a brand new (but with small tear in back cover) copy of Stitch by Cath Kidston. This comes with everything you need to make a floral purse. And yes, I know I've been rude about the sainted Cath. I don't hate her, honestly, it's just the sight of all her stuff en masse that sets my teeth on edge. I prefer the original items that she ripped off  inspired her. And I'm more rock chick than polka dotty.

The first ever issue of Simply Homemade magazine, the modern day Golden Hands. It has articles on crafts from soap making to stencilling, and has two free gifts - some pretty rubber stamps and a selection of printed papers.

Now onto the rules.
You can enter for any or all of the prizes, but you can only win a maximum of one.
To enter, please follow me publicly by Google Friend Connect (on the right hand sidebar) Then leave me a comment on this post saying which prize or prizes you'd like to win.
For an extra chance, you can follow me on Twitter @FHCShopping and tweet about the competition, linking back to this post, letting me know you've done that as well.
Or you can mention and link to the competition on a blog post of your own - which will also get another entry.
I - or a small child of my choice - will pick the winners on 28th March - Good luck!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Genius recognised! Ahem.

Hello all - having finally returned to blogland after a little alcohol induced absense last night, I was very flattered to discover I've been awarded the Liebster Blog Award by the fabulous blogger and fellow bargain hunter Scarlett over at Scarlett Loves Elvis. Scarlett has a gorgeous blog and finds many lovely (and cheap) things of which I'm very jealous so do check it out.

The Liebster Blog Award is for smaller scale blogs (under 300 followers) and as seems to be usual for these things you can then pass it on to other bloggers who you feel are worthy of recognition.

Here's the rules (as far as I could find)
1. Post displaying the award and linking back to the person who awarded you
2. Reveal your own blog picks and let them know they're awarded
3. Hope everyone discovers some new favourites
3. Revel in the blog love!

Now, I could have awarded many of Scarlett's other choices - but here are some fantastic bloggers who I don't think have received this award yet and are just as deserving. Some are bigger than others but all have under 300 followers. {and if you like my blog, please do follow. Google friend connect is that-a-way ----->}

The Account of the Comtesse de Ferveur
Outfits blog with a lot of thrifted items. And the Comtesse herself has a look of Liv Tyler. What's not to love?

Joyful Treasure Hunting
A new blogger and kindred spirit on the other side of the pond

Home Made Gorgeous
Sewing, lovely fabrics and general prettiness from the lovely Sarah

MyStyle, Thrifting, Fashion and Me....
Daily outfit inspiration for those of us on a budget. Especially great on coats and shoes!

Beautiful Clutter
Jem always writes a pretty post about her gorgeous finds

And finally,
Being of Sound Mind
Smallest blog I follow, deserving of more readers. Lucewoman's musings on daily life and the imagination are always worth a look.

Thanks to everyone who follows and comments on my blog and makes it such fun to do. I'm off to sort out a giveaway now, so watch this space... x

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Deco a go go

My husband and I recently became the final people in the world to see The King's Speech (baby sitter shortage). I'm not sure if the Academy were specifically thinking of Mrs Logue's teaset when they handed out the Oscar for Best Picture, but it certainly gave a performance of rare brilliance during the few seconds it was on screen. I'd be hard pressed to pick a favourite vintage era - it depends on my mood - but I do love the 1930s. Just so fabulously decadent and glamorous. And so is this little set of four cups, saucers, side plates and a sugar bowl that I found for £4.50 at the Red Cross. I'm not really sure if it is original art deco - it's just marked Genuine English Bone China underneath - but it's hand-painted and looks the part. I'm not really a gold kind of girl either, so the silver gilding is perfect for me.

Elephants woven table runner from Thailand

I found this little deco cream jug at the same time. It's by Bell China , and perfectly matches my granny tablecloth of a couple of weeks ago.

Apologies for another short post, but I went out last night to a burlesque bar (in my vintage finery, natch) and am a little delicate following many cocktails and a 2am bedtime.

***Don't forget you can enter my giveaway over here. Three lovely prizes to win!***

For more Flea Market Finds, pop over to Sophie's.
Also linking to Junkin' Finds and Debbie's Newbie Party
Check out Magpie Monday and of course Thrift Share Monday
Linking to Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays at Coastal Charm
Born-again Crafter has Thrifty Thursdays and there are Thrifty Adventures over at Pill's Place

Monday, 7 March 2011

My biggest boy is Six today!

I've not had a chance to do any treasure hunting this weekend, as I've been busy making birthday cake and entertaining small children. I know my Nintendo DSi cake is not really professional standard, but I'm still pretty pleased with how it came out - and boy number 1 was thrilled. Unappetising black icing notwithstanding, it was still a good deal tastier than anything you'd find on the shelves of Tesco (with the added 'bonus' of turning your tongue black). Go go Mario!
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Thursday, 3 March 2011

Why does it always rain on me?

I was tempted to title this post 'Soaking wet Booty' but chickened out after realising that I don't pre-approve comments and my blog is finally getting picked up by Google. I think anyone searching that term might be more than a little disappointed with this kind of junk in the trunk!

But at Sunday's boot sale I really did resemble a drowned rat.  I woke up to sunshine, but by the time we (me and my lovely friend Sarah at Home Made Gorgeous) got there the gathering clouds had opened and we got drenched. No umbrella and no shelter meant five minutes of exposure to the rain was no different to an hour, so we stuck it out for that long before seeking the sanctuary of the pub - and contorting under the hand-dryer in the ladies' loo in an attempt to dry our hair.

Unfortunately the crappy weather meant a lot of stall holders covered their stalls and retreated to their cars, so there certainly wan't as much choice as usual. China and glassware stands up ok to the rain (once emptied) but I wouldn't like to be the person who eventually bought the ancient Brevel sandwich toaster that had been left to the mercy of the elements. Also, those who did continue selling all appeared to be in a foul temper and were not at all open to haggling. One bloke launched into a positive tirade of bile when someone dared to offer him 50p for a brooch. Still, I did manage to come home with a few things in addition to a sore throat.

A silver plate butter dish, now redeployed as a dressing table trinket box. I love the aged look of the outside. £3.00

A couple of Poole Pottery jam pots (one 30s, and one 60s - I think). £2.50 each. I've still got loads of jam from last summer, and have just made marmalade [smug]
China spoon - 50p

3 1950s cockail glasses - 50p each.
1950s swizzle sticks via Mother in law

Child's mug 50p. It's cracked, but the bear's expression made me laugh.
 Sarah saw cute, I saw slightly perverse. That probably says something about us!
I might use it as a container for foil wrapped mini Easter eggs

I have some new clothes and shoes to share as well (hurrah!) but that's another post. I need to wash  l'eau de charity out of them first.

Linking up to these parties:
Junkin Finds Fridays
Thrifty Adventures
Flea Market Finds
Magpie Mondays
Thrift Share Monday
Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays
Newbie Party
Thrifty Thursdays

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Happy St David's Day

Happy St David's Day - Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant Hapus - to any Welsh readers, or just anyone who's pleased that Spring is on the way. I don't live in Wales any more, and whilst St Patrick's day seems to have been seized upon in England as an excuse to drink Guinness, I think I'm going to have to make my own Welsh cakes.

Here's the recipe if you'd like to try making this traditional Welsh treat - they're sold in all the bakeries and markets back home, and are best served warm with a sprinkling of sugar.

Welsh Cakes

Ingredients (makes a baker's dozen, at around 180 calories each)
  • 8oz Self Raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 4oz Butter (pref salted), plus extra for greasing
  • 85g/3oz Caster Sugar
  • handful of sultanas
  • 1 egg
  • splash of milk, if needed


{traditionally these are cooked on a 'bakestone' or griddle, but a heavy based frying pan will work ok}

  • Sieve the flour and spices into a large bowl, and add the butter. 
  • Rub the butter into the flour to make 'breadcrumbs'
  • Add the fruit and sugar and mix together.
  • Beat the egg, then add to the mixture until it forms a dough. You may need to add some milk as well.
  • Roll out onto a floured surface about 1/2 inch thick and cut into scone sized rounds with a circular cutter. (I use a 2.5 inch one)
  • Rub the griddle or pan with some butter (wiping off any excess) and heat it up on the hob.
  • Cook the Welsh Cakes for about 3 minutes on each side until golden brown, being careful not to burn them.
  • Sprinkle with sugar and devour!

These are husband's favourite thing about Wales, aside from some of our idiosyncracies of speech. He's particularly taken with people saying things like "nice boots, them shoes" or "I'll be there now in a minute after". I think a trip back over the Severn Bridge is long overdue...