Sunday, 30 September 2012

A Great Charity Shop Haul and a Monster Thrown In For Free!

Well thank goodness it's the weekend!  We've had a very stressful week unfortunately, and would you believe we are STILL waiting for our answer as to whether our offer will be accepted on the new house.  It feels like we have been going around in circles with the whole thing lately, you will recall from my last post that we were waiting to hear whether a "very interested" couple were going to put in the offer they had promised the estate agent they would.  They viewed our house on Monday, again on Tuesday, told her they "LOVED" it and even wanted to put in an offer higher than the asking price to secure it. 

Anyway, to cut a very long story short, they decided after all that, that they didn't like the house anyway.  Hmm..moving on, we still have the lower offer which is still on the table from the first couple that viewed, but of course now we are still waiting for our answer from the seller...he has today promised us we will get that answer next Tuesday afternoon (after he has seen his financial advisor, apparently), though we have of cousre been promised that before, twice already. 
So as you can imagine, after the events of this week, I was in need of a little something to cheer me up, so we headed up to the local school charity shop which opened back in the Summer.  For this week they have sub-let the shop to another local charity, and today was their last day.  Now we often pop here on a Friday, especially when it's the final day before another good cause takes over, as there is almost always an absolute bargain to be had!  Though I have to say, i've never experienced anything quite like this afternoon - I was in heaven!
Baby Boy and I first went in on the way up to collecting Mia from school, so didn't have long, but much to my absolute joy, every item of clothing was just 50p...and so was this gorgeous silk MONSOON dress, which came complete with the original £150.00 price tag!!! And to top it off - it was in my size and absolutely immaculate, obvioulsy still having the price tag on, it had never been worn, and was pristine!

I've found it a bit hard to photograph so I've found these other two images of the very same dress on Google images:

I tried it on when I got home and fits perfectly, though unless I decide to wear a very high pair of heels, I will probably need to have it taken up a few inches, though there is a local lady who does this and her prices are very reasonable.  I just can't get over that i've found a new with tags silk Monsoon dress worth £150.00 for just FIFTY PENCE!  We may have at least a couple of weddings to attend next year so this will be perfect, and I already have a pair of shoes and facinator that will match very well indeedy!
Next I nabbed this vintage hand-crocheted shawl, again worth it for just 50p!  Perfect simply for snuggling up on the sofa with a good book in the Autumn/Winter months;

I could have bought a whole lot more - but I abstained, my wardrobe is crammed as it is, and I was more than happy to settle with what i've got. 
Now for the books - again I could have gone mad, but I held back and settled for a couple of vintage Enid Blyton's and a total bargain as ALL books were just 10p each!  Funny enough I've just been catching up on Lucy's blog "Tales From The Faraway Tree", and she too found the exact same " Adventurous Four" book this week at the charity shop!

While I was browsing and trying to hide my utter joy at the bargain Monsoon dress, Baby boy was getting very grouchy, and the lovely old ladies running the shop were trying to cheer him up - without success i'm afraid, as he's a little under the weather today, his teeth I think, but his blue eyes won them both over and they GAVE him two little teddies to "cheer him up" bless. 

Now this leads me to the "Monster" mentioned in the title of this post.  Upon seeing Baby Boy's "free" teddy bears on the way back from school, Mia was more than a little miffed, especially as once upon a time it had always been her who had managed to bag a freebie at many a charity shop or jumble sale - usually from a lovely elderly lady.  I told her that as a special treat, we could pop back to the shop and I would buy her one little thing as she'd been good and because Baby Boy already had something.  Oh how I regret that now...!
We went in for another browse, and upon looking over Mia, I noticed the she was doing a very convincing job of looking extremely sad at the teddy bears, whilst making a fuss of Baby Boy at the same time and glancing over at the old ladies.  The little monkey's ploy worked - one of the ladies said "oh dear is this your little brother? I didn't know he had such a pretty big sister and I gave him a little something earlier, now I must make it fair - would you like to choose something?" And Mia immediately beams and points to the most HIDEOUS monster on the top shelf - I hadn't noticed it earlier.  The ladies seemed more than happy to hand the thing over, and insisted she take him, despite my polite attempts at "oh you don't need to do that" and I of course because of their generosity simply couldn't tell her to "put it back!" like I normally would, and even popped 50p in to their collection box for their kindess.  So, home with us came..."ALF"!:

Mia carried him all the way home on her shoulders, and even around our local TESCO when we called in for a Friday evening treat - a bag of gingerbread men.  She was CHUFFED, Baby Boy is SCARED of him, and I spent the whole way home trying not to think how awful he'd look in her lovely room against the Cath Kidston boat print duvet cover!
She is tucked up in bed with him now as I write this...his ugly face beaming in the light of her lamp...the free Monster..out of all the things she could have chosen it had to be ALF!

Wishing you all a lovely weekend xx

Monday, 24 September 2012

And Still Waiting...

Just a quick post, to update all of my lovely blogging friends on the “house move” situation!  Thank you so much for all of the positive comments and wishes of good luck for my previous post “A Waiting Game”. 

As you know we were told that we would have an answer last Friday.  Though since I wrote that post, we had a further development in that the owner of the house that we want to buy decided he wanted to see our house!  He has since been TWICE, and had the second viewing on Thursday afternoon.  The other people who have put the offer in, are unfortunately still waiting, as we are waiting to know if this man will accept the offer we have made on his house – regardless of whether or not he decides to put a higher offer in on ours!  He then decided that he wants more time, so asked for the weekend to think things over, and promised an answer today…though as yet, still nothing.  However…to add another cat amongst the pigeons so to speak, we had a call from our estate agent this morning to ask if another lady could come and view our house this afternoon.  They have made her aware that we already have an offer, though we haven’t accepted it yet, and she is apparently “desperate” to see it, as has just sold her house over the weekend and had been waiting until she had done so, before making an appointment to view ours. 

So it would seem our little house is popular all of a sudden! Though we desperately want to know if the offer we have put down on the house that we want will be accepted or certainly is a waiting game!

I will be happy to know one way or another, the waiting is the hardest part for me, the husband's finding it hardest of all, and took the day off work today, which was a good thing as it turned out, as he has been around to spruce up the house ready for this afternoon's viewing.  I've been trying to keep my mind off things and "Keep Calm and Carry On" in true Brit style making many pots of tea and a batch of fairy cakes!

I've kept myself busy with thoughts of Christmas, yes, perhaps many readers will recoil in horror at the utter mention of the festive season whilst we are still in September, but like many of us I'm trying to spread the cost a lot more this year, and it's also my favourite time of year!  I've signed up for Laa Laa's advent Swap, where i'm paired with Country Rabbit, i'm so excited about this and bought my first little prezzie for Kazzy today - something which i'm pretty sure she'll love!
i've also seen that the DVD for Kirstie Allsopp's "Handmade Christmas" series which I think first aired last year is soon to be released - I loved this!! And would highly recommend it for some great Christmas craft inspiration - definitely one to watch with a glass of mulled wine. 
These lovely things have really helped to take my mind off the "possible" house move, and i'm really looking forward to the festive season :)  Is anyone else preparing for Christmas already?
Marina xx

Saturday, 22 September 2012

In Search of Blackberrys...

Today, officially the first day of Autumn, Baby Boy & I went  to my mum & dads' for the afternoon, while the husband stayed home for a well-deserved rest (he's gotten up early with Baby Boy on the last few weekends and let me have a lie-in which was bliss! So I thought he deserved some "me" time), and Mia is away with her dad for the weekend. 
We went in search of blackberrys - my mum wanted to make a pie, and hadn't been very succesful in finding many this year, something which I also found last weekend and I think is down to the terrible wet weather we had over the Summer.    We had a lovely walk, and finally managed to find some at last!! That is at least they weren't small & bitty and most of them were actually ripe - and tasted wonderful!  There wasn't as near as many as there usually are at this time of year, but enough for my mum to make her pie!

Perhaps next year I will have more luck myself, and just maybe muster up something to resemble this!; (well, that is the wannabe Domestic Godess inside me can dream!)

(image from my Ideal Home calendar)

Or what about this which i've just come across on the "Delia online" webpage - it's literally made my mouth water;

Something which were in abundance however were these lovely pine cones, they were everywhere in the lane, we collected a basket-full and i'm going to dry them out a little more and paint them with glitter for Christmas, something which Mia will love - as little girls' do she adores anything where glitter is involved!

I'm feeling very Autumnal this evening, the weather is very chilly out, i'm happy to be wrapped up warm indoors with a mug of tea and toast & marmite for supper.  Definitely a night for digging out the crochet blankets and slippers I think!


I've just come to the end of my favourite Yankee Candle, "Cinnamon Stick", perfect for when the nights start drawing in.  I must ask Santa for another one this year!


I've given my dresser a bit of a change around as I do from time to time, usually to reflect the season, lots of reds and browns and this lovely wooden fox jigsaw I found in the local jumble sale for 50p;

And this vintage deer came home with me recently too, something about him caught my eye, another 50p find;

And finally a fantastic box of wooden counters, from my local vintage store, perfect for our old board games! This Autumn & Winter I would like to spend more time as a family playing games, and perhaps a jigsaw or two. I like Mia to take some time out from television and games such as the Wii whenever possible;

I hope you're all having a lovely weekend  - maybe some of you will have had more luck with the blackberrys than we have! :)

Marina xx

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Through The Key Hole..(What's On Your Bedside Table?)

Every time I see an image of Loyd Grossman it transports me straight back to the 80’s (albeit I was just Mia’s age at the time!) and the BBC series “Through the Key Hole”. 

(image from google)

The nosey side of me was fascinated by that, and I have to confess I’m still a little like that today, I’m always interested to see other people’s homes!  You may think I’m terrible but during the times when we’ve bought and sold our house, I have really enjoyed going on viewings – not just because I’m excited to find a potential new home, but also because I’m fascinated by how other people live.  My lovely husband tells me I’m so nosey, especially after viewing one house, only to comment the minute we’d left “did you SEE the 80’s boombox in the spare room!! Wow I had one just like that when I was a kid!!” I’d then carry on to say how I wished we still had the said boombox as they go for a fortune on Ebay, etc. etc. and my husband had to stop me and say “forget the boombox!..what about the house?!”
I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this, I just cannot resist having a good look around and musing to myself in the notorious voice of Loyd Grossman “who lives in a house like this?”.
I’ve therefore decided for a bit of blogging fun, to do a “Through the Key Hole” post once a month.  Feel free to join me and post about your own homes, with a link back to me – I’d love to read them!  My first topic is “What’s on your bedside table?”

We don't actually have tables, we have bedside drawers in our bedroom, which were not our choice – we inherited them with the house when we moved in 3 years ago – and still haven’t gotten around to changing them.  When we move again I plan to finally ditch them and buy something more “me”. 

As you can see, I have a lot of books, I am forever buying them from charity shops and vintage stores (very rarely do I buy new), and love to have a pile by the bed for browsing before I go to sleep or just relaxing whilst feeding Baby Boy.  The books currently on my bedside drawers are;
Cath Kidston “Make” (bought from Oxfam)

"Homemade" by Ros Badger & Elspeth Thompson (Red Cross shop)
"Victorian House" and "Victorian Hints and Tips on Household Taste"  - (both second hand book stall)
"The Proper Care of Guinea Pigs" – Peter Gurney (oxfam)
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte (10p, jumble sale)

"The People Next Door" - Christopher Ransom - £1.00 from local "honesty box" book swap in Co-op foyer
Teach Yourself  – Freelance writing  – (10p jumble sale)
All of the above books I would say sum me up pretty well, I like to browse through the Cath Kidston and “Homemade” book for inspiration and dream of having the time to actually make what’s inside! I love Victorian architecture, and the two books on this subject are great for dreaming of when (hopefully) I eventually get to live in a Victorian house and how I would go about restoring original features, etc.  
I love my 4 adopted rescue guinea-pigs, and find the Peter Gurney book invaluable, I’m forever referring to it.  I think I must have read it about 10 times since I had our first pair of piggies 12 months ago. 
I’m currently 3 quarters of the way through “Wuthering Heights”, this is the first time I’ve read it, and I’m really enjoying it, though typical for me, I never have just one book on the go, (It’s not unusual for me to have up to 5 at any one time!), so for something a bit different I picked up “The People Next Door” in our local charity honesty-box book sell/swap.  I always love a good ghost story, but this one is much more of a horror, not quite my usual thing – if it were a film I’d have nightmares! But I’m actually pretty hooked on this, I’ve almost finished.   Finally, the old 1950’s book on freelance writing was something I found recently in the local jumble sale – and for 10p thought it was worth a read – both the husband & I are wannabie-writers!

DVD – Cold Feet, from the box set of the entire series featuring every episode (which is in one of the drawers).  I bought this whole set second hand recently for just £5.00 and as I used to love this series some 10/15 years ago, I thought it would be nice to watch it all again.  So far I’ve watched the first episode whilst feeding Baby Boy, and I really enjoyed it – the pilot episode which is the one i've recently watched, I see was first aired in 1996 - goodness I was 15 back then!

Glasses – I am supposed to wear glasses, but only do so when using the computer or watching TV (and driving, if I had a car).  This is bad, I know, - very often someone has waved frantically at me from across the road and I’ve stared blankly wondering who on earth they are until they get up close!

Vintage glass dish with lid – I love this little trinket dish, I was given this by the owner of a  vintage shop a couple of years ago whilst my best friend and I were buying vintage cut-glass vases and decanters for my wedding decorations.  My friend picked it up and suggested it, and I said that it was lovely, but that I was really only looking for vases and  bowls for our flowers, and decanters for the tables.  The lovely lady in the shop then told me I could have it seeing as I was buying so many other things! It still reminds me of a very enjoyable afternoon, and I keep things like my wedding ring in there.
Lamp – This is one of a pair of lamps which I bought second-hand for just £2.00 each, from a friend from whom I was buying a pair of curtains for our bedroom (the lamps matched the curtains).  They aren’t “me” at all, but Mia wanted one for her room and instantly liked them – and after moving my previous lamp downstairs to the living room, I was in need of one.  I do like the lovely cosy glow that it gives off whilst I’m reading! Not my sort of thing, but a £2.00 bargain-lamp that serves it’s purpose!

Heart-shaped post-it-note – My lovely husband  wrote “I love you” on this and stuck it to my bedside cabinet on the eve of our wedding, for me to find before I went to bed.  He had also written 3 more with different messages and stuck them around the room – it was such a lovely gesture and reduced me to happy tears, that I still cannot bear to remove them, 2 years on! 
Well, as Loyd Grossman would say “who lives in a house like this?” I think the contents of my bedside table sum "me" up pretty well! I’ve really enjoyed writing this post, hope you've enjoyed it too  - I've love to know "what's on your bedside table?" x

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

A Waiting Game

After receiving an offer on our house last week, this morning we made an offer on the house we would really like to buy.  The answer, when we receive it, will determine whether or not we accept the (lower than hoped) offer on our own house, and will either mean that we are moving, or back to square one.  Our potential purchasers, after a full week of deliberation, simply cannot offer us any more, not even a penny, and we, therefore in turn, have had to make a lower but not unrealistic offer on the house we like in return.  The waiting game is the hardest don’t you think?

This past week has been a whirlwind of telephone calls with the estate agent (oh how we could do with the help of Phil & Kirstie!) and house viewings;

The search has been much harder that we had anticipated, initially we wanted something more rural, but everything we saw in this category was either simply too small for us, but had great views, gardens, and location, and those which would have been perfect in size were way above budget.  I also have a dream of living in a large Victorian house, with lots of original features and perhaps scope to restore some of those which are missing, such as fireplaces, etc.  Houses such as this, in our budget, simply do not exist in a very rural location.  So, we have had to compromise slightly and have set our sights on a beautiful late Victorian 3 storey house, just a little more in town than we wanted.  However, we feel the house is definitely worth the compromise – it is fantastic, and will give us all of the space (and more!) which we want.  We’re already (but trying not to!!) dreaming of what we will do with each room, and Mia and Baby Boy will finally have their play-room and we will get our study.
It will be nice finally to really settle down in a home and draw a line under the house search over the last couple of years (for the foreseeable future anyway).  In some ways though we have enjoyed it – oh the stories we could tell of the numerous houses we’ve viewed over the last few years!  So far we’ve had the young, male estate agent who slipped down the garden path of one house, and then chose to pretend it never happened  - much to the amusement of the husband and me, who had to try desperately to hide our sniggers as we walked behind him!  And the more “mature” agent who, trying to appear younger than his years we suspect, insisted upon giving us the thumbs up after every conversation and shouting “cool!!”.  As for houses, we have viewed them all – wonderful ones, terrible ones, and those in need of serious work but we could see had potential  - if you had the money!  Very recently we went to view a bungalow where I took my shoes off the minute I entered the property, as I always do, only to find that my tights instantly became wet from the extremely damp carpet!  (The husband & I couldn’t get out of that one quick enough I can tell you!).

Yes, the waiting game is certainly the hardest part, since I started writing this post I have been told that our offer is being "considered" and we will get our answer no later than Friday evening - so we will hopefully know in less than 48 hours!  Of course even if we have our offer accepted, nothing is set in stone until we exchange contracts - we already have a bottle of Champagne waiting in our fridge, not to be opened until that day comes - whenever it may be!  Fingers well and truly crossed :)

Hope you're all having a lovely week,
Marina xx

Sunday, 16 September 2012

What To Look For In Autumn

Although perhaps a little premature in the season for a full on Autumn walk, inspired by a favourite vintage Ladybird book, in the "What To Look For" series, (my copy was obtained from my primary school jumble sale some 20 years ago, and still bares the school stamp and the date; 3rd November 1972!), Mia, Baby Boy & I put on our wellies and headed out in to the woods for a nature forage! 


What lovely illustrations in this book, although we didn't actually get to see the Woodpecker, we certainly heard him! We did however see the most gorgeous large green dragon-fly. 

Vintage wicker basket to collect nature, plenty of fallen Autumn leaves, feathers and acorns.  The blackberrys which we usually collect at this time of year were practically non-existent - perhaps due to the terrible summer, we didn't bother with the scrappy half-ripe ones that we did manage to find;

We found a wooden carving in the middle of the woods, these appear randomly around our town, though i've never come across one so far out before;


Making sure the feathers didn't blow away, Mia pinched Baby Boy's blanket to cover them from the breeze, Baby Boy glad to be rid of his blanket, after finding a way to ditch it over the side of the pushchair and every given chance! 

We walked back home through the town, past the old Victorian houses and lovely red phone box;

Back home it was time for a sit down (we'd walked for hours!) and a very welcome cup of tea! At this time of year in particular I'm always drawn towards my 1970's retro mugs and kitchen jars;

As the light faded it was nice to switch on the lamps and browse through some of the old books, a perfect Autumnal pastime;

And later a mooch through some seasonal cook books vintage and new, it would be lovely to actually have the time this Autumn to make something from them  - lets hope!

The Sophie Dahl's are new as they were on offer, but I usually buy my cookery books second-hand unless it's one of the River Cottage series at a reduced price - I just love Hugh!

This early 1930's book is fantastic, complete with some WWII newspaper cuttings on wartime recipes saved between the pages - I'd certainly love to give some of those a go!

I love days like this, I think it's so important to get out of the house every now and again and allow your mind to switch off from every day stresses and chores, it certainly did me the world of good!  After a stressful week with the potential house move it seems that things may be all "up in the air" again, so it was great to enjoy the outdoors and simple things in life to take my mind from it.  I'm looking forward to many more days like this during the months leading up to Christmas.   I'll leave you with a collage of Mia's nature finds from the walk;

Have a lovely week xx