Thursday, 24 December 2009


I can't believe how long it is since my last post. In case you wondered, I haven't been sitting around doing nothing. I have, as every other year, left everything to the last minute, (I think I work better under pressure). And here is the photographic evidence to show that I HAVE done something. I have made another box of these .......... And quite a few more of these .....
And a couple of these .....

But I've finally finished. My cards have been made and written and posted and are out of my hands and into those of Royal Mail. Shopping has been finished, and presents wrapped, and other than making Brandy Butter I'm done. Brandy butter being one of my favourite festive foods - you can keep your "perfect roast potato" hints, and recipes for "how to cook brussels for people who don't like brussels" (why bother??? Just don't eat them, they're poisonous, the devil's food) In fact, don't tell anyone, because I'll be thought of as ungrateful, but my perfect Christmas meal would be a turkey sandwich, followed by a bowl of brandy butter. Anything else is just extraneous.
So can I wish you all a very Happy Christmas, and leave you with a seasonal photo, taken on Tuesday. (I've driven past this sign so many times and couldn't wait for it to snow so I could take this picture.)

PS - I bought a sensible pair of boots yesterday. Well, reasonably sensible for me. But, if I was considerably younger - I would have bought these. They are so beautiful, I considered buying them and just wearing them indoors as slippers, but in the end, common sense prevailed.
However, if Father Christmas is reading this and is still looking for the perfect present for me, I'm a size 7.

Sunday, 6 December 2009


Had a very busy day on Friday - I drove to Suffolk with a friend to do a day's tuition on Photoshop with Sarah Brownie, who we contacted via the Computer Textile Design Group . It was brilliant and we learnt loads, and I certainly feel that I know enough now to experiment by myself. Sarah was a very patient teacher, answered all our questions, and tailored the tuition specifically for us - a really valuable day.

Having got back home it was round to Val's to set up for our Coffee and Cake Craft Sale. (Although I didn't do much of that, Jill and Val had more or less finished by the time I got there. Then back home to bake my 'signature dish' - white chocolate and raspberry muffins. Fortunately, unlike my initial flapjacks - I didn't forget they were in the oven and burn them to a frazzle, and they turned out beautifully, even if I do say so myself.
Up early Saturday morning, to put the last finishing touches to our tables. Val's knitted scarves, hats, mitts and accessories ...
Jill's beautiful cards and paintings .... and my stitched stuff (if you look closely at the Lavender bag label, you may see evidence of the Photoshop course)

The table for coffee and cake looked pretty (please note - my second batch of flapjacks are a much better colour)
with masses of cakes waiting for customers

It's always a worry whether anyone will come - but at exactly 10am the doorbell rang and our first visitor arrived. We had loads of people in the morning, and were really busy, then it slowed to a steady flow in the afternoon.
We sold lots of stuff, and the refreshment money raised just over £100, which we are going to donate to a Breast Cancer charity - hence the abundance of pink .....

MUCH less work than last year's craft fair, and more successful all round. Still have some cake left (in spite of my best efforts!) but they will hopefully go when I get to work tomorrow.
Thank you to everyone who came and supported us, and to those who were happy to make donations, even though they weren't able to come and sample my cakes. (Or maybe BECAUSE they weren't able to sample my cakes?)

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Charcoal, anybody??

Some time ago, my Mum asked me if I could find a use for these little bags for detergent tablets in the washing machine. I couldn't, but I don't like to see things thrown away, so I saved them. I gave it some thought, but until today I hadn't come up with a use for them. More of that in a mo.I was busy in the kitchen this morning, baking for our Coffee and Cake Craft Fair on Saturday - (I hate cooking) making biscuits and flapjacks. While I was in the kitchen, I saw the reason why the birds nuts are disappearing at an alarming rate - the pesky squirrel is back!

There's no point in chasing him off, he goes about five yards down the garden, turns around and sneers and then sits there until I close the door then comes back, so I just give up. Anyway, back to cooking ..... the biscuits turned out ok - they are called Keddie's cookies, because I got the recipe about 30 years ago from my friend's Mum, and she was called Mrs Keddie. Oh, and they are supposed to look like that, before any of you criticise the fact that they look a bit mis-shapen. I went off to sort out a couple of other things, and unfortunately, completely forgot about the flapjacks that were still in the oven.

Which is why they look slightly less successful ......

It didn't help that as I was scraping the burnt crumbs out of the tin, Delia bloody Smith was on Woman's hour, endlessly banging on about how to cook the perfect turkey, and the crispiest roast potatoes, and how delicious home made pork pies are, (I'd better not tell you what I suggested she do with her home made pork pies) and how much cheaper home baked mince pies are compared to shop ones. Of course they're cheaper you daft bat, you don't have to go through all that aggravation of weighing stuff, and making pastry and burning yourself and washing up. Incidentally, Delia, I've seen the price of football socks and we don't see you surrounding yourself with yellow and green wool to knock out countless pairs for the Canaries, do we? Have you thought about how much cheaper it would be?!?!?

So, to come back to the washing bags - I decided they'd be perfect for holding charcoaled lumps of flapjack, to hang up for the birds.

So that's what I did ......And, I have to say, since I've hung them out, I haven't seen hide nor hair of the squirrel or the massive fat pigeons that plague my bird feeder. And that gave me an idea....................

To Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones

c/o Dragons Den,

Dear Mr Bannatyne and Mr Jones,

I am looking for £500,000 of investment to produce and market my all-new failproof squirrel deterent.

To give you a breakdown of the costs, I need about £100 for basic ingredients, about £200 for the little bags, and the rest will go towards the cost of having a couple of fire tenders on standby for when the inevitable happens.

Yours hopefully

vintagerockchick x

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Come and Eat Cake!!

You may remember that last year a couple of my friends (Jill and Val) and I organised a Christmas Craft Fair in Hertford. We toyed with the idea of doing the same this year, but it took a lot of organising, and so instead, we have decided to hold a Coffee and Cake Craft Fair, at Val's house. We will be selling handmade knitted, stitched and painted pretties, and serving up coffee and cake. In fact, there will be ten, yes TEN, different kinds of cake. (You'll be ok, I'm only making three of them, and I'm quite happy to point out which ones I'm responsible for, for the benefit of those of you who don't fancy playing Russian Roulette.) We are donating all of the proceeds from the refreshments (did I mention that there will be ten different kinds of cake?) to a Breast Cancer charity.
Please come if you are anywhere near - I know the full address isn't on the poster, (we didn't want Val targetted by internet ne'er-do-wells) but email me at and I'll give you the full details. Hope to see you there.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Second Post today!!

How about that, don't post for a week, then twice in a few hours. I've been dyeing buttons this morning, and for those who have asked about it, I thought you might want to see the results.

The purple worked really well, the turquoise less so, so I added a bit more dye and 'cooked' them for a bit longer, and the lime was good......The orange and the pink worked well. Even the buttons that didn't take the dye very well, that were going to be rejects, look a bit more interesting when all mixed in together.You need Disperse Dye - I get mine from Art Van Go (Apparently there ARE other art shops, but the staff aren't so lovely) Put half a pint of water in an old saucepan. Oh sorry, I forgot the first step - spend about half an hour trying to find where you put the old saucepan. It was in my shed, to ensure I didn't inadvertently use it for food. Although, to be honest, if you're eating something I've cooked, the fact that I used a saucepan that's been used for dyeing, is the least of your worries.

Put a smidgeon of the dye powder into the water. A smidgeon is a tad more than a pinch. I suppose if you wanted to be exact, I'd say a quarter of a teaspoonful. Add the buttons, bring SLOWLY to simmer, and then simmer for 2-3 minutes. And that's it - done! Just rinse, dry and admire.

Some button materials work better than others, and I really can't say what works and what doesn't, you just have to experiment. And presumably, if you didn't like a bit of experimenting, you wouldn't be dyeing buttons in the first place. Unfortunately, those lovely mother-of-pearl buttons don't seem to take the dye, although the cheap pearly ones do. Just try it, and I swear you'll never thrown another shirt button away again!

There's enough dye in each jar to dye about half a hundred weight of buttons, so you could club together with some other barmy mates, and get a selection of colours, and all dye together. (Please make sure you spell the invitations correctly though, don't want people getting the wrong idea)

Swinging Sixties

I've been meaning to go to the Fashion and Textile Museum for ages - it's the one that Zandra Rhodes set up, in Bermondsey. Then, while I was at the National Portrait Gallery seeing the 'Twiggy in Photographs' exhibition last week, I saw a poster of this exhibition which is on at the moment.....As luck would have it, the retirement do I was going to last night, happened to be at Blackfriars - not a million miles from Bermondsey - so I decided to visit the exhibition before going on to the drink. I am so glad I did - it was brilliant. Apparently Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin were students at Walthamstow College of Art. Coincidentally, at the same time as they were studying there, I was being born in Thorpe Coombe Maternity Hospital, which is just across the road! They went into fashion design, and had their workroom over a shop in Marlborough Court off Carnaby Street, then when the shop downstairs became vacant they took that over too. The exhibition was set out in the same way - laid out just as the shop was downstairs......Upstairs there was a replica of their workshop, with old Vogue magazines, the pattern blocks, and more clothes. Added to which, there was great sixties music playing. If you are even slightly interested in sixties fashion, I really recommend going - it's on until 24th Feb - I might even go again, and take a sketchbook this time, rather than just a camera. A bit sad, I know, but one of the exhibits that got me most excited was the original Sindy doll from 1963 - apparently they designed some outfits for Sindy. This one belonged to Sally Tuffin..... and this one is mine! I think mine is in better condition - no box, but her hair is all there, she's got both plimsolls and her Tam O'Shanter. (I'm not sure I spelt that right - maybe I should have just said 'beret')
Actually, I've struggled with my conscience about posting that last picture. I just KNOW that my sister is going to bring up the fact that she no longer has HER original Sindy, as she was badly defaced.
Well, how was I to know that felt pen didn't wash off plastic doll's faces??? Anyway, I think the glasses suited her, and I'm sure the spots would have faded eventually. Sorry again sis.
Having spent a couple of hours at the exhibition, I headed up to the Thames Walk, and wandered along the south bank, up to Blackfriars bridge. I really, really love that walk - especially at night, with all the buildings lit up, and twinkley boats going up and down. I should go more often.
And, I think you should be impressed - despite a long day yesterday, a few hours at the retirement do, and a long journey home - by 7.30am I had got up, showered and dressed, done some handwashing, cleaned the bathroom (including washing the floor!) and had breakfast. Hero, or what?!? Maybe I should say that I was only drinking soda and lime, which helps. Not very rock'n'roll I know, but to compensate for that, how about this great photo of Keith Richards looking wasted after a Stones gig. It was in one of the other rooms at the museum, a massive photo which I loved - but way out of my price range. I wrote the title down, in case I could track down a print - "Naughty But Nice" by photographer Christopher Simon Sykes.
Then, when I got down to the shop, in a display of about half a dozen, I saw the same photo in an A5 postcard for a quid - so I bought it!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy.

I don't know about you, but I was really pleased it poured down with rain all day on Saturday. It gave me the excuse I needed to stay holed up in my sewing room all day. I finally finished a shirt that I started a while ago. Admittedly there won't be too much call for a sleeveless gingham shirt over the next few months, Indian summer, or no Indian summer. But I'll be ready if we have a sudden heatwave. I also spent several hours, sorting stuff out in readiness for the decorator who is due to come and re-decorate my sewing room with some lovely bright pink and cream wallpaper at the beginning of December. Who, incidentally, doesn't think I'll manage to clear it out in time, and I DO love a challenge.
Anyway, I went through loads of old magazines, and articles that I'd saved for various intended projects - most of which looked pretty hideous now - my tastes must have changed. Certainly, I no longer have the desire to wear an oversized red sweatshirt showing a smiley-faced robin wearing a length of tinsel. Although, I do have a vague recollection of making (and wearing) a similar red sweatshirt, decorated with holly leaves and poinsettas in bondawebbed lame (I don't know how to put one of those little accent-y things over the 'e', so I'll just have to trust you to pronounce it correctly) I'm sure I've got a photo of me wearing it somewhere, so if you're all VERY good I may post that at some point in the future.
Fortunately, the rain stopped in the evening, so I didn't get wet walking up to the pub to see the band that I manage (in a very low-key, non-profit making way, you understand)
And here IS the very same, "SWEET SISTER" available for weddings, parties, and all manner of corporate events and social functions.
On Sunday morning, I thought I'd better at least do some semblance of housework, so I sealed the (new-ish) hall floor that I should have done weeks ago. Trouble was, then I couldn't walk on it for six hours, which meant that was as far as I got with the housework. FORTUNATELY, as luck would have it, I'd got my sewing machine and various other necessities in the kitchen, so as soon as I'd done the floor, I took myself down the garden to my posh shed and pottered the day away.
As one of the blokes at work said yesterday - "Isn't it sad, we've got to the age when the description of a great weekend includes the word "pottering"
So, I stitched some cards for the forthcoming festivities (I'm still not saying the word until December)....
and some for other occasions .......
I'm hoping they might sell at our forthcoming Craft Fair and Charity Coffee and Cake event at the beginning of December. I know, I know - I said I'd never do another one, but this is going to be held at a friend's house, and it gave us an excuse to get together this evening and drink mulled wine and eat kettle chips and cake.
And in case you're wondering why this post is entitled as it is - my itinerary today was.......
4.57am - Out of bed just before the alarm.
5.45am - Leave for work
6.30am - Arrive at work
10.30am - Leave work, stopping off en route to go to the supermarket so I've got something to eat other than sweets
12.15pm - Arrived home, unpacked shopping, had two slices of stale toast whilst standing up in kitchen, washed down with a glass of water (I'm sorry, I know you must be envying my stylish lifestyle now)
1pm - Met Lucy in town for knitting and coffee
2.45pm - Dash to car park, swap knitting bag for guitar bag
3pm - Guitar lesson
3.30pm - Dashed home, folded washing, sorted the recycling, and washed up and re-filled the bird feeders
4.15pm - Walked back into town
5pm - Appointment to give blood. (The nurse looked a bit puzzled when I said, "I've really been looking forward to this, it's the first chance I've had to relax all day)
5.30pm - Tea and biscuits.
6pm - Popped into library (the logic being that if I HAD left a bit too quickly, it would be better to faint in the library than on the way back up the hill)
6.50pm - Back home, then quick turn around to get to my friends for 7pm for the aforementioned 'Craft Fair' discussions.
9.30pm - Back home, and I thought while I was on a roll, I may as well fit a bit of blogging in.

P.S. If anyone wants to know what I'd like for a present next month - please can I have a secret two weeks that no-one else knows about.

P.P.S - For my Mum's benefit - I'll promise I'll eat vegetables tomorrow.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Vintage - and rock'n'roll!

I've had a lovely few days. On Wednesday it was our weekly knitting session at Baroosh in Hertford with friends. I think the other customers are beginning to get used to us now, and no longer think we've been temporarily released from a high security twilight home. Then a little peruse of the charity shops where I bought this....I always pick up the china I like the look of, and then turn it over and look at the maker's mark - like I know what I'm doing. In truth, I have absolutely no idea what I'm looking at - but they seem to do it on Antiques Roadshow.
On Wednesday evening I went to the Forum in Kentish Town and saw Wilco, who were really good - almost worth having to get the train home with a load of Jay-Z fans who had obviously been to his gig at Alexandra Palace. Takes all sorts, I guess.

On Friday, I sat for my friend's art group again. This group seem to be much more accomplished painters - there were no certainly no "hag-like" renditions this time, or maybe it's just that my new anti-ageing cream does what it says on the tin.

Then, as we were in the St Albans area, Jill and I "popped in" to Fleetvile Vintage Emporium. We had heard about it a few months ago, and imagined it to be a tiny shop, but it was huge and full of treasures. So much for "popping in" - we must have been in there for two hours. It's the sort of place where you can spend hours and still not see everything, and if you went back the following day you'd find something else you hadn't noticed before. I'm looking forward to the planned opening of the cafe - then we can spend all day there! I'll definitely be going back there again. I bought a beautiful black velvet jacket with cording detail on the sleeves - and these are some of my other treasures ...............

I love the green plastic woven bag - it can be my 'crochet' bag - or I may use it to take my lunch to work. Two pretty tins - one of which matches a smaller one I already have, a china "Brillo pad" pot and three cups that I hope my sister will make candles in -it's her new enterprise. I think they will look quite festive for that holiday that comes at the end of December (I'm not mentioning it yet). It'd be good if they could be scented too, sis - cinnamon and spice-y? Oh and I nearly forgot - a really pretty necklace - only six pounds, so probably not real diamonds.

Then on Friday evening, I went to see the Counterfeit Stones.

If you like the Stones, you really SHOULD go and see this band. I've seen them loads of times and it's always a brilliant night out - they are great musicians, but don't take themselves seriously and they always look as if they are having a really great time - which makes for a good gig.

Dare I say it, they are probably more fun than going to see the real thing - they play all the stuff you love; nothing "from our new album" plus, if you went to see the Stones they'd be a dot on the landscape about half a mile away. And of course, the tickets would be more than 15 quid. Recommended!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

I'm just a gal who can't say 'No'

Those of you who know me, are fully aware that I won't be seeing my 20's again. In fact, that's not the only decade I won't be re-visiting. So when I tell you that I've been down to Cornwall for a few days, I expect you imagine that I've visited a couple of National Trust properties, had a look round a picturesque garden or two, and that the most exciting highlight of the weekend was a cream tea. Well, you'd be wrong! I've been here .....Yes, you read that correctly, The Dolphin Surf School. In case you're wondering how that happened (I'm can't tell you why - I still haven't worked it out myself yet), I'll explain. Back in April I was at a workshop making felt chocolates with my sister and some friends. At the end of the day, I was on my way out of the door, when the following conversation took place with my friend Pam's daughter Kirsty ....

Kirsty - "Gill, do you fancy coming surfing in Newquay?"
Me - "Sounds great, but unfortunately I've never been surfing."
Kirsty - "No problem, we stay at a Surf School"
Me - "When are you planning to go?"
Kirsty - "October"
Me - "October?!*?!*?!*?!"
Kirsty - "It's fine - the sea's much warmer in October than in March"
Me - "Oh, well, that's ok then. Count me in."

I think I have an inordinate fear of turning any invitation down, just in case no-one ever asks me again, and also there's something in me that prevents me from saying, "Oh no, I'm sorry, I can't do that, I'm too old". Consequently I find myself agreeing to do things that slightly more sensible people wouldn't consider. (Remember Glastonbury? Twice??)

And so it was that at the end of October, I found myself packing my cozzie, along with a few big jumpers and driving down to Cornwall. I had a good journey down, and found myself humming the theme tune to Hawaii Five-O to get myself in the mood, whilst simultaneously wondering whether it was acceptable to wear a cardie over your wetsuit. And more importantly - would I actually be able to get INTO a wetsuit.

It wasn't exactly comforting when we all met up on Friday evening for something to eat and I realised how young some of the group were - there were about 25 of us - but they seemed really good fun and there were a number of other beginners.

Fortunately, on Saturday morning, the sun was shining, which always makes for a more promising start to the day. We got issued with wetsuits - and - Yes, they did have one my size, and - No, you can't see the photo of me in a wetsuit - do you think I'm MAD?
Incidentally, just a little pointer for you in case you decide to go surfing - when you get your wetsuit, it's usually handed to you inside out. And the zip goes at the back. And now that you know, hopefully you won't do what I did, which is struggle to get the thing on, only to find you've got it inside out and back to front, then have to struggle back out of it, and then back in the right way. You live and learn.

Anyway, we made our way - with surf boards - down to Tolcarne beach. It just so happened that this particular morning there was a surfing competition at one end of the beach. I did wonder, if I got the hang of it fairly quickly - would there still be time to enter???

We met our instructor Alex (Carlsberg don't make Surfing instructors, but if they did ......) and started with a beach lesson and warm up. That's jumping about and stretching a bit, not sitting in front of a log fire with a cup of cocoa. This is the other group having their lesson - I told you, you're not seeing me in a wetsuit!And then - we were in the water. I imagined that I'd maybe stick it for an hour or so, and then make my excuses and leave - but it was brilliant! Hard work - just getting out past the first few waves without getting smacked in the face with the surf board is quite an achievement. But I DID manage to get on the surf board, and catch a little baby wave or two, although I didn't quite manage to stand up.

And they were quite right - I didn't feel cold. I just wish I'd tried it years ago. Then maybe, I could have done it again the following day, but unfortunately when I woke up in the morning, my neck and shoulders were so stiff I could only turn over in bed by hauling myself by the edge of the mattress. If/when I go again, I think I'll have a few sessions at the gym first.

So, instead of joining the others on the beach, I went off to St Ives for the day. It was a really lovely day. How about this for a blue sky at the end of October? And whilst this isn't a brilliant photograph, you can see that the sun was shining.

It was a brilliant weekend, so thanks to everyone for making me so welcome . Hopefully see you again next year. And a BIG thank you to Kirsty for organising it - and especially for providing the photographic evidence ....
Not bad for an old bird, eh?