Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Good News!

I've not been around much at all - I'm very sorry. This blog has been neglected and I've only managed the occasional comment on other blogs. The reason? I've been up to my eyes in Business Planning for both the Prince's Trust and a New Enterprise Allowance scheme, as well as preparing for my first Vintage Fair in March. The fair was at Vintage Village in Stockport and went rather well - I got some great feedback and I'm hoping to be there each month now.

My stall at the end of the day
I've finally finished my Business Planning now and went up before a panel on Monday to see if I could get funding from the Prince's Trust. It's a teeny bit like Dragon's Den as you have to explain how your business is viable to a panel, but there's no presentation or pitch - it's just more of a chat and they ask you questions to make sure you know your stuff basically. I was really nervous, but they thought I explained myself well and the short of it is I'm being given some funding to start up in the form of a loan and a grant!
I'm made up (as we say around here) although somehow more scared... and also I can sign off the dole now - thank God!

Ooh and my business cards arrived today - the wonderful logo (same as my blog banner) was designed by the rather talented Becky from Becky Ryan Art and Illustration who I am lucky enough to know in real life. She's a lovely lass and I heartily recommend her!

New Business Cards - Hurrah!
Aren't they fab? I'm so pleased. I must be really out of practice as I've run out of things to say - I think my brain is still recovering from all its hard work on business plans and cashflows and the like. So I'll sign off here and take the opportunity to catch up on everyone else's blogs. I've really missed the whole blogging lark!

Linking up to Ta-Dah Tuesday as I have every reason to be proud of myself!

Nikki x

Monday, 3 December 2012

A Return of Sorts

So this has proved quite a difficult post to write - not because anything awful has happened, but because I am a master procrastinator and very adept at putting things off. Also, I haven't really been in the right frame of mind for blogging - does anyone really want to know how I've spent my first month of unemployment moping about the flat in my pyjamas, drinking endless cups of tea/coffee/hot chocolate and filling in my homework sheet Looking for Work Form* for the JobCentre? Probably not.

Anyway, I'm bored of moping now, so that's enough of that.

Instead, I've enrolled onto the Prince's Trust Enterprise Programme and am getting help and advice on starting up a vintage/crafty business (the one good thing about being on the dole is that I qualify for advice - and hopefully funding - that I wouldn't otherwise have access to). So far, I've only attended an information session, so it is very early days, but due to a cancellation I'm attending the second part of the programme tomorrow and I'm really excited. It's a 4-day course cramming in everything you need to know such as book-keeping, tax stuff and how to write a business plan. I think it's going to be pretty intense. I'm going to keep you updated on the progress as much as possible - I figure it might be of interest to anyone else who's thinking of doing something similar.
It'll be a while before things are back to normal around here as I'm still struggling to take photos and I think I'm going to be super-busy with this new venture, so I think you'll have to bear with me for a bit until I know where I am with it all. I'm really looking forward to getting properly started and getting back into blogging and I feel so much happier now I have a project.

I'll let you know how I get on as soon as possible.
Thank you for sticking around and thank you and welcome to my new followers!
Also a special thank you to CityScape Skybaby for nominating me for a Liebster Award - there will be a post about this soon I promise.
Right, I'd better get myself to bed as I think tomorrow will be a long day.
Nikki x

*With sections such as "What I did", "What Happened" and "What I Will do Next", I always feel like it should be made of coloured paper and I should fill it in with crayon and add glitter. Maybe one day I will.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Cat Photo Bombs: Part 2

 I've not been able to post much recently due to our computer playing up again and we also managed to break A's flashgun, which makes it very difficult to take photos. We seem to be having a lot of breakages here recently - it's quite odd. It's driving me mad as I have tons of stuff to show you.

We're away for a few days now for a wedding (where A will be Best Man), so hopefully I'll be able to get things back on track after we get home.
In the meantime, here are some recent Cat Photo Bombs - Luna especially cannot seem to help herself:
Luna in Outfit Photo
Luna behind Dress
Luna in front of Vintage Ladybird Book
Luna and Vernon Ward Print
Juno and Various Vintage Purchases
Luna and 1950s Tablecloth
Luna in Outfit Photo

Juno in Outfit Photo
Luna in Outfit Photo (again)
 And my personal favourite:

Nikki x

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Odds and Sods and Outfit Shots

At the Bus Stop - it's definitely Autumn
{This is going to be text and picture heavy - if you just want to see the outfit pics, feel free to skip all the waffle!}

I've been trying to write this post for flippin' days! It's going to be a bit of an odds and sods post I'm afraid, with not a little whinging. I've been off work most of this week - I had leave to use up at work and seeing as A is actually in Liverpool and off work for a bit, we thought it'd be nice to spend some time together. We've spent most of the last few days running errands and trying to get all those silly little jobs done, except nothing has been as simple as it seems and it has all required a lot more effort than expected. It's been a case of 'for want of a nail the horse was lost' - for example, we want to get some of our pictures hung and we need to get picture hooks and d-rings, but we can't get hold of any d-rings, so some of that has had to be abandoned for the moment. It's been one of those weeks really - one step forward, two steps back (and 3 4 5 6 separate trips to various DIY shops) and we don't feel like we've achieved all that much.  We have managed to wire a vintage standard lamp (we've only had it for 3 years - the wiring was antique though) and A has made me a light tent so I can take super-professional photos of my stock. It was one of those things that required a lot more work (and supplies) than first thought, but we've done some test shots with the second version and they look really good. We might faff about with it a bit more though...

We've also started making our Christmas Pudding, made Tiffin, Chocolate Beetroot Mousse Cake and A made vegan cheesecakes. We finally put a few pictures up and started work on a new project, which I'll share details of soon.

Also, our computer has been turning itself off a lot which is a pain - it seems to have resolved itself for the moment though (touch wood). We pretty much rely on our computer - we don't have a TV as such (well, we have one in the bedroom that isn't connected to anything, we just use it to play DVDs on and we only set that up the other day), so it's our main source of entertainment (iPlayer and DVDs etc.) and obviously it gets used for blogging, photo editing and A uses it for all his important self-employed stuff. We'd be lost without it so we're hoping it's not going to die because we can't afford a new one. 
In other news, I've been job-hunting because my contract comes to an end in a few weeks (I loathe job-hunting, but then who doesn't?), I'm gutted because Raiders - one of my favourite vintage shops  is closing down (the day before I lose my job - I doubt it's a coincidence) and our downstairs neighbour had just told us that Luna has been going into her flat and eating her cat's food! Little git - it's not as if we don't feed her! I can't believe how naughty she is.  I'm glad you liked the photo of Luna by the way - she does sleep in some odd positions. She's never fallen off anything whilst asleep yet, but she has absolutely no sense of balance while awake. You should see her walk along the slopey walls in the back - it's hysterical.

So, on to the outfits. Just a few things I've bought and have been wearing recently. All my 1950s clothing is cotton, so it'll probably get put away until the weather warms up. I'd love some warmer 50s clothes - wool dresses and the like - but things like that are really hard to find and pretty expensive. This year on cold days, I've tended to stick to wool pencil skirts and jumpers. I need a more interesting and vintage Winter wardrobe. Last year I just ended up in jeans and jumpers, although to be honest last year I didn't own as much vintage and certainly wasn't wearing it nearly every day. I love what Vix says about dressing for Autumn, but I'm terribly nesh and like to be cosy (I feel cold just looking at her!). I agree about nylon/polyester being warm, but I've only got a few pieces in my wardrobe and some of them have metal zips and that's an awful shock to the system on a cold day. Brrr!

These photos were taken in our bay window (after we'd moved a ton of clutter).  The curtains aren't the kitschy vintage curtains of my dreams, but they're thermal-backed to keep heat in and they're my mum's old ones so they were free. I think this is going to be our new outfit photo place now. I actually had fun doing these photos, I must be getting used to having my photo taken.  Apparently I slouch - a lot. A kept telling me off. He also has some interesting ideas on direction. My hair looks extra thick because I (tried to) set it in rollers - I had the worst night's sleep ever and I'm not too sure of the result.

Anyway, enough waffling...

Per Una Jumper - charity shop
St Michael Skirt - £6.99, Oxfam
Mustard tights I think are from Accessorize

Curtains - free from Mum (who made them)
Phone - free, A's Mum and Dad
Stool - 99p, Charity Shop
Homemade Rug - £1, Car Boot
I got this fab St Michael skirt a couple of weeks ago and I've worn it tons since. I think it's probably from the 1990s, so it's not vintage yet! I think I've had the jumper since last Winter and picked it up in one of my local charity shops, I probably only paid a couple of quid. I like mustard but I don't own a lot and this is the first time I've worn these tights (despite having owned them for quite a while). I don't think my shoes go with the outfit but I don't own any shoes that do... yet.

I also bought this dress at the same time as the skirt:

Dress by Russell - £12.99, Oxfam
I'm not too sure when this dress dates from - but it looks quite 1950s. I can't find anything out about the make online. It's a pull-over-the-head job with no zip or fastenings which means it isn't as fitted as I'd like.

I'm just not too keen on the shape
It needs a little work - there are a couple of holes at seams and I also don't like the white trim on the sleeves. They look like cuffs in this picture, but they're just a bit of white fabric attached and finished really badly. The fabric matches that on the front of the dress, but I'm convinced they've been altered in some way - they're just so poorly done.

A told me to look sweet and innocent for this one - surprisingly hard work
It looks so much better pulled in with a belt and I'm definitely going to remove the trim - I've just tucked it under for this photo.

Gratuitous Label Shot
 Here's a photo of the label for those of you who are as geeky about them as I am.
Next up are the Maxi dresses I bought recently and haven't been able to wear due to the weather. I know you wanted to see them on, so I thought I'd take some shots now before they get put away so you don't have to wait until next year.
Berketex Maxi Dress - £15, Lili Bizarre
A told me to look shocked at some gossip here. I would definitely be shocked if I heard some over this phone as it isn't plugged in and we don't even have a landline. It just hangs about looking cool. Phones are cool. (Yeah we've been watching a lot of Doctor Who)
There should be a pun here but I can't think of one, no wait... "I like big bows and I cannot lie" - perfect.
I even love the lining on this dress - it's such a lovely shade of purple.
I've shown you the label before, but I thought I'd show it again here for reference. I took this photo, not A - he just moaned that it's too dark.
Maxi Dress - £21.60, Pop Boutique Whitechapel. This dress is so cute and not as see-through as I'd anticipated.
Carnegie Maxi Dress - Bullet, £15
I've had to wear heels with this as it's quite long on me. I love this dress and it's ruffles.
And from the back/side. I'm not grumpy or pouting - I'm just concentrating on not falling over.
And the label again - I like labels
More cold weather gear now:

Jumper - £17 I think, Miss Selfridge
Vintage Pencil Skirt - £10-ish, eBay
Juno - Priceless

I love this skirt and I wear it a lot - the same goes for the jumper, which I bought new and in the sale a couple of years ago maybe? (I know, new and from the high Street!) It contains angora so it's nice and soft. I love fluffy jumpers, I need more. I also want more brightly coloured wool skirts. The skirt is a wool, polyester and acrylic mix and I think it's from the eighties (also something you won't hear me say often - the eighties is my least favourite decade fashion-wise, sorry).
And now for something completely different...
Look Ma, no Vintage!
Allude Cashmere Sweater - £8, RYAN Vintage
Skinny Jeans - £7 on Sale, Dorothy Perkins
Boots - £9-ish in Sale, New Look
An all High Street outfit and trousers? Yep. I wear these jeans a lot when I'm having a day off from dresses/vintage. It's weird to think that these days not many people see me in trousers, when up until my mid twenties, hardly anyone ever saw me in a dress or skirt. I also didn't wear skinny jeans until my mid-twenties as I preferred flares - I still do love flares, but I can never find them. I'd also read somewhere that if you had big hips you had to wear wide-legged trousers to balance them out. I think I may have all those Trinny and Susannah-type makeover shows to thank for that gem. Load of rubbish anyway - clearly my big boobs balance out my big hips.

I love the boots - it took me years to find the perfect pair of boots. I'm really fussy - quite plain, round toe, not too high, non-leather and able to actually fit my calves (which most shops must think are massive judging by boots I've tried). I've got a black pair too - I hope they both last.
Now the sweater. It was an absolute bargain at £8 - not only is it 95% Cashmere but it's made by some super-swanky cashmere designer label called Allude (who I'd never heard of previously). I was browsing the rails and felt it rather than saw it - it was so soft and I knew it was good quality. I didn't really like the colour or the detail at the neck (it has decorative seaming which you can't really see in the photo) at first but it was the softest thing ever and I thought for £8, what does it matter? If I don't love it, I can always wear it around the house or to bed and be all snuggly. Plus, how often do I get the chance to own cashmere on my income? It wasn't until I got home and Googled the name that I realised how expensive it must have been - seriously, they have their own range of care products for washing the clothes in and I've seen some of their sweaters on eBay for over £150. Anyway, it's now one of my favourite items of clothing (because - and I can't stress this enough -  it's just so fucking soft) and value-per-wear must work out at one of the cheapest in my wardrobe because I live in it in cold weather. (Not that I actually bother to work out the value-per-wear of my clothes.)
So there you go - a High Street and Designer outfit for the grand total of £24. It just goes to show you never know what will turn up at a Vintage Shop.
And finally...
Right. Deep breath. I'm going to be brave here and join in with Rachele's amazing 'I am Proud of My Size' Linkup over at The Nearsighted Owl. I don't know why I'm so nervous about this, but I am. If you've never read Rachele's blog, please do - it's beautiful and so is she.

The rules for the link-up are to post a full-length photo of yourself along with your size details. Which is actually the difficult bit for me because I mostly buy vintage so I deal in measurements. My measurements are 38"-30"-40" and I think I'm a UK 14. I didn't even know how tall I was, nor how much I weighed until recently when I had to go to the Doctor. Apparently I'm 5'3" and weigh about 11 stone. I wear a 30GG bra as well if any bra companies are reading and want to send a few my way (because they ain't cheap and I need some more)! So there you go, everything you could wish and probably didn't want to know about me size wise.

I actually really like this photo and just look how Autumnal I am - I should go out and kick some leaves or something!
1970s Tweed Coat - £35-ish, eBay
The Bird Brooch on my lapel is from Cath Kidston
This is my main Winter coat, although what with the weather in England, I end up wearing it on a few Summer days too. I wore it a fair bit this Summer. I love this coat. It's great quality and was one of those increasingly rare vintage eBay purchases that was in excellent condition and fit perfectly (I'm speaking personally here - I've had a bit of a bad run with buying vintage online recently, so have given up on it for now). It weighs a bloody ton, which proves it's good quality in my opinion. Honestly, I could never buy a coat from the High Street after this. There's nothing of them and the material is so cheap. £90 for a coat that hardly weighs anything and is already bobbled and tatty after a couple of weeks in the shop? I don't think so. All my coats are vintage with the exception of my Summer one which was £7 from a charity shop. I do want some more colourful Winter coats though - I'm very envious of Helga who seems to have one in every colour.
I'm also linking up to Lakota's fantastic Ta-Dah! Tuesday because 1.) New Things! 2.) Outfit Photos where I don't look all shy and uncomfortable 3.) I was brave and 4.) I finally got this bloody post finished!

I don't know why you need to see this but I quite like it. There isn't a maker's label on the coat btw - just the fabric content label you can see here - and look, it even still has the spare buttons!
Well, I'm sure that's about 2 weeks' worth of content to make up for my absense. Hope you liked it.

For those of you who've read this far, here's a bonus outfit photo from a few weeks ago when we were trying out new places to shoot:

(A actually told me to put out my hands like I was 'going ta-dah!)
Aaargh those walls bore me - we must get around to putting some pictures up here.
I'm sure I had something else to tell you, but I forget. Nevermind.

Nikki x

Monday, 1 October 2012


I'm not dead but my computer just might be! I'm having to post this from my phone. Hopefully I'll be able to resume normal service soon (and without forking out for a new computer).
Here's a picture of Luna asleep to keep you entertained in the meantime. I think henceforth it should act as my Test Card.
Nikki x

Monday, 17 September 2012

A Busy Weekend Part Two

The wedding we went to last Saturday was lovely and they had the most glorious day for it. It was my first Church wedding and just happened to be in the same church and on the same date that my Mum and Dad got married in 1979. It was pretty posh - the bride looked gorgeous and arrived in a horse and carriage and they had a choir at the service. I also got to see some people I hadn't seen since school and meet some lovely new people. It turns out that I am one of those people who cries at weddings - A called me a wuss. Oh well. This is what I, I mean we wore:

A and I at the wedding
Monet Dress - £45, from Lili Bizarre
Petticoat - £30, Rock n Roll Years on eBay
Love Seam Tights from Pamela Mann, via eBay
Gorgeous shoes that I can't walk in - £10 (down from £60) online years ago, I forget where from

Don't worry, I asked A if I could post these pictures!
We didn't take a camera, so I've nicked these off A's dad. This is only the second time I've seen A wear a suit - the last time was at our school prom 9 years ago! It's the smartest I've ever seen him look. Of course I had to wear my Monet dress again - there aren't many occasions I can wear it, so I make the most of them when they come along. I really love it and I always get compliments when I wear it - even the Vicar complimented me on this occasion! People ask if I've had it made as well, but it's 1950s vintage (or maybe early 1960s with that structure?). It doesn't have a proper brand label, just a tiny size label.
There isn't a photo of the cool tights I wore, but here's a stock pic of them:

Love Seamed Tights by Pamela Mann - Source
I thought they were appropriate for a wedding. I wore the same outfit later on for the evening do but with flat shoes and my Nan's fake fur shrug to keep warm.

I had such a lovely time and I'm super excited for the next wedding we're going to in October where A will be Best Man. I had no idea I was quite so soppy!

Take care,

Nikki x

P.S. For those of you who are interested in what we use to take pictures in the flat, I will give you a quick overview. My top tip is to go out with a photographer - it definitely makes things easier. A's degree is in photography and he has therefore got some quite nifty kit (including a studio lighting kit with umbrella lights and a large format 5x4 camera - but we don't use those, although A has just said the photos would look a lot better if we did!).

When A takes my blog pictures, he uses a Canon DSLR with a flash gun (usually bouncing it off the ceiling) and shoots in RAW, editing the files later using some sort of technical wizardry to sharpen, straighten them, sort the contrast, white balance and what not. When I take any photos, I use his camera with the flash gun, shoot in Jpeg and hope for the best. If I do edit them, it's just to crop them. Hope that helps!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

A Busy Weekend Part One

Ahem, so I guess I lied about being back on Monday - sorry folks. I've spent most of the last two days doing chores and errands and was too tired to write by the evening.

Anyway, on to my weekend. I'm going to do this all out of order and post about Sunday first. On Sunday morning I mercilessly dragged a tired A out of bed to take me to Vintage Village at Stockport Market Hall (just to clarify I was buying, not selling for those of you who asked).  The fair takes place on the second Sunday of each month and each month has a different theme. This Sunday marked two years since Vintage Village started and so the theme for this month was 'Second Birthday Bash'. Previous themes have included 'The Fab Gear Fair' which celebrated all things 1960s and the 'Ossie Rules Fair', which was a tribute to Ossie Clarke and the seventies.  This is only the second time I've made it to this fair (I wrote about the first time here) as I'm usually working Sundays. It's my absolute favourite vintage fair so I was understandably excited and it didn't disappoint, although we didn't spend as much time there as I'd like as A had to go to work in the afternoon.

Stockport Market Hall - Photo by A
There are many things I love about Vintage Village, but the main thing is that it sells a lot of homeware, which comes with a healthy dose of kitsch. Homeware is woefully under-represented at Liverpool vintage fairs (in my opinion of course) and when you do find it there aren't a lot of kitschy items - you'll get the odd 70s print and that's about it. (Why is that? It drives me mad - it's as if vintage begins and ends in the wardrobe). Not so at Vintage Village and there tend to be a lot of kitschy pictures in particular, which is what I mostly end up buying. You can of course buy beautiful, tasteful items too (I spotted some lovely linens, books and ceramics for example) - but where's the fun in that?

It's also a cheap fair - not only is it a measly £1 to get in (compared to £3 or even £4 I've paid at other fairs), but all the stock is in the dirt-cheap to reasonably-priced range and not once have I sworn inwardly on discovering an item's price (you'd be surprised how often I do that).

Inside the hall - bright and bustling
Another thing I love is the friendly atmosphere and the encouraged punter participation - visitors are encouraged to tweet pictures of their hauls and the pics are put into a Visitor's Gallery on their website, so satisfying those 'Ooh I wondered who bought that' or 'What did you get?' nosey urges.

So what did I get? Kitschy pictures of course!
'Harriet' by Strev  - £7 from La Vintage Vantage
It's just so cute! It will also make a perfect counterpoint to the 'Sad Little Boy with a Sad Little Puppy' picture we have too. There were at least 3 of these at the fair in different sizes, so she was obviously a popular lass in her day. A lot of people think the Artist's name is Harriet Strev, but the print is called Harriet and the artist John Strevens just used to sign himself 'Strev'. You can read a little about him here.
What tickles me about this picture is this:
Framer's Label on back of print
The framing was done by a 'Member of the Fine Art Guild' no less, which sounds so impressive don't you think?
Next we have this beauty, which I don't think A particularly likes but I think is fab:
'Flamingo Pink' by Vernon Ward - £9 from Lace and Liquor Vintage (It's my sofa that's wonky btw)
My first Vernon Ward! I hadn't actually realised it was a Ward print until just now when I photographed it and saw his signature. I just bought it because I loved it and I thought as a fifties fanatic I should own more flamingo things :). I could happily have bought much more from Lace and Liquor Vintage too!

Finally we have this amazing picture:
Holographic Picture of Mary - £10 from Wax Delirium
Isn't it great? You can't see the 3D effect here, but it's ace. I love how she has lasers shooting from her hands and she's the perfect match for our holographic picture of the Last Supper which we got at the last Vintage Village fair we went to (again, see this post).
I also got this gorgeous little mug from trader Ooh Betty!
Pink Elephant Mug - Source
Now you may have noticed that isn't my photo. That's because thanks to Luna, my mug now looks like this:
Yup, the little bugger broke it! I didn't even get to photograph it, let alone have a cuppa in it. Grrr. Luna has a thing about bags you see - she has to get in them. Sometimes she panics and tears around the flat stuck in a bag like the rather hilarious time we woke up in the middle of the night thinking the world was ending or at least that thunder had somehow managed to come inside, only to be trampled on by Luna running across us in bed in a big paper shopping bag. She only stopped when she ran into A's leg (leaving him with a fair few scratches). This time I left the mug in a bag on the floor for a few minutes while I went to do something, next thing I know there's a rustle-y stampede noise and the sound of something breaking and Luna is bombing around the flat leaving pieces of elephant mug in her wake. There were bits of broken mug all over the flat and she's lucky she didn't end up back at the Rescue with tiny shards of pottery in her paws. A got a splintery bit in his finger and it was really sharp.
This was the biggest piece left of the mug
I'm really gutted about this and I'm now on a mission to find a replacement - so if you ever see one let me know! Definitely the naughtiest thing Luna has done so far. Git! Oh well.
Banoffee Pie Cupcake - £1.50 from Stuart Thornley Cake Design
I got a cupcake too - you pretty much have to, it's like a law of the fair. I couldn't decide which one I wanted as they all sounded so delicious, so I asked and the Banoffee Pie was recommended. It was lovely - I felt quite sorry for A though as they aren't vegan.
You also get a bonus outfit photo as I was 'papped' whilst at Vintage Village:
Me at Vintage Village - Photo by Ellie Hill Bruce. The stall to the right of the pic is Lace and Liquor Vintage  (not sure about the stock to the left) and what you can't see is A struggling with all my purchases!
Check out the rest of their pics here - there's some great stock and some stunning outfits!
So all in all, another excellent fair and I'll definitely be going to the next one on October 14th because it's fifties-themed in tribute to local legend and glamour model Sabrina Sykes.
I'm going to leave you with this vintage stunner that we both loved but unfortunately couldn't afford:
Miss Mixer - £110 from Vintage Allsorts
If you press the button, Miss Mixer wiggles and mixes your drink! It was the stallholder's first vintage fair and all the stock was from her personal collection. I wonder if anyone took Miss Mixer home.
Nikki x

P.S. Liverpool has been in the news today due to the sad findings of the Hillsborough Report. Please read Lucy's post about it here as she writes about it better than I ever could.

P.P.S. Thank you for your kind words on my last post and I find it hard to believe that any of you were ever shy doing outfit posts. I am getting better - I had my photo taken quite a few times over the weekend and managed not to run and hide. Also, I promise to catch up with all of your blogs tomorrow.