Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Chair Pads



Today I picked up four of these chairs from a garage sale:


We needed new chairs. Bad. When we arrived in Australia four years ago we bought the cheapest dining chair Ikea sold, which for the record was about $12 each. They lasted pretty well for a $12 chair but a few months ago the last one broke. We've been sitting on a mixture of broken chairs and a stool while we discussed what kind of chairs we wanted to purchase next. What we really want are Emeco chairs but since we're on a budget and are saving for a house it felt like a frivolous purchase. So then we debated buying second hand retro chairs, like Parker ones if we were lucky. But we already have a Chiswell dining table and a Parker sideboard in that room and we didn't want to be too retro. Finally the decision was made yesterday when I spotted four of these replica Eames chairs on a garage sale website. They were $90 for four, which is a great deal. They won't be our forever chairs, but they were the right price and they'll do until we can afford the Emeco ones we really love.

The only problem with them is that they need a chair pad. They're quite comfy on their own if you don't have a bony behind like I do. For me, I need the cushion. This afternoon I whipped up four chair pads out of some fabric I had. Here's how to make some yourself:


This is my fabric. Amazing, 1950s - 60s thick cotton that was once used as a cover for sunroom furniture. I bought a huge piece for $5 from an op shop two years ago.


I found a pot lid about the size I needed and used that as a template to cut out the circles for the chair pads. I added about 1.5cm all around for a seam allowance. I have four chairs so I cut out 8 circles for the front and back pieces.


Next I cut four pieces of cotton tape to use as a tie. I didn't want ties showing at the back of the chairs so I sewed them underneath. The wire design of the chair means I could tie it from the bottom instead of the back.


With right sides together I sewed around the edge, leaving a gap for the stuffing.

I then turned them out the right way and folded the circles in half and then in half again. I marked the point with a pen (this will be the centre of the circle). I then stitched a piece of cotton tape in the centre spot making sure to go over the stitching at least twice. I did this before stuffing because I wanted the chair pads to have some depth and an almost tufted look.




Next step was to stuff each one with hobby fill stuffing. I then pinned the open edge and sewed it stuff. 


Super easy and took only about 15 mins once they were cut out. Total cost was $10 for the hobby fill and the cotton tape. They were so easy to do I might even make more. Could I become a woman who changes her chair cushions to match the season? I easily could.




Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Shop Your Style Icon


For me, it's always been Audrey. There's nobody past nor present as effortlessly elegant or poised as she. Somehow the simplest of silhouettes look stunning on her. Never too little, never too much.

Today I'm going to show you how to incorporate some iconic style your very own wardrobe. All that's involved is a bit of research and a critical eye. Ready? Let's go!

Research

If your style icon is a film star you must have an all-time favourite movie that they star in. Your first step is to look at images, television series, or films and take note of what you love. Look at colours, make up, jewellery, hair cuts, bags, shoes, and hem lengths. Is there anything characteristic that ties it all together? Make some notes as you go, or start up a Pinterest board for inspiration.



This is Audrey in the 1953 film Roman Holiday. When I saw it recently I was drawn to the pockets in her full skirt, the wide belt that cinches in the narrowest part of her waist, and the strong collar of her shirt. I love that little scarf at her neck too.



Hello cigarette pants! In the second picture she has another strong structured collar. She's wearing ballet flats - I told you she was my kind of woman.


In this photo we've got shorts with a patterned shirt, again with some structure to it - especially in the cuffs.

Be Critical

So now we have a good sense of our style icon but how do you actually wear it? This is where a critical eye comes in. Obviously I am not Audrey Hepburn. You're not your style icon either. And that's awesome because what we want is for your style to come through here. If I walked around in a black dress and enormous sunglasses with my hair piled high and a cigarette holder hanging out of my mouth people would point at me. The idea isn't that you look like you're off to a costume party.

If your style icon is a skinny minny and you're not it doesn't matter one bit. You can still incorporate their style into your look. Maybe it's some stiletto heels with a splash of colour like Carey from Sex and the City, or black eye-liner and pale lips with a wide necked off the shoulder t-shirt like Brigitte Bardot. Perhaps it's a red lip and some sparkles like Marilyn Monroe, or some tailored pants and a sharply tailored shirt reminiscent of Katharine Hepburn.

Pick what you can get away with and be honest about what you can't.

Find the Goods

Let's look at Audrey.

As you know I'm a huge fan of thrift shopping. You can find some wonderful things for next to nothing in thrift stores, but it's all a game of chance. If you're after specific pieces try eBay or Etsy's vintage clothing sections. You'll pay more, but you'll find exactly what you're after and remember, vintage is still much cheaper than new.


A patterned cigarette pant is a great 1950s look teamed with a cardigan in a block colour and a crisp white blouse. Here are some vintage finds I saw on Etsy today:

1950s Cigarette Pant by Vintage Salvation on Etsy.


1950s pants by Maybel57 on Etsy
Match it with a simple vintage top:

1950s Blouse by VintageBoxFashions on Etsy.


Or a fitted white shirt:

Asos fitted shirt from Asos.com
If you can't find a vintage pant there are new options on websites like Asos:

River Island Printed Cigarette Trouser from Asos.com
Or reproduction pieces on websites like Collectif:

Bonnie Blackwatch Cigarette Trousers from Collectif.
If a patterned pant is too much for you swap it up by having a plain coloured pant and a patterned shirt.

1950s shorts by Allencompany on Etsy.

1950s shorts by Camp Bettie on Etsy.
Asos Luxe stripe tee from Asos.com.
The aim here is to find pieces that have the flavour of your style icon - they don't have to match exactly. I love everything about Audrey (except all of those cushions and bags with her face printed on them) but for you it might be Twiggi, or Madonna in her Desperately Seeking Susan phase. Maybe it's the 1940s that tickle your fancy, or 1980s shoulder pad glam. Whatever it is, don't be afraid to incorporate it into your wardrobe. Fashion is meant to be fun!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fermentation - Sauerkraut!

For the last few months I've been really excited by the process of making fermented foods, and how I can introduce what I've been working on into our diets.

For those of you not yet in the know, fermented foods such as kefir milk, sauerkraut, and kombucha tea have a whole gang of great bacteria in them which aid digestion and offer a huge range of other health benefits to boot.

In the past the guts in our family have been in a sorry state. We have three with gluten intolerance, one with a wheat/egg allergy, two with lactose intolerance, and one who has behaviour issues after eating some foods. We've all had numerous doses of antibiotics, and unfortunately the first two years of our wee boy's life were spent dosing him up with various different things in order to keep him functioning.

I'm convinced that we could all benefit from sorting out the bacteria in our guts. There are loads of different (some quite extreme) diets out there addressing the link between the gut and psychological/physiological symptoms but with our already restricted diet I'm not prepared to dive into anything like that without some proper testing first. What we are doing, is having a go at making and eating some fermented probiotic rich foods.

Today I thought I'd write a few words about sauerkraut.



What is it?
Sauerkraut is basically fermented cabbage. It has a pickled, slightly sour taste that goes great with cold meats, sausage, corned beef and cheeses. If you like pickled onions or gherkins you're going to love sauerkraut!

How do you make it?
It's made by grating cabbage finely, rubbing salt into it, then letting it sit under a weight until it bubbles and ferments.

How does cabbage turn into sauerkraut?
The magic happens by a process called lacto-fermentation. The cabbage has a natural amount of beneficial bacteria on its surface and when you submerge it in brine (salty water) the bacteria converts the natural sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid, which naturally preserves the vegetable content.

How long does it take?
You need a minimum of three days to make one jar, longer for a big crock of it.

Why should I eat it?
Sauerkraut contains many of the same probiotics as a bowl full of yoghurt, but without the dairy - which is great for the lactose intolerant amongst us. It's great for your tummy and it's really yummy too!

Can't I just buy it?
Sure! There are some great brands of sauerkraut on the market. I like Eden Organic Sauerkraut because it uses organic cabbage and only contains cabbage, salt and water - just like it should. It has a yummy tangy taste that's not too strong. It's also $7 a jar from my local co-op - which is why I'm interested in making my own.


With home made sauerkraut you can control the flavour by testing pieces and taking bottling it when it suits your taste buds. You can add spices to it, use red cabbage... there are lots and lots of options when you do it yourself.

What do I need to be aware of?
As with all fermented food,  you need to be aware of hygiene. Keep your work surface, hands and jars super clean. 

When your sauerkraut is fermenting you may see some bubbles or white foam come to the top - that's normal. It may even bubble over - so it's important to use a big jar and put a plate underneath to catch any spills.

If you get any mould on the top it may be because you've put your jar in a place that's too hot. You can scrape the top layer off and keep going - the lactic acid is a powerful preservative. If anything looks very dodgy, smells bad, or if there is any fur growing in it use your best judgement. It may be best to start again.


For more info on recipes and the process of making sauerkraut check out:

Wild Fermentation
The Kitchn





Monday, June 16, 2014

Blue Mountains Vintage Trail

An Insider’s Guide to finding bargains in the Blue Mountains

Whether you’re looking for clothing, retro homewares, a piece of mid-century furniture or that last elusive item to finish off your collection, the Blue Mountains is the perfect place to spend a day exploring the many vintage stores on offer.  Follow me on my perfect day out doing the ‘op shop hop’ from Glenbrook in the Lower Mountains to Blackheath at the very top.


  Blue Mountains Australia
  • Start at Glenbrook village, the gateway to the Blue Mountains and just 10km west of Penrith. Fuel up with a coffee at one of the many quirky cafes such as Jazz Apple or the recently opened 2773. When you’re ready to hit the shops stroll down Ross Street to the local Vinnie’s where you’ll find a small thrift store that has a good selection of clothing and homewares. On your way back up Ross Street make sure you check out Frippery, an op shop that specialises in vintage clothing.

  •  Heading west up the Great Western Highway to Blaxland you’ll find Vinnie’s on the main road. If you park behind the shops you’ll see that this Vinnie’s has an extensive furniture section downstairs with some great bargains to be had. Upstairs you’ll find clothing, manchester, homewares and jewellery. Back out on the main road there is a small Bibles for Missions op shop where prices are cheap and there are many treasures waiting to be discovered. Make time to stop for a chat with the friendly and knowledgeable volunteers.
  •  The next stop is Springwood where a newly opened Salvos has a large range of clothing, kitchen items and electronic goods. Stop in the shops for a snack or head straight to the Vinnie’s on Macquarie Road.

  • It’s time to make our way to Katoomba where we’ll be spending a couple of hours visiting some of the best op shops in the mountains. Start at Salvos located on Waratah Street down a steep driveway. There are often great furniture sales at this store as well as a good range of clothing, shoes, kitchen items and linen. Keep walking down Waratah Street and you’ll come across Vinnie’s which has an upstairs area full of linen and craft items as well as a separate room for furniture. Just past Vinnie’s is the Cat Defence Charity Shop, a small thrift store bursting with vintage homewares.  Head back up Waratah Street towards Katoomba Street where you’ll find an abundance of cafes and restaurants. This is the perfect place to put down those shopping bags and take a break over something good to eat. Suitably refreshed, take a stroll up Katoomba Street visiting the many antique shops along the way. One of my favourites is Macarthur Arcade which boasts a huge selection of vintage homewares and mid-century furniture. Once you reach the top of Katoomba Street carry on past the round-a-bout to Bathurst Road where you’ll find the Boutique Op Shop. This op shop is a recent addition to my regular hit list. I love the care the staff take in displaying their items and the great range they have on offer.



  •   The last stop on our Vintage Trail is Blackheath just west of Katoomba. Start at the Vinnie’s just across the railway tracks before walking down Govetts Leap Road to the Victory Theatre Antique Centre and CafĂ©.  This enormous antique shop contains two floors of homewares, clothing, jewellery, furniture and porcelains and more. There is always something wonderful to discover here. Finally, pop in to one of Blackheath’s many cafes for one last top up before heading home, hopefully with your arms full of vintage finds! 

Trail Notes
·       Most op shops are closed on Sunday so make sure to check the opening hours online before you plan your trip
·       Carry some cash with you as many op shops don’t accept cards
·       All of the shops listed in this guide as located close to Railway Stations so you can utilise public transport


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year and Some Sewing

Happy New Year!

I've started the year with a spring clean, updating photo albums, editing my end of year home movies and very little sleep.

In November I took a solo trip to Ubud in Bali for a week. My goals for the trip were to eat, sleep, go to the spa and buy fabric. A perfect holiday! I took a day trip to Denpasar to the fabric markets and brought back lots of lovely stuff. I also couldn't help myself and ended up with 11 sarongs.. but those are slowly getting turned into clothing or things for the house too. I made up the pattern for the shorts in the bottom picture but there are plenty of free PDF patterns about on the Internet. These ones are very simple with just a zipper up the back, and they're quite high waisted. I used the rest of the fabric to make Jemima a pair, but hers are below the knee and wide in the leg.

I have a few sewing projects on the go at the moment, and all going well I'll have some time to photograph them and upload them here soon. Have a lovely day everyone.







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