Wednesday 27 July 2011

Mini makeover project, and a winner...

Hello again, I'm back from my brief visit to Ireland and am straight into the joy that is the school holidays. Anyone else already suffering from a tense nervous headache?  As both boys are at home and requiring entertainment I'd better apologise in advance for my continuing sporadic posts and comments, I will do my best to keep up with everyone though. Can I sneak a laptop into cinema when they're showing Cars2?

So...the project. Scarlett recently mentioned her 'sponge gremlins' who live in her oven and destroy all her cakes, as the reason why she doesn't post recipes. You may have noticed I am not a 'furniture makeover' type of blogger. I'd love to be, really, having seen amazing results people have achieved with nothing more than a torn paperback, tube of glue and chest of drawers. Or a vintage tea-towel, staple-gun and kitchen chair. But I have 'paint fear'. I read all the right blogs and magazines, and have even been known to say blithely to other people "Oh, you could just paint that", but come to my house and you won't yet see one piece of furniture which isn't in its original state (give or take a cushion I might have plonked on it). 

I get to thinking about having to sand it, and do base coats, and decide whether I need eggshell or matt or gloss or heritage  paint, and where I'll have to go to buy this, and however many hours it is between coats, and then I remember that I don't have a garage or shed I can do any of this in, but that I do have small children who will harass me in the garden. As a result my brain then slides away from the idea and I go and stick some small portable things together with a glue-gun instead [Not my children. But it is tempting]. However - all this is going to change! Oh yes. And you clever people are going to help me. 

Below is my project in its still virgin state. It's a stool with an upholstered seat which opens for storage. It's possibly a piano stool - I have vague memories of keeping music in something similar - or could just be used to stash my current pile of magazines. Or it would be good for storing knitting or needlework supplies. It's a nice solid construction, but I'm not particularly loving the uber 70s brown and orange fabric and the wood is a bit scratched. What would you do? Any hints and tips would be gratefully received, and now I've shown you it I have no excuse not to attempt a makeover!

Soon to be gorgeous stool

Anyway, I also need to announce the winner of my 'Stupid Sock Creatures' giveaway, which I was supposed to do on Sunday. I used a random number generator, which declared the winner to be Lucewoman! [Actually, it first chose my comment, and then Alex, who didn't want to enter, then someone who hadn't told me their crafting disaster - but fourth time lucky!]. Well done Luce - enjoy your sock wrangling!

Finally I also have a rather lovely giveaway running at the moment to win a necklace from Stall 21, not many entries to far so do have a look, I think it's gorgeous.

Lovely hematite and silver necklace with feather

 If you'd like the chance to win it then just sign up to the odd bit of news from Stall 21, either by Twitter or email. Or you can simply 'like' their page on Facebook. I follow on Twitter myself, and can confirm she doesn't spam you! See my post here to enter. I may have to buy myself this necklace - there is still 50% off with the code adeleparks until the end of the month.

Lakota x

PS. There's been a lot of discussion recently about bloggers being paid to advertise companies, non-disclosure of review products actually being gifts, and whether a code of ethics is required regarding sponsored posts and the like. I have never been paid to mention any company or any product, just so we're clear. Any competitions I run with a company are because I like the prize and want to be able to offer it. Obviously they get some publicity as a result. [If you want to join future debates they're hosted by AThriftyMrs on Twitter on Tuesdays at 9pm. Use hashtag #blogdebate]

Thursday 21 July 2011

Win a gorgeous necklace from Stall 21 - plus 50% off!

You've probably worked out by now that I love jewellery, so I was really pleased to discover the Stall 21 brand recently and am really taken with many of the items from the current collection. All Stall 21 pieces are designed and handmade in the UK by Raimonda Navickaite using materials such as hematite, amber and Czech glass, and she's kindly offering the stunning necklace below to one follower of my blog.

I love the modern hippy vibe of this long necklace and think it's a really versatile and wearable piece. Not only do you have the chance to win it, but until July 31st you can get a whopping 50% off all purchases, plus free giftwrap and free UK shipping, by using the code adeleparks at the checkout.

Here are some other items which would be in my basket:

Anyway, on to the winning part. Anyone who publicly follows Faith Hope and Charity Shopping will be eligible to enter (UK and international) as long as you leave a comment below stating that you now also:

Follow Stall 21 on Twitter
'Like' Stall 21 on Facebook
Are signed up to receive the Stall 21 Newsletter

If you do more than one of the above, you get more than one entry, accordingly. Please leave an extra comment for each step. Being a follower and doing one of the above is mandatory, if you additionally mention the giveaway on your blog or tweet the following "I'm entered to win a gorgeous @stall21 necklace, via Faith Hope and Charity Shopping"
you get an additional chance. Again, please let me know!

I will pick the winner on August 20th. 2011 - if no response is received with 7 days I will redraw.

Lakota x

Disclosure: I have not been paid for this post. Stall 21 are providing the prize to build awareness of the brand. I like the jewellery and like being able to offer prizes to my readers. 

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Monkey business (and a giveaway)

I'm off to Ireland for a few days, so apropos of nothing and cos I haven't finished any proper posts yet, here's some sock monkeys. I have a half made sock zebra as well, but once I'd made a monkey for each boy and one for my niece I rather lost the will to live - or at least to continue fiddling with tiny pieces of inside out hosiery. 

First monkey. He has a wet head due to sweet loving from Boy2

Members of My Chemical Romance hang out at mine

They make quite good gifts for small children, although obviously don't use buttons for eyes if you're going to give one to a baby.

I've noticed I have some new followers too - hello! Anyway, to celebrate followers old and new, I'm having a quick giveaway to see who's paying attention. I have a copy of Stupid Sock Creatures to send to someone, so if you'd like to have a go at making aliens out of your old socks, you just need to be a follower of Faith Hope and Charity Shopping. [Either by Google Friend Connect, so I can see you - or if you're one of the whole 6 by Bloglovin' please let me know!]. Leave a comment under this post telling me about your worst ever making disaster - whether childhood Blue Peter trauma or cake wreck or crochet horror.

 I'll draw the winner when I get back on Sunday. Don't worry about retweeting or mentioning on blogs, but if you've literally just joined and this is the first post you've read, well you're welcome to enter too.

Wish me luck in Limerick!

Lakota x

Sunday 17 July 2011

Church Fete Finds...

Just a quick post today to finally show a few retro kitchen bits and pieces I've picked up recently, some bargain books and a couple of pieces of jewellery sent to me by the lovely Jem of Beautiful Clutter. I popped to a church fete a few weekends ago, and in addition to winning half their tombola prizes I had a quick look at the bric-a-brac stall and spotted this vintage 'Nutbrown' rotary herb chopper. [At least that's what is according to ebay. The woman who sold it to me for 10p seemed to think it was an egg slicer]. I think I bought it remembering that someone collects red-handled kitchen implements - is it you Loo? And if so, do you want it?

Metal fish mould, mini forks for pickles and h'or d'oeuvres and an erm, implement.

Early 80s Readers Digest British nature books

The book stall was worth a rummage too. As well as a few paperbacks for 20p each, I found these beautifully illustrated guides to birds, flowers and trees of Britain. They were a bargain at 50p each, but I'm not sure about the wisdom of using them as 'Field Guides', a trio of hardbacks would be rather a hindrance to any country walking I might be inclined to do. Perhaps proper ramblers think nothing of filling their rucksacks with several kilograms of encyclopaedia.

Finally I found this 'spooky skinny arm' (as Mr FHCS refers to it) in a charity shop in central Croydon. It's currently displaying a trio of bracelets made from a broken vintage necklace (restrung by Jem) and a brooch with a white cabochon stone and marcasite sparkles. Thanks so much Jem. [Do check out her blog, she has beautiful photographs and some lovely finds.] The picture is one from my stash of family photos - and shows Artie and Belle posing together in 1929. I'm not sure exactly how we're related, but I do think Artie is a fantastically dapper chap, I'm loving the hankie and pocket-watch chain, and he is rocking that moustache, eh ladies?

Bella and Edward
Belle and Artie
I've managed to resist the lure of the laptop a little better this week so haven't done quite as much blog visiting as usual, but normal service will no doubt be resumed soon. After all, St Swithun has decreed we're in for another 40 days of rain, so doesn't look like any of us in the UK will be getting out much. I think I'm finally ready to send my swap parcel to the very patient Amy at Blighty Boutique, so I will at least have to brave a trip to the post office. Someone suggested that I try and do a linky post so everyone can share their swaps, so  if anyone has any tips on how to set that up please let me know!

Lakota x

Linking to Flea Market Finds
Magpie Monday

Tuesday 12 July 2011

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow...'s probably me, crashing about with a carrier bag full of cherry plums. I noticed that a couple of the local trees I stake out were starting to drop, so once I'd dropped the boys off at school I went foraging for windfalls. Obviously I'd prefer to pick them straight off the tree, but most of them were too high up to reach. If they've just dropped and aren't too battered they're fine to use after a good wash.

Cherry plums are the original wild fruit that most cultivated varieties of plum are descended from, and are so-called as the fruit is about the same size as a cherry. Some trees have red fruit and some yellow, and whilst you can cook them (they're often bit sour and small to eat raw) my favourite way to use them is to make plum jelly, or even better - plum vodka. I can't describe to you just how insanely good this is, so I'm going to share the recipe so you can make your own ready for Christmas. I know, I'm too good to you.

This recipe is double what I made last year, but it's worth making plenty. Obviously you can just adjust the proportions depending on the amount of fruit you have, and if you want to use gin instead, then go for it.

The fruit of my labours [sorry]

You will need:
2lbs cherry plums, washed but whole
16oz granulated sugar
6 or 7 cloves
couple of pieces of cinnamon stick
1 litre of vodka/gin (I got mine from co-op as I was there, but usually buy the cheapest nastiest corner shop gut-rot I can. There's no point in wasting Grey Goose on this, you're putting a ton of sugar in anyway). They ID'd me, despite me explaining why I was asking for 'your cheapest and largest bottle of vodka please!'. I am 34. Sigh.

Stab the plums a few times - my implement of choice is a corn on the cob holder - add all the ingredients to a large bottle (a funnel would be handy for the sugar, I don't have one so improvised with some rolled up paper), and shake vigorously (make sure the lid is on properly). You will be left with something that looks like a science experiment involving pond dredging. I'm using a big catering size squash bottle, but a large and well washed plastic milk bottle would do just as well.

Can you see the tadpoles cloves?

Keep in a cool dark place, and shake every day, the sugar will gradually dissolve. The plums will go brown and shrivel over time, this is fine. I recommend leaving the fruit in the bottle for as long as possible and shaking it when you remember once the sugar has dissolved. I keep mine near the washing machine in the utility room so shake it when I do a load of laundry! As the months go by you'll notice the colour getting deeper as more and more juice comes out of the fruit. You'll probably need to top up with a little more vodka at some point too. Sometime in December, strain the liquid through a jelly bag and bottle up. It's not really essential to sterilise the bottles I don't think - not like it is for jam making - but putting them through the dishwasher first could be a good idea. I didn't eat the left over shrivelled fruit last year, but they'd probably make a very boozy crumble!

Last year's vintage! Made entirely of yellow plums.
This year's might be a different colour as there were a lot more red ones

The finished drink is smooth and slightly spicy, perfect for Christmas. You can drink it neat as a liqueur  (it doesn't burn your throat like dodgy holiday schnapps!) or make into a long drink with lemonade. Small bottles prettied up with a nice label and a pair of retro glasses would make a really lovely gift. 

Let me know if you try it! This is going to be my Monthly Make for July over at The Felt Fairy.
Linked to Penny Pinching Party and Handmade Thursday

Lakota x

Edit: A few people have queried whether you can use other varieties of wild plum or those from the supermarket. Obviously it's cheaper if you get the fruit for free, but there's no reason why you can't use regular plums. If you do, you'll probably have to chop them to fit into your bottle - but you won't need to stab them. I would say leave the stones in too, as I think they may help with flavour. The only other thing is that you may need to adjust the sugar if your plums are very sweet? Maybe by an ounce or two, although I'm not an expert! My advice would be to make a small experimental batch (half my recipe), and make a note of proportions used so you can adjust for next year if necessary. You'll still need some to counter the vodka kick, but you don't want it tooth-rottingly sweet. If you don't like cloves - leave them out. I'm sure you could add other spices you might have and it would be just as good - maybe star anise?

Sunday 10 July 2011

Raiding Grandma's attic

I spent last weekend at my in-laws', and in addition to eating my own bodyweight in ginger creams and helping myself to books from their extensive collection, I was able to make the car heavier on the way home for another reason as well.  My mother in law Carole had been sorting out their attic, and found a load of crafting supplies belonging to my father in law's late mum. Would I like to take a look? Obviously I didn't need asking twice, and clambered eagerly up the wooden ladder to the loft (they live in the most gorgeous art deco house) where I found these.

Ooh, tins!

Grandma had been a keen maker of mosaic pictures and was obviously quite the magpie. In addition to  pieces of tile and broken pottery, the tins (and some less attractive dusty tupperware) were full to the brim with buttons, millefiore glass, shells, coloured fish tank type pebbles, broken jewellery, pieces of smashed headlight...basically anything pretty or sparkly.

Buttons, earrings and...shards of broken glass. Yay!

My husband found me an hour later, happily stirring through the contents with a stick. I don't know when I'm likely to make a mosaic (although I do love Parc Güell in Barcelona. Why think small eh?) one of the broken turquoise and silver clip-on earrings in the photo above has already become a ring. And look at the tins! Aren't they lovely?  

Quality Street tins like what they used to be

Under sea biscuit tin

One of my best friends lives in Moscow, I miss her

Broken earring re-purposed

Carole also has an extensive wardrobe, and very kindly gave me her favourite skirt from back in the 80s. I'll blog that later on, but suffice to say zebra print and lace feature prominently. [Yes, it looks better than it sounds].
Lakota x

PS. Have you seen my Facebook page? Or come and see me try - and usually fail - to condense my wittering into 140 characters on Twitter. I'd love it if you said hello.

Linking up to Flea Market Finds
Magpie Monday
Thrift Share Monday

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Top 10 Tagged

The stylish and beautiful Becca aka Smashingbird has tagged me for the Top 10 award, which requires you to list your top 10 beauty products. As you may have already realised, I'm a natural beauty terminally lazy day to day. Even if I feel like it, I very rarely seem to have time to do anything thrilling make-up wise before I head out to do the school run, and am in awe of women who manage to do a full face of make-up as well as get their children ready. Mind you, some appear to claw back the time by not changing out of their night attire. I have yet to plummet far enough into indolence to not get dressed in the morning, so I feel I am one up on the 'pyjama mamas'. Anyway, here's my 'can't do without' products, in no particular order:

1. Clarins UV Plus Day Screen spf 40. It's poncey, it's expensive, it comes in a teeny weeny bottle. Sorry. It's well worth it though. It doesn't bring my face out in spots like a lot of sun-creams do, and it sits happily under moisturiser and make-up. I would recommend getting people to bring it back for you from airports, or buying with Boots Advantage Card points. It does turn up on Ebay cheaper as well, so shop around, as with most of my recommendations to follow. You'd think I'd be thriftier. Huh.

2. nails incpolishes. These were also on Becca's list, but I couldn't leave them off mine, as I am in complete agreement. They have have every colour you could possibly need, and the top and base coats are the best I've come across for giving a professional manicure finish. They are often given away with Glamour (readable) and InStyle (terrible), and as they are about £12 in the shops, it's well worth buying the magazines for the freebies alone.

3. Johnson's baby shampoo. I have fine hair, but loads of it, and it tangles terribly when I wash it. A hair dresser recommended I use this years before I had any children, and it does help. And 'no more tears' for me when I get it in my eyes!

4. Origins Night-A-Mins eye cream. Expensive, but lasts ages and appears to be working! Luckily a good friend works for Estee Lauder and can get it cheaply for me.

5. Thierry Mugler Angel perfume. Reminds me of Paris with Mr FHCS, where I first sprayed and bought it from Sephora. Now my signature scent, and one of the few 'big' perfumes that doesn't give me a headache. I can't speak for anyone around me though! [CK one is an old favourite and close second, but it reminds me so powerfully of living in Bristol that I can't wear it without a being transported back instantly to my University days. I don't spend all my time pining for student life, but the merest hint of its scent makes my heart lurch]

6. The Body Shop brow and lash gel. Tames my unruly eyebrows!

7. Ditto Tweezerman tweezers. These are also handy for grey hair removal. I do not subscribe to the notion that if you pull one out, 5 more grow. This is nonsense. If you don't pull them out, they will mock you from the mirror in the style of that hair dye advert where one crazy hair waves wildly from the top of a woman's head. Obviously there will come a time when it's grey hair or baldness. Then I shall embrace the dye. At the moment, the couple I have are ruthlessly executed. You blondies are lucky.

8. Shavata arch enhancer pencil. You may be noticing an obsession with my eyebrows. I said I was lazy, I've never claimed not to be vain! This is a weird chunky pencil which you draw under your eyebrow with, and it highlights the arch. It's also excellent as a concealer to hide any stray hairs which are growing back but you haven't yet plucked/waxed/threaded.

9. Origins Calm to your Senses body soufflé. This smells amazing and is extremely luxurious and stupidly priced! I also have loads of other body lotions and potions which I need to use up first, but if I had the choice I'd go for this one. At £22 a pop it's a good thing I have the aforementioned beauty industry friend. [I managed to Google this wrong several times. Clam Soufflé is something else entirely, and unlikely to bring anyone but the local tomcats to your boudoir.]

10. Red lipstick. This is what tells me - and I suppose the world - that I mean business and am upping the glamour stakes. My face in repose is inclined to the pouty, (I had an unfortunate nickname as a teen based on my mouth and its supposed attributes) and when I smile we're talking a Jack Nicholson grin I inherited from my dad, so I don't really wear red during the day. It's a bit too 'look at me' for first thing in the morning (not my best time). I have yet to find the holy grail of red lippies, and have been following recent posts on the subject with interest, but at the moment I tend to combine two. Firstly Revlon's In the Red, which is very matte in texture, then I layer Rimmel's Diva Red over the top, which is far glossier, and wears off more quickly. If you're a fellow pasty brunette (who gets flushed easily) with green eyes and have found a red you love - do let me know!

So, on to listing the ten bloggers whose make up bags I'd like to root around in. Apologies if you've been tagged in this already, I've seen this post around quite a bit recently.

Tea Diary
Blighty Boutique
Fashion's Most Wanted
Hippie Boho Reloaded
Missy Vintage
Me and My Shadow
Gem Fatale

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Street art and thank yous

In my last post I promised some more pictures of the graffiti and street art around Shoreditch, so here's some iconic and not so iconic images from the Brick Lane area, taken by either myself or the Mr. If you're familiar with the area you'll recognise some that have been around for ages - others are more transient and will probably be gone next time I visit. Sadly some amazing murals have been removed already - apparently in a pre-Olympics clean-up a last year. Still, this is Shoreditch, you can't keep the artists down!

I'm really fond of this stork on a building backing onto some waste ground. If it was scrubbed off or painted over then I think the area would look more run down, not less. The detail and expression in the bird's eye is brilliant.

Technically speaking, the road signs in English and Bengali are not street art in the usual sense of the word. But it's an iconic picture which you always find on photography stands. You're spoiled for choice if you want to take your own version, as there are various places where Brick Lane is sign-posted. I think the old layers of paint on the eponymous bricks add to the grimy charm of this one.

Huge soldier opposite Absolute Vintage on Hanbury St.
 I don't know if this was commissioned. You'd need scaffolding or a cherry-picker

Round the back of the Sunday UpMarket

There's also a Banksy pink painted car which was too difficult to get a picture of, as it's protected in a perspex box, as is his signature. [Attempts to photograph it were thwarted by reflections]. I love Banksy, but that does make me laugh. When I was living in Bristol in 1995, you'd see his stuff everywhere, and it was usually promptly painted over by the council.

The great artist's 'signature' protected for posterity
Wonder if he'd re-sign if it was painted over?
Is it still a Banksy if his thumb isn't on the spray can?
 What if someone else uses a stencil he cut?
Loads of Damien Hirst's 'Spot' and 'Spin' paintings were done by other people, and still sold for a fortune.

Part of a large work near Shoreditch High Street station

One of the many many stickers which adorn virtually everything. 
Is it an advert for a club night? Or just an insult?

I love this one for the juxtaposition of two styles, although 
I don't know if Lady Godiva was added later by a different hand?

Quentin Crisp. At least I think so.

Outside Absolute Vintage. For the moment

Alice and the Hookers.

The above was done by the same person who did the robed figures and chair I showed in an earlier post. As it's made of paper and it poured with rain that day some of it has already begun to come away. Soon just the painted shadows on the pavement will show it was there.

Don't park your car on Hanbury Street, unless you want it to be eaten, crushed by a falling anvil, pooped on by pigeons (a hazard pretty well everywhere) or snipped in half.

My favourite this time was the graffiti below of a cartoon couple, painted in a doorway.  I think you have to be very clever artist to put so much expression into figures devoid of features other than dots for eyes. I also like the way the niqab wearing lady appears to be the more dominant of the two, her companion looking shyly up at her, his head turned down.

Moving on from the East End, but continuing with the home made art theme, I was really pleased to get a parcel in the post from the ever thoughtful Lucewoman. Look how beautifully she wrapped it up:

And inside, this amazing picture. Isn't she clever? Thanks so much Lucy, I love it.

Finally, I need to show you the fantastic 80s earrings which the lovely Loo sent me. Sparkly snake hoops! An excellent addition to my earrings through the ages collection. Cleopatra, comin' atcha!

Cheers Loo!

Lakota x