Friday 30 September 2011

Insomnia and noisy babies - the bright side!

Mummy, I'm HELPING you here!

Honestly, there is a silver lining to being awoken at 3.37am, and if you hop on over to Mrs Thrifty's blog you'll find out how it can help you win prizes. Yes, part 2 of my 'How to win Competitions' is up. Yesterday was an introduction and where to find the best giveaways, and today is where I'm actually giving away secrets to ensure that it's your name getting picked out of the metaphorical hat. Do go over and have a peek if you get a chance.

Many thanks to those of you who commented here or on the first part of the guest post yesterday. It's hard writing for someone else's audience, so I really appreciate those who took the time to say something. You know who you are!

Competitions are one of my favourite things - well, more specifically winning them - so I'm linking up to Mimi and Tilly's Favourite Thing on  a Friday.

Have a wonderful weekend
Lakota x

Thursday 29 September 2011

How to win Competitions - Guest posting at A Thrifty Mrs

If you've been reading for a while you might remember the post I did confessing that I was a secret competition addict. I'm in recovery these days and spend more time blogging, but as it gets closer to Christmas there's no better time to throw myself into it again. Anyway, the very fabulous A Thrifty Mrs has very kindly allowed me space for a guest post over at her blog - where I give away all the tips and tricks you need to maximise your chances of winning BIG. As you are no doubt aware, A Thrifty Mrs is a very successful and popular blog, so I'd be really grateful if you could pop over there and give me some support *wibble*

And whilst we're on the subject of prizes to be won, here's some great giveaways to get you started - there's something for everyone. Get in quickly though, as most of them close very soon.

Win £700 of Apothecary Beauty Products
Scarlett Loves Elvis - blog giveaway with prizes including vintage book, nail varnish and hair flower
Red Ted Art - blog giveaway. Your child's art made into products like mouse mats and coasters
Win £500 'wardrobe' of accessories
Beautiful Clutter - blog giveaway, notebook travelcard cover and vintage beads
Delusions of Grandeur - blog giveaway with 3 interiors prizes

Thanks and good luck lovelies!

Lakota x

PS. Have you signed up for the Festive Faith Hope and Charity Swap yet? The Summer one was fantastic and the Christmas one promises to be even bigger and better. So far we've got bloggers from the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore willing to play! Sign up by October 10th and if you can help spread the word that would be great.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Christmas Charity Shop Swap - Sign up here!


Oh yes my friends - 'tis the season. Fa la la la la and all that. Ok, it's actually pretty damn far from being the season and we're about to be plunged into our designated week of British Indian Summer time - but; if you want in for the Christmas swap you'd better sign up now by leaving a comment on this post. I'll leave sign up open until 10th October, and then try and get everyone their partners by 15th Oct so you have two months to shop and send. No-one wants extra stress in the week before Christmas, right? 

So, on the whole it seemed to work pretty well last time. We'll keep it to a £12 maximum spend as everyone did brilliantly on that before, and the festive period is expensive enough as it is. As before - if you can do it for less - fantastic. Even so, please do read the rules before you sign up and hopefully no-one will be disappointed. Open to all countries assuming I can find you a partner in the same one!

  • Once again, you need to send a minimum of 3 items, maximum of 5 to your swap partner.
  •  Maximum spend is £12 or equivalent in local currency
  • At least one item must be sourced from a charity shop/boot sale/garage sale/jumble or similar
  • At least one item should be handmade - it doesn't have to be handmade by you if you're not crafty!
  • This time, one item should be a Christmas decoration of some sort
  • I had a few enquiries last time as to whether those who didn't blog could take part. Unfortunately, as your posts and online info are all there is for your partner to go on, you will need an active blog (ie updated in the last month or so) to be included. It would be great if you could also do a post on what you received when the swap is complete.
  •  I will do my best to match you with someone in your neck of the woods, but if I can't find a swap partner in your country - or at least continent - you may have to sit this one out.
If you could spread the word by adding the button to your sidebar (linking to this post), posting or tweeting about it - that would be fab! 

Lakota x

Sunday 25 September 2011

Greenwich goodies

Sooo, probably about time I did a Magpie Monday/Flea Market Finds kind of post. I haven't been buying loads recently, a) as there hasn't been much opportunity and b) because we're attempting to declutter before moving house. But there have been a few little bits and pieces that have found their way into my bag over the last few weeks. [I did pay for them, honest.That sounded a bit like I was shopping with a foil lined bag and five finger discount].

This necklace really appealed to me on an instinctive magpie level. [And cos I'm a big kid]. If I left it in the apple tree - check me out attempting arty shots - I've no doubt it would be adorning an avian abode before too long. I got it from a new local vintage and craft event called Concrete Market, and it's made of an old - sorry, vintage; marble. The market itself was held in a pub - the one they use in Peep Show, randomly - and whilst it's always good to be close proximity to beer and crisps when shopping, the pub's slightly gloomy traditional ambiance did make it a wee bit difficult to see some of the stalls properly. That said, there were some lovely goods on offer, and I hope they can expand and make it a more regular thing.

Marble necklace by Muna Zuberi

I've also spent a couple of Saturdays in Greenwich lately, and was able to pop over and say hello to a fellow blogger, the delightful Miss Ginger who has a fabulous fabric stall in the main covered market.

She has a really great selection, and very kindly gifted me a fat quarter of this funky Dia de los Muertos inspired fabric with dancing skeletons. Now I just need to think of something Halloween-y to use it for. 

Not Cath K

The main market is still worth a wander, but there is also the Clocktower Market for antiques, vintage and retro bits and pieces. It's not that large, but the stalls are packed in closely and there are plenty of clothes, jewellery and collectibles it would be all too easy to spend spend spend on. 

I came away with some pleasingly jangly earrings and a 1958 edition of The Borrowers Afield. I've really enjoyed re-reading the adventures of Arietty Clock and family - Mary Norton imagined their world so perfectly.

All very nice, but what I really wanted was a set of 1960s girly glasses. On the front the ladies were dressed in showgirl attire, but looking through the keyhole gave a whole different view! The stall holder wanted £40 for the five though, which I couldn't really justify. If anyone ever sees any for 40p at a jumble sale...

I'm not sure you can ever exactly describe girly glasses as classy, but they struck me as being far nicer than those where their clothes disappear when the glass is filled with cold liquid. What do you think? One day I will have my vintage bar and track down another set!

Lakota x

Have you signed up to the great Festive Charity Shop Swap? There's still time but sign up closes on October 10th so get in quick if you want to play. So far there are bloggers from the UK, USA, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand all ready to get shopping without any guilt at all.

Linking up to

Thursday 22 September 2011

It's all about ME, darhlink!

Hello! I'm back, sorry once again for the absence. Boy2 is being eased agonisingly slowly into nursery school - an hour yesterday, a whole two today - and I've used the time wisely by writing a post that witters on about me. To be honest I'm not really your classic blogger - seeing as the adjective which is mostly used by my family to describe me is 'secretive' - but I've been reading a few of these A to Z's on other people's blogs, and thought I'd give it a go. Also, I realised that I never thanked a couple of lovely bloggers who awarded me the Versatile Blogger thingy ages ago, and as blog awards always seem to involve trivia about yourself, this should kill two birds in one bush with a big rock. Or something.

I think I'm going to go award free on the blog from now on - just because I can't devote the time to doing them properly - but I really appreciate everyone who's thought of me. Do go and check out the lovely blogs Pretty Little Jewels and Little Dotty Bird - many thanks ladies.

The A-Z of me

Nearly 35. I'm not sure how this happened. I have achieved my youthful look by selling my soul to the devil. Works far better than Oil of Olay.

Give Peas a Chance

B-Bed size:
I don't know why this is a fascinating insight. But it's a double. It has a once lovely kingsize patchwork blanket on it which the children have utterly destroyed with their little claws.

C-Chore that you hate:
Pretty much anything which can be described as a 'chore' does not sit well with me. I'm not really cut out for housework. But ironing is my most loathed. Luckily for me - and clothes everywhere - Mr FHCS does it.

Round here they appear to hand out staffordshire bull terriers or their scarier cousins once you reach 17 years of age. Given that every few yards on the school run we have to dodge a snarling ball of pent up aggression on a string, boy2 is scared of them. In theory I have no objection to them - indeed I actively  like red setters and sausage dogs. More of a cat person though.

E-Essential start to your day:
Coffee. Even though I virtually OD'd on it and now only drink shandy ass decaf, it's still a must have if I'm required to do anything in the morning.

F-Favourite Colour:
Purple. Turquoise, especially in jewellery.

G-Gold or silver:
Silver, on the whole. Although I don't mind a bit of gypsy bling occasionally

I am 5' 6" in my converse.

I-Instruments you play:
I can play the piano haphazardly to an unimpressive standard (grade 4) and would love to have one again. I might make a bit more effort at it now. I've also played violin, flute and recorder whilst at school, all pretty badly. My husband is the musician of the family and there are guitars everywhere.

J-Job title:
The boss. Mummm-eeeeeeee!

Two boys, aged 6 and 3. One brunette with blue eyes, one blonde with brown eyes. Both exceedingly handsome and hilarious, with ultra scruffy hair. The eldest is quiet, conscientious, a big reader and deep thinker, his little brother is the comedian likely to have household objects down his trousers. Or no trousers.

Right now, SE London, but we're trying to move house.

M-Mother's name:
Sue. Vegetable grower, pudding maker, glamourpuss.

Mum and Me

N- Nickname

O-Overnight hospital stays:
Had to stay in several days when I had both the boys. Not in a hurry to repeat the experience for any other reason.

P-Pet peeves:
Ha! So many. Other people's noise. People who dawdle on the pavement. Spitting. People who don't clean up after their dogs. People who can't punctuate or use apostrophe's like I just did. Facebook updates about mundane dinners. Ditto people with GPS on their phones so we can be alerted that Claire is 'at Asda'.  Being called 'Mum' by teachers and health visitors...Ok, so people generally. Not you guys though. You guys are great.

Q-Quote from a film:
As teenagers, my friends and I were obsessed with several films and were forever scrawling quotes from them on things (pencil cases, folders, the wall in the girls' loos...). These included, but were not limited to:

We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!
Withnail and I

My own brother, a goddamn shit sucking vampire! Well you wait til Mom finds out buddy!
The Lost Boys

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it
Ferris Bueller's Day Off

My brain is at least 77% song lyrics and 80s film scripts.

R-Right or left handed:

A younger sister, Jenny. Amazing chef and close personal friend of Bill Bailey. 

T-Time you wake up:
Far earlier than I'm designed to.

Er, yes. Loads. Bras are important. Preferably Freya.

V-Vegetable you hate:
Chicory. It's pretty revolting. No idea why the Belgians like it so much.

W-What makes you run late:
Checking blogger/Facebook/Twitter/emails when I should be brushing children's teeth. More recently, days have been lost to Pinterest. Come join me!

X-X rays you've had:
I'm going to assume you won't mind me changing this question to something less boring - sorry to any bone scan fans - let's have 'X-Factor, yes or no?' instead. "Well Lakota, I would have to say yes, despite loathing all the 'music', being the last person to care about the career of Cheryl Cole, and knowing that it's fundamentally wrong to laugh at the mentally ill. Cowell's some kind of evil magician."

Y-Yummy food that you make:
Mocha Squares. Chocolate oaty base with coffee icing. I insisted my mum make these for every birthday since about the age of 4, and if there was a fire, you know I'd be mentally weighing up whether I had time to get the kids and the recipe. My husband and boys are now obsessed with them too.

Z-Zoo animal:
Tapir. They're just really cool.

Who else has done this A to Z? Despite being secretive, I make no secret of being nosey as well!

Lakota x

PS. I can't remember how many people I'm supposed to pass the blog award on to, but this time I choose:

La Sophia
Misfits Vintage
Perdita's Pursuits
Ranch Dressing with Eartha Kitsch
Pull Your Socks Up
Vintage Passions Just Like Mine

All awesome.

Monday 12 September 2011

If I was a rich girl... How to make a £20 bangle

I decided to make this bangle as a statement about the vacuous trappings of wealth and celebrity versus the ever-shrinking disposable income of regular folk. Or was I condemning society's rapacious consumerism  with reference to disposable fast fashion accessories? Hmm, it might just have been that I fancied some new jewellery and had these cool disposable paper napkins. But the former sound a bit more 'St Martin's graduate'* so in honour of London Fashion Week and its fashion speak lets go with one of those.

You'll need:
  • a cheapo wooden (or plastic) bangle
  • mod-podge or other glue suitable for decoupage
  • serviettes printed with mock bank notes** - you can find these on ebay
  • A bristle paint brush
Cut the serviette into the individual notes and trim the white edges. They're 3 ply napkins and I pulled the back unprinted sheet off, but to be honest once gluey they became very flimsy so if I did it again I'd leave them whole. If you want more of a collaged look then cut the notes into strips. I used whole notes round the width of the bangle, then used strips to cover the inside and any parts which needed patching. 

Mod-podge the bangle rather than the serviette pieces,  then lay them on as carefully as you can, smoothing out as many ridges and bubbles as possible. When you've covered the bangle completely, do another coat of glue over the top and leave to dry for at least an hour. A further two or three coats of glue - again letting it dry properly between applications - should protect it sufficiently to be worn.

Ta-dah! You're so money, baby!

Two pints and a bag of salt n' vinegar please

Lakota x

* I'm so not. You could at least pretend to be surprised at this revelation
**If you want to get all art terrorist / The KLF about it you could use real money, but I'd recommend the napkins.

Linking up to:
Recycled Fashion

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Back to school and biliousness...

So yeah, it's Autumn, has anyone mentioned it? Due to my inherent laziness and world class procrastination skills you'll have observed that I didn't write a post noting that excited feeling you get in your stomach, the way you can smell fresh pencil shavings in the air, opaque tights, new boots, the glory of nature's changing colours™, the fact that I can now legitimately live on apple crumble or the imminent return of Downton Abbey.

That's not to say I'm not ridiculously excited about those things, I am. Boy2 and I dropped his brother off at school today and then went hunting for conkers. It was lovely, and our glossy treasures now reside in a fruit bowl by the telly, along with a few partially chewed pine cones he presented me with yesterday. [Partially chewed by a squirrel, not Boy2, although I wouldn't put it past him]. However, it took but a tiny fraction of the day. As parents of small children will be aware - the Summer holidays are looong, and when a much idolised big brother has started school already, the days until little brother can start nursery seem even longer.

I don't think I'm that hard hearted, but I must confess to being bemused by the Facebook statuses which appear every year about this time - full of wailing, tooth gnashing and breast beating about the dreaded 'back to school'. I'd understand it from the teens, but this is the parents.  Hmm, maybe there's a reason I'm not a 'Mummy blogger'. But seriously people, it's primary school, where they do painting and learn about the world, not a Stalinist gulag or Chilean mine. They get blueberries and mango for snack time these days, not two soldiers of white bread spread with Stork like we used to have. I've been a stay at home parent for 6 years - and I wouldn't change the time I've had with the kids for anything - but my mind boggles at some of these updates. How little imagination you must have to not know how to fill the hours til 3.15pm without your 'clever little man Ryan who is goin into year 2 now, bless LOL'. Come on - it's too rainy for the park, and there's only so much talk of Ben 10 and his intergalactic alter-egos a girl can take. Learn to crochet! Write a blog! Pick any Nigella recipe and eat the results before the kids get home! Is it any wonder I'm feeling a little liverish after another week of egg-box related crafts?

I can't be the only one who is just a teensy bit excited at the prospect of a couple of hours to myself a day, coupled with being able to use the loo without being asked "Are you doing a wee or a poo Mummy? Can I come in?"

Luckily, help is at hand. At least it was in 1956. I found a stash of mid-century magazines at the car boot on Sunday, which proved to be a great source of one of my favourite things - vintage advertisements.

Does anyone else think Linda is being addressed by Michael Winner?

Bile Beans! I mean, they just sell themselves don't they? There really is something wonderful about the way admen could make wild and unsubstantiated claims back then. Nowadays laxative adverts just blither on about 'gentle, predictable relief', but bile beans appear to make you supermom and supermodel in one fell swoop! 'Clear-eyed, fresh-complexioned' and, rather worryingly, only now able to love your child. 

            1. Bilious
            2. Having an irritable and unpleasant disposition

Yep, a pill that will rid you of your irritable and unpleasant disposition, plus help you lose 'unwanted fats' - I'm sure there's another name for it these days. Plus you don't even have to endure eight hours of gurning in a sweaty warehouse waving a glo-stick to achieve the results. Doctor!

Lakota x

Saturday 3 September 2011

Limerick, or the good, the bad and the ugly of charity shops

Dia Dhuit! It's been a few weeks since I managed to sneak a few days away in Ireland, so thought I'd better write up the post before I completely forget what I did. Mr FHCS had meetings to go to on the Friday, so I had a full day - and full stomach after a full Irish breakfast - to wander around the town and amuse myself. Limerick is really quite small, and our hotel was just on the other side of the river and visible from the main road in the centre, so even I with my notoriously terrible sense of direction was unable to get lost.

Look! It's green! Truly we are in a foreign land

In addition to such exoticisms as green postboxes, the first thing you notice about Limerick is an incessant beeping noise around the city centre. For some reason the street crossing boxes make a bloody awful noise the whole time, getting faster when when it's safe to cross, unlike the crossings here, where you press the button and wait for the sound to tell you to cross. Now of course I understand that the tone is for blind people who can't see the red and green men, and I guess it's confirmation to the blind that the crossing is actually working - but oh my God it's irritating. Obviously their need is greater than mine, but noise pollution is a pet hate - there must be a better way. At least the view as you cross the bridge into the centre is lovely. Anyway, my Victor Meldrew-isms aside, I settled down to a day of exploring the shops.

King John's castle, on the banks of the River Shannon

The first shop deserving of a stop was Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shop, which is as you would imagine a dieter's nemesis, where I picked up some chocolate pirate lollies for the boys, some New Berry Fruits for my mum and a hefty slab chocolate covered coconut ice for my Grandad. I'm still pretty amazed that I didn't succumb to buying anything to scoff myself - quite a feat when you consider that I am a great lover of traditional style sugary tooth-rot - anything that will pull out your fillings (or give you more) is good with me. I'm definitely getting white bon-bons next time I'm in a proper sweet shop.

photo thanks to Roisin at I'm Making 'Fetch' Happen

Seeing hoards of girls with paper bags - Ireland has outlawed plastic carriers - outside one shop covered in SALE signs, I stuck my head in to discover that Penneys and Primark are one and the same. I had previously been certain that Croydon was an outright leader in the dubious fake tan stakes, but I'm pleased to announce that in Limerick Penneys orange was being rocked like nowhere else. I did have a quick scan of the 50c jewellery aisle, and found the daisy earrings I wore to the 60s wedding - tacky but bargainous!

On first inspection the general town centre shopping was not especially inspiring, there was the usual array of unexciting clothes stores, a nice but expensive second hand book shop hidden up some stairs, a surprising number of traditional butchers - in fact there seemed to be one on every street, which would have been great if I was after steak or sausages - and of course the ubiquitous pubs. There were quite a few empty retail spaces - the economic downturn does seem to have hit hard in places. A pub next to the castle and the river - surely a prime spot - was boarded up and silent on a sunny weekend afternoon. I sat on the grass outside and imagined the bustling beer garden which should have been there. Hopefully someone will be able to take on the lease and have a successful business before the building becomes too run down and derelict. Some areas had smashed windows and graffiti on the empty buildings, but in others valiant attempts had been made to keep things looking pretty:

Boarded up house gets its craft on

Collage kitty...

However, there is a very nice interiors shop in the Habitat kind of vein called Instore - I might have bought a few things if it were not for Ryan Air's miserly baggage allowance - and the slightly hidden gem is the covered Milk Market. Different days have a different focus, but it's mainly farmer's market type produce, artisan breads and cheeses, crafts and the odd car boot type seller. There are also permanent shops and cafes around the edge, and a stage at one end where a local band were performing.  I chatted to a few sellers, including Ruth Crean - always nice to meet a fellow blogger - who had a lovely stall selling a variety of her handmade items. She also sells her customised and upcycled clothing creations in a local boutique.

I bought some of these for my badge picture project

Felt Brooches, with live band in the background

Plenty of buttons, but no bon-bons

Cupcake pincushion ring. 

Of course, I also hunted down the charity shops, and here things ranged - if not from the sublime to the ridiculous - at least from the good to the grotty. Oxfam was the same here as anywhere else, a bit bland and colour co-ordinated and with a sweet but innumerate old lady on the till. [I bought a scarf, and it cost one euro. I gave her one euro. I'm not sure how this became difficult]. Gorta was recommended to me by a girl at the Milk Market, and whilst I know some people will hate its boutique look, the Mary Portas effect hadn't spread to the pricing. There was a rack of clothes in the centre of the shop all priced at 2 euros, and I found plenty to try on. I came away with a nearly new tulip skirt from Full Circle.

Gorta window display - Limerick girls like their shoes

Angela's Ashes. Dead babies and remitting bleakness. The tourist board are still keen though.

I asked the manageress if it had been made compulsory by law for every charity shop in the city to display a copy of Angela's Ashes. [Frank McCourt's best-selling book about a truly dire childhood in 1930s Limerick. Like those horrible exploitative misery memoirs but considered proper literature] She wasn't amused.

On to Mrs Quin's Charity Shop (working for people with sight loss in Ireland). This was more your traditional pile it high and rummage whilst breathing through your mouth kind of place - there was a copy of Angela's Ashes there too - and it reminded me of the grimmest stall at the car-boot sale. You know, the one selling a pile of grey old bras, 2 wire coat hangers and a beanbag which looks like a dog died on it. Run by a woman wearing a fleece with wolves on it who sticks her grimy fingers into a tub of body lotion she received in 1982 in an attempt to persuade you to 'test' it. I was always under the impression that charity shops were told not to sell opened cosmetics, but obviously the memo hadn't reached Mrs Quin's, who were trying to flog a half empty Origins ginger body scrub with added bathroom fluff. Yummy. 

The final charity shop I discovered was possibly the oddest of all - at least I've never come across one here that runs on the same lines. Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has shops in the UK - I've never been in one so I can't compare - but this branch had the usual 'good stuff' in the window, accompanied by the following poster:

The 'good / high value' items in question included a pair of large gold cherubs, a granny blanket and a bag purporting to be Prada. I'm not all convinced it was - is it just me who thinks all those 90s Prada bags look like they've been bought off a blanket outside a tube station? Luxurious nylon - yay! But regardless, you don't get to find out the price until you've returned on the Saturday! Another wizard wheeze they had was a loyalty card, where you got a stamp for every fiver spent in one transaction. Now that is an idea I could embrace back home...

Queues at dawn. Do the cherubs count as one item or two?

Nothing in the window caught my eye enough to warrant a return on the Saturday, but I did buy a couple of belts for 50c each. Does anyone live by a charity shop which has a similar policy? What do you think - good idea or annoying in the extreme? 

"All I want is a pint of Guinness..."
[as sung by a local busker whilst counting his change]

Sorry, this seems to have turned into a bit of a mammoth post. I'll just leave you with the confirmation that I was indeed little girl number one on the cover of Twinkle  [I'm sure you've all been on the edge of your seats].   I may return to the fringe one day!