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Sunday, July 31, 2011

My British Bargains and Back Garden!

I am finally home again! Its summertime and all the little stone houses are covered in roses, and the supermarkets are full of yummy berries so everything feels very English and I love it. Although this is not technically my back garden, it is as close as possible. The back wall of our actual garden is a big cliff that forms into the back wall of Blenheim Palace, which means as residents we get access to palace grounds whenever we want so its about a 2 minute walk for me to be enjoying this not only sprawling but old and beautiful park-I am planning on getting more photos of the stunning trees they have here for my next posts.
So this is the little crop of huge copperbeech trees just as I come into the park.

....and that is the view of the main palace is, just had a huge game fair on so lots of cute little medieval style tents dotted around. The main palace started to be built in 1704 (I think-I should probably check this stuff but been there a million times and sure I'm close enough!) because John Churchill (familiar name?) whooped the French at the Spanish Succession-bit better than a medal! He became the first Duke of Marlborough, and currently up to number 11. Winston Churchill was born here and they are all buried in the little church across from our house. So much history!!!

This is my favourite part of Blenheim Palace, this bridge is HUGE it looks small in the picture but its not. You can see a couple of doorways on each side and these 2 'apartments' are where the young royals used to hold parties, especially in the Summer.

 and this is all the wrong way round because we walk from the back, but this is the main entrance that leads to the cute little historic town of Woodstock, which is where I will be walking to send off my ebay goodies when I do move back

The little sign reads 'Views and Postcard of Blenheim', very picturesque.

This is the famous pub 'The Bear' and you can see why the Aussie pubs just dont match up-Sorry!

Now for my finds of the week! I headed off to a little carboot this morning, and struck gold which I honestly did not expect after seeing the 20 car boot sellers in a little grassy field but these caught my eye instantly.
Punch Magazine 1945-1956

 I was told there was about 50 (actually 88) of these and they had been sitting at their parents house for years. £5 for the lot and includes heaps of special editions and all in really good condition.

 Its so funny to read the old adverts, especially for brands that are still around that I know so well!

 You get some pretty good ones....

 ...Really? I thought it was always a dull and uninspired option when you don't even know what sort of choccy or wine someone likes....

Bulmers cider, apparently it 'suits all the family', not a phrase I would commonly associate with alcoholic beverages but then us Brits are famed for a drinking culture for a reason-we start young.

1930s Plum Silk Velvet Dress

 Here are a couple of pieces from my collection I have back here, its been fun going through all the pieces and been cleaning some others ready to photograph but this is one of my favourites as such a pretty colour, fabric and fit!

1930s Pink Silk Velvet Cut Glass Button Dress

I am obsessed with these buttons and has the most amazing cut and back ruffle. The colour is almost neon, which I find nice in such an old piece because darker tones seem to be much more common.

Collar Work on 30s Velvet Dress

As black never photos well just took a picture of the collar on this beauty, the pearl and rhinestone work are stunning and the dress keeps up with the standard pretty well.

More Car Boot Finds

Cute little picture with frame-I can buy house stuff now as don't have to worry about bring it home-I AM HOME!
Cookie Cutter Sets

 £1 for the lot- its like someone knew I just forked out £20 on squeeze bottles, edible glitter, pearl dust and fancy colours for icing and was gagging to play with my new found cookie skills.

Silver belt with sea creatures AND a mini watering can (can you ever have too many watering cans how ever impractical the size?) all for 50p and below, for 10p, thus getting myself a whole 2 pence of the original purchase price-tailors chalk! It looks unused too.

Now my final items for the day which was pretty chuffed with, these 2 seal presses-which I was advised would make lovely doorstops-£1.50 for the 2 and weigh a ton. I have already e-mailed someong to try and get some replacement text blocks with my logo on-I love the classic font they used on it!

Next blog will be my from my trips to Paris and Amsterdam-my wallet hopes that I don't have too much to show you but not sure I can hold myself back-first proper holiday in 5 years and its Paris-I want EVERYTHING in that place.

If you like you flea market finds remember to drop by:
Sophie @ Her Library Adventures on Flea Market Sunday
Erica @ Fashion Recycled on Thrifty Friday
MissieLizzie @ Me and My Shadow on Magpie Monday
See you there and thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Postcards from Paris

So this week I don't think I have bought a single thing, been to busy getting my pretimed ebay items ready to list, packing and continuing to perfect my baking skills so nothing to show you. However a week on Monday will be heading off for a month back home in Oxford and have trips to Paris and Amsterdam planned so if you would like a postcard from my travels send your address to:

and in the meantime my latest cookies.

Blue Rabbit Cookies

I always thought I was a bit rubbish at this sort of thing, and I am still pretty messy with it all but didn't expect to master cookie icing so quickly, but have ordered some really interesting cookie cutters and lots of techy decorating stuff so when back from my holidays (if I can wait that long to play with them) will be going all out!

Hope you all had a great week and found lots of goodies and wont be giving up blogging while on holiday, I have been getting all my internet finds sent back home over the last 6 months so have a huge stash of goodies, plus will be blogging about my travels so keep in touch and thanks for everyone who reads/follows/writes on my blog, been so much fun over the past year getting to meet some fantastic people-may it continue!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

$2 Tuesday (or Saturday)

So someone knew I needed cheering up this week and exactly what it would take to do that, a huge pile or vintage clothes for $2 a piece! I also have washed and cleaned everything from all my clothes, to every room in the house, got my post table sorted so will take my fella less time to send off my ebay items when away, and in a rather OCD way have folded my best vintage clothes and packed into individual zip lock bags for my trip so with that bonus this morning, a nice tidy organised house and a tray full of yummy cookies to nibble on, today has been good!

Top Finds of the Week!

Some of my favourite finds tihs week are my leopard coat, the 60s label is so cute and it has a rabbit fur trim really nicely dyed to look like leopard, plus groovy paisley lining! Really pretty smocked maxi dress and a boutiqish dress from some Australian designer who I dont know about because im not that up of anything post 1989

Vintage 80s Jackets

Seemed to be finding lots of groovy jackets today, I love the denim one, tempted to keep that on, and really like the floral one too.


Totally scored with my stripy Alice MaCall cardigan, such a bargain! The ebay crew seem to love AM stuff so for $2, I am very chuffed! Cute little retro cardi too which is in my favourite colour!

Vintage 80s Leather Paris High Waist Trousers

These were just to groovy and odd to say no to, 2-tone leather and suede trousers made in France. They are really well tailored and so quirky!

More Jackets

The first on is the 1940s Leather swing coat I restored after had been living under the house. Looking fantastic now and ready for an ebay outing I think if it stops being stupidly quite soon. Quietest time I have ever had on ebay which sucks as I go on holiday in 2 weeks! I am sure that has not been making me very cheery! Next coat I could get on as my arms are too butch but it has a really pretty fit around bust and made of a floral brocade.

Salt and Pepper Sets

Retro sets of salt and pepper shakers always catch my eye, even though I probably will never use them as like the grinder jobbys but they look so pretty!

Spiced Honey Iced Bunny Biscuits

So these are my new experiment, needing a break from the chocolate chips. I know its not Easter but they are for Holly at work and we have rabbits at work so its themed. Had a little gingerbread man one but kept decapitating them when cutting out the dough.

Hope you all had a lovely week, and thank for all your kind comments on my last post, really cheered me up! Thank you so much!

For more thrifty finds check out the weekly blogs of:
Sophie @ Her Library Adventures on Flea Market Sunday
Erica @ Fashion Recycled on Thrifty Friday
MissieLizzie @ Me and My Shadow on Magpie Monday
See you there and thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cookie Therapy

I'm a pretty quiet person, I don't know many people over here in Australia- some might call it anti social, but when I have a problem it means I don't have many people to whinge to about it, which sucks when aspects of your life are going down the pan when others are going so well. Its pretty easy to slide into a bit of a depressive state however have found a much more creative way of dealing with feeling crap. Cookie therapy-sounds a bit like an excuse to stuff my face, and your not totally wrong, but its more my search to understand baking the perfect cookie. Although my partner could not give 2 hoots, my work colleagues have been gobbling them up and loving them -I miss people who appreciate my baking! Its always fun to have a project but one that you get to eat cookies (and more importantly the dough) is even better.

This is what I look like now.

So I started my search, and first off I tried the classic Nestle Tollhouse recipe which has been tweaked out in various ways to produce slightly different versions. Some recipes used melted butter to help them 'caramalise' when baking. Others chill dough for 24-36 hours but the effect is more or less the same. Check out this blog for a good review of this classic cookie and various twists on it from Cooks Illustrated, New York Times and Alton Browns

They were nice,but much better out the oven, than when had cooled as a bit cakey and dry. The perfect cookie is very dependent on your taste but I was after more of a buttery crunch. I tried a totally different recipe from Nigella which are the ones pictured below. They were quite nice and more crumbly but still cakey. More flour than other Tollhouse based recipes

Nigella Lawsons Cookies

I knew I needed to do something very different. That is when I came across some perfect light airy textured biscuits at the Sunday Markets made from peanut butter and NO EGG. So I took a leap of faith and despite my very un vegan diet researched some egg-less recipes. Now I am getting somewhere.

First batch using oil and no egg came out okay but a tad dry (although can always thin out to taste with a little milk) so the next night tried the same recipe with about 20% more butter and about 50g of melted chocolate. which turned out much better-and lasted well too.
By changing the amount of butter-cookies more moist and greasy, sugar-sweeter, flour-more dry and crumbly, so I will put the recipe I used for this below but can alter the main 3 ingredients to you hearts content as long as final texture not too dry or too soggy.

Egg-less Chocolate Cookies

Heat oven to 180C and line 1-2 trays with grease proof paper-wax side up.

If want to use melted chocolate (optional) put 50g (roughly) of Dark chocolate buttons in a large ceramic bowl on low heat over a small saucepan of water to melt.

190g Plain Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda
Mix these together and set aside

95g Butter 
(softened and suggest whipping first to stop sugar spraying everywhere!)
60g Soft Brown Sugar
30g of Caster Sugar
Whisk in bowl on high until pale and less grainy, then add wet ingredients  (below) whisking after each one.

1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
50g (roughly) of  Melted Dark Chocolate (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons of Vegetable Oil (or egg if prefer instead)

Fold in flour mixture with a spoon- if becomes too dry and crumbly you wont have very flat cookies so add 1-2 tablespoons of milk until a softer texture and can easily roll into balls then flatten into a round cookie shape-but this is down to personal preferences.

Add Chocolate chips to taste-I use about 70g of white chips plus milk to decorate as already had some melted dark chocolate in dough. You can add as much or little as you like, can also add fruit, nuts or whatever you fancy! You can add extra bits on top once on the trays before you bake them to make them look more interesting

Bake for about 10-14 mins (depending on size of cookies) at 180C . I made about 12 cookies from this but can make more can keep dough in balls in the freezer ready to bake fresh.

Allow to cool for a few mins before transferring to a wire rack.

Amounts of things don't matter too much with cookies as long as the final unbaked dough is not too runny or dry-either way they are always better eaten fresh out the oven. I might be trying a little more butter next time but I like my food packed full of calories. I also may try using an egg yolk but not the white.

This has been way more fun than crying on the sofa and feeling sorry for myself- and my cookie baking skills are vastly improved!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Another Addition to Australian Vintage Collection!

This week have been getting more and more excited about my trip back home. Its only 3 weeks away and am already starting to pack my bag. I have all my little trips to Paris with mum and Amsterdam with my mates booked and honestly don't think I have ever done anything so exciting in my life which is weird as I am going home to do what I always used to do. There is something weird about moving across to the other side of the world. It sounds terribly 'cliche' but you do start to know yourself more. However much I love the nice weather and the beaches, I start to know what is important to me, much of which is back home. I have been trying to cut back a little due to holiday but my tactic of offering half of what ever the price was today seemed to pay off for once so could still pick up a few fantastic goodies.

Vintage 80s PRUE ACTON Pure Silk Crochet Dress

This is just gorgeous dress by the legendary Prue Acton. Very pale pink silk with crochet panels and matching belt. I have got so many amazing Australian vintage pieces I was thinking of selling at the same time before I move back-not sure how to go about this one so any ideas appreciated, I am so bad at marketing.

60s Dollyrockers by Sambo Maxi & Cream Velvet Suit

I am not sure if the suit is very me, I quite like the jacket but the velvet is so amazingly soft and its very nicely tailored. Comes with matching skinny trousers that are a little too tiny for my 'well built' (chunky) legs which is a shame else may have tried to jazz it up a little. This Dollyrockers dress was one of my top finds of the day though! 

40s Tweed Wool Wasp Waist Blazer

I like this, may be a bit 'clay pigeon shooting' but I like how English it makes me feel. Love the tailoring too with flare at the back and nice finishing to buttons.

80s Purple Plaid Mini Dress

Getting to the point where if I twist too much I put my back out so its a pain taking these back photos but somethings have such nice little details I have to try and do them justice! I like it when they use patterned fabrics like checks and stripes and have them running in different directions. 

80s Sun Dress and Gym Bag

Having a Miami circa 1988 moment, you either love it or hate it, and if you love it (and not just for a themed party) chances are you were either not born or too young to remember the actual decade.

70s Mexican Felt Embroidered Poncho Cape

Another addition to my Wardrobe-Not far off being able to outfit everyone for my own 'Ugly Betty Party'. I should have cropped this more though, the edge of the camera lens looks like a really creepy set of teeth. Whoops.

For more thrifty finds check out the weekly blogs of:
Sophie @ Her Library Adventures on Flea Market Sunday
Erica @ Fashion Recycled on Thrifty Friday
MissieLizzie @ Me and My Shadow on Magpie Monday
See you there and thanks for stopping by!