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Money & Secondhand Shopping (a rant about Kirstie’s Homemade Home) November 3, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Crafting, Rants, Thrifting.
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People know that I am no stranger to a spot of secondhand shopping. I actively enjoy picking my way through an antique fair, and most of my Saturdays are dedicated to trawling the charity shops in hope of a bargain. I grew up going to car boot sales, and finding a great item of exceptional deal makes me very happy indeed. As such, it was with some anticipation that I settled down in front of the TV last night to watch the new series of Kirstie’s Homemade Home. Last season I pretty much enjoyed it, although Kirstie’s right-wing politics and mind-numbing poshness did get to me a little. Oh, and the fact that despite having amazing azure blue tiles around hern orignal fireplace, and going on and on about original features, she still gutted it and threw them away!

This series, however, I was inflamed. There was this lovely couple in this beautiful house, whom it was easy to tell from the first few minutes weren’t exactly rolling in cash. They were sensible with their money, and rather being applauded for their sensible nature and quest for a good deal, Kirstie proceeded to mock them continually about how tight their purse strings are. Yes Kirstie, because we all know that we are as rich as you are. You know how I can tell that you are rich? Because you pay ridiculous sums of money for absolute crap. Yes, crap.

The thing is, more than anything else, that Kirstie’s unshakeable belief in her own secondhand shopping skills involves watching an entire hour of her buying average quality goods for above the asking prices, and then waxing lyrical about her ensuing brilliance. As someone who knows her stuff, I was watching the lack of haggling and the automatic acceptance of pretty much every item she came across with something that rapidly reached anger. I was incensed! Incensed, inflamed – I’ll be running out of ranty keywords soon!

In essence, my problem with the programme is thus: not everyone has money, and that is nothing to be ashamed of.

Oh, and as for including the snobby woman who will only give deals to those who ask in “the right way” (i.e. not those who offer her a price) – well, I don’t have enough words to express my annoyance. Suffice to say that if you choose to work in an industry like that, it is your responsibility to price you items in a way that ensures you can barter and haggle. It is part of the joy of it, and snobbish idiots who have an attitude about it should really just learn to suck it up and deal.


Sorry guys, I think this programme really annoyed me…


Semi-Daily eBay (Etsy) | Yava Recycled Bottle Glasses May 19, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Semi-Daily eBay, Thrifting.
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glasses made from recycled bottles

Glasses made from recycled bottles

I had to share these gorgeous little glasses with you! I know that we have seen a plethora of recycled bottle glasses hitting the shops over the past few years, but these little tumblers are different. They are cute, retro, and above all else the variety means that they stand out from a crowd. They would have to be kept on display though, to show off their gorgeous looks!

What I Wore | Teal & Capes (& Shoes #7) April 25, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Thrifting, What I Wore.
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I am now the proud owner of a reversible cape. On one side it features the most divine oversized tartan-esque pattern, whilst the other side is a simple mint green. Although I get a lot of looks when I wear it I think I have fallen in love, as it lets me indulge me love of being tucked up and swathed in fabric, whilst giving me spaces for my hands to escape when needs be. I wore this with my cute Faith heels (oh, poor Faith, R.I.P), and my new and perfectly fitting satin Fever dress. So perty!

What I Wore - My Reversible Cape

What I Wore - My Reversible Cape

What I wore - Fever dress and teal faith heels

What I Wore - Fever dress and teal Faith heels


Getting Crafty – Dress Making February 7, 2010

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Crafting, Fashion, Thrifting.
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Whilst there are certain patterns that I love, I don’t really ever make clothes from patterns. The main reason for this is that fabric is very expensive now, and I find it easier and more affordable to buy ready-made items from shops and stalls. What I do like to do, however, is take any opportunity I can find to convert an item of clothing that is old, unloved and out of date into something modern and spectacular. This is cheap, generally, as well as saving things from ending up on a rubbish dump.

Today I decided I was going to turn a horribly shaped 80’s dress into something that suited my body shape a lot more. To begin, off came the baggy loose top, and I hemmed it up. The skirt, which is gorgeous and pleated, was then converted into a dress by carefully stitching on a ribbon, and then adding a flat panel into the back. As I thought, the pleats mean the top section expands and thus bunches, so next week I will probably replace it with a white bust.

Anyway, what do you think?

Hand made pleated dress

Hand made Pleated Dress

The Dress Cometh! September 7, 2009

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Fashion, Thrifting, Vintage.
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We had a fantastic dinner last night – a full blown roast followed by my newly patented flat scones. The roast was yummy (I do cook quite a mean roast!) and the scones… well, the scones were flat. So I now call them scone biscuits, and they are really surprisingly nice! As long as I never address them as scones, no-one needs to know they were a fail…

Woohoo – the dress has arrived! My 1930’s dress is in fact 1950’s – it has a back zip! However, it is at least Art Deco style, and I am much happier in a skirt that is more 1920’s length than it should! In short, the dress is stunning, needs a little work, and will look close enough to 1930’s fashion once I add the white stole, cute gloves, and some art deco jewellery.

My beautiful 1930s (1950s) dress!

My beautiful 1930s (1950s) dress!

I also just won my auction for a cute little dressing table/desk – which will be repainted and inhabit “my corner” in the new flat. Its interior is lovely!! I got it for a bargain £15!!

Little Dressing Table with Tortoiseshell Interior

Little Dressing Table with Tortoiseshell Interior

What do you think?!

1930’s Hairstyles, and Antique Furniture September 5, 2009

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Life, Chatter & Politics, Thrifting, Vintage.
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Yesterday evening was spent at Cie’s testing out 1930’s finger waves, drinking pink fizz and generally using any excuse for a good old gossip. You can read her account of the beautiful hosting she did and the see the pictures here. I think with my bob (ish) length hair, I can go for a typically 1930’s do with reasonably little problem! I plan, just for your information, to french plait my hair in the morning to make it wavy throughout, then put finger waves into the front – it worked OK on our first ever attempt yesterday, so I am quite optimistic!

Today was a long day, one of those ones that seem to stretch out into the distance and take one hell of a lot of effort to get through. That said, we did achieve something – I bought a lovely vintage Bakelite and leather(ish) purse from a Charity shop, ironed by Christian Lacroix dress (photo’s to follow) and found a dining table and chairs for the new flat.

The chair and the table were quite a bargain – the chairs have a lovely art nouveau-esque style and the table is delightfully solid and antique looking. To be honest, even though my father restores furniture, I am not sure of the era – but for £99 they were quite a bargain!

6 chairs (tw with arms) and the big table (middle leaf removed so it fits in the flat!)

6 chairs (two with arms) and the big table (middle leaf removed so it fits in the flat!)

The lovely woodwork on the antique chair!

The lovely woodwork on the antique chair!

The lovely brocade fabric

The lovely brocade fabric

Vintage 1930’s Fashion August 28, 2009

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Fashion, Thrifting, Vintage.
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As you may have noticed, talk about the 1930’s has been slipping into my blog posts for the past week. The reason? There is a lovely vintage 1930’s party taking place on a boat in London, and I am going to it. Myself, Cie, Kate and Nommi will be traipsing down south following our Sew Make Believe sewing day on the 12th, and getting ready for a night of vintage 1930’s cabaret, 30’s fashion, dancing and cocktails  at St Katharine Docks.

Obviously I can’t wait, and all the boring bits are done – we have booked the accommodation, bought the tickets, and all that was left to do was to get our heads around 1930’s fashion. Thankfully, the 1930’s was every party goers dream era. The dresses were long, elegant and often cut from satin. The newly introduced 1930’s bias cut draped and clung around hips, and the new popular halterneck was sweeping traditional fashion off the floor. Of course, the 30’s was quite a long time ago now, and a majority of those beautiful 1930’s evening gowns have simple died. Fabric doesn’t age well, and their fondness for lace meant that the antique dresses and beautiful designs they were so well known for have often not lasted for 80 odd years.

Thankfully, however, some have. Most of the 1930’s dresses were too expensive for me, being as they are antiques made from the most luxurious of materials. The floor length ballgowns and astonishing suits were well beyond my meagre price range! Thankfully, however, near obsessive searching has paid off, and I now own a slightly damaged but gorgeous 1930’s art deco party gown. It is short, coming to on the knees or just below, and is much more me that some of the overly formal dresses out there. I have to fix the little holes – but for £22 including delivery from the US, I am sure I can manage it!

Here it is:

1930's hollywood art deco party gown

Isn’t it adorable?!

If you’re going for a sleek vintage look, complete with elegant dresses or gowns, why not go the extra mile? Add some gorgeous accessories for an extra perk. Find affordable loose diamonds, or anything else you desire, from your home computer.

Semi-Daily eBay | Keeping with the 30’s theme August 27, 2009

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Semi-Daily eBay, Thrifting, Vintage.
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As the SS Atlantica event is dominating my social calendar at the moment, I have spent most of the past few weeks browsing eBay for beautiful 1930’s dress and luxurious art deco gowns. Of course, as 1930’s dresses to buy aren’t actually that common, it has been a bit of an uphill struggle to find one I can afford. I mean, when you think about it, they are antiques, the 30’s dresses that have survived up to 80 years whilst still remaining wearable!

One of the most lovely 1930’s beauties I have found is this gorgeous silk brocade 1930’s evening gown. It is so long and flowing, and just tumbles to the ground in true 1930’s glamour. Unfortunately it is far too much for me! But some lucky individual will look absolutely stunning in it!

gold brocase 1930's dress

Primark thoughts August 23, 2009

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Fashion, Life, Chatter & Politics, Thrifting.
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Well, I have had quite a nice weekend. Friday night was spent looking after Ben’s cat at home, who was desperate for a little love having been staying at the vet whilst his owners have been on holiday. He spent most of the night on our bed, alternating between standing affectionately on my chest, accidentally getting whiskers in my nose and eyes, and head butting me for attention. Being the wildly broody individual that I am, I loved it!

Yesterday night was spent out in Leamington for a friends birthday, which was actually really good fun. For the first time in a long time, I ended up rather brilliantly drunk in a totally happy way, had what I am sure is the most delicious and fantastic chicken burger with cheese in the world at three in the morning, and was introduced to the sweaty dark horror that is Leamington’s biggest nightclub. I have never been that much of a clubber, so we didn’t stick around in there for long. I prefer, you see, to be able to sit and chat – and in a wild club that is (no joke) called Smack, there was no chance of that!

smack leamington

Anyway, I had time this weekend to do my usual charity shop shopping, and noticed something a little odd. The majority of the fashion items on the shelves that caught my eye were by Primark. The name “Atmosphere” was simply everywhere, and all the pretty items seemed to be under that name. Of course, the were all priced at more than they would ever cost in Primark new, but the point remains!

So why does this astonishingly cheap shop seem to produce some of the most beautiful items out there? The quality may be dodgy, but they are definitely spot on the money with the good looks!

My theory, should you want to hear it, is pretty simple. Primark produce items inspired by current trends – but most importantly, it make stunning vintage inspired dresses. Primark seems to be the only brand that has realised the value of vintage looks in the retail market. After all, these looks have already lasted for generations – and they are classic styles that not only are massively popular with current shoppers, but have been and will be popular for years!

Primark – hats off to you! I may not buy your goods in charity shops – but I can do nothing but salute your unexpected ability to produce good looks!

Pretty Things August 8, 2009

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Thrifting.
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Inspired by Cie’s lovely post, I thought I would share some of my beautiful things with you. Not my gifts, but little and beautiful items that I have collected in the past few weeks and months.

As the daughter of an antique dealer, I was always aware that somewhere down the line my inner aesthetic values would start to hold forth. You can read an interview I did with him a few months ago here. I have put up with generic plates, boring IKEA bowls and ugly mugs, but now I am starting to collect pretty things. Some, such as the tea cups, will decorate my house in the future – despite being resigned to the window sill thanks to rather restricted space at present. Others, like my lovelycasserole dish and the 60’s plates I am avidly collecting, will be used in my day to day life. Bear in mind I live with Ben – who loves modern touches and flashy pads more than anything even vaguely traditional!

I love them all!

tea cup and tea time plate

First is the latest addition to my collection, picked up at a charity shop in town. It is lovely, and so perfectly designed to hold crustless cucumber sandwiches at tea time that I wish I drank hot drinks! The colour is great, and is currently inspiring my Kitchen dreams!

sqaure angled cup and saucer and plate

Secondly, some of you may remember this from a blog post a good few months ago. This is a set up picked up on a trip home to tavistock, and I was struck first by the shape. The floral yet modern design is stunning and very unusual.If I could get hold of a whole set of these I would love to display them, but all I have is this and a bowl.

midwinter casserole dish

I love my Midwinter casserole dish! This beauty is one of the items I long to use – it seems pointless if it isn’t used as once intended! The problem is that you don’t often use a dish like this is you don’t have a table to eat off – and in our studio, laps are the table of the day. I plan to use this lovely china when in a bigger location with an actual table to be social at and eat at!








Finally, two of my lovely cups and saucers. Some of you may disagree (and I can understand), but I love these two precisely because theyare understated, in beautiful muted colours. I hope that one day I will have light airy rooms with gentle colour schemes – and that these beauties will have pride of place. There is something so lovely about cups and saucers – aesthetically pleasing, and so full of variety!