Friday, 30 September 2011

What I did today.....

One of the absolute best things about being self employed is being able to take time off when you want too - and not when someone says that you can (or can't!). Today I did exactly that!
Last month, Michael took some days off so that we could do something nice, bike rides, days out that kind of thing. Know what we did? Nothing! The weather was so dire we ended up staying in hiding from it, ugh. One of the things that we had planned to do, was go for a bike ride along the canal tow path, which my friend Jo had recommended to us months ago. As we knew a few days ago that we were in for a mini heatwave, Michael booked a flexi-day and I took this afternoon off and we FINALLY got to do the towpath cycle route. It was totally worth the wait!
One of the bridges along the path, isn't it pretty?
Michael cycling. Note fab very empty path - it was pretty much like this the whole way :))
Me cycling! On my hideous Barbie pink mountain bike that I've had for years.
Still, does the job!
Lovely narrowboats moored up on the other side
How tranquil? You can even see a swan in the distance
And the best bit of the bike ride? We started and finished at Fredericks Ice Cream shop (its on the A6 in Chorley for local peeps) - so finished off the day with a yummy ice cream! I had honeycomb :)
(you know, because I didn't eat enough crap yesterday! he he)

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Afternoon tea? Don't mind if I do!

At the moment in the UK we are having a mini heatwave, which is unexpected and a little strange for this time of year but rather nice at the same time!
I had planned for ages that today I would go in to Manchester with my sister, Elaine, and that we would go for a look round the shops, and for afternoon tea. The weather just made a lovely day all the much better!
Todays outfit: Black vest, Topshop. Black leather flats with bow, Sainsburys Supermarket, Bakelite cherry necklace from Bakelite Baby on Etsy.
Flamingo print skirt, £18, Roobys. Isn't this skirt fabulous?! Its handmade and has a wide Obi style waistband that ties in a huge bow at the side. There are loads of nice fabrics and styles on the site so well worth checking out!
We had a good wander round sunny Manchester for a few hours, I even bought a few Xmas presents (sssshhhhhh!) and then we headed to the rather grand  'The Sculpture Hall Cafe' in Manchester Town Hall for our afternoon tea.
**The following photos were taken on my camera phone, so apologies that the quality is not so good....
Afternoon tea is served! This is the first time that I have actually had a proper traditional 3 tier afternoon tea. 
Top tier - Sandwiches. We had actually eaten a layer before I took this! There were carrot and houmous and egg and cress (which I ate) and roast beef and roast ham (which Elaine ate)
Layer 2 - Home made scones with butter, cream, jam and strawberries....mmmmmmm
Layer 3 - more cakes! ha ha! From left; Bakewell Tart, Banoffee Pie, Chocolate mousse in Chocolate shell, and Banana and walnut loaf. All served with a very large pot of tea, that we got 4 cups out of each!
And my view from where we were sitting. 
Manchester Town Hall is very gothic inside - stunning! Shame you are not allowed to walk around most of it as its for employees only! 

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

London Tattoo Convention

This weekend just gone, I went down to London to see my friend Kate and to go to the London Tattoo Convention. I've wanted to go for a few years now, so booked my train tickets in advance this year to make sure that I did! What a show! It was brilliant. So many amazing artists, inspirational artwork and fabulous people watching with great bands and tempting stalls to boot. We went for the start of the day on Sunday and stayed until it was closing time. Here are some photos of the day;
Cool artwork on the programme
Outside the event as we arrived at Tobacco Dock
Fab stalls. This one sold engraved wooden things with Mexican themed imagery on it - awesome!
Tattooists at work. This booth (Spider Murphy's from California) had the most amazing Flash book for sale. I soooooo wanted it but it was £115, and VERY heavy!
And the traditional Tatu Tappers at work. 
This looks extremely painful - but the work it results in is amazing
Me, Nicola and Kate taking a sunshine break on the dockside
Bums! he he! The line up for the Traditional Japanese Bodysuit comp.
And Vince Ray and the Boneshakers played in the Voodoo Crypt, yay!
We saw so many artists at work, from all over the world. We saw people getting their necks tattooed (the guys eyeballs were popping out!), someone was having their forehead tattooed - he had a massive crowd! and lots of people in a variety of positions having all sorts of body parts tattooed. Fascinating! We spent hours looking through flash books and watching artists at work and getting inspired for my work, and my next tattoo! There was of course also some stalls -  most of which were brimming with things that I wanted to buy! I had set aside a bit of treat money for my trip and this is what I bought.....
Sailor top from Collectif - £15 (in the sale)
Tattooed Russian Doll Vest from Sacred Stitches - £8 (in the sale). I have a few of their things. They hand screen them in the UK and I'm always happy to support small UK businesses!
Sewing print shirt - £20 (sample rail) from UK label Limb
And a close up of the print! Isn't it super cute?! Limb is kind of  a UK version of US label Trashy Diva - they hand make their clothes to vintage style patterns in really beautiful fabrics. 
They are pretty expensive (out of my budget!) but thank goodness for Sample Rails eh?!
Sugar Skull Socks - £4 
I had to have these!
And finally, some red glitter nail varnish. £2.99 from Barry M.
 I've been wanting some of this since I saw a girl with a fab manicure at an alternative and burlesque fair that I did a few weeks ago. She had red glitter nails, with silver glitter half moons! Will be giving that a go for sure :)
All in all, a great weekend, roll on next year!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Potato cakes - the perfect Autumnal comfort food!

Today, I made potato cakes. They are one of the easiest things to make, and great for using up leftover mashed potato, but mostly delicious and comforting food for when the weather gets chilly - like now!
Variations of the potato cake are made all over the world, and you may know it better as a potato scone, potato pancake or griddle cake. I am making the North West UK Version of course - available in many local bakeries as a savory breakfast or lunchtime snack.
The best thing about these, is that there is no measuring required!

You will need:
-Cold mashed potato (seasoned to your taste with salt, pepper, butter and milk etc.). However much or little you have leftover will do!
- Plain flour
-Butter for greasing
-Solid Flat metal baking tray

Method -
Its best to decide you are making these the night before - and so if you are having potatoes or mashed potatoes for your evening meal, you can add a few extra in the pan so you have some leftover for potato cake making. Prepare the mash as you would normally, to your own taste. I add salt, pepper, butter and milk.
Leave to cool, then refrigerate overnight in a covered bowl

When you are ready to make your potato cakes, firstly pre-heat your oven to 200c (390f), then simply tip out the cold mash into a bowl, and start to add a heaped dessert spoon of flour at a time:
 Mix in the flour first with the spoon, then with your hands as it becomes more dough like. By only adding one spoon at a time, you get the right amount for your mashed potato. Its ready when it has a dough-like consistancy, but is still a bit sticky. It should not be dry and should roll easily into a ball like this:
Potato dough! 
Next grease your flat based solid metal baking tray with some butter. I just used my (clean!) hand
It is important to use a flat, solid metal based baking tray, and not one of the mesh ones, or ones with holes in, or not to put it on foil - as the metal will seal and crisp each side.
Then split your dough into palm sized balls
And press into rounds (ish!) with your hands. No need to be precise, its more rustic that way! They should be around 1 - 1.5cm thick.
Then put on a middle baking shelf, and bake for 20 minutes.
After 20 mins, take them out and flip over on the other side. You will see how the underside has sealed and crisped up :) Return to the oven for a further 20 mins.
Ta Da! Eat warm with a knob of butter, delicious! 
Surplus cakes can be stored wrapped up in the fridge for a few days, and simply reheated by popping in the toaster! You can also freeze them, but I can guarantee that they wont last that long :)

Monday, 19 September 2011

Magazine Queen!

When the postman came today, I was thrilled to hear the loud slap of my Skin Deep Tattoo Magazine on the front mat. You see, I've always been a complete magazine addict, ever since being a kid. I don't know what it is, but I can just imagine lounging on the sofa with a nice cup of tea, while leafing through my magazine, and I know I will feel happy and relaxed when I'm doing this. Its my escape and some 'me time' in my often hectic schedule that is self employment!
I was very lucky as a child that I was allowed a magazine each week, or month (depending on if it was weekly or monthly). I used to be desperate for magazine morning to arrive, and couldn't wait to get home to get my head stuck in it! Here are the things that I have read over the years......
My first ever comic was The Beano! You were either a Dandy reader, or a Beano reader - and I was definitely Beano! May have been something to do with the free toffee bars on the front that I remember quite frequently?! I was such a Tomboy, so this suited me so well! And look at the price - just 14p!
I then progressed onto 'Mandy for Girls' - again, a comic but more girly!
The next magazine I got - for AGES was called Hi! But I cant find any pictures of it! It was pretty similar to 'Blue Jeans' that I progressed on to anyway. Its funny because I can actually remember this cover on this magazine, a snip at 22p! I used to like the posters you got with things like Blue Jeans, Hi! and Jackie. This one had Brother Beyond and Matt Goss, which would have certainly gone on my wall :)
They also had photo stories - remember them? I used to love them!
Which brings me on to 'My Guy' - absolutely full of cheesy photo stories about school and going out with boys! Sadly, I don't think they make these any more. Today's teens are missing out!
I then started reading Just Seventeen - which my mum wasn't very happy about as I wasn't 17!!! 
Look at how young Kiefer looks here! 
I then became music obsessed and got Select - which was all about Indie and alternative music, and usually came with huge posters and a free tape. A tape!! ha ha!
I think after Select, I became old enough that the free magazines stopped and I had to buy my own!
And over the adult years, I have read all sorts of things, buying at least a weekly or a monthly or two each and every month, though I didn't subscribe to anything until I moved into my own house. 
I have always got to read double the amount of magazines that I buy too, as my friend Jo and I have always done magazine swaps. Jo gets Marie Claire and Glamour, which I swap with her when I've read my magazines.I'll also pick up Grazia or Company when they have it on offer for £1, which is quite often!
I dread to think the amount of money that I've spent over the years on Magazines, but as I said earlier, its my little treat, and way of escaping for a bit. 
As I have worked in Fashion for 7 years, its also important for me to keep up to date with current trends and colours. When I worked for Underground Shoes in the design team, we used to get about 20 glossy fashion, alternative culture and lifestyle magazines a month. It was H E A V E N as we were allowed to take them home to read, bliss! I do miss that. I think we worked out how much getting the 20 magazines cost per month once. A lot! Many of them were imported from Japan and the States. I did keep a few of the Japanese ones as I loved them so much - Kera, which is a Gothic Lolita/Fruits magazine.
Obviously I couldn't read any of it, but the pictures were awesome.
 I think I'll go and dig out my old copies when I've finished this post!
At present, I subscribe to two magazines - and they couldn't be more different from one another! Firstly, I get Easy Living which is a bit of a home/lifestyle/interiors magazine aimed at 30 somethings. They have great articles and recipes and nice home stuff and product reviews.
and the other one, as mentioned earlier is Skin Deep Tattoo Magazine. The best tattoo mag in my opinion. I love tattoos, and its all inspiration for Dolly Cool, so I count this one as business expense too!
I also like reading the YOU magazine, free with the Mail on Sunday - which my sister saves for me, and The Stylist, which is a free magazine that they give out at the train station, that Jo passes on to me.
And then of course, there are the 'scene' magazines such as Milkcow and Vintage Life
and craft/creative magazines such as Mollie Makes.
I really could go on and on! So, you could say that I'm a bit obsessed really.
 Does anyone else love reading magazines? Which ones do you like? :)

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Some recent vintage buys - a fabulous initial pin & some Bakelite!

Anyone who is a regular reader of my blog will know that I am a collector of vintage costume jewellery. In general, I only wear my own Dolly Cool pieces, and vintage costume pieces too. I don't really care for modern 'shop bought' jewellery! I don't really like metal jewellery either as it usually brings me out in a rash, so its vintage plastics all the way for me! How did I go for so many years without owning Bakelite?!
I have picked up a few fab bits over the last few months, from Etsy, that I thought I would share with you.
First up is this Bakelite cherry necklace.....I was soooo excited when I saw this!
Normally, original pieces go for $100's - however, this necklace is made from an original celluloid chain, and original Bakelite beads, but is newly put together. I got it from BakeliteBaby on Etsy. Rebecca, who owns BakeliteBaby has been collecting, and working with vintage Bakelite for around 10 years and she has some great original pieces, things she has created from vintage pieces (like this), and original vintage deadstock components - all at very reasonable prices. My cherry necklace was $49.50. The cherries are lovely and heavy, hang really well and make that Bakelite 'clunk' noise when they touch each other. It pretty much lives on my neck since I got it!
I also got this Bakelite Scotty Cabochon from BakeliteBaby - he was just $10 and I glued on my own brooch  pin :)
Speaking of brooches, I am building up my initial pin collection and could not believe it when I found this lovely vinatge mother of pearl swallow with a 'C' initial on the scroll work! Hooray! This was $15 from TangoMouseandMe on Etsy.
And I also got this vintage deadstock lucite confetti clamper from RaimentRevival for just $12.50! The reason it was on sale is because it is actually a child's bracelet. It even came in its original 'To A Little Miss' box! This is good news for me as I have teeny tiny wrists (just 5.5" in circumference, yes really!) so it fits me perfectly :)
I do love shopping on Etsy, you really can find some awesome stuff!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Dolly is in Mollie (Makes!)

Hurrah! I've been very lucky with my press in the last few months, and I am so thrilled to be featured in the lovely new craft magazine that is Mollie Makes.
Its a UK publication, that is currently on issue 5, and if you love crafting and thrifting then you must go and get yourself a copy! I think that they now ship internationally, are beginning to get stocked overseas and you can also order a digital copy, too. There is always a cute ready-to-make free craft project on the front, and the content is full of craft tips, inspiring designer/makers and inside creative homes. Its printed on that lovely touchy-feely matt thick paper too and is a real quality magazine.
The cover - check out those super-cute crochet peas!!
Mollie Makes kindly featured my Hello Sailor Pin (also available as a hair clip), priced at £7 with free worldwide p&p. Here is the article (click to enlarge);