gifts from the thrift

How is the first official week of winter treating you? (Game of Thrones fans will get the reference here….)


Here is some vegetable bunting I made for the kitchen because….well, just because:


Here’s some stuff from the op-shop lately. (I buy most of my clothes from the op-shop also, but they aren’t all that exciting to photograph.) The sweet, the curious and the plain old strange have come my way…

Something about this wee vintage dog appealed to me – the way he is obviously such a good dog and his face is on that angle of appealing to a person standing near….also he is standing on the tucker box – guarding it, or wanting to eat it’s contents…?




New (to-me) art for the wall – an American Jay bird. I love the pencil of the foliage and the way only the bird is coloured. This is on wood and has a kind of enameled or something surface. Quite unusual.


A Holly Hobbie tile, mounted on wood. This will go to one of the manifold little girls in my life.


Not op-shopped, but these two sweeties were being thrown out when Fraser’s grandfather moved house, so I duly rescued them.


Finally, a strange little mushroom man. Yes, I am aware that he is quite penile in appearance…I think this is partly what appealed. He’s like a wee fertility totem! 🙂


This is why I love op-shopping – the randomness, the chance – you just never know what you might uncover. It really is a treasure hunt.




beach house interior – 1960s, with a wartime flashback

Friends of ours were staying in a bach at Waikanae beach and we visited them for the day. The bach belonged to a friend of theirs and was built by her Dad in the 1960s. The interior was fabulous and looked like it hadn’t been changed over the last 50 years, plus there were two great World War Two signs on the wall – I especially love the one about butter rationing. I love the way baches are often like time capsules. I once stayed in bach on Lake Tekapo which was a time capsule to the 1950s – candlewick bedspreads, old tins, even the newspaper on the walls of the long-drop was from the 50s.

Such great wallpapers! So much more interesting than the neutral on neutral which dominates our modern interiors. Here’s a bunch of photographs I took of the place:











reality check at the vintage clothing sale


I went to a vintage clothing sale recently and had a lot of fun time-travelling through the decades as I looked through the racks. One thing really struck me though – the majority of the clothing was 1980s! Shoulder padded, two-toned, inverse triangle shaped, taffeta ball gowns….80s, 80s, 80s! And a bit of 90s. Which makes perfect sense, of course, because the 1980s are now 20+ years ago. It made me feel kind of old, however, as when I first started op-shopping – the ‘retro’ clothing was from the 50s, 60s, 70s, with majority of stuff from the 1970s. It was still possible to find an incredible 1950s cotton sundress or silk evening dress. This is extremely rare these days.

So much of the 1980s fashion is just not that attractive! While a fifties circle skirt has a timeless appeal, a 1980s two-tone cotton overall with massive baggy pockets? Well, it’s ‘quite a look’ as one of my friends says. (Translation: ‘What the hell is that person WEARING?’)

My favourite era for vintage is the 1970s and I guess that is because I was a child then so I have a lot of nostalgia for polyester evening dresses, silver floor length skirts, shirts with extremely pointy collars, floral velveteens, Laura Ashley-style cotton sun-dresses…..*happy sigh*

I didn’t end up finding anything for myself at the sale, although I did find a couple of great things for a friend. I did, however, find the above polyester dress at the op-shop recently.

Some people hate polyester and I understand that. It feels weird and plastic-y if you aren’t used to it. But here are some reasons I love vintage polyester – it keeps it’s colour, doesn’t fade, it is extremely easy-care – you can treat it mean in the laundry room and it keeps on bouncing back. It dries super-fast – twenty minutes on the line and it’s good to go, and you never, never, never have to iron it! It’s true that polyester doesn’t feel that nice against the skin, but you can get around that by sticking to polyester skirts, or wearing cotton singlets under dresses.

I’ve been wearing 1970s polyester skirts and frocks since the 1980s. I guess I always will, until there are no more 1970s artefacts to be found.


two books with vintage in the titles

A friend lent me these two delicious books lately and I’ve just finished reading them:

‘Minxy Vintage: How to customise and wear vintage clothing’ by Kelly Doust (RRP $55) and ‘The A Vintage Tea Party Book: a complete guide to hosting your perfect tea party’ by Angel Adoree. (RRP $40).

Here’s what I thought:


Australian Kelly Doust has written craft books before this one. You can read more about her HERE.

Like her craft books, this book is squarely aimed at beginners. She writes a bit at the start of the book persuading the reader that vintage is worth shopping for and wearing, so if you are already a second-hand shopper…this stuff won’t be of much relevance. Seasoned ‘vintage’ shoppers will not learn much from this book, but it is worth a read for the ‘eye candy’ of the beautiful vintage dresses she has in her collection. Rather than being a ‘how to’ book, it’s more like a very detailed tour of Kelly Doust’s own vintage collection, with some commentary on how she mended or altered the items so that they met their potential. This part of the book was great for reminding me that it is worth buying things that need mending or altering, as sometimes I get into a phase of not wanting to buy things which need work.

There are a lot of photographs of Kelly in the book – Kelly shopping, Kelly dancing, Kelly drinking tea, Kelly riding a scooter…. so the book  about Kelly as much as about vintage clothing. Personally, I found this a little excessive. Kelly’s taste in vintage is all about elegance, glamour and there is a lot of formal/evening wear. My tastes in vintage are more earthy, punky/hippy and about comfortable day-wear, so while I really enjoyed reading this book and soaking in the beautiful photographs, it isn’t one I’ve added to my wish-list. If you love collecting and wearing glamourous 40s/50s/60s vintage, you will get more out of the book than I did, but it is a good ‘eye-candy’ read.


Angel Adoree runs a Vintage Tea Party catering company in London. You can read more about her HERE.

This is a beautifully designed and very fun book, featuring delightful photography, wonderful elaborate illustrations (like foxes in evening gowns!) and interactive things like a Queen Elizabeth stencil, and templates of invitations and thank-you notes for colour photocopying and many other craft projects, of varying degrees of silliness!

She covers all elements of the perfect Vintage Tea Party from the china and table settings, to personal vintage style (how to do victory rolls in your hair, vintage clothing and make-up, men’s grooming, and there are patterns for vintagey aprons!). The photographs of vintage china and ephemera are simply stunning.

A ‘Tea Party’ suggests afternoon tea, but Angel is firm that a tea party can be at any time of day and so there are recipes for Brunch, Afternoon Tea and Evening Tea Parties. There is also a section on drinks, hot and cold. I admit I found many of the recipes sort of fussy and some more than a little silly….(bunting butties? lollipop jam sandwiches? mushroom aspic loaves??) but this book is really about fantasy rather than practicality so I’m not sure it matters (which might be a strange thing to say about a recipe book, but really this is so much more than a recipe book.)

This book is so much fun! I would probably not cook from it, but I really enjoyed reading it and it is very inspiring. As you read, you get deeply immersed in Angel’s world of high-camp fantasy…and it is a colourful and happy place to be!

this week

I had the best cafe breakfast EVER – avocado mashed with feta and mint on sourdough toast with a poached egg on top, at Tomato Cafe:

I DIDN’T buy these things from the op-shop:

Horse fire-guard. I love these gothy horses…but I don’t have a fire that needs guarding…

Gorgeous Magnolia plate….but $25?? C’mon, op-shops, please stop that grandiose pricing:

I’m loving taking photographs of stuff in op-shops, instead of buying them! I get to ‘keep’ the discovery…without the loss of cash or the clutter. I think a big part of the joy of op-shopping for me is just spotting cool old stuff, so snapping a picture is often thrill enough.

I did buy this wonderful handknitted deer jersey, though:

I pulled all my Penguin Classics from their various hiding places and put them in a pile. Just because. Some are originals and some are recent reproductions.

I worked a lot on my journal project – I have a (self-imposed) deadline for this because I want to enter it into a competition, so the pace is picking up a bit:

& just because it’s winter, it doesn’t mean salads can’t be pretty – winter greens, parsley, radish and calendula petal salad from my garden:

As well as that, my oldest son turned 12, which feels like one of those significant ages because next birthday means the teenage stage begins…causing me all kinds of nostalgia/melancholia/emotional-wrenching…..and also some cake-making and happy birthday party throwing.

Hope you have a good, warm, inspiring week. X

indoor plant life

I had this idea about myself that I couldn’t do indoor plants, after killing off a few African violets and cyclamens…but then one friend gave me some unkillable mother-in-law’s tongue and another friend gave me a cutting off her giant begonia which is now growing in my living room window like a triffid so I got my indoor plant confidence back a little…

…then at the op-shop last week I spotted these wonderful 1970s kitchen canisters (they came with wooden lids). I didn’t really need more canisters, though, and I thought they would make very cool planters. I went to the garden centre and got these tiny house plants for $2 each:

That fired me up and then I remembered a 70s pottery drippy green shallow planter a friend had given me – so I potted up some ‘baby tears’ fern.

And then I potted a cutting of a friend’s aloe vera plant in this pretty vase? cup? handmade thing I op-shopped a long time ago because I liked the flower motif on it…but hadn’t really used much. The aloe-vera is on my kitchen window for instant aid for cooking burns! (Of which I suffer many – I have so many grill burns on my hands, they are stripy and it almost looks intentional.)

Now I just hope I can keep them all alive – if they die I will go back to my indoor-planting self-doubting ways. My friend who is an expert indoor-plant grower – her house is like a jungle- tells me indoor plants usually die of over-watering, not under….so I will restrain myself on the watering front and see if that’s the trick!