Sunday, 27 February 2011

Stratton micraclean compact

During the 1950s, the age of invention, there was an attempt to introduce a device to save the appearance of mucky powder compact mirrors. While most of my compacts are empty, there's always the speckles and dusty marks of the powder left as a trace over the mirror. To counteract this occurrence, to save the lady from having to clean and re-clean the mirror, a simple bar was added to the sides of the compact, a bar which moved up and down with the movement of the opening and closing of the compacts lid. These felt backed bars was originally advertised around 1952 onwards, with a larger version later introduced in 1956. 

Until my parents came home with this compact as a present for me when they were on holiday up in Fife in Scotland, I'd never heard of any such device that could cleaned a mirror in this manner. Never was  it an easy task trying to find any source of information on the internet, and what was available could only make up pretty much one sentence. From this lack of information alone, one could assume that the micraclean bar was something of a flop - then again it was appearing just before the decade in which powder compacts were on the verge of decline, only to be replaced with the more throw-away powder bases we're so use to today.

Designed by Straton, this compact is very much of its 1950s era - very understated, sleek and practical. The top is embedded with rows of lines - very much like a bar code, its top tight shutting. It came complete with an unused well and it's original puff marked with the Stratton logo and pinked stiffer.

It's a reminder of the era compacts where trying to still be inventive and fight back against consumerism, its a shame they didn't win.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

YORK: Cliffords Tower

I heard on the old local news how Clifford's Tower in York was the one local attraction that had increased it's visitor numbers in the past year. Figures showed that the tower was up 3 per cent in visitor footfall which is worth considering especially against the National Railway Museum a place me and Joe loved messing around playing like children at was down 16 per cent during the same period. So I thought was the perfect excuse to post some of the happy pictures from when me and Joe was there seeing I kind of gave up blogging around the same time.

Even at night the tower is worth a look especially when its all lit up like this.

The site upon which the now only the ruins of Clifford's Tower stands became the principle site for defending the city of York, especially against anti Norman attacks and later continued to play a crucial role in serving as the royal seat for governmental control during the medieval period. If you want to see York was a different view Clifford's Tower offers a totally different 360 degrees picture of the city and for £3.50 per person adult price it's more then worth a look-see. After a steep trawl up some stone steps you can climb up to the top of the tower and walk around three quarters of the top - from which you can see from brilliant view of the city from the Minster, to hills and Moors in the distance. On a sunny day the sights are glorious.

The only thing that is slightly lacking about the tower is there's nothing else much to really see - apart from the views and a couple of boards to read, that's all and a tiny shop so don't expect huge touristy things to see and do.


Belts over clothes - is it something only tall or skinny or no boobed people can pull off? I've seen around on the net how it's the prefect way to create yourself an hour glass figure - that's if you haven't got one already. But what happens if you already do have that figure or your small or you have boobs - can you still wear your belt over your clothes with pride?! Or is it a trend, people of all shapes and sizes should stay clear of? I've heard both opinions.

I'm a curvy girl and i've tended towards using the belt over clothes look. Not over everything - haven't over coats and only a few over cardis - i'm more likely to tend to opt for this if i'm wearing a dress or a skirt. But I definitely op for wearing a belt over a pretty top. My mam, she likes to get her thoughts involved, says I wear said belts too high - I sit them against my ribs - just under my boobs what's the preferred blogging terminology for boobs?! Rather then drawing your eyes towards my chest I always think having the belt there is like having an pendant necklace or wearing a v shaped top - it attracts your eyes elsewhere.

Dress - Yumi
Cardi - New Look
Belt - New Look (brought in a sale for £2 baaargin)
Necklace - H and M

A good or a bad look?

Being an hourglass/curvy shape naturally I often feel a bit drowned out by some clothes out there. they'll fit perfectly on the top, but they'll just floppily hang off my chest or so it seems, or they just seem helplessly shapeless in to start with. Adding the belt just tightens and pulls the fabric in enough to flatter and recreate what I naturally have.

But what's your take on the belts over clothes debate?

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


I can be a sucker for hair styling products and i've been eyeing up various sea salt, tousled, beach look tagged products for a while. While in Superdrug the other day I came across their expertise shop version of the Sea Salt Spray for £2.39ish I thought it would be worth a try for while i'm away - save on having to properly straighten it every day and offer it a little protection from the winter weather still around. I gave it a test run but the outcome wasn't as good as I hoped.

The aim hair something like this, or at least one would hope;
Image from here
My hair is naturally thick, it's I guess long and dyed and the ends are in a bit of a state but that's another matter. It says to just spray the product onto dry hair from 5 - 10cm away. It seemed to apply rather well across my hair but you should feel it setting like hairspray. They advice you to roughen your hair up with your fingers to give that just left the beach look. Sadly my hair seemed to go a little well limp? It roughened it up yes in so much that it helped with the volume but for some reason I was slightly expecting a more naturally curly roughened look. 
Slightly roughened around the edges and a little added volume but nothing more. Maybe i'm asking or wishing for too much? Perhaps I over straightened it first, but normally without my hair just turns into a fizz ball. I had a quick google around and there's recipes if you could call it that suggest making your own using 8fl oz of water be it bottled, distilled or boiled and one to two tbsps of sea salt into a spray bottle. Maybe that's worth a try instead. I'll definitely give it another try after less straightening, I do want it to work because I think it could be a brilliant carefree look. I did try it again the day after before heading off for work - it did seem to work better but still not the tousled wavy locks I had pictured. Still a work in progress methinks.

Has anyone else had any experiences of the old sea salt upon the locks? Good bad or indifferent?

Friday, 18 February 2011

TRAVEL: Edinburgh

In two weeks me and the man are off to Edinburgh for a weeks holiday via a night in Newcastle. Joe's never been to Edinburgh (or Scotland at that) and I've only ever visited Edinburgh on the odd day trip when we being the parents and I use to holiday up around North Berwick. And I definitely haven't been there in the last five or so years. 

We have ideas on some of the places we really want to go - like to the zoo. We're both mad animal lovers - especially penguins so the zoo is a must as is the castle - you can't really go to Edinburgh without going up to the castle. But we're looking for heads up about the Botanic Gardens, Britannia, Portobello Beach and Carlton Hill. We even found an amazing FREE trip called the Hairy Coos up to the Trossachs in a bright orange bus which sounds amazingly fun! Free as in you tip the driver/guide what you think the tour was worth. 

But we're just looking for real peoples experiences and reviews, ideas for places to go, see, where to shop - especially ANY vintage shops, tea rooms, restaurants, places out and about that's worth a look. Or on the other flip of the story - places we really should avoid!
I think there's so much more you can learn about a city through other peoples recommendations and moving away from the mere tourist guide, so i'm hoping someone has some ideas!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


As long and overstated as it might sound, a pair of boots actually changed my wardrobe. After leaving university - yeah like lets see over a year ago, my sense of "fashion" or at least my sense of who I was when it came to clothing myself vanished. I no longer had shops to wander and look around on the way too or between lectures when I couldn't face another day in the library. I didn't have to dress myself every day because my day became 9:30 to 6 at work with a horrid uniform [I may be pushing the boundaries with wearing a non company black cardi - i'm rebelling for sure] with an hour and half each way commuting. When I got home I just wanted to laze in comfy baggy clothes. Plus being in an LDR you don't have that need to dress up and impress your OH every day/date because between Skype you can't really see such detail. See LDRs have their good sides at times!

Then I found these boots; they keep going down in price even now (I got them for £23.99 in the brown shade) not only are they the most comfiest boots i've ever owned by they seem to go with almost ANYTHING! Skinny Jeans. Yes i've mentioned those jeans again - these are the boots that made me want to retry them. Oh and they go with skirts, dresses - so much so that i've even brought some! You name it

While they look a bit "heavy" they don't feel it when your wearing them, and I love the flappy bits around the edging. What is more they even have some grips on the bottom - okki not really needed now but at least you don't have that fear of slipping on say wet leaves. I have been known to do that, or even on drain covers in the middle of footpaths - i'm a walking liability for sure. 

The boots in action with those jeans again;
 Saturday (what I actually wore - not trying on)
Cardi - H and M
Top - Zara (brought in the sale)
Necklace - Primark
Jeans - Dotty P's
Boots - New Look
Handbag (seen in the mirror) - H and M

Boots do seem to be everywhere at the moment, I think they deserve more loving especially if they are practical and i would use the word "pretty" but it's not the word i'm looking for. Maybe its not all down to the Boots - the OH is over in two weeks and I did need a new reason for some new clothes.

Have you given into some boots loving or you more a heel kinda gal?

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Skinny jeans

I have a love/hate relationship with skinny jeans. I've tried oh so many times to get on with them starting when I was a bit of a rocker with my converse. But I'm a short house (standing 5 foot 3") and not on the skinny side - i'll admit to being a curvy size -12/14 depending on where I shops. I joke and say I have "Thunder thighs" - I think they look huge but I guess we always over aggravate parts of ourselves that we hate. I guess? Sometimes I see myself in them and start rethinking I need to loose weight just because how my thighs look in them. Gah. Maybe I just need to wear them more.
Jumper - H and M
Top - Zara
Jeans - Dotty P's
Boots - New Look
Necklace - Primark

Is there any piece of clothing you wish you could get your head around to wearing more? Or do you just wear things no matter what?

Monday, 14 February 2011

Valentine Love Birds

Valentines day can be rather hard for those of us in long distance relationships. Everywhere in town today could I see couples - thousands of them, looks like they somehow multiplied over night and  they all seemed to have had today off work. Lucky for some! There's nothing I'd love more to be spending today with Joe - we still haven't spent a valentines day physically together. But mentally we're in the same space and that's more then enough for us. We did spend each other days though - cards which actually turned up on time, it's always a first, presents are on hold till we go on holiday in ...

18 days
Not that i'm counting
It was funny watching men doing their last minute valentines day shopping rushing somewhat in their dinner breaks; and to be honest there was a lot of girls doing the same too. Men with huge bags of chocolates - often teenage lads while looking at cheesy gifts. It all somehow made valentines day a forgotten, last minute deal to them. I even saw heart designed tinsel in Clintons. Weird.

Granted love and thanks should be given daily in a relationship. You shouldn't need one day as a reason/excuse to treat your partner. Being in an LDR you see the importance of little things every day - of finding time to talk, spend a way of being together and to be positive.

Happy valentines how ever and whoever your spending it with.

Saturday, 12 February 2011


Bigger Trees Near Warter - image taken from the York Art Gallery
David Hockney is considered as being one of Britain's most renowned of artists. Working since the 1950s, through pop art up to the present day his images and work have questioned, pushed; and challenged the boundaries of acceptable art alongside pop culture and more increasingly natural life. 

His (semi) recent work is a series of landscapes around East Yorkshire. It's a quiet little unknown spot in the world, rather forgotten behind its fellow Yorkshire siblings of north and south Yorkshire, but it holds a quiet beauty that's rarely known to the outside world. And now, thanks to Hockney it'll be known to a few more. Hockney himself has been quoted as stating East Yorkshire as having "the sorts of wide vistas you get all the time in the American west" and it's the first time this work has been shown outside of London.

Being a lass from East Yorkshire, and a country gal at that, I thought i'd pop along and have a little looksee while I was in York today shopping. 

Its not until your stood right before it that you see what the talk is all about. The piece measure 12 x 4.5 metres, this statistic doesn't give credit to how large it actually is until your stood before it, its so large the little daffodils on the floor of the piece seem pretty much size sized, and the huge trees tower over you. Comprising of fifty individual panels joined together it captures a countryside  hanging on the eve of spring between Malton and Diffield - if your an insider to East Yorkshire it was painted by the turn off for Millington (the village where I first lived) and Warter. Its the greens and the use of trees and how they tag along the side of the road with the farm yard buildings creeping in that make it very much East Yorkshire-like. It's very much my landscape that I get just out of town. Even the colours alone make it right. 

Landscapes began inspiring Hockney since the 1990s while living in California, but it is through his repeated visits back to his native Yorkshire and swapping the sunshine state for life in Bridlington, did Hockney began capturing a naturalistic version of the landscapes around him. Especially of trees - tree's Hockney considers to be much like people - always different.

It's a shame none of the other images of these collection of Hockney's East Yorkshire landscapes where showing alongside this one. It somewhat isolates it, hanging slightly out of context of its wider landscape. It would have been the perfectly opportunity to showcase Hockney's contemporary work to a new, younger audience alongside those who know his older pop works and introduce a modern take on landscapes and of East Yorkshire. Nevertheless Bigger Trees at Warter is large enough literally and figuratively to hang alone.

You can see Bigger Trees at Warter till June 2011 at York Art Gallery.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Patisserie Valerie may be my new downfall

This week a new Patisserie Valerie has just opened up in York. I've seen one once - well dribbled on the window down in London a few years ago, and it looks like they are starting to branch out more across the UK. Since 1926 they've been introducing the taste of French pastries and continental cakes, breakfasts to the English. Our pharmacist at work decided to treat us all to a slice, I went for the carrot cake - a random choice some might say but when they are done right they are brilliant

I love how your cake slice comes wrapped in a little box, finished off with an ever so cute pink bow. 

Unraffle and peek inside ....

For £2.95 (add an extra £1 if you want to eat in) and you get the above sized slice. It's huge! So sticky and covered in a thick covering of cream cheese, the carrot cake was so lovely and moist with an extra bite of some nuts in too. Nevertheless it does verge of the edge of being too sickly, you really couldn't eat any more and the last couple of mouthfuls were a struggle. To be honest this sized slice would be enough to spare really - more then enough to get a good taste and nibble from. Watch out for your fingers thought - more then a little sticky at the end.

It's definitely a place i'd go back to for a treat - their pastries and tarts look delicious in the window, and even their huge celebration cakes would make ideal birthday or even wedding cakes.I have it on good authority that the chocolate cake is scummy too.

So very nomnomnom - a lovely treat indeed.

Oh and I should of mentioned this the first time - it's along Feasegate, it's taken over where Athena use to be, by the back entrance to BHS. 

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Columbia rouge and powder compact

Columbia powder compacts were the American modestly priced additions at the height of the selling and use of the powder compact. Along with Zell, Rex and Direst these were all termed the "fifth Avenues" - categorised as thus for all selling and being based along New York's 5th Avenue. 
What cases my eye is the orangey mustard topping, its like a plastically mother of pearl and after a quick dusting it shines brilliantly. i have a love for square and oblong  vintage powder compacts and this one is edged with a little pattern, its lid still clicking tight shut. I'm not really sure what the emblem on the top of the compact is meant to be representing. I've never been to New York (yet - that's next years road trip) so i'm not entirely sure if its some NY attraction? It looks to be randomly like a mine shaft (not really very feminine) or some fair ground attraction. You're ideas/interpretations would be highly welcome.
Powder compacts containing rogue were at their height before WW2. While we might just consider this colouring for the lips, it was additionally used as for blusher, additionally references have suggested rouge being used as a nail colourant - however I would how lasting this would be as a product. They were credited for being excellent space saving devices, disregarding the need and room for a separate lipstick container, and therefore was overall more cost effective.

As you can see the rouge/blusher is still so vivid and untouched. I love the pinkness to it, so pretty and feminine. When I first got this compact I just (wrongly) assumed it was just a foundation compact - this rogue was hidden rather well under the what turned out to be a double sided mirror, clicked tight in shut underneath. 

 Its rare - and very lucky to get the original puff stamped with "Columbia Fifth Avenue" and it's original stiffer both intact and looking so fresh. What's even more rare is finding a powder compact complete with original foundation still within a packet. Obviously this compact was never used, perhaps the gift was forgotten about, or the lady didn't like or need it in the end. But what's left is a complete, unopened sachet of Jergen's Peach Bloom liquid foundation, by the smallness of the packet i'm guessing it was perhaps a shade tester. 

Opened up and laid out you can clearly see the two wells for the foundation and the rogue, both with their only complete puff.  Joe has such an eye for finding brilliant well conditioned compacts that always offer something a little different from the norm.

Don't you just wish you could still buy your everyday foundation in compacts like these?!

Monday, 7 February 2011

LIFE: How to Keep Long Distance Relationships Working

Loads of people always ask how me and Joe make our long distance relationship (LDR) working and heading in the right direction. No matter the distance, some people are merely apart for the weekdays and together at weekends, some don't see there partners for months at a time (I fall into the latter) there's ways of making the situation more bearable, its a relationship status and situation that will never be "easy" and there's no magic way of making it workable. Nor do LDRs have a magic bubble around them that limits the normal stresses and strains that a relationship has, like any relationship it has it's up and downs, but there's good times to be had.
I'm not claiming these to be the magic parts or elements to making and LDR work, it's just the live, living experiences and things we've done to make our LDR work to the extent that it has.

  • Know the bigger picture. Okki this can be dominating if you've just got into a relationship but with and LDR probably more then a conventional relationship you need to know where it's heading. It saves the heartache in the long term knowing that you either want the same things, that you're working towards the same goal but that eventually this relationship won't always be subject to distances. You don't need to decide from the off who will be moving to who, just be aware that something has to give at some point. 
  • Don't let your relationship be all about the distance. Its easy for people outside of the relationship to merely define it by the lack of physical connection, but there's still a relationship there, remember what you have, that you're a couple and that your together.
  • Always be honest. Don't use the distance as a way to mask your thoughts or feelings. You can't be scared of saying things of the distance or scared of upsetting the balance. If your worrying, or your scared or your missing your other half, then let them know - they'll probably be feeling the same thing their self. 
  • Write love letters. There's a certain thrill of getting things through the post from one another, even if its just an "I love you" or a piece of chocolate. It's just the knowing that even with the distance there's still physical things you can still do and touch from each other. Letter writing now seems to be a lost art, but its very cherished in my relationship at least. 
  • Modern communication is your best friend.  There's no excuse to not be in touch, sometimes I think LDR couples are more in touch and stronger for it then their non LDR counterparts. To the extent that we don't play the texting games of waiting hours to reply. But there's not only texts, emails, Skype, web-cams, msn, ebuddy - there's everything and anything you could need and for free (or for cheap). there's brilliant deals out there if you look for them. 
  • Positivity is key. If you go into an LDR with a cynical mind you'll get nowhere. While its easy to get down and focus on the distance or the lack of things your doing in comparison to others, it gets you no where. You need to be positive in believing what you have and share as a couple. 
These aren't the be all of ideas and ways to make an LDR work, nothing can be taught or suggested to make it work, it really most often is just down to the two people involved. If your BOTH willing and wanting a relationship to work you can regardless of distance. And to people who question how you can trust your partner when there's that much distance - people cheat regardless of distance, it won't make them do it any more of any less. 

    Sunday, 6 February 2011

    PROJECTS: Homemade Stamped Invites

    Yesterday we ordered the stamps to make our wedding invites. It's a huge step in the wedding direction so its actually something constructive for once. We can't really plan too much because it's still all dependent on visas and moving dates and things from which I'll be married hopefully by October this year. It feels like we're not sorting anything when we should, so something like at least decorating and making the invites is at least fruitful.

    If you've been reading around on my blog lately you'll know I have a bit of a thing for Love Birds (hence wanting a tattoo) and it somehow came about Joe suggesting it for our invites. I think we're always been a bit too different, rustic with crafty elements to go down the manufactured mass produced computerised invite so we've decided to stamp and make our own!

    We've chosen this personalised love bird carved rubber stamp from an online store on Etsy called Cupcaketree. It's a brilliant collection on there of stamps for all sorts of occasions or general everyday occurrences. So ours will have R + J in the love heart. They are so cute and sweet, not totally vintage, but rustic in its own way. 

    We're hoping to stamp them onto plain card sized as a postcard. One side with the above love birds and upon the other side another "vintage" styled postcard stamp we've ordered from Jo Ann Fabrics. This stamp will be the base upon which we'll fill the details of the guests name and wedding information (to be filled in later when we actually know).

    Next we just have to decide on ink and card colours, that's the difficult part, can't wait till we get to make them when we're back together in four weeks, be so exciting!

    Friday, 4 February 2011

    The English gal and the American game

    Today in the post i got a lovely lovely present from Joe's Gran, a lady who's totally welcomed me into the family and who's been so kind and warming to me, she was the first person we told about getting engaged too. So the present was this amazing Steelers Terrible Towel, a special commemoration one in honour of them reaching the Super bowl final this Sunday against the Packers down in Texas.

    I won't even dare claim I know anything about American Football, i'm following them by default seeing Pittsburgh is the home town of Joe therefore its natural to just want to follow them too, especially when it 's something he and his gran followers. We keep an eye out on the Detroit Lions but they aren't as good - or so it seems, but they'll probably be the first games I get to see, seeing we'll be living in Detroit, till we can get down to see the Steelers either way.

    To some extent it does just look like British rugby but with men slightly scared by tackles (hence the head gear) but them tackles aren't half interesting, and the pace is something different too. Not that I know anything about rugby either, I'm just a semi hearted Newcastle United Football fan so its all a different ball game to me (literally).

    Then I got super excited about finding out the Superbowl final was going to be live on the BBC over here. Yeeey. But then I have work on Monday and it doesn't start till late, I'm determined to get to half time before I do my normal zonking.

    So if your following or supporting anyone in the Superbowl, who you backing?!

    Thursday, 3 February 2011

    FILM: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

    One of my favourite films (although originally a book by Muriel Spark) happens to be the 1969 adaptation of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie a story based around a charismatic, independent spirited teacher at Edinburgh's Marcia Bland private school for girls.While she considers her subject to be history, Miss Brodie  (played by Maggie Smith) uses any opportunity give lessons; tales of life to deviate her teaching towards love, lust, passion and fulfilment of the self, especially towards the group of girls (four in the film, six in the book) which become the subject of her infatuation , otherwise known as Brodie's girls.

    Nothing comes near to standing in her way, side passing comments from fellow staff of her unconventional teaching manners and personal views as merely being in her prime. Miss Brodie's life and purpose becomes to mould and reproduce her life and her wants through her girls with each expressing and dramatising elements of her own personality, from the dependable Sandy, the pretty Jenny; the girl who will be known for her beauty, Monica the academic of the group and lastly Mary McGregor the orphan soul searching for a place and a meaning to belong. 

    But her own life and desires tangles up with the reality and life of her girls. Her prime begins to fade and loyal friends can turn as Miss Brodie finds out to her disadvantage.
     I love Maggie Smith in this film, to be honest I love her in most, but there's something extra special in this film, maybe it's what all the other characters bring out in her, especially her "girls" all of which perform especially well. While in some element it is of it's era it does make us recognise how much we sometimes try and live our life through others and to who's detriment, their own or ours too? 

    I'd love to read the book too, although like many the plots, the personalities and the characters I know are said to be a lot different between the two mediums but it's on my amazon wish list all the same. 

    Tuesday, 1 February 2011

    Violet doilie

    Out of the bunch of vintage crochet patterns that the crocheted gloves I blogged about on Sunday (still please suggest if the vintage gloves would be a good idea for a wedding) my favourite was produced by Coats. Orginally retailing for the low price of 15 pence (if only they still were that cheap) the booklet features ten seasonal doily's, their titles and designs reflecting spring flowers blooming, leaves, windmills and so on. 

    The vintage crochet patterns.
    I've only got around to making my first doily from these patterns last Sunday and the pattern I picked was one that had been catching my eye ever since i'd stumbled over the booklets. Named "violet doily" its made from three different shades of cotton, with pretty little flowers somewhat reflecting a pansy embedded between a brilliant white background of trebles and chains and some sweet little leaves.
    Adding the flowers which were made in the same row, making at one point huge clusters of 15 trebles on, the leaves were added singularly around the flowers.
    The ring of flowers and leaves were finished off with three rows of treble chains. I'll admit that it's the first doily that's ever really worked out completely right, it feels and looks right whereas I've had some that have turned out too stiff, lopsided or bumpy. This one needed the tiniest of presses with the iron to gently flatten it out and it's now ready to use. The tonal shades of the yarn of the flowers alongside the use of more then one colour within a doily has won me over, it just seems to catch the eye a little more.

    My dad suggested making doilys to sell, on say etsy for example or maybe even ebay. Maybe some day. Not sure if there's a market really for hand/home ones, and half the trouble would be giving them away when they are so pretty so I tend weirdly to see them as my babies, well crafty beings. Although it would be interesting to hear peoples opinions on this - if there is a market out there.