Spring into Springtime!

As the celebrations and excitement of the New Year draw to a close, it’s time to start forgetting about the winter, and dreaming of the spring and summer to come (yes, I appreciate some of you out there may be snowed under reading this, but just go with it!) There’s not much more to get you in the mood for a change of season than a fresh new wardrobe! But for those of us not lucky enough to quite have that clothing turnover, we can look at the new trends surrounding us and get excited anyway. Why not!?

My favourite trend to get me in the mood for springtime has got to be florals, every time. The fresh pattern, with colours ranging from soft and pastel to bright and bold, speaks of gardens growing and flowers blooming everywhere. Next’s Spring/Summer ’13 range has a gorgeous collection of both pretty and dainty floral prints, as well as fresh earthy tones that can’t help but get you in the happy-go-lucky springtime feeling.

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I love this beautiful, floaty and dreamy chiffon dress. The colours are beautiful, soft purples and pinks both match and contrast with the navy background perfectly, making it a gorgeous stand-out dress. The wrap around style is the best figure flatterer you can get, and also gives the dress a gorgeous forties vintage feel. I would love to wear this dress with hair softly twisted in victory rolls and subtle vintage make-up to keep in with the elegant style of the waterfall hem skirt, for a lovely glamorous houeswife look. Alternatively, for the edgy girly look, try throwing up your hair into a careless topknot, teaming the skirt with knitted tights and chunky boots, and stay warm and looking cool with a tough leather biker jacket.


next skirt

I’m normally not a green wearing girl – whether it doesn’t suit me, or I’m just not normally a fan of the colour, I’m not sure, but I love Next’s Spring Khaki collection. Earthy tones of greens, browns, and subtle floral woody prints make this an elegant, yet hard wearing range. Woodland animals are also a big part of this, and what says spring time more than a flock of butterflies on a pretty mini-skirt! It’s so easy to pair up this range with chunky knits and camo jackets, making it ideal for the transition from winter to spring. This range is perfect for casual weekend looks, from dashing in and out of shops looking for the rest of your summer wardrobe, and going full girly camo for some adventurous walks in the woods.


If the weather isn’t going to make the effort, than maybe we should!

Next are doing a competition at the moment to be their Guest Blogger for 3 months! Here’s my offering, what can you do? Here’s the link to the competition, good luck! http://blog.next.co.uk/nextguestblogger-its-back/


The Vintage Housewife x


Love the Love Heart Dress!

I am definitely the luckiest girl in the world – my husband bought me for Christmas a gift voucher for the wonderful vintage style shop Retro Daisy, as seen in a previous post. I love the cute little shop, based in Arundel, because whilst you can still buy online, there’s nothing quite like going into a store, browsing through rails full to bursting of the bright, beautiful dresses and skirts, and enjoying the lovely chatter from Shar as well as benefitting from a second opinion!

Looking through the Retro Daisy selection myself, I was planning on getting something a little more subtle – something that I can wear more regularly than my gorgeous circle dresses, as well as a bit warmer. Stockings can only keep a girl’s legs so warm! Whilst I am growing in my own confidence and have worn my petticoat with a black circle skirt to work, as well as wearing other vintage style outfits, it would still be nice to have some sort of middle ground. I went in with the plan to get some forties style swing trousers with a gorgeous high waist, or maybe a pretty blouse or retro nautical cardigan. Unfortunately the trousers weren’t stocked in my size, but the range of everything else was amazing! I did find a lovely black blouse with leopard trim, and despite it being two sizes bigger than me, I was encouraged by Shar to try it on as vintage reproductions can come up a bit small, as some styles are designed from vintage patterns. Unfortunately this was still too big for me, but a handy tip always worth knowing!


Instead, I went completely in the other direction of my plans for the day (as is so easily done) and fell head over heels in love with this stunning Hearts and Roses dress. I had seen it on their facebook page, and it was on the model in the window last time I popped in, and it had been calling out to me ever since. If I’m honest, I was secretly hoping I’d just buy it anyway, stuff subtlety! The pattern is so bold and beautiful, and I love the cut out detail and shape of the shoulders. I tried it on, and it fitted like a glove. I rarely have things fit me properly around the shoulders, so to try the dress on and have it hug and fit and flare in all the right places – I was sold. I was going out to dinner with Dave the next day, so it was even more reason to get this stunning dress that makes you feel a million dollars!

Shar is brilliant – she knew I had a petticoat at home, so suggested I try one on underneath the dress just so I could get the full effect (although she did hand me one in red when mine was black – I had to really resist the tempatation to buy the red petticoat too!) and was ready to help and chat about any questions you might have. Her plans for the new year are to keep moving with the expansion of Retro Daisy and move to larger premises – so here’s hoping to a bright and beautiful new store, with more room for lovely dresses!


The Vintage Housewife x

The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

I read this book many year ago when I was in middle school, and was absolutely delighted when I was looking through Amazon’s free classics available for kindle and found The Secret Garden again. Just remembering the words from so long ago bring back the amazing evocation of spring, joyous excitement and new growth – a perfect read for the new year, I felt. Any book that can elicit that much excitement and thrill just through the memory of it has to be an amazing story – and it is in the Classics section for a reason.

The Secret Garden is one of those wonderful books that are written for children, but are still just as enjoyable for an adult as you go back to read it in later years. I don’t think it’s just about rekindling some of the childhood memories, the book is so captivating and full of Magic itself, that you can’t help but feel that you are completely caught up in the children’s’ secret, and feeling the spring time growing up all around you. The characters for the children are written perfectly, with the innocence of behaviour and circumstance written so that you feel sympathy for them, not frustration at their bratty and spoilt behaviour. I love all the broad Yorkshire characters, from sweet Martha to the worldly 12-year-old Dickon – Burnett is able to describe the Yorkshire Moors with such clarity and wonderous effect that I defy anyone to not want to book a week up on t’ moors, or create their own magical garden full of flowers and plants and birds and creatures.

The book also holds something which I think is important for adults to understand as well. Through the growing of the garden and the development of the children, Burnett describes the importance of positive thinking – through either Magic, religion, or whatever you believe in, it ‘du na matter’ what its name is. I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason, trying to remain positive, and making your own things happen for yourself. This is a great thing to instill into children, but a lesson that we can all take as we grow up and begin to come across the uglier things life can throw at us. Lost jobs, broken relationships, dreams seeming to struggle to get off the ground; The Secret Garden shows how some fresh air and a decent outlook to work miracles, and I guarantee that reading this will give you a fresh, exciting view on life and what you can do with it.

I’ll leave you with a line from the book that near broke my heart with its wonderful aptness:

“Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.”


The Vintage Housewife x

Perfect Weekend Lunch

I hope I’m not the only one who watched Man vs Food on Dave and the Food Channel and thinks, “MMMMMMmmmmmmMMMMMM!!!!” Seeing the amazing foodie delights and creations that Adam discovers across the USA not only makes me want to get over there and try some of the lesser portions myself (though I am famed within the family for probably being able to give a steak challenge a fair shot) but downsizing and adapting the recipes and ideas for home use.

Many of them are pointless to recreate in UK portions, for example the 14 dozen oyster challenge – that’s just a shed load of good oysters. Some of the huge portions can however be halved, and quartered, and eighthed, and so on. A recent episode of Man vs Food Nation, where Adam coaches Joe Public through eating challenges instead of devouring them himself (a good thing, he wasn’t looking well for all that food!) showed a humungous sandwich, famous in New Orleans; the Muffelata. Surely you’re sold by the name alone!?

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If not, let me break it down for you. UK sized anyway. Toasted bun, filled with grilled salami/ham with melted mozzarella on top, with a generous spreading of olive salad. Now this isn’t what it sounds like – I can hear you imagining a heavy dose of green salad with the occasional olive dotted through, maybe with some parmesan shavings on top. However, the American olive salad is almost like a relish – a blitzed up mix of Mediterranean yumminess, that make for a wonderful addition to simple bread, or even served as a side for steak – the possibilities are endless. The recipes vary to contain things from celery to capers, but always with the same ‘dressing’ of oil, lemon and oregano. I decided to make up my own mix of solid ingredients, and use a recipe online for the dressing. My recipe for about 1 jar is as follows, and will keep for months:

  • 1/2 jar green pimiento stuffed olives
  • 1/2 jar black stoneless olives
  • 2-3 tsps capers
  • 3-4 sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • 3-4 chopped pieces roasted peppers in oil
  • 2 sticks of celery broken into pieces
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 tsps lemon juice
  • 1 tsp oregano

The Muffelatas went down extremely well, and the olive salad was such a big hit I had orders from mum to make some up for Christmas. The ingredients need to be blitzed in the food processor – gradually, so that the whole mixture stays relatively chunky. We want a relish, not a paste. So with that in mind, I have some advice off the back of two failed batches. Break up the celery into small pieces, even slice them up if your food processor isn’t too great, and don’t put all the ingredients in at once. I ended up trying to poke mine with a wooden spoon through the little tube meant for extra ingredients – I AM AWARE THIS IS THIS STUPIDEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE. PLEASE DO NOT REPEAT MY MISTAKE. I was fine, the food processor was fine, the spoon was not. I didn’t fancy dishing up olive salad with added splinters to my family, so that lot was binned. Also, please make sure you get pitted black olives – I didn’t and so spent about 15 minutes before the family meal scraping through the salad so no one broke their teeth.

So, with the above in mind, please do give the olive salad a go – and let me know what you team yours with!


The Vintage Housewife x



My First Vintage Find(s)!

The day has come! I’ve been desperate to finally make my first purchase of vintage clothing, and I’m pleased to say I am the proud owner of two new/old vintage dresses!

I’ve been working my way into the vintage scene for about a year now, starting with retro style high street pieces to create a vintage feel to my outfits. Then I was able to start looking at reproduction companies for that amazing vintage look and style that I’ve fallen in love with, from bright and beautiful fifties swing dresses, to flattering, waist high forties trousers. But, it has always been the dream to go from newly made, to newly found, and I’ve been lusting after various pieces on sites like Love Miss Daisy and Candy Says for ages.

Whilst great vintage pieces can have a bit of a premium, it is very much a matter of research, waiting and watching for the right piece to come up. That’s not to say that expensive pieces aren’t always bad value for money – I think £175 for a unique, stunning, forties ball gown in great condition is perfectly reasonable! But that doesn’t mean the pennies are always there. Rokit is a great place to look for a truly mind boggling range of vintage clothes and accessories, for him and her. There are countless categories of clothing, with thousands of pieces to browse through – there has got to be something for everyone in their Aladdin’s Cave of a warehouse.

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I was browsing through the dresses section, and came across a stunning damask print bias cut dress. I’ve never thought I would be the right shape for bias cut, tending to suit the more boyish figure popular in the twenties and thirties, but the beautiful and delicate peach colour was calling out to me. This dress was mine. The label said size twelve, but Rokit are fantastic at puttnig the measurements on for each item of clothing, so you can work it out for yourself. Fortunately, this dress should fit my size, despite being 160 in length – about 5ft 2″ – whereas I am 5ft head included. That’s what sewing is for, right? The shape of the dress means this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. And at an amazing £26, whilst that pretty much guarantees this isn’t a genuine thirties piece, it’s still a bargain for a stunning dress regardless. Click!

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Then when I’d placed my order and kept browsing, I found another beautiful dress! A  cute little floral piece with a skater style skirt, gorgeous pearl style buttons and a lovely crotchet design around the neckline – a sweetheart style with button up neck creating an interesting keyhole design. Again, at £26 this clearly isn’t from the golden era, but it’s a beautiful sweet little dress which can be worked into your everyday wardrobe. Give yourself some soft, forties waves and gentle make-up for an elegant housewife look, or go back a bit further with an up-do for a slightly more Victoriana look! It’s all about bringing a piece together with all the tricks up your sleeve to create the look you want.

I was thrilled to bits with my purchases, and whilst my first forays into vintage clothes don’t necessarily have as much history as others, I’m still so excited to keep expanding my collection – from high street, to repro and the occasional newly found gem.


The Vintage Housewife x

eReader, to iRiver, and the Final Plunge to Kindle

I have finally taken the plunge. I have bought myself a kindle. Yay!

I’ve actually had eReaders before – when the first Sony eReader came out, I was lucky enough to get one for christmas. The unfortunate thing with getting the first incarnation of any new gadget, is you are the one that has to deal with all the teething issues and bugs, particularly software and downloading niggles, and mine died just after a year (outside warranty, typical) Whilst it was working, I loved it – I was taking it to college, and was able to read more classics than I would have done otherwise, as the Sony came with a disc of 100 free classics. It was so handy and convenient, and comfortable to use. However, as well as the issues with the eReader itself, being a fan of sci-fi and fantasy novels, I was really struggling to find any books I actually wanted to read. It was only new releases which were being converted into the digital format, and not much I was really interested in.

After my Sony died, I then moved onto an iRiver – a slightly cheaper version, as the kindle was coming out and I’d heard nothing but bad reviews, so was intending to steer well clear of Amazon’s version of the gadget. This time, I found myself being able to access a lot more books of the genre I loved, but I was really missing out on the best part of fantasy books – the maps. I love it in The Lord of the Rings when you hear the epic journeys described, and you can flick back to the front of the book and check the illustrated map to see where the characters are and how they got there. As that was largely what I was reading, it seemed a bit silly, so I started getting paperbacks again.

This year however, I’ve started working in a call centre selling travel insurance. It was crazy busy in the summer, with barely time to have a sip of water between calls, but in the quieter winter periods there is quite a lot of time spare for reading! I’ve been getting through nearly a book a week – sometimes one in only a few days! As such, I decided to consider getting myself a kindle, in a space and over all space and money saving effort. I waited until after Christmas (just in case!) and ordered it Boxing Day – Amazon’s service was fantastic as always, arriving before New Year’s Eve! It’s already amazing, I’ve finished one book and I’ve download several classics which I can’t wait to get stuck into! The downloading process is so quick and easy – it’s almost too easy to click and buy and the wi-fi downloads it straight to the kindle via your amazon account. It’s so easy to search the shop via the kindle itself, and all the functions are wonderful to use – I’m pretty up-to-speed after having it only a few days!

I think I will still buy certain fantasy books in paperback, so I can flick to the maps easier, but as I start reading more general fictions, and am whizzing through books at an incredible pace, I can see already how much of a fantastic buy the kindle is at £70 for the basic version, which is all I need. I would seriously encourage anyone who is teetering on the edge of deciding to take the plunge, but I also totally get that digital isn’t for everyone – I do still completely understand how special paper books are. But that’s just it for me – the special books will stay special, and I get to fly through generic reading at the same time. For me, it’s the best of both worlds.


The Vintage Housewife