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Thrifty finds… sewing machine, my first Pyrex & a lost bear

5 Aug

Life lately has been a little hectic… but I’ve still found time to squeeze in some charity shops and a little car boot sale-ness…

Now as lots of you know I have a lot of old china and teapots etc so recently I’ve been searching for novelty mugs instead. Partly based on this mug I found for my mister… I’m hoping to find a Zoe version. (If anyone ever does find one, let me know!)

Anyway, I came across this Scotland mug in a charity shop and thought it was quite stylish for a tourist mug! Scotland, I’ve been there!

Then early one car boot sale morning, we came across this baby… a boxed Singer sewing machine. (I was starting to think they’d all gone thanks to All Saints’ window displays!) We cautiously asked how much it was, trying to be all nonchalant of course and probably failing!

And oh my word, she wanted nearly nothing for it. So much so that I temporarily felt bad that we were paying so little. But then the thriftaholic in me took over and kept quiet… (Yes, thriftaholic me is hard-edged!)

And here my Singer is… ain’t she pretty? And she works perfectly too. Even just turning the handle is deeply satisfying.

Now in the last while, I’ve developed a bit of a thing for old cameras (some of you may have noticed that!). And especially instant cameras.

But I’ll be honest and say what first attracted me to this camera was the box… yip, look at the rainbow arrow! So colourful! (These sort of things really stand out in a grim, grey car boot sale!)

Now the funny thing about this camera is that it’s huge… you lift it up and it completely obscures your face. That gap on the right hand side there? That’s the handle. Yes, you know something’s a bit cumbersome when it need a handle!

Oh yeah and it can’t stand up. Put it down and it sort of drops to one side. Yeah, you can kind of see why they don’t make these any more right? Which isn’t to say that I don’t love it.

I do. Especially as it had one piece of instant film left in it… which my other half accidentally took a ghostly shot of me in the kitchen with.

I like to imagine some 70s family being really excited to own this camera, only they were saving that very last shot for a special occasion. (Yes, if we’d know there was one left, we’d have maybe tried to take a better shot!)

(Um, this is to prove that I have a bit of a camera obsession going on right now… see that little white Instamax on the top right? It was a present from us to us in Japan. Ridiculously cheap. So sort of counts as a thrifty find right?!)

But this… this photo negative envelope is currently my favourite camera-related find.

It’s just rather glamorous… and so far away from the Boots disposable cameras from my childhood!

Even inside is just brilliant… “What to do with your best snapshots? Have them enlarged… and make them into real pictures”. Only your best snapshots mind you!

Yes, I’m a sucker for old packaging. Even this bit gets me. So pretty!

I also picked up my first piece of Pyrex. Now ages ago someone tweeted me to say that Pyrex always reminded them of me and I had to tweet back to admit that I have none. (Oh the shame!)

But now I have these three triangular little dishes… which I suspect where originally six dishes to hold veg/accompaniments in?

They’re surprisingly handy, so much so that I’m keeping an eye out for another three to complete the set.

And this is my 40p jug that a car boot sale man dissed me for buying!

I have a sort of thing for milk glass and I thought this was rather cute… and you know, jugs are pretty useful really. So I handed over 40p then moved on to the next stall where a man tried to convince me that my new jug was worthless and I should really buy the brown jug he had for £14 instead.

Um, no. I’ll stick with my little floral number instead thank you very much!

And nearly my most random find (I think the next one takes the title) are these old National Geographic magazine maps. Technically they came with the magazines… so I had to flick through a HUGE pile to find the ones with maps (and not just big pull-out posters of scary looking spiders! Who wants those? Who?!)

No idea what I’m going to do with them… but I’m sure they’ll be involved in a future craft project.

And here’s the title for my most random find ever… this little knitted bear!

Yes, one night when walking home I spotted this wee guy lying in the street. I took a snap of him (yes I am a total instagram addict!) and then popped him on wall in the hope the owner would come back for him.

The next night, I was taking the same route home and there was this bear, now lying in the road, looking grubby and kicked about. So I took him home and tweeted his picture but no-one claimed him. Instead I just washed him and  he’s  been sitting about the flat ever since…

Until the day our fox-owl-cat decided that the bear belonged to her. (Again if you follow me on instagram, you’ll know this is a cat that likes cosy things!) Isn’t this possibly the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? I think I ‘awwwwed’ for about 30 minutes on seeing this!

So that’s my lot recently… well, apart from the uber cute little telephone table I picked up. But that’s a story for another day!

My mint aero traybake recipe

3 Apr

Not so long ago, I found some vintage
cake forks… and when you find cake forks
then you have to make cake right?

Last week, I decided I was going to make
my favourite sweet treat… mint aero traybake.

It’s chocolate-y, biscuit-y,
mint fondant-y, and
mint aero-y.

Two places in Edinburgh make it
but I struggled to find a recipe
so I’ve tried to backwards process it.

Not sure I have it quite right yet but
oh my, it still tastes pretty amazing!

If you fancy trying it, you need:

250g butter
200g milk chocolate
200g white chocolate
250g of crushed digestive biscuits
200g of mint Aero chocolate
3 tablespoons of Golden Syrup
300g icing sugar
Green food colouring (8 drops or to colour)
Peppermint extract (12 drops or to taste)

And here’s the how to:

To make the base, melt the milk chocolate,
100g butter and Golden Syrup together.
Crush the digestives then add to the melted choc mix.
Pour into a tray, put it in the fridge and let it set.

Then make up the peppermint layer…
‘cream’ together 150g butter and 300g icing sugar.
Then add the peppermint essence and colouring.
Smooth onto your set base with a spoon.

Then melt your white chocolate…
and pour on top of your peppermint layer.

Break up your mint Aero bar and
stick the pieces into the white chocolate.
Leave to set. (And feel free to lick any spoons!)

Cut into pieces and enjoy with a cuppa.
(And yes, you may need help to finish a bit!)


If you try it, let me know.
Or if you have any suggestions
for how to make the peppermint layer
more ‘solid’ than soft, do tell.

P.S. Been trying some new things with layouts
recently, hope you like them. Attempting to
get to grips with photoshop finally!

My favourite ever thrifty find… and some car boot tips

30 Mar

A couple of weeks ago, I found this old school map
at a Sunday morning car boot sale.

I’ve been looking for an old school map for longer
than I’ve been writing this blog. And still…
I wasn’t sure. I looked at it, put it back down,
and walked on. Three minutes later, I had a mild
panic that someone else would buy ‘my map’
and rushed back to buy it.

I paid £7 for it. I’ve seen similar (and worse)
condition maps going for £180.

Looking at it now, I can’t believe I almost
didn’t buy it – but it sums up my first tip
of car boot sale or charity shop thrifting…

1. You’ve got to be in it to win it.

This might sound silly but if you’re not in the mood
to rummage, give people some chat, barter, or yes
even get elbowed by some woman trying to knock
£2 off a £2.50 shirt… (ah the glamour)
then wait until you are. Or have a serious
amount of caffeine and cake before you go.

Tip 2 I think is summed up
by the little Meakin set above…

2. Know what you’re looking for
(but be flexible about it)

I can this the ‘new car theory’.
If you decide you want a certain make of car,
suddenly you’ll start seeing that car everywhere.
Same is true (sort of!) of vintage things…
once you have what you want in mind,
then you’ll start seeing it.

Until I found my first Meakin set last summer,
I would have sworn that I’d never seen any before…
which seems unlikely now I think about it!

(As a complete aside, I now have a tea set that matches
my fav typewriter… how cool is that? Also the tiny
milk jug from this set… might be my favourite ever!)

My third tip can definitely worked for these cameras…

3. Go super early or go at the end

Car boot sales start early. Very early.
And usually on Sundays.

I’ve written before on here that I’m not
a morning person. But the allure of
thrifty finds does drag me out of bed.

However, the vintage cameras above
(my Super Colour Swinger Polaroid Land Camera
and a very old Kodak Brownie camera)
where bought in the last 30 mins of the sale.

Basically we slept in, but thought we’d
pop in anyway on the way elsewhere.
The guy who sold us these had been up
since 6am. He sold them us for super cheap
just because it was two less things to take home.

I can’t remember why I picked up this book
of song sheets. I can’t play any musical instruments.
But I really rather love it… I’m half tempted to do
some crafty projects with it, half tempted just to
keep it as it is. But anyway, it’s my 4th tip…

4. Expect the unexpected.

One of my favourite things about thrifting
is that you can’t know what you’ll find.

Just keep your eyes open. Look for colours,
shapes and styles of things you like…

I once did the wardrobe for a 1940s short film.
There were about 100 extras and at one point
my entire living room was filled with rails
of hired, borrowed and found vintage coats,
hats, dresses, shoes, bags and delicate gloves.

Yup, I don’t mention it often but
I have a vintage clothing obsession too.

I got this blouse and skirt recently…
they need adjusted so if anyone has
seen any great skirt tutorials, I need one.
Which brings me to tip 5…

5. Don’t be afraid to customise.

If you’ve found something you like
but it’s not quite right, can you change it?
Especially if you’re getting something for
a bargain, it’s usually worth having a go.

I was really rather excited when I found
the above book… good friends of ours
got engaged next to a volcano so
it made a prefect little present for them.

On the same day, we nearly bought some Christmas
china, which I’m slightly regretting not buying. So…

6. Think off-season.

It’s summery outside now. So it might
be a great time to find a vintage winter coat.
Or get a present for a friend’s birthday…

And don’t try and find a vintage picnic hamper
when it’s sunny, people want to charge you so
much for it! (Lesson I learned last summer!)


Want more tips? I did a wee feature on
how to get the best from car boots here.


Does anyone have any other tips they would add?
Or if you know of any easy skirt diys, do let me know!

Hope you all have a lovely weekend my dears.
(And thank you SO much for all your Japan tips!
You guys are honestly the best-est!)

Wibble wobble… how to make vintage jelly in glass moulds

12 Mar

A few years ago, I bought a glass jelly mould.

“We should make some jelly” I announced on bringing it home.
I cleaned it up, put it on a shelf and promptly forgot all about it.

Same goes with the second jelly mould I found.

Then a few weekends back, I found a bumper stash.
One from a car boot sale, one from a charity shop,
two from a market. All on the same day. (Strange huh?)

The universe was telling me to make jelly!

(If I wasn’t getting enough hints
from our kitchen wallpaper!)


Except the jelly book we read said that
making it in a glass jelly mould is hard.
(Doomed to fail even!)


Never ones to listen to what might be sensible advice,
on Sunday we stopped off to get a whole lot of fruit,
some sugar and some veggie gelatin and got to work…


Now, I was fully expected to be sharing
a catastrophic jelly failure here…
but they turned out brilliantly.

(Yup, beginner’s luck really!)


Here’s how we made them:

Make 300 ml of fruit juice:

4 medium sized oranges, chopped and juiced.

1 lemon, chopped and juiced.

Add to 100 ml sugar syrup
(100ml water plus 100g sugar)

Add to 100ml to make 500ml of liquid in total.

Then add two sachets of veggie gelatine.

Boil it all up. Pour into moulds.

(To ensure the jelly came out, we lightly greased
the moulds with a tiny bit of butter.)

And voila, vintage veggie jelly!

And the important bit? How did they taste?

Really yummy, fruity and slightly tart.
Just right with a little spot of ice-cream.


So now that we’ve cracked fruit…
We’re thinking a Gin & Tonic jelly?
With little bits of cucumber through it?

Any other suggestions?
(Except vodka jelly. I had too much as a student
and the idea of it gives me the shudders now!)

You spin me right round… my 80s record collection

5 Mar

It’s been a bit of a Manic Monday…
so I thought it was time to go all 80s on you!

Of all the thrifty finds I have acquired over the years,
the most surprising is my collection of 80s record singles.

After my parents split up, I became the ‘trustee’ of this vinyl.

Which essentially meant I put it in a box
and then put that box in the hall cupboard.

Then when we moved to our current home,
someone gave us an old record player…
and so a little 80s music discovery began.

What we found was around 100 record singles…

Mostly what was in the charts at the time. (I think.)

We are both children of the 80s
but some songs we knew,
and some we really didn’t.

Like, who the heck are Five Star?

My other half promises me that they were huge
and the UK equivalent of the Jacksons.

Still nothing…

Other ones… I’ve looked at blankly,
could have sworn that I’d never heard
of the song before… and then the minute
it’s on the turntable… instant recognition!

Yup, I would have said I didn’t know
I Want Your Love by Transvision Vamp
but I appear to know all the words!

{Check out those a-ha cheekbones!}

One of the surprises is how involved it is
to play some record singles…

You have to pull a record from its sleeve,
place it carefully onto the turntable,
gently put the needle at the start…
(and try not to just pull it across the record!)

The strange scratchy hissy nothingness noise
before the song starts is really rather enchanting…
so different from how my Spotify playlist sounds!

So how you all? How’s your 80s tune trivia?
(I think I’d be good for a pub quiz now!)
Anyone know all the songs pictured?

Maybe I should make a Spotify list
of all these songs to share?


{Update:} Ok, so here it is…
Zoë’s 80s awesome-tastic playlist.
It’s got all of the record collection I could find.
(Strangely Kylie’s Locomotion isn’t there!)
** Enjoy 80s fans! **

Edinburgh’s secret Wild West…

29 Feb

On Sunday, this cowgirl and her cowboy headed out West…

Well, sort of…

You see, there’s a little lane in Edinburgh
with an abandoned Wild West set.

Not too many people seem to know about it.
And despite having lived here for years now,
I only heard about it a couple of weeks ago
from a friend of a friend while in a pub.
(It’s where he took his girlfriend on their first date!)

On Sunday we decided we’d go and check it out
before doing a spot of charity shopping (more on that later).

{Check out how happy I am with my Wild West find!}

It’s tiny but rather brilliant… and we spent
the best part of an hour, snapping pics…

I adored all the signs… especially the one below.

There was no-one else about which made
it feel both creepy and rather exciting…

Then we decided to take some ‘cowboy’ shots of each other…

{I adore my ‘jail’ shot of the other half.}

Bang bang…

Turns out the other half is soooo much better at cowboy posing
but I’m guessing as a boy he’s had way more practice!


So how you all? Is there a secret cool thing near where you live?
Isn’t it strange how you can live somewhere for
so long and still find secret little places? Do share!


{Update:} I’ve had loads of people asking for the set’s location,
so I thought it would be easiest to put it here.

It’s off Springvalley Gardens, past the Morningside charity shops.
It looks like an unassuming driveway so keep your eyes peeled!

Do let me know if you go and visit it! 🙂

{Update 2:} Recently discovered these
fab pics of the Wild West set.
I’m rather sad to see that the saloon
had a roof and doors once upon a time!

The best ever charity shop… and the find that got away

20 Feb

Back in January, the lovely Claire from Miso Funky
told me about the best ever charity shop. “You’ll love it.”

And boy was she right… it’s a cute wee place in Govan,
with gorgeous finds at old school charity shop prices.

My favourite find was the 50s coffee pot above.
Which I can’t decide whether to use for coffee
or turn into a pretty little vase for flowers.

Next up… this gorgeous little 50s gravy boat.
I’m thinking I might plant something in it.
An orangey flower perhaps?

{That said, it looks pretty cute just sitting
next to my new Hello Jenuine postcard.}

Since July last year when I found my first Meakin teapot,
we’ve become a bit obsessed with the 60s make.

And here in this charity shop was another little set.
Complete with a milk jug and bowl.

I was torn between this set and a pretty pinky gold set
I’d spotted. “I’ll get this then” said the other half.

{Yes, he’s a definite keeper than one.}

Does this remind anyone else of an owl?
I keep seeing this pic as two eyes looking at me!

New Meakin meets old Meakin.
Or boy’s Meakin meets girl’s Meakin!

And a lemon squeezer… which is hopefully
going to assist me on my soon-to-start health-kick.

This is the china that caught my eye.

It’s been a while since I saw anything so pretty
or so affordable in a charity shop it has to be said.

Gin in a tea cup anyone?

Last April I blogged about my vintage china obsession.

It made some sense when I was collecting more for our wedding.
And after our wedding, a couple of people borrowed
my china for their own wedding… which was pretty cool.

So I’ve been thinking if anyone has a wedding or event
they’d like to borrow some for… then drop me a line.

Instead of payment, I was thinking it would be
good to donate to my Nana’s charity, Marie Curie.
Since she’s the one who inspired my love of tea.

Oh yes, and the set also came with another milk jug…
which I can add to my little growing collection.

{I have no idea why I’m so fond of milk jugs but I am!}

After leaving the lovely charity shop laid down
with all these things, we headed to the West End.

Where I picked up this cute coral cardi…
which I have now washed twice and
still haven’t got rid of the ‘vintage smell’.

Any tips on how to do that?


And the one that got away?

Behold the Holiday Flask in the Holiday picnic hamper.

I found this in a junk shop… and instantly
fell deeply in love with that Holiday logo.

But my wallet was pretty empty by this point.
And the price was far too high anyway.

So I let it go.

(Well, sort of… it’s going on my
things to stalk on ebay list!)


So do you know of still fab charity shop?
Or how to get rid of that vintage aroma?!
Do share if you do.

And if you’re interested in borrowing my china
(and donating to Marie Curie) just drop me an email.

Happy Monday everyone xx

Bits and bobs and more sideboards…

23 Jan

I’ve been having an early Spring clean.
That’s rearranging, chucking out,
re-finding things I already own…

So far this has involved:

1. Making a little wall display
with my print from The Seventy Tree,
poster card from General Pattern
and little map print by Alison Hardcastle.

2. Acquiring another sideboard.

In my defense, this is actually a drinks cabinet
so I’m not as much of a sideboard addict as I seem.
(None of you are convinced by that right?)

It needs a bit of work (its bottom glass doors are broken)
but it’s lovely and narrow… so it’s perfect for the hall.
Which is exactly where I’ve just plonked it for the moment!

3. Making a tea towel cushion

Back in the summer of 2010, I bought
a ‘owl and pussycat’ tea towl by Gabrielle Reith.
And I’ve just got round to converting it
into a cushion. Looks rather lovely
with my cuddly Custard Cream!

4. Turning Xmas decs into full-time decs

Yes the fairylights are still up!

I’ve also been trying to decide on a home
for the pom-pom wreath my little sis made me
for Christmas… it’s too pretty to put away.

I’m thinking as it’s red and pink
it could be a Valentine’s wreath too?

5. Dropping stuff off at charity shops
and coming home with some finds

Yes I’ve dropped bags of old clothes off at charity…
so it only seems to right to reward myself with
this gorgeous typewriter. Especially as she only cost £3!

We also may have picked up a what
I’m calling a boy’s polaroid too…

We bought film for both cameras – and the results have
been, um, interesting so far! Expect a post on that soon!

6. Rediscovering my SLR

In amongst all the shuffling, I dusted off my SLR
and started playing around with it.
(Yes, cats make easy subjects!)

I’ve gotten very bad at just snapping everything
on my iphone… so I’m determined to
try and get back to using the SLR.

And maybe even learn how to use it properly!


So’s that’s my bits and bobs for a Monday.
Anyone else having a bit of a January
reorganisation? I think I do this every year!

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