En Vrac- maintenant aussi en Français!

En Vrac is now in French too! I finally got the push to have my posts both in English and French. Now, it might sound odd, but even though French is my mother tongue I hardly use it nowadays so my written French sometimes comes across as a little bit old fashioned. Hope you don’t mind and that I can still get the message across! x

En Vrac est maintenant aussi en Français! Je me suis enfin décidé a publier mes articles en Anglais et en Français. Cela va peut-être vous paraitre étrange, mais même si le Français est ma langue maternelle et que je le parle régulièrement avec ma famille je n’ai plus vraiment l’occasion de l’utiliser à l’écrit. Parfois mon Français écrit est un peu démodé et désuet… J’espère que cela ne vous arrêtera pas et que j’arriverais à me faire comprendre ! x

The Great Gatsby-ish skirt

I’m going to make a confession: I’ve never gone past the first page of “the Great Gatsby”. I tried several times to read it, and never managed to pass that damn first page. And I am not really interested by Baz Luhrmann’s onscreen adaptation either, my main grief being about the use of contemporary music in a story, clearly set in the 1920s. What is wrong with Charleston and Jazz? And if he wanted to give a 2013 spin to it, why didn’t he use electro swing tracks? Caravan Palace would have been perfect in my opinion.

J’ai une confession a vous faire: Je ne suis jamais allée plus loin que la première page de « Gatsby le Magnifique ». J’ai bien tenté plusieurs fois de le lire, mais jamais je n’ai réussi à passer cette satanée première page. La version ciné de Baz Luhrmann ne m’inspire pas non plus, principalement à cause de l’usage de musique contemporaine dans un roman clairement ancre dans les années 1920. Honnêtement, c’est quoi le problème avec le Charleston et le Jazz? Et s’il tenait vraiment à donner un petit air de 2013 a la bande son, pourquoi n’a-t-il pas utilise des chansons électro-swing? L’excellent group Caravan Palace aurait fait un excellent choix.

Anyway, back to my skirt. It has a 1920s feel to it, and even though I’m not a “Great Gatsby” fan, it is a bit Gatsby-ish in the sense that it’s something a common flapper could have worn backin the days. Not Daisy Buchanan though- probably not grand enough for her!

Passons, et retournons a nos moutons, c’est à dire à ma jupe. Elle a un petit cote années 20 que j’aime, et même si je ne suis pas fan de Gatsby, elle fait un peu époque Gatsby, j’imagine bien une fille ordinaire, une garçonne la porter . Pas Daisy Buchanan par contre- probablement pas assez décadent pour elle!

image

This was originally a silk dress which sadly started to wear thin on the neckline until a hole too big to be mended (silk is so fragile!) made it unwearable and put in the “sort out one day” pile of clothes for a couple  of months. Until a couple of weeks ago, when I picked it up, cut it under the arms, made a casing at the top, threaded an elastic the length of my waist minus a couple of inches, and close the casing. Case closed.

A l’origine c’était une robe en soie qui a malheureusement commencé à s’abimer très vite jusqu’à ce qu’un trou trop gros pour être réparé (c’est fragile la soie!) la rende impossible à porter. Elle fut donc mise à l’index quelques mois (années ?) dans la pile de “choses dont je ferais quelque chose avec un jour mais pas aujourd’hui”. Jusqu’à il y a quelques semaines, lorsque je l’ai sortie de la pile, coupe juste en dessous des bras, cousu le haut pour créer une ceinture, enfilé un élastique la longueur de ma taille moins quelques centimètres, et refermé la ceinture. Affaire classée en moins d’une demi-heure.

image

Because it’s 100% silk it feels quite luxurious to wear. The pattern is lovely too, very Art Déco. This was why I couldn’t part with it, and I’m glad this dress has a whole new life as a flapper-ish skirt. I wore it with a black silk cami and pearls to go dancing and felt like Colleen Moore-always a good thing in my book!

Le tissu est en soie pure, j’ai l’impression de porter quelque chose de très luxueux. Le motif du tissu est très joli et inhabituel, très Art Déco. C’était l’une des raisons pour laquelle je ne me pouvais pas me résigner à la jeter, et je suis très satisfaite de la nouvelle vie que cette robe a en tant que jupe années folles. Je l’ai mise avec un caraco vintage noir en soie et un long collier de perles pour aller danser et je me suis sentie comme Colleen Moore- ce qui pour moi est toujours une bonne chose!

image

If you have a dress that you are not wearing for one reason or the other, give it a go and turn it into a skirt! As long as the width is slightly wider than your hips you should be fine. This skirt has hardly any gathers and even though it’s not cut on the bias it does fits around your body beautifully,  just like a bias one would do.

Si jamais vous avez une robe que vous ne mettez plus pour une raison ou une autre, pourquoi ne pas essayer de la transformer en jupe de la même manière! Tant que la largeur est légèrement supérieure à la taille de vos hanches ça devrait marcher. Cette jupe a très peu de plis et même si elle n’est pas découpée dans le biais elle sculpte le corps de manière très élégante, exactement comme une jupe coupée dans le biais le ferait.

Easy Peasy Minnie Mouse-ish skirt

I am blitzing through my stash of fabric at the moment and trying to make things out of everything. Mostly this involves sewing a casing into any piece that is wider than my hips, inserting an elastic and sewing both ends together. Which is exactly what happened with this little, unpretentious skirt.

image

It’s gathered but not too much, and since they’re not set anyway you can move all the gathering at the front, or at the back, or even it on both sides. Good if you want to attract or deter attention to one part of your body! The fabric is a soft, stretchy jersey knit I previously used to make a top. Red and white polka dots always make me think of Minnie Mouse. It’s such a bright pattern… Perfect to wear on an otherwise dull day!

Oh, and expect a lot of indoor photos in the next few posts… By the time I decided to take pictures the British weather was back in full mode (rain). I got a super app called Camera 360 which has loads of nice effects. Think instagram without the hip around it… This is the same pic with one effect on, don’t ask me which one, I’ve played with so many that I forgot. Sad I know.

image

Deliciously delightful: a quick and easy recipe for chocolate chip madeleines

This is the sort of dream recipes for me, quick, easy and the final result looks incredible, partly thanks to the use of special madeleine-shaped silicon moulds. These are not very expensive (check eBay!) and if you’re considering making these on a regular basis (which you will) they’re definitely worth the investment.

So, what do madeleines look like anyway?

image

Well, like this- a spongy,  bite-sized cake which goes well with black coffee, in a true French way. In France, you can get big bags of madeleines from St Michel, a baking company, in supermarkets. These are equally as nice but you know exactly what’s in them. You might wonder at the amount of butter though- but will be surprised at the lightness of the final result.  These are not greasy at all-they should be light and airy.

image

See the lovely scallop like shape at the bottom of each madeleine?

image

The original recipe called for lemon zest, but I’ve tweaked it for my two moulds, and replaced lemon with chocolate chip-as you do.

Well, if you want to have a treat you might as well go all the way non?

Chocolate chips madeleines

Makes about 16 madeleines

100g butter
2 eggs
100g sugar (you can reduce this slightly and top up with vanilla sugar)
120g white flour
1 tsp of baking powder
A pinch of salt
Chocolate chips- I use Morrisson’s ones, they’re about 50% chocolate I think and are really good value. Use half a pack, or the whole pack, depending on how decadent you feel…

Preheat your oven at 220○ (gas mark 7/8). Melt the butter. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar and a pinch of salt until it whitens. I use my electric whisk for this, much easier and gives great results! Add the flour mixed with the baking powder, the melted butter, mix well, then add the chocolate chips.

Using a spoon, fill each mould, but don’t fill them completely, half way is better as it leaves room for the madeleine to expand. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200○ (gas mark 6/7) and bake for a further 5 minutes. Use a timer!  Even 30 seconds more than that and your madeleines will be over cooked.  You can even take them out a minute or so before-they cook really quickly.

As soon as the mould can be handled, transfer them to a cooling rack and wait until they’re completely cooled down. Make yourself a coffee with a French press, look sulky, and eat these little beauties.

Or take them to a party to show everyone how sophisticated you are. Then, in a true French way, go outside, stage a protest, and go on strike. Ha ha.

What’s coming up…

Hello! This weekend is bank holiday weekend in the UK,  and since I haven’t got much planned I am hoping to catch up and post as much as I can! I have loads to share, I have been really busy sewing this last week or so, hopefully I’ll be able to take some half decent pictures (fingers crossed the weather stays sunny!)

I have also been doing a lot of baking and cooking. I have been making adjustments to my diet- mostly, reduce my meat intake and look out for healthier versions of what I like. So I’ll share a couple of recipes I’ve tweaked or found out which have had not only my seal of approval but others too!

So this is what should be coming up in the next few posts, in the meantime here are pictures of my first attempt at Victory rolls- done very hastily last night without hairspray and thanks to this fab tutorial found on YouTube.

image

image

London

Ah dear, I have been neglecting the blog again! The problem is, I finally have a bit of a life, but can’t really find time to blog about it. So, with nearly a month delay, here is a post about my short break in London town.

image

I went a bid mad on Friday taking pics of Paddington station. I never realised how beautiful it is, lots of Art Deco details.

image

image

As soon as you step out of the train you can feel you’re somewhere completely different. There is a buzz about London which I don’t think I have felt anywhere else. And you have to pay 30p to get into the toilets of the station!

image

We arrived on Friday night and were staying at a friend’s house outside London, near a small town called Crowborough, which involved another hour long train journey. And a little ride in the Tube. Very exciting! I love the London Underground, so easy to use. For the next 3 days the Northern line was our best friend.

image

image

After a big breakfast on Saturday morning, we were back in the train for a full day in the big city and decided to check out Canary Wharf first. I had been there once, 10 years ago on a cold December night to go and see Madness for the first time. I was quite curious to see what was actually there. It turned out that there wasn’t much, but we saw the Gherkin in the distance and as it was a glorious day we sat down by the water and had endless cups of tea.

A Tube ride later and we were in Covent Garden. It was definitely more lively, and we had an entertaining little walk round the market. Sadly, I felt the market was a blatant tourist trap, selling the same cheap tat every other stall. I noticed lovely scarves with bird print at very interesting prices, but after seeing them on at least 10 stalls and around the necks of a dozen girls in the Tube I was glad I didn’t buy one.

image

image

image

image

Still, it was a nice opportunity to see grand buildings.  I loved walking by all the different theaters.

Saturday night was spent in a lovely country pub with great food and a few drinks. On Sunday it was time to go back, the journey back took longer than expected (the train seemed to stop at very random locations) but before leaving I managed to take some pictures of sleepy Rotherfield.

image

image

image

I know it doesn’t sound like I did much, but I’ve already done most of the touristy stuff,  so I wasn’t really bothered. Getting out of Cardiff was an event in itself! And between the train travelling and the tube rides, it was good only to have a handful of places to go to.

One thing which I absolutely loved is the special display created by Transport for London in some of the stations to celebrate the 150th birthday. While you were riding the escalators the screens on the side were showing people from different decades riding the escalator too. Stunning! It certainly put a smile on my face.

image

I always say I like visiting London but wouldn’t live there. We were a bit bewildered by it all. Cardiff is better suited for me!

A day at the races

Last Saturday was the day of the Grand National in the UK. In the nearly 10 years I’ve been here now, I never really got into it, apart from last year when I happened to watch it on telly at some friend’s house and got caught in the excitement of picking a horse with a silly name and shout at the screen.

This year, my *special friend* invited me to Chepstow,  to watch both the races there and the Grand National on a big screen, and place a few bets. Exciting stuff- but not as exciting as having a perfect excuse to dress up!!!

So if Friday night was all about rockabilly,  Saturday on the other hand, was prim and proper.

image

I’m not going to lie- as soon as I knew I was going to the races I started to raid my wardrobe in search of a perfect outfit. I knew I wanted a 50s, New Look kind of style so I started with one of my handmade circle skirts, which I teamed up with a fine light pink jumper and thick, lace patterned tights (I figured it would be cold- and I was right!). I didn’t want to wear a bulky coat so I settled for this lovely short dogtooth suit jacket. I found this with the matching skirt in a charity shop, it’s from Next, but unfortunately despite being a size 8 the jacket is still boxy ( the skirt is even worse, far too big, I’m planning on fixing this…) so I aded a wide black elastic belt. And I just had to wear my lovely headpiece. I’m using it fairly regularly,  which is great!

We were very lucky as the weather was kind, even though it was a little bit chilly it was a bright, sunny day.

image

It was fantastic following the races and Chepstow racecourse was fairly busy. You could definitely sense the anticipation and excitement.

I did place a couple of bets for the Chepstow races and the Grand National, overall I only placed bets for less than £20, so I was very reasonable.

image

image

I just went for any horse whose name either 1) sounded vaguely French 2) made me laugh, with the exception of Swing Bill and Tasted the wine, which I picked because of the Swing/ Sinatra reference.  Needless to say that this highly vague and non-scientific approach did not work…

image

I got a lot of compliments from my outfit throughout the day, which is always nice. What was funny is that I still had my rockabilly tattoos on!

All in all it was a fantastic day out, it was great doing something a little bit different,  and Chepstow is a really cute little town with lots of character. I did notice a sewing/ knitting shop there, so I’ll have to go back!

Which might happen quite soon as a matter of fact…

image

Rockabilly (kind of)

Yesterday evening I was invited to go to town by a couple of lovely girls from Lindy Hop. Our first port of call was Revolución de Cuba, a fantastic place where they usually have a themed night on Fridays. We once danced on a speakeasy night with a live jazz band -pure bliss! Last night had more of a 50s rockabilly theme going on, and thanks to a marketing campaign from Sailor Jerry (please drink responsibly!!!) a vintage hairdo pop up studio was offering free makeovers, posters and temporary tattoos. Oh, and free taster shots of rum.

At first I wasn’t going to have a makeover as I was convinced nothing could be done with my short bob. However, after seeing one of my friends being turned into a kick-ass rockabilly girl with a wicked quiff on hair shorter than mine I decided to take the plunge. I also decided to wear several tattoos strategically placed on my upper body, and discovered at the same time that ice cubes are the best and quickest way to transfer temporary tattoos on your skin. Genius.

1365196368512

The girls did a really good job at giving me a mini, 60s style beehive which looked good without being OTT. The lucky friends with longer hair were treated to different style if victory rolls-all stunning in their own ways.

DSC_0102

I was extremely pleased with my hairdo, and would love to be able to recreate it myself. A lot of backcombing and bobby pins were involved…

As for the tattoos… Being a very sheepish person myself I would never go for a “real” tattoo. I also think that it has lost its edge and its meaning now as everyone seems to have one (and let’s face it, most of them look pretty gharish/naff nowadays). So these are just perfect, they’re good for a rockabilly themed night or just a laugh. It was good experimenting with a different, slightly edgier look.

DSC_0108-1

Later on before taking it all off I tried to pin all my hair at the back and was surprised to see that it came out as quite Audrey Hepburn-esque. Absolutely love this! This is a serious contender should I ever need to have my hair done for a special occasion…

{21 vintage lifestyle questions and answers}

Just seen this post on Fashionable Forties Blog a while ago and couldn’t resist taking part. It’s been in my drafts for a while but I thought I’d publish it (until I get to write a proper post!!)

Fancy doing this too? Be my guest!!!

{21 vintage lifestyle questions and answers}

1. Who are your style icons?

Colleen Moore

2. What is your favourite way to get inspired?
The Internet is a fantastic way to get inspired, but old books and silent films work well too. I also get really inspired by watching other people in the street.

3. What’s your most-used hair tool?
Flower clips in all colours

4. What’s your favourite hair tool?
Much more than a hair tool actually, my headpiece made by my friend Ashley is sure to make me feel all glamorous and pretty.

5. Updo, down, or half-and-half?

Always down- there’s not much else you can do with a bob!

6. Is vintage something you do every day, on weekends, or for special occasions?

I’m quite lucky in my workplace- I can get away with wearing what I want so I try to incorporate vintage in my everyday life. Some days I dress fully vintage and other days I’ll just have some vintage accessories, depending on how I feel. It’s great to have this flexibility. It really all depends on my mood- and the unpredictable Welsh weather of course!

7. What’s your favourite blush and lipstick?

I don’t use blush. My favourite lipstick is a bright red matt Rimmel one I blogged about a couple of months ago.

8. Dress, skirt, or pants? Heels or flats?

I don’t own a pair of trousers*, so dresses and skirts all the way for me. I like the versatility of skirts and the practicality of dresses. Yes, dresses are practical. I do everything in them.

(*Actually I am lying, I do own a pair of fab palazzo trousers which I’d love to wear in public if I have the courage!!)

I can’t really do heels to my great regret so you’ll mostly see me in flat shoes.

9. Off-the-rack or homemade?

Half and half. I’ve been very good this year so far at buying only a couple of items of clothing, and they were mostly vintage and from charity shops. But nothing beats being complimented on something and answering “Thank you- I actually made this”.

10. Do you swing dance?

Lindy Hop and Jiving. I love dancing and find it very hard to cope without it!

11. Extreme vintage or subtle touches?

It really depends on how I feel. I do appreciate the fact that I can wear pretty much what I want and people won’t bat an eyelid here. This was one thing that really used to annoy me in France and still does whenever I go back. I also don’t want to restrain myself to one fashion era so in the same week I’ll wear an 1920s style outfit, the day after a 1950s circle skirt, then a 1960s shift and a fitted 1940s style dress.

12. Favourite perfume

Coco Chanel. Fig and Cherry- a proper flapper scent! I recently smelt Yardley’s new perfume, Polaire and really liked it. Prodigieux, the perfume from Nuxe was a birthday gift and is part of my favourite perfumes too.

13. Favourite skincare product?

Herbalism from Lush- my saviour!!!

14. What does your family think of your style?

They love it!

15. Favourite accessory?

I’d say a watch that my mum gave me last Christmas which was hers. I remember being absolutely fascinated by it when I was little.

16. Do you find the vintage community welcoming or snobby?

Mostly welcoming- I don’t think I ever had a bad experience.

17. What drew you to vintage style?

I always liked fashion history. The fact that everyone used to be so feminine really appeals to me. Nowadays most people don’t make an effort to look good. I dress feminine because I like it, not to impress other people or seduce men ha ha!

18. Favourite places to shop vintage?

The Pumphouse station in Cardiff, Hubbard’s Cupboard, Zizou vintage, Happy Days in Cowbridge, Cardiff Fashion Quarter, charity shops and eBay.

19. What vintage eras are your favourite?

The 1920s for the plethora of accessories, the 1940s and 1950s for the extreme feminity.

20. Most glamorous film stars?

Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Ava Gardner

21. Favourite vintage object that you own?

Anything given to me by my family.

Lindy Hopping for Couture for Change, 17/02/2013

On Sunday I took part in a charity event called Couture for Change. It was taking place in Walkabout, Cardiff and included catwalk fashion shows through the decades (1940s, 1950s and 1960s), raffle, live music, and general entertainment, all of which was aimed at raising money for the Stroke Association. I was part of the Lindy Hop Cardiff group which had been asked to give a little demo of our swift dance moves :-) while dressed up in 1940s style.

Dancing, dressing up, for a good cause. What’s not to love?

DSC_0042

DSC_0041

This is what I wore on the night. I was very pleased with my 40s style outfit despite my somehow stern face!! And apologies for the obvious “taking a picture in front of the mirror pose”…

DSC_0044-1-1

559957_10151247982067161_1683420925_n

DSC_0050-1-1

This is not a genuine 1940s dress. I got it from Laura Ashley a couple of years ago, but I think it definitely has a late 30s/early 40s feel about it. It drapes beautifully and is a real pleasure to wear.

The little veiled headpiece I am wearing was handmade by my friend Ashley, the very talented lady behind With Love from Bobbin. She specialises in bespoke, vintage inspired bridal accessories. She gave it to me as a birthday present which was very kind (turning 30 wasn’t after all that bad!). I love the fact that she managed to create something that is so me, and I’m glad I didn’t have to wait to get married to wear one of her beautiful creations. Why should brides have all the fun eh?!

DSC_0038

The pictures don’t do the headpiece any justice- it is absolutely stunning. Walking back to my car I felt like the belle of the ball, very glamorous. No one seemed to bat an eyelid. I even had a few smiles my way!

It was a really good night for a very worthwhile cause. Unfortunately the organisers were badly let down by the venue and their management who managed to be more and more awkward throughout the evening. They even interrupted one of the performances half-way through. They behaved in an apalling way and showed no consideration to the people who organised an otherwise brilliant event. That didn’t deter anyone from having a good night anyway. Well done Couture for Change!

Here’s the link to the Stroke association: http://www.stroke.org.uk/

Fancy trying Lindy hop? Monthly classes run every Thursday at the Royal College of Music and Drama. Check out http://www.lindyhopcardiff.com/.

With Love From Bobbin Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/withlovefrombobbin?id=257786510976898&_rdr