Friday, September 23, 2016

Motherly Advice....would you be prepared for a hospital stay?

We are approaching our usual storm season at the moment where I live, and we are bombarded with advertisements to 'be prepared'. Having lived here my entire life, we have learned to 'be prepared' for storm season. It's second nature.
Something I learned recently however, is that we are not always prepared for other unexpected events in life.
A friend of mine was hospitalised recently.
She's home now, but you wouldn't believe what a pressure this unexpected confinement introduced into their lives. Apart from the very obvious worry for her and her family, it transpired that she had no sleepwear suitable for public viewing being a trackpants and tshirts for pyjamas kinda gal, and no toiletries that were not currently in use by the family.
Her husband was entrusted with the task of remedying the situation, and whilst you might imagine that husbands would be good at buying their wives sleepwear, judging by how that's so often marketed for Mothers Day, under duress, it's not that easy. What size, what sort of fabric, what colour, pants and tops or nightgowns, what size slippers...these were all the kinds of decisions he had to make, without the relevant information at hand.
He also had to buy toiletries of all kinds, likewise without knowing what he was doing many husbands really know our preferred toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, deodorant and so on. And of course, when you're unwell, the familiar becomes so important.
He managed, but his wallet was several hundred dollars lighter for the experience, which did not help anyones state of mind at the time.
This got me thinking that first of all, my husband would not have a clue if this were to happen to us. I have very particular taste in sleepwear, toiletries and general items of comfort, and the poor man would not know where to begin.
And secondly, with Christmas coming up, could I use this idea to generate some gifts for friends and family?
My list might include hair care items including hair ties and clips, like these...

Some pretty nightgowns would be absolutely essential, and I have a collection of patterns, both my own vintage ones and ones I've found on eBay or in thrift stores. Sleepwear styles do not change much from one decade to the next, and these styles remain comfortable and attractive even given their 30+ age...

Even a style like this one below, is surprisingly easy to construct, and even when you're ill, it's empowering to have a pretty nightgown...
Pharmacies always have little miniatures of toiletries available, and even samples can be a handy thing, and are given away routinely upon request in some pharmacies and department stores.
Imagine a gift that included a pretty nightgown (or two), some facewashers and a favourite soap, a dry shampoo and hair care items, toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, hand cream, light makeup items, and all presented in an adorable drawstring bag. Pretty, useful and welcome for anyone of any age.
I'm off to start mine now!
What would you add to your emergency care kit?
My Five Star Frou-Frou Linkup is a neverending linkup, with a feature each time I post.
Todays feature is Nellie from Nellies Cozy Place and her Thankful posts make me smile each and every time. I'm thankful today that it's not me going to hospital unexpectedly!
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Homespun Year....the health giving benefits of Bone Broth...

Bone broth is one of those things our Nannas used to make. Or at least mine did.
If we'd been unwell, it was always Bone Broth for a week or even two, to rebuild your immunity, and 'put the roses back in your cheeks'.
I've had a particularly nasty virus for a couple of weeks, and find I'm struggling to get back on top of things, so I decided a good Bone Broth is in order. I'll drink this as a morning cuppa, a nightcap, and add vegetables, noodles and meat to it for meals. I firmly believe this will see me restored to good health in a relatively short space of time. This method is one that that takes advantage of the easily digested broth, and the nutrients in the vegetables, added both whilst cooking, and afterwards for serving, to extract the maximum vitamins for optimum health. As a nightcap, it beats milk or a hot toddy hands down.
Many benefits are recorded by devotees of Bone Broth. From clear skin and eyes, to strong nails and glossy hair, to general wellbeing, deeper and more restful sleep and relief of joint pain, so it's not to be sneezed at!

Here's the recipe Nanna Style, in four sentences....
Soup bones, usually consisting of bits of thigh bone, or the middle of a leg of lamb, or just offcuts not useful for any other purpose, are roasted at Medium heat (240F/100-120C) for 30 minutes, to enhance their flavour (if not already roasted and being used as a leftover). They are then added to the stockpot or Slow Cooker, with any herbs and aromatics on hand, and simmered on very low for 24 hours. Onions, Garlic, Bay Leaves, Ginger and Thyme are a good combination. This is the basic broth, which you then expand upon for meals.

After 24 hours on low simmer, you take the bones out, and remove all of the meat from them. This is an easy process as the meat just falls off at this stage. I usually discard any bits of fat or gristle too.
So your broth ends up looking like this....
...the soup bones are picked clean of lean meat...

...and you end up with a satisfying pile of braised meat like this...
Now at this stage, you can chill the soup in the refrigerator, and allow the fats to solidify on the surface for removal. I do this if I have time, but often I want to use my Bone Broth immediately, so if the bones I've used were fairly lean to begin with, I don't always bother. The tiny amount of fat in the broth, can actually enhance the flavour, if anything.
To the broth and lean meat, I now add herbs and spices, sometimes Asian aromatics like soy sauce, fish sauce, coriander and ginger, and sometimes more traditional ones like Bay Leaves, Peppercorns, Thyme and Rosemary. Either way, cooked rice noodles or rice are stirred through, and once it's spooned into bowls, fresh herbs like Coriander (Cilantro) or Basil are used as a garnish.
This is the sort of food that just makes you feel good.
There are many, many dietitians and nutritionists advocating the use of Bone Broth for everything from weight control, to management of arthritic pain. It's worth a try, and a more economical thing, cannot be imagined.
I constantly have one batch chilling, ready for consumption, and another simmering, ready for tomorrows yummy meals and snacks at the moment. I don't feel hungry, and my fatigued body, is already responding to the dense nutritional value in the broth and meals prepared from it.
If you're feeling a little under the weather, try a Bone Broth and see if it makes a difference to you. I think you'll be surprised.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Homespun Year....What September brings...

September in my part of the world brings displays of Bromeliad flowers and Gazanias in my garden....
It sees my lovely husband out in the garden, trimming my topiary trees, which he maintains carefully, just because he knows I love them...
...the orchid my Mum gave us when we first moved to this home, always flowers...
...and September sees us enjoying our afternoon cuppa in the outdoors, with tea served in a large pot, served with freshly baked chocolate cake...

 September also sees me treating myself to something nice, as Mum used to say. It would have been my Mums birthday you see, so my sister and I always celebrate by buying ourselves, what we would have bought for Mum at this time of the year. This time for me, it was an Art Deco Toi et Moi (You and Me) diamond ring. Mum adored the Art Deco period, and passed that passion on to us, so if she were here, this would be a lovely gift for her. I know she would approve. Happy Birthday Mum.
Of course, the other passion we inherited from her, was shopping at Thrift Stores. So a recent find of a linen jacket, has seen me meticulously stitching a neon beaded embellishment to upgrade my Spring wardrobe....
....of course while I had needle and thread in hand, sewing in September, also means the sewing for the annual Dance Performance Night at my daughters senior school. This is always lavish beyond belief, with the choreography, lighting and costumes, rivalling any Studio performance. As always, I assisted with costumes, by making silver boots, headpieces galore, and several Card Soldier costumes for an Alice in Wonderland routine. These were easy though thankfully, and were simply a white pillowcase, slit at the sides, a small sliver cut from the closed end to form a neck hole, and shapes cut from red lycra (no fiddly edges to finish!), hand stitched to finish. Thankyou $6 costume...schools love you. And with Halloween coming up, busy mums love the $6 costume too!
And well...things never run smoothly. No sooner was all that out of the way, and the week long virus struck. All thoughts of food, drink and movement of any kind fled, and all I could manage was lying prone on the living room lounge, hair awry, sips of water at hand, and Casablanca on the screen. Awful. And in the end....very boring! Sorry. Not Casablanca, for how could it ever be boring or awful. I mean the virus.
Here's a still from that famous scene where Humphrey says "We'll always have Paris" (swoon), and "Here's lookin' at you Kid" (double swoon). Why don't well dressed folk wear little hats any more, I ask you. So glamourous and fabulous...

Naturally this too passed, as all things both good and bad do, and just in time for school holidays. Oh joy. I LOVE school holidays because not only do I get to see my darling daughter, but I also get to host my little Munchkin for a sleepover. We of course had to buy a new outfit (because that's what Nannas do), and of course it had to involve tulle, glitter and sparkles. Thankyou End-of-Season sales. This whole ensemble, head to toe, relieved Nanna of just $24, including the headband. The boots? $3. The sparkly dress? $6. Leggings and metallic knit and headband? $15 all up. Smile for Nanna? Free. Hugs? Many.

A sleepover at Nannas always means an adventure too. By request, yesterdays adventure was a trip to the local ice skating rink where the Munchkin was becoming quite accomplished at all things slippery and chilly....

Of course this meant Nanna had to sit in the bleachers shivering her way through several cups of weak and watery hot chocolate, but well, that's what we do, isn't it?
Needless to say, September is not yet done, and more fun is to be had as we tumble headlong in to Studio Dance Recital rehearsals, Eisteddfod Duos and Groups, end of year exam preparation at school, and then Christmas. I think I'm ready....
The years fly by so quickly these days, when all I really want is for them to slow down. I guess that will come...
What does September bring in your part of the world? I'd love to share your photos too! Send them to me at ya..
Remember too that Five Star Frou-Frou is a never ending linkup, with a feature each and every time I post. Thankyou to everyone who continues to add their gorgeous posts to the linkup!
Todays feature is from my lovely friend Jes over at Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth. All this talk of Spring here, seemed an opportune time to feature Jes's post on what's lurking under the kitchen sink, and how to tame it!
Thanks Jes! Love it!
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Friday, September 9, 2016

50 & Fab....Embellishing Thrifted Clothing for that 'Expensive' Look...

What makes some people just ooze 'expensive', and others not so much?
I always think it has a lot to do with personal grooming and basic hygiene. If your hair is soft and clean, your hands likewise, and you look like you've made a bit of an effort, you're already half way there.
Of course, whether you believe it or not, the saying 'clothes maketh the man' does carry a grain of truth. This does not necessarily mean 'expensive clothes maketh the man (or woman) look expensive'. It simply means that first impressions really do count. As do second, third and forty-third!
So how to manage to look expensive on a budget that's kindly referred to as 'shoestring'?
You can make your own clothing, and of course, if you are talented in that area, that is an obvious solution. You are then free to whip up as many designer look-a-likes or one-off originals as you like. But gosh....fabric is expensive these days and even a decent reel of thread can set you back $20. Not exactly the bargain basement solution it once was!
As an alternative, buying clothing from charity shops, garage sales and online from sites like eBay and Etsy, can be a real thrill in the making. I've had my wins and losses over the years in all those arenas, and in the process, I've learned what to look for to ensure that my bargains don't make it straight back to the charity bin.
1. First off, as I mentioned here and here, know what suits you, maybe follow the fashion blogs that reflect the personal style you'd like to develop, and subscribe to some of the department store and online fashion specialist retailers or look-book type sites, like Net-a-Porter or Polyvore. Why? Well, because dressing successfully d'Occasion (French for second hand!), means making the best effort you possibly can with those thrifty bargains. That said, you need to also adapt the trends to suit yourself. Don't wear stilettos if they cripple you, don't wear orange or khaki or fluorescent garments if they make you look sallow or ill, and don't wear prints unless they suit you. Know thyself, over all else. Instead, and you've probably heard it before, DO use a seasonal colour or idea that is on trend to keep your look current. This is the key.
But how do you do this? You've probably heard that bags, belts, and jewellery can all add that certain something that makes someone looked pulled together and polished. The problem I've found with this idea, is that cheapeth go ye to follow this rule, and cheapeth ye shall look. In other words, stocking up on $3 necklaces and $20 bags, is not necessarily the solution either. You're just going to look like you spent all your loose change on cheap necklaces and plastic handbags. Now I have nothing against this idea for the 12-25 age group. But I always think that once we get past about that age, we need to be a little more choosy. Certainly in the context of this post, that is what we are aiming for.
Instead, I want to show you some ideas for embellishing or accessorising existing items in your wardrobe, or those bargains you've snaffled at your local garage sale or charity shop, to make them look 'the goods'.
2. One solution is to seek out vintage accessories. Cute mid-century handbags in unusual shapes, colours or materials, fabulous glass beads, headturning little fascinators...all wonderful if you are the type who can carry that look off. And who's to say you aren't? Again, Google the vintage look, as I discussed here, and fine tune it, so you feel comfortable with it! If you're going to travel that path, then for a 50's look, twist your hair into a retro friendly style, grab the oversized pearl earrings and the bright red lipstick and really make a go of it. I know...I hear some of you. "I'm too old for that", "I'll just look silly", "People will stare at me". Yes. Yes. But you're only here in this life once. Are you really going to spend all your time just existing? Throw caution to the wind. Maybe ease your way into the look. Get used to a brighter lip colour first, and wear it on your nails too. Then introduce some vintage look accessories with beads, bags and earrings.
3. Get brave and start wearing little hair accessories or hats if you're the type to carry that look off. I have a selection of little rhinestone and floral hair accessories, and wear them often. Hats are way overdue for a comeback too, in my opinion. Look at how important little hats were back in the early part of the twentieth century. And the great thing about a hat was, that you could invest in quality basics for your wardrobe that would last years, and then update with the right little cloche, beret, fedora, or fascinator, and a trim to match on your Investment Jacket. So glamorous too!
4.  Make sure your shoes fit the look too. I absolutely believe that the right shoe can make or break an outfit. Ballet flats, kitten heels or sky high stilettos all make the most of the Rockabilly look. A Mary-Jane court shoe with a small heel is key to the Downton Abbey Flapper look. Boho demands strappy sandals for Summer or knee high boots for Winter. And if you're going for the Avant Garde Arty look, well shoes can be the piece de resistance in your wardrobe arsenal. From bright colours, to unusual styles, nothing is off limits. I'm a sucker for a fabulous shoe. In fact, a disproportionate percentage of my own wardrobe budget, is spent on shoes. Loafers, ballerina flats, brogues and sandals are my favourites, and I have them in many colours, and styles, and I love nothing more than a quirky shoe ;0)
These Dolce & Gabbana lounge slippers are on my wish list at the moment. How adorable are they?
 - Slippers - Dolce&Gabbana - Winter 2016
5. Alternatively, and for the braver fashionista in all of us, develop your own style. Look at labels like Dolce &Gabbana, (my personal, completely over-the-top 'if I had a million dollars to spend on a wardrobe' favourite), or locally here in Australia, the fashion retro label, Kitten D'Amour, where my daughters fashion heart lies. Of course, insert your own personal favourite there.
I cannot in my wildest dreams, imagine a scenario in this lifetime, where I could afford a D&G original. I can, however, analyse what it is about their garments that I find so breathtaking, and do my best to imitate those elements.
For me, it's the lavish embellishments, the use of ideas borrowed from the Old Masters or ancient architecture, dabs of pop culture, jewels and beading, and the almost storybook or child-like look of some of the jackets and accessories, that I find so appealing. This, I know, is in stark contrast to my very staid wardrobe of neutrals, but that's okay. On days like today, when the Spring sunshine is streaming in through my windows, and I'm in the mood for a bit of fun, it means I can use my D&G inspired accessories, to be more youthful and playful with my wardrobe.
Here's how different trims, can completely alter the look of a very ordinary Linen blend jacket, sourced from my local charity shop for just $9.50.
I liked the unusual Nehru style neckline, the flecked colour and the flattering cut of this jacket, and I've decided it's well worth a weekend of upcycling it to make it the fun focus of my wardrobe this Spring and Summer.

I have many trims on hand due to my sewing commitment for dance costumes with my daughters school. There's always a bit o' this and a swatch o' that left over from costuming.
First off, I decided whether I might trim the bottom of the jacket, into a more rounded shape to echo the one I'd seen here.
I folded it under to get the effect, and started laying down different trims to help me decide which way I'd go.
I tried this metallic gold Moroccan style tassel. I quite like this and it's a sophisticated look, but doesn't quite have the 'fun' element I'm seeking.
A dig around yielded this piece of silk that I intended turning into a scarf last Summer. The hot pink and lime green pompom trim was meant for the ends of the scarf. I momentarily considered using that, and wearing the scarf sans pompoms, with it. But I felt this was a little limiting, colour-wise.

I quite liked the idea of using this vintage inspired quilting fabric either as a flat trim...

...or gathered into a lavish frill, as seen below. Worn with different accessories like these fabulous beads, another thrifting find at $15...

...or this gorgeous vividly hued rhinestone necklace, that my husband purchased for me at the Kensington Palace gift shop in London when we visited there in 2008...

...or even with my favourite 'tiara' gifted by a friend, and seen here...

..this showed the most promise in terms of personalization, and versatility.
But then I remembered this box of neon coloured flat backed jewels that I'd just purchased this week on sale for $7 for a couple of hundred of them. I didn't have a plan for them at the time, but they caught my eye, and who could pass up a bargain like that!
These are perfect for what I had in mind. I am now in a fever, stitching these in a lavish, over-the-top, Dolce & Gabbana inspired fashion, along the edges of my jacket.
This was my first idea, but I thought it looked a bit kindergarten-ish for some reason I can't explain...

I decided to stick with the orginal shape of the jacket, with squared off edges, as it seemed to echo the geometric shapes in the jewels....

...and layered the jewels heavily in rows, to make a real statement....

I think this 'felt' right too, as the shape of my jacket echoes the style of the Indian Nehru jackets, often heavily embellished with metallic embroidery and jewels. Research of 'Nehru Jackets' confirmed that I am on the right track. So you need to think about the lines of your garment too, and perhaps take that into consideration in embellishing. A more traditional shaped jacket, may have dictated an entirely different approach.
As the rest of my wardrobe is almost exclusively neutral, I can see myself getting a great deal of wear out of my D&G inspired jewelled Nehru jacket. I can still add other accessories, and I've already spotted some neon pink sandals that I think will complement it perfectly. Some fun oversized corsages for the lapel, or my hair, or scarves in similar neon colours, or perhaps vivid jewelled earrings and bangles, or a brightly coloured tote bag, all spring to mind. Certainly my orange and yellow beads and Kensington Palace rhinestone necklace are already strong contenders.
Now neon jewels may not be YOUR thing. So to get your imagination going, some other embellishments I considered were:
*Embroidered appliques which are available on eBay for under $2
*Sequinned appliques, also available on eBay or from specialist dance trim suppliers
*Rhinestone appliques
*Ribbons and lace
*Chanel style chain
*Multiple simple, brightly coloured rows of machine or hand stitching.
Any of these ideas would still have elevated my $9.50 thrift store bargain to something unique, and designer worthy, giving me a statement look that defies the amount of money I'd actually spent.
Go looking with an open mind and a good imagination, and I bet you too, can find something to upcycle at your local charity store.
In my next post in this series, I'll be showing you how my other random purchase of a silky polka dot blouse for just $4.50... going to become another D&G inspired blouse like this one....!..
Todays feature from my Five Star Frou-Frou Neverending Linkup is...
..Fiona at Saw It, Pinned It, Did It. She's sharing how she created her own School holiday fun, with Henna Tattoos! Thanks Fiona! ya...
Mimi xxx
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