Friday, October 21, 2016

Insourcing #36....a month of creativity & DIY saves big $$$$...

Well, I have much to report on my insourcing efforts this time.
Over the last month, I've been thrifting, upcycling, costume making, gift creating, cake baking and decorating, and doing a great deal of self maintenance!
Of course, the joy of this is not just in gifting and having beautiful things, or looking good, it's that we are able to do this for not a lot of money.
Yes, it takes time. But time is something I have. I haven't always, admittedly. But as my husband and I approach retirement, and my youngest child heads towards 17 and her final year of school, my time is more my own, than it once may have been. If you are not yet at this stage of life, I acknowledge that achieving this level of insourcing may be difficult.
But cultivating even one new skill a year, will see you saving money that would otherwise be going into someone elses pocket. Do you remember at the start of this year, when I challenged you to choose a skill to practice to a professional level, or as close to that as possible? How have you gone with that challenge?
For me, this has meant re-visiting many skills, from sewing, to embellishing thrifted clothing to give it a more designer look, to freshening my wardrobe with hand crafted scarves, to embroidery (thanks to Annabel at The Bluebirds are Nesting for that one!), to generating costumes for not only my own daughter, but for her school and the school Dance Troupe.
I'm proud of all I achieved this year, and as we commence the downhill run to December, I plan to revisit my posts for this, my Homespun Year, to remind myself of all that I've learned.
For now, in the last month alone, I made several really lovely scarves from remnants and trims. This type of scarf sells for around the $60 mark, and I made 6, so I'm calling that $360 right there. I've kept one, and will be gifting the rest. If you look at Hermes scarves over the last few years, these colourways are very much the designers choice, and so I know they will be welcomed. Looking at the high end designers offerings is always great for on-trend inspiration.
In viewing the latest Net-a-Porter emails with the latest from designers like Dolce & Gabbana, I've found ways to embellish existing or thrifted clothing, to give it a bit more panache. I'm still working on this D&G inspired blouse, but I'm going to be very happy with it, when it's all done!

Inspired by this $1500+ offering from Dolce & Gabbana...
...and I also trimmed a skirt I already had, with a deep fringe, for just $8, and had it looking very swish for an outing to the ballet. Savings on a similar skirt? Around $250!
I've created an Anne Boleyn Costume for my daughters Dance assessment at school, saving around $300 on a similar purchased item. We would never have spent that, but that is truly what they go for!
And the teacher gave me an A++++++...hehehe!

 My daughter and I cut each others hair, saving at least $100.

 And as it was my granddaughters third birthday, I used my newly honed Bullion rose embroidery skills, assisted by Annabels tip to use a Straw Needle, and embellished some inexpensive department store dresses to pretty them up for her...

Thrifting saw me with several new pairs of shoes (all brand new and unworn), for just $35 for the lot, saving at least $300...
....and my cake decorating skills saved $450 on a designer birthday cake for my darling little granddaughter!
Total savings....
Over $3000!!
Yes, truly. No exaggeration.
I'm pretty chuffed.
What new skills have saved you big money this year?
Five Star Frou-Frou features tomorrow everyone. Too crazy here today! Sorry!
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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

50 & Fab....Silver and lovin' it...

I've been silver, or at least silver-ish for about 4 years now. I've had days when I looked in the mirror and thought I might be making a terrible mistake, but overall, I'm pretty happy with my decision. Contrary to popular opinion, it hasn't made me look older, and in fact, I think compliments my natural skin tone better than my previous blonde did.

When I started my journey to Silver hair, I imagined something along the lines of this woman's hair above. I was still striving for this look until very recently, when somebody rightly pointed out that her long sleek ponytail is in fact a hairpiece, wrapped in her own hair at the top. Boom went that idea! I'd been idolising this look for four whole years...hahaha! Now I realise I can have it with some gel, a hairbrush, and a good faux ponytail! Dang. I've been arguing with the hair straightener all this time for nothing!

I also had my eye on this gorgeous look below. I finally found this stunning comb today. The week AFTER I'd cut my hair back to shoulder length. Gotta laugh! I guess I'll wear it tiara style for Christmas.

Over the time I've transitioned from light blonde to dark blonde/light brown... Ash Blonde with chocolate layers underneath...

....and finally to silver...

....I've struggled with how to make the Silver look, youthful rather than ageing. I've blogged a few times about this and you can see those posts linked here. Mostly, I've focused on trying always to dress well, looking after myself by eating healthfully and exercising, and of course, making grooming absolutely vital in my daily routine.

Until last Saturday, this meant long, sleek hair (hello to hair straightener for up to 30 minutes).

I did try to do the tousled ponytail look sported by this lovely lady below (I think it's Daphne Guinness), but again, found that there is clearly some trick involved in not having this look like you've climbed out of bed and just scraped hair up into a ponytail because you lack the time, motivation or wherewithal to do anything else. It's not a skill I currently possess.

I've tried for this cute style below too, and managed it with some success. I even quite liked it for a while. But in the end, it felt a bit too girly on me, and the ends of my hair looked a bit straggly. Come to think of it, so do hers!

Pulling the front of my hair back and securing it with bands and bows has been a good solution for me often when nothing else was. Strangely, although the long curls felt a bit 'girly', the ribbons felt rather more sophisticated to me.

Ultimately, I imagined my hair would look like this photograph below. And it did. Sort of. But again, I think this is the result of a long standing relationship with a hairdresser, toner, straightener and gloss, that I am not willing to maintain for now. That's just exchanging one madness for another.

While my hair was very long over the last two years, and the messy up-do has prevailed, I have enjoyed swirling it into a topknot and embellishing it with tiaras and clips of all kinds...

But with Summer and a Cruise just around the corner, (and a certain feeling of needing a change!), I've taken the plunge, armed my 16 year old daughter with a CreaClip and a sharp pair of scissors, and asked her to cut me a bob. I think I like it. It's liberating not to have to straighten each day, in the same way it's liberating not to have to colour and dye. By the way, that Creaclip is the best money I've ever spent. Once you overcome your fear of putting scissors to your own hair, it's utterly brilliant!

Mind you, I think I'm helped by the fact that these sorts of loose curls and casual bob hairstyle, are very 'in' at the moment, and I guess that is the key to being successfully Silver. You have to make your best effort to keep your look current in some way. This cut also gives me the opportunity to be rid of the chocolate brown underneath my hair from a few years ago, and to say Sayonara to the last of the blonde highlights from June 2015. Very soon, I will truly be completely Silver, and I think I'll be very content.

What do you think?

Do you toy with the idea of going grey?

If you have, are you happy with it?

Five Star Frou-Frou is now a neverending linkup, with a featured blogger each and every time I post.

Todays featured blogger is...

 Rheta at Vintage Eves, who shared this stunning collection of Georges Briard serving dishes. I particularly loved the gold trim on this one...

 Thanks for sharing Rheta! And thankyou to everyone who continues to link and share!

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Monday, October 17, 2016

A Homespun Year...Anne Boleyn Costume....

My daughter has choreographed a Dance routine based on the life of Anne Boleyn.
As I mentioned here, Anne Boleyn was the second wife of King Henry VIII, sadly beheaded for not producing a male heir. The assessment piece was to be based upon a famous (or infamous) woman in history, so my daughter chose poor Queen Anne. We'd recently watched the film The Other Boleyn Girl, so I guess for her, this was a natural choice.
She specifically requested a costume based upon one that Natalie Portman wears in the film, that is a deep sapphire blue. Of course the famous B (for Boleyn) necklace worn in portraits by Queen Anne, had to be a major feature of the costume, as did the French Hood worn in the film, and fashionable in the day.
Additionally, this couldn't be the sort of costume that one just stands around in. It had to withstand the rigours of a Contemporary dance routine, one of the more athletic styles of dance.
Sheesh. She's lucky I'm the creative type!
First stop last week (with a whole three days notice for this costume!) was the local upmarket thrift store, where I sourced a sapphire blue bustier, and a skirt in a similar shade, both lace and very pretty, seen at the top of my post.
 I had wondered how the heck I was going to construct this French Hood, and had in mind a sun visor, or a cereal box trimmed to the appropriate shape, as recommended by bloggers featured on Pinterest. But in the car on the way to the thrift shop, I had realised (thinking laterally) that the jewelled front of the French Hood, similar in shape to a semi-circular tiara, was also reminiscent of the shape of a shirt collar. See, if I let these things tick over in my brain, sometimes something worthwhile pops out!
So I was wandering around, looking at mens shirts, when this bejewelled chiffon blouse caught my eye. Not only did it have a diamante studded collar, but the collar was attached to a midnight blue chiffon blouse, perfect to cut up for the veil of the French Hood! Thankyou thrift store...$4.50...

I removed one side of the collar...see how it already resembles Annes hood shown here in Emerald green...

I painted this liberally on the reverse side with fabric stiffener. Now remember that I regularly make costumes, including headpieces for Dancers, so I had all of this stuff on hand. I acknowledge that it's not as easy, nor as inexpensive, if you have to buy it all. However, I'm trying to show what you can achieve with a little imagination, and a few basic materials.
I then set it out in the sunshine to let it dry and harden, and then stitched it to a lacework headband I already had. See here, I've cut up the back of the chiffon blouse to form the veil of the French Hood...
...then I positioned the stiffened blouse collar, now dried, on the headband, and anchored it at either end. This wasn't easy as the stiffened fabric is like leather, but I managed.
Now the B necklace and the accompanying pearl droplets.
This necklace features heavily in any information on Anne Boleyn, although there is conjecture about whether, as Queen Anne, she would have continued to wear it. However, as a costuming piece, it's a must-have, so here is how I did ours.
I shared here, how I formed the B initial, and the pearl shaped drops, from air drying clay. This took no more than 15 minutes, but then I had to wait for them to dry.

Again, I already had this faux pearl necklace on elastic, sourced for a previous costume. Thift stores ALWAYS have faux pearl necklaces for under $5, so that's your best bet. Another alternative would be pearl Christmas trim, or fabric trim.
I painted the B with gold acrylic paint. Yes, I had that too. If nothing else, by my age, you accumulate an astounding array of crafting tools!
Then as seen above, I poked my pearl shaped clay beads onto the end of skewers, and dunked them into my sample pot of pearly paint, purchased last Christmas to fancy up some gifts. I then left the skewers suspended across a jar, to dry.
To attach the B and the pearl shapes to the pearl necklace, I simply threaded a double strand of sewing cotton through each bead, threaded on a tiny bugle bead off another costume onto the thread, and then rethreaded it back through the clay 'pearl'. This gave me a way of tying the beads to the pearl necklace, and worked admirably. If I'd had more time, I would have bought some little jewellery jump rings, which would have been sturdier, but they aren't something I had on hand. I know. Laugh if you will.


I'm really pleased with how it turned out!
The skirt was cut off at hip level, and white gauzy leftovers from a lonely unused IKEA curtain, were added as a floaty feature for my girl to dance in. One cannot dance without a floaty skirt.

I trimmed her peasant blouse so it fits under the bustier, and there was a section of the lace panel from the front of it left over, just large enough to stitch to the front of the I did...just for a bit of embellishment...
Here is the idea, mocked up for my original photo...

....and here it is finished. She will wear her Peasant blouse under the bustier as shown here. This is a more authentic and modest look, than the bustier alone.

For a small outlay, and a little time and effort, I think we have done Anne Boleyn proud.
I'll let you know what mark my darling girl achieves for her assessment.
Have you ever had to magic up a complicated, close-to-historically-correct costume? What did you do? I'm always keen for a costuming story!

Five Star Frou-Frou is now a neverending linkup, with a featured blogger each and every time I post.

Todays featured blogger is...

Helen at 3 Winks Writes, who shared a super cute DIY owl projects. Just right for  inclusion in a DIY post!

Thanks for sharing Helen! And thankyou to everyone who continues to link and share!

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