Thursday, August 23, 2012

An exciting discovery: The Simple Things magazine

I couldn't believe my luck arriving back home to our soggy old capital, when I found my favourite magazine Mollie Makes on sale at Dublin bus station! I was so happy to have all it's glorious girlieness to pour over and to not have to resort to some crappy fashion mag full in anattempt to entertain myself for three hours. My luck was obviously in that day because when I looked inside what did I see but an ad for their brand spanking new publication 'The Simple Things'. A wonderful, whimsical mish-mash of everything from gardening, crafting, cooking and interior design, it kinda looks like Mollie Makes' more sophisticated big sister, not quite as shamelessly cutesy and spanning a much bigger range of interests and hobbies. Get your sneak pre-view here and don't forget to mark September 6th (the release date of issue one) on your calenders :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The best of Budapest


Hey people! Guess what.. we're back! And after two weeks of sweltering heat, endless explorations and horribly dodgy food we're suprisingly happy to be back to our grey little island and cat family! We covered a HUGE amount of ground in such a short space of time, firstly, arriving in the middle of the night in Budapest. When we stepped off the plane the heat hit us like opening a hot oven and we knew we were in for a bit of climate shock but we were so completely unprepared for the 45 degree onslaught we were due to experience as we moved south! Irish people just aren't built for those sort of conditions, poor P. got got so bad a few times he started babbling and talking gibberish, seriosuly!
We only spent two days in Budapest in the end, despite my huge ambition to go there for years. In my head Budapest would be a fairytale city, full of stunning architecture, kooky little cafes, arty bookshops and bohemian types meandering about the place in amazing vintage outfits. We quickly realized however, that in August at least, the reality is a far less romantic place, with thousands of sweaty tourists swarming the streets being sold tacky crap and terrbile over-priced food. Despite the tacky b.s going on, I could see that it would be a wonderful place off season, so my new plan is to go back maybe in Autumn or Spring sometime and give it another chance, I think it deserves it.

The picture at the top is of the bridge over the Danube connecting the two sides of the city: 'Buda' and 'Pest'.

Most of the souveneirs on sale were cheerful 'traditional' folk art trinkets like Matryoshka dolls and tea-towels embroidered in fabulously bright colours. They are mostly made in China though.

We stumbled across a cool little street festival in the middle of the night at one of the main inner-city junctions where we got our metro in and out from the hostel. These guys were baking pizzas, pies and fresh bread and all around were little craft stalls and bands playing cheezy music. We were amazed at how there were no trouble makers at all even with everyone sitting around the streets drinking all night. That would never, ever work in Ireland!

 This is the ceiling of a little cafe in the heart of Pest, visitors leave a momento of their own when they visit and over the years these have almost engulfed it!

As beautiful as the centre of Budapest is, it doesn't take long walking in the other direction before you encounter the less charming realities of city life here. The glorious old town centre is surrounded with miles of these dismal communists tower blocks, where most of the locals live.

Here's us trying to be enthuisiastic about Hungarian food on our last night in Hungary, our naive attempt to find decent Hungarian food meant we wasted 24 euros and ended up desperately hunting out a nearby KFC we'd seen signs for earlier! They aren't big on writing descriptions on menus there, so I unwittingly ordered stuffed sour cabbage leaves (even more gross as it sounds in writing), polenta (a local type of flavourless mush) and some other meat like thing I couldn't really identify all covered in more white mush. Poor P. got a trout with teeth that smelt like dirty tea-towels.

On day two we hiked out to the city limits in search of the Ecseri Piac market, supposidly one of the biggest flea markets in Europe! We arrived on a quiet day (Saturday is said to be the best) so most of the stalls weren't open but we still had a brilliant day digging through mounds of vintage clothes and old soviet army paraphernalia. Arguably one of the very best days of my life so far, I found an incredible green silk velvet cocktail dress from the fifties, handsewn by a Parisian couturier. How romantic is that!? Sadly it is too small for me and I will be selling it at some point so stay tuned for details! I also got myself a beautiful fox fur capelet for... *gasp* twelve euros!! As well as a sparkly gold circle skirt and a very dapper maroon wool fedora.

Here I am digging around in one of the vintage caves at the market. Everything is just thrown into piles or impossibly tightly wedged onto over flowing rails, aided only by a rickety old step-ladder and an unenthusiastic shop-keeper who can't speak any English, it's pretty hard going stuff! The 35 degree heat and metre thick wall of polyester around me didn't help either, but I soldered on for a good hour in there! I like the way I look like some sort of vintage crazed vampire in the mirror :P

I found lots of beautiful old black and white photos with mysterious well dressed people in them. I think they are worthy of a blog post all of their own some time.

 P. using a gadget for looking looking at old photo negatives. The guy at this stall kept trying to sell him a self-sharpening razor, despite his big fluffy beard, much to the amusement of the other old guys manning the nearby stalls. The market was the first chance we had to really intereact with the locals and despite their having no English and us no Hungarian it was so much fun, especially with their trying to sell us everything we so much as glanced at!

Would you like some kitsch with your old coke bottles? yes please! So after our brilliant day plundering the market, our next port of call was the lovely little city of Novi Sad in Serbia, but more on that adventure next time.. Hope you guys are all good!


Saturday, August 4, 2012


Just a very quick note to let you all know I'm heading off on holidays for the next few weeks and will be too busy sunning myself, eating weird and lovely foods and trawlling through flea markets to go near a computer! In the mean time here's a picture of Indre being adorable... see you all when I get back for a massive photo fest!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What to make.. Burda swing dress, Simplicity 1803, Vogue 9668 or A-line skirt with scalloped hem

I'm having a bit of a mental block lately, a block against sewing, against my wardrobe (I changed three times today before I felt adequately 'myself', hate when that happens!), against cooking, against pretty much anything vaguely creative in fact. I've not even particularly excited about going on holidays this week, and I have been dying to go to Budapest for ages! It's weired because I'm a serial doo-er by nature, just like my mum, I usually can't relax because I have so much to do on my mental agenda so this lack of motivation really doesn't sit too easy with me. Usually if I'm feeling lazy I just drink a liter of coffee and that usually kick me onto a roll of endless mindless activity (and productivity, even if it is just a perfectly organized underwear drawer) but even my usual strength-tar brew is failing me lately. I think I need to make a dress, something, anything! I hate feeling so unproductive!
So, anyway, I just spotted this beautiful swing dress pattern in the latest Burda style newsletter. I know the bust and waist dart combo would probably work wonders on my hour-glass figure and I do LOVE a well gathered skirt, but having been so traumatised with Burda patterns in the past (I've used patterns of theirs that failed to mention the seam allowance wasn't included, grrr!) I'm not sure I'm ready to give myself the headache all over again. Their patterns have virtually no information on them (no notches, WTF!?) and the instructions are pretty terrible to boot. This is so very pretty though and if ever a dress would tempt me back there it's this one...

Second on my maybe-to-do list is Simplicity 1803, I am particularly tempted by the pink version below with the adorable cut out neckline, although I'd probably ditch the skirt part of the pattern and just use a regular half circle skirt instead, the skirt included doesn't look too flattering to me and have a feeling that huge hemline really wouldn't work too well for me here in the windy south west. I especially love this little button detail on the yellow gingham version in the illustrations below.

If you look at the back view in the pattern illustration, you'll notice it also has a very elegant low-scooped neckline which I never noticed when I bought the pattern! Definite bonus!

Lauren over at lladybird also whipped herself this little number and worryingly named it 'the disaster dress' although I think her version turned out lovely, I think I'll  be giving the pockets a miss after reading her review.

I also happened upon this beauty, a not so run of the mill A-line skirt with scalloped hem, curved waistband and top-stitched detail.  The lovely lady over at pattern-scissors-cloth very helpfully put together an excellent accompanying tutorial on how to get perfect scalloped edges in your dress-making endeavours ...

Also fairly high up on the temptation list is Vogue 9668, really doesn't look like much on the packet does it!? Kinda 80's and yucky in those drawings, but check out how purdy Tasia's of turned out:

Seriously, you would never think that pattern could lead to such a chic little thing as this would you! This pattern would also give me the perfect opportunity to finally get to grips with piping, just imagine contrasting white piping peeping out around the neckline, cuffs and waistline of this little number and a trail of little white buttons below the sweetheart neckline!

So many tempting options, now I just have to decide which to make, as usual the problem with dress-making (and being a girl) is that there is literally and endless list of dresses to covet and not nearly enough time to make and wear them! Any ideas, which do you prefer?