News

The humble rise of the Prom June 22 2014

It is the season of Proms, when school kids celebrate their last senior year, the girls get to dress in gorgeous flowy dresses and the boys get suited and booted. Over the weekend, I went to wave my niece Olivia and her friends off to their Prom in a vintage bus.

The bus was privately owned and its proud owner gave me a brief history and let me on board to see its original leather and fabric interior with bunting hung inside, it really was adorable. The bus was lovingly made in 1954 and was originally with the Aldershot & District Traction Co Ltd for the London link.

As we ate canapés, chocolate strawberries all washed down with Shloer, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters all got snap happy in taking photos of the excited group of friends.

But how did Proms get started? When I left school, they just had a Leaver's Disco, in fact, our year were so bad, the school opted not to have a Leavers Disco for us!! I also think it may have had something to do with fact that there was a teachers strike going on as well not just we were the naughtiest year in the school!!

Virtually unheard of 15 years ago in the UK, Proms are now the highlight of the school leaver's year, where pupils look forward and start planning their big day way in advance.

So where did it all start? Prom's started across the pond in the US, it was an event to bring together people from all financial standings and heritage. Ever see the film "Pretty in Pink"? If you have, you get the idea!

The word “Prom” comes from the French word, "Promenade", which means "walk" or "stroll". Early in the Twentieth century, it was considered inappropriate to dance with men that you were not married to so the girls would take short and heavily-chaperoned promenades around the block with their dates.

In the 1930s and 40s "Prom" stories of good and bad memories were published by school papers and were taken seriously. By the 1950s and 60s Proms had moved from school gyms to fancy ballrooms with heavy competition for the titles of Prom King and Queen becoming a popularity contest, usually going to the best looking and best dressed couple.

In 1963, President John F Kennedy had to cancel a fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton because the hotel double-booked a school Prom. The Hilton tried to cancel the Prom but luckily for the Senior Highs, the President cancelled his event!

In 1975, President Gerald Ford’s daughter, Susan, got to have her prom at the White House. No stinky old school gym for her!

Today, parents from the US and UK alike complain that Prom's have become expensive and more of a competition of who has spent the most as much as it is a show for the kids. Yes, it can be expensive if you let it but you can buy a Prom outfit fairly cheaply if you shop, around and look no different to someone who has spent a small fortune. It's not necessarily how much you spend but how you wear it.

All in all, the Prom is a wonderful night, for boys and girls to dress up and celebrate the end of their exams and the end of their school years with friends who they have shared so many laughs, tears and experiences with. And as the girls and boys are teetering on the edge of adulthood, the Prom will hopefully, be a night remember.

 

On the Buses from Betsy Blue on Vimeo.

 


Cupid, draw back your bow! February 13 2014

 

For all you star-crossed lovers out there, Valentine's Day is fast approaching. The vision of hearts, flowers and wild romance makes life nothing but a dream...

And for all you singletons out there, don't despair, it's only one day of the year!

Traditionally, Spring begins on St Valentine's Day (February 14 incase you didn't know!), the day it was believed that birds paired into couples.

This year romantic Brits are expected to spend around £1 billion on cards, flowers, chocolates and gifts!!! Yes, you read correct, £1 billion!!!

In the 18th Century, cards and gifts were sent anonymously but nowadays we often make it clear who is sending each "Valentine".

Saint Valentine

But where does Valentine's Day come from? And who was Saint Valentine?

Was he?
a) A 3rd Century Priest in Rome who performed secret marriages when the Roman Emperor Claudius II thought single soldiers were more likely to enlist in the army?

b) Someone who helped Christians which was a crime at the time?

c) Someone who was responsible for giving the jailer's blind daughter back her eyesight and before his execution, he sent her a note saying, "From your Valentine"? Thus, the phrase is still used.

d) All, some or none of the above?

If you guessed d) then pat yourself on the back and treat yourself to those love-heart shaped box of chocolates that you've been salivating over in the supermarket since January!

Stories about Saint Valentine are scarce and vary wildly but he is widely believed to have been a 3rd Century Priest in Rome who was imprisoned and executed supposedly on... Yep, you've guessed it on February 14. So...

Where did he live?
According to the official biography of the Diocese of Terni, Bishop Valentine was born and lived in Interamna.

How did he die?
The Emperor Claudius II ordered for his arrest and death by stoning. When he didn't die from stoning, the Emperor then ordered for him to be executed... Hmm nice man the Emperor Claudius...

When did he die?
Again, myth has it around 269 AD on February 14.

Where is he buried?
Apparently, his body was then buried in a hurry at a nearby cemetery before his disciples later came and carried him home.

Where are his remains now?
The poor chap seems to be scattered all over the place!
  • A skull believed to be his is held in glass in Rome. But parts of his skull could also be in Chelmno in Poland.
  • His shoulder blade is in the Czech Republic and is now on permanent display in the Church of Saints Paul and Peter in Prague.
  • There are also said to be remains in Basilica of Santa Maria in Rome, Roquemaure, France and Dublin, Ireland.

When was he made a Saint?
In 496 AD, February 14 was declared in the name of St Valentine by Pope Gelasius. It was originally part of the Roman festival of Lupercalia, a feast day dedicated to St Valentine.

It remained a Church holiday until 1969, when Pope Paul VI took it from the calendar because of uncertainty of the facts.

Just the one Valentine?
Little is really known of the real man (or men) behind the myth. What is known is that at least two men by the name of Valentine (Valentinus) were known in Italy and died in the late 3rd century and a third Valentine was located in North Africa around the same time. The two Italians were buried along Via Flaminia.

Courtesy of Angel Food Bakery, Brighton

Traditions and Tales of Valentine's Day

  • The first man an unmarried woman saw on February 14 would be her future husband (let us pray it's not the smelly old tramp that rummages through the bins on your street!)
  • If the names of all a girl's suitors were written on paper and wrapped in clay and the clay put into water, the piece that rose to the surface first would contain the name of her husband-to-be.
  • If a woman saw a Robin flying overhead on Valentine’s Day, it meant she would marry a Sailor.
  • If a woman saw a Sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be very happy.
  • If a woman saw a Goldfinch, she would marry a rich person.
  • During the Middle Ages it was believed that birds chose their partners in the middle of February. Thus the day was dedicated to love and people observed it by writing love letters and sending small gifts to their beloved.

Did you know?

  • The first reference in print to Valentine's Day is found in Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Parlement of Foules" (The Parliament of Fowls) circa 1381.
  • The earliest known romantic Valentine verse was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife in the 15th Century while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
  • In 1537 King Henry VIII declared St Valentine's day an official holiday. It was another century and a half before religious devotional cards became non-religious cards to reflect the change in the holiday.
  • On Lupercalia (a Roman festival for purification and fertility) a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and would then keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year. Understandably, this was not favoured by Pope Gelasius so he...
  • Changed the lottery where women would write love letters and stick them in a large urn. The men would pick a letter from the urn and for the next year, pursue the woman who wrote the chosen letter. (Bet the men were gutted!) This custom lasted until the 1700s when people decided their beloveds should be chosen by sight, not luck.

Whether you are coupled up or single, however you spend your day, Happy Valentine's Day!

And if you are single, why not use Valentine's Day as a reminder to spend the rest of the year letting people know how much they mean to you. That will show your coupled friends that love is actually everywhere... X

"Be my funny Valentine..."  Not politically correct but I thought this vintage Valentine card endearing!


The Real McCoy? January 01 2014

With Christmas and the New Year celebrations now over, most of us will go shopping hoping to grab ourselves a bargain in the January sales.

BB loves these Vintage Gucci Purses!

I myself, have been looking to replace my rather old but faithful Gucci purse I purchased years ago from the Gucci store in Berlin. I've been looking for sometime and have looked in various stores for the right purse but I have always returned to looking at Gucci.  So my first port of call was Gucci online and then eBay, just to see what is out there and if I could grab myself a bargain and perhaps a vintage piece.  But how do you know if you're getting the real deal?

Tell Tale Signs

Spotting replica handbags and purses used to be simple like flimsy buckles, cheap leather, slightly skewed logos and misspelled logos.  But fakes can be so good these days that it can be difficult to tell if you have the real McCoy or not.

Online

When buying a handbag or purse online, make sure it’s from a reputable source.  If sites are based in China or Hong Kong, proceed with caution, as most fakes are from these two countries.

Check the Description

Designer bags will have a serial number inside and should come with an authenticity card.  Also, check reviews online for signs of inauthenticity.  If bad feedback is given and customers say items aren’t the real thing, then they likely aren’t.

A quick internet search on the designer's website will soon help you to make sure the design, pattern and details are all correct.  But that can be difficult if you are interested in a vintage piece because the retailer will only be showing their most current items or items from the last season, not from eons ago. So, purchasing a vintage piece can sometimes be a gamble.

Respectable Resellers

Just because a bag or purse is sold online, it doesn’t mean it’s fake.  Authentic and vintage handbags and purses are often sold on eBay hence why I was looking.  But you need to do a bit of research into the seller and use your savvy...  If the deal looks too good to be true, it usually is.  A Louis Vuitton bag will never be £50 so use common sense.

Craftsmanship Flaws

A Prada handbag will not have crooked stitching or unfinished edges.  High-end brands take ultimate pride in craftsmanship, so no imperfect bag would leave their factory.  The leathers and fabrics of authentic bags will always be perfectly stitched and lined up, never crooked or gapped stitched.  If rivets and buckles are damaging the fabric of the bag or purse or are catching on your clothes, then this is a dead giveaway for a fake.

Are all of the patterns on track and consistent throughout?  If not, you could be looking at a fake.  A monogram print should consistently match all over the bag.  For example, in a Louis Vuitton bag, the signature logos should all be facing the same way.

Brand-Specific Clues

Know the signs to look for in the specific bag or purse.  For instance, Louis Vuitton bags made since the early ‘80s have a date stamped somewhere on the interior and all newly produced Mulberry bags should have a small Black cloth label stitched inside stating the country it was made in. Contrary to popular belief, all Mulberry bags are now NOT made in England.  Some are made in in China and Turkey.

There are plenty of brand fanatics online spotting knock-off bags and revealing the tell tale signs so do a quick search before you buy.  eBay sellers give good advice if you're unsure.

You can only really trust it's an original if you purchase the bag from a department store or the brand's shop or website.  What I tend to do is, if the real thing is too expensive, I buy an authentic, quality item of a lesser-known brand (usually in the sale!) at least then I know I'm getting quality and authenticity.


Sweet Sixteen and a Sugar Lump or Two November 15 2013

Remember, remember the 5th of November...  Well that was 10 days ago and it's now the 15th today.  I have been meaning to blog all week but what with one thing and another, I haven't managed to do it!  Yes siree, I have been rubbish but blogging takes time and thought and I just haven't had a lot of it recently...!

What I did want to write about was my niece Olivia's fantastic 16th Vintage Tea Party last weekend.  At first Livvy didn't want to do anything to mark her milestone but with the insistence of her mum (my sister Susan), we organised a Vintage Tea Party for her.

The weather was particularly atrocious last Saturday and so Livvy with ten of her closest friends sat, chatted and listened to music while Susan, my brother-in-law Steve and I whistled while we worked making finger sandwiches of Cray Fish and Prawn, Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon, Turkey and Ham listening to a wonderful vintage radio station found by my sister on digital called Smile Sussex.

I was assigned to the laying out of the most fabulous cupcakes I had ever seen.  Infact, I kept thinking what a shame to have to eat them, just staring at them and being tempted by them was good enough for me...  Actually no, maybe that was a slight exaggeration but if they tasted as good as they looked...!   (Which they did by the way!)

Cupcakes made by Kerrie Crabb

A long table was laid with an eclectic mix of fine bone china cups 'n' saucers and plates kindly lent by various neighbours.  One sugar lump or two?  There were Silver spoons from Bali with semi precious stones to stir and slurp the brew.  The vintage looking paper plates and doilies for the finger sandwiches and pizza pieces were purchased through eBay as was the bunting we hung from the walls.

Vintage Bunting and Vintage Paper Plates and Doilies - From eBay

The devilishly scrumptious Birthday cake was made of rich Chocolate mousse covered in delicate swirls of dark chocolate shavings.  It was lovingly handmade by the dad of Livvy's friend Tiren.  How clever is he!? I'm told that Tiren's dad is a brilliant cake maker and looking at what was before me, I could see it was no lie! 

 Handmade Chocolate Mousse Birthday Cake
Black Polkadot Tea Dress - Laura Ashley

 

The girls had all clubbed together to buy Livvy a beautiful birthstone ring of Topaz from Pandora and had wrapped it up in a huge box so she would never have guessed.  Livvy squealed with delight as she opened it and saw the ring.

And so, with bellies full of tea and cake, the afternoon unwound with lots of giggles and a sing song on the piano...  And oh, lots of clearing up for us adults!!

**A Tea Party Ode by Me**

Livvy had a tea party
One rainy afternoon
Mum wanted to go that extra mile
To celebrate it vintage style
But Livvy said, "No boys allowed, it has to be just girls."
"I only want my closest friends wearing frills and pearls!"
Finger sarnies served up a treat
Fresh tea was on the brew
Homemade cupcakes were served as sweet
Was that one sugar lump or two?
A Birthday cake of chocolate mousse
All washed down with Lambrini juice!
But best of all for everyone and me
We all enjoyed our afternoon tea
 

A Budget Tour of New York June 23 2013

Visiting any major city can be expensive but it can be done on a budget if you are in the know.  Unless you've suddenly hit jackpot on the lottery and cost isn't going to be an issue, you will want to keep the cost of your visit to as little as possible without missing out on the sight seeing and shopping.  And if you're on a budget and let's face it, most of us are on a budget of some sort, here's a list of some of things I did in New York that doesn't have to cost the earth.

Manhattan Skyline

This one of the most famous skylines in the world.  Sitting on the mouth of the Hudson River, Manhattan, is one of the smallest boroughs of the State of New York but yet one of the densely populated.  You can get a really good view of the tall buildings the reside along the East River leading up to the Brooklyn Bridge.  From Brooklyn Bridge Park you can see the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and the famous Manhattan skyline that you see in so many films, photos and postcards.

 

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States in 1886.  If you are not particularly interested in going up The Statue of Liberty and you don't want to pay the earth on a boat trip around the Hudson Bay, you can still get a good view of the lady herself on the Staten Island Ferry which leaves from Whitehall and Water Street...  And it's free!  The boat ride is run by New York  City to transport locals between Staten Island and Manhattan but many tourists also get on the boat just to see the wonderful New York skyline.  The boat ride is about 25 minutes each way and as soon as you get off Staten Island, you quickly embark to another boat going back to Manhattan by walking off the boat you just arrived on and hopping on the one leaving for Manhattan.  You have to be quick though or you may miss the boat and you'll have a long wait for another!  But you can get some fantastic photos of not just of the Statue of Liberty but of the New York skyline as well.

 

Home to NBC since 1933, you are better off going up The Rockerfeller Center than going up the Empire State Building.  Although the Empire State is the taller of the two, it also the better looking of the two in architecture.  To see a panoramic view of New York from the top of the Empire State Building, you view the scenery through mesh wire whereas from the Rockerfeller Centre, you view the city through glass and you can poke your hands through the gaps between the panes so you don't have to take a photo through the glass and you get to see the magnificent Empire State in all it's glory.  Also, you can't see Central Park from the Empire State Building but you can see how big Central Park really is from the Rockerfeller Center.  And if you look hard enough, you can see the apartment block where John Lennon lived and was sadly assassinated outside but if you go up at night, you won't be able to see Central Park as it is not lit up at night.  Opening hours are 8am-12am with the last lift going up at 11pm.  It's not cheap though, $27 for adults but well worth the visit.  We stayed up there for about an hour and half just taking in the views, sitting and chatting.

 

Bryant Park, Midtown Manhattan

A wonderful scenic park situated behind the New York Public Library between 40th and 42nd Streets which in surrounded by trees and skyscrapers.  It is only small in comparison to Central Park but in the Summer, you can sit at tables or just lie on the grass and have a picnic and people watch.  There are even ping pong tables shaded by the trees if you fancied a game.  In the Winter this park turns into an ice skating rink.  There are cafes in the park but there are a few places around that you can grab a sandwich from if you prefer.  If you're like me and a bit of a chatterbox, the local New Yorkers seem friendly to strike up a conversation with and they'll happily sit and chat for ages if you let them!

 

Along the way to the flea market in Lafayette Avenue, we stopped off for a bite to eat at this truly scrumptious eatery.  It was only by coincidence that we stumbled across it but seeing that it was popular with a lot of people, we thought we would give it a try.  It was particularly hot this day and the restaurant had opened up its glassed front for diners to sit in comfort and diners alike sat inside and out with fans blowing inside.  We didn't have to wait long for a table and were seated inside.  A glass of chilled water was poured for us (pretty much all restaurants in the US automatically do this and it is free) with the "Best Hot Dogs in Brooklyn", a Joint Dog with either pulled pork, beef or chicken as a topping and a large cup of creamy coleslaw (the Americans know how to make good coleslaw!), it all came to $8!  So if you are looking for somewhere cheap and yummy to eat, be it a Hot Dog, Spare Ribs (which are massive!), fries, salad, fish, chicken, beef or pork this is the place.

 

Brooklyn Flea Market, Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn NY

From vintage baseball gloves to vintage clothing, furniture from the 50s and 60s to old vinyl, the Brooklyn Flea Market offers an eclectic choice of stalls.  Set in the grounds of a High School and between Clermont and Vanderbilt Avenues, I found a lot of things here rather expensive (really no different to a vintage fair in the UK) but if you look hard enough, there are things you can pick up rather cheaply, it all depends on what you want and are willing to pay!  And don't be shy to do a bit of haggling!

 

The best homemade burgers I've tasted in a long time, the Piper's Kilt is a small bar/restaurant that is reasonably priced.  In actual fact, the Piper's Kilt reminded me of how a bar would have been in the 1970s with its old fashioned tills they still use and with "Love Like Oxygen" by Sweet blaring out the speakers.  Prices for a burger vary between $7.95-$12.95 depending on what toppings you have, Blue Cheese, Canadian Bacon with Cheese or just tomato.  Water  is served if you want to keep the price down because drinks can bring your bill right up but a soft drink is around $1.75.  Remember to give a 20% tip on top of your bill as this is expected in all bars and restuarants in the US.  I would recommend you make a table reservation before you go as it gets quite packed or you may have a bit of a wait until you are seated.

Guggenheim Museum, 5th Avenue, Manhattan NY10128

A contemporary and modern Art Museum with various exhibitions to see.  General admission is $12 but I'm not entirely sure if this was because part of the museum was closed off when I went for a pending exhibition because I thought entry was $22...  But if you are on a budget, from 5.45pm until 7pm, admission is free.  There are works by Bauhaus, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne and many more.  If you are not wanting to see a particular exhibition, then this should give you enough time to have a look around.  If you are walking up Fifth Avenue, then I suggest that you take a walk in Central Park, a path that runs along side and leads you up to the Museum Mile.  It is a lovely walk and away from the hustle bustle of the cars.

 

D&N (Dumpling & Noodle), 26 Palmer Avenue, Bronxville NY10708

This is restaurant is a little gem!  Homemade authentic Asian dumplings and noodles that are very reasonably priced.  The staff are very friendly and attentive and the place itself is quite quite small but clean and modern, I would say it seats around 20 people but you can get a carry out (that's a takeaway to you and me) if you please.  I ordered a Pork & Shrimp Dumplings (you get 4 giant Dim Sums that I did share!), Roast Duck with Rice and Chicken Broth Soup with Scallion (it was meant to be noodles but I customised it and asked for rice instead) and Steam Custard Buns (5 Egg shaped buns, again I shared I'm not a complete little piggy) all for about $20!!!  They do Curry Puffs which were also delicious and Fried Ice Cream!  On asking how they fry ice cream , the waiter said that the ice cream is rolled in breadcrumbs, then quickly fried and served so although it is hot on the outside, the ice cream is still cold and solid on the inside.  Clever...  If you want to give this a try, I would call up and book a table before you go as it does fill up quickly.

 

Shopping

I was in my element here!!  Unlike the UK and other countries I have been to, the US doesn't seem to have a seasonal sale.  They do have Summer and Winter sales but there is always a discount of some sort going on.  I'm told  no one in New York ever pays full price and in some shops even if an item is already in the sale, you still get further money off depending on what the discount is for that day or week.  Even if you don't have a voucher for discount, most stores will have a voucher at the till you can use.  Have a good look around first to see which places are doing deals and better deals.  For example, I found the department store Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue having a week 25% discount on most items except chocolate candy and 10% discount off perfume.  But Bloomingdales on Third Avenue just had a half price sale on selected items.  So it's worth having a mooch just to get your bearings about the place.  Just make sure if you don't have an actual discount voucher that the till you are paying at has one you can use or you will be charged full price.

 

Clothes and especially shoes can be expensive in New York but sportswear by Nike (futuristic looking Basketball boots and Converse are big here) underwear by DKNY and Calvin Klein is cheap and even cheaper if you go to a shop with discount.  UGG boots are a lot cheaper in the US (also big here) as is believe it or not, Hunter wellies even though they're British!  I was told there is an 8% tax on any single item that costs over $100 to purchase and anything under that, even if you buy 3 items and they come to a total of $115, you will not be charged the 8% tax.

Getting around on the Subway

They say New York is the city that never sleeps, well this is because the subway in New York never stops.  Of course there are more trains running during the day than after midnight but the trains never stop running even after midnight.  No matter how far or short you go on the New York subway, it is $2.50 a ride.  You can buy a 7 day Metro Card for $30 and go on as many rides in NYC as you want provided it is within the 7 days.  Or you can buy a refillable Metro Card for as little as $1 and top it up as and when you need it.  For example $ 10 will get you 4 rides.  Just watch you don't accidentally swipe your card twice when entering the subway or you'll be one ride down than you think and then you'll have an insufficient fee for what you think is your last ride.  You can pay by cash or by card but best to just use cash if you have it.  So getting around on the subway is cheap.

And so...

I know I haven't covered everything to do in New York but I hope my little insight of the place has helped plan part of your trip and to show that you can do the city on a budget if you really want to.  I will say this much though, be prepared to be filling your suitcase full of clothes, underwear and shoes!  Seriously, even if you think you won't be buying anything, you will once you see how cheap certain things can be!  New York is a truly amazing place, I absolutely loved it and I think myself lucky that I got to go.  I heart NY, I really do...


Get the Gatsby Look May 26 2013

Seeing "The Great Gatsby" the other night has inspired me to write about how to replicate the glamorous fashion of the Roaring Twenties from from drop-waist tea dresses and head scarves to crisp bow ties and spectator shoes.  You don't have to dress head-to-toe in it, you could just pick out a few items that replicate the style of Jay Gatsby or Daisy Buchanan.  Just mix and match, using items from a variety of lower-priced stores like H&M, Accessorize, Primark and eBay.  I picked up a lovely strand of knotted faux pearls from TK Maxx for £7 by the Danish jewellery makers "Pilgrim".

Lace Jacket - River Island Sale £10
Vintage Faux Pearl Necklace - Ebay £5
Vintage Box Bag - Present from my Mummy when I had Chicken Pox!
Turquoise T-Bar Shoes - Carvela Sale £15

 

You could also sift through secondhand shops and vintage fairs that evoke the era although, actual clothes from the 1920s will be expensive so try to replicate the look cheaply rather than spending a small fortune (unless you want to of course.)

You can easily pull together plenty of fashions and accessories that reflect 1920s glamour by just searching the racks of less-expensive clothing stores like H&M and Primark.  Half the fun can be in the treasure hunt.

Plenty of fashion stores offer such looks as drop-waist dresses in lace or embellished with sequins or beads and head scarves.  Accessorize are doing pretty turbans and embellished clutch bags that are very 1920s.

Looking for a strand of Faux Pearl and T-bar shoes with a small heel?  Shop at low-priced shops like Primark, you could easily pick up both a Faux Pearl necklace and a pair of shoes for about £15 or less!  Pin a Feather or Diamanté brooch to your turban and wrap a string of Faux Pearls around your neck and voila! you have my dahhling, the Flapper Girl look!

Beaded Bag - Accessorize

And boys, if you don't want to wear a Pale Pink suit like Jay Gatsby, you could wear a Pale Pink vest and matching jacket with a Beige pair drop-crotch skinny fit jeans with Slip-on Boat Shoes without socks.  Just don't roll the sleeves up on your jacket or you'll end up looking like Crockett and Tubbs from Miami Vice!  We're talking 1920s here not 1980s!

Betsy Blue has some beautiful decadent brooches for sale from the Art Deco period.   Art Deco is possibly my favourite era, I just love the smooth clean lines of the furniture and architecture and the glitz and glamour of the fashion from that time.  I am an old romantic at heart.  Here are just a few Art Deco brooches on the website..


The Ultimate Cooking Tool April 26 2013

For her Birthday, my sister got this cool retro food mixer.  It is the KitchenAid Artisan® Stand Mixer.  There are 26 different colours to choose from and she chose Ice Blue.  If ever a piece of machinery could look sexy, this is it!  It has a stainless steel bowl with comfort handle, a pouring shield and a tilt-back head that provides easy access to bowl and beaters.  Are all you cook enthusiasts drooling at the mouth yet?

Born in 1919 in Troy, Ohio, USA the stand mixer was the first electrical "food preparer" for the home.  This incredibly versatile mixer makes homemade pasta, stuffs fresh sausage, whips up ice cream and even squeezes fruit.  The only thing it doesn't do is do your washing and ironing for you!  But that's okay, you'd only get bored anyway if it did do all your housework for you...!


A vintage cuppa with the Great and Powerful April 25 2013

At the weekend, my sister and Niece Olivia asked if I wanted to go to the cinema and see the new film, “Oz the Great and Powerful” at the Atrium in Camberley.  Not far from the cinema is a Vintage Tea Shop that had just opened so we thought we'd go treat ourselves to a cupcake and pot of tea before the film started.  We didn’t have to wait long to get a table but most of the yummy cupcakes had gone.  There were some cupcakes left, not necessarily the flavour I wanted but hey, beggars can’t be choosers and I was just happy to get a cupcake!  The cupcakes are actually made in the shop with the bakers busy in the back making them as quickly as they were selling.  I ordered just plain old Vanilla with Buttercream on top and my sister and Livvy ordered Lemon with Lemon Buttercream, all served on a beautiful eclectic vintage teaset.  I’m not a great lover of icing or lashings of Buttercream on cakes and so had to scoop half of mine off onto my plate only to have Livvy ask if she could have mine (she’d already eaten all of hers).  Talk about sugar rush and rot your teeth!

Did you know there are about 15 books in the “OZ” series?  No, nor did I…  “Oz the Great and Powerful” is a sort of pre-equal to the original 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz" and I loved, loved, loved it! I liked the fact that the makers kept the scenery very much in suite to the original and it was rather dark but funny film.  Basically, the film tells us of how the Wizard became the Wizard with his flaws and fears.  And how the Witch Theodora became the Wicked Witch of the West.  I won't say too much or it will be a spoiler for anyone who hasn't yet seen the film but it's truly a wonderful film that I would happily see again, that I think both adults and children alike will enjoy.

"I'll get you my pretty!!!"

("I tried to make your face Green..." Yeah, thanks Livvy, I didn't actually want to look like the Wicked Witch of the West!)