Nothing mass-produced

Watching The Block, and the drama involving accusations that a winning room was a direct copy of an interior design store’s styling had me thinking about how I like to decorate **.

 

I like vintage pieces and because you’re reading my blog, you must too. I’m not one for discount store cheapies. I’m mindful of the ethical issues surrounding the mass production of items that retail for a few dollars. I also don’t like generic looks, I like my home to reflect our individuality.

 

is nostalgia all the rage?

I was quite taken by an article called Made by Hand in Eco Outdoor’s Live Imperfect (pictured above). It begins with the statement: “we live in a world surrounded by mass production” and argues that mass-produced items are cold and sterile. Then concludes that handicrafts and mass produced items can co-exist. The author poses some questions:

Is it nostalgia? The desire to be unique? Or are we fighting the industrial revolution to create a life and style that is more authentic?

Industrial Revolution

In some ways we think a mass-produced item isn’t of good quality. Not reconciling that the scale of production drives down costs. Mass production improved standards of industrial production hugely. Which impacted on society in many ways – spawning the middle class being one.

The very middle-class socialist William Morris, was concerned that factory production was removing opportunities for individual creativity. His resolution was the revival of handicrafts. Or what we refer to today as the Arts and Crafts movement.

Many craft based associations and communities were founded, and handmade became stylish. To satisfy this trend, some large-scale manufacturers introduced hand made or hand finished ranges. Like this cat figurine made by Anglia Pottery.

 

Ironically there was an elitism in William Morris’ arts and crafts movement. His intentions were egalitarian, but handmade products are costly to produce, and the customers for these items were, of course, the better off.

 

Unless you have all your furniture custom made, weave your floor coverings and hand-block your wallpaper, thousands of people have the same things in their homes, and likely use them in similar ways. Decorating is all about copying something that somebody else did before us taking inspiration from other designs. The benefit of mass production today is cheaper materials make items affordable for all. We can reflect our individuality using antique or vintage pieces.

 

**

We had that bed first, but in teal.

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Recipe : Chocolate dipped Strawberry and Rose Water Ice blocks

 

I’m a woeful cook. I’m probably the inspiration for the Why do they want dinner every single night? meme. When we made these ice blocks, we had takeaway fish and chips for dinner as the kitchen had been in use all day. And I was over food prep!

Over the weekend, despite the freezing Sydney weather, my daughter and I made 🍓 Strawberry Ice blocks with a hint of Rose Water 🌹. I shared some of the images on Instagram, and promised to share the recipe here on the blog. Plus, writing this adds to my promise to overshare!

It’s a super easy ice block to make, for those of you who, like myself, are kitchen impaired. You just need to wait for the ice blocks to freeze solid before dipping them in chocolate. I’ve had the Tupperware Mickey Mouse ice block moulds for close to twenty years. As there were only six moulds, we used the remaining strawberry puree for smoothies.

Home Made choc dip Strawberry Rose Water ice blocks

Ingredients

600 grams of strawberries

2 tablespoons of honey

2 tablespoons of rosewater

a packet of chocolate melts

Method
  1. Blend the strawberries, honey and rosewater into a puree.
  2. Pour the puree into the moulds, leaving about half a centimetre at the top so the mix doesn’t overflow when you add the sticks.
  3. Freeze for a minimum of 3 hours. They need to be frozen solid.
choc dip
  1. Once the ice blocks are frozen, take them out of the freezer and wriggle them out of the moulds.
  2. Follow the directions on the packet to melt the chocolate. Ours suggested 2 melting methods: microwave and bain-marie style. We chose to nuke the chocolate in 30 second blasts until it was at choc dip consistency.
  3. Dip the tips of the ice blocks into the melted chocolate. We double dipped the iceblocks as we had more chocolate than ice blocks.
  4. Mangia! Eat! Or put them in the freezer for later. Bask in the sweet rose and strawberry scent in your kitchen.

We found we had excess strawberry puree and melted chocolate during and after this process. As I said above, we made strawberry smoothies with the excess strawberry ouree. When it came to the excess melted chocolate, the children wanted to get stuck into the bowl. Imagine an old school lion tamer, defending the chocolate. As we have giant marshmallows for emergencies, and kebab sticks, I encouraged them to be semi-civilised, and have choc dip marshmallows. Those pictures are on Instagram as well.

I’ve decided I’ll add watermelon and delete the chocolate next time. Don’t forget to say hello on Facebook too! Let me know if you make these ice blocks!

 

Jewellery: Estate, Vintage or Antique? Oh My!

There is nothing sadder than jewellery not seeing the light of day, because they don’t suit one’s style. I’m not a huge jewellery wearer, nor do I claim to be any sort of expert on jewellery. My expertise is limited to admiring shiny, glittering adornments. Mind you, if I was part of a royal family, I’d be wearing a different tiara a day.

All of these items are referred to in the text.

That said, I decided to write this blog post about estate, vintage and antique jewellery, because I was researching the aquamarine ring pictured. I think it’s art deco, because of the stylized tulip cut outs in the mount. When I was given this ring by an elderly aunt, I didn’t ask about the history – I just saw a sparkler!

First the most important question needs to be answered immediately : how is jewellery spelledt?

In Australian English, the correct spelling is jewellery. The United States, on the other hand, uses jewelry’.

Estate, Vintage or Antique?

According to jewellery expert Lauren Thommen, “the terms antique, vintage, and estate are used to help date older pieces of fine jewelry… jewelry that is not brand new is considered estate jewelry, but not all estate jewelry is considered vintage or antique. Antique jewelry and vintage jewelry are defined by when the item was made.”

Estate Jewellery

Estate jewellery is any pre-loved piece regardless of its age. An item can be a recently purchased contemporary piece and still be considered estate jewellery. The lapel pin pictured was purchased earlier this year at a gentleman’s boutique. It’s estate jewellery now.

Vintage Jewellery

Vintage refers to an item that is at least 20 years old. For example, the pearl brooch pictured was given to my mother in 1967. Vintage. The ruby and diamond earrings pictured  were given to me for my 21st– they are also vintage.

Hey what!

Antique Jewellery

The term antique refers to items that are at least 100 years old. Jewellery expert Lauren Thommen warns we should be wary of items described as antique style, as it could be a reproduction piece.

What does THIS all mean?

Dear reader, it gets better. Like fashion, architecture and art – there are jewellery design eras! I mentioned in my introduction that I thought the pictured aquamarine ring is from the art deco period, (deco is my favourite era) purely from the stylized tulip design. Art deco jewellery was made between 1920 and 1935.

All I know about my ring is that it’s from the 1930s. The ring was appraised in a valuation a few years ago for contents insurance, and I was surprised at the dollar figure, but again, didn’t ask more. I’ll be finding out more, and of course, blogging about it. So be sure to follow me here or on Instagram or Facebook.

Psst

Here’s a great ring size chart for your reference!

If you know something about Estate, Vintage or Antique jewellery, I’d love for you to share your wisdom in the comments! Cheers xx

It’s Friday! Cocktails All Round.

 

It’s Friday, and it’s cocktail hour somewhere in the world!

cocktail hour needful vintage things peonies martini
An arrangement featuring a vintage cocktail shaker I have for sale on eBay.

The imagery of  vintage cocktail culture has always appealed to me. Vintage Cocktail hour images are just fabulous. They show snippets of a golden age of style and sophistication.  Everything looks so strikingly stylish and radiates glamour, decorum and class.

We all like to kick back with family or friends at the end of the working week. Sitting in the open air with cocktails, is the epitome of glamour and success. Cocktails certainly don’t stir up fond memories of the mundanities of everyday life.

If I was given an opportunity to go back in time, I’d choose the King Cole Bar in the St Regis Hotel, NYC. Not for the cocktails per se, but for the appeal evoked from images of the era. However I’m happy to settle for the company of my family and friends, as we sit on our balcony and watch the sun set over the city of Sydney.

Here’s some old school cocktail recipes to get your Friday night started:

cocktail making drinks needful vintage things
Vintage cocktail book from my collection

Salut! And cheers to cocktail culture.

Now I want to hear from you. What’s your favourite cocktail?

 

 

 

Christmas in July – a mermaid’s tale

Christmas in July is an interesting concept. Christmas happens in December! Why Christmas in July?

What Do mermaidS have to do with Christmas

I wanted to show off my mermaid ornaments. Aren’t they gorgeous! And tell you a tale about my mermaid tails.

IMG_8394
My personal mermaid Christmas tree decorations

Summer goal: Become a mermaid

For those of you living in the northern hemisphere, enjoying the summer warmth, Christmas is likely to be the last thing on your mind. You may be spending your days at the beach or poolside. Sea lovers may be channeling their childhoods, living a carefree mermaid or merman life. It’s sun, sand and Sangria according to Instagram 😉 And when the sun goes down, and the sunburn shivers set in, a tail blankie and more Sangria will soothe you.

WINTER goal: STAY WARM

On the other hand, those of you living in the southern hemisphere, myself included, are enduring the throes of winter in July. Warm and hearty winter food is gratefully enjoyed. A Bourbon-Spiked hot chocolate is definitely enjoyed. Of course, winter in the southern hemisphere isn’t snow drifts and icicles – in fact today is almost balmy for a winter’s day (17°C = 63 °F). A brave mermaid would be basking in the sun! A smart mermaid is under a blanket (which, by the way, I’m selling 💋).

CHRISTMAS IN JULY goalS

And that’s the crux of Christmas in July. We ‘down under’ want to enjoy a hot Christmas dinner, without enduring a kitchen/sauna experience. We want to indulge in the ugly Christmas sweater fad, without dehydrating. We can soak a fruit cake in brandy and light it up. Can’t do that in December in Australia, there’s usually a total fire ban in place!

As it doesn’t really snow across Australia in July, we make do with boat cruises and parties. There’s none of the pressure associated with December Christmas – family tensions, financial tensions and loneliness. There’s no mandated happy time in July.

Sure, it hasn’t really caught on with the entire Christmas celebrating public. Cynics even may see it as a merchandising con. What do you think?

Finally!

Welcome to needful and vintage things. The website.

The name reflects the title of one of my favourite Stephen King novels, Needful Things. Unlike Leland Gaunt, there are no pranks. Leland Gaunt was fond of saying, everything, everything is for sale.

My fascination with all things vintage started early. Growing up in suburban Brisvegas, I read many books which centred on the glam – Hollywood Wives and Fabulous Nobodies are two of my favourites. My fascination with lace and embroidery was nurtured by Little Women. And my taste in art centred on Pop Art, particularly Warhol, and New York City in general.

So I started frequenting local charity shops. I could curate collections to my taste, and not dictated by trends. I don’t wear clothes that are branded. Never have. I am happy to be the odd chick. I’ll wear a tulle maxi skirt that was once a wedding gown as day wear. Although now that my children are older, I can’t go to the park or grocery shopping in said skirt with them.

I have though, over the years, perhaps collected too much! So I’m opening the vault on many pieces. They range from toys to tribal artefacts. You can check them out on ebay.

You, dear reader, will see pieces of my life. My fascination with sharks, mermaids, succulents and hydrangeas. I’ll also be writing tips, aka the Clueless Person’s Guide to Navigating Life™️ – along the lines of teachable moments triggered by my own curiosity and the Zeitgeist.

Fashion is what you_re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.