20 April 2016

18th-24th April: The week you can change the fashion world

Courtesy of fashion revolution.org

From the 18th-24th April it is Fashion Revolution week, which is asking people to question where their clothes have come from. The week began after 1,134 people were killed and over 2,500 people were injured on the 24th April 2013, when the Rana Plaza complex tragically collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The garment factory collapsed due to structural inadequacies and since then people have been trying to change the way our clothes are made. You can find out here how you can get involved and even just tweeting a brand and asking #whomademyclothes will help bring some awareness and make brands accountable.

However, also this week H&M have launched their own initiative called World Recycle Week, which some people have branded insensitive to be held on the same week. H&M aim to collect 1,000 tonnes of unwanted clothes via its ‘Garment Collecting Initiative’, frankly that's probably the amount of clothes I have in my wardrobe put together.

They launched this idea in 2013 and all of its 3,600 stores around the world are taking part. You can do your bit for charity and planet earth by taking in any old unwanted clothes into the stores. These don't have to be H&M clothes and can have holes in, be stained (thanks Piri-Piri sauce) and they'll even take your holey old socks you've been wearing for the past four months, now that's commitment. You can also take in old sheets and towels you've been stacking up and give all these items a second life.
For a bag of items you bring your are given two £5 gift vouchers to use when spending £25 or more on your next shop, so what better inspiration can there be to have a good old sort out.
All donations will be sorted at one of seven sorting plants worldwide and either sold in second-hand stores or re-used as cloths or upholstery or recycled to become new fabric and hopefully new H&M items we will all be dying to snap up. Recycling just one shirt can save 2,100 litres of water, so you (maybe accidentally) getting rid of that dreadful curtain like flowery shirt your boyfriend bought that one time will be doing some good.
Since the initiative a.k.a hell of a good idea started in 2013, 28,000 tonnes of unwanted clothing has been collected, which is amazing. Millions of clothes are put in landfills every day and 95% of them could have a new life, so H&M are trying to bring about the end of clothing landfills. And you thought they were only good for bralets and skater dresses.

The hip-hop artist MIA is the face of its #WorldRecycleWeek campaign and has released a new video to coincide with the campaign. You can check the video out and more details out about H&M's World Recycle Week here.

Courtesy of letsrecycle.com

H&M say they want to 'Close the Loop' in textiles for fashion, recycling unwanted garments to create recycled textile fibres for new products.

A 'Close the Loop' collection was produced in September 2015 containing recycled denim and other items made up of 20% recycled cotton from collected clothes and 80% organic cotton.
Simply put they want to be able to turn old unwanted clothes into new ones without using additional materials and you can help in their project by taking in your unloved clothes into your nearest H&M store this week and receiving the two £5 vouchers. You can the give yourself a big pat on the back for helping the planet, or just let yourself have an extra piece of cake, your choice.
I'll probably be opting for the cake.
Second Hand Rose

17 April 2016

Two programmes you NEED to watch: The Durrells and Home Fires

I've been meaning to blog for ages and have been desperate to write, but weeks turn into months and sometimes life gets in the way and you have to take your attention away from the latest ASOS sales and drooling over Bradley Cooper, well almost.
I've been racking my brains for what to start back with as my first post and two period based TV programmes that I'm in love with right now seemed the perfect subject.
The Durrells

The Durrells is about a family who suddenly up sticks from Bournemouth to start a new life on the gorgeous Greek island of Corfu. The series is based on the trilogy of autobiographical novels by Gerald Durrell, which focus on four years of his family's adventures in Corfu between 1935-1939, so this is perfect for all you 30s fans and it's really interesting see ing what another country was like during those years.
Courtesy of The Radio Times
Keeley Hawes (Life on Mars) plays the worn out mother Louisa who is sadly a widow and decides to start a new life for her children. She has four unruly children Larry 21, Leslie 18, Margo 17, and Gerry who is 11 and really does not have a lot of money, so decides the best option is to uproot them all. Well it's much better then constant drizzly days in Britain.
The series is on Sunday's on ITV at 8pm and contains six episodes. There have already been two (three if you're reading this after Sunday!) on but you can easily catch up on the ITV Hub here (you may have to sign up to this.)
They are great episodes and watch out for some yummy eye candy. If you loved The Darling Buds of May, then you will love this as it has that warm hearted feel to it and their family continues to grow animal by animal as they are rescued.
The family struggle to adapt to life on the island, living in an incredibly basic house with no electricity and lots of other things go wrong in the house, but it is a cheap earthly paradise. The children try to set their Mum up which proves to be an interesting experience, no Tinder in those days. There is some Greek eye candy you should definitely look out for. This series really is a funny gentle captivating series, perfect for Sunday nights. I mean who doesn't want to watch an island paradise, set in the 1930s with the odd yummy Greek to drool over and I'm not talking about Feta cheese here ladies.

Home Fires:

The second series of Home Fires started a couple of weeks ago and I was so excited to know it was back as I loved the first series. It is about the life of the women in the Women's Institute on the Home Front during the Second World War. It is set in a small rural community called Great Paxford in Cheshire where everyone knows everyone's business. The series was inspired by the book Jambusters by Julie Summers and has an all star cast including Samantha Bond and many other fabulous actors and actresses.

The first series was set between September 1939 and early 1940 and that is just about where series two picks up, in the summer of 1940. The village is caught up in the Battle of Britain and the country is bracing itself for invasion so the women are attempting to hold things together. Czech soldiers have also set up camp just outside the village which provides some surprising friendships for some of the women.

As well as the war to deal with the women are facing their own personal challenges and conflicts, with loved ones being lost or declared missing, secrets being discovered and reputations being blemished. The Women's Institue really help keep the women and village together and help each other through hard times. This programme is perfect for all of you interested in that time era, the fashion is amazing and it shows really how the women kept the home fires burning.
It's on Sunday's on ITV at 9pm, just after The Durrells so you can be in vintage heaven for two hours. You can catch up on the last two episodes (again three if you're reading this after Sunday night!) on the ITV Hub here. If you're unable to access the ITV Hub then you can stream them, tvmuse.com is a good place to start and has links for the first series of Home Fires if you really want to get into it or you can read the episode summaries on Wikipedia. I suggest you do find out what happened in series one as the story continues on for series two.

These are two programmes I suggest you watch even if you're not into the whole vintage thing as The Durrells is light hearted and peaceful and Home Fires is full of drama and beautifully written. So curl up with a packet of chocolate biscuits and enjoy some great tv, perfect for a Sunday night before a week of work and trying to avoid eating far too many slices of cake.

Second Hand Rose

10 July 2014

My 21st Birthday: Part 1- Full of surprises & one very lovely boyfriend

On the 22nd June I turned the ripe old age of 21. I at least now have to act like an adult, even if I feel like a kid inside who thinks about chocolate cake just a little too much. For the past few months I have been having a quarter life crisis dissecting every part of my life, questioning everything including whether I need yet another pair of heels to add to my shoe collection. I was being continuously asked by my family what I wanted for my birthday and how I wanted to celebrate getting older. Apparently a box set of The Darling Buds of May and a big bar of Dairy Milk wasn't quite enough.
All I knew was that I wanted to do something that I would remember for years to come, that I could tell my future cats and ducks all about. Every week I was asking Mr. Boyfriend what he was planning/ giving me for my birthday and every time I would get a very short response hiding any hint of what he was up to. Even depriving him of an extra chocolate eclair one time didn't make him crack. He was so evasive about it all and what he said kept changing and contradicting itself. One minute we were doing something the week before my birthday, then it was the week after and then the same weekend. It didn't take Miss Marple to work out that he hadn't exactly figured it out yet or organised everything, or so I thought.
As the weeks went on I became more rattled and started resigning myself to the fact that my man was not the type that would whisk me away somewhere and I was preparing myself to a life of restaurant coupon vouchers and predictably. He would just say to me "you never know, I might be", let's just say organisation isn't exactly his strong point, it's taken me over three years to get him to start writing lists so I wasn't expecting much. Don't get me wrong I wasn't hoping for anything big and it wasn't about the cost or the extravagance at all. It was more about the sentimentality and the thought involved, but having to tell our future children that he gave me a book token for my 21st just didn't quite cut it.
The week before my birthday I tried to probe him once more and received no information or clues. I may have told him more then once that he was really disorganised and I bet Bradley Cooper would have had it all figured out by now. An hour later I received a text from him that said 'Keep Saturday & Sunday free and make sure you pack an overnight bag.' So like any other normal woman I sent him a barrage of questions wanting every last detail but I just got 'I said...' and then the same text.
All week I tried to squeeze some more detail out of him and all I was told was that there were two locations and he was picking me up early Saturday afternoon and I needed to bring something nice to wear. So I spent the rest of the week on ASOS trying to find a perfect outfit whilst wracking up a pretty impressive bill in the process. Thank god for free returns.
I told my family about it and they all shared in my excitement and inquisitiveness about my weekend and came to the conclusion that he'd just gone on lastminute.com the night he text me. When I told my Grandma her face lit up, I think I got the soppy old romantic gene from her. Her first thought was that he was taking me to Gretnor Green.
For several months I had been trying to convince her that it was incredibly unlikely that he would propose on my 21st. Her reasoning was that because she got engaged on her 21st that meant I would too. I tried to explain to her that a) this is not the 1950s when people had a life expectancy of around 65 and b) has she seen the price of weddings recently? The days of spam sandwiches and cheese and pineapple hedgehogs at wedding receptions are long gone.
So on Saturday 14th June I painted my nails, tweezed my eyebrows and packed my case, which was then repacked with a few more extra pairs of shoes and waited to be picked up by my very own Casanova. All the way to our secret destination I wasn't allowed to look at the sat nav or ask any questions about where we were going. After many anxious Google maps tracking minutes later we arrived in beautiful Brighton.
The sound of the seagulls was so cathartic and the smell of the sea was intoxicating. My curiousness grew and after trying to find a parking spot among all the millions of one way streets we arrived at The Amsterdam Hotel. Mr Boyfriend even wheeled my bright pink flowery bag for me, such a charmer. The hotel was beautiful and we had an amazing room and a great view of the sea and the pier. The hotel was right on the seafront and you only had to walk across the road to reach the pier. I was then quickly told to get ready and constantly asked the time every few minutes by a very nervous and fidgety Mr Boyfriend.
After I'd applied a couple of extra coats of mascara, applied my new MAC Ruby Woo lipstick and changed my shoes about six times, I was ushered into a taxi. We arrived at the glorious Havana restaurant which was beautiful from the outside and even more so on the inside. You can assume pretty much in life that any restaurant that has a fountain will not be serving up the usual bacteria on toast. As we were eating at an early bird special time we had some spicy nuts and hundreds of olives, washed down by a few cocktails in the bar first.
What can I say, we are old gits who want to be home in time for our mugs of cocoa. Mr Boyfriend treated himself to several cocktails mainly because of the names such as the 'Zombie', he's a pretty big 'The Walking Dead' fan and has made me watch some horrific movies in the past three and a half years. Because of him Zombie sheep have occupied my nightmares for far too long.

We then had a delicious meal starting with a mezzanine platter of flatbread, humous, sour cream, a breaded humous parcel and more yummy olives. I then had an incredibly yummy Mushroom Risotto while Mr Boyfriend stuffed his face with chicken. During the meal the waiter offered us some bread using a fork and spoon and beforehand he pulled my chair out and lay my napkin on my lap. Now I bet they don't do that in Burger King.
We were both pretty stuffed after all our thousands of olives and gorgeous food, so decided not to have a pudding. In the restaurant there was also a grand piano and a saxophonist. We slowly walked back to the hotel and had a lovely walk along the seafront.
It was beautiful walking along the seafront even though I did underestimate how many streets we had to walk. Mr Boyfriend kept insisting we get a taxi and even offered to carry me at one point. But I didn't fancy a trip to A&E with his broken back being part of our weekend away. It was like being in a different world. The air smelt and felt different and it was lovely being so close to the sea and having several fish and chip shops within a mile radius.
The next day we stopped at a pub called The Plough Inn in Pyecome on the way back home. Even though it was Father's Day there was luckily a table spare for us. Before I went away my Grandma gave me some money to spend on the weekend, so we had a lovely meal using that. I had some delicious vegetable Fajitas that my dining companion was continuously eyeing up and ended up stealing some of in the end, he's a right greedy gannet.
I had a wonderful weekend and it was lovely exploring Brighton and spending time with my Mr Loverman.
I was filled with a lot of happiness and my positivity had been revived. So what if I'm not a perfect size 8 and my life hasn't quite gone exactly to plan? I have a best friend, boyfriend and true love who very luckily are all the same person and that's good enough for me.
Plus he looks pretty hot all dressed up too.
Second Hand Rose

14 April 2014

Fashion & Flowers

For many years flowers and gardens in general have been a great inspiration for fashion designers. Every year on the catwalk there are enough flowers on show to create a frenzy in the bee world.
Zuhair Murad created an enchanted garden with a floral painted background for his Spring/Summer Couture show. Camellias, roses and peonies amongst many other flowers were featured on garments and a wedding dress in the collection had over 25,000 flowers appliquéd onto it. Now that's an awful lot of needle threading.

Dior are also great lovers of what Mother Nature has created. Who can forget John Galliano's Couture Fall/Winter 2010 collection, that was full of horticultural brilliance? There were corseted ball gowns that were hand painted with bright and majestic colours, with layers upon layers of chiffon and silk-tulle. The collection was simply mesmerising, it's like a chic floral paint by numbers.

The new head of design Raf Simmons seems to be more then happy to carry on the pollen infested trend as well. The Spring/Summer Couture 2013 show was set out like an enchanted garden with bushes and hundreds of flowers. The clothes were made up of lots of tulle with hundreds of flowers, petals, blossoms and lilypads appliquéd. The 2014 Couture show was set out like a hanging garden with bright coloured flowers, orchids and wisteria hanging from the ceiling. That man must watch an awful lot of Garderners World.
Dior Spring/Summer 2013
This is not just a recent trend that has started in the past few decades though. There is now an exhibition at the Garden Museum in London until the 27th April, that is looking into the world of how gardens have inspired fashion for centuries.
As far back as the Jacobean era women were entranced by the beautiful colours of flowers. Dresses worn at the royal court were embroidered with images of flowers from overseas. The exhibition also looks at when and why some flowers were popular at different times such as camellias in the 1840s, sunflowers in the 1890s and not forgetting the flower power craze of the 60s and 70s.
There are some rare pieces of artwork, collages, neddlework and garments on show for many centuries. Designers including Christopher Bailey, Alexander McQueen and Phillip Treacy with his glorious hats, show how what we grow in our gardens can be a lot more chic then just compost and worms.
There are examples and images of floral couture, including Yves Saint Laurent featured jackets with embroidered Sunflowers and Iris's that were in his Couture 1988 show. Valentino's Spring/Summer Couture 2013 show had a garden theme with wrought iron park gates being a main inspiration. There was lots of organza and fabric that was embroidered with flowers, butterflies and birds.
There is also a feature on how people over the centuries have dressed to tend to their much loves gardens. While unfortunately you can't really wear a Dior ball gown to tend to your roses in, you can still look fashionable and chic. Now beat that Monty Don.
There are some great floral and garden themed pieces on the high street too, so you can incorporate the look into your outfit. Either go full blown with a floral dress or tone it down by just incorporating the theme into your accessories. Think more garden party chic and less Mrs Doubtfire, even though she is a pretty cool chick.
Floral Frenzy

Second Hand Rose

06 April 2014

Mother's Day: A piece of cupcake

Jasper looking suave for Mother's Day
Last Sunday the whole Second Hand Rose family got together to celebrate the beautiful lady of the house, our dear Mummy. Even Jasper straightened his bow tie and demanded an extra groom.
My brother and sister came home to appreciate all she does for us and I'm sure all the yummy food available was a pretty big incentive too.
The four of us including Jasper clubbed together and bought her some lovely flowers, including pink roses, gerberas and lillies. It was a made up bouquet which my Dad helped us put together from separate ones, so we didn't have to pay for loads of unwanted greenery, Alan Sugar would have been proud.
We also bought her some lovely fabrics, as she is a quilting demon.
Now to the most important part, the food. My Mum made a lovely meal and some homemade bread for sandwiches as part of our afternoon tea, my family couldn't get anymore English. My contribution included several kilos of buttercream and cake mixture all magiced into some cupcakes.
For Christmas I received several recipe books from my family and friends. I didn't just get the books that were on my list, I also received some from lovely people who I have forced my creations on in the past. Getting recipe books is a bit like getting smelly stuff as presents. You don't know whether they are saying please make something that is actually edible or we already love what you make, here are some more recipes to make us some more delicious creations, fingers crossed for the latter.
I'm afraid to say that these are the first cakes I have made this year and the first time I have used one of my new recipe books. I decided after much cake drooling to use the book Home Sweet Home from the very popular Hummingbird bakery. Recipes in the book include Custard Cream cupcakes and Chocolate truffle cookies amongst many other mouthwatering ideas.
For Mother's Day I decided to ask the two mothers in my families lives, my beautiful Mum and my 83 year old Grandma who acts like a teenager. My Mum fancied Ginger Chocolate cupcakes and my Grandma asked for White Chocolate and Raspberry cupcakes. With this one the recipe had cranberries in, but I changed it to raspberries and added chunks of white chocolate into the batter, what can I say I'm a bit of a cake making rebel.
Normally when I make cupcakes I use the same recipe I use to make a cake. If I want to make 12-18 cupcakes I will think of it as a making a 6 inch cake. The recipe I use is incredibly simple which I have learnt from my Mum the cake pioneer, which Mary Berry has copied. For a 6 inch cake I would use 6oz of self raising flour, butter, sugar and 3 eggs, with 1tsp of baking powder. I would just bung it all in the food mixer and get back to raiding the biscuit tin and dreaming of Bradley Cooper.
But with these recipes which included plain flour, a mahoosive 1tbsp of baking powder and some salt thrown in, it was a completly different process. The measurements for all of the ingredients were different and you mixed the dry ingredients together separately while the wet ingredients had a party of their own.
After making breadcrumbs in the food processor out of the butter, sugar and flour, I then had to gradually mix half the mixture of egg and milk into the breadcrumbs. I then had to leave it to beat fast for a few minutes and then put the rest of the egg and milk mixture in, along with any added flavourings. It was a bit of a laborious process and did hinder my biscuit eating somewhat, but the mixture was made into more like a batter then the thick mixture I'm used to. I used an ice cream scoop to put the batter into the cases like the book suggested. This helped to have equal cupcakes and stop it all going over the floor and my amazing Del Boy apron.
I baked them for around 25 minutes and acted like I was on the Bake Off and sat next to the oven staring into it praying to the cake gods, while listening to my 1940s CD. Both batches of cakes baked well, so I got my icing sugar ready and made enough buttercream to satisfy even Jasper for a good few days.
For the ginger chocolate cakes, I made chocolate buttercream and added some finely stopped stem ginger. For the white chocolate and raspberry ones, I added melted white chocolate (what was left of it) and made 1 and a half times the recipe. I was concerned that because of the design I was doing on the cakes, I wouldn't have enough. Plus I am pretty fond of licking the bowl out too.
I coloured just over a third of the white chocolate buttercream purple and put it in a piping bag with a Wilton 2D tip, along with the rest of the white and piped it into roses. The tip wouldn't work properly at first and I nearly had a meltdown, but my Mum saved the day and found that there was a piece of plastic in the tip so it wouldn't work properly. I know it sounds pretty pathetic to get so upset over decorating cakes, but it makes you want to cry into a bowl of icing and watch Bridget Jones if it doesn't work out properly.
The cakes were meant to be two toned, but it's pretty difficult to get it completly two toned to start with, so one or two turned out more purple then others. I actually had a lot of buttercream left over, which was quickly put in the freezer by Mummy Second Hand Rose, as she could see that I was making a bee line for the bowl. I added some glitter on the top of them to make them sparkle and it's also pretty amusing to see your family sitting there with glittery lips.
For the Chocolate Ginger ones I used one of my bigger pipes, as I was worried about the ginger getting stuck in the bag and it exploding everywhere. I don't think my mum would be too happy if her kitchen was covered with chocolate buttercream. I made swirls with it and added some silver balls. I put them on the vintage cake stand that I sourced for my mum for Christmas. We found the plates a few years a go at a Vintage Fair which you can read about here and she loved them so much I set about sourcing the cake stand and some other pieces. They were hard to find, especially good condition ones, but luckily there was someone that lived less then half an hour away from me who wanted to sell a lot of her set.
It's safe to say that everyone enjoyed the cupcakes and they didn't last for long. My furry critic Jasper also loved them and rather enjoyed having glittery whiskas.
I recently introduced my Mum to Pinterest and she now keeps blaming me for her spending so much time on there. She loves looking at quilts and embroidery to find inspiration for her own. Plus the fact that there are hundreds of photos of Daniel Craig on there that seem to fuel her addiction too.
She is currently making me a very unique quilt, some cushions and some curtains for my bedroom. I will definitely blog about these to embarrass her as much as she embarrasses me every time an issue of Vintage Life comes out and she insits on telling the whole world about me writing for it. For Christmas I framed the first article I did for them way back in November 2012 with the front cover, my profile photo and my advert, which quickly got her all teary.
We hope you had a lovely Mother's Day, Mummy Second Hand Rose. We all love you so much and are incredibly grateful for all your love, kindness and of course your brilliant cooking. Now go back to Pinterest and oogle at Daniel Craig for another hour.
Second Hand Rose