Monthly Archives: January 2011

‘Souk’ it and see!

What with so much number crunching to do these days after tax increases, exponential fuel prices.. blah blah blah, the good news is, in Belfast you can still get your fashion kicks without the guilt, self fladgelating or tesco blue stripe diets afterwards! Everyone knows, a sneaky little purchase is a stress reliever, and mood enhancer.. it’s proven! It does actually increase your ‘dopamine’ – natural high chemical in the brain!

The Fashion Souk is our very own monthly fair fashion market, and the brainchild of local green goddess Alyson McElroy Jones.

I’ll let the lovely founders explain more..

“A new year a new Souk!
The Fashion Souk is Northern Ireland’s only fair-fashion market, we continue to Build on the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ethos, promoting ethical consumerism and informed shopping.
Supporting more then 50 designer/makers from across Ireland every month and with more than 60 stalls on offer The Fashion Souk offers gorgeous revamped, upcycled, previously loved and locally made fashion and has already become a monthly staple in the green fashionistas diary.”

Here I am with my some of my favourite people running a stall at the Souk’s ‘Humble Jumble’.. a fab way to weed out your wardrobe, and spend the day with good friends..

Humble Jumble

Hard work

Great for baby clothes too!

And here’s a few of my choice finds from the Souk of late..

The Christmas party dress

inspired by this Loris Doran no..

Workin it


Work wardrobe - Classic Rouched blouse

work wardrobe - wrap dress. Chunky knit waistcoat - in!

The next Fashion Souk is at the Europa hotel on the 6th Feb 11 – 5 pm, I’m on the hunt for a vintage dress… See you there!

Find them on facebook for more details..



Filed under fashion, shopping

Darina Allen’s Marmalade

Come January and preservers everywhere are pulling out their pans as Seville oranges hit the shops for a brief window of opportunity. Last year was my first attempt to make marmalade from scratch, having never done so before due to my belief that i didn’t like marmalade. I now realise that i didn’t like mass-produced, shop bought marmalade. The real deal is a different story indeed – spread some a-top home-made toasted bread (if you’re lucky enough to live with 2 artisan bread-makers) and melting butter….a moment of solace every morning.

I use Darina Allen’s recipe from her excellent book ‘Forgotten Skills of Cooking’. The advantage of her method is that you don’t have to spend several tedious hours chopping up the hard, waxy peel, before soaking it overnight. She calls it the ‘whole orange’ method – namely, boil the fruit for several hours to soften, making the chopping a breeze, especially if you use the slicer function on the Magimix (which all self-respecting kitchens should have..)

So, start with 2.25kg of seville oranges in a large preserving pan, add 9 pints of water, and boil for around 2 hours. Place a plate/smaller lid on the oranges to keep them submerged. Leave to sit overnight, then drain, reserving the water.

Cut the oranges in half and scoop out the soft centre. Put the pips in a muslin bag. Finely slice the peel (manually if you dare…)

Put everything back in the pan, bring to the boil and reduce by half-two thirds.

Add 4kg of warmed, granulated sugar. (If you pour in cold sugar, it takes longer to return to the boil, which is supposed to affect the fresh flavour.) Boil hard until you reach setting point. If you have a thermometer, that’s 104*C. Otherwise, put a spot on a plate and refrigerate. After a few minutes, if it forms a wrinkly skin when touched, its ready. (Note: i have never actually managed to achieve firm, well set marmalade, no matter how long i have boiled it. I guess you could sneak in a bit of jam sugar, but i quite like it a bit runny.)

Pot in sterlised jars and cover immediately. If you don’t have a jam funnel, buy one. Its worth it! And voila – a year’s supply of golden nectar, including a give-away allowance for lucky acquaintances and nice people in your life.


1 Comment

Filed under food for free

Christmas Crafts 3

At some point in November, i started feeling adventurous. Using guidelines from a sewing book, i began making various cosies. These egg cosies, made from tweed and free Cath Kidston swatches, have been personalised for my brother’s family.

I then expanded the size to make tea cosies. Tractors are a big theme in Tullyroan, so i attempted an applique design.

The last one i made was probably my favourite. Its a coffee cosy for a 1-person Bodum, with height allowance for un-plunged coffee.

1 Comment

Filed under christmas

‘This season’s look’ – Jackets

For part 2 of our fashion hotspot, we bring to you 4 particularly pleasing jackets, fresh from edinburgh’s fine charity shop selection. Exhibit 1 came from a very random 2 week pop-up-shop in aid of the Conservative Party. I was delighted to purchase this green velvet beauty from Jigsaw for a mere £2! The next (rather uninformatively pictured) blue jersey jacket comes (originally) from Topshop – very current.









The collarless jacket works well with a simple scarf to adorn. I’m looking forward to trying out this dusky pink linen jacket come the summer. And finishing on a similarly summery note, this striped lightweight coat works well with anything.

A word about the photography. We have been really inspired by 2 particular blogs to experiment a bit with backgrounds, lighting and themes. I’d say we have a way to go before achieving anything as wonderful as Skiorta (see Gallery) or Bleubird Vintage, but thanks ladies for your top tips and beautiful pics.

Leave a comment

Filed under fashion

Christmas Woolen theme.. A salvage sisters challenge!

Just a quick drop in from me.. the sister who seems to lose all faculties and ability to pertain to life’s usual rhythm at christmas. Yes cooking a meal becomes a 100m sprint to the till with all the other people cooking the exact same meal at the exact same time, and my proud moment of starting the presents early betrays me into a last minute dash for the ones I had left till later.. aaah. New year, my favourite festive time.. And a Happy one to all/any readers!!

So on the wool and fashion shoot theme here is a controversial little number Salvage sis stashed into my christmas box along with all the hand made delights she has been enlightening you of.

wool skirt, or is it a snood?!

anything with a denim jacket looks cool?!

yay or nay?

I also got her a thrifty skirt find, and much to the families hoots I had left the charity label proudly on to show what a good ‘find’ it was! So here I am trying to work it. It’s close to the line.. but have I made it to the cool retro side of the line, or am I hanging on the Gran side? I wore it all day and man it really keeps your bum warm, so Granny’s you know what you’re talking about!

Oh and on the wrapping front.. look at this little number from my bro in law James, an elitest in the wrapped department!

beaut eh? and proof of a white christmas!

Coming up, can’t wait to tell you about a Charity Clothes swap and fashion auction I helped to organise in December.. for a sneak peek check the album on facebook here..


Filed under fashion, thrift

Christmas Crafts 2

Patchworking is a favourite of mine when it comes to sewing. The main reason is that its really quite easy, whilst also being very prolific (once you have all the materials.) I have been steadily building my patchworking resources over this year, almost entirely from charity shops. Old skirts and shirts, curtains, sheets, remnants – its amazing how a bunch of very discordant patterns come together once carefully arranged and coordinated. Whilst i’m all about mixing it up, i have generally found that too many different textures and types of material generally don’t work, due to the variety of tensions they create in a row of sewn squares, so i now stick mostly to cotton.

I made these single quilts as gifts for Lucia and Isla, my two cheeky little nieces. Both are backed using salvaged thermal curtain lining, making them fairly heavyweight and cosy. I have previously experimented with patterned or decorative borders, but having done so i resolutely conclude that a plain edging brings out the best of the main patchwork area.

Giving everyone a patchwork quilt wasn’t really a feasible option this Christmas, nor any other Christmas for that matter, so i made these smaller cushion projects for my sister-in-law x2 (can’t seem to work out the plural). With less expanse to work with, selecting the fabrics takes a bit more thought. I used some Sanderson prints and a bit of good old Cath Kidston to make sure they were pretty enough! And finally, to step the whole thing up a notch, i got these woven labels made up to personalise my work.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

‘This season’s look’ – Wools

Thanks to Gem’s latest fashion newsflash, i have been keeping my eyes peeled for cable knits and camel colours. Following on from her last modeling experiment, she takes to the catwalk once again to showcase my thrifty finds. The first is a purple cable knit, handmade, from the local Hospice of Hope charity shop, £5. Next, an oatmeal short sleeve woolen, £3, Thrift Shop 1 (factoid: oldest charity shop in Edinburgh!)

This blue Boden cardi came from Gem’s latest fashion venture, Urban Angels Fashion Event in Bangor in December. Bring your quality cast offs and receive an upmarket exchange – everyone’s a winner!

Finally, woolens aren’t just for grown-ups. Kiddie fashion guru Lucia Steen sports a White Company winter knit, with jersey Osh Kosh skirt, both thrifted by auntie Lucy.

For more highlights on knitwear, the urban fashion show, and our next thrifted fashion category (coats & jackets), check us out later on this week….

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized