Baking, Christmas, crafts, food, Lifestyle, recipes

Vintage JennyVintage: How to make a gingerbread house?

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Last Christmas my friends and I thought it would be a good idea to make gingerbread houses. They looked quite cute in the end but we will never attempt this again! This year it’s cookies or minty sweets or something like that.

Here’s a repeat of last year’s ‘fun’…

Some words of warning – while making gingerbread houses sounds like lovely fun it is in my one experience difficult and stressful. Getting them to stand up while the chocolate glue dries is particularly tricky. But I was the least optimistic on this mission and my friends Auriol (middle house) and Erin (right house) were far more positive throughout. We made a lot of mess and each house collapsed at least once but I think by the end they turned out pretty well.

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We started by cutting templates for each piece of gingerbread we needed, then cutting out the dough and popping the separate bits in the oven for 15 minutes. To save time we used dough that was ready to roll out – Asda, £2. These small pieces are for chimneys.

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Standing the pieces up in butter cream before glueing them together with melted white chocolate seemed to be the best strategy. They fell over quite a bit but once the chocolate had hardened they were pretty sturdy.

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My favourite picture of the whole day. What’s wrong, Auriol?

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Butter cream, white chocolate and icing sugar. I’m not sure which one eventually held it all together…

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But wait? What are they? Finished gingerbread houses? And they’re standing up?

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How to run a vintage stall? Bletchley Park 1940s festival 2013

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For the second year in a row I ran a vintage stall with my friends at the annual Bletchley Park 1940s weekend – the biggest BP event of the year, complete with re-enactors, umpteen military vehicles and our very own Winston Churchill. This event usually gets more than 2,000 visitors over the weekend so it’s a great place to clear out some of the stuff I no longer wear.

This year my good friends Auriol and Erin joined me in selling vintage clothes, accessories and home-made pinnies! I also sold some stuff for my friend Billie at Ollie Vee’s Vintage Emporium in Leighton Buzzard. Billie had some brilliant boater hats and 78s!

We took more than £300 between us and the biggest sellers were hats, aprons and jewellery. Cin cin, team!

For a good Bletchley Park vintage stall you need – 

A lot of straw hats, particularly boaters

Records – 78s

Compact mirrors and brooches

Ladies’ scarves

Pimm’s (but fake Pimm’s is even better – Austin’s from Aldi at about £5.50 a bottle!)

Enough cloudy lemonade to avoid sad faces

Strawberries, cucumber and mint

Beers just in case you run out of all of that

And if you would like to buy a gorgeous home-made pinnie for £5, just send me an email at ajbollen@hotmail.com

Day one –

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Sign drawn by the very talented Erin from Miss Lacy Plus Size

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 Erin and Henry manning the stall

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Get yer bargain home-made aprons – just £5!

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Sarah’s Doo-Wop Dos was back this year making all of the ladies look glam. Prices range from £5.

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We had a great little pitch right next to the pond. And there’s Henry’s finger…

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“Photo bomb!”

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I’m wearing:

Blue vintage dress – 1940s, Ollie Vee’s, Leighton Buzzard

Yellow apron – Erin’s home-made pinnies

Shoes – George at Asda

Leather bag – Ollie Vee’s

Cameo ring – Ollie Vee’s

Faux fur coat – charity shop

Belt – Primark

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Auriol and Cameron joined us in the afternoon for Pimm’s and cake

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Day two – 

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 Never get into a stranger’s car… unless it looks like this…

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I’m wearing:

Dress – charity shop –

Apron – by Erin

Shoes – George at Asda

Parasol – present

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Choccywoccydoodah

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 One of the great things about giving up my job in London (which I had a very tiring commute to for years) is that when I go back for the day I look forward to it rather than dread the journey. I used to routinely turn down lovely invitations from friends who lived down there to see them at the weekends because for me the best thing about Saturdays and Sundays was being far away from the place. But since quitting my job at my magazine to be a freelancer a year ago I’ve started to enjoy London a lot more. And I couldn’t wait to make my pilgrimage to Choccywoccydoodah just off Carnaby Street when I went to see my good friend Ayesha.

I’d never tried their chocolate before but have been an avid fan of the TV programme since it started. I told my friends we had to get a picture of one of the Christines – the creative director and finance director – if we saw one but when Christine Two appeared in the cafe upstairs I was actually a little starstruck. True to her reality show image, she was pretty stressed. This excited me. Then Davide the cafe manager came out and I felt like our journey was truly complete.

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 Not surprisingly, the chocolate is rather expensive. Little cats, dogs and ducks are between £10 and £30 so I just settled for a couple of standard bars for my mum and friend Erin. Even they were £10 each… While we browsed downstairs the lady at the till took a call about a bespoke cake. She quoted more than £1,200…

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 We popped upstairs for a milkshake – get the hazelnut for £3 – and more pics of the furniture.

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I wouldn’t recommend taking your child to such an expensive sweet shop but it’s a beautiful place to take in great – and camp – design.

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JennyVintage on Pinterest

I’ve just joined Pinterest and am already spending an un-constructive amount of time on it… http://pinterest.com/jennyvintage/

It’s looking like…

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Want… typewriter jewellery

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I’ve just found the next thing that really ought to be on my dressing table – typewriter key jewellery. It’s so obvious now! US-based TAB Typewriter Key Jewelry has a great collection of earrings, rings, pendants and bracelets made from the keys of vintage typewriters. It also uses pieces of old tills and adding machines, and I think I saw some earrings made from old shells…

They can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tabtypewriter

Or find these at The Weekend Store:

 

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Interview: My Make Do and Mend Year

In September fellow blogger Jen embarked on a year-long mission to avoid buying anything brand new by making do and mending in the Blitz spirit. Already she estimates she has saved £1,000.

JennyVintage finds out how she’s bearing up, how her craft skills are coming and how it’s changed her style.

What inspired you to embark on a year of make do and mend?

I got fed up with all the ‘stuff’ and a little bit scared that by the age of three, my eldest (BigSmall) was already so focused on getting more ‘stuff’. I also wondered if it could be done, and then read about Suzy Prince and her Secondhand Safari, and it gave me the shove I needed to give it a go!

Did you already have a lot of craft and sewing skills to prepare you for what you may have let yourself in for?

Having never been at all arty or crafty I learned to sew when I was on maternity leave after having BigSmall, and then got into all things ‘upcycling’ and discovered vintage along the way!

What are the best craft skills you have learnt since starting your year?

I would probably say crocheting. I learnt just before Christmas, and I am now well and truly hooked (excuse the pun!)

Any craft disasters or tears?

My first attempt at a crocheted hat was a bit of a disaster – not at all glamorous or flattering, and it is now being used as a crocheted ‘bucket’!

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Has make do and mend had a big impact on your style? How would you sum up your current style?

I have never been big follower of fashion and the latest styles, but I hope I am not so bad that I embarrass the kids! Buying second-hand has definitely influenced my style though. I have gone from no dresses, to four (yes, four!), all from charity shops. And I have picked up several lovely snuggly wooly jumpers at vintage fairs. I think I am now braver in what I will try, as things are invariably a bit cheaper than buying new. And I have more confidence to just go with what I like, rather than what I think I should like because the shop is telling me to.

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What have been your best second-hand and vintage finds during your project?

I bought a faux fur coat from the car boot for £15 that I love! And I have a weakness for vintage haberdashery and got a job lot of wooden vintage cotton spools at a flea market, that again I love. No idea if I will even use them for their original purpose, but I enjoy just looking at them, and planning projects for them!

What are the best markets, shops and websites you’ve found to shop for second-hand and vintage since starting the project? 

Car boots are good for general everyday stuff, and you can sometimes find a genuine vintage bargain. I love the flea market at the Bath and West Showground, although it is becoming less of a flea market and more of a vintage fair now, and the prices are rising accordingly…

How much money do you estimate you have saved by not buying brand new? Did you start with a target for savings?

We didn’t set out to save money, it was more of a ‘sustainable living’ project, but we have undoubtedly saved some cash along the way. Over Christmas, our maximum spend for all the presents was less than £50, compared with the more like £300 we would usually have spent. We have possibly saved up to £1,000 in the first six months, but I couldn’t be sure.

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What are your make do and mend plans like for the second half of your year? Is there anything you’re determined to achieve before it’s over?

I want to spread the word!  I feel quite passionately that a little bit of Make Do and Mend is what we should all be aiming for, and would encourage everyone to just stop and think for a minute or two before rushing out and buying yet more stuff, about whether or not they really need it, and if they do, can they find it second-hand?

I want mending to be as cool as baking is at the moment – it could be the next big thing.

I want to run some Make Do and Mend craft days, and some mending evenings, and maybe some school workshops – big plans, and really start to get the message out there.

Would you do another year?

Definitely (although hubby may say otherwise). It has without a doubt changed the way we will shop in the future. Just by giving a bit more thought to what we are buying is not only saving us money, but has meant that we have often ended up with one-off unique to us items (clothes and furniture, for instance) that are far more interesting than yet another identikit outfit or piece of furniture.

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http://mymakedoandmendyear.wordpress.com/

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How to make a gingerbread house?

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Some words of warning – while making gingerbread houses sounds like lovely fun it is in my one experience difficult and stressful. Getting them to stand up while the chocolate glue dries is particularly tricky. But I was the least optimistic on this mission and my friends Auriol (middle house) and Erin (right house) were far more positive throughout. We made a lot of mess and each house collapsed at least once but I think by the end they turned out pretty well.

Erin’s lovely tree –

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Wearing:

Auriol (left): jumper – vintage shop, Leeds; leather skirt – vintage at Topshop

Erin: deer t-shirt – Debenhams

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I’m wearing:

Sweater – charity shop

Apron – Ollie Vee’s, Leighton Buzzard

Fox necklace – Eclectic Eccentricity

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We started by cutting templates for each piece of gingerbread we needed, then cutting out the dough and popping the separate bits in the oven for 15 minutes. To save time we used dough that was ready to roll out – Asda, £2. These small pieces are for chimneys.

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Standing the pieces up in butter cream before glueing them together with melted white chocolate seemed to be the best strategy. They fell over quite a bit but once the chocolate had hardened they were pretty sturdy.

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My favourite picture of the whole day. What’s wrong, Auriol?

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Butter cream, white chocolate and icing sugar. I’m not sure which one eventually held it all together.

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But wait? What are they? Finished gingerbread houses? And they’re standing up?

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