Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas Traditions

Christmas Jumpers. There's a very recent "tradition" (if traditions can be recent) that people seem to feel obligatory. Christmas jumpers are alright on the right person, like your funny Dad or a hipster trying to be ironic but actually being annoyingly cool. But they aren't compulsory, or TRADITION, are they?

Elf on a Shelf. There's another recent tradition. This year it is a big deal. I know this because I see 30+ Facebook posts every morning of what our friends' naughty elves have been upto during the night. There are tonnes of well-circulated articles about whether we should be jumping on the "Americanised" Elfie Shelfie bandwagon, so I'm not going to repeat all the "bad elves encourage bad behaviour" judgements (because I actually think some of them are funny). 

A collection of our lazy elves who just sit on a shelf.

For me, Christmas Traditions are personal, not global and Facebook. They're things that travel through generations of repeated customs that make the end of the year a warm and cosy place to be.


Small Family Syndrome

I'm from a very small family. My Grandparents all died either before me being here, or while I was really young. I'm close to my Mum and Dad (who separated when I was four), I speak to my brother (who lives away, now) and have some family on Facebook, but that's about it. 
We've very rarely spent Christmas in the same room, if ever, and because of this, there aren't any Christmas Traditions that I recall. 

Me, being a total Christmas spanner.

I have fond festive memories that I know happened a few years in a row, but nothing that ran long enough to become "tradition". I wanted to share some of those festive memories and how they impact on my Christmasses now.

For New Babies to See Christmas

As a small child mum would take me into work where we would decorate the maternity ward. It was an annual event; midwifery staff bringing in their families to decorate the ward. I have such vivid memories of the sound of the foiled plastics unpicking themselves from each other, the smell of fusty boxes, reused year after year for storing donated decorations, the feel of scratchy tinsel well passed it's best, the slithers of smashed baubles at the bottom of boxes and the loose glitter specs that would sneakily stick themselves to our cheeks. It was "for new babies to see Christmas".
To this day my Mum's colleagues introduce themselves as "the one who helped you put that star hanging from the ceiling!! Don't you remember??"... Not that I don't. But I can picture, so clearly, some of the tinsel hanging on notice boards and the foiled plastic fold out stars hanging from the polystyrene tiled ceilings. They'd have a festive cassette tape playing somewhere and people would ask if I'd been a good girl or not and we'd eat mince pies.

Me, hoovering my brother's head and all the Christmas tree needles... check out that carpet!
During these decorating parties, I was continually reminded that we were a lucky family who were very loved and were very fortunate despite our small family and "broken home". Because of this, I've always tried to take stock at Christmas time; don't ask for too much, try to realise what I have, notice the difference between want and need. This is a behaviour I want to instill in our little boy; how to be humble. Each year we will all choose a few of his toys and our clothes to donate to charities that benefit children and families.  

 

The Imp's Eve

As a teenager, my friendship group frequented a local dive called The Lincoln Imp, in Scunthorpe. It's all a bit posher since we were there in the days of legal smoking in pubs and genuine concern at what was making the carpets sticky. 
We'd go to registration at college and by the time we'd all got together and walked to the pub, it would be open for a morning pint. Fosters and Black. Cheesy chips for lunch. Back to college to register for the afternoon, then back to the pub for another Fosters and Black... unless I had Art lessons, then I'd stay at college**. 
At The Imp, we formed friendships, relationships, marriages, break ups; we attended wakes and Christenings of friends and all the gigs of all the bands in the world. We all had our 16th, 17th and 18th birthdays there (legal of course) and would know we'd find a friend in there should we need one.
Needless to say, The Imp wasn't just a second home, it was Our Home and the place where we all did our Growing Up; so of course it would feature in our Christmas traditions each year. At the time, The Imp was packed with budding musicians, artists, graphic designers, greebos, losers and bank managers; anyone and everyone would gather there on Christmas Eve and we'd all have a communal "snog" at midnight (not quite). It was often the best bit of Christmas in my late teens and I remember being snobby about the place when I went to University. What an idiot! Snakebite for 80p a pint? What is there to be snobby about?
A lesson learnt: be kind about your history and the good ol' days. Don't speak bitter of them and raise a glass of Fosters and Black on Christmas Eve while listening to "Gordon Is A Moron" on repeat. 

** I now work as a Technician in that same art department ;)

 

The Mother of All Godmothers

A Christmas Tradition which seemed to start while I was at University (ie FAR too old for it to start, frankly) was that of my Mum's famous advent calendar.
Having been a midwife for a million years (she probably delivered Jesus), Mum became the Godmother for many of Scunthorpe's children. She really is the best Godmother anyone could ask for, if only for the advent calendar she delivers each year before the start of December.

Mum spends the year traveling the world (literally) in search of small intriguing items to fill the multitudes of advents that she makes each year. That's 24 presents for each godchild/daughter/son/grandson/dog!
The calendars are legendary, if a bit repetitive, but who doesn't want repeated Daim bars, chocolate coins and fridge magnets during the Christmas period?


Now that StanleyPigeon is on the scene (for his second advent calendar) Mr P and I don't get a look in, except for the joy of watching him get extremely excited every morning. He climbs into his chair sits very patiently while we fetch the bag down for him to empty and tear open the morning's surprise. It's the best part of my day and provides a tender moment for us to talk about Nana and what she's got for us today. 
I LOVE my Mum's advent even more now that it's not just for me, but for our whole family. A Proper Christmas Tradition.

Another Modern Gimmick

I've been watching the growth in popularity of Christmas Eve boxes. A Christmas Eve box comprises of many different things to different families, but mainly you'll find: 
  • New pyjamas for each member of the family
  • Hot chocolate
  • A Christmas film on DVD
  • A Christmas book
  • A new tree decoration 
They're another modern Christmas gimmick Mr P reckons, but I think quite the opposite. I think they provide a moment of calm before the merry storm and mark a soft and gentle time for your home to unite during the mayhem of December.

I've said before about Mr P's job being shift work. It means that three of our four Christmases together he has been working on the big day. We can't be guaranteed dinner or tea together from year to year, so the idea of the Christmas Eve box sits really neatly with my plan to develop some proper Pigeon Villa family time and a new Christmas Tradition. 


This year will be my first in hatching the Christmas Eve "box" plan... 
Being a hoarder of vintage suitcases, I'll be using a case from my vast collection as the box. It'll be filled with all of the above and will have a tag with Stanley's name and address on. The case will be delivered to the wrong address each year (silly Santa), meaning it ends up across the road at our neighbours' home (that just happens to house Stanley's little friend, Cody). They're going to bring it over the road and get involved in the big fuss over our Christmas Eve Case, before we get settled into our new jimjams watching a DVD and drinking hot chocolate (and Fosters and Black).
I really hope this custom takes off for us to gain some quality time together. I'll let you know how we get on in the New Year! In the meantime, let me know of any traditions your family uphold and silly pictures of them are a must!


Merry Christmas too you and yours.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Vintage Girl Gang - Vintage Little Fairy

Welcome back to Girl Gang Monday which is all about highlighting the vintage lovelies that inspire me, catch my eye and influence Pigeon Vintage one way or another. 

This week's Girl Gang member is a girl I stumbled upon over on that there Instagram (AGAIN). Thanks to last week's recruit Retrospect Finds, I spotted some hot red lips, a cute ass brooch and a swanky as hell swagger that I couldn't help but have a "little" InstaStalk over. 

 

Laura Littlefair aka VintageLittleFairy.


After tentatively asking Laura to be a part of my gang (she's proper cool n stuff), she jumped at the chance and answered a few questions for me.
When were you first into vintage and what was your first ever vintage buy?  
As a child I remember wiling away the hours with my mum's vintage Cindy Dolls whilst at my grandmother's house, and I used to sew little outfits for them from the age of 8. I never really considered them to be vintage at the time, but in retrospect they were my first contact with the world of vintage I now inhabit and love! I have always gone against the grain in my clothing choices from an early age, yet my interest in vintage clothing developed from around age 14, and has grown and developed ever since! I now buy vintage as often as I can and sew my own clothes with vintage fabrics, as well as buying vintage homeware and jewellery to add to my ever-increasing collection!

I think my first dip into vintage was an Austrian ex-army jacket I picked up from my first vintage fair. I used to live in that jacket, day in day out, and I felt like the bees knees every time I wore it! Unfortunately, a couple of years after I bought the jacket it became incredibly fashionable to wear military style coats, and so I had to stop wearing it, for fear of becoming like a sheep! I still have the jacket as an ode to my first vintage purchase, however, I'd like to think I've refined my vintage tastes and my style since then!


Why do you make vintage/secondhand choices over "conventional" ones?

I struggled in my early teenage years to find clothes that fit properly, and through charity shopping with my mum and grandmother began to find that they were full of individual clothes; each with their own little part of history. I soon discovered the cut of vintage clothing was far superior to anything I found on the high street, and saw it as an opportunity to experiment with my clothing choices - in clothes that actually fit! I study History and History of Art at university, and through vintage and second hand clothing I can become almost a piece of artwork and history in how I dress. I view every day as an opportunity to hark back to the fashions of the past, which were so vibrant, colourful, and above all, extremely sophisticated; something that is hard to find just 'off the peg'. 


Do you have any "go to" references to inspire you and your vintage interests?

I adore the music of the twentieth century, from the 1940s all the way to the 1980s, with some blues, rock, jazz, classical and folk thrown into the mix too. With having such an eclectic mix of musical genres, my fashion takes inspiration from the various eras; mainly in the 1960s an 70s where I take most of my 'fashpiration.' In the world of film I am a sucker for classic musicals with the female powerhouses that were Julie Andrews, Audrey Hepburn and Judy Garland, to name but a few. Their elegance and style still resonates today, and their Hollywood glamour never ceases to inspire how I dress!
So, every vintage lovers secrets get exposed here: where do you shop?
Predominantly I spend my time trawling charity shops whenever I get the chance, along with popping to the odd vintage fair and vintage shop every now and then. I think it's important to support charities throughout the year, not just as a one-off donation when there is a specific appeal, and by buying vintage from charity shops it's the best of both worlds! Recently I've started attending more vintage fairs, where there are a plethora of vintage sellers all under one roof, but the little bit of good I can do by purchasing from a charity shop will always be second to none when it comes to vintage gems! 


Do you think there is too much vintage, now it's so popular? 
There is a great wealth of vintage out there, if you know where to look, and I think it's popular within the community, but not generally when I'm out shopping, as far as I have discovered! For me one of the most important aspects of buying vintage, is that it is true vintage; as opposed to a modern reproduction. There are some great companies who produce fantastic 1950s and 1960s style dresses, which are true to cut and fabric choices, however, personally I prefer true vintage as I know it's unlikely there will be another one out there! I don't think it's become too popular just yet, although 1990s 'vintage' sportswear is more than a step too far - it isn't even vintage yet! 

What's your favourite vintage purchase and why?

Gosh, this is such a difficult question, because each item has its own memories for me; from the day out when I bought it, to the event I first wore it at, so to whittle it down to one standalone item is difficult! If I had to choose just one, it would have to be a paisley mustard and brown 1960s dress which I bought through Instagram from Retrospect Finds for £5 - it's been one of my most worn items and is perfect all year round because of the colour scheme, material and cut. It's been one of my best vintage clothing purchases and always looks amazing with a pair of Orla Kiely for Clarks shoes.


Finally, you're one of my vintage muses, who's yours and why?

I take a lot of my inspiration from the vintage community I have met through Instagram and at vintage events, but the timeless elegance of Coco Chanel makes her my ultimate style queen. The attention to detail in her garments and how she personally dressed, coupled with an acute understanding of the female form means that her designs are absolutely beautiful and reflected the beginnings of the changing status of women in the twentieth century. 
Similarly, I adore Mary Quant and her work, because the 1960s is my favourite vintage period and she is the epitome of female fashion of the decade. 

---  
I totally agree that Mary Quant is a major babe and I'm glad that another Girl Gang member finds her an inspirational as I do!

For me, Laura is a badass vintage beauty, who styles vintage to totally suit her quirky vibe. She's doesn't overdo it which can often look a little fancy dress, she lives it and IS it. It's so great to hear that other creatives use vintage as inspiration for their creativity and vice versa. It shows integrity and belief in what you do as a creative being as well as a fashion star!

Laura Littlefair; welcome to the Gang. Get those Pigeon Vintage red lipstick stripes all over your smooshy moosh!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

An Indie Kinda Christmas 2015!

"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.. ding dong ding dong"
and I really wanted to mark it, with a big Miss Pigeon event organising come back! Chatting with David from Cafe Indie (again), lead to him asking if I'd be interested in tackling their Christmas event, this year. 

We weren't sure what the event would be but knew we'd want a good mix of local makers, artists, musicians and traders. Was it a fair, market or fete? To make sure the event wasn't pigeon-holed (ahem), we called our event An Indie Kinda Christmas! That way we could make changes and new additions while pulling the shindig together.

I was a little nervous about getting back in the game (as you can read in my "Is that you autumn?" post, here) so asked the awesome and brilliant Jill from Alfie Robot Retro (Girl Gang member three) to give me a hand with pulling it together and getting some quality traders in.

The Facebook event was created. It was OFFISHUL! The ball was rolling with a bit of a buzz between local traders wanting a stall or to be involved somehow. 

I spoke to a few students at my proper job who were really keen to design the poster and flyers for the event, meaning they gained some professional practice experience for their art portfolios. Perfect!


Next, onto decorating the humongous venue! I knew it would be something colourful to reflect the nature of what Indie means to everyone; a vibrant and exciting space to be in. I knew I didn't have a budget so would have to use something from stock (tonnes and tonnes of lampshades and craft material ends). I knew I'd need some inspiration; Hellooo Pinterest and Instagrammers for some Pinstagramspiration.

Pinterest is sometimes a good starting point for me, but it's important to develop away from someone else's ideas and make them your own... With the help of half of Scunthorpe's knitters!


While scrolling Instagram (addicted), I happened across VintageCheadle's pompom inspirations. 


Cue call outs to local crafters, friends and the magnificent Knit Happens ladies! Knit Happens is a group that meet twice a week at Cafe Indie and knit/crochet/pompom their personal projects while they eat delicious cakes and have a catch up. These ladies have been incredibly prolific in their making over the last year and I'm always guaranteed a smile whenever I join them. 

We met at Red Tent, a monthly women's only event at Indie that celebrates all things LADY! The photos below are courtesy of Sian from the awesomely brilliant local band Ramble Gamble



Fairly typically of me, I used one of our vintage suitcases to store only half of the pompom creations.

It was all coming together nicely, until StanleyPigeon and I got a minging cold on the week of the big gig! Luckily I had plenty of people helping out behind the scenes, to decorate and pull together all the wool and pompoms. 

Over to An Indie Kinda Christmas  

The photos below were captured by a very talented graphics and photography student, Molly Richards, who offered to take these pictures while she hosted her family stall for Wet Records (more to come from them soon).

I designed this vinyl for boxwindow and had it created by the lovely Ryan of Enzyme Designs
This suitcase came from my collection many moons ago. I made this welcome sign when David first told me about his new cafe venture all that time ago :)
There's Mr P's sign, again!
and again!


Me, acting a buffoon and showing off my lampshade Christmas tree that greeted customers as they arrived. Behind is the mezzanine floor banisters, covered in knitted and pompommed garlands!
The Pigeon Vintage stall which was expertly hosted by Nana Pigeon
Alfie Robot Retro always make incredible use of their space
My Beautiful Frame's stall which proved very popular for personalised gifts.
Mr Pop Comics and Mrs Pop Comics hosted their first joint stall, selling these awesome frames and some vintage goodies on the side!
Mrs Vagrant Art getting into the spirit of An Indie Kinda Christmas
And some of the Vagrant Artists' work
And local artist Irene McGrath joining in...
... selling her homemade glass art, ceramics and recycled findings.
Oops made some sparklin' wreaths from secondhand jewellery
Mr and Mrs Shabbadashery selling their vintage homewares and record collections
The gorgeous Claire of ReInkOurNation - she's Girl Gang member #4, for my Girl Gang Monday blog project!
Claire's work is beautiful, I highly recommend a look at her Etsy page, if you're struggling for Christmas presents
The trendy AboveBored and Envy Beard Oil boys' stall
The Party Frock brought along some ace Christmas gifts for the geeks
The glorious Becka from Vintage Edited. It was her first time as a trader and we were so pleased to be her first event!


Revellers brought along friends and family, filling the place with a very Indie kind of festive feeling. 


I organised some top notch local musical talent to entertain us on the Friday evening:
Rachel Lewis serenaded us with some original tracks
Chris Cooper stepped in last minute to cover for a poorly Captain of the Lost Waves, who fell ill the week of the event. Cooper is a local legend when it comes to live music.

On the Saturday we had world wide known visitor in the way of SANTA!

Santa took a few laps of Indie with his handy elves who guided him through the crowds of people.
Santa was preluded by his son, who runs Great Oaks Community Choir. They did a stirling job of creating a real festive family spirit, all in the name of An Indie Kinda Christmas!

StanleyPigeon sneaking in to steal a few of our baubles... that he then smashed.

As well as wanting to make sure visitors had a good time, I really wanted to make sure traders did well, found their time with us easy and would return for any future events. Feedback suggests they had a great time and made profits worth coming back for! BONUS! 

An Indie Kinda Christmas, a Pigeon kinda event and a great time had by all.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Vintage Girl Gang - Retrospect Finds - Jordan

 Girl Gang Monday is one of my favourite parts of the week. I really love being able to spend a little time uniting like minded ladies who've all got a penchant for vintage. It's impossible for me, at my age and stage in life (31, entering the second year of weird motherhood, changing my career and a bit limbo) not to look around and notice the other girls who seem in seemingly better situations, bigger houses, sassier clothes and swankier hairdos. 

But let's not get jel about it... let's pat those girls on the back and ask what hair products they use and stalk them a bit on Instagram...

Instagram. It's the start of my day, the end of my day and most of in between, so Mr P thinks. BUT, without it I wouldn't be so vintspired (see what I did?) by such awesome lassies as Gwen (#1 GG recruit), Rosie Hearts (#2 GG recruit), Jill Robot (#3 GG recruit) and Claire ReInk (#4 GG recruit). 

And so, onto another vintage badass girl who I definitely stalk a bit on instagram, mainly because I want her hair:

Jordan Retrospects #5 GG recruit

Jordan is a real hotty patotty and runs Retrospect Finds which sells some real hotty patotty vintage goodies. 






SEE?! Take a look at her online shop (once you've finished reading this, though, yeah?)


How did you get into the vintage scene and who is it that got you there, so to speak?
I first got into the vintage scene and lifestyle from a very young age. I've been influenced by my grandparents and great grandparents homes and closets. Always having an amazing wardrobe to play 'dress up' in has changed the way I view outfits and styling. My grandma had some amazing fur coats, wiggle dresses, 60's florals and waspies! I also take style inspiration from film characters such as the kamikaze Lolita girls and Suzy Bishop (Moonrise Kingdom) and 60's babes like Edie and Twiggy!

Suzy Bishop

Twiggy

Edie


I started picking up vintage clothing from around age 14. Frequently hitting up the local charity shops and flea markets with my Nana. My first vintage purchase was a 1970's crushed velvet leopard print dress! It was incredible, It stayed in my wardrobe for a couple of years before I had the guts to wear it haha.


What's your best ever vintage purchase?

It's hard to choose my most memorable vintage purchase as I buy a tonne of vintage clothing and homewares for myself and also for my business Retrospect Finds. I'd have to narrow it down to my 1970's mustard vinyl 3 piece suite which I bought earlier this year and a pair of 1950's space age lamps I bought in Amsterdam to restore. They're fab! 

 

As for clothing it would definitely be a 1950's leopard print faux fur coat I bought for £1.49 from a Barnardo's warehouse last year (incredible condition too). I recently saw the same one being styled in an episode of Madmen!


POWER vintage


Where do you shop for all your finds?
I love to shop/thrift all over. My favourite spots for vintage shopping are central Amsterdam and Berlin. 


In the UK it's a mix of charity shops, flea markets, house clearance shops, car boot sales, vintage markets and sometimes the high street have some excellent vintage inspired pieces. I recently picked up some ace 60's and 70's style striped turtle necks in the Topshop sale! The only downside to shopping on the high street is that you're likely to see a few other girls wearing the same clobber whilst you're out!
 

Reproduction vintage fashion is becoming more common, do you ever buy it?
I much prefer dressing in true vintage, not only do you stand out from the crowd, it's lovely to wear something with a bit of a history. I like to imagine what kind of woman would wear this particular dress or coat.

What kind of life she would lead and what occasion she would wear it on! If only clothes could talk... I bet they'd have a few stories to tell. Until then I'm happy to make it up and let my imagination wander :)


Wander on #5 GG recruit, wander on, while you're at it, don those Pigeon Vintage red lipstick stripes! They're well earned and you look corking with 'em!

Retrospect Jordan, we salute you!

Aldi PANdemonium

This week instagram has gone all hearts-for-eyes over some pans. We all crave a bit of Catherine Holm's classic and bold kitchenalia. ...