ethical gifts for your valentine

It’s February already. Where does the time go? Our days have been whiled away hunkered by the woodburner, wrapped in cosy woollens and drinking hot tea.   The snowdrops have appeared, lining the hedgebanks and peppering the woodland on the farm with their delicate and wintery charms. I even spotted the first primrose of the year this very morning on my way to the shop. Before we know it, Valentine’s will be upon us. It isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, and here in Wales it is actually superseded by Dydd Santes Dwynwen (the Welsh saint of lovers) on January 25th. However, many of us – myself included – choose to use this day to be more mindful of our relationships and give thanks to our beloved. If you too choose to mark St Valentines with your other half, and are struggling for a gift idea, we’ve picked out a few things that we would love to receive to give you some inspiration.

Ethical Valentine's Gifts... for him

Weekend bag £60 / Vintage Metal Key £3.00 / Vintage Enamel Military Flask ON SALE £8.00/ Leather apron £45 (also available as a half apron) / Vintage Wooden Shoe Lasts £10.50 ea.
Ethical Valentine's Gifts

mothering

first meeting
I had a baby. Some time ago now. Almost a whole year in fact.

I had absolutely NO IDEA how it would completely alter my life. This little blog… well, there just genuinely has not been time.

my girl, wrapped up for Autumn

The baby is a girl – Penny or, more officially, Penelope Autumn (a few more days overdue and I would have been desperately searching for a new middle name!). She is 10 months old and a force of nature. She has the fair hair and blue eyes of her mummy and the features of her daddy. I still can’t quite believe she is mine.

pumpkins at Brooksgrove Farm, Pembrokeshire

Making time for my shop, both online and ‘bricks & mortar’ has been tough, but I’ve stayed afloat, adding products in the wee small hours and posting on Facebook during nap times. I’m very lucky that my lovely mum has agreed to come on board to help me keep Little House in Town moving forward, and she will be taking our wares off to markets and fairs as well as helping with our social media channels.

ethical fairtrade recycled christmas giftsblue slate illusion throw

We’ve got some beautiful things coming your way in advance of the festive season, the images above shows just a small selection. Cosy British woollen throws, recycled canvas aprons and a re-stock of our ever popular organic candles, in addition to the many vintage homewares and gifts we’ve been out and about sourcing for you. It goes against all my principles to be thinking about Christmas now, especially when we have two birthdays to get through in our house before St Nick makes his appearance, but I know a lot of you like to be able to spread out the cost or at the very least be able to look for inspiration now, so please forgive me my mentions of the ‘C’ word (I promise decorations won’t appear until November)!

I really hope you’re as pleased with our collection as we are, and thank you to all our customers for your patience, support and general loveliness over the last year.

wartime wardrobe challenge in print!

meg roper, wartime wardrobe challenge

Check out Meg in the latest issue of Pretty Nostalgic Compendium (yep, I did take a photo of her pic on the page, soz)!! No less than eight pages dedicated to her experience of living on 1940s wartime clothes rationing  as part of our Wartime Wardrobe Challenge in 2013. That is some achievement. 

It’s a really great article – Meg certainly knows her stuff when it comes to shopping more ethically and sustainably for clothes, and the article even has a double-page spread of great tips to help you make the most of your existing wardrobe.

goodwood revival pretty nostalgictips for making do and mending

It really is so exciting to see a concept that you were involved with take off; firstly we were over the moon when several bloggers chose to re-host the challenge for 2014, with some of them extending and tweaking it to provide a new take on the classic challenge to suit their own circumstances, morals and skills; and now to see Meg’s experience out there in print really is the icing on the cake.

With the principles of the challenge – lower clothing consumption, avoiding unethical practices, make-do-and-mend, choosing eco-fabrics and repurposing – being so relevant in today’s throwaway society, I can’t see the Wartime Wardrobe Challenge falling off the radar anytime soon, as it’s a fantastic way to reel in bad habits and connect with where your clothes really come from.

pretty nostalgic

Settling down to read my copy, surrounded by sleeping Chihuahuas.

If you want to get your hands on a copy of the book, which is the Goodwood Revival special edition, you can do so here. It’s a pretty cool read – no ads, amazing illustrations and articles that champion spending wisely, wasting less and appreciating more. Plus it’s put together entirely by the members of the Pretty Nostalgic society, who are basically the readers, so you know you’re getting content you actually want to read. Top notch.

seasonal preserving

hedgerow-brambles

I have to admit, I’m not a very good forager. I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea how to find a rowan or a sloe (although a friend has promised me a sloe gin tutorial this year), and I wouldn’t know a damson if it jumped out and poked me in the eyeball.

But you can always rely on the good old blackberry. Easy to spot, easy to pick (watch the prickles!) and easy to do something with. This year they even made the national news – apparently we’re having a bumper blackberry crop due to the weeks of sunshine we’ve had following the wet winter.

blackberry-haul

Having found a whole stretch of bountiful brambles just at the top of our lane, I’ve already been out twice with my trusty cake tin to help myself to the ripe fruit (always leaving some for the birds and other blackberry eating wildlife, of course!). So far we’ve enjoyed homemade blackberry and apple crumble – using Cox apples that grow next to our allotment on the farm, seasonal berries with yoghurt and homemade granola topping (great pregnancy superfoods!) and most recently I’ve rustled up a batch of classic blackberry jam.

As blackberries are a low-pectin and low acid fruit, I earmarked a bag of jam sugar that had been sitting in the cupboard for… erm… a while… for the task. Apparently it had been sitting there a teeny bit longer than I thought having gone out of date in April 2013. Whoops. Never one to let a use-by date put me off, and with it being too late for a Sunday dash to the shops, I used it anyway and thankfully it worked just fine.

(N.B. I don’t follow a recipe as such – I use Pam Corbin’s Preserves book from the River Cottage handbook series, it’s like the preserving bible in our house! Love the apple and blackberry leathers she makes too so if I manage to get my forage on one last time before the berries vanish then that is on my list of things to make).

homemade-blackberry-jam

I decorated the various jars with scraps of fabric and made a little printed label with my current favourite leaf design (which you’ll notice on all the Little House in Town shop labels!). I think they look just like children playing little shepherds in a nativity play, bedecked in their mum’s finest teatowels :)

green-tomato-chutney

My intention is to dish out the jam, homegrown pickled onions (we managed to grow tonnes of super tiny onions this year, perfect for pickling!) and hopefully some homegrown green tomato chutney to family and friends at Xmas. It’s handy to be able to sort out some Christmas stuff now, while the baby is still safely in my tum and causing minimal disruption!

 

baking a bun

It seems that a good number of you may have already guessed what I am about to say from my last post, despite my firm belief that I had been convincingly cryptic and vague…

Well, I can confirm your suspicions and am very excited (and mildly terrified) to say that I’m expecting my first baby!

16weeks

I’m currently 16 weeks and a small bump is starting to appear, so it’s getting harder to keep quiet about our impending arrival. I have kept quiet a little longer than most, mostly because we’ve tried to tell close friends and family first (which isn’t easy when you live 250miles from most of them!) but also because I’ve found the early stages of pregnancy a little nerve-wracking and wanted to make sure all was well before I made any big announcement.

Baby is due to arrive in November – when we first found out we were pregnant back in March it seemed very odd to think that we had already had our last Christmas as a couple! I’m sure it will be a very different sort of Christmas this year with a 4-6 week old baby around.

I’ve started feeling the first flutters and rolls of movements from the orange-sized person living in my tum, which is an oddly pleasant sensation and a lovely reassurance that all is well in the waterworld. We’ve been taking weekly bump photographs since the scan at week 12 – the ones we’ve done so far are dotted around this post.

week12

Baby Story So Far…

First off I just want to come out and say that it took us six months to get pregnant, with several bouts of tears and false alarms along the way. Six months is a perfectly normal amount of time for a healthy couple to take to conceive, but you would be amazed how quickly you start to get little niggly thoughts creeping into your head about whether you’re actually going to be able to conceive at all. It felt like a very, very long six months and in the end, for my own sanity, I had to stop using my little ‘monthly cycle tracker’ app and just try to forget that we were trying to make a baby at all.

week13

And it worked, because when I took that fateful pregnancy test, we were utterly and completely shocked to find out that I was pregnant. Some women say that you ‘just know’ when you’ve conceived – well, I didn’t have a bloody clue, I felt exactly like I always do in the last few days before my monthly visit (!). So much so that I had to do a second test the morning after because I thought the first one might be faulty. Haha. And then I still didn’t quite believe it. :b

I think my former life as a geneticist working on many a prenatal sample made me very hyperaware of the fragility of early pregnancy, and of all the many potential complications and disorders that can affect an unborn babe. I was pretty nervous in the early weeks, convinced I might accidentally wee the baby out or eat something that caused it some major deformity. I also had a overwhelming fear that the scan would reveal that there was actually nothing in there – just an empty womb where a baby should be. Chris is a much more laid back chap, and if he had any concerns, he certainly didn’t voice them at the time.hi-small

Thankfully none of these things happened, and the 12-week scan was a wonderful, beautiful moment that confirmed our little wriggler was looking perfectly well and growing as expected. It sucked it’s thumb for most of the scan, and is doing so on its photo (which doesn’t do the scan justice at all; the clarity and detail you could see on the big screen was AMAZING). Within four hours of the scan, my mum had successfully broadcast the news to most of our friends and family and it started to dawn on us that ‘holy shit, we’re actually having a baby!’.

Then I went nuts on eBay.

Reuseable nappies, second hand baby clothes, maternity wear, prams… the list goes on. I’m keen to try and buy second-hand where possible, as babies grow out of things so quickly that finding good quality stuff isn’t hard. With everything else we hope to try and be as environmentally friendly and ethical as possible – organic clothes, bedsheets and towels; reuseable wipes and chemical-free botty creams; washable nappies and breastfeeding all the way (even though the idea of breastfeeding scares me more than the idea of giving birth!).

week14

Since 14 weeks (second trimester), I’ve been religiously applying my organic Shea Mooti Stretch Mark oil (from my Pregnancy Must Have box - a gift from my mum) to try and minimise any tiger stripes – my skin is annoyingly fragile so I’m not overly hopeful! I’ve also been attending a pregnancy yoga class in Haverfordwest, and I absolutely love it. Our teacher Lisa is so down-to-earth and lovely and relates everything we do to a practical purpose – helping progress labour, easing pain of contractions, keeping pelvic floor supple etc. etc. It’s been great to be around other mums-to-be as well – the other girls are all further along than me, so I can see what lies ahead and hear their stories.

week15

Although I wasn’t particularly unwell in my first trimester – no morning sickness to speak of (hurray!) – it is true that your energy levels go up in the second trimester, and it’s nice not to feel utterly shattered all the time and just enjoy the highly surreal experience that is growing a baby!

Chris and I are obviously quite excited to be baking a tiny human being, and I’m sure the pregnancy will crop up in my posts, but for those of you who are not gushing baby sorts, rest assured that I’m not about to start blogging incessantly about the intimate details of my womb environment. :) 

Nik

birthday roadtrippin’ round Cornwall

Way back in September 2013, I caught wind of the Crowdfunder campaign for the British Longboarding Team, who needed to raise £5k to get the team out to the ISA Longboarding Championships in Peru.

If you’re not familiar with crowdfunding, it’s similar to fundraising, except that the person doing the Crowdfund has to hit their target in order to receive any money from the supporters. Typically, there are ‘rewards’ offered depending on how much money you choose to pledge, for example, a t-shirt if you pledge £25 or a custom shaped surfboard if you spend £800. OR… a three-night trip to Cornwall in a vintage VW Campervan and a Ion Pro action camera if you pledge £500…

our weekend home :)

The campervan we took our trip in was the lovely Lilly from The Cornwall Camper Company, a 1971 Bay window camper in minty green with a pop-top for added roominess. Jess from CCC said we could take our trip anytime in low season, so we opted for my 27th 21st birthday weekend, which, being childless, we didn’t realise was actually slap in the Easter holidays! So thanks Jess for letting us have it regardless!

toot toot! lilly's cool interior

On our way to St Austell to meet Lilly, we stopped off in Fowey for a nosey, as we were a bit early. What a lovely little harbour town! We indulged in our first holiday ice-cream, a delicious locally made concoction known as the ‘Shipwreck’. which was a mix of sea salt, caramel and cinder toffee and was completely amazing.

fowey-harbour shipwreck fowey-selfie

I spent a lot of time drooling in The Clementine - a homeware and gift shop with the perfect seaside feel – I just wanted to buy everything!

fowey-town church-tower

After picking up Lilly and learning the ropes from CCC’s Ben, we dashed off in the direction of The Lost Gardens of Heligan with about three hours to spare until closing time.

lilly-at-heligan natural-garden-sculpture narcissishepherds hut

The gardens are part of a large estate that stretches down towards Mevagissey and for the best part of 100 years they were left to decay and crumble, the once bountiful and beautiful areas becoming overgrown and veiled with ivy and brambles. In the 1990s, the gardens were rediscovered by Tim Smit (of Eden Project fame) and a descendent of the original family, and were fully restored and opened to the public.

lost-gardens tranquil ornate-grate

Good times for us – we had a great time flitting around in a desperate attempt to see everything before closing time. Definitely need to go back again to finish the bits we missed.

saddleback newborn-chick heligan fountain

Thankfully the weather was on our side too, and we stocked up on some estate-produced charcoal to fuel the evening meal, made on our trusty million-year-old bucket BBQ that cost about £4 from TESCO.

bbq at Heligan meal prep in Lilly potatoes and sausages cooking away

We stayed at some great campsites on our three night break – the first two were recommendations from Ben and were definitely our favourites: Heligan Woods, just round the corner from the gardens, and Ayr Holiday Park at St Ives, which had THE MOST AMAZING view and an incredibly luxurious toilet block (I’m a fussy camper, so that suited me just fine).

view from Ayr campsite hooray for electric hook up!

Lilly was surprisingly comfortable to sleep in – I had expected that horrid nighttime chill that you get in a tent, but Lilly was snug all night long (plus there was a fan heater that we used to ‘pre-heat’ the van in the evenings).

We found driving along in the van felt very natural to us and not at all strange (I wasn’t driving – I left that to Chris who is familiar with driving old VWs); it was nice to wave at all the other bugs and campers that passed us by on our journey – something we’re used to doing in Reg the Beetle – and it was especially nice to be able to pop to the shop for coco pops on my birthday and then eat them in perfect comfort in a lay-by :)

layby-rest

Lilly literally took us all over Cornwall – from St Austell through Truro to visit the Tregothnan tea estate (who were having their open weekend)…

(scroll over pics for captions!)

this is a rhodedendron bush! Wish I'd have made Chris stand in for perspective - it was HUGE! The incredible summerhouse Chris peeking in the summerhouseI thought the 'antiqued' flowers looked the prettiest :) pop up tea shop! Bought some delicious Kea plum jam. The pop-up outdoor cafe was crammed with folk My travel buddy and chief driver first scone of the trip - jam then cream, just the way it was meant to be served :b A much needed Tregothnan tea break

…to St Ives, where we ate out at a lovely little Italian called Peppers for my birthday meal and ate far too much fudge…

Sloop craft market one of the lovely St Ives beaches A really cool veg shop on the vino in Peppers

…then a spontaneous stop at Geevor Tin Mine where we spent ages wandering around the old mine buildings, including The Dry, which is a completely preserved example of the miner’s changing area and social space…

blue skies and tin mines the miners dry - had the most amazing tour of this building by an ex-miner Hard hats ahoy!

There was hardly anyone around despite it being a school hol! People – go visit this mine, it’s awesome!

panicking at the depth of the mining shaft underneath my feet Miner in shorts?! The view from Geevor tin mine - the mines extend out under the sea!

…then all the way round the coast to Lands End (stopping at Sennen Cove on the way), where we gazed in bemused horror at the amusement park style monstrosity (that we didn’t take any photos of) that greeted us where we had expected a solitary signpost and perhaps a quaint tea room…

sennen cove the pretty part of Lands End As close as we could get to the sign without paying... Lands End Farm... yes, there's a farm! And it's one of the nicer bits.

…and all the way back up to St Austell again! She barely grumbled at all, only on the super steep hills :)

We were quite sad to drop her off (especially as it meant we had another 6 hour journey in the car back to Pembrokeshire, haha), but she certainly lived up to expectations and then some. The perfect birthday treat, and quite a pertinent trip for us for some other reasons that shall soon be revealed…

the-end

Totally want a camper now.

 

adventure dinner

If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. If you go down in the woods today, you’ll never believe your eyes…

man-make-fire

Take several friends, a pot full of uncooked delights, something to start a fire with, a penknife and some beverages, head to your local woodland and cook your dinner beneath the stars.

We’re calling it an ‘adventure dinner’, but you can call it what you like, the principle remains the same – get off the grid for your dinner one evening a week and slow it all down for one meal. Forgotten your cutlery? No bother – take your penknife and carve yourself a nice spoon from green wood whilst your meal bubbles away over the open fire.

whittling

The idea began with Rob – who is convalescing after a nasty skatepark fall broke his left humerus and rendered him unable to drive. Now he’s on the mend, he’s taken to wandering around the local area and whilst doing so stumbled on a beautiful area of woodland he’d never seen before, complete with an open-sided, grass-roofed roundhouse. The #adventuredinner concept was born…

roundhouse

We ate veg and bean stew straight from the pot, along with pork marinated in homemade piri-piri sauce and BBQ ribs. As the pot bubbled away, the boys whittled various utensils and skewers as we chatted about life and dreams, projects and ambition. A pact was made – that we would actively seek new adventure dinner locations and meet in them once a week.

milford-woods

wild-barbecueAfter dinner, we stacked up the fire for warmth, drank cider and attempted to toast Starburst (someone said they blow up like marshmallows – they were clearly lying). Then as it got cooler and the fire burnt down, we snuck away, leaving only the smouldering embers behind.

toasted-starburst

As Rob effectively hosted the first dinner, we’ve taken responsibility for the next. So at the weekend, after a compulsory shop visit to deliver some new painted furniture, we followed a tip-off to another local woodland area to assess its suitability, up near the Steiner school at Nant-y-Cwm.

nant-y-cwm

adventure-dinner

It was certainly a fine woodland – a bit more ‘managed’, with a composting loo and carefully maintained boardwalk, but it still looks like a top spot for our next dinner. Discussions for the menu are excitedly underway… suggestions welcome!

It would be amazing to see you all heading off for your own #adventuredinner this Spring and Summer! If you do, please share your pics with us using the hashtag #adventuredinner and spread the word. Let’s get the UK indulging in a spot off back-to-basics wild cooking in 2014! You can follow our little adventure crew on Instagram to see our latest ‘venues’ and what we’re cooking up: @nikibberson, @senoir, @skinnfish

Nik

a day out at pembrokeshire wedding fair

The hubbo has recently taken the decision to hire out his beloved VW Beetle, Reginald, for weddings and photoshoots and suchlike. We used him at our own wedding in July last year, and it was so lovely to see him all dressed up and being made a fuss over – not to mention the fact that he makes such an unbelievably cool and seaside-y wedding car – that it seemed a great idea to offer him to other couples looking for something a bit different from the usual wedding car hire service.

Untitled-2

To kickstart our new little sideline, which will help us pay for Reggie’s upkeep and maintenance (he’s no spring chicken you know!), we took a stand at the Pembrokeshire County Wedding Fair last Sunday, and took Reg along to meet some of the local brides and grooms.

I was super nervous about going – what if all the other exhibitors looked down their noses at us? What if people didn’t like Reggie? What if there was another Beetle there that was just that little bit shinier than Reginald (we’ve kept him as original as possible so he’s not without his quirks and flaws – most of which are things we love about him!)??

pembrokeshire-beetle-hire

Early Sunday morning we drove to the county showground and began constructing our stand. And who should we bump into on our way through the door? Only Owen and Charis from O&C Photography! Charis and I have chatted a little on Twitter in the past and follow one another on Instagram, but have never met in person. I did have a suspicion they might be at the fair, what with them being Pembrokeshire wedding photographers and all, but by pure coincidence we were on stands facing one another, so we got to have a right good old chinwag throughout the day. It was great. Their stand looked amazing – I spent all day lusting after those festoon lights.

oandc-photography

It was quite tough to think of how to fill a stand when the thing you’re trying to promote is actually stood outside in the rain! We decided to try and put across Reg’s personality and style, and we brought lots of things from home – including one of my recycled wool picnic blankets and a handful of driftwood candles, which we displayed alongside Kilner jars and vintage milk cans filled with fresh narcissi; and a hay bale, which we pinched borrowed from our landlord. It did attract some smirks from other exhibitors and left quite a mess – the organisers have probably put us on their blacklist now…

pembrokeshire-wedding-fair-stand picnic-season

One of my favourite things that we did was print a load of Polaroid-style photos of Reg and local beaches that we hung on string across our stand. They were super easy to make – I borrowed the template from Decorator’s Notebook, popped in my pics and then ordered them as 6×4″ prints from Tesco for 15p each (you have to trim the bottoms off to get them the right size but that’s no biggie).

polaroid-photo-template

We had a top day out; we got fed an incredible pig roast, unlimited tea and coffee, several delicious wedding cake samples and Reggie even found himself a new buddy in Sydney – the splitscreen camper van belonging to Retro Retreats. His owners Sam and Matt have been in the wedding hire business here in West Wales for a while now and gave us so much helpful advice and support. I really hope someone books us both for the ultimate VW wedding – they look so lovely together!

reg-sydney

The day was worth it just for the people we met, but we also managed to come away with three bookings! Feeling like a proud parent :) It’s going to be a very exciting summer! Toot toot!

fairtrade fortnight

fairtradefortnightbanner

There’s a lot going on round here at the moment, and I seem to find that between managing the online shop, coordinating two bricks and mortar stores, doing my editorial work, re-furbishing our spare room, designing labels for our new candle line, making a roman blind and volunteering one day a week with the National Trust, blogging gets firmly shunted into the back seat. Which is naughty of me. I should prioritise it more. *slaps wrist*

It is wonderful to be busy though. I am genuinely filled with pure joy every time an order comes through on the website, or when one of the stores calls to say they’ve made a sale. I don’t know how the heads of giant retail outlets cope – they must be bursting with delight every second of the day :b

pembs

We did find time to pop out for a lovely walk last weekend, you know on Sunday, when the sun came dazzling out after weeks of shitty rubbish storms? A new walking route had opened at Southwood Farm, a National Trust site a couple of miles from us, so we went off to check it out.

southwood

It was meant to be a four mile jaunt – a walk through the farm fields then back along Newgale beach – but we accidentally bumped into some friends half way round and got talked into joining them for Sunday dinner instead… It was a bloody good Sunday dinner though. Newgale is looking, well, different after the storms. The severe loss of sand has exposed an incredible petrified forest (which photos just don’t do justice of, I’m afraid) but there was also a lot of these little fellas laying around looking very sorry for themselves – does anyone know what they are?

mollusc

petrified

So, back to the point of the post… today marks the start of Fairtrade Fortnight, and as purveyor of many a fair trade item, I am of course participating. Evenings last week were spent busily making banners, both physical and virtual, to brandish with vigour and alert passers-by to the fairtrade offerings awaiting them inside.

fairtrade fairtrade-fortnight-home

It just so happened that I’d decided to move part of my shop in the Malthouse Antiques Centre to a new, more prominent spot, and it all fit in quite nicely with the need to create a bobby dazzling display of my fair trade products, which I centred around my – quite frankly epic – Indian market cart, reclaimed straight from the dusty streets of India themselves (I know, I got covered head to toe in said dust during reassembly).

This was the room before:

new-unit

And here it is with our new display:

wales-antiques-guide newroom

Pretty impressed with it, if I do say so myself.

I still have my original space (opposite the rugs, for those of you familiar with the Malthouse), which now looks like this:

rug-room

The theme for Fairtrade Fortnight this year is ‘bananas’. This is not particularly helpful to me as a homeware and furniture retailer. I do buy fairtrade bananas though – organic fairtrade bananas actually – so that shall have to suffice as my link to this year’s theme.

Despite my lack of banana offerings, I am offering a whole 15% off all the fair trade items in the Little House in Town shop throughout Fairtrade Fortnight, which runs until the 10th March. 

fairtrade-fortnight

From L-R: Fairtrade Reclaimed Chapatti Board NOW £24.65 // Fairtrade Stag Bottle Cork NOW £5.52 // Fairtrade Glass Photo Frames NOW from £7.22 // Fairtrade Handwoven Jute Rug NOW from £21.25 // Fairtrade Herb Drying Rack NOW £5.50 // Fairtrade Industrial Metal Stool NOW £38.25
SHOP ALL FAIRTRADE

Happy shopping my fairtrade friends!

Nik

something’s different around here…

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It occurred to me that, despite it having being live for a month now, I still haven’t even mentioned my online shop! What a pudding.

So, yeah, things are quite different now at Little House in Town, and if you follow my ramblings via a feed reader, you might want to pop over to the actual site and view it for your very self.

screen-shot-homeware

What’s occurring?

Well, I’ve got a whole new website, built for me by the wonderfully talented web designer Christian Senior (ok, yes, he’s my husband). It launched on 27 December last year, just in the nick of time for the release of Issue 19 of The Simple Things mag.

And why, I hear you say, was that so important?

Well, because I’m ruddy in it, that’s why! My beaming mug is plastered across a (almost) two-page spread! I think it is definitely the most famous I’ve ever been and perhaps ever will be. It’s just about to be replaced with the next issue, so if you want to read all about me packing up the day job to move to Pembrokeshire and the opening of my shops (and get a cheeky discount code for the online shop), grab it now (available from all good newsagents :b).
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You’ll notice when you head to the Little House in Town homepage that you are no longer greeted with my little blog (RIP), but instead with a cover page, from which you can choose to head into the shop, blog or other informative little pages that tell you all about the shop or how to get in touch with me. Have a poke around and see what you think (bearing in mind it is very much a work in progress! Although please do let me know if you find a broken link or anything that doesn’t seem to work properly).

So what sort of stuff do you sell?

Some of you will know that early last year, I secured myself a little selling space in the Malthouse Antiques centre at Narberth, Pembrokeshire. From there I’ve been selling an array of quirky and useful vintage finds alongside some fairtrade homewares and handmade/upcycled items from local makers.

vintage-finds

I wanted my shop to be the kind of place I’d want to buy from, and be an advocate for clear labelling so that the origin of every item was transparent. Basically, I want my customers to know that anything they pick up whilst in my space is sourced responsibly and with consideration for the environment.

fairtrade-photo-frame

In November, I branched out a little and opened a basement shop inside my mum’s chocolaterie (shopping and chocolate = double win), providing my wares to the good folks of Yorkshire (who are getting through my driftwood range and upcycled cutlery at a frankly alarming rate!). The Yorkshire shop has a little less of the ‘antique-y’ stuff and a little more ‘new’ stuff.

vintage-upcycled-cutlery

I’m doing my absolute best to get my products onto the website, which will hopefully be a good mix of the two shops, but I have quite a back-log to get through and two shops to manage, plus a part-time job as a freelance writer, so please bear with me and check back often as I add new stuff at some odd times!

I hope you like the new look and still find it easy to navigate to where you want to be. Your support has been amazing and I’m really lucky to have such awesome blog readers. :) I’ve got a feeling 2014 is going to be a very good year!

Nik

the wartime wardrobe challenge lives on!

The Wartime Wardrobe Challenge

My own Wartime Wardrobe Challenge may have come to a close, but it seems that the challenge itself is set to live on for another year, with several bloggers across the world taking up the gauntlet to see if they can survive on British wartime clothes rationing in 2014. I’m feeling like a proud mother sending her child off to University and I know Meg is too. It really is a great feeling to know that an idea you helped to bring to life has grown wings and flown off on its merry way around the globe :)

me sewing- got my concentration face on

The challenge is designed to make you think about your clothes consumption and wardrobe ethics by making do and mending, making ethical choices and only purchasing what is strictly necessary. Having received a a pair of gloves and a pair of slippers for Xmas, I ended 2013 having used up 60 of my 66 coupons – not too shabby!!

Xmas Gifts
1. Protest LOUIS mitten from The Pines, Haverfordwest / 2. Water Lily Knit Bow Ballerina from Ruby + Ed

 

I’m hoping to keep following the principles of the challenge, as I feel like some of them have become ingrained in me anyway, so it will be interesting to see what my wardrobe footprint looks like at the end of 2014, in the absence of coupon counting! I did acquire some new items have a total blowout in the New Year sales, picking up some great ethical bargains and yet another set of undercrackers (I think I need help). I was also sent an incredible bamboo baselayer top to review on behalf of a magazine I write for, and I am utterly besotted with it – bamboo fabric is so amazingly soft!!

ethical new year sale

Take Part in 2014

If you missed out on the challenge last year, but fancy giving it a go in 2014, please do feel free to use any of the graphics, banners, coupon charts and rules that I’ve inserted at the bottom of this post to get started. You can get the full lowdown on the challenge in my original post here: Introducing… the Wartime Wardrobe Challenge.

Alternatively, if you would rather follow along with another blogger than take it up on your lonesome, here are the details of the new custodians of the challenge – each one has taken a slightly different approach and slightly different rules so have a look and see which floats your boat:

  • Sew for a Change 2014 - run by Swedish bloggers Alexandra and Malin (don’t worry, Alexandra blogs in English!) this challenge runs from February to December, so you haven’t missed anything yet! Allowing 75 coupons, the challenge has a focus on making your own clothes and offers monthly opportunities to ‘earn’ extra points by completing green challenges.
  • Life During Wartime Challenge – Jackie is taking on the mother of wartime challenges; not only is she rationing her clothing, but is also rationing her toiletries, household cleaning supplies and tea according to UK wartime standards. If you’re keen to learn more about green cleaning methods and making your own toiletries, this is the challenge for you, and Jackie’s whole blog is dedicated to it.
  • Debate Create Wartime Wardrobe Challenge – Super excited that our humble little challenge has been picked up all the way across the other side of the world! Yep, we’ve gone to Australia! Debate Create are following the ‘traditional’ challenge as originally outlined by Meg and I, so this is the one for you if you like the sound of the original rules and coupon allowances.

(P.S. If you are doing the challenge and I haven’t listed you, please do get in touch and let me know all about it so I can add you to this list)

Good luck to all of you taking part, and I can’t wait to follow your journeys over the next year!

Nik
 
 

Resources

Feel free to use any of the resources below if you’re planning to blog about the Wartime Wardrobe Challenge in 2014, but please include a little link back to the original challenge post. You’re a gem.

Free Stock Images:

clothessale1940s-fashion

 

Banner:

The Wartime Wardrobe Challenge

Participants’ Badge:

badge

Coupons:

clothing-coupon3-couponsRules:

the challengethe-rulesCoupon Charts:

 

 

storm chasing

roadclosed

It’s been a stormy ride here in Pembrokeshire over the last week, I believe it even made national news. There were pictures swimming (no pun intended) all over Facebook showing some horrendous damage in our lovely county – roads caving in, sea defences falling at the mercy of the sea and homes under feet of water. This is how the road at Amroth was looking after the storms overnight on Jan 2nd (picture by New Inn, Amroth, via Facebook)

Amroth Storm Damage

There have been some amazing phenomena revealed too, things that have been hidden under sand for many years and are now lying exposed. Such as this magnificent petrified forest, now visible at low tide on our local beach (photo credit: Alex Payne, via Facebook):

petrified-forest-newgale

Our inland county town of Haverfordwest wasn’t safe either, as the river burst its banks and poured water into the riverside shops and offices. We looked at a property at the rivers edge for one of Chris’s business projects, thinking how lovely it would be to see the calming, soothing flow of the river from the office window each day – thank god it was above our budget in the end.

For the first few days of the storms, we hibernated indoors, staying away from the coast and in the safety of our home. As the storms began to calm a little, curiosity got the better of us and we decided to go take a look at our local beach, Newgale, which seems to have been one of the worst affected places in the county.

pembrokeshire-storm2

Newgale has a pebble bank that separates the beach from the road – or did. The sheer force of the incredible ocean has pushed it right back across the entire road, allowing the super high tides to flush straight across and onto what is, in summer, a bustling campsite. I know it’s hard to tell if you don’t know the beach well, but in this picture the lake I’m looking at is the campsite, the stones to my left are covering the road and the actual beach is beyond the pebbles,on the far left.

flooded-campsiteI wish a picture could convey just how much the wind was howling and the rain was pounding – it still felt very volatile. Plastic beach litter had found its way into every crevice of the hedge banks and moorland – it is going to be such a big task to get the place clean and tidy again. Which is why idiots like this lady and her kids really p*%! me off – she was letting them pick up rubbish and pebbles and throw them into the water covering the campsite!!! Some people just seem to have a minimal amount of brain cells, don’t they?

pembrokeshire-storm1Reports are that they are starting to try and clear the road today, with less severe weather forecast from now on. I will be taking my tush down to the local biz’s on the seafront in the coming week to do my bit to make up for the loss of custom they will have experienced over the last week. I’m also hoping to help with clean-up at another local beach, Abereiddi, on Thursday as part of my volunteer work with the National Trust. I’ll try and get some pics, so keep your eyes on my Twitter and Instagram feeds on Thurs evening if you’re interested!

car park submerged

If your area has been affected by the storms, I hope you’ve managed to keep safe and not had your lives disrupted too heavily. Sometimes nature just seems to want to remind us who’s boss. I certainly won’t forget to respect the ol’ blue for some time.

Nik

 

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