Friday, 29 September 2017

The Joy Of Small Things

So what's blog worthy about this tatty Edwardian curiosity? Well, believe it or not, this tiny lacquered Chinoiserie box, together with its contents (seen below) was the first thing I remember spending my pocket money on. I was six years old.



Most kids went through the Argos catalogue, folding back the toy pages until it resembled a concertina or bought comics or hung around the sweet counter in Woolworth's. My idea of fun was visiting the curio shop around the corner with Mum and excitedly rummaging through the boxes of tat on the step outside. My little lacquered box complete with garish religious scraps and the tiny celluloid doll with the knackered left hip (no wonder I was attracted to it, she was a mini me!) cost me 50p and I get as much pleasure looking at it today as I did when I first opened that little box over forty-four years ago.

In a world where it seems like almost everyone is on some sort of journey, decluttering, downsizing and simplifying, I'm happy to quietly sit, deriving pleasure from the things I bought a lifetime ago.


On the eve of my eight year blogging anniversary (thanks for the reminder, Hazel) I thought I'd share some of the things that have been part of my life since buying them as a weird, antique collecting little girl but, despite being precious to me, have never been featured on my blog.


That Victorian scrap screen was another of my childhood acquisitions. It might be falling apart but it still managed to get included in the Your Home magazine photoshoot a couple of years ago. I love this image, it reminds me of the Johannes Vermeer prints that used to hang on the wall at home.



Despite moving eight times during my adult life, these Victorian dolls have always come with me. Forty years ago you could pick them up at jumble sales (and I frequently did). My Grandma made the floral dress - could that fabric be any more 1970s?!


You'll be relieved to know that they're all wearing knickers.

My Sindy doll didn't have trashy plastic furniture, she was far classier with her Victorian apprentice pieces. I sold all my Sindy & Pippa dolls when I discovered eBay in 2001 and made enough money for two return flights to India. No idea if the furniture is of any value, I keep it 'cos I love it!


 I used to take this Victorian silver purse everywhere with me, dangling it from my little finger. It was probably the poshest dinner money purse in Walsall.


Using this minuscule Common Prayer book at Sunday School was the highlight of the tedious church services I endured until I was 11 and was given the choice as to whether I wanted to continue attending.  I chose atheism but still treasure my tiny Victorian relic, like the purse above, bought for a pittance from a junk shop as a child - Victorian stuff was hideously unfashionable in the early 1970s.
Useful? No. Makes me happy when I look at it? Oh, yes. I'm not one for rules but I'm more than happy to follow the wise words of William Morris, he knew a thing or two about fabulously furnished homes.

“If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” 



WEARING: Vintage psychedelic catsuit (99p, eBay, 2011), 1970s Jeff Banks for W1 balloon sleeved blouse (50p, car boot sale, 2006), Stuart Weizmann boots (£2, charity clearance shop), Indian tribal jewellery (fiercely haggled over in Indian markets since 1999)

Here's a fairly late addition to our home, Frank. Its been a year since he decided to adopt us and we've pandered to his every need ever since, hence the reason that he's the size of a tank.

We're back at work this weekend, trading with the fabulous Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair at London's achingly hip Bethnal Green, details HERE. We've got so much cool stock that if I didn't already own it I'd be buying it all and bringing it home.

See you soon!

86 comments:

  1. Loving your treasures i wish i had found a love for collecting things at an early age but my dad threw anything old away because he was poor when he was a child and had to wear second hand only ever had one pair of new boots at christmas so i can understand why , Our nikki has been adopted by a stray cat too lol xxx

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    1. Nikki lost her cat around the same time as we lost Polly, didn't she? Cats know!
      My Mum & Grandma both loved collecting old stuff whereas my Dad could have fitted all he owned in a single suitcase. Different strokes for different folks. xxx

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  2. Congratulations on 8 years of blogging - what an achievement!

    I loved all the treasures collected in your childhood. I'm surprised you didn't become an antiques dealer or open an antique shop. They may have cost you little but you have a wealth of memories associated with them plus they are things of beauty in themselves.

    Frank looks like he's been part of your family forever!
    xxx

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    1. Those eight years have just flown by!
      To be honest a lot of antiques don't interest me, I can't be doing with dainty china, most brown furniture, clocks and titchy bits of sparkly jewellery plus the people on the antique scene are very different to the vintage one, very competitive and humourless! xxx

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  3. Oh, if you can wrangle some extra time you must go to the Bethnal Green museum of childhood! So many Victorian dolls houses, it's wonderful!

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    1. I've heard about that museum, I think its around the corner from York Hall, the venue we were trading at. Fortunately for us we were far too busy to nip out although I'd love to pay a visit one day. xxx

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  4. By which I also meant, I loved this post!

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  5. I am not a doll person but love your Victorian ones, I love anything Victorian. If stuff makes you happy then why the hell not. You had great taste from a young age, great find on the box full of goodies

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    1. I hate those repro china dolls single ladies of a certain age seem to collect but I do love the real thing, the more battered about the better! xxx

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  6. Happy Blogiversary!
    You had a good collector's eye as a child-that screen is magnificent.

    Frank the Tank looks content and happy-who wouldn't be living that sort of luxurious life?!

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    1. I really ought to do some repair work on that screen, the poor thing's falling to bits. xxx

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  7. You have obviously had superior taste since birth, what lovely items! One of the first things I remember buying was a vintage brooch at a church table top sale I attended with my grandmother. I think it was 10p. Lovely photos xx

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    1. So you were into the same things since childhood, too. I know you still love a sparkly brooch! xxx

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  8. We have such a lot in common Vix. I have some little antique dolls and a couple of cupboards just like yours. A silver purse and a dance card from 1800s. These things always intrigue me and I love them. I like to think who would have used them when they were new.

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    1. Wow, we do have a lot in common, Sally! xxx

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  9. So much fun! I just adore posts like this - the tiny details of the lovely things we collect.
    Now I have been thrifting for nearly *coughs* 50 years and have only started to find antique dolls. It is all just the luck of the draw. It also seems that those who are passing on, their children/family are just donating the bulk of their estates.

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    1. I'm not far behind you, Tami! How interesting that the antique dolls are only just cropping up in the USA now. xxx

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  10. I still have a round tin that I bought when I was 12 or 13. I keep thread in it. And buttons, lots of buttons from Mom.

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  11. How interesting to see some of the other little treasures you've collected for so many years. I do think that it is wonderful to have pieces that hold so many memories. Your house is like a scrapbook of memories.

    Congratulations on your blogiversary!

    I was out all day and came home with four massive bags of vintage. Now the work begins as you well know. And, because I can never get enough vintage I'll be heading out to that vintage clothing show we did last year but this time not as a vendor since the husband is overseas. I'm hoping I won't find anything to take home but I know that isn't likely.

    Hope your show this weekend is awesome!

    Suzanne

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    1. Thanks, Suzanne!

      I never tire of looking at vintage either, it's like an addiction.
      I don't envy you the work, I've repaired, altered and upcycled 20 items since Monday, I'm sick of the sight of the sewing machine now! xxx

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  12. What a large and gorgeous cat! Impressive.

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  13. Now, now Frank the Tank has suffered mightily having his pom-poms removed.
    That's odd because Victorian & Edwardian things were very fashionable in 70's in California- antique shops began springing up everywhere.
    What a fab photo of ou in your beautiful home!
    xox

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    1. A world of difference between the Black Country and California. We're still living in the 1970s here!! xxx

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  14. What a delightful post and so fun to see your treasures! I love the Victorian dolls and the little purse, another peek into your gorgeous home and dear Frank! I remember going to antique and collectibles shops with my parents when I was young. I was always intrigued by the bins of old skeleton keys and I bought one once. I carried it around in a beaded clutch purse, some sort of discard from my grandmother. Happy Blogging Anniversary! xo

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    1. Lovely to hear from you, Shawna! Your tale about carrying around the skeleton key in a beaded purse could have been me. xxx

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  15. What an eye for treasure you had, even as a child! My own collection of trinkets is housed in the bookcase of a secretary desk, and among them remains the first acquisition, a "golden" chalkware figure of an Indian chief. I can remember choosing him from shelves of giftware in the anteroom of a hairdressing salon when I got my first haircut, literally a long lifetime ago.

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    1. I love the sound of your chief, Beth and hearing about how you acquired him. I like that you keep your hoard all together so you can open the bureau and admire them en masse. xxx

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  16. congratulations to the blog birthday!!
    the former stray cat named frank looks very proper - lucky animal to strand at yours!!!
    how do i love the views of your house!!! totally baroque! wonderful!!
    the little girl rummaging in old junk could be me - with the difference that my mother hated it. "not hygienic" she said always and "leave it outside"...... when i fled the GDR i could only take a backpack with me, mother dumped all my collected belongings very fast. then there were rough times - i moved house 15 times in 22 years - no time to collect anything......
    just started buying furniture for the rail road house - old furniture of cause!
    xxxxxx

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    1. Thanks, Beate! Frank's got his paws well and truly under the table.
      What a tale about your mother and all those moves. You've done a grand job with collecting beautiful treasures to fill the railroad cottage, it looks like its been furnished like that for a century. xxx

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  17. OMG I am in awe of those curtains! Great post. xx

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    1. Thank you! Made with my own fair hands - and a lot of blood, sweat and swearing! xxx

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  18. I love the fact that others view my household contents with a mixed look of shock and horror , nothing matches , theres a kitten somewhere up a set of curtains . Ive reached that dont give a damn age or maybe i never gave one in the first place .
    The thought of having to buy a book and be told of better ways to fold your knickers to achieve inner peace makes me chuckle . Bit like my current favourite advert on the TV where the furniture just falls apart because youre reduced to having "old " furniture . Some of mine is 200 years old , most is 100 years old none of it shows a trace of falling apart .

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    1. Ha! We said the same thing when we saw that advert.
      I don't think a home is a proper home unless its full of weird stuff and there's a cat halfway up the curtains! xxx

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  19. Hi Vix, this post is sweet, how interesting that you adored these things from such a young age. Xx

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    1. Thanks, Jess! So glad you enjoyed the read! xxx

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  20. Such lovely things, I'm glad you still have your cherished childhood things. Many of my things were taken away and given to my younger sister, who I didn't live with, including my Lundby dolls house, which I still mourn, especially since it ended up in landfill. Donating to charity shops never occur to them, at least it would have gone to a good home. Lordy that still peeves me! xxx

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    1. I hope any minimalists reading your comment think about what they're doing with their maniacal decluttering - the loss of your precious dolls house still haunts you years later. xxx

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  21. Happy Blogiversary Vix - those are great photos of your house and your collections - I love the screen - always wanted one of those.. You had such great taste even so young.
    It\s also really interesting reading the comments - like someone else, my mother gave away all my dolls and even my piano when I moved to uni - I didn't need it anymore she said! But she could have asked ... Still winds me up lol but I managed to hold on to the button box.

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  22. Growing up in PNG to missionaries who travelled I didn't collect anything as a child. But I have amazing memories.
    You are a rare person who is intentional about their purchases, so you don't need to regret them and downsize etc.
    I love the photos of your house of delights. So touching the story of finding the doll with the wonky hip.
    Happy blogaversary!
    xo Jazzy Jack

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    1. I agree, I thought about it too. Most of us buy things randomly and sometimes to sort of cover some other "inner holes" that need healing. It's a very common human thing I think, worldwide. I know I have it.

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    2. There's a history on both sides of my family of dementia and Alzheimer's, with a gene pool like that I don't think I can rely on memories alone! that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! xxx

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  23. That chinoiserie box is gorgeous, and aren't its contents sweet, in spite of dolly's wonky hip? I'm quite impressed that you bought it as a six year old! The Victorian purse and the little Common Prayer book are exquisite too. That 1970s fabric of the doll's dress looks very familiar. I might have had a dress in a similar fabric at the time! I'm glad you have kept all these things, and wish I had the foresight to do the same, although my keepsakes wouldn't have been as lovely as yours. Last but not least: Happy Blogiversary! xxx

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    1. Thanks, Ann! I was a strange child with my love of the old and the unusual. I think I was even featured in the local paper at one point! xxx

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  24. Happy blog anniversary and wishing you many more of them.
    It was lovely to read about your childhood purchases and your house looks beautiful. Full of interesting curiosities and cosy at the same time. I love the stair risers! So colourful.
    Have a successful and fun weekend. xxx

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    1. Thanks, Sally!
      The idea for those stair risers came to me one night after weeks of unsuccessfully stripping the white paint and old runner from the staircase. I'm amazed how many people comment on them! xxx

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  25. I love this post. It resonates with me so much. Not only do you look fabulous, you have such a gorgeous home and an eye for collecting. I spent all my pocket money in the junk shops of St Stephen Street in Edinburgh very close to where I grew up. You would have loved it. It was a jumble of old clothes and junk shops and quirky pubs back then, Now it is full of exclusive holistic everythings and very expensive "vintage". Back in the day there were a couple of proper junk shops run by very old men. I used to scour them for jewellery,. I think that they thought I was potty but they used to sell me things for s few pence so I know where you were coming from. I had an impressive collection of mostly vintage paste and by the time that I hit my teens. Literally boxes and boxes of it with a heavy emphasis on Whitby jet and Victorian brooches supplemented by Mum's friends and relatives each year. Sadly, I got broken into when I was a student several times and all of it was lost. Probably binned somewhere as it would have been worthless for resale round the pubs. Kind of put me off and part from the odd thing I don't bother so much now. How fabulous that you still have everything from then. Memories are much more precious than the objects that hold them are worth. :) Xx

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    1. You sounded just like me! I loved Whitby jet, too - I had quite the collection as a teenager, often sold to me for pennies 'cos the dealers liked my rented hovels I used to live in. xxx

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  26. How about that? We started blogging within a week of each other!
    How fabulous are your ancient dolls? Glad to see they have drawers on, when I was at Caledonian we had a hostie doll that we sold on board, it was always being grabbed off the trolley and turned upside down! Lovely that you've kept all these treasures, I probably spent my pocket money on fruit salads and black jacks. Frank the Tank is looking a picture of health... I've got a new black and white visitor for a while. Btw are you still buying Your Home magazine? I gave up on it a while back as all the homes featured seemed full of new stuff, no re/upcycled or vintage style....boring. Hope you go down a storm in Bethnal Green. xx

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    1. That's a coincidence! We've known each other for years now, haven't we?
      I've had (and sold) one of those Caledonian stewardess dolls and yes, that's the first thing I did when I spotted her in a chazza, check out her knickers!
      Your Home has gone very dull and mainstream of late, hasn't it? There's been nothing of interest in ages so I don't bother either. I'd rather see poor taste and bland, cream interiors. xxx
      xxx

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  27. I still have the very kitsch china cat I bought for 25p when out at an antique fair with my Mum when I was small, he still makes me smile too. I must admit I would add things that make you laugh to the useful & beautiful statement!

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    1. I love the ridiculous things that make me laugh, too - like the pull-up head dolls I've had since I tiny! xxx

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  28. I LOVE learning more about you, Vicky! Thank you for sharing your childhood treasures!! I had such a radically different upbringing, living in the middle of the huge country that was in the middle of its unfortunate journey with Communists. Everything beautiful was either destroyed, or took out of country. Some of it was left, but mostly concentrated far away from Siberia. Or maybe it's because my family comes from farmers, but it was always a very simple living. I wouldn't dream of such beautiful doll furniture - I did not even know doll furniture existed! I'd be happy if I had a plastic piece. Your stories are heartwarming, charming tales of a different world to me. I only see these things in books about old houses filled with beloved old junk, just like your house is. I think my love of old junk was born due to this longing to have some kind of a material heritage that Anya can have when she is my age and older.

    Have a wonderful weekend and successful sales!!

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    1. I can't even imagine what life was like for you growing up, Natalia. No wonder you love and appreciate beautiful things so much now not having had the opportunity to see or own them as a child. xxx

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  29. I loved seeing some of your treasures! I am very sentimental and have hung on to a few childhood dolls too. We also have moved 9 times in the last 30 years and so far have not lost anything.
    Have a great week.
    Robin

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    1. Hello Robin! I'm impressed that you've managed to hold on to things after all those moves, proof that like me you love what you own. xxx

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  30. Wonderful collection! I am just like you, I love to keep useless little things just because I love them or they have some dear sweet memories attached to them. Can't really understand people who get rid of everything "old and useless"

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    1. Thanks, Olga. It seems fashionable to get rid of old things these days, those declutterers will regret it one day. xxx

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  31. You had such a nice eye for good things! I don't think I bought anything so nice when I was a child. That purse is really lovely.

    There's a big difference between minimalism, having nice things, and hoarding - you seem to have found a happy medium, whereas lots of people seem to go from one extreme to the other.

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    1. I should use that purse more, shouldn't I?
      To me hoarding means accumulating piles of old newspapers, broken electrical equipment and clothes too tatty to wear. I like to think that I'm a collector. xxx

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  32. Lovely post, nice to see your tastes haven't changed. Hope the weekends trading was good. xxx

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    1. Thanks, Emma, glad you enjoyed my wittering! xxx

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  33. Some of my favorite toys were antiques too, like the old broken candlestick phone that I used to play with. Happy 8th bloggiversary!

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    1. Snap! I used to play with a 1930s Bakelite phone as a little girl! xxx

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  34. It's so lovely that you have such heartfelt things surrounding you. Even though things in my home might not have been mine for long I love to think about who might have owned them and to imagine the sort of home they might have lived in.
    Well done missus on your blog anniversary, I'll check out how long I've had mine. I've still got my copy of the mag your lovely home was in. It was a great feature.
    Lynn x x x

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    1. That's part of the fun, isn't it? Imagining the previous owner and why they parted with their treasures. I wonder if it's something to do with us being avid readers and imagining a story in anything. xxx

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  35. I just came across your blog. I'm loving it so far. Thank you.

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  36. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Vix, I WISH I had read this on Friday as I was near Bethanal Green on Sunday! We went to see CBC's brother in Bromley by Bow- we went through Bethnal Green on Sunday! I would have come to see you had I actually done some blogging this weekend.
    I concur with the world of downsizing etc- I love to look back on things that make or made me happy too! I love your items you have mentioned!x

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    1. Oh no! It would have been lovely to see you, it's been far too long. We're at Walthamstow on November 4th if you're in London then?
      Some people seem to think that there's some kind of shame attached to owning lot of stuff but it makes me happy. xxx

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  37. Congratulations on 8 years as a blogger! It's been 8 for me too, but you have posted far more often than I have.

    I love seeing the lovely curios that you've kept from your childhood. The silver purse and the Victorian dolls would find a happy home in my place too. I try to live by William Morris' philosophy by only having things that are useful or beautiful, but for me, "beautiful" means things that make me smile to look at them, and right now, I have waaaay tooo many of those, and not enough useful ones.

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    1. Thanks, Shelley! I used to post far more, I don't know how I ever found the time.
      I'm with you on the stuff that makes you smile, hence the poodles and the freaky kid pictures! xxx

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  38. What a joy to see the things you've kept your whole life and shared with us today. And congratulations on blogging for eight years too. And still going strong. Thanks for all of it.

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  39. I had a Pippa and my Mum used to knit clothes for her as the official merchandise was too expensive. Love the silver purse. x

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    1. There used to be a lady on Walsall market who sold handmade clothes to fit Sindys and Pippas at a fraction of the price and loads funkier, too! xxx

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    2. Mine had a multi coloured poncho! x

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  40. Congratulations on 8 years of blogging Vix! Sorry I missed you guys again at Bethnal Green, read on another comment that you'll be in Walthamstow in Nov? I'll be over there that day and was planning on going to the vintage fair on my way home so will see you then!

    I go through phases of decluttering but I'm not that great at it because I have so much stuff! Like you, it makes me happy though. I still have all my Barbie dolls in a box and my big Barbie house is in my parents garage - I could never get rid of it as it brings back happy memories x

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Love from Vix
xxx