20 November, 2012

Life in France

Sorry it has been a long time between posts, but as usual my life is fairly hectic at the moment. I have a rather large and looming deadline - that being my 90,000 word PhD thesis which is due mid-December. So you will have to excuse me but I will be absent from the blogging world for a few more weeks. In the meantime, these are some snippets of my life in France - which at the moment consists of cold weather, wine and food!

Au revoir for the moment, and I will see you all in December.

Thank you so much, Maria (aka Vintage Suburbia)

19 October, 2012

A Lovely Vintage Carousel in France

Recently I took my two young children on the train from our home in Grenoble to a nearby town, Valence in  the South-East of France.  The train ride was only one hour, but rather stressful as my kids insisted on acting up and fighting with each other . . .  sacre bleur as the French would say. But the ride was almost worth it when I saw this lovely vintage carousel . . .

My four year old boy riding the plane.

Most French towns have a small carousel in the middle of the town, which is a lovely feature of French villages, and also gives adults a chance to have a break from their kids for at least five minutes! We have a nice carousel in our home town of Grenoble, but this one in Valence is one of the nicest ones I have seen. It was very old-fashioned and was in perfect condition.

There was also a lovely hot air balloon on the carousel . . .

I actually took these photos with my new(ish) Samsung phone. I was very dubious about how they would look on the web, but I am pleasantly surprised. The ones taken when the carousel are moving are a bit blurry, but the others are actually not too far off a proper camera. I am impressed!

Stay tuned for more on vintage and living in France . . . 

03 October, 2012

Pin up Sailor Swimsuit by the pool

This is my last instalment of posts from my lovely trip to Spain in August (we travelled to Cartagena for a friend's wedding). The weather was perfect, not too hot, not to cold so a swim was in order . . .

As I have a curvy figure and pale complexion I have to put a little effort into assembling a swimming outfit - I can't just pick a bikini off the rack and hope it will look OK! I had decided on a nautical theme for my outfits so I hunted down this fantastic retro swimsuit on etsy (thank you Heather from The Red Dolly!). I like the fact that it is stripy on the top and navy on the bottom which I think may be more flattering for my type of figure. I am glad I didn't go with my original plan, which was striped all over. I had ummed and ahhed about whether to get an original 50s swimsuit or replica, but the originals tend to be expensive and you can run into problems with elastic that has wasted away and so on. I am very glad that I bought this replica - it is made of good quality fabric and fits like a glove.

We stayed at a place called 'Roda Golf and Beach resort' near Murcia in Spain. The pool was lovely and clean and the accommodation is very reasonable. However, the 'beach resort' is actually 40 kms away (a bit of poetic licence used in the brochure I think!).

Its a pity that I had to ruin the look by actually getting in the pool and swimming. It didn't do my red lipstick any favours I can tell you (I ended up with red smear all over my face, which my 8 year old daughter found very hilarious).

Good luck with finding your favourite swimsuit this summer season (that applies to my Australian friends, my US and European followers will have to wait a bit longer for summer I'm afraid!).

Outfit details:

Vintage swimsuit Pin Up Sailor Retro swimsuit– Heather at The Red Dolly

Swimwear cover up etsy

Vintage red parasol – the lovely Maura Bee at etsy Maura Bee

Sunglasses: Accessorize (Dublin, also available in the UK)

Red wedge shoes - a shoe shop on Henry Street, Dublin

28 September, 2012

Rockabilly Bernie Dexter style in Spain

In preparation for my trip to Spain recently, I put together some great outfits built on a nautical/red and white rockabilly theme. Sticking to one colour palette when you pack for holidays means you can use the same accessories and have more outfits to wear - yay! In my next post I will show you my fantastic Retro Sailor swimsuit. Today it is a figure-hugging Bettie Page style look . . 

This is my first time doing the 'Rockabilly' look. I am not sure if you can make out my hairdo clearly, but it is that very striking roll-under that Rockabilly girls often wear. Bettie Page, a model who became famous for her pin-up look in the 1950s.

In most photos she seems to be wearing her hair in 'bangs' (or in Australia we call this a 'fringe') but most modern girls re-create this by putting in 'faux bangs' by rolling the hair under. This is particularly good if you don't want to cut your hair off and want more versatility in your hairdos (for instance, to be able to wear victory rolls as well). Now I should say, I find this hairstyle quite difficult to do. But there are a few very good tutorials on youtube. I used one by Fleur, otherwise known as '1940s Vintage Girl'. See this link. It is very important to buy a 'hair rat' for this, which is basically a roll of fake hair - that helps to give that full look to the 'fake bangs'. I thought this style might be too severe for me (cause I aint young!) but actually it works really well (probably because it distracts from my wrinkles!).

This is also the first time I have bought any reproduction vintage like that made by Bernie Dexter and others. I have to say I think the quality of Bernie Dexter clothing is VERY good. The fabric is very robust (not flimsy) and the sewing is all done to high standards. As you can see, the capri pants are VERY figure hugging so if you are buying a pair (which you should do, they are great) then don't go small (I bought a size 10 pants and size 8 blouse). When I first put the capris on I was worried they were a bit TOO figure hugging. But my husband absolutely loves them, and they were hugely popular with the Spanish men (ones over 50 years old I must add) so kerching, kerching - they are a winner. Anyway, I figure, like Joanie from Mad Men - if you have the curves, show them off!

Outfit details

Blouse and high waisted capri pants: Bernie Dexter http://www.berniedexter.com/

Earrings: etsy Old and new boutique

Handbag: etsy - Nells Vintage House

Striped bangle  etsy  Rosemyne Vintage
Red bangle: etsy Mabel studios

Vintage red parasol – the lovely Maura Bee at etsy Maura Bee

Sunglasses: Accessorize (Dublin, also available in the UK)

12 September, 2012

A beautiful Spanish wedding (and what I wore!)

Last weekend I travelled to Cartagena in the south of Spain for a wedding of a my hubby's very good friend of many years - an Irishman who married a beautiful girl from that region in Spain. It was a beautiful wedding - the bride looked gorgeous and everyone was happy and relaxed, just as a wedding should be . . . .

The happy groom, pictured here with my little retro daughter . . .

I am very lucky as my hubby's friends are great - they are some of the funniest people I know and kind to boot. They have known each other since childhood and have kept up their friendship over all these years, which I think is wonderful. Not many people do that these days.

The wedding ceremony was held in a lovely church in Cartagena . . . 

In Plaza de Jaime Bosch . . .

The interior of the church was stunning, as many European churches are. You will see below that there was a string quartet playing during the service - there was a violin and soprano - a lady that did an beautiful 'Alleluia' and 'Ave Maria'. She had the most amazing voice.

 A lovely stained-glass window above the altar .  . . 

And of course, a blog post about a wedding would not be the same without mention of the bride. As you will see, she was absolutely stunning. I wanted to particularly show you her veil, which was a feature of her outfit. I am not sure if it was lace from Spain or Ireland (both countries specialise in lace) but all I know is that it was really really beautiful . . . 

 And, of course, a wedding post also would not be one without small mention of the other wedding fashions. I wore a 50s frock and hat  in deep blue and pink - two of my favourite colours. Both purchased from etsy. My hubby wore a 70s suit that he purchased in Melbourne a few years ago - it fits him like a glove and he looks absolutely amazing in it.

My 8 year old looked absolutely gorgeous in her 50s poodle skirt (courtesy of www.hiphop50s.com, thank you!). The Hip Hop 50s shop is available via etsy or directly online and are very reasonable and very good. You can buy matching poodle socks (sooo cute!) and waist cincher, plus many more accessories in the store as well. My daughter is a real tomboy, she loves soccer and wearing jeans most of the time, but she loved wearing this outfit . . .

Outfit details:
Skirt, socks and cincher: www.hiphop50s.com
Shoes and white blouse - school section of Marks and Spencers (Dublin)
Hair clip and bracelet: Claires accessories 
Sunglasses: Accessorize (Dublin)

After the ceremony, there was a great traditional band playing all sorts of instruments whilst the bride came out of the church. After they finished each set, the crowd would yell out 'viva!' (and something else in Spanish too, someone told me it was 'long live the bride). It was just wonderful, such a great atmosphere . . .

Lastly, a few photos of the beautiful vintage Bentley that served as the wedding car - a 1959 model my hubby told me (he loves cars) . . .

(I couldn't seem to get the driver out of the photo, I think that was due to my 4 year old boy running around putting his greasy mits all over it and the poor guy had to keep on rubbing them off!)(we dragged our son away very reluctantly soon after realising this!).

I love the flowers on the handles of the car . . . 


I love the cans tied to the car - we don't seem to do that anymore for weddings in Australia. Such a funny, nice touch.

So there you go, a bit of an epic blog post there, but I hope you enjoyed a little insight into a wedding Spanish style. It really was a beautiful wedding.

26 August, 2012

A French dinner in vintage pink

A few weeks ago, my hubby and I treated ourselves to a night out in Grenoble 'sans enfants' (no children!). We don't go out for dinner much as I am a pretty good cook and, for the most part, I enjoy cooking for the family. It is also pretty expensive to hire a babysitter and pay for a meal and we try to save our money for holidays.

Here I am in one of my favourite 1950's pink dresses (also featured in this earlier post). Some pink gloves and earrings a deep pink pashmina set off the outfit. I picked up 5-6 pashminas of varying colours on a trip years ago to Turkey - they were very cheap and they come in so handy, particularly when you are dining outside like this and there is a little chill in the air.

Here is my hubby enjoying his beer . . .

Which he is just about to choke on as I have obviously said something hilarious and he is trying not to laugh  
. . . (!). That's what being on a night out without your children and not having to cook does to you. Fabulous!


 The restaurant we went to is right in the centre of the 'old town of Grenoble. And as you can see it is beautiful . . . 

I really love France - the people and countryside, food and wine are so beautiful. The only thing they don't do is vintage clothing - which is weird. There are absolutely no vintage clothing shops in Grenoble and only a relatively small number in Paris (and of those, they only have expensive 80s Chanel and not much else). But that is why etsy was invented - yay!

I hope you enjoyed that little look into French life and architecture. Stay tuned for a look at another meal out in a typical French brasserie next week!

16 August, 2012

Some great art deco New York hotels

I am back in Blogging world now after a short hiatus (or perhaps it was not so short) - sorry about that! I was away on a short vacation and then meeting a work deadline, so I am now able to get back to my first love - travel and vintage fashion! These are my last set of pics from my beloved New York, where I holidayed in May this year with my hubby. What a wonderful place. Our more recent vacation was to a mountain resort in the French Alps - lots of hiking (I did a 20 minute walk- that is my limit) and outdoor activities - not really my scene but my hubby loves that stuff and so I tag along (that is what marriage is about, non?!). I did say to him after a few days though 'I am sick of all this fresh air, I wish I was in New York')(!). So I am feeling very homesick posting about the Green Apple here . . .

This is one of my favourite sights of New York - a yellow cab and a classic old New York hotel.

I was really amazed by how many truly beautiful buildings there are in New York. I have chosen only two buildings here - two old-fashioned Art Deco hotels (in the sense that they have not been extensively renovated). The above 'New Yorker Hotel' is one I happened upon in a walk around the Macy's/Madison Square garden area of New York. I did not get a chance to look inside, but I must go back there on my next trip and have a Cosmo.

This is a better shot of that fabulous sign - I absolutely love that Art Deco font. Classic.

Now on to another old-world, Art Deco hotel, this time a stone's throw from Times Square: The Edison Hotel . . . 

Again that signage is sooooo wonderful. I should have written my PhD with that font. why didn't I???

Look at that classic Art Deco decoration. I would one day love to have an Art Deco house . . . sigh . . .

I would highly recommend this hotel by the way - they have the greatest diner ever - really old-fashioned and full of great characters - like something out of Seinfeld.  The diner does the best breakfasts and at incredibly good prices ($5 for OJ, coffee and toast - good for NY). They do a great bacon and eggs - well done, just the way I like it.

Although my hubby and I did not stay here (we stayed up the road at the Belvedere, which was also great), it has been recommended to me by a colleague and is very reasonable for NY standards. It does seem to get very busy though, so perhaps not a good choice if you want a quiet stay or you are a light sleeper. It is on 47th street so right in the heart of the city and in the middle of the theatre district. But the BEST thing ever is their cocktail bar, 'The Rum House' . . .

Again, this is an old-fashioned piano/cocktail bar which has live music most nights and great cocktails. We loved going here. On one night they had a young guy playing piano and it was right out of something from Billy Joel's 'Piano Man'. Fantastic. It apparently was closed for a number of years and was destined to be sold off but someone came along and restored it (in an old-fashioned way, not modern) and it seems very popular now. It regularly makes the 'best cocktail bars of New York' listings.

So there you are, my last post from New York. Next week I am giving you a glimpse of my life in France, with some great photos of the cobbled streets and old buildings of Grenoble and a pink vintage dress (because its all about the vintage really isn't it?!)

23 June, 2012

My 'Sex and the City tour' of New York

One of the highlights of my trip to New York was the 'Sex and The City hotspots'  tour I did with the 'On Location Tour company. I would highly recommend this tour, it was great fun. Our tour guide was clearly a big fan of the series and so knew it inside and out. It was great as we were shown snippets of the series in the bus as we went around the city and after we visited the various landmarks.

First up was the 'Pleasure Chest' where the gang all buy their 'rabbits'. I may, or may not, have bought one of my very own (that is between me and my rabbit!). It was really funny as the guide got the whole bus laughing and cheering about all the various naughty sex things on the series before our visit, but as soon as we got into the shop, they all went very quiet and shy (although I have to say there were a few things there that surprised even me in there!). Next stop was Buddakan Bar and Restaurant, which is featured in the first Sex and the City movie. It is where Carrie and Big's pre-wedding dinner is held. I am sooo not a fan of the SATC movies, but this restaurant was glorious and absolutely HUGE. It was reasonably priced as well, so it would be great to come back and pay it a visit if I come back to NY. I understand that it is only open for dinner so bear that in mind if you want to go.

Buddakan Restaurant NY. Above is the spectacular function room where Carrie and Big held their bid pre-wedding dinner. The restaurant was closed to the public when we made our visit (at lunch time).

Next stop was one of the sights I was dying to visit - The Magnolia Bakery. It didn't disappoint. It is tiny inside so there is no room to sit down, so you get your cupcakes to go. Their coffee is very nice too. The cupcakes and coffee are very reasonably priced and I have to say that the cupcakes were the BEST I have eaten. 

Magnolia Bakery NY.

 Apparently the store started as a 'Mom and Pop' operation but it was so popular it was bought up and now there are franchises all over America. The original store still retains charm and the staff were friendly.
The most delicious cupcakes - yuumm!

The icing was amazing. Being a home baker myself, I am fussy. But I thought these were pretty much perfect.

Some of the houses near Magnolia. I love the exteriors of these buildings and the iconic fire escapes.

Next stop was the bar owned by Aidan and Steve in the series, Scout (really a bar called O'Neals).

There we all enjoyed a nice Cosmo with the other lovely ladies from the tour . .

I have to say, as a big fan of the series, I really enjoyed this tour. It goes for 3 and a half hours, so you get to see many more sights than I have shown here. The above just really shows the main spots were the bus stops and you can get off to walk around.

I would have also have loved to have done the Seinfeld tour, but that does not start until the warmer weather in late May, so I just missed out. I am HUGE Seinfeld fan so that is another one for the wish book (and I good reason to save up to go back to my beloved New York!)

Bus tour: On Location Tour company (they also do other tours, like the Sopranos)
Duration: 3.5 hours
Price: $46 plus gratuity. Cupcake is free, Cosmo is $9.