Life's Little Details: Knitting, Sewing, Green Living, Frugal Living and Cooking In A Little Corner of Southern French Countryside.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

My New Friend

Gratuitous baby picture first:

I recently made the aquaintance of a new friend, and it is most definitely not the countertop in our new kitchen. Trying to do a quick and cheap kitchen, we opted for stainless steel sheets that my husband had professionally bent to form to the counters that he later applied himself. All in all, I think he did a fine job. There is one little detail that he missed, though. He should have had them bend the front edges inward as well. The metal is sharp and could be considered a bit of a hazard. I have nicked my knuckles on it numerous times getting things out of the drawers (those with smaller or larger hands may be immune to this one). I also sliced my finger on it this morning.

Then, I started to notice mysterious slash marks on my shirts. This one had me stumped when it first happened to my favorite hand-made sweater (two holes I have to fix on it now). Then, it was happening to my other shirts as well. I just didn't get it. When I noticed how many of my shirts had literally been shredded, it finally hit me. When I do the dishes at the kitchen sink, I rub my post-pregnancy belly up against the counter, and in doing so, I slice little gashes into my shirts. I should actually post a picture of the damage for you. It's pretty impressive on some shirts. Some of the shirts had stains on them anyway, so I wasn't too upset. Others were the ones I so lovingly altered a month or two ago. I wasn't even too annoyed about that since they didn't cost me much or anything at all, and messing them up only means I'll get another go at customising my own clothes.

So, armed with the name of the French version of Goodwill or The Salvation Army (Secours Populaire, for those who would like to know), I looked in the online Yellow Pages to find one nearby. I called up one that is about 15 minutes from where I live to find out how to get there and what their hours are. When I told the lady on the phone which village I lived in, she promptly mentioned the one hiding in our village. It is only open once every two weeks on Fridays for two hours only, but it just happened to be open yesterday. I only had about 20 minutes to spare, but in that time I found several fun things to play with. So, in the next few posts (as the clothes come out of the washer), I'll show them to you.

I'm letting you see the ugliest one first. It's an old lady shirt (even had that old lady smell). Pretty awful, but I liked the color (which is not very well-represented in this dark picture - I promise to do better once I finish the remodel of it). It's really a bright pink. And, the flouncy things up top crack (accidentally typed "crap" there - appropriate?) me up. I have already stripped them off with a seam stripper to leave a Mandarin color (isn't that what they're called). I will most likely throw in a few well-placed darts to trim the waste a bit, and I'm excited to say those little bits of turkey gobble I removed will be just the right size make into sleeve flounces. That should be pretty cute in the end, I think.

Next up, I have one of the best finds in the bunch, if you're thinking in terms of original price. Here in France, there is a brand that is very well-known and very expensive that makes high-quality Provençal fabrics into clothing. It's not necessarily my style, but when you happen across one in a thrift shop for 1 euro, you just don't argue. You snatch it up and think of its potential. It's actually a bit big, since it's a men's medium, but that just gives me more room to mess with it, right? Incidentally, this one, along with the flouncy old lady number are the kids' favorites. I guess there's no accounting for taste.
For this next one, I would like you to focus on the jacket. It's brand new looking (the spots are on my mirror because Lambchop #1 shakes her hands a little to vigorously when she washes them). It's a pretty well-known brand here in France. The best thing about it, though, is the fiber content. I wore it briefly yesterday evening and was surprised by its warmth. That's when I got around to reading the label. It's mostly wool with some nylon and a pinch of cashmere. I've forgotten the exact percentages, though. Very cozy. When I grabbed it off the rack, I didn't much time to study it well. I figured it would be a nice acrylicky thing to wear around the house till I can fix my sweater. What a pleasant surprise to see it's mostly made of wool and cashmere.

This next shirt is actually one of the real "best deals" of the bunch, because it fits me perfectly and is like new. No altering necessary at all, which pleases the instant gratification side of me. It is the same shirt as the one in that last picture, but I'm just showing it to you separately. Okay, I'm annoyed now. I am having to reload two of the photos I already uploaded. Why is Blogger like this? They just disappeared into thin air. Here we go. Anyway, the stripes on this shirt make it very hard to photograph without it becoming blurry, but you get the idea. It has pink, gray and white stripes. I am very happy with it. I got another one exactly like it in black (same brand and all). I will show you that one when I show you the pants I bought to match it. In keeping with my plan to spice up my pretty drab wardrobe tendencies, I selected some pants I wouldn't normally think of wearing. They're pretty fun, though, so I'm happy.

You'll see those as well as the two coats, the skirt and the other 5 or 6 shirts I bought later. And, what is the total price I paid (I'll bet you're wondering)? I think I must have gotten a total of 15 or 16 items for a whopping 12 euros. 11, actually, if you consider the fact that one coat had a 1 euro coin in it. How's that for a good deal? So, who's the new friend? Why the Secours Populaire, of course. Oops, no time to edit. I just received a call from the crying baby next door (in my defense, if he'd get around to installing the internet and my desk, I wouldn't have to do this in his office while he watches the kids).