Friday, 30 September 2016

flea friday: Troll Tinn pewter

Something to hold the beautifully coloured autumn leaves we pick up on our strolls - a recent cheapy cheapo find, a Troll Tinn Norwegian pewter flute vase.

It has a very 70s look to my eyes, but a quick online research threw up the 1960s. I was a bit surprised about buying it. I don't know anything about vintage pewter nor I am usually drawn to anything viking... but this little vase has a cool, mid century yet slightly folksy sort of look about it.

It's also toddler friendly - the constant stream of twigs and fallen leaves find the perfect temporary home in it, needing no water to be inevitably tipped out. Virtually indestructable, can be bashed about, withstands nibbling and chewing efforts (although I try to discourage that as much as possible, of course).

Nice when an impulse buy turns out useful and not regretted.

Friday, 16 September 2016

flea friday: blue & white Granit

It's nice to post about thrifty finds again - and even nicer to be showing some Granit.

I picked up this set only recently, and just had to put them before any other finds (and I have a backlog of them, haha) because I like them sooo much! Besides, I have never come across any tea- or coffee related Granit in the flesh.

I love finding Granit in the thrifts. It's not that very rare but each time I see one I'm still somehow surprised about them popping up here, far from the homeland, just like yours truly. They usually get adopted because of the shared Hungarian-ness and so they might as well come live with me then...

Granit things captivate me in a funny, back-to-front way. They kind of bug me at first. They are usually full of imperfections. They look a little rushed, a little slap-dash. A little off-centre here, a tiny smear or paint-stained finger mark there, a small blob of clay debris in-glaze and such. They irritate the perfectionist in me I guess. But give it a little time and I start liking them more for these exact little faults and individualistic, rather human qualities. It amuses me how my initial annoyance turns into appreciation.

This cup is quite a size, it can certainly hold a large dose of tea or cappuccino.  If it had two handles it could even be a soup cup. The blue and white pattern is really sweet in my opinion, and at first glance it looks hand-painted. Well it is, but not in the way of each flower and dot, you see. At a closer look it becomes obvious that the blue design was done with a sweep of a blue brush over a cut-out template band. The black outline must have been done in a similar fashion, perhaps by dabbing over another, carefully registered template.

You can see my other Granit finds here.

PS. Es from the Netherlands got in touch with me not so long ago about my Granit collection. She is working on a concise site about the Granit factory, its history and product lines. I'm sure she'd love to hear from you too if you know about this Hungarian ceramics factory or any of its products, or if you collect them, or perhaps have an interesting story relating to a Granit item.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

a summer spent playing

A sun-drenched, accidental photo from one of our many playground trips. I love that cute little face in the reflection - it's a pensive little train driver you are looking at.

I find myself wanting to post here again - again, quizzical about how to ease back into it. My feeling tells me that a series of photos describe better how our summer's been than words:


Thursday, 26 May 2016

dash, bolt, dart

You know that summer can't be far - or maybe it's in fact arrived - when a dropped ice cream greets you on the pavement and there is sand in the bed..

It's hard to know for sure for someone like me who's still not quite used to the Nordic nature's way of sudden coming-to-life after such a long spell of frozen not-much-ness. It all happens so quickly! There's so much green, and so much light again, so suddenly. The sun sets at 11pm and real darkness is the thing of the past again. Midsummer is only a few weeks away. I find myself blinking into the morning street scene: is it summer already? I think it is, look, people are wearing shorts! Have I missed spring somehow then?

Anyway, whatever the weather, it needs to be and will be enjoyed, that's what the little guy in front of my morning coffee sipping self is trying to say I think. He is my alarm clock, and as soon as we open our eyes it's dash, bolt, dart. He is revving to go at 8 am, barely out of bed, in a nappy and a pyjama top, one foot in a gummy boot the wrong way around, a baseball cap on the noggin back-to-front. He has so much energy, it's contagious. It is stronger than any espresso. We are always on the go, coming back home only to eat and sleep.

Yes, the blog is floundering again, no posts, no real train of thought, none of the plans materializing into writing about old hobbies. (What were they - vintage stuff and sewing?) As I have been looking at the ice cream cone picture I took, it struck me: that's what's happened here too. The ideas and motivation that took a nice round shape and gathered a bit of speed a little while ago landed flat on the asphalt of everydays, now melting away quietly. Hmmm. How to rescue that.

I'll leave you with that poetic thought because I can hear the washing machine beeping to be unloaded and the little guy is to rise any minute from his afternoon snooze. Possibly with one shoe on already, to go go go!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016


Everything looks so much better flanked by a tree with fresh green leaves on, soaked in golden sunlight and set off by a bluest of blues sky. We love our town when it's like this!

I have such a long to-do list which only grows bigger daily... the blog is on the back-burner yet again.

Saturday, 7 May 2016


Lately we've been having gorgeous and warm weather full of sunshine. There is at least two outings each day, morning and afternoon to parks, playing fields, playgrounds, gardens, tunnels, bridges, riverside, forest and walking paths. Saying hi to the flags and statues around town, of which most are stern men but some are bears. Not a lot of blogwriting involved, but I'll get there soon again.

Sending a big bearhug to all the Moms out there among you: women who have been or are or will be these bend-in-any-directions flexible, solid-as-rock, tough and tender creatures. Loving always with brimming-with-joy broken hearts, always open, always vigilant, always ready to respond to the call: Mom!

Happy Mothers' Day for tomorrow, Mommas!

Monday, 25 April 2016


During a recent session of the decluttering and simplifying efforts of mine I pondered the potential fate of an old photograph. It was given to me by my sister, and the group of people captured in it are of no relation. It's not easy to store with my other photographs due to its larger size. And it's not in a terribly attractive condition.

Upon removing the photo from its original makeshift frame I discovered that it had a beautiful reverse. I can't quite believe that I did not look before..!

You can read about the actual photograph (and its makeshift frame) here.

Monday, 4 April 2016

thrifting with a toddler: beautiful problem

No, it's not the child. The beautiful problem is stuff. Stuff that I love finding second hand or even collect... the exact stuff that I've built this blog around. The stuff in thrift shops, all the unwanted vintage, all the shabby retro stuff going for cheap.

Maybe it's the minimalist blogs I read. Or maybe having a child forces a shift in relationship with stuff anyway, naturally. But maybe just for people like me, who live in a small apartment and have had a lot of excess stuff stashed up in there already.

Take a small, one bed apartment and fill it randomly with an eclectic mix of thrift shop finds: larger items legoed cleverly into the lay-out, smaller ones into drawers and shelf space... Then land a baby in there with all the necessary baby-related large and small items and see the chaos unfold in an organic, evolving manner.

I watched the chaos unfold and then tried to live in it, but it was too stressful. We culled our furniture first. Then some other items which suddenly became irrelevant, obsolete or a potential hazard... Our storage locker in the basement is chock full with the stuff we decided to keep. The rest was let go. Yet still when I look around in here, or go through cupboards and drawers in my head all I see that there are still many to be decided upon.

Like fat lava vases. I have a little collection of them, about a dozen or so, but nowhere to put them. Right now, it really doesn't make sense to start thinking about investing in specific shelves to put them upon... so they are going into boxes, wrapped up for a later time, when the idea of decorating with breakables may be relevant.

Old children's books. Falling apart, needing tlc, or a bit dirty. Not built to survive a toddler's curiosity, but so fragile or damaged that I don't like turning their pages either. They make me sad, because of their condition. Yet I'm held captive by them, their naive tales, their illustrations. Chuck or keep? I'm just as torn as their pages.

Craft supplies, which in their colourful vintageness whisper about potential projects, only if I had the headspace to even think one up from beginning to end. And time to actually do them. Knitting and sewing patterns for weekender jumpers, 60s dresses, cabled cardies and other big projects. Such big commitments in time, effort and material. Deep down I know that I will never use them.

Just a few to name. Why did I buy these things in the first place? On the spur of some utopia, or nostalgia, or idealistic wishful thinking. And however much I place the using of them into my future, I still need to find a place for all that stuff now and in this present home. Which is the beautiful problem.

So I'm just wondering about it all, trying to clear space in the home and in the head, and in the emotional department, while feeling in thrifting limbo.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

fastforward to spring

All of a sudden, it's spring!

In the last three days since this photo was taken that narrow edge of ice has melted away, and the river is free again. On the banks, there are little scatterings of the shy little coltsfoot, and under shrubs there are snowdrops.

That's how it feels exactly, that we are free again too - from the woolly layers, the rigidity, the limitations and narrowness of winter. Muscles can relax, there is no more crunchy, slippery sheet of ice, no more biting wind, no more short little breaths.

Walking around in the blue skied sunshine surrounded by +10 degrees, taking deeeeep breaths of the balmy air feels more than lovely. It feels like the loveliest thing in the world right now.

Spring has so much lightness, so much grace, so much more space and air than winter. So much more to do and explore and enjoy. Hopefully April will bring more warmth and we won't see another snowflake again until October!

Thursday, 24 March 2016

easter greetings

Easter greetings from under a fresh yet already melting blanket of snow.

This is all the egg-decorating we will do this year... may be more crafting next year. Hyacinths and narcissi are currently a no-no because of that pesky pollen allergy of mine. Instead, pine needles that my boy picked up on one of our walks and a pine cone. Which could be a little bit like an egg - let's say a dinosaur egg, from a certain angle.

So happy Easter everyone!

Monday, 21 March 2016

thrifting with a toddler: simple matters

By now, I got it down how to do thrift shopping with my little one in tow. Things have become simpler as we left the baby days behind and he grew into a toddler. I got to know him (and myself) better. We can communicate more and I feel that we make a better team.

Keeping our thrifting trips simple provides more of a chance for it to be a pleasure rather than a pain. Over the past 18 months I learned what is important for a nice thrifting experience:

Less is more. Going less often but with more planning is better for us. Setting off on a whim can and usually does become stressful, and more often than not I feel guilty about it later. With a planned visit, say once a week there won't be any guilt, and with simple preparations (water and a snack for both of us, nappy changed, etc) there won't be stress either.

Buggy access and child-friendliness. There are only a few places where I go hunting, due to buggy access. Places with a higgledy-piggledy layout with tight squeeze between rows won't do. Places where I'd get the stink eye for bringing a small child along won't do. Dingy cellars with steep stairs and bad air just won't do.

Clarity. Knowing what I want to find is essential. Before, I preferred jumbly, messy, mixed-up places. Now I favour the kind of merchandised tidy stores where everything is sorted into groups and placed in dedicated areas - clothes, kitchenware, craft, furniture, etc. Clear to see, easy to shop. Before setting out, I also consider how we feel - are we both in a good mood, are we well rested? If either of us is tired, we won't find anything and it won't be possible to do any shopping to the soundtrack of his escalating Eeeeeeeeeeee! which means let's get the hell out...

Fair play. It's a given that I like thrift shopping, but it's only fair that my boy feels entertained too. So before I get looking, first I find him a toy car, a book, or something to engage with. At the end we put the distraction item back and he helps me pay for the find (if there is one) by holding my card and giving it to the cashier. I learned to quickly safety check the chosen distraction item - no broken or loose bits, clean enough - once I watched his nappies for a few days for a plastic bead after giving him a play mobile phone, and realising it was missing a part which I didn't know if he ate or was already like that...

Focused. For quick visits I go to the one store that's on the way to the swings. In the shop, I head straight to the bargain bin area, the kilo price area or the mixed stationery area and ignore everything else. If there's nothing to be found I will know it in seconds. If I find something good, it will be so cheap that I won't have to think about it lots before I commit. This way I might bag a bunch of nice envelopes or a useful biscuit tin, I'll get my thrifting fix without stretching my wallet or the patience of my child, and will be able to shoot off to the playground before any complaining would start. Happy all around!

Friday, 18 March 2016

flea friday: flaaag!

A pennant, actually. It's just that my toddler points and yells FLAAAG in Hungarian every time we see a flag somewhere. Or a pennant, like the time when I found this one in the cozy little charity shop we don't often go to.

It's a small little place, with an old lady or two manning it. I try to be very careful when we visit. There are glassware, pottery and all sorts of random stuff everywhere - which I want none of knocked off and have to be paid for...

But of course my little boy spots a red toy snow shovel on a low shelf as quickly as I notice a whole box of old pennants on an upper one. It was tricky to look through it while trying to restrain the boy from scraping imaginary snow along the shop floor. I did my best as quick as poss and fished out three little pennants for a penpal and this glorious big blue one for ourselves.

After a lot of in-shop snow works and shouting flag in Hungarian, we payed for the pennants and also bought the toy shovel (he would not let go of it). It was very cheap, but was it broken already or did we do that in the shop? I'll never know but it didn't matter. We went and had some real snowy fun with it in the nearby park. And just as well, the next day it was all melting away and it's been getting more springtime-y ever since.

Monday, 14 March 2016


This winter has been so very different from all the other ones before. I have been enjoying it.

I get up in the morning and pull the curtains, like before. I see the day's presentation of the cold season - most likely snow or at least frost. Some days it might have melted and it's slushy, sleety, or just steel grey with a mean windchill. Some days it's all of those at once.

I never thought of myself as an outdoorsy winter-type person. In fact I was the one to to sulk, shiver and complain a lot during winter in each country I lived in. I used to look out at the coldness of the wintry world with contempt and stayed in if I could help it.

Not this winter. My boy and me had been stomping around outdoors pretty much every day, even before he could walk. I'm so surprised at myself how I don't mind the actual going part. Pre-parenthood, it used to take at least half an hour to just get into the mindframe of going out there. Now I look forward to it.

It needs to be said that on days when the weather is not kind, there's not a lot to do outside. We still have a quick spin in the buggy though, check the local team's flag on the football grounds, see if we spy a snow plough or a doggy in a jumper, then dive into the shopping mall to go up then down in the bim-bam lift to warm up before we turn the buggy homeward.

I never thought that I will be this fond of the gumboots with men's wool socks look... I'm happy that I can show this little boy all sorts about winter. There are so many different features to this season I have not appreciated any of before. Even layering up is an interesting little ritual: always the same each time we go out. He knows already what goes on which bit and in what order, so sweet.

I've not been ill with flu much this winter, nor has he. It's possible that our diet plays a part in that too, but I feel that cold fresh air paired with good winter clothes is pure health. What a change, I almost can't believe I wrote that.

So blessed to have this little boy - the cutest little lifestyle coach and personal trainer if there ever was one!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

thrifting with a toddler: time matters

Before baby, thrifting was a lot about switching off from the world around me to be absorbed into hunting mode, meandering from booth to booth, browsing one crammed shelf after another. Sometimes I'd spend a couple of leisurely hours at a place getting lost in the variety of it, other times I'd go on a planned route of visiting several places scanning each for specific items. Either way, it was always refreshing and relaxing.

I don't have hours for it anymore. Thrifting now is more like a premeditated exercise in focus and effectiveness. Once there, I usually have limited amount of time and attention - certain little someone is always with me, and he's got the last word on how long we stay. I'm not complaining, I want him to be with me. Yet it took me a while to adjust and figure out the hows - just like in all other areas of my life.

I'm sure others with a small kid know what a fine balancing act any kind of shopping can be. A shopping list is a must - without one it's rather tricky to shop in a sane way in my experience. As for a casual,  drop-in visit to a store that was not planned ahead, all the variables would have to come together into an optimal mixture to come away still in a good mood, with a bag containing a good decision, a non-rushed, calmly considered purchase.

Even with planning ahead, there are many times when we pop in and quickly leave - my boy can communicate it very clearly if he doesn't like something. Sometimes a shop can be overwhelming for him in many ways. There might be too many stimuli or too many people. At times he might feel bored or get a bit frightened. During the cold months he might get too hot in his many layers, even with the removables removed.

I try to avoid getting into stressy vibes and negative experiences so we thrift shop only when everybody is happy. It's been good for me to cut down on thrifting time this way - now I spend a lot of it in the fresh air outdoors instead, with the coolest little dude I know.

Friday, 26 February 2016

flea friday: a little spice tin

Hurrah for the first thrift find show-off of the year here on Idle Needle!

The spotlight is on the little red cumin tin - it is from the same Soviet-made series as the sugar tin behind it, which was a previous find from quite some time ago. Just like its big blue friend, it has the suggested content written on it both in Cyrillic Russian and in Estonian.

I wonder what the complete set looked like - all red? Or different colours? How many spices did they think of? It would be funny to find some more.

Monday, 15 February 2016

thrifting with a toddler

I'm sure by now it's very obvious that I'm a big fan of flea markets, charity shops, junk stores and the find.

The preference for buying secondhand began in my teenage years. The cash-stripped rebellion evolved into a passtime, an interest, a habit during the 20-odd years that passed since.  Even having a child did not stop my thrifty virtue. However, having had a child did change how I thrift-shop: not just the frequency of visits or what I look for, but also what I bring home.

I realised something when I was thinking about blogging during all the non-blogging months: like it or not, my point of view is of a parent, and it extends into everything I do, think, feel and write. For a while, writing about a vintage vase or some dusty old teacup seemed so irrelevant in the face of multiple food allergy- and sleep issues. By now, the tension between my new parent life and the persisting thrifting-crafting-blogging self resolved itself, and the bargainhunting habit fits nicely into our life with a kid. Writing about it feels fine too.

So a little series of posts entitled Thrifting with a toddler is on the way. It will be about how a kid changed my entire life my thrifting practice, and what do the flea markets look like with the parent goggles on.

Saturday, 30 January 2016


Getting back into blogging after a break can be somewhat difficult. The longer the break the more awkward it feels about starting on topics and posts. Not that I don't have thoughts on what to write.

Many ideas have been circling around in my head for all these months about what I'd write here if I had the justified time for it... Just seems like a lot, like a big tangled mess of threads, where to begin with it all?

Time to untangle those thoughts and see if there is a good string of posts hiding in them or not... time to snap the portraits of handsome thrifty finds and sharpen the virtual pencil. Time to put the creative pulse back into the heart of this idle place.

Monday, 18 January 2016

play eat snooze repeat


It's been so long since I last checked in here! It was last summer, to be precise.

So much, and in the same time so little has happened in our relatively new baby-mommy-daddy life since then - depends what is the measure and how you look at it.

Our 'baby' is now an 18 months old toddler, a big little boy. He is awesome and also a lot of hard work. Sleeping in the night is still not his thing. Sleeping in the day, not really his thing either. By now, we are almost used to it, but still trying to see if somehow sleeping could become a new favourite activity of his.

Between the three of us we happen to have a colourful collection of food allergies and food sensitivities. Figuring out a suitable diet has been our other biggest pre-occupation in the past year or so, next to the sleep thing.

Apart from those it's mainly been just lots of play and songs, reading books, learning to stand, to walk and to speak in all sorts of languages, learning what's hot and cold and what is rain and what is snow.

We've been regulars at playgrounds all around town, the buggy parked up by the swings always, the boy not wanting to get off even after half an hour. The hinta-palinta carried on into the subzero frost of the unusually dry winter months, and even now when there is ankle deep snow and a sled to ride on, the swings still must be visited every time.

What else have I been up to?

I have been thrifting a little - that habit of a hobby is still useful and still interests me, even though the habit of it has changed quite a lot. I'd like to brew up a post about that too sometime. Crafting - not so much. Ideas are aplenty in my head and in notebooks, time is in short supply.

And I have been missing blogging too - hopefully a new post will pop up here every now and again. Here's hoping...

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