Monday, May 31, 2010

Violets are Blue

The Victorian era was generally a romantic one, I believe, and women were able to express their feelings discretely to a loved one by carefully selecting a posy of flowers to send to them. Each flower had a meaning and so a secret message could be conveyed without the woman verbally announcing her feelings, which would have been frowned upon.
A very popular flower during this time was the humble violet. Its tiny size was more than made up for in its sentiment, which, depending on the colour, was:
VIOLET - Modesty, Virtue, Affection
BLUE - Watchfulness, Faithfulness, Love
WHITE - Let's Take A Chance On Happiness

It is still possible today to find pretty treasures dating back to Victorian times and to accumulate a small collection of finds to create a pleasing display for not much money.
So, as promised, I thought I would start to share with you my collections over the next few weeks, starting with my violet inspired items, which I just happen to showcase in our downstairs loo!
A latest find, which I just had to keep, was this pretty hand made crochet doily. I adore the vintagey colour scheme, even if it is somewhat kitsch in style...

For now it rests amongst our linen hand towels which I store in a French fabric lined basket when not in use.

There's a pine shelf which runs along the top of the toilet cistern where I display some of my collection...not all of it is Victorian, and not all of it is decorated with violets, but most items echo the purple colour scheme and feature springtime flowers.

The porcelain backed hand mirror and brush came from the States a few years ago.

Above the shelf is a French glazed vitrine which houses the bulk of my treasures. I love these little cupboards as they keep the dusting of the contents to a minimum, thus prolonging their lifespan, as well as the fun that can be had from changing the arrangements around and adding to them ;-))

On top sits one of my favourite pieces of china. Its a lovely rose bowl made by Crown Devon with transfer printed violets on both the inside and outside of the bowl, and green blushed edges. The tiny jug is a treasured gift from a friend.

Open up the doors of the little cabinet and waft of parma violets streams out, provided by several bars of soap that I have been bought as gifts, and some that I have brought back from France. There are lots of other bits and bobs, all jostling for space on the three shelves...

Velvet millinery flowers and hats, perfumes and tins...
And several postcards vie for attention! Vintage hats (mostly from the 1950's) are a bit of a weakness of mine and I have lots displayed around our home...which will have to be a post another time...(I'm still looking out for an open shelved dresser for our kitchen, so that I can more practically store our everyday china. This will free up a large glazed cabinet which I'd like to move into our living room to properly store and display my hat collection.)

On one wall is an old framed advert from the 1950's next to the window with some vintage Laura Ashley curtains.
And on the door hangs an old oil painting which hubby and I bought at a street market in France.
Hope you enjoyed the quick tour of our smallest room.
Have a happy week,
Niki x

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The End of Great Week.

I just wanted to thank you all again for the genuine kindness that has been sent my way this week...The week began with me not feeling quite my usual perky self...A chesty cough and a sore lower back had just overshadowed things slightly (Its scary too being a sole trader - There's no sick pay or holiday entitlement to fall back on when necessary.)

I still owe a few lovely ladies a reply to emails, which I hope to do over the rest of the weekend.

I also received this gorgeous card through the post this morning, but do not have a return address or email to thank the sender...So Stephanie, if you happen to read this, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind words of encouragement. x

I have met some truly fabulous people over the last two weeks and feel overwhelmingly encouraged that I have made the right decision to be in Shepton Mallet with my little enterprise...I now feel sure that I can make a go of this...even though its still early days and I have only notched up 4 months so far...things feel right.

Anyway, enough already - before this post becomes way too cheesy! ;-))

I've noticed that my blog has recently acquired some new followers - Thank you! (Oops, there I go again...!) I thought that some of you may not know totally what I am all about, so what I thought I would do is share with you some photos of some of my collections over the next few weeks, so that you can see what floats my boat and if you still want to stick around! ;-))

I have posted in the past about some of my favourite vintage treasures, but as my blog is nearly 4 years old now, some of the things haven't been mentioned in a long while - I hope you'll forgive me if I repeat some of my best bits...hopefully you'll think they're worth a second look.
Have a lovely BH weekend,
Niki x

Friday, May 28, 2010

Patent Pending! ;-))

It may be a little Heath Robinson, but my new canopy certainly did the trick today. Hubby came over to my shop yesterday to make the weighted bases and construct the pole mechanism - He then tested me to see if I could put it up on my own! The ends of the poles will need sawing down, but Hub forgot the hacksaw, so its a 'to-do' another time...This morning I arrived in Shepton extra early, to give myself time to put it up - I managed to straighten the poles up after I took the photo, (I got them the wrong way around to start with - Ooops!) but today was very busy, so I couldn't spend long taking lots of pics.
Happily the new market was as buzzing as ever and the town was crowded for most of the day with shoppers. The canopy worked as a way of bringing market goers into my shop, so I shall definitely use it again next week - weather permitting! (I'm sure you'll be happy to know that it also protected my stock from several pigeon poops! I counted 4 when I took the awning down this evening! ;-))
I was able to welcome lots of new customers to my shop today, but would just like to mention Jan and her sister who had come all the way from South Carolina, with their UK friend on hand to help them spend their money! :) 'Hello Jan, if you happen to be reading this - Thanks to you all for your purchases and it was lovely to meet you! - If you made it to Dairy House this afternoon, I hope you had lots of fun!'
Then in the afternoon I met two more lovely ladies from the United States (one of which reads my blog - so a big howdy to you too!) The power of Blogger eh? Incredible what a small world we all live in now-a-days...

Retro fabric tie-on cushion, handmade by me, for one of the folding garden chairs.

A selection of new brooch pillows were added to the shelves today, but I feel another buying trip coming on over the weekend...
Enjoy your BH weekend, won't you?!
Niki x

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gardening is the Best Medicine

Firstly, thank you for all of the supportive comments that I received to my last post. I was overwhelmed, as I usually choose not to post on 'negative days' - I had not been looking for sympathy, but was cheered no end by the constructive advice that you all offered. (I also received several personal emails, so will reply to those as soon as I can - thank you!) I do appreciate that everyone should have their own likes and dislikes and can understand why some would not value vintage/antique items. I wasn't going to let those who do not however, keep me down, so yesterday I sort therapy from my garden.
I had been saving some garden vouchers that I'd been given by my Mum and Dad for Christmas, and with Wednesday being my day off, a trip to the garden centre seemed like a very good idea! I came back with some wonderful new friends to settle in...including saponaria Tumbling Ted, veronica Red Fox, and phlox Bright Eyes.

I also thought I'd be a bit extravagant and buy a real doozie that I wouldn't normally be able to stretch to, seeing as I had the vouchers burning a hole!
This beauty found her way into my shopping trolley - A clematis called Diamantina. The flowers are truly breathtaking and will open up more to reveal a huge layered specimen. The label says that it is repeat flowering through the summer and into early autumn, so she should be real value for money...Hopefully I shall be able to keep her happy and will post more pics of her later in the year.

With the shopping done, the best bit was getting my hands dirty...I used an old rusty pyramid that had once supported a clematis Armandii in our front garden, which became such a thug that I had to ask it to leave! This dainty lady should be better behaved and will add another touch of purple in my mixed border.

I also bought a couple of what might be considered rather ordinary sempervivums. These were like chocolate cakes to my hens, who had free range of the garden. They would eat every fleshy leaf until the fiery red florets were no more...Having lost our hens this year, I can at least start to grow what makes me happy. These chaps will be potted into some shallow terracotta pots with lots of gravel and be perched inside one of my old chimney pots...that's a job for another day...
Last but not least, I also bought a David Austin climbing rose, called Blush Noisette.

I already have one of these beauties in our garden. I planted it several years ago at the base of an old apple tree where it has flourished (even though it is in poor soil and must be fighting for root space with the tree.) It now weaves its way through the branches and rewards us with a fabulous display of blooms.
Once it starts flowering (any day now) it doesn't stop until well into late autumn. It has small double blooms, with lots on one stem and they have good fragrance.

I thought I'd plant the new one in the mixed border, but it would need support. I remembered an old gate that was left at the house when we moved in. I had used it to hold up a winter flowering jasmine, but this was now happily growing unaided, so I retrieved the old iron gate from its clutches.

Two metal stakes hammered in to the ground hold up the gate and the rose was planted at the base. Hopefully it will get away soon and smother the old gate in beautiful roses.
The border is a bit of a mish-mash of plants, but I love the effect when it all gets going (or should I say growing ;-)) - The various metal supports and chimney pots add some structure when the plants fade for the winter too.
Just coming into flower now though are the giant poppies...
They seem particularly happy this year, probably because we've had a long dry spell. Rain always seems to finish them off rather quickly.

There's still so much to look forward to in my predominantly pink and purple display...its such an exciting time in the garden, isn't it?

I have been watching some of the Chelsea Flower Show coverage on the BBC...Have you? I've not enjoyed it as much as some years - its all very modern this time round with very little nostalgia thrown in. My favourite garden design this year is one of the small courtyard gardens - its called 'Music on the Moors' and is designed by Christina Williams.
All very inspiring, but in my view not as much fun as digging into the soil yourself and seeing what develops over time.

Niki x
PS: I'd also just like to mention that Isabelle's husband Alan has now added the village where I live to his Somerset in 3d website, including a photo of our house. (You'll need a pair of 3d specs to view properly.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nostalgic Gardenalia

Gardenalia is the theme for Nostalgia this week...

Lots of rustic pieces to give an old fashioned flavour of what can also be found inside.

I'm itching to add some handmade floral cushions to these lovely old wooden chairs, but as the shop canopy is still a work in progress, I can't risk them being outside in range of those pigeons! I've sewn up the sides of the oilcloth and added a line of eyelet holes, so am just waiting for hubby to engineer a pole construction to make it stable.

Most of the time I receive favourable remarks to my merchandise, however there are times when I am left wincing at people's comments that I hear outside. I need to develop a thicker skin I think, and shouldn't expect everyone to have the same love that I have for a moss covered terracotta pot, or the chipped paint on an old piece of furniture...
Then there's the sharp intake of breath through the teeth at the £1 price tag for one of those said Victorian hand thrown clay pots and a mumbling of 'Granny used to have hundreds of those in her shed'...Hmmm...but does she still have them? Or were they all thrown away along with so much that I hear about during the 60's when many wanted new and exciting goods to fill their homes?
It's definitely a challenge selling vintage goods, especially with a shop's overheads, but I won't go into all of that just now, as I'm not in the right frame of mind today to remain positive. Its hard when you see the same people then visiting the kiosk next door and pay £1.25 for a Mr. Whippy ice-cream, or more for tea and cake which is gone within minutes...
So moving on...Other lovelies (in my view! ;-)) include this fabric covered umbrella box...It reminds me of a larger version of the fabulous French fabric covered boxes that I have in my collection. If I had space at home, this would have been a keeper!

I was busy sewing yesterday too and made a shoulder bag with a country cottage and garden image as the central panel, to reflect the nostalgic gardenalia outside.
In contrast are some famous beauties from the 50's and 60's for those who prefer a bit more glamour to their collectables.
(Sophia is sold - thank you! )
Have a happy week...I'm off to develop a thicker skin and give myself a good talking to! :)
Niki x