Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Own Worst Critic!

Firstly, thank you to everyone who has entered my Blogoversary giveaway so far...you have until Friday to leave a comment. I'll keep things fair by using a random number generator to find the winner, to give all who enter an equal chance :) Good Luck!

I am very grateful for your visits to my blog - those who come by regularly will know that I am not generally a negative person, in fact I would prefer not to post on a 'down-day'. I suspect you also realise that I'm not particularly good at, or including, anything too personal on my blog too; but today I thought I'd wear my heart on my sleeve...just for a change...to see how it goes...
Hubby and I have been working very hard recently on various projects in our back garden. Our garden isn't a 'pottering' sort of garden, but more of the 'hack and slay' kind! Constant taming of mature shrubs and trees and regular repairs to the old stone walls and general maintenance of the borders are what's required. This has meant that we haven't been out on one of our little local jaunts for a couple of months now...and I missing them. I wouldn't go as far as to say I'm suffering. Cabin-fever is a little way off yet ;-)) But I guess I could do with a break really...

I am a 'doer', rarely procrastinate and like to see a job through to the end...But just recently I've been feeling like I'm getting nowhere fast...sorry, I'm getting a bit heavy here - not like me at all to give too much away...and I certainly don't want sympathy, as my life is very good, thank you! In fact, I was reading my recently delivered copy of Somerset Life in bed last night and inside was an article written by Tiffany Kirchner-Dixon, who was saying that she lives by the quote 'If life doesn't get any better than this, I am happy'. She went on to say that 'if life doesn't get any better than it is right now, it is great; I choose to be happy. I want to be happy. When I am happy, people around me are happy.'
Such wise words Tiffany, I couldn't agree with you more and I think that even if this positive attitude isn't one that has been instilled at childhood, it is one that can be learnt and will be discovered with age...'older and wiser', as the saying goes...

In the past I have been extremely self-critical, consequently I lacked confidence. I would become cross with myself when I didn't achieve all that I set out to, and would not allow myself time-out to relax, which obviously led to some bad days...Friends were sympathetic, for which I will always be grateful, but taking time to find the happy-place first time round is a better way of existing, I think.
Working from home means I lead a fairly solitary lifestyle, so being in a happy frame of mind will reflect in my work. I used to think that I should be creating 24/7, but now know that its OK to take a tea break, or take a bit longer making one of my dolls, for instance, if the end result is going to echo the effort involved. The pressure I put on myself to constantly have my web-shop refreshed and restocked was unhealthy. Yes, I need to earn a regular wage, but reaching a balance is important too.
Part of the reason for my setting up the secondary blog was to serve as a reminder to me as to how hard I have worked over the years, and to see the proof of all my hours of sewing.
The listing of each item for my on-line shop is what takes a large proportion of my time, along with answering emails, packing parcels and dispatching them - after a large update, it can be a week before I have a moment to start sewing again, and then when goods are created, there's the listing...yes, that is the nature of selling on-line and I guess you'd say I've made that choice and, of course, am very lucky to be making some sales.
However, I did enjoy making for the V&H fair recently. The fact that I could take my time to make each piece and then carefully pack it away for the future fair was refreshing. Of course less was added to my on-line shop during this time, but I was able to tell myself that something has to give now and then! Something friends have been trying to tell me for years - Thankfully, I've got it now guys! ;-))

Right, I'm not about to become a lazy-lass and skive at every opportunity! But I have booked the next V&H fair in November and although that sounds a long way off just now, stock doesn't make itself. I would like to have a good range of items to take to the fair , as well as to work on some special Christmas pieces. Please forgive if I don't restock my on-line shop quite so regularly. I do receive quite a few emails asking when I shall be adding new dolls to my shop - I am thrilled by your interest and will endeavour to do so as often as I can...juggling it with the gardening and running the home! (School hols coming up soon too! ;-))
So, if you're still with me and haven't left because I've bored you rigid! - to continue with the rosey pictures... I shall share with you what I achieved over the weekend.
Now I'm sure you all recognise this wallpaper design below, and don't need me to tell you where you can buy something similar! In my opinion, this lovely lady receives too much free advertising on Blogger as it is! ;-))
Don't get me wrong, I admire all that she has achieved, its just that I will always prefer to buy authentic vintage goods whenever possible, rather than repro. In fact, I did try wallpapering a bedroom wall once with vintage paper, but it was so brittle, it kept cracking and breaking....it was a pretty hideous job and I had to have a rethink!
So I think this pretty repro paper was a wise choice! Having said that, it is at least 5 years old(?) already...this cream version was discontinued some time ago and I was able to snap up several rolls for £5 each! They've languished in the attic all that time, as when I suggested to my daughters that they have a pretty feature wall in their bedrooms, they turned up their noses!
Well, our back hallway has been looking in a very sorry state for a couple of years, if I'm being honest, so the weekend was the time for action. I rootled around in the cellar and found half a tin of white emulsion paint which was perfect for the ceiling. Then I found the cream satin that I had used to paint two of our kitchen chairs a few weeks ago...

Just enough for the skirting boards and architraves. There are 5 doors in this tiny space, which is a lot of architraves! Once all the painting was complete, I could tackle the wallpapering. It took me all day, but I'm very pleased with the final result and all for a bargain price.

Looks pretty from the kitchen too, echoing the red and cream scheme in here.

The pine pantry door has always had this funny little hole in it. When we first moved in, it had a fine mesh stretched over to stop flies getting in, but that meant you could see into the pantry. Not good when it wasn't tidy! So I replaced it with a section of chicken wire, which I have now backed in a piece of vintage fabric.

A pretty rose fabric, naturally ;-))
Thankfully the old lampshade looked fine once re-hung again, so that saved me another job.
The final task that does need doing though, is to sand and re-varnish the old back door.

Having such a busy pattered space does mean that additional accessories aren't required - I think a floral framed print, for example, would be lost. So it will be nice to keep this area clutter-free.
And when I stand in the corner of our back living room and look first left, and then right...
...where we have the white version of the rose wallpaper, the effect is cohesive and calming.
Of course a weekend spent wallpapering on the spur of the moment, did mean that one on-going project at the end of the garden has been a little neglected...and there I was saying about seeing a job through to the end?...I'll get right on it!
Hope you're having a lovely week,
Niki x

Friday, June 26, 2009

3 TODAY! And a Giveaway!

During the summer of 2006, 3 years ago today to be precise, I wrote my very first blog post. It's been a wonderful three years and I have enjoyed the rewards that come with being a part of this supportive community.
I would like to thank all of those who have visited my blog over these 3 years and also all those who have found the time to leave a comment to a post, or to send me a personal email.
These are for you!
And why not help yourself to a cupcake too?! After all, we are celebrating, aren't we?....
It would be nice to make a wish as well, I think...I know I'd wish for more time to read all the lovely blogs that have been set up by so many creative and inspirational women over this time. There are many wonderful places to visit in this cyberworld...but so little time to make contact. I seem to be busier than ever these days...and my rag dolls don't make themselves! (Plus I have a second blog to keep maintained now you know! ;-))
Anyway, a 3rd Blogoversay seems like a good day to show a pressie that I received this week. It was my prize from Kelly's photography competition...and was I spoilt? Yes, indeedy!
Flower magnets and vintage lace, a citronella candle and tissue wrapped surprises...
A 'Victoria' magazine, a handmade vintage fabric bag and a charming French plaque.
A selection of loveliness which has arrived just in time to add to the decorations in our summer house. Yes, the painting is finally all complete and I can start playing house! I'll reveal all here when I've had my fun! ;-))
In the mean time, I hope that you will enter my Birthday Giveaway. It is open to bloggers and non-bloggers, from the UK or overseas. (Please be aware, if you are the winner, I will need to email and confirm a delivery address for your prize)

All you need to do is to say 'hello' via my comments below and you will have entered!
I shall use a random number generator to pick a winner on the 3rd of July - that gives you one week to tell your friends to join in too!
And the prize? - This selection of vintage goodness!
It includes a hand knitted tea cosy in soft yarn, a rose calendar from 1931, a vintage rose corsage, one of my hand made pincushions - made using antique fabrics, a Victorian china vase, a pretty postcard, diamante necklace, a reel of rayon thread and a card of linen buttons. Hope it appeals!
Have a lovely weekend,
Niki x
My Giveaway is now closed, 03/07/09 at 115 comments - thanks to all who entered and congratulations to Isabel of Maison Douce!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Down My Garden Path...

That should read: 'Down My Newly-Laid-by-a-Hard-Working-Hubby Garden Path'!

Hope you're having a great week...mine has been busy, but pretty uneventful...just the usual things...with me travelling about as far as the post office in the next village...and no further...
This afternoon I needed to do a spot of gardening...the composting wheelie bin was filled once more...and I saved what I could for winter kindling...

My new (old) chimney pot found its home in the border...This is an area I cleared a short while ago, where a large rosemary bush became too large and woody, so was removed. I planted two new climbing roses that my brother bought for my Birthday, which I'll train over the arch. And I intend to plant lots more flowers in the gaps - I don't 'do' gaps!
The penstemon at the base of the chimney pot came from the flea market last Sunday - forgot to mention it on my previous post as I had sat it outside to sun itself!
I'd eventually like both sides of the path to look a bit like this - wild and woolly - I 'do' wild and woolly!
With old favourites seeding themselves where they please.



Yes, definitely needs some seeds sprinkled on the right hand side of the path, at the base of my chimney pot...and there's something hiding in the top right of the photo below...but that can wait for another post... ;-)) Yes, the newly laid path does lead somewhere!
(My favourite rambling rose 'blush noisette' which is growing in virtually no soil at the base of an old apple tree - on the other side of our garden.)
So, not a very exciting post - just sharing a few minutes of my day...I will make a small announcement tomorrow...
but don't get too excited! ;-))
Niki x

Monday, June 22, 2009

Yes, MORE Flea Finds to Report!

Hope you all had a lovely weekend.
I won't bore you with my Saturday antics, as it was basically a day of catching up with housework and a spot of painting...walls, that is....not the clever artistic stuff!

Sunday however, was a lot more fun. The regular flea market beckoned and after a long time queuing to get in, I started rummaging amongst the vintage and antique treasures on the outside stands. I have a mixed bag of goodies to show you - it really was vast this month and almost too many stalls to get round properly in one day...but I think my friend and I actually visited every stall. (Well, we were there for 9.30am opening and left bang on 4pm as everyone was packing away! - VERY tiring!)

The lovely apple green in the background is a length of soft vintage velvet. There were so many pretty brooches this time, I could have bought hundreds (if funds allowed). In the end I had to stop looking through them, as it is so time consuming, checking for missing stones or faulty pin backs etc. I'm pleased with this small selection of sparkles though. And the crown pins and cap badges are destined to be pinned to the chests of some patriotic dolls I have begun working on.

Chocolate boxy country cottage postcards a plenty...I think some of these deserve to be framed.

Ticking cottons will be fashioned into doll's bloomers! And checks, rosey prints and patchwork scraps await recycling.

Do you see the 'pretty boy' hiding amongst the roses on this 20's fabric?
A whole roll of palest pink Swiss velvet ribbon, aptly named 'vieux-rose'.

c1930's plates, ideal for my soap gift sets and a dainty rose topped barbola mirror.

A hand crocheted cot blanket in delicate pastel tones.

And a large flu-cover featuring a romantic Greek couple in a garden.

I found a whole set of 6 of these unusual antique French coffee cups and saucers. They have been hand painted in Florence, on fine porcelain with trailing roses and a green lustre finish. The amazing interiors are lined in rich gilding.

One has been carefully repaired sometime in its lifetime using metal staples. This was obviously a much-loved set in its day, to have been given this treatment so as to keep the set complete - I love that about it - not a fault at all...

More roses appear on a selection of English Victorian china pieces.

My favourites are this pair of bud vases with blushed matt glaze over their surface.
They've found a home already on top of my dresser.


I was also pleased to find this book entitled 'Really Rural, Authentic French Country Interiors' by Marie-France Boyer, which was published in 1997. For some reason, this book escaped me at the time, but I am so glad to have discovered it now.
Throughout the book the photographs reveal the authentic interiors of some of the poorer, elderly people of France. Their homes are very simple, containing only those items which are actually needed from day to day...
Utilitarian textiles.
Everyday stoneware and porcelain, much of which is very sort after at flea markets today, by those looking to create a somewhat pastiche reflection of rural France in their homes...me included.

This home, high up in the Hautes-Alps contains a mishmash of objects special to Augustine.
The stove, fuelled by wood, gas or coal, is the heart of rural family life.

I'm looking forward to sitting down and reading this book, which is a far cry from the contrived interior books that I normally purchase - it should be a breath of fresh air and hopefully will put a few things in perspective.

Continuing with my purchases from the flea market: This huge haul of red and white china, which I'm guessing was someones collection over several years, had an auction lot number on when I found it. They're already mis-matched, which suits our style, and we'll use them everyday.

I gave them all a good wash (we don't have one of those machines that does it for you ;-))
I counted 39 pieces. For £10, that's not bad...

I rejigged the kitchen shelves and they've found a home in the alcove, making them easily accessible for everyday use.


A little tweaking here and there...

And I think they look very much at home...
Yes, in my totally contrived pastiche of a rural French home!! (Including a microwave!)

After running errands all day today, I stopped this evening to give a quick makeover to the little bamboo table that I mentioned I purchased recently. I managed to prise-off the bamboo strips from the edges of the table top. I was then able to simply staple some oilcloth over the top, securing underneath. The bamboo strips were then hammered back on to give a neat finish.

I used a lovely apple green oilcloth by Moda fabrics, which I was able to buy in my local haberdashery shop.

Finally, I was thrilled to discover that I had won a photography competition on Saturday, organised by Kelly on her blog. I included my favourite anemone tin that I purchased from her website a few years ago, along with various red and blue pieces of china.
Thank you Kelly - I can't wait for the lovely prize to arrive! And congratulations too, to Julie and Alexandra.
I have a busy week ahead with lots of family stuff going on, more painting to try and fit in, as well as sewing to get down to. Hope you all have a lovely week,
Niki x