Saturday, May 30, 2009

Get Well, my friend

My friend Shelly has been in hospital since Friday, May 22nd with a brain injury that she sustained when she fell backward out of her van, after adjusting a window for her daughter.

It's a very worrisome time for everyone who cares for her. I've visited with her almost every day since her accident, but today being unable to, I chose to send a 1960s circa Get Well greeting card along with some of her family who were going to spend some time with her. The card I picked for Shelly had a picture of three kittens in a basket with embossed lacy trim, transparent glitter and pink accents. She'll love it.

I have a cache of wonderfully glittery retro greeting cards which I only use on very special occasions. I have found these treasures throughout the years at Estate Sales, 2nd Hand Stores, Garage Sales and our local Reuse Centre. Unfortunately the glittery wonder that is these cards doesn't reproduce well in my scanner. You'll have to use your imagination.

Anyway ... while searching through my special "oldies", I was happy to find several Get Well cards. They are all very delicate and so much prettier than the mass produced cards we can buy at the Dollar or Hallmark stores these days. One thing that I noticed is the interesting messages that are inside these lovelies. Below, are some samples of their messages ...

Though times have changed Since Grandma's day
Some things are here to stay
Like these Old~Fashioned Get~Well Wishes
Sent in the same old sincere way!

If special hopes were sunbeams ~
Your room would be so bright,
Because such hopes are with you

From morning until night!

If special thoughts were flowers ~

How cheerful it would be,

With all the thoughts that blossom

For you especially!

The "bright room" mentioned in the verse above quashed using that card. I can't imagine Shelly enjoying a bright room at the moment when she has a serious concussion and the world's worst head ache ~ it's low lights and low voices for her, under the circumstances.

Get well Shelly.
You're in our hearts and in our prayers ~
we're all pulling for you!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Blog Interview #20

One of my favourite destinations when blog hopping is a little gem called Nostalgia at the Stone House. Today we talk with it's creator, Niki.
Tell us a little bit about yourself ...
I was born in Hertfordshire in the UK, during the 60’s. I left school at 16, as it wasn’t for me, but I went on to study at college for my D.A.T.E.C. Diploma in Retail Display and Design, where I flourished! I was awarded the Clements Bowl as the best student and afterwards was offered a job with the John Lewis Department Stores. I have been married to the same man for over 24 years – we met when I was 16 (he was 17) and I was married at 19! After only 10 months of marriage, we left Hertfordshire to make a new life in the west country, where we have lived with our three gorgeous daughters, ages 21, 19 and 15, ever since. Whilst bringing up my children, I would sew (rag dolls mostly) to sell at local craft fairs, and I also supplied shops. Over the years my style has developed and I now use only antique/vintage fabrics, lace and embellishments to make my wares, which I sell via my on-line shop.

Why did you decide to blog?
I started my blog nearly three years ago now. At that time I had recently closed my little vintage shop (a physical one, not an on-line one!) which I trialled for one year. I found that it was too much of a tie and couldn’t balance/juggle it with family life. I still needed to earn some money, as selling my vintage and handmade goods was my only form of income; so I decided to carry on with the on-line side of my business only. After closing my shop things became very quiet and I needed to find those like-minded women that I knew where out there in the world! Blogging seemed the ideal way to try to find them. At that time there were far less bloggers on the www and it took a long time to build up links and interest, but it slowly evolved…so basically, my blog was set up as a way of promoting my small business, but what I wasn’t expecting was to gain friends and so much inspiration from all the lovely ladies (and a few men!) out there!

What is the name of your blog, and why did you decide on that name?
I named my blog ‘NOSTALGIA AT THE STONE HOUSE’. This was the name that I had used for my vintage shop (and the on-line one.) The shop was in an annex on the side of our house which just happens to be called The Stone House! The ‘nostalgia’ bit came from the things I love to stock in my shop, and that furnish our home – I love pieces that tell a story of the past and have the scars of years of use and enjoyment. Whilst selling at fairs, my customers would often pick up an item and say ‘Oh, my Gran had one of these’. I loved that - They
had an instant bond with the item, as it held nostalgic memories for them.

What date did you blog for the very first time, and what did you talk about in your first post?
My very first post (written by a very nervous newbie!) was on 26th June 2006 and was entitled ‘Vintage Girl’. I basically wrote a brief post about me and what makes me tick. ie; my love of my family (and our chickens!), vintage everything(!) and French Brocante, my collections, my enjoyment of sewing, our home, and a passion for gardening.

Do you prefer to blog with words or pictures or both?
I definitely prefer to blog with photos rather than words. If truth be told, I struggle with words (as I mentioned, I left school at 16 which didn’t help) – plus I am generally a very shy/private person. (And I have a blog??!!) I am an extremely visual/artistic person though and am always looking for the beauty in everything. Taking photographs for my blog is something I really do enjoy and love to share.

Tell us about friendships you’ve established through blogging.
I have met some lovely ladies through blogging! For some reason, there seems to be a lot of us down here in the SW of England or within travelling distance. Some I’ve met face to face privately, and some I bump into regularly at antique fairs and flea markets. In fact, this weekend sees the second ‘Vintage and Handmade Fair’ at Chipping Sodbury in Gloucestershire. The stall holders are predominately blogging ladies and I’m thrilled to be included in the line up. It’s going to be such fun to spend a day with these like-minded and talented girls, some I shall be meeting for the first time, while others I have known for some time. (A few were friends before Blogger came along!)

Did you design your blog or did you have it professionally done?
I designed my blog mostly by myself, but I am also blessed to have a very clever hubby who has his own IT business. In the past I have asked him if something is possible and he is usually able to help me achieve what I’m looking for. Also, my daughters have helped me in the past creating blog banners. I love adding extra photos and interesting snippets to my side bar – as I said, I am a very visual person and love extra eye-candy!

Have you ever been featured in Artful Blogging?

L But I have been in some UK publications.

What does your "About Me" read?
At the moment it reads: I live near Bath, Somerset in the UK, with my husband and our 3 daughters-ages 21, 19 and 15. I like to decorate our home with vintage/antique finds from flea markets. I also love to sew; over the years I have used acres of vintage fabrics for my hand crafted goods! My blog is a light-hearted account of the things I get up to in my nostalgic world.

What feature do you like the most about your blog?

I think I like the column of photos on my side bar the best. They serve as a reminder of some of the items I have handmade over the years. I am always humbled when someone chooses to buy something I’ve made – it’s an immensely rewarding side to my business.

Is there anything on your blog you’d like to change? Why?
If I could struggle less with the written word, then that would be something I would love to change! I do try to push myself though and I’m sure I am improving over the years! At the end of the day,
my blog features my style of writing and I’m not forcing anyone to read it! ;-)) But thanks for putting up with my typos and general grammar mistakes!

Do you ever blog when you don’t "feel like it" ~ and if so, why do you?
It would be rare that I would blog if I didn’t feel like it…I added the badge ‘Blogging Without Obligation’ some time ago. My regular readers know that I don’t always post every day and they seem to check in now and then, or have me on their ‘Follow’ list. I have said that my blog is ‘light-hearted’ so I don’t want to burden them with my problems if I’m having an off-day – best not to post!

What themes would best describe your blog?
I try to make my blog visually pleasing - Also colourful, pretty, nostalgic whenever possible, simple and concise. I often talk about items I’ve created, thrifted treasures, our home and its décor, flowers blooming in our garden at any particular time, and days out and about in the SW of England. Making a home comfortable, without spending a fortune (often as little as possible, whenever possible!) is really important to me too, which I do like to relay within a post. Nothing particularly personal though.

What is your blogger count at, at this precise moment?
I am actually thinking of deleting my blog counter. I don’t like the undercurrent of competition that seems to occur sometimes in Blogland. Blogging should be fun, not a popularity contest. I added it in the first place to be sure that I was getting some traffic…no one wants to be talking to themselves, but I guess its sat there ever since…yes, it will be going soon!

Do you have any interesting directions you want to take your blog in, in the future?

Apart from removing my blog counter? I had thought about doing a few ‘How to’ posts, showing anyone interested how to make simple crafted items. I would love to write a craft book in the future and this could be a way to gauge interest.

Do you sell your artwork through your blog?
Yes, I do sell my art work through my blog. It has been the best form of advertising and promotion that I could have chosen for my on-line shop. In fact, I believe that most of my customers are non-bloggers and use my blog in conjunction with my website, as an additional feature, a little like a magazine to dip into for articles. I also wrote a self-published book entitled ‘Living with Nostalgia’ last year, and have sold many copies through linking to the publishers on my blog’s side bar.

Is there anything else you would like to say?
I would love to tell my readers that they are all very special to me! I am flattered that my blog receives any interest at all! Working from home means I don’t have the luxury of conversation! It also means that I lead a very ordinary life! Knowing that there is a world of like-minded women out there, just a few clicks of my mouse away, is comforting. I am often in awe as to how often some ladies manage to leave comments and do sometimes feel guilty for not being able to return the compliment, but with my business revolving around my PC so much, I have to be strong and switch it off at the end of the day sometimes! (Or my posterior will soon be the size of a house!) I admit to lurking, when I have a few minutes to spare – there are so many blogs out there now, compared to when I first started, with new ones joining my blog roll weekly…Being a Blogger can be all-consuming, but its not something I would want to change in a hurry!

I hope everyone will check out Niki's blog:
Nostalgia at the Stone House.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Grey day ~ splashes of joy

We've had unseasonably drab weather over the Victoria Day long weekend. We had rain, snow and grey clouds hanging above us for the entire weekend. This weather doesn't seem to want to leave us (at least until the end of this week, we're told).

Summer is on its way, but for now, it's nice to stay indoors, snuggle under a warm afghan, peruse a good book and sip some piping hot herbal tea. Ah, yes, and I shall think about planting our garden patch.

In the meantime, here are a few splashes of red for you to brighten your day...

and stay cozy.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Blog Interview #19

Today I am tickled pink to interview a gal whose blog has become an absolute favourite of mine over the past few months. Jane Goble is the creator of Posy.

So Jane, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am wife to Anthony, and mother to Tom (19), Lucy (16) and Alice (14). We live in a very small, 3 bedroom, end-terraced house in a seaside town in Devon, England along with 2 Persian cats Posy and Alfie.

I love our home passionately or maybe I should say I love being at home, making things and decorating it with things that other people don’t want anymore. Almost every available surface is covered with something flowery. We sleep in flowery sheets, eat from flowery plates, sit on flowery cushions, drink from flowery cups and gaze at flowery wallpaper that hopefully, in the summer months, echoes the view of the garden from our French doors.

My long-suffering family say they just about tolerate it but I know they secretly love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. I like to be a little different and thought I was but in blogging I have discovered that I am not alone and there is an army of like-minded women out there who appreciate the things that make my heart sing.

Why did you decide to start blogging?
I initially thought that it would be a wonderful way to keep in contact with our family – especially my husband’s family in New Zealand; but I also felt that I wanted to share things that I really loved and were important to me. It’s a small space of my own to fill as I chose.

Why did you call your blog Posy? Well, I have always loved the name (it’s also the name of our sweet little cat) and it has a floral theme.

What date did you blog for the first time?
30th January 2006. A post entitled ‘Hello.’

Do you prefer to blog with words, pictures or both?
Oh definitely both. I would never do a post without a picture unless I had no other option as I’m a very visual person and they say a picture can speak a thousand words. But, I enjoy words and the words of my fellow bloggers have touched me deeply at times.

Have you made friends through blogging? I have connected with many ladies through my blog. I call them my blog ladies and have regular readers who I like to think of as friends even though I have yet to hug them! Anth and I would dearly love to travel from coast to coast in the US [and Canada!] and I dream of meeting up with some on our travels. Well, it’s a dream I like to dream and who knows one day it might become a reality. Until then I love exchanging emails with them.

Did you design your blog or have it professionally done?
I have designed it myself but when I started it took ages to figure out how to do something. I often look at other blogs and would love to be able to do the same but have no idea where to start.

Have you ever featured in Artful Blogging?
Yes, in the very first issue. I still can’t quite believe it and thought it must have been a mistake. I feel very humble as I didn’t have any idea of what a wonderful publication it was going to be. When I received my copy I just couldn’t believe it! Still can’t.

What does your About Me read on your blog?
My current one says the following but I’m in the process of changing it.

Hello & welcome!

My name is Jane and I live in a seaside town in Devon, England. I'm a mother to 3 lovely children and I'm happily married to Anthony. I work part-time as a Teaching Assistant and the rest of the time I can be found sewing, treasure hunting, crocheting, gardening, re-painting the furniture and filling our home with floral goodness. I value and appreciate each comment you leave here but alas, lack of time often prevents me from replying

What's your favourite feature on your blog?
The feature I love best but also gives me the most headaches is my banner picture/s. I have spent years trying to create the banners of my dreams and really it has been just trial and error. I’ve known what I want but find it tricky to achieve it! Two dear blog readers have helped me out in the past and made me some fantastic ones, but I try to change the banner regularly to keep the blog looking fresh. I just wish I had more time just to fiddle.

Do you ever post when you don't feel like it?
The answer is yes I do. If I’m being totally honest some days it can feel like another chore on my ‘to-do’ list. I have always said that when blogging becomes a burden I would stop. But this statement in itself isn’t black or white. I recently made the decision to up my sporadic blogging and post daily if at all possible. This in itself can be a pressure when I am working but it has also made me think of the types of posts I can do and the expectations I place on myself. I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that every post I write must show things I have made; found; or a wonderful story with plenty of photographs to back it up. This is unrealistic and I know that many people would just be happy to see the view from the road in which we live in or the state of my laundry pile. It’s the little things I appreciate on other ladies blogs, especially those from another part of the world. So, I discipline myself to turn off the ‘perfection’ mode, stop comparing myself to the other fabulous blogs out there and try to make Posy a place people can visit daily for a little piece of happiness and see a variety of things.

What themes would best describe Posy? Well I would hope it would be positive, inspiring, real, homely, crafty, warm, funny, creative, and very British. Words that I would inspire to be like myself.

What's your blogger count at the moment?
I would rather not say as I feel that it is very easy to get hung up on your blog’s stats. I try not to look at mine because it can feel a little like a popularity contest.

Do you have any interesting directions you want to take your blog in, in the future?
Oh, I not sure. I would like it to evolve to remain fresh and interesting.

Do you sell your artwork through your blog?
I have sold some things I have made and keep thinking how I must make a concerted effort to make more – but once again, time gets in the way.

Any final comments?
I would like to thank everyone who reads my blog and takes the time to comment and to return regularly. I love the connections, kindness and all round general loveliness of the blogging world and the fact that there is always space for one more.

Check out Posy!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Let them eat cake

Zachary's graduating from high school, so we decided to throw an Open House in honour of this milestone.
We chose to have cake and ice cream with friends and family ~ sort of a casual and frugal event.
I made the cakes from scratch ~ no supermarket cakes, mixes, or icing out of a tub this time round. I was happy with the results! I apologize if you you get a little hungry reading this post.

(Above Photo: Zach with his Auntie & Uncle from B.C.)

There was Strawberry Layer Cake...

Oatmeal Cake ...

Chocolate Mocha ...

and Trifle ...

Friends, family, food ~ life is good.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Opening Night

The Celsius Youth Theatre opened its 2nd season last night with three one act plays: Fourteen, The Haunting of Hathaway House and the World Premier of An Unnatural Turn.

Zach and I helped during pre-production in creating a portrait that was used in one of the plays. Zach did the original drawing, and then I painted the portrait using his amazing sketch.

The actors, mostly teenagers, but ranging in age from 5-18, (with a token parent throw into the mix), did an outstanding job in the first of five performances. Take a look at Celsius Youth Theatre's website for more information on the remaining shows this weekend.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Happy little homemaker!

Wow! I couldn't even imagine how amazing and how expertly sewn my apron would be from Jennifer Conway for the Canadian Chickies' Mother-of-all-Aprons Swap!

Please let me tell you what I did when I opened the parcel. First I oohed and awwed a lot, and then I retrieved some lipstick (which I hardly ever wear), but I knew this apron needed to be worn with red lipstick, and high heals, of course. I always did love dress up and dramatics. Voilà, I'm practically June Cleaver here people!

Oh! and Jen tucked in a sweet retro dress pattern inspired card and an "eh!" rubber stamp for me as an extra surprise.

Jen, I will enjoy wearing this apron and appreciate all the time and effort you put into it each and every time that I do.
Thank you so much.
You really did make my day!