Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Creative Space: Stuff Done, More to Do and When Do I Do It?

The dish garden is done despite the lack of supplies. Using my make do and mend hat, I decided that a little bit of Styrofoam packing peanuts should work at the bottom of the planter. Like the commercially produced dish gardens that we have received as gifts, this planter does not have drainage holes and I was not sure anything was needed at the bottom except that it seemed a little deep for it all to be soil especially since I think most indoor potted plants like to feel slightly pot bound. When I started this little project I also found myself without moss or decorative stones yet there are stones in the photo but I did not get back in my van to procure them. Procrastination had yet again saved the day! A few years ago when we installed a large climber in the back yard for our children, we investigated the possible solutions for a safe surface under the structure and concluded that 18 inches of pea gravel was the safest, most practical and economical option. The closest gravel and soil company gave us a Ziploc bag sample of their smallest gravel but it was not actually pea gravel and we went with another local company. We had intended to return the sample but never got around to that so it has instead been used to create a top dressing in the dish garden.

With all the musical and dance activities my children have been involved in I am inclined to adopt the kind of garden activities in last week's creative space. All the driving around and the arrival of a gift that I won from another blog's giveaway made me think back to the crafting I did as a teenager. The Teddy Bear Book comes from the early eighties when hand crafted bears were gaining in popularity. I also received these lovely sheets of paper with rubber stamped vintage images which reminded me of the teddy bear images that I used to draw during boring classes in high school.

This is a photo of my family in 1983 in front of our stall at the local Christmas Fair. Most of the things we sold were made by my Mum who spent hours making fabric boxes and frames and Cabbage Patch Doll clothes. I made hand-embroidered lavender sachets using recycled fabrics (I had similar interests even back then)with free-hand designs and baked pounds of Scotch Shortbread! I think that I might also have made some hand drawn items as well. I was a busy almost straight A student, serious music student and battled less than optimal health and when I look back, I cannot believe my productivity.

Here is one of my teddy bear sketches. I had created a series of early twentieth century bears named Arthur and Lavender who went on all sorts of outings and adventures. I believe that here they are off to the opera. When I was pregnant with Number 1, I thought that I would take time to bring out the sketch pad and trying an improve on my adolescent doodles but of course that never happened. Finding time to create was almost impossible and needed to be directed in a more practical manner.

I will share more of what I won in Amy's soon and would like to remind everyone that there is still time to enter my giveaway. Most importantly, a nudge here to check out all the fabulous creativity hosted by Kirsty at her inspiring blog.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Last of the Single Digits!

Number 4 turned nine today which means this is his last year in the single digits. I am using a photo taken during our trip to England last summer as most of the photos taken of him lately have him dramatically hamming it up with very goofy expressions. Everyone woke up cheered by his excitement this morning and shared a large English style breakfast with sausages and potatoes before he went off to school. In the afternoon, Numbers 2 and 3 helped me to make our usual birthday cake recipe into cupcakes to share with the boys at the choir before their rehearsal this evening. Number 3 had a great day at school and revelled in the attention of his choir singing Happy Birthday! The Choir sang an Evensong at St.Georges Cathedral in Kingston on Sunday and is preparing to participate in a performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion this coming Sunday. Along with a birthday and musical activities, Number 4 also had his first ballet exam this week and is pretty sure that he did a good job. All this activity and still only in the single digits. My blog is also a single digit and you can still enter my giveaway for another week.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Creative Space: Desperate to Garden

The new Volkswagen Beetles have a bud vase; our minivan has a holder for small tropicals. Actually, the cup holder was the method of transport home for a new plant to add to my indoor garden. The objective is the creation of a new dish garden. We have received several dish gardens as gifts, but invariably, the plants grow at uneven rates, or one of them fails to thrive. To remedy the situation, I have bought a few new plants, fresh potting soil and cleaned up one of the previously used containers.

While I know winter will soon be over, seeing blogs from locations where Spring has already sprung, or speaking with my Mum who lives in British Columbia have made me desperate to get my hands dirty and work in the garden. It is my hope that these indoor substitutes will hold me over until the soil warms up enough to work. These are only the before pictures of my dish garden. Like many projects, I thought I was prepared, but ultimately forgot to get any moss or top dressing of pebbles as well as gravel or other material to provide enough drainage. Has anyone tried using styrofoam packing peanuts at the botton of container plantings? Just like I am frustrated by snow still on the ground, I am frustrated by forgetting essential materials. Maybe I will finish tomorrow...arggh!

Other creative spaces at Kristy's blog may have completed projects.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Not So Secret Cache

Living with a long winter and loving flowers the way I do, it is absolutely essential that I have a large collection of house plants, especially flowering ones. I also occasionally spoil myself with cut flowers but I find that flowering plants tend to last longer and require slightly less maintenance to keep them looking good. This post is not about indoor gardening but about how to complete the look. Most flowering plants can be bought at the grocery store and are usually (relatively) locally grown in greenhouses but their plastic pots are dressed in a colourful foil or plastic sleeve which might be acceptable presentation in the store but does not work for me in my home. Just as a fashionable outfit requires the right shoes and purse (I would say hat too) to complete the look, potted plants need the perfect cache pot to show the plant to its best advantage. The cache pots available along side the plants at the grocery store are usually uninspired and expensive so this is where the beauty of thrifting comes into play.

For some reason there often seem to be a plethora of beautiful cache pots in the various thrift stores that I frequent. Many of them are vintage and beautifully made. I can also rely on quite a few Ikea examples which always provides a good selection of colours and simple designs. The hob nail milk glass makes a perfect match with the pink hyacinth and even improves the supermarket metal cache pot behind it. The pair of pots (in the photo above) holding the daffodils are just the perfect shade of light aqua, are marked West Germany and are lovely counter to the yellow of the mini daffs.

I know that many people force bulbs very successfully but it is not yet something that I have tackled. The crocuses were in the planter a few weeks ago and now they have died back ready for me to put them in the garden. The bulbs can be quite short-lived indoors in the winter as a house is just a little too warm for them. I hope that the spent bulbs will be able to naturalize our flower beds and eventually bloom again. I like the idea of stored potential in a bulb and that something that has given me mid-winter pleasure will have a second life in the garden.

Bulbs are not the only flowering plant I like in my indoor garden. African violets never fail to tempt me with their many varieties of leaf and options of blossom colour. I am particularly drawn to the sugared quality that the flowers have. I am not so much an aficionado as to belong to a club and propagate them but I do find the ignored orphan varietals that turn up on the supermarket shelves impossible to resist. When I have nursed them back to health they get to enjoy a prominent location in a beautiful cache pot like this mid-century Toperhof Keramik made in former East Germany.

As the days and nights are getting to be almost equal, the blooms on this Christmas Cactus are about to open. It is looking lovely in this sweet pot that was made in Japan for this Los Angeles based company for known for Head vases than cache pots or other ceramics. I can't believe that I turned down my Grandma's lovely examples when she was distributing some her things to her granddaughters because I was fascinated by them as a child. I was especially partial to the elaborate hats found on the glamourous Head vase ladies.

To be desirable to me, the pots do not need to be marked or even vintage but to be of an appealing colour or shape. This aqua one is unmarked but a lovely colour and form that compliments the white hyacinth. It also happens to be a perfect foil against the lovely vintage tablecloth with pussywillows and birds(!) and a fabulous squarish basket in the same shade of aqua. I have other cache pots that I have already blogged about and certainly will find more. Just like shoes, hats, and purses, one can never have too many!

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Giveaway to Celebrate my Blog's First Year!

The best way to celebrate Thoroughly Modern Vintage's anniversary is with a give away for which I have two thrifted items to send off to two lucky recipients. The first item is this lovely vintage brooch with enamelled white heather and lilac-coloured stones. It might be signed (with the stamp very smudged) or it might be a copy (?) or repaired version of an Exquisite brooch as it is slightly different on the back from the one in the link and the one that is already in my collection. What ever its provenance, it will add a delightful vintage touch to many an outfit and it is just lovely to look at!

My second item available is this wonderful cookbook in absolutely mint condition! I have the newer printing but when I found this 1996 version at the thrift store I knew that I needed to pass it on! I cook from the recipes in this book at least once a week and have mentioned the book in a previous post. Many of the recipes do require a pressure cooker to be truly quick, but I believe this piece of equipment from our grandmothers' kitchen is an excellent addition to our modern kitchens (in its updated form). I love how this book gives me the option to make healthy, quick and flavourful dishes even on days when I have little time to be in the kitchen.

Like Birthdays and New Years, anniversaries are a chance to look back at the past year and reflect. I have noticed there were long periods of time when I was not posting and I would prefer not to let that happen again! I started this blog to share things that I find, things that inspire me and what I make and I find a lot of pleasure in sharing. That pleasure is increased exponentially when I have feedback in the form of comments, so, to all who have commented, Thank-you! For readers who have not commented, please don't be so shy!

If you are interested in winning the brooch or the book, please leave a comment. If you do not have a blogger profile (with an email or blog) and do not wish to create one, please leave me an email address so that I will be able to contact you if you are the winner. Also, let me know if you would prefer the brooch or the book but if you cannot decide, I understand and could put you in both draws! I plan to do the draw on March 17, so that leaves everyone just over two weeks to enter.

I look forward to reading your comments. Thank you for your interest in my posts.