Showing posts with label collections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label collections. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

souvenir spoons

There are some things, that if you'd said to me years ago, 'Amanda, I think that you'll collect those one day', I'd have fallen about laughing and scoffing at the mere suggestion. The idea that I could ever appreciate such blatantly kitsch touristy tat as anything other than cheap blatantly kitsch touristy tat, EVER, as ridiculous. So when my mother (of all people I thought she had taste) gave me a souvenir teaspoon commemorating the centenary of my primary school in 1979, it was quite likely ungratefully received and went - well actually I don't know where it went, until I unearthed it from a box a few years ago. No, the passage of time had not made the spoon any more attractive. Who could ever forget that motto, 'Lay Well Thy Foundation'? I didn't need a spoon to remind me. But, the idea that every small town, event, tea room and town hall had its own souvenir teaspoon suddenly intrigued me. Quite quaint & sweet really. Simpler times. I remembered that the highlight of the school holidays would be going with my grandmother to the Farmers tea rooms in Hastings for a pink cream bun. A big outing in the Morris 1100. They probably sold souvenir teaspoons and I was oblivious to them while I focused on the cream bun! (I might suggest an outing like this to my girls next school holidays. Imagine how thrilled they would be.)

Since then I've learnt to appreciate these spoons on a daily basis. No, I don't collect them, not seriously anyway. And no, I definitely, definitely, definitely don't want a 'spoon board' to hang them on. (I'm just saying this because Milly keeps threatening to get me one. I'm fairly sure she is joking, but a teenager's sense of humour can be hard to pick!)
I just pick one or two or three up from the second-hand shops when I see one I like. I have some at the bach and some here at home, and we use them as teaspoons, cream spoons, ice cream spoons, anything spoons. And when one comes to a sticky end, because lets face it, they are still cheap kitsch tat, I know there are a trillion more out there calling my name!

Amanda xx

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Monday, May 5, 2014

vintage floral art

I have a bit of a thing for vintage floral paintings at the moment. Of course the whole idea of a floral painting is appealing, but something about the style and era of vintage florals makes them especially so - to my eyes anyway.

But of course, one man's trash is another's treasure, and I'm in no doubt that some would think them not only vintage, but positively nana-ish and beyond redemption. As was obvious when I came across this little oil painting at a junk shop recently.

I took it up to the counter and handed it across, along with my money.

"Oh yes, lovely", said the very friendly lady, "but, just to let you know, I don't want the painting back."
"Sorry?", I said, not really understanding what she meant.
"The painting", she said. "I know the frame is lovely, and you're probably just going to rip the painting out and get rid of it, but I don't want it back. No use to me or anyone I know. Throw it away quietly if you don't want it."

Well, I didn't want to disagree. She was right. I was going to (gently) rip the painting from the frame. But in this instance the frame was definitely not lovely, and if it ever had any redeeming features they had been unkindly painted over, along with the mount around the painting. Despite a love of old frames, it was the painting I wanted this time, not the frame. And I thought she might think me rude if I offered her that back.

So, here is my little painting. I carefully dissected it from the frame and the painted mount, hence the ripped looking board around the painting itself. And actually, then I turned the frame over and popped the floral back in, back to front as you can see. For now, I quite like it like this. It kind of suits the story. And it currently perks up a store display beautifully. A little googling tells me that the artist, Gladys Curtis Simpson, came from Pasadena, California, and won the Logan Medal of the Arts in 1939. Later in life she moved to New Zealand, which is why I guess, some of her work found its way over here too.

And to me, a quiet little treasure, definitely not trash.

Amanda xx Pin It

Thursday, February 27, 2014

souvenirs & a little bit of fluff

When you travel, inspiration strikes at every turn. To have a piece of that experience, a physical reminder, something that instantly transports you back to that time and place, and makes you smile at the memory - these are the best souvenirs. And though I have been known to stagger back from some trips with mementos that truly weren't easy to get home (cue what must surely be the second largest rug ever made in Turkey, or the dozen bottles of Chateauneuf de Pape wine complete with French market wine basket, or a complete hand-painted Italian dinner set, to mention but a few of my least travel friendly traveling companions) I have never for a moment regretted the adventure behind acquiring them. And fortunately,  most times the memorabilia is much simpler. Beautiful cards, tickets, paper, labels, and empty soft drink bottles which of course become vases.
Things that are a part of everyday life in a foreign land, but which become instantly exotic when transported to distant shores.
Which brings me to this travel souvenir - my Indian truck tassels. Excuse a little happy reminiscing.
I moved one of them the other day, and of course, straight away I was in a different moment, a different place, remembering the story and experience of buying them. In India the tassels are lucky talismans, and are tied to every truck you see on the road. You can read more about my fascination with those beautiful trucks here.
Of course I had to have some. I nagged our driver Prem incessantly about them. Every time we passed a roadside stall selling some I begged him to stop. But no, Prem insisted I wait. He wasn't going to let me settle for some limp and thin tassel. No, we would wait for the perfect tassel.
Eight hours plus to Jaipur. None that passed muster. Days of my nagging later, heaven knows where, the middle of nowhere, near Jodhpur, he finally pulls in to a stall.
Serious (not really) negotiating went on. I had my tassels at last. Beautiful thick, plump cotton tassels.
I could stop nagging.

They may hang on my doors here at home, and they may or may not bring me luck, but each time I see them I am instantly back in the moment when I bought them, at a roadside stall, with the hennaed gentleman and his wife and son, incredible unrelenting heat, some chickens, some dogs, a goat and a cow, where I watched them craft my beautiful tassels. 

Make sure you always surround yourself with the things you love, and if they also happen to capture an experience, or become part of your story, then all the better.

Amanda x

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Monday, February 24, 2014

floral art

You know how you sometimes hear those stories about a little piece of thrift shop art, picked up for a song, and it turns out to be a long lost piece by a master, and worth a small fortune?

This is not one of those.
This is just a little piece of thrift shop art, picked up for a song, and only worth a song.

Albeit a small but lovely song. In my humble art appreciation point of view.
I wouldn't say my collection was huge, but I do seem to have a few unnamed, unsigned, unknown pieces by unnamed, unknown, anonymous artists. And I like them all.

As I like to do with art, this little old floral is propped up, rather than hanging on the wall. This makes everything a little less serious, adds a layer of colour and detail where you might not expect to see this on a shelf or dresser or tabletop, and allows me to mix in the vintage floral with the quite contemporary piece behind. And, I can change it all on a whim!

Beware of the dog! He's on guard.

Amanda xx Pin It

Thursday, February 13, 2014

arranging things

I am often asked how often I rearrange things at home. Well, if you're talking major rearrangement, my answer is probably not often enough. But if we're just talking about the details - all those treasures I'm constantly digging up, then the answer is almost all the time.
You see, obviously you can't have everything out on display all the time. Well maybe you could if you weren't quite the compulsive magpie and acquirer of things that I apparently am. But in my case, it's a definite no-go. Our house would look like the local Sally Army meets Jack & Vera from Coro. And I mean that in the nicest possible way - full of potential treasure, just an unbelievable hotch potch of style or no style. (Don't want to upset those Coro fans, even though Jack & Vera have been gone awhile now.) However, I do believe you can collect without clutter. The trick is in the editing and the display.

Plus I believe that when you move things around it changes and refreshes the energy in a space. If it always stays the same it eventually becomes stale and boring and completely uninspiring.
Sometimes it's a challenge. Sometimes the changes don't work. Don't panic. Keep trying. Nothing is set in stone, and you can always move things back again.

Even though these are small details, I still like to mix things up. Sharp typographical art with frou frou Rachel Castle felt garland. Mid-century Bertoia chair with twirly curly 18th century table. Contemporary black & white ceramics with vintage Japanese calligraphy books. Disparate objects linked together in this case with colour. Despite Brunnel swearing that he had never seen the red Japanese flag before, it has been tucked away in my office for almost ever! The only new treasure here is the lovely black 'bunny' ceramic bowl, which was a Christmas present, and the starting point for the display because I love it so much.

On the ottoman it's contained chaos, with the old chippy green drawer on top of a book stack for height, and literally containing some objets trouves. Old and new once again, with a dahlia for extra good measure.

This is how things look today. Next week, who knows. Remembering also that one person's treasure is another's dust trap, these are things I love - it doesn't mean you have to love them too! Now, go and play with your own treasures! It's your weekend challenge...

Amanda xx

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Monday, February 10, 2014

trophy life

It's award season... and I've been cleaning up in the trophy stakes.

Amongst others, I've been awarded the Coury Cup, the Progress Cup, the 1932 Salisbury Trial Team award, the VPLTC W.D.L (what the?), the RBC Williams Cup Pairs, and the St John Ambulance Brigade Brooklyn Division Dr Platts-Mills Trophy for Squad Work 15.4.31. (What a mouthful - try reading that out loud at a presentation ceremony!)

It seems I'm more than a little proficient in lawn bowls, tennis, dog trials and nursing. 
Who knew! I certainly didn't. 
It seems too good to be true.

Possibly because it isn't true. (What? You didn't believe that I could win a sheep dog trial?)
OK. You're right. These are all adopted trophies. No one else wanted them, so I claimed them for myself. I did stop short of having my name engraved!

I blame it on Miss Waddington. She was my first presentation trophy. I couldn't bear to think that her beautiful teapot, presented to her by the Arnold House School boarders in 1906, was no longer cherished. So I bought it, and have cherished it ever since. Never for tea I might add. 
Only for flowers.

Flowers seem to be appropriate for all my trophies. I think Miss Waddington would approve!
She might not approve of my silver cleaning - or lack of it - but shiny trophies aren't so my style.
I'm much more modest!! Besides, the dahlias are quite showy enough don't you think?

Amanda xx

P.S I'm joining in with Jane's Flowers in the House today. A chance to catch up with flower lovers around the world.

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

plum cake

Puddings and holidays go hand in hand don't you think? I adore dessert! (Yes, I'm sure you can tell.)

Here in Hawkes Bay, the abundance of beautiful summer fruit picked straight from the orchard calls for fruity desserts of some kind. My go-to has been this easy cake. The original version is one of Annabel Langbein's fabulous recipes. I've adapted it for my not-so-well-stocked pantry here at the beach, and I promise, it's delicious, especially served warm, dusted with a little icing sugar and a decent dollop of whipped cream. You can make it with whatever summer fruit you have on hand - apricots, peaches or nectarines - but my favourite is plums. I love the tanginess of the juicy plums mixed with the sweetness of the cake.

Plum Cake

5 or 6 plums (or apricots or nectarines or peaches)
150g butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup natural yoghurt
1 and 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs one at a time, then add lemon zest and vanilla. Mix in yoghurt and baking powder, then flour. Do not over mix. Spoon in to greased tin or baking dish. Halve and slice fruit and arrange on top of cake mixture, cut side up.
Bake 180 degrees C for approximately 50 minutes.
Serve warm with cream or ice cream.

I have the greatest collection of wonderful old enamel dishes and bowls here at the bach, and it seems to make everything look fabulous!

Amanda xx
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Friday, December 6, 2013

old drawers and displays

I'm on my old drawer as soapbox again. Trying futilely to show Brunnel that there is life beyond the drawer purely for hiding things away out of sight. I guess it doesn't help that I have been secreting drawers away for 6 months or more now in the garage. I wanted to make sure that I had a worthwhile collection to take into the store, and I guess that over time I had become quite attached to some of them. All orphans of course. No chest, no dresser, no cabinet - just drawers.

Lovely old handmade things that I was literally stacking up. So what if they are chippy and old and have perhaps had many past lives. That's precisely why they have so much appeal. And they are the perfect vessel for displaying some carefully curated collections to inject instant appeal into your space. So much more interesting and appealing than any ordinary old tray.

The secret to displaying your treasures is to gather and cluster them together into groups that will look good together, and provide a few focal points in your room. If you 'frame' things visually with props such as trays, platters, boxes, bell jars or... old drawers, it will make it much easier for you to mix diverse objects together so that they make visual sense, and your collections will tell a story that others want to hear.
Brunnel says he understands my concept. But why do I need a collection of drawers when according to my theory, they are the backup singers and not the main act. And then he reminds me that I owe him some money for the drawers I made him go and collect, and so some of the drawers have to go. I cannot (apparently) keep every old 'piece of junk' for myself. Not that he remotely thinks anyone else in their right mind will be interested in an old drawer. He thinks I conned him into buying them in the first place. (Do I look like a total cabbage? Any opportunity to persuade Brunnel to get out his wallet is worthwhile taking advantage of!)

So, I'm parting with some of my drawers. Parting is such sweet sorrow. But I was happy to let Brunnel know that no sooner had they gone on display in the store, than one customer bought five.
Clearly he thought she must have been crazy, but said perhaps I was right, there were obviously a few people who liked old drawers as much as me. And when would I be paying him back?

Amanda xx Pin It

Monday, December 2, 2013

matters of urgency

Last week I received a phone call from my mother. Well in fact I didn't receive it - I dashed out to do the early morning school run, and came home to find 2 missed calls on my mobile and 1 on the home phone.
There was a message.
"Where are you? I need you to call me. Yes, look, uh, just call quickly. As soon as you get this message. Call me back - please."
Maybe I was mishearing the tone, but it sounded urgent, grim even. At 8 in the morning. The worst went through my mind. I rang home, and got the answer phone. Hung up, dialed again. Still the same.
I gave it a couple of minutes and rang again. Still the answer phone. And again and again and again.
Time to ring my brother. He answered with his professional 'mr busy' voice, as if he didn't know who was calling despite the caller id. Without any preamble he announced he'd have to call me back and hung up. Now I really was thinking the worst. I dialed Mum & Dad's number yet again, and it still went straight to answer phone. I left another message. I was heading to a client appointment. I didn't know what was so urgent, but why was no-one answering the phone, and could they call me asap on my mobile.

I broke all my own rules and left the phone volume up so I could hear it ringing during my client appointment. Still nothing from either parent or my brother.
After the appointment I got to the car and rang again. Finally Mum answered. She sounded quite calm. "Oh, you got through your appointment quickly" she said. Well yes, I had something grim/urgent/desperate/life or death-type scenario on my mind the whole time. What was wrong? Why the panicky message?
"Oh well, it's just that I'm going shopping this morning, and I've seen an old imperial pint milk bottle and I wondered if you wanted it for your collection". 

Perhaps not life or death, but urgent all the same!! And yes, I took the opportunity to add to my collection.

Amanda xx

P.S Incidentally, my brother finally called me back 12 hours later. He was just 'mr busy'.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

vintage cage light love

You'll be pleased to know that we started turning the store Christmasy today. I managed to get over my mid-November panic and lose the Scrooge bah humbug attitude long enough for Harriet and I to make a plan and get to work. We revised my first, somewhat ambitious, ideas down a notch or two, and actually, though we are nowhere near finished, I think all will be well after all. We quite possibly surprised a few joggers and city council gardeners when we trudged past them in the town belt with half the trees that came down in the last storm (ok slight exaggeration, but it felt like that many when we tried to fit them all in the car) and it's a good thing we've made friends with the guys who are laying new paving outside the store, because they loaned us road cones and bricks, and were very happy for us to take away one of their pallets. Does that have you wondering what on earth we are up to? When it's all finished I promise I'll show you. I don't think anthropologie have anything to worry about just yet, but here's hoping!

Meanwhile, on the homefront, I've welcomed a new treasure to the fold.

I've been coveting one of these vintage cage lights for some time now. Yes, I know there are some really lovely new-made-to-look-old ones around, but you know me. Original-old-that-looks-old is really what I had in mind. Just one of those things that would be nice to have, but are seemingly impossible to find. Until Milly found me one. (We don't call her Milly Magpie for nothing. That girl has definitely inherited her mother's wanton ways when it comes to junk shops and collections and an eye for a treasure.)

Like many of my decorating quirks, Brunnel of course, doesn't get it. Why on earth would I want one of these things? Was I planning on getting under the car for a spot of maintenance? Funny man.

No, it's just part and parcel of mixing things up. A little workday industrial with some softly softly velvet. A little black grease and a little lipstick pink. Mechanic's trusty cage light and froufrou trimmed silk lampshade in the same room. Of course! They can live together happily ever after I promise. And although this may not be your idea of a match made in heaven, trust me, the most interesting interiors are always going to have an element of the unpredictable, a little mix up here and there is absolutely the way to go when you decorate.

Anyway, my little cage light has been checked by an electrician, many years of grease removed, it's pronounced good to go, and safe to plug in. Bruno, my shadow, thinks it's great. And so do I!

Amanda xx

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

of bottles and things

Is it possible to become so fixated on something that it threatens to take over?
Even my mother, the consummate collector, and from whom, I must have inherited the collector's gene, thinks that I may have something of a problem when it comes to my old bottles.
From my point of view, I see an old bottle (or jar) and my mind races beyond the bottle, and jumps straight to how it will look with a little flower or two in it.
Of course, it is ALWAYS going to look gorgeous, and so one thing inevitably leads to another, and off I go, clutching my new found treasure.
It's true I often treasure hunt on that good old premise that it is for the store.
And yes, many of my lovely vintage finds are destined for Small Acorns and my clients, but all the same, my laundry shelves are still quite bottle-laden.
And though my intentions are always good, sometimes there is that siren call, and I know that all too well.
This little bottle had my name all over it. Well actually, it has Silnett or Silheck or Silmett's name on it. (I can't quite read it, and google has not helped.) But it was calling me.
Small, insignificant, unusual with it's little metal screw on flask top, and vaguely automative.

It was dark by the time we got home on Monday night after the long weekend away, and had unpacked and thought about dinner.
But I was out in the garden looking for something to pop in my little bottle.
(I promise Mum, my children were fed, showered and in bed first!)
And my new treasure looks as sweet as it did in my imagination when I first spotted it.
The granny's bonnet completes the picture.

Amanda xx
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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

spring is sprung

Even though there is absolutely no discernible difference in temperature between this week and last week, last week was winter and this week is spring.
To my mind anyway, that makes a huge difference.
I just love the thought that longer, warmer days are on the way.
Everything feels pink & yellow again.

Spring flowers are abundant. They both look and smell beautiful.
Hyacinths, jasmine, ranunculas, freesias, daffodils, tulips.
I love them all.
Before I know it, the dahlias will be back!!
(OK, they are still a long way off I know, but at least the tide has turned.)

Anyway, there is nothing quite like spelling out the obvious, and I just happen to have found this fantastic box of old signage letters in a junk shop last week.
Even I must confess that I am not actually sure what I'll do with them yet, but for now, I'm having fun spelling out all sorts of quotes and sayings.
Heavens, there are even ampersands and punctuation marks.
No wonder I couldn't leave it behind!
I always was a fan of an ampersand.

Spring is indeed sprung.

Amanda x
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Friday, August 30, 2013

hello treasures

When you are a compulsive magpie, unaware that your subconscious is always and constantly on high alert for prospective treasures that you never knew how much you needed until you suddenly heard their siren call, it is hard to imagine that any other type of personality exists.
But they do!
Or do they?
I believe that you can collect without clutter.
I also believe that a collection can begin and end with just one thing.
Or it can be many things.
But primarily I believe that, no matter what you collect, you must love it.
And it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about your treasure. 
It is your treasure, and if you love it, then all will be well, in your world.

It's amazing how often I visit homes where I literally have to ask the clients to show me their drawers, & show me the back of their cupboards.
Of course they have a fit - this will be when they confess that they cleaned up because I was coming, and the cupboards and drawers are totally out of bounds because they are not tidy. Never mind that they had some warped point of view that I live in a tidy house. 
Shall I show you my drawers? Believe me, they are NOT a pretty sight!

But, and here is the point, often those cupboards and drawers reveal the real treasures.
And the reason they're hidden and out of view?
Fear - fear that they might not be trendy (how I dislike that word).
Fear that they might not measure up when friends come around.
Or fear that someone might think they have terrible taste.

So, I repeat - it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about your treasures.
If you love them, then that is all that counts.
Bring them out. Style them beautifully.
These are the pieces that speak about you and your loves, your family, your adventures.
They give your home personality and elevate it from a carbon-copy catalogue home, to something that is unique and inspiring and feels warm and is somewhere you want to hang out, because it is all about you. And trendy has nothing to do with it!

Amanda xx

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

new treasures

You know that feeling when you have the chance to visit one of your favourite
second-hand stores, and there, in an instant you spot something that quickens your heart a beat or two?
Something that you had no idea you absolutely had to have until you saw it.
In fact something that, given its history, you had no idea even existed, until you saw it.
Yes, I know you know!
Such was the case with these little bottles.
One glimpse was all it took.

'Eva, help me carry these bottles to the counter.'
'Quickly' - urgent whispered voice, for fear that someone else will beat me to the treasure.
'But Mummy, I'm carrying your handbag.'
'Never mind. Put it down somewhere.'
'But it has your money & phone in it.'
'Never mind. Put it down. The bottles are more important.'
'Yes, the middle of the store is fine.'
'How many bottles do you want?'
'All of them.'
'All of them?'
'Yes, quickly, someone else might take them...'

And so, one surprised shopkeeper, and several trips back & forth from shelf to counter, and the prize was ours.
Yes, of course I have a fetish for old bottles, but I had never seen any quite like these, each with a little copper collar with a number stamped onto it.
To shed a little more light on them, the shopkeeper brought her elderly Dad out into the store.
They'd been around donkeys years ago when he was a young dairy farm apprentice he said. 
My quick assessment put that at least 60 plus years ago (!!)
Anyway, it turns out they are herd-testing bottles.
The dairy factory would come and test the milk from each cow, putting each milk sample into the individually numbered bottle.
Then, as the old farmer said, you'd know whether your cow was producing good milk or whether it was no good, and instead the cow was mincemeat.
They don't 'mince' their words on the farm!

No more milk for these treasures.
It's flowers all the way for them from now on.
I do so love a treasure with a story!

Amanda xx
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

lessons in perseverance

Last week I posted a version of this image on my store's facebook page and it prompted a few comments about the butterflies, specifically along the lines of 'where can I find something like this'.
I wish I could give the easy answer, and say that you can get them at XYZ or that fabulous store called Small Acorns (ha!), but there is no easy answer, or not one that I know of anyway.

They used to hang on display at World Beauty here in Wellington. The key word here being 'display'. They were used as a prop, belonged to a collector (Meredith) in Auckland, and weren't for sale.
The latent lepidopterist in me was secretly fascinated by the collection - the fact that despite the obvious 100+ years age and the fragility of the butterflies, these were perfectly preserved, and held in place with a pin. The frame is also a drawer - a sign they were once part of a much larger collection perhaps. They are beautiful, but not pretty, and I can't help but try and imagine the garden they once fluttered around. It obviously wasn't in this part of the world.

Perseverance won me my butterflies. Every time I had reason to talk to Meredith, (which wasn't often, but I found an excuse) I would mention them. Find out more about them, tell her if ever she tired of them I'd be keen etc etc.
Finally, I swear at least 18 months later, when I'd stopped mentioning them, she asked if I was still interested. I forgot about being nonchalent when I said yes!
When I went into the store to collect them the team there could not believe that Meredith had agreed to sell them - telling me that if they'd had a dollar for everyone who wanted to buy them but couldn't because they weren't supposedly for sale, that they could stop buying lotto tickets.

What is the point to this long-winded story I hear you ask?
Sometimes finding that 'one special thing' takes time, and patience.
The best interiors aren't made overnight, and they are never, ever, finished, so you can keep adding and looking and layering.
And if you do find that special thing that you absolutely love, even if you haven't a clue where it might go or what you might do with it, don't let an opportunity pass you by! Carpe diem.

And as a total aside, don't you just love it when hydrangeas dry like this in the vase? These look as good as the day I plonked them in the jar, and all I do is add some fresh leaves each week.
Amanda xx

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

happy days

'Hi there, Have a happy day'
My sentiments exactly.
With this chirpy little message on your daily school milk, how could you have 
anything BUT a happy day!
And yes, this is another of my random little collections. Quirky little treasures that always make me smile, and a typical example of the sort of thing that catches my eye when I'm foraging!

So, have a very happy day. Happy long weekend even!
Hurray for sleep ins and hot-cross buns and chocolate and family and saved up magazines and good books and good food and wine and coffee and sandy toes and long walks and conviviality and an indian summer!

Amanda x
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

collections & cure-alls

Overheard at the House & Garden tour the other week - "someone medical must live here"!
I guess there are quite a few references & unwitting clues to my past life - collections of pharmaceutical bits & pieces that have assimilated their way into the hotch-potch mix that I favour when it comes to decorating.
Old signs, old chemists display cabinets, and of course many old apothecary bottles.
I love these old amber bottles with their ground glass stoppers & beautifully handwritten labels.
I gathered lots of these up eons ago while working in a hospital pharmacy, where they were gradually being retired & replaced by some flash, new, 'modern' bog-standard bottles with fanciful bulk printed labels.
Each week the pharmacy porter would give me a few more instead of them going off to the rubbish.
What were they thinking! Well, I was very happy to rescue them.
And I've always loved early remedies like these ones.
The one-medicine-cures-all approach.
The Holloways Ointment must surely have been wondrous - on one side it says it is for the cure of gout & rheumatism, while on the other it is for inveterate ulcers, sore breasts, sore heads & bad legs.
That's quite a diverse list of problems.
The Hearne's No. 2 Medicine for Asthma is a little more complicated because according to it's directions, firstly you must take Hearne's Bronchitis Cure No.1A at 10am and 3pm, and then at bedtime, you must also rub Liniment A onto the chest. Only then, if you were still having 'difficulty of breathing' were you to take this No.2 medicine.
The bottle is still full, so I guess that is hopefully a good sign, in that Cure No.1A and Liniment A did the trick... or not! In which case No.2 may not have been needed at all.
I don't want to think about the terrible outcome if you went to your medicine cabinet and only had Bronchitis Cure No.1 and not 1A!!

Do your collections reveal anything about you?
I have so many different little collections that quite possibly another person touring the house may have deduced a totally different scenario about those who live here.
And isn't that the joy of collecting those things that you love.

I do have a few guidelines when it comes to displaying your objects & treasures:

1. Mix them up. If I had all my pharmacy bits together it would look like the replica of an old apothecary and not at all the look & feel I'm after for a modern eclectic home interior. I have bottles mixed in and around other found objects, and reinterpreted as vases.
2. You are the curator of your collections - your own show & tell, as it were. As such, they only need to make you happy. Collect only the things you love. Do not collect pharmacy bottles just because someone else does unless you truly love them too.
3. Display to your hearts content. Edit, rearrange, style, move. Get some things out, put some things away. Contained chaos will help avoid the feel of too much clutter.
I have many more bottles than those currently on display. They are on sabbatical, awaiting a return to the spotlight.
4. You can start a collection with just one thing!
5. Create layers of interest with your displays. Disparate objects often make the best bedfellows when linked by a display. Variations in scale & shape & texture & height will visually stimulate the eye.
6. Be a little unpredictable.

Amanda xx
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

jewellery? what jewellery?

As some of you know, in May I was lucky enough to visit India.
One or two chance conversations, and the fact that I was wearing an antique Indian silver bracelet purchased years ago, led to this photo.
A typically busy, dusty, Indian road. An unremarkable ramshackle jumble of buildings. 
A hidden jewellery shop.
Past all the beautiful precious stones and the gold, which were downstairs, and hugely more important as status symbols in Indian culture.
Up a rickety staircase, and into the back room.
Through the gloom, and the dust, I found these bowls. Literal dumping grounds for old tribal jewellery that had been pawned long ago.
At the time I snapped this photo and sent it to a friend.
I had found all the treasure a girl could ever want, especially if, like me, the story behind a piece of jewellery is part of the charm.
This part of India is in the desert and very poor.
When times are tough, they are very tough, and desperate times call for desperate measures.
Jewellery is currency, and food on the table, and so it is pawned for money.
If it is not reclaimed after one year and one day it may be onsold.
And much of this had been there significantly longer than that.
Sensing trouble for his wallet & a long wait, Brunnel wearily accepted a Coca Cola.
Just like an apple tea in Turkey, refreshments are part of doing business in India!
I sipped on a Limca while I played with the bracelets and necklaces and cuffs, the guys in the store patiently explaining the approximate ages of the pieces, and the meaning of the amulets.
Tentatively I asked for some prices. (Brunnel & I had already had to extricate ourselves from some over enthusiastic pricing in Jaipur, so I wasn't going to get too excited just yet!)
Each piece is sold by the weight of the silver. I selected the pieces I liked,
each was weighed and a price determined.
If I could have, I'd have bought everything.
What to leave? What to take?
It felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity. And I think it probably was.
Brunnel had a brilliant plan.  Buy some for me & some for the store. Sell them, and help pay for my trip. (It helps to let him think he came up with the idea, especially if it involves him paying.)

To cut a long story short, I brought my selected treasures home.
And since then, those in the know have asked where they are. Wondered about them. Asked some more. Stopped asking. Tentatively asked.
Brunnel thinks he was conned. (Again)
And where are they?
Well. In a bag in the bottom of my wardrobe of course.
I get them out. Look at them. Love them.
Put most of them away again.
Some have stayed almost permanently on my arm.
But, the time is nigh. Reluctantly I have to remember that I can't possibly keep them all & part with a few at least.

Parting is such sweet sorrow. But I'll take them into the store later this week.
There - I've said it now. I'll have to follow through!

 Amanda xx
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Monday, November 19, 2012

old friends

My goodness, it's been a while.
No exciting excuses I'm afraid.
Just time. Or the lack of it!
My Mum likes to tell me that I'm not the only one who has a busy life.
I know... but perhaps I am the most disorganised!
Anyway, a week or so ago, my Mum, my fairy godmother Shirl, old family friend Barbara, & I spent a fabulous couple of days nosing around a number of stunning Hawkes Bay homes & gardens on the charity Holly Hospice trail. 
I've decided that I am basically a nosey person at heart.
I could pretend that keen observation & the opportunity to pick up a styling trick or two were my prime motivation, but the truth is, I do so love to get inside a beautiful home.
I love seeing those little touches that speak about the people who live there.
What do they collect? What do they like? Who are they?
What does their home reveal about them?
It's a guessing game, and listening to others play the same game is half the fun.
You see, just your plain old nosey parker at heart!
Think about it. What does your home say about you?

What does my home say about me? 
Some kind of hoarder and collector of junk with an OTT predilection for asian dolls & preserving jars, and yet there is not a lot of evidence of any actual preserving.
 Someone who likes chippy old things, and shiny new things.
Someone not afraid of colour or pattern, and likes to mix both together.
Someone who likes things which tell a story.
I often wonder about the story behind these two old friends.
Their silk clothes are almost threadbare, and ever so delicate. 
They've been almost everywhere with me since my school days (and that's obviously a while ago now.)
My sixteen year old self named them Sue Li & Wong Bing (!!)

So the houses on the trail that I found the most exciting, were the ones that told the best stories.
Even if the style wasn't quite me, they had personality, and that was the most important thing.
Amanda xx
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Is it serendipitous that at precisely the same time I treat myself to a copy of Sibella Court's lovely new book 'Bowerbird', which is all about creating beautiful interiors with the things that you collect, I am foraging on the weekend & come across an old box filled with the most amazing assortment of threads on old wooden spools?
I think so.

I love wooden cotton reels.
A simple, humble little object that is both tactile & colourful.
A collection that reminds me of learning to sew with my mother and grandmother.
(My grandmother, always a practical sort, would think it quite incredible that this ever-so-ordinary object was even remotely collectable.)
Many a junk shop expedition is rewarded with the discovery of a little wooden cotton reel amongst the plastic & the cardboard.
My new old spools have a mixture of threads on them, cotton, linen and some type of metallic thread.
And they're much bigger than the average cotton reel.
Quite quite lovely.

Serendipity, fate, chance.
Call it what you will, but I knew that old box was coming home with me, dust, dirt, 
rubbish... reels and all.

Amanda x
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