Saturday, April 30, 2011

A quick Saturday chat...................

..................about this and that.  

A new lady is hanging out on my dresser and currently adorned with two beautiful silk rose necklaces made by my talented friend Vanessa.  Go here and see how she is currently doing a lovely shabby chic style makeover in her home, and do congratulate her on becoming a US citizen this week!  This bust may eventually be for sale in my booth at SuzAnna's Antiques - she's classic and lovely.

Mirror, mirror on the wall................ latest mirror too buy lots of mirrors, don't you?  They really help enlarge and light a room, especially if reflecting something bright.  This one is across from another over the sofa. It's definitely old and quite imperfect with bits of trim missing, but it's lovely with the foxed glass.


Lastly, sharing the beauty of red-leaved plants.  If you haven't added some of these Coral Bells (Heuchera) to your garden you're missing out!  This one I've just popped into a rusted classic urn on the porch steps........a great change from always thinking green plants and shrubs. Yes, another mirror here on the porch!

I'm busy picking out and packing up for my trip across the pond next week.  Choosing what to take is always a chore for me when preparing to travel.  It could be chilly and damp among the hills and watery landscape of the Lake District up north, then warm and sunny down south at the shore in Devon..........but no matter, only one suitcase for two weeks, so layering is the name of the game.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Britain's best.....................

Was it worth getting up at 5 AM to watch a spectacular morning evolve in London?  You bet it was!
I cried (especially when 'Jerusalem' was sung).
I smiled when Prince Harry cracked a joke.
I loved our gracious Queen - who will never abdicate! 
I felt proud to be British.....................
.............................................and when Prince William gave his bride those sideways grins and she responded with her radiant smile............I felt the future of the monarchy secure, and wonderful. 

Congratulations to this lovely couple...........Great Britain's future King and Queen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cardinal red................

No, it's not snowing in North Carolina!  However, last December 26, BOXING DAY for we Brits, the snow came down heavily and I was out in the garden with my camera having a ball.
We have several pairs of Cardinals who visit our garden daily.  This handsome boy didn't seem to mind the cold.

Yesterday, while coming through the arbor I disturbed a bird who flew out from the trumpet vine.........

........when I looked closer I discovered a nest tucked among the twining flowers.

What better camouflaged spot could there be to build a nest for  bright red birds? 

Loosely woven of twigs and bits of fabric and paper, I was so excited to see the three speckled eggs. 

I'm not certain the sweet pair of Cardinals who built this nest, and are awaiting their babies, are the same pair in my Winter garden .........

...........but they are certainly welcome any time of year.  This pic I took of Mrs. Cardinal shows off her beautiful colors with the snowy background.

Cardinals, although shy, enjoy backyard feeders and make several trips a day to feed, especially when oil-type sunflower seeds are offered.  A pair generally forms a long-term bond that extends across the years, rather than only during the mating season.  The female lays two to five spotted eggs.  
Hopefully I'll see them hatch before I leave for England.  
Do you live where these beautiful birds visit?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Going Green in the Garden........

After sharing the loveliness of the colorful blooms in my garden, I decided to pop in this all-green post.  After all, there's always much more greenery than color..........and it stays fresh looking much longer.  Here are just a few green favorites - photos taken last week.

Above, the cut-leaf Japanese Maple in soft lime green.  Planted as a miniature 2 ft. tree a few years back, it's now 5 ft. tall and has spread out several feet to a width of about 6 ft.  I LOVE this tree which anchors the end of the side bed.  Each Winter I worry about losing it in the frigid weather but, after this last extremely cold season, I think it's healthier than ever!

Variegated Solomon's Seal with it's tiny dangling white flowers has spread nicely in a shady area of the back garden.  The leaves in front are wild violets which of course are impossible to eradicate completely - but than who wants to, they have such sweet purple flowers.

Know I've told you about the fig before - last year was the first time we gathered enough to actually make a dessert once or twice!  This tree, planted 3 years ago, is growing very fast and we already have fruits plumping up.  A batch of figgy jam perhaps this Summer!

The back garden, green and clean after rain a few days ago.  The white snowballs hanging low and now almost over.  Just visible on the back fence, a few white blooms on the very top of the climbing clematis. All our trees are now fully open.  From the green canopy we are still dusted with a light yellow pollen each day, this should end soon.

Thankful for all the many beautiful shades of green making up the bones of the garden and a perfect backdrop for the colors.

Because we are leaving for the UK next week, we've put off planting any Summer veggies.  By now we would have tomatoes well on their way. Have decided to wait until our return, which will not be too late to plant, so we don't spend our vacation concerned about watering etc.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

EASTER BLESSINGS to you......................

See the land, her Easter keeping,
Rises as her Maker rose.
Seeds, so long in darkness sleeping,
Burst at last from Winter snows.
Earth with heaven above rejoices. 

~~~ Charles Kingsley ~~~

My white rabbits will be busy today - the Easter Egg Hunt starts on the front lawn at 1:00 PM sharp!

'Twas Easter Sunday.  
The full-blossomed trees
Filled all the air with fragrance and with joy.
~~~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ~~~

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Prettiest Peonies...............

In my last post I shared my roses, today the spotlight is on the peonies. 

How beautiful the herbaceous peonies are.  Because my Mother grew the most amazing ones in our English garden, huge plants covered in gigantic pink and white blooms, they are probably my favorite flower in the Spring border.  Lovely flowers have a way of making memories.

These are my pink ones, opening this week, and being rained on this morning as I write this post.

Peonies can live to be 100 years old........and still produce flowers.

Flowers really do intoxicate me.
~~~Vita Sackville-West~~~

I've just returned from our nearby Farmers' Market, now open for the season.  Grabbed rain jacket, squashed on a hat, pulled on ankle boots and rolled up jeans, then trotted off in search of healthy foods.  Did a little chatting with farmers I know from previous years at the market. Discovered a source for fabulous organic just-picked arugula, grabbed a bag to add to my daily salad.  Added a dozen of the usual pretty new-laid eggs from Cedar Rock Farm.......and splurged on a loaf of lo-carb protein bread from the Great Harvest Bakery I'm off now to enjoy my first slice of toast in over three weeks (still on Atkins!) for breakfast.

Do you shop and support your local farmers?  How close are you to an outdoor farmers' market?  Would you drive several miles to reach one even though gas prices are so high?

Friday, April 22, 2011

A rose is a rose..............

.............its beauty never fails to delight the eye,
and the nose shares in the soft yet powerful perfume.....used for centuries to enhance water, food, and perfume.

This Spring my stunning Peace rose is doing so well, maybe the best ever.  Everything, including two large hydrangea shrubs, was severely pruned back last Autumn in order to paint the exterior of the house.  The only losses from pruning, plus perhaps the unusually cold Winter here were, sadly, our Confederate Jasmines on each end of the porch..........which I'm in the process of replacing with healthy new plants.

Fortunately the terrible tornado of last Saturday did not destroy our garden........other than damage to the azalea bushes already in full bloom.

This month, everything is blooming beautifully.........besides the roses in this front bed, there are peonies, pansies, bluebells, alliums, clematis...........and I've added geraniums in pots.  My dining room window looks out to this bed, and here I sit at the table enjoying the blooms as I write my blog! In the far bed in front of the master bedroom bay window there is another Peace rose with many buds starting to open. 

Yesterday, after an early morning shower, the first blooms were fully open, the delicate perfume filled the air........such gorgeous flowers, and several more buds starting to plump up.  Looks like my roses will be lovely for another week or so. Very happy to be enjoying them prior to leaving for the UK.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lovely lighting and shopkeeping............

Isn't this a stunning chandelier?  Now hanging, and electrified (thank you Bruce) I just had to share the latest lighting piece in my booth at SuzAnna's Antiques.  

Couple of shoppers have already shown interest in it, however, I really would like it to remain unsold for a little while so I can admire it. That's what happens when you buy things you love yourself! Perhaps I'll have it for sale after I return from England - then I'll have more time to replace it with another if necessary.

Another new piece is actually quite old and French!  A kitchen table/counter with its original finish and a lower shelf which would be great for a collection of large pots.....very French farmhouse.

OK, the adorable rabbit, as of yesterday, had not run off to spend Easter at someone's home.......and if he's still there tomorrow I guess it means he's coming home with me after all!

Vanessa (her lovely new space adjoins mine) has some really pretty girly things.............the pink pointe ballet slippers are perfect for a dance-themed little girl's room.

All photos were taken yesterday by my granddaughter, Jasmin, when we stopped by the shop as part of her Spring Break day with me.  Great news is, Jasmin was offered her first job by Susie!  She may just have a little weekend/Summer job coming up!  How wonderful that will be......a chance to learn the antiques business at such a young age, and alongside the nicest people who make Suzanna's Antiques the very special place it is.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Nature's fury..................

......passed over North Carolina yesterday afternoon.

At 3:15 PM we ran to the cars and drove them away from the cottage to park in an underground deck at our nearby shopping center.  A huge shadow hung from the sky, ever darkening as the wind gained strength.  The 'watch' had turned to 'warning, usually only heard when hurricanes threaten late in Summer or early Fall.  They have come inland and caused us devastation in the past.  This time, the first since 1988, a tornado was on the way, already causing devastation to the west of us and headed on a path to take it right through Raleigh.

The shadow turned into a funnel, demolishing a Lowe's home improvement store in Sanford. The 50 employees, and another 50 customers, raced to the break rooms in the rear.  Thankfully nobody was killed as the roof was ripped off and the entire store appears as if it exploded.  Many businesses and homes south of here are lost.  Then, just a couple of miles from our home, it ripped through a mobile home park, killing at least three, two of them children according to the local news. (Edited 4-18-11: Now known, sadly all 3 of these deaths were young children). It ravaged so many small towns along its way, whole strips of shops and businesses, farming communities and neighborhoods.

Spring is not always gentle, it can be a cruel season.
This beautiful Sunday morning arrived with bright sunshine, hardly a breeze, temperatures climbing.  We have just cleaned up our debris, mostly small branches, twigs and leaves.......fortunate our work is minimal compared to many others.  Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones, are perhaps injured, or have lost their homes and possessions.  Please remember them in your thoughts and prayers, thank you.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

This week in the garden................

Lots of blooming going on.............color popping out all around the April garden.....

..................the long awaited Spanish bluebells are ringing around my garden.  I've been tucking in the tiny bulbs for several years and now they are spreading into larger clumps.  Of course the wild English bluebells I grew up with, carpeting the woods under massive oaks, are bluer. I have fond memories of tramping through bluebell woods to flop down in the middle and just inhale the deep blue perfume of Spring.  Spanish ones are best for the garden here as they don't mind warm, bright sunshine, and grow tall on strong stems.

The garden is glorious with azaleas now blooming, just in time for Easter..........

............the loose and blowzy pink George Taber being my favorite.

Snowball days are history, until next Winter, but the snowball bush is covered with blooms.

Don't look too closely at that peeling painted chair - part of a set which is going to get a new paint job soon, just a bit too shabby at present!

The always bright and beautiful clematis.  Somehow this one above is sporting two different colors this year.  Perhaps at one point I planted two, who knows in my garden, it's full of surprises! It's climbing up the birdhouse post.............the one below is slowly climbing the front porch.

Happy gardening days to those of you who like to dig in the dirt!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friends at SuzAnna's......

Me, framed in Vanessa's beautiful mirror - note her pretty tags.

This week, on a perfect sunny, wind free (we've been having a lot of strong breezy days and are expecting very stormy high winds tomorrow) Spring day, I had fun fluffing the booth, and catching up with friends at SuzAnna's Antiques.  I even got to meet a couple of delightful young gals who 'escaped' from their little ones for an hour or so and discovered SuzAnna's for the very first time. Squeals of joy were heard as they pounced upon vintage and antique treasures, announcing they had no idea there was such a fabulous shopping venue right here in Raleigh.

More from Vanessa's lovely new booth - we now have our own space next to each other.  She painted and reupholstered two of these beautiful chairs, recovered the burlap lamp shade, stitched the pillow, and brought in lots of delightful shabby chic items.

Dealer/part time SuzAnna's employee, Laurie, moved her antique finds from Atlanta to Raleigh last year, much to our delight...........such as this gorgeous hand built primitive wooden boat.  Definitely one of a kind, she has displayed it well with antique oars and life preserver ring.......makes one want to rush to the shore and hunt for a little fisherman's cottage to fix up!  

This farm table it's resting on is amazing.  It has old distressed blue-grey paint on the legs and apron, wide plank top........and I would love to have it for my kitchen if it was just a tad smaller!

Our wonderful Sam, a real life antiques dealer who knows the history of France from his amazing finds of many years (lots of his treasures have come home with me), still wowing us with beautiful items such as this sconce..............

..................and this fabulous solid cherry chest which has industrial iron casters to move it about easily.  Sam is having a great clearance sale to enable him to unload more stuff here to tempt us...........he's hiding tons of old, but new to us, French and European treasures in his storage place.  
Bring it on in Sam, we're ready!

Off to do more garden chores now - will show you how pretty it looks next time.  Spring has definitely sprung and, as long as the coming storms aren't too severe, the blossoms and blooms will be perfect for Easter.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Too many small tables, never!

Voila, the round table I painted this week.  I loved it so much I almost kept it here in my living room, but knew DH might trip over it and groan about too much furniture in a smallish room!  I found it at a local consignment shop, in nice condition but wearing a horrid golden color stain. Of course I forgot to take a before pic, I was in such a mad dash to start on its makeover!  I primed, then sprayed two coats of Heritage White (Rustoleum's double coat gives great coverage - available at Home Depot).   I distressed lightly and it was done.............quite Swedish looking, perfect for any corner, at the end of a sofa, beside a bed, or even in a bathroom.  Don't you just love little tables?

Placed the table in my booth at SuzAnna's Antiques yesterday................I hope someone will want to take it home to brighten up a corner in their home in time for Spring.

Marisa, if you happen to read this, remember to call me if you need some painting pointers for that dining room furniture you told me about.  It was fun meeting you yesterday, I always love talking with SuzAnna's customers, especially those interested in making over their furniture.  Of course chatting about Africa was an extra glad you too got to visit that amazing country.  Now go start painting that brown furniture girl!!!!!