Monday, March 31, 2014

Can I send YOU one?

I've been busy this weekend clearing out my scrapbooking supplies as well as other downsizing projects.

Creating scrapbooks was a hobby I was addicted to/enjoyed for several years. It was becoming a significant craft when I started in the late '90's……………young moms loved it, older gals like me who were becoming grandmothers adored it. I would spend hours, first in tiny local, independent scrap shops, buying lovely papers and stickers. Sadly, they all closed down when the big national scrap players arrived. Then it was off to workshops at home parties run by large companies, such as Creative Memories where one could spend the cost of a month's groceries in an hour on quality, but extremely costly, supplies. Then I hung out far too often at our local Archivers - a lovely shop with the most fabulous array of top quality scrapping papers, so many beautiful ideas, and the items to make a blank page come alive around that special photo of a cute kid at Disney or the Grand Canyon. I even signed up for rubber stamping, embossing, and other creative classes there………and I have the boxes of stuff to prove it! Now these two business have closed nationwide - apparently the current financial market has made online digital scrapbooking less costly, and some say easier. I don't know about that as I've never dipped my toes in the murky waters of digital scrapping, but I suppose not having to collect and store the real stuff makes one look less like a hoarder - which was a feeling gradually creeping into my life and home.

What am I doing with all my supplies? Sharing with another neighborhood grandmother who's just getting into scrapbooking. Keeping some of my stamps, ribbons and lovely papers in case I want to create a special card, I still enjoy doing that, or make a package wrapping personal and pretty. The remainder some happy lady will find at the thrift shop - the one I support where proceeds go to the neuter/spay program for local cats.

So, what can I send to you as I downsize? No boxes of scrap, but how about a postcard? A few bloggers have been sending personalized post cards lately to keep the written word going. I love this idea, and if you've followed me for a while you'll recall I LOVE anything with the written word.

Among my boxes of scrap materials I have a large collection of postcards - doubles of many - from places on the seven continents I've visited. I've also many pretty 'art' postcards. So, my little Springtime gift to eight of you will be sharing a pretty, handwritten card depicting Devon, my home in England before moving to the States. It will arrive in the mail, crossing land or sea no matter which continent you live on.

If you'd enjoy seeing a postcard in your mailbox, leave me a comment on this post only and I'll pick eight names on Friday. Let's continue sharing the written word, it's important in these days when correspondence is becoming so impersonal. Hopefully, if you're interested, I'll continue to send cards several times throughout the year.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Raulston Arboretum, North Carolina State Univ.

No time for words today - life is rather busy.
Photos taken a few weeks back on a late
Winter day.
I'll go back again soon and see what's 
popped out for Spring. 

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What is elegance?

My favorite billboard ever was perched high on top of a vintage building in downtown Sydney, Australia. Fortunately I was perched high also....on the top deck of the Hop On Hop Off double-decker sightseeing bus so was able to see it!

Elegance is an attitude

These may not actually be Kate's own words but how true they are.
What really is elegance?
It seems to come easy to some women, with hard work
for others, and never to many.
Do you need money to be elegant?
If you're dressed and accessorized in the latest
styles, is that elegance?
Is being 'trendy' akin to being elegant?

The word elegance comes from the Latin
elegantia "taste, propriety, or refinement".
I like fashion designer and icon Coco Chanel's words -
"Elegance is refusal", which means leave off all
the flashy jewelry and garish styles,
instead dress in simple styles created
in luxurious fabrics that one could wear forever.

To me elegance definitely means maintaining a quality
of style and grace in one's personal self. Expensive
designer or 'trendy' clothes are not required.
Yes, a genuine Chanel bag would be nice, but any good
leather bag costing substantially less would, to me,
be even nicer.
Good classic shoes, and I love them, do not add to
elegance if they are not cared for - polish is inexpensive.

The importance of fabrics? I could write a dozen or more 
posts on that subject alone. To me, fabric IS the answer for 
making a garment elegant, beautiful, wearable for many years. 
I grew up around fabric - my mother being a dressmaker,
my brother being a textile executive who started his career
in the mills, then searched for the best fabrics
internationally for British clothing manufacturers.
When I sewed my own wardrobe, I spent more time locating
the perfect fabric than actually making the garment. 
At this point in my life I no longer sew my clothing. 
When shopping for new pieces I have specific ideas in mind.
They must be good quality and well made - this is getting
harder to find in my price range I admit. For instance,
I always turn a garment inside out and check stitching.
Fit is very personal - I like easy, comfy clothes, nothing
tight fitting - elegance does not come with skintight clothing.

So why am I talking about clothing today?
Because the sun is shining, it's a little warmer, and I
feel like I need to go through my wardrobe over the coming
days, searching out some elegant items to mingle together
and get ready for Spring. Surely the coats and boots can soon
be stored. I love them - I felt elegant in them for several months,
but it's time for a change any day now.

 To storage…………

Did you see 'proper' skirts are back…………fuller, often
with flattering soft pleats, and the length between
knee and ankle, think Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly.
Nice, and about time!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Blossom beauty.....................

Sharing beauty from last weekend...........early 
blossom trees in the grocery store parking lot, 
and the pink magnolia in my garden. They were bursting 
their buds, displaying their delicate stamens, and holding 
their lovely pale faces to the long awaited warm rays 
of the sun.

Today though.........cold, cold rain later, literally 
freezing overnight with the possibility of light snow.
Oh Mother Nature, how fickle you are in Spring.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina - Part II

Thank you so much for the great comments left on Part I of my recent weekend walkabout in downtown Raleigh. 
Here, I'm sharing a few of the more historical buildings along the main thoroughfare, Fayetteville Street, 
and around town. 

I love this part of the main street. 
For many years it was a pedestrian only area but since changing back to a through street, the downtown has become much more vibrant and safer, especially after dark.
Colorful storefronts and restaurants with mostly apartments above. The tall tan colored 1874 brick building was Briggs Hardware, owned by the Briggs family descendants until 1995, then sold and turned into the Raleigh City Museum. When we first moved to Raleigh from Massachusetts in 1977, I loved walking on the squeaky wood plank floors, searching through the shelves and bins containing items only hardware business with so many years under its (tool) belt could still have!

Heading south past old and new architecture…………

………………the large building on the right above is Raleigh's
 oldest surviving hotel building constructed in 1923-24 - 
The Sir Walter Raleigh Hotel. In the late 1970's it was 
converted into apartments for the elderly.
Other hotels have been built around it, the one on the far 
left is the Marriott where we spent last New Year's Eve.

Modern office buildings are prevalent in downtown - this one is interesting with condominiums on the higher floors  

Going toward the Victorian area named Oakwood, full of beautifully preserved and restored homes (I'll show you those when I have time to take another walk downtown), there are many historic homes purchased by the state government to use as offices.  As much as it seems a shame to use them this way, it did mean they were not bulldozed when people could no longer afford to care for and repair many of the huge houses. 

This is the flamboyant Heck-Andrews House, a local favorite!  The history of this house is somewhat mysterious, especially revolving around the last tenant, a sad old lady known as 'the ghost of Blount Street' who lived there until having to be removed due to health issues………and her hobby of serious hoarding which made the property a fire hazard.

This link will take you to a wonderful story of the house/family history, also some great b/w interior photos showing how beautiful the property is inside - but of course requires a lot of restoration work.

I think you will agree that Raleigh has an interesting downtown. Despite being the main home of the state of North Carolina government office complex, it has also retained a lot of historic properties, private investors have rehabbed many of the Victorian era homes, and those repurposed for office use are still attractive keeping the sense of a small southern town rather than a large modern city.
Hope you can visit some day and enjoy some true southern hospitality.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Perfect place to spend Saturday……………

Hang on to your Spring hats, or warm beanies if you're up north!
It was so worthwhile visiting SuzAnna's Antiques this weekend - I just have to share 
some of the great things on offer. The crowds were enormous 
being it was such a gorgeous day.

~ Click pics for details ~ 

I also took pics of Easter vignettes - I'll share 
those closer to the holiday.
I must admit I was NOT unable to walk away from the best 
little shop in town - well it's bigger than ever these 
days - without something new after all!  
Will show you you my lucky find at a later date.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday musings…………………

Here in the southeast it's beautiful again and should reach 
76F today!  I have plans to be out and about much of the 
day - crop pants and loafers sound good, boots can stay 
in the closet. 
Speaking of loafers, I'm longing for a pair in navy. 
These are from J. Crew and certainly look airy, comfy and 
cool for hot weather.

J. Crew

Latvian Hand Knit

Despite warmer days, when I came across this gorgeous 
hand knit wool and alpaca sweater coat by DoroTheus 
from Riga, Latvia, I fell madly in love and wouldn't mind 
it turning cold again if I could have it to cuddle up in! 
Actually another very cold front may come through early 
next week with possible snow! As it's made to order, 
wonder if they can knit it/ship it by then!!!

My dining room.

Do your rooms 'talk'? Mine have been chattering to me all 
this week requesting to be dusted, polished, vacuumed, 
mopped etc. Recent scraping of textured ceiling, painting 
walls, installing carpet etc. made this week one of doing 
all of the above…………plus I worked in the garden pruning 
and tidying up. 
I need more hours in my day, don't you?

SuzAnna's Antiques, Raleigh, NC 

Today I will venture to SuzAnna's Antiques for a 
quick look around at the Spring vignettes - it's always a 
chance to see my granddaughter working diligently, and 
to catch up with Susie & Jennie the lovely shop owners. 
I'm trying to cut back on purchasing for a 
while - this recent house project requiring much 
moving and storing, reminded me I have far too much stuff! 
If I don't stop bringing things home I'll be opening Mary's Antiques!!!

Yes, he's still here, resting on the birdbath, which 
needs a good hose down, and I think he may be checking 
out the birdhouse where he and Mrs.B raised 
their offspring the last two years. I would be so 
happy to have baby Eastern bluebirds fluttering around 
the garden again this Spring.

Hope your Saturday is full of pleasant hours and 
fun times. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Step into Springtime………….

Yesterday, while working outside in the Spring (yes, 
we can say it now!) sunshine, this little bright blue 
chappie came visiting - an Eastern bluebird.
He was back and forth to the bath, a few times on the 
feeder, and several long perches on the already budding 
fig tree.

Click photo to enlarge for Bluebird beauty!

Now that I know to be more careful handling the daffodils 
to prevent an allergic reaction, I cut a new bunch to 
brighten up the living room. Note I borrowed my post 
title today from the latest UK Country Living magazine 
- such a colorful cover this month. 

Did you read about the expected heatwave for the UK
After the wettest Winter ever in England, another 
El Nino weather pattern could be on the way, bringing 
perhaps the hottest Summer ever. Perhaps my Brit family 
and friends need to consider installing air conditioning!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring WILL come……

…………that's what we've be saying, over and over again!

At last, today is the first day of Spring………sending 
happy thoughts your way along with a few pics of 
former Springtime scenes. 

Looking across Tor Bay, Devon - my former lovely home on 
a perfect Spring day.

Spring arrives in the Lake District in Northern England.

Spring has arrived here in North Carolina today and 
it's perfect! I'm off to start on some much-needed work 
in the garden in sunshine and warmth - 
nothing better than that.
Enjoy the arrival of Spring wherever you are.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March Note Card Party……………

This month you get to see my choice of all occasion cards 
on the box top first.

These are shots of the first daffodils I cut in the 
 February garden this year. Although we're now 
well into March, some of the yellow daffodils have 
survived the on again-off again below freezing nights 
and are blooming even more profusely. 
Others, such as the almost white Ice Follies, don't 
seem to hold up so well, their stems bending under the 
icy burden.
Hurry up Spring, we can't wait much longer.

Something strange has happened this year, I've apparently developed an allergy to the sap that drips from the daffodil stems. After cutting bunches on two occasions then touching my arms and neck, I broke out in a red, itchy rash similar to poison ivy (which I'm also deathly allergic to), which took over a week - and a lot of cortisone ointment - to heal. I now have to use washable rubber or cloth garden gloves when handling the daffs.

Anyone else experienced this allergy?

The golden harbingers of Spring.

All photos taken with the Nikon Coolpix S6400
set on Auto. PicMonkey assisted with the box top collage.

Hope you visit Vee at A Haven for Vee where her monthly Note Card Party is in full swing.