Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dream . . .

Hello everyone!!  

As you may have noticed I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately, but I'm back now and will catch up with all your posts as soon as I can.  The last few weeks have been crazy busy!!!  But now I can tell you my little piece of news! I am opening a SHOP!!!!!!!  I just got the keys and I am beside myself with excitement!!!!  I've been bursting to tell you, but couldn't till I had the keys in my hand and all legalities were out of the way.  

As I mentioned in a previous post, opening my own shop has been a dream of mine for many years.   I bought this sign for my office to remind myself that it's ok to be a dreamer, that it's actually a good thing, the world needs both realists and dreamers to achieve the impossible.  They balance each other.  I've always tried to follow my dreams . . .

I've been dreaming and thinking about it a lot the last few months but it wasn't until I received a comment on one of my posts that sparked me into action.  My good friend, the lovely Paula from The Hill House Diaries Blog  left a comment on one of my posts a few weeks ago saying that I "should open a shop NOW!!"  It was like a sign!!  I remember reading that comment and saying to myself 'yes, I should! what I am waiting for?'.  So I started looking for a retail unit, finalised my business plan and now I'm about to open.  I just want to say thank you dear, dear Paula for your comment, so innocently written has prompted me into action.  I am so happy that I started blogging and never realised the impact it would have on my life and the friendships I would make.  So thank you Paula and thank you to all my lovely, dear blog friends, and all my readers, your comments and support mean so much to me, I am very grateful for all of you.   

So unfortunately for all my hard work and late nights over the last few weeks I don't have any nice end of project photos to show you, but will be showing you photos of the shop when the fit out is completed.  I have to admit I'm a little nervous too!  I must be getting old!  But it's been a dream of mine for so long to have my own little shop that it's a little surreal  now that it's actually happening.   I am HAPPY!!   

As my shop is being done up at the moment I thought I would show you a picture of a groovy French one . . .


So, a little more detail.   The shop will sell furniture and accessories for the home and garden and will be a mix of vintage and new items.  I am going to stock all the things I LOVE!  The shop isn't huge but it's a decent space and I think it will be manageable for our family.   I don't expect to be a millionaire from it but that's not why I'm opening a retail shop, I'm opening because I'm passionate about everything to do with homes and gardens and like a lot of you I'm driven to share that with others.  I'm afraid I'm going to be all shop talk for the next few weeks as I get everything ready, but I will update you as I go, I can't wait to show you everything!!

So my friends, that's it for the moment but I will catch up with all of you very soon!



Friday, May 11, 2012

A Marble Lamp

You may remember my lamp from my Living Room Post.  This lamp traveled many miles to end up here on my side table.  A few years ago, we went on holidays to New York city.    I LOVE NYC!  I fell in love with her years ago watching movies on a rainy Sunday afternoon.   There are so many films set in New York - I've seen a LOT of them!  Before I travel anywhere I always like to read a novel and see a film that's set in the country I'm going to, it gives me a feel for the landscape and people.  Here are a few of my favorite films set in NY:

 An Affair to remember ... Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr . . . a tearjerker . . .

Breakfast at Tiffany's . . . the iconic Audrey Hepburn in that little black dress . . .

Annie Hall . . . Love Diane Keaton . . .

The Goodbye Girl . . . Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss - he won an oscar for this role!

When Harry Met Sally . . . the infamous diner scene made cinema history. . .

My first visit to the Big Apple was on my honeymoon in Summer!  I'd never been to the US so we had the trip of a lifetime.  Sometimes when you have a picture in your head of a place that you've seen in a film the reality can be a disappointment, but thankfully New York was everything I expected it to be - and more.   We loved every bit of it.  Our second trip back was two years ago in Winter when we took our eldest son Aran on his first trip.  On both visits we stayed at the Inn New York City.  

The little gate to the right of the steps leads to a little self-contained apartment called 'the Vermont Suite' which is one of four suites in the building.  Our little apartment had it's own front door, with a living room, kitchenette, bedroom and bathroom.   The suite is charming, cosy and very comfortable.  The decor is homely, quaint and has an old world feel.  The owners Ruth and Ellen are soooo nice, lovely and warm and greeted us on arrival and were so welcoming which was greatly appreciated after traveling from Ireland.  They offer the right blend of presence and privacy, they are there when you need them and the rest of the time you have your privacy - perfect for us!  The suites are cleaned daily and restocked with breakfast, breads, juices, wine and they always leave some surprise treats, cakes and crisps.   The brownstone itself is a restored 19th century building on a quiet tree lined street on the Upper West Side.  Around the corner is a lovely boardwalk down by the river with beautiful views, perfect for an evening stroll.   Nearby are two excellent markets , Fairway and Zabar's both pretty legendary in this area.  It was such fun to go shopping and then make our way back to the apartment, it really felt like we were living there, like real New Yorkers!!!  

 The Opera Suite

 The Vermont Suite . . .

 cosy with lots of books . . .

romantic bedroom - perfect for honeymooners . . .

Also nearby is the Natural History Museum which we really wanted to show Aran (our eldest son) as this was his first trip.  So, we set off one morning to visit the museum and stopped in a deli on the way for bagels and coffee.  We visited in early January and while it was romantic as it still felt Christmassy, it was bitterly cold.  It was snowing as we left the museum (which was fantastic by the way) and then out of the corner of my eye I spotted a "FLEA MARKET" sign!!  I stopped in my tracks and pointed to the sign, my husband and son just nodded and we all crossed the road into what looked like a school yard and into the building.  By accident we had stumbled into one of the best markets in Manhattan.   Called 'GreenFlea' this market which has both open air and indoor vendors, has been running for just over 25 years.   There's a real mix here too, antique, vintage, retro, collectibles and handcrafted stalls jostle for space.  Furniture, home accessories, jewelry, clothes, shoes, bags, pretty much anything you can think of is sold here. 

Like any market, you can be lucky or unlucky and you have to root around to unearth the good stuff.  The three of us strolled around happily browsing and then I saw it.  A white marble lamp sitting quietly on the table surrounded by mismatched plates and vases.  I almost didn't ask the price thinking it would be too expensive!  So when the lovely lady vendor said that it was $25 I couldn't believe it, but of course feigned disinterest.   I found Niall and Aran and we had a quick "what do you think? should I get it?" conversation.  But alas, they were not as enthusiastic as I.

". . too heavy . .", they said,
"it will break on the flight home" they warned,
". .you buy it, you carry it . ." they muttered!!
 "there won't be enough room in the suitcase . . . blah, blah, blah!"
". . I s'pose . . " I sighed.

We walked around the market one more time, I looked wistfully at the lamp one last time as we walked out the door.  We got as far as the gate in the schoolyard when I stopped and tugged at their arms to go back.
"I can't leave it behind, I'll carry it . . . it's not that heavy!!"

They smiled at each other and shook their heads at me and followed me back in to the market hall. They should have known, when it comes to me and white marble, resistance is futile! I prayed it would be still there as I hurried back to the lovely lady vendor.

It was.

I got it for $20. 

The light snow turned into a dazzling blizzard as we walked the few blocks back to the apartment.  My husband went to take my package to carry it but I clutched my bubble wrapped parcel to my chest and stubbornly carried it the WHOLE way back to the Inn saying "its actually not that heavy (it was!) . . . ".  As you can see my purchase also made it in one piece back to Ireland on the plane.  Niall re-wired it for our Irish sockets and to my surprise and delight it worked perfectly!  I was VERY happy!!

I love that my $20 lamp has a little story, like so many pieces in our home.  Wherever we go on our travels I always end up in some sort of flea market or antique shop.  It's lovely to have a memento of our New York adventure.  Good times!  We will definitely go back to New York and stay at the Inn and no doubt we will find our way back to Greenflea and all it's treasure! 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Thrifty Shopping

I was in town the other day (town being Cork city) and as I walked down Oliver Plunkett street I noticed there was a new charity shop near the post office - so in I went.  I LOVE charity shops!  actually any shop where there are pre-loved items for sale, be it, vintage, antique, second hand, junk!  I'm not fussy - I love 'em all!! What's not to love!  You can buy furniture, clothes, home accessories for a few pounds and if you buy from a charity shop you're also supporting a good cause.  When buying second hand you're keeping stuff from ending up in a landfill somewhere so it's a very 'green' way to shop.   Buying pre-loved stuff is fun.  You never know what you're going to find as your eye scours the shelves for treasure.    Sometimes, I find nothing and leave empty handed, but sometimes I get lucky.   The other day I found two framed rose prints . . . 4.95 each!

I thought they were pretty, they're going in my downstairs bathroom . . .

 Love the butterflies in this one . . .


 On a shelf I spied a flat mess of glassy bits, but when I lifted it up it was a sparkly chandelier . . .

 Then I found another one, they cost 2.95 each!!!!!!  I'm going to put them in my upstairs bathroom.

 On the clothes rails I found this cute little polka dot top - 3.95


This little bag was very sweet, the price? 2.50

 This silky pussy bow blouse caught my eye as it is a pale shell pink.  Price? €3.95.  The sleeves are just on the right side of puffy.

It reminds me of one of my idols - Katharine Hepburn . . . love her style - strong yet feminine. . .

So beautiful . . . those cheekbones!

So all in all, a good days shopping and all this for a few pound!   Do you buy in charity shops or second hand shops??  Love to know what you think . . .


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Upstairs Bathroom

This is my upstairs main family bathroom which I have just finished - well almost!! 

Not that I had too much to do as you can in this before photo from the estate agents brochure - the bones are all there, just some cosmetic finishes!  I loved the bath, fittings and tiles so it was really a matter of painting.  When it comes to colours in my home I love soft, muted tones.  The more faded and subtle the better, so the red had to go!  I only 'do' red at Christmas!

So, I just painted this room - Farrow & Ball Off White on the upper part of the wall and Farrow & Ball French Grey on the tongue and groove paneling on the bottom part. I ADORE Farrow & Ball paints, I have tried other paint brands but nothing compares to the matte finish of F&B!   I really wanted this room to be calm and serene - somewhere warm for indulging in a little pampering and taking long, hot, baths.  We also put up the shower rail although looking at it here I think it would look better in a dark brown/black metal like the table - I don't think I've ever seen one in that colour though - have you??  I suppose I could paint it . . . The roman blind is from Ikea.  The shower curtain with a linen -ey fabric layer is from B&Q.

The flowers are scented stock and are soooo heavily scented - divine . . .

You must be really tired of seeing this mirror, as I've mentioned before I have two of them - I love them.  Now, I have one in my office which you can see from the Living room and this is the other one which was in the downstairs bathroom but I just moved it to here as I put another mirror in it's place  Show you pics of the downstairs bathroom soon!  Anyway, this mirror is staying here as I think it suits the feel of the room and fits perfectly into the angle of the ceiling.  The upstairs of our house is in the eaves so we have a lot of slanted ceilings - which I love as they're cute and add much needed character into our new build house - though difficult for mirror and furniture placement!

The dressing gown and matching nightdress are 100% cotton perfect for Spring and Summer!  They were another find at Penney's (Primark).

Below some artwork to dress the walls . . .

I think these two framed floral botanicals are so sweet!  I found them in a charity shop in Edinburgh, Scotland when I visited for a weekend a few years ago.  They were only £1.50 each!

I found this print in a framemakers in Cork city, I went in to collect another print and while waiting spotted this piece.  I couldn't get over how similar the boy in the painting is to my eldest son Aran when he was that age and the woman looks a bit like me!  The resemblance is uncanny!  It's as if someone captured one of our strolls in the woods with their paintbrush.  I love how the light falls through the trees . . .

Below is a little something I put together for Valentine's Day for fun!  It's a portrait of Darcy (Colin Firth) that I scanned and printed from a magazine!  The frame is a very heavy iron piece that was actually a broken Christmas decoration that I found in a bargain bin in a department store - I knew it would come in handy!!  My fascination with Pride & Prejudice and Jane Austen will never abate - I'm a hopeless romantic . . .

The marble vanity unit is an antique given to us by our Aunty B!  We were talking to Aunty B at Christmas and she had heard that we were doing up the bathrooms in an old world/vintage style and she said to me, "I have one of those old fashioned marble vanity units for you but I don't know if you'd be interested in it . . . "   Interested??? Did the woman say marble? old?? of course I was interested!!! I told Aunty B I would take it before I'd even laid eyes on it and two weeks later it travelled from Dublin to Cork in the back of our car to come live with us.  I think it's happy here!   I love it - the beige marble is streaked with cream and the wood is a lovely warm dark brown.   It's not ideally placed in the bathroom, I'd prefer another two foot between it and the sink but I love it - so it's staying!!  I also love that it was a gift from our wonderful sweet aunt - Thank you Aunty B!!

The wooden box with the cute clasp was a presentation box of wine we received as a gift many years ago!  I use it as a jewelry box!

The heart shaped soap and the scented linen bag are all from Mathilde M a french soap company.

This is a scented (lavender) ceramic piece with a cherub detail and a cute little bow (from Mathilde M).

This room is very still, very quiet.  When the blind is down, the sunlight filters through washing the room with a soft glow . . . it's my little place to unwind and relax.   A rose scented candle, a few drops of lavender essential oil in the bath and a little glass of wine -  heaven!

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