Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Winter Urns

As the seasons change and I ready the garden for its winter nap, there always comes the time when I must toss out the flower plantings in my iron urns at the front entrance to our home. Rather than look at two big empty urns all winter long, I always try to create a display that will take me through the winter and bring a little colour and cheer.

This year, I'm happy to say, my displays cost me nothing... thanks to a friend who lives in the country who brought me these beautiful birch branches...

and these lovely red-coloured branches.

Add in some cedar cut from my hedge, bright red berries from the garden next door, some wavy branches and oversized pinecones that I've collected over the years, and you've got a gorgeous winter urn.

Why not try creating your own rendition, using whatever plant materials you have at your disposal? If you don't own urns, any large flower pot or container will do.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vintage Find of the Week

Time once again to show you my "Vintage Find of the Week". How exciting to find this unusual wreath at a Salvation Army for $10.

The brass bells are a little rusted in places giving it a really lovely patina and vintage feel. Even though the bells look a little worn, they still make the loveliest gentle jingling sound when I give the wreath a little shake.

All that remained to do was hang it outside on the shed door.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Mighty Oak

Driving by the Arboretum today, I noticed for the very first time, this immense tree. How I have missed it all these times I don't know for it is placed quite close to the road. I was so taken with it that I stopped the car to have a closer look.

The tag on the tree identifies it as Quercus bebbianna. As you can see, the limbs spread so far horizontally, this one has to be supported.

The photos cannot truly give the sense of this oak's magnitude, not even with the bench included for scale. When you see it in person, the branches just seem to extend forever. A mighty oak indeed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cozy Vintage Blankets

What a chilly day it turned out to be, after all the lovely mild weather we've been having. It was so cold outside that my thoughts went straight to curling up with a good book, covered with a warm woolen blanket. I rushed to our linen closet and pulled out my stock of old vintage blankets that I have been able to pick up at thrift shops for a fraction of the price one would pay for a brand new 100% woolen blanket.

The colours are so appealing and I love the ones with the striped borders. They are all soft, broken in by countless washings.

Two of them are Canadian made.

And two are from England.

But any one of them will provide cozy comfort all winter long, as I curl up in an armchair on a weekend afternoon to read a good book.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Vintage Find of the Week

It being a Saturday, and an autumn one at that, I was up and out early to visit a couple of church bazaars. You know how I like to do that!

While I didn't find too much at either one, I did make my "Vintage Find of the Week". Aren't these old bridge score cards adorable?

At first I thought they were old Valentine's cards. Well really, wouldn't you have made the same mistake?

But upon opening them up, I discovered their true purpose. I was taken aback for only a brief moment...

For I quickly decided that I will use them as gift tags instead. And what sweet little vintage gift tags they will make. And what's more, I have multiples of most of them!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November, Up Close

Having focussed for the past several days on the lovely landscapes November has given us this year, I thought it was time I turned my attention to what nature has to offer up-close.

Bringing the camera in close to capture the radiance of a single leaf,

or even closer to reveal the pattern on a leaf, I am reminded once again of all the beauty that surrounds us if we only take the time to open our eyes and see all that is before us.

There is also the delicate fragility of leaves, transparent in the sunshine, a reminder of the transience nature of all living things.

A gentle fluttering as the wind rustles the leaves, threatening to detach the stems from their source.

All we can do is pause to catch the moment, to take in all these miraculous details and store them for the days ahead.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

November in Strathcona Park

One of the prettiest parks in Ottawa is Strathcona Park in Sandy Hill, with its magnificent fountain and hilly setting beside the Rideau River.

I had noticed back at the beginning of October that the change of season seemed to be running a little late. There was just something about the way the leaves were looking, their colours weren't turning when they normally would, and then once they did... the bright oranges and reds that you usually see seemed in short supply. 

It is amazing that here we are approaching the middle of November and there are still leaves on some trees, making it seem more like October. I am grateful to find the autumn days stretching out before us and to have the extra colour around to lead us into December.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November's Colour Palette

At the river's edge, the blues of the water contrast with the warm browns of the grasses, producing a pleasing palette of colour for this time of year. November is usually filled with greys.

This year, the sunshine continues to provide warm colour combinations to please the eye.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Go Softly, November

One of the lovely things about November, among all the doom and gloom of grey skies and shortened days, is the softness of the landscapes.

As colour is stripped from view, it is easier to discern the multiple textures that make up the endless varieties of grasses, bushes and plants that are left behind.

There is a gentle lightness to the whole... a soft fluffiness that floats on the wind.

Go softly, November.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Treasures from the Vintage Sale

After talking yesterday about this year's Chateau Laurier Vintage Sale, I thought I would share my finds with you.

I have picked up and looked at this Christmas ornament from the '20s or '30s for at least three years now. The vendor keeps bringing it along every year and I keep wondering whether I should buy it. I am always attracted to it because it reminds me of a similar ornament that had been on my father's family tree and he was born in 1918. It had similar coiled wire but the ornament was a copper colour and had a slightly different shape. At some point it was dropped and broken and I still feel a pang when I think of it.

So this year I decided that perhaps instead of gazing at it and thinking about purchasing it, I should actually do so. Because I knew that the vendor has been lugging it to these sales for years, I asked if this was her best price and was rewarded with a $3 reduction. While $17 dollars may seem like a lot of money to spend, I realised that I could easily spend almost that on some mass-manufactured ornament for sale in a chain store, and after all, this particular ornament is a survivor. Likely most of the others like this one suffered the same sad fate that our family's copper ornament did.

I am so glad that I brought it home with me this year.

After deciding to splurge on my vintage ornament, I came across a vendor who had a bowl of old fountain pens for sale. I rooted around and came up with this one which I think is quite handsome. I don't know if I will find cartridges for it but I can always just dip the nib into an ink bottle if need be. It has a beautiful fine nib and was a lovely find for $10.

And last but not least, I chose these four hankerchiefs from a basket marked $2 each.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chateau Laurier Vintage Sale

Yesterday, once again, lovers of vintage clothes, accessories and fabric made their annual pilgrimage to the Chateau Laurier for the Ottawa Vintage Sale. Held in three spectacular ballrooms, these beautifully appointed rooms add their ambiance to make visitors feel like they have taken a step back in time to an age of splendor and elegance.

Arriving for the 10:00 a.m. opening, I eagerly stepped into the first ballroom where I was greeted by this lovely lady who looked as though she was about to share a special secret with me.

Later on as I traveled among the vendors whose booths were buried at the back of the ballroom, I came across this mannequin whose disembodied head looked so realistic it was a little disturbing!

Time to move on to have a look at this lovely collection of ladies hats ...

and this line-up of sophisticated hats for men.

If hats are not your thing, there are plenty of other accessories to tempt you. Jewellery, footwear, belts, scarves ...

and of course, handbags and delicate purses of all descriptions.

Once you have bought all these irresistible items, there are no better places to keep them but in appropriately retro containers such as these charming hatboxes and mini trunk.

I didn't take photos of the clothes but there are racks and racks of them, from Victorian times to the '80s or '90s. If you missed this year's sale, mark your calendar for next November. It truly is an event for anyone who enjoys taking a trip back in time.