lifestyle

Tea and Tulips on a February Day

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist

It is in February when I start longing for the sunshine and flowers of spring and summer. November and December hold the anticipation of Christmas and the snow is fresh and clean and appealing. January brings the promise of a bright New Year and fireside days. But, by the time February comes along, the snow is not a novelty anymore, and the days seem cold and lifeless. The weather warms up just enough to tease us with promise of Spring, only to freeze again. It is in the later days of February that we start to look towards Spring with expectation. I am not one to buy cut flowers often, but sometimes a bouquet of flowers is just the perfect thing to brighten up those long winter days. My mom surprised me and my sister this year on Valentine’s Day with a bouquet of gorgeous yellow and purple tulips. Yellow and purple are two colours that go extremely well together, and these tulips created a beautifully simple, yet elegant, bouquet.

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, tulip vase

I love tulips as they are one of those funny kinds of flowers that seem to have a mind of their own. As soon as you arrange them in a bouquet, they rearrange themselves and completely undo all the arranging you did to them. Tulips actually continue to grow in the vase, and these certainly did as soon as I put them in the vase. I promise you that they were arranged in some kind of order, but by the time I took these photos, they had drooped and flopped all over the place. It’s OK though, as it makes them seem that much more natural and alive; and they do give me hope that Winter is not forever!

What could be more inviting on a cold February day than a bouquet of Spring flowers and a piping hot cup of tea in a pretty china teacup?

Do you like to have bouquets of flowers in winter? And tea in a pretty cup?

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, vase and teacup

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, tulip details

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, teacup top view and vase

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, tulip detail

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, teacup and vase

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, horizontal tulips

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, teacup

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, tulip and teacup detail

Tea and Tulips on a February Day, the artyologist, top view teacup

Valentine’s Day Postcards

the artyologist, valentine's day postcards

It is February, and you know what that means: it’s time for my favourite holiday- Valentine’s Day! I know that some people- OK a lot of people- hate Valentine’s Day, but I’ve never really been able to figure out why. It has recently come to my attention though, in a conversation on Instagram, that in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is a holiday that strictly celebrates only romantic love. Well, of course that is how it started off back when the Victorians “invented” the holiday. Originally Valentine’s day was a feast day honouring St. Valentinus- and there are many different legends of why that came to be (who really knows?) However, over time it originated into a holiday celebrating love, where couples would exchange hearts, flowers, confectionery and love letters or “valentines”. By the time the 19th century came about, the Victorians, who were were obsessed with everything to do with romance and courtship, helped to turn it into the holiday we recognize today- where St. Valentinus is quite forgotten, but hearts and flowers and chocolates abound!

Even though the holiday was originally a celebration of only romantic love, over time, in Canada (and the USA I think too) it has turned into a day to celebrate all forms of love. When I was in elementary school, we always brought valentines to exchange with our classmates, and often had a party too. (Because really, who doesn’t want an excuse to eat pink heart shaped cookies and cakes?!) Nowadays, I hear the term “Galentines Day” circulating around, which has gotten fairly popular in the last few years; the idea being spending the day with your best girl friends instead of focusing on only romantic love. Even if you don’t have an opportunity for romance in your life right now, (I don’t) that’s no reason to dismiss Valentine’s Day as “Single’s Awareness Day”. Yes, romantic love is a beautiful thing, but having a holiday to celebrate all different kinds of love is a very nice idea too, I think. There are so many different kinds of love in the world, such as agape which is the love of man for God, and the love that God has for his children, eros or romantic love, philia, the beautiful love between friends, and storge which is familial love- just to name a few. Why should Valentine’s Day celebrate only eros, when there are so many more kinds of love in the world that are worth celebrating? I have always had that mindset about the day- and have always used it as a chance to send cards to friends and family and celebrate philia and storge love. Sometimes in past years, like with last year’s cards I’ve used the chance to highlight God’s agape love. And don’t forget that heart shaped cake too; which perhaps is an example of philautia- self love! 😉

Because Valentine’s Day is such a Victorian holiday, I usually make cards inspired by the era, so I thought I would show you all the cards I made and sent this year. Making and mailing valentines cards is such an old fashioned tradition, which is probably why it appeals to me so much 🙂

And, I also thought that since I can’t send all of you dear readers a Valentine of your own (I really wish I could!), it would be fun to share a Valentine’s card with you all in the form of a download! Just in case you haven’t gotten a card for someone special, but would like to give them one this year, I have a design I created a few years ago which is my Valentine’s Day card to you! I hope you enjoy it and I’d love to know if you decide to use it too!

So, is Valentine’s Day a strictly “romantic” holiday where you live? Or do you celebrate friends and family and all of the heart shaped things? And, do you make your own Valentine’s cards?

Click here to download my free Valentine’s Day Card!

the artyologist, writing valentine's day postcards

the artyologist, stack of valentine's day cards

the artyologist, four valentine's postcards

the artyologist, valentine's cards backs and fronts

the artyologist, peony and valentine's postcards

the artyologist, postcards ready to go, envelopes

Style Resolutions: Jewellery Organizing

Style Resolutions: Jewellery Organizing, the artyologist

‘Tis the season to . . . organize! I don’t know what it is about a new year, but I just get the itch to organize and declutter and get rid of everything. I’ve never really bothered with “Spring Cleaning”, but New Year’s cleaning? Oh yes! Maybe it’s because we are pulling all the Christmas decorations down already, and if you are going to the effort of cleaning up after the holidays, it isn’t that far of a stretch to start cleaning up other areas too. I was a bit late this year to get to my regular organizing habits, as I was traveling the first week of the New Year, but last week I was able to finally get around to doing some much neglected organizing.

I was originally going to do a wardrobe declutter, but as I went through my entire closet and found only two sweaters that I no longer needed, I thought that would not be a very exciting blog post! Thus, I turned my attention to my jewellery collection. One of my “style resolutions” this year, is to wear all of the things that I own, and never seem to get around to wearing. One of the major things on that list is my jewellery collection. I have necklaces and bracelets given to me for Christmas last year (as in 2015), that I have never worn. 🙁 This is obviously ridiculous, and I decided that I needed to do something about that. One of the main reasons why I don’t wear much of my jewellery is because it was such a mess. If I can’t see things at a glance, I forget that I have them when I go to choose accessories, and I always end up grabbing the same old things over and over again. Am I lazy when it comes to getting dressed? Yes. Yes I am.

Thus, the first step to start wearing more of my pieces, was to do some jewellery organizing in order to make it easier to see what I have. I also remembered to take pictures, so you can see what I unearthed along the way. . .

Style Resolutions: Jewellery Organizing, The Artyologist, Before

About 10 years ago, I made this jewelry organizer with an old picture frame, some cotton fabric and a glue gun. Over the years it has proved invaluable as an organizing solution for my ever growing collection of jewellery. Back when I first made it, I sewed 3 pretty buttons across the top (to hold 3 necklaces) and pinned a few brooches along the sides. Well, since then, my jewellery collection hoard has more than doubled in size and this organizer has gotten quite unorganized. What a mess. (This is not all of what I have. I also have two small jewellery boxes for pieces that cannot hang on this frame, and one large one for all of the sparkly special occasion jewellery I don’t wear very often.) As you can see, there are so many items overlapping each other, and all jumbled together that it was nearly impossible to take them off and wear them, let alone find them in the first place!

The first step was to take all of the items off of the board, and then sort through each piece to evaluate whether it needed to go back onto the frame, or whether it was time to pass it on, fix it or store it somewhere else. I decided that this frame is where I want to put my “everyday” jewellery, and the special occasion items can be stored elsewhere.

Style Resolutions: Jewellery Organizing, the artyologist, favourite earrings

For some, these would classify as “special occasion” earrings, but I love to wear these sparkly earrings everyday. I’ve only owned them for a little over a year, but they have already proven to be invaluable accessories. I wear them all the time, as they give a nice bit of bling to an outfit. Thus, they were all given permission to go back on the frame.

Style Resolutions: Jewellery Organizing, the artyologist, brooches

My collection of brooches has grown quite a bit lately. I love brooches, but seldom wear them as I am often afraid of them putting holes in my clothes. (I’ve had blouses ruined before from brooches). However, recently I have started wearing them more on my berets, as well as pinning them to my wool coats, so they are definitely getting more wear. I like all of these- some of them are gifts, like the artist’s palette, which was given to me by Jessica. Some, like the goose, I’ve had since I was a child. Others, like the pink basket, are passed down from my Great Grandma. The buckle, I would like to try wearing as a scarf slide, and the stick pins, I would like to try as hat pins once my hair gets a bit longer. Thus, I like each of these pieces and am willing to give them a place on my frame.

Style Resolutions: Jewellery Organizing, the artyologist, pendants

One of my favourite things to wear, are pendants on long chains, and I have a lot of them. However, I was not wearing many of these, mainly because the chains were all jumbled on the frame, so I always grabbed whichever one was on the top. Also, some of the pendants didn’t have proper loops, so it was difficult to put them on the chains and I always passed them by. I have now added proper loops to all of the pendants, and have given each chain and pendant their own place on the frame. This way all I have to do is grab and go.

Style Resolutions: Jewellery Organizing, the artyologist, statement earrings

These are my “statement” earrings. I used to wear big earrings 90% of the time, but for some reason I have started to gravitate away from them. I never reach for these more “earthy” pieces, even though I do still really like them. I have placed them on the frame, and have made a note to try to reach for these pieces first, when planning an outfit. Hopefully I will get more wear out of the them now, but if I find, after a while, that I don’t wear them anymore, I will pass them on. It’s OK to change your style over time.

Style Resolutions: Jewellery Organizing, the artyologist, jewellery to pack away

These are all pieces that were on the frame, but really didn’t need to have such a prominent place. I only wear the Christmas pieces . . . well at Christmas! So, they don’t need to be on display year round. The necklaces and earrings I’ve had since I was probably 10, and I never wear them anymore. However, they hold memories, so I want to keep them. The lion pin I bought at a theatre production of “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe”. It is more of a souvenir than an accessory. So, all of these pieces are going to go into my little jewellery box, where they will be safe, but not taking up valuable display space. And, come next Christmas, I’ll know where to find them. 🙂

Style Resolutions: Jewellery Organizing, the artyologist, pieces to fix

These are all pieces that I don’t wear, because they are broken. Leaving them in my room is obviously not the right place for them to be, as some of them have been broken forever, and I always forget to fix them. The earrings needed cleaning. The ring needed to be glued back together. The gold chain needed to be re-looped as it hung crookedly. The butterfly’s antenna needed to be straightened etc. I took all of the pieces and have since fixed them, (or am going to bring them to the jeweller’s for repair) and I am now able to wear them again. Fancy that!

Style Resolutions: Jewellery Organizing, the artyologist, pieces to get rid of

And here are the jewellery pieces, and other interesting things I found, that are not going back onto the display. A random blue flower, (I have no idea why this was on there) some coins and a key. These are not jewellery, and do not need to be on display here. The pink flower and feathers are hair accessories, so they can go elsewhere. The owl is adorable, but not a colour scheme I ever wear, so I gave him to my sister (who loves owls). An earring that has no pair (and makes me cry every time I see it, as those were my favourite earrings!) The rest of the pieces are just not my style anymore, so I also passed them on.

Style Resolutions: Jewellery Organizing, the artyologist, After

After sorting through and deciding which pieces were keepers and which I was giving away, I put each of the items back on the frame (or into the other assorted jewellery boxes). I have now organized the jewellery by type (all the brooches together, chains together, earrings etc.) Each piece has it’s own place, and hopefully now will not turn into a messy disaster within the week!

I am so much happier with how this looks, and how neat and tidy it is. Already I have been purposefully grabbing pieces to wear for my “style resolution”, and I think that I am going to be much better this year about wearing the things I have. Being able to see the majority of my jewellery at a glance is so invaluable to my dressing routine. Now I can be as lazy as I want to with choosing accessories, because it is all right there at my fingertips 😉

So, have you made any “style resolutions” for 2017? How do you store your jewellery, and what are your jewellery organizing tips? Do you find yourself wearing the same old pieces all the time, or are you pretty good at branching out and wearing everything you have?

Style Resolutions: Jewellery Organizing, the artyologist, jewellery frame

The Beginnings of a Collection: Blue and White Ceramics

The Beginnings of a Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

My Grandma recently downsized to a new apartment, and wanted to pass on some things she doesn’t use anymore, and no longer had the space for in her new place. She asked if my sister and I would like some of her blue and white ceramics- and we both immediately said yes!

I have always loved blue and white ceramics. They are a popular style, and come from such far flung places around the world including Holland (Delft Tile) all the way to Vietnam. I love hand painted ceramics and am always drawn to crisp blue and white colours. I am always so amazed at the talent and detail that goes into them. I took a pottery course once. Suffice it to say, we will not be handing those pieces down through the generations. 🙁

I already owned this pitcher, which I purchased from Ten Thousand Villages last year, so I was very happy to add these beautiful new pieces, to create a small collection.

In my family we didn’t get much handed down in the way of clothes, like many vintage lovers I know, who have gotten dresses, hats and jewelry from past relatives. However, from both sides of my family, I have gotten dishes. Not all of them are antique, but they are each special, because they are a part of our family history. They will become heirlooms, even if they aren’t very old right now, like these pieces. Really, if you think about it, everything that is antique and old today, was at some point brand new. However, someone thought it was special enough to preserve. And so it will be with these. They will always remind us of our Grandma, and they will be preserved and passed down. And maybe someday, my distant great-great-granddaughter will be using this very same pitcher, or candy dish herself, getting ready to pass it down to the next generation too. It’s a nice thought anyways 🙂

Do you have any special collections? Do you have any pieces (of anything – not just dishes!) passed down from your family? If not, have you ever thought of starting a new collection of heirlooms yourself?

The Beginnings of a Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

The blue teapot is my sisters, and the white one is mine.

The Beginnings of a Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

Such a neat design for the candy dish. 

The Beginnings of a Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

I use this pitcher often, not as a pitcher, but as a vase! It makes a lovely vase for weedy roadside bouquets like the ones I picked here, or for pussy willow branches in the spring. It’ll probably be lovely for some evergreen boughs this winter too! And, on the right is the beautiful lattice design bowl of my sister’s.

The Beginnings of A Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

The little teapot is a tiny little knick-knack that my Grandma gave me years ago. It is a favour that Red Rose used to include in their teas years ago!

The Beginnings of A Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

The Beginnings of A Collection: Blue and White Ceramics, the artyologist

The entire “collection”, (to date!)

The Ladies Garden Tea, Part 2

Ladies Garden Tea Party, Part 2 The Artyologist

So continuing with the second instalment of the Ladies Garden Afternoon Tea party.

I’ve always loved pretty dishes, and silverware and fine china teacups. I’m pretty sure I get this from my mom, who I’m sure learned it from her mother. When my Grandma was a young lady, living in a farm community, once a month the ladies would get together for a tea party.  It was a way for the farmwives, some of whom were probably fairly isolated, to get out and see each other. Each month was hosted at a different farm, and each lady would bring her own teacup.

A few years ago, my Grandma downsized, and passed on her teacups to us- and a collection was born! With that humble start, I’ve started picking up pretty teacups at thrift stores, or antique sales, and I’ve been able to form quite a collection. I love to throw parties, and as my collection of fancy dishes has grown, I have tried to come up with ways to use them, rather than relegating them to the china cabinet. A few years ago, continuing in the tradition of my Grandma, the Ladies Afternoon Tea was born. It gives us a chance to use all the fancy dishes, and is a way for the ladies in my church to get together for an afternoon treat.

teacups the artyologist

As I mentioned on Tuesday, we got rained out and we were forced to bring the party indoors this year. It was too bad that the party couldn’t be outside, as there is something so lovely about enjoying tea and sweets out of doors, but at least we do have a large living room, where we were able to spread out several tables and chairs for everyone to sit at.

When we were planning for this party, we counted up my cups, my moms, and my sisters and came up with 29 teacups! Needless to say, the ladies didn’t need to bring their own to this party! We did end up borrowing some cups from another lady, just in case we ran short, but fortunately we didn’t.

invite and teacups the artyologist

Every good party starts with an invitation. There is something so personal about an physical paper invitation, even if it isn’t handwritten, and I think it reminds people of the party more than a verbal invitation or email, which can be easily lost or overlooked. Also it is a great place to write the address or location of the party, because unless everyone is very familiar with the area, they might get lost en route!

teacups and chocolate the artyologist

silverware tea party, the artyologist

plates and tea service the artyologist

For the party, the food was set up on the kitchen table, and the tea was set up on the kitchen counter, which was dressed up with a lace edged tablecloth, so it wouldn’t look so “kitcheny”. The peonies were blooming in full force the day of the party, so we had a gorgeous bouquet on the dessert table, and a weedy little bouquet of daisies and alfalfa collected from an “obliging field” for the tea table.

chocolate muffins the artyologist

menu and silver service for ladies tea party the artyologist

desserts at the tea party the artyologist

For food, we served a variety of desserts: Coconut Macaroons, Ganache Topped Chocolate Cakes, Lemon Drizzle Loaf, Coconut Cream and Dark Chocolate Squares, Pineapple and Pecan Cheesecake Tarts, and Toasted Almonds and Pecans. We chose such a large variety of desserts, including chocolate and non-chocolate, as we wanted to make sure there was something everyone would enjoy. (I mean, l love chocolate, and the entire menu could’ve consisted of different varieties of chocolate, but something I find hard to comprehend is that some people don’t like it 🙁 so we wanted to make sure everyone enjoyed the desserts!) Also, it was very fortunate that my best friend was visiting that week, so the day before the tea party, when we were baking, baking, baking, she was there to lend a hand 🙂

party preparation the artyologist

lemon loaf the artyologist

Overall, the party was quite the success- even though hours and days of work was consumed and destroyed in the space of an hour 😉 Ah that’s the best thing about parties right? It was a lovely time, spent with some very lovely ladies! As people were leaving, we had a lot of requests to do it again. Don’t worry I’ve already started planning for next year’s tea party!

macaroons and desserts the artyologist

teacups for ladies tea party the artyologist