Wednesday, December 10, 2014

a (wished for) christmas table

christmas table setting
christmas table ideas
christmas table ideas
christmas table ideas

I had a little play at the store this week with some Christmas table ideas. Gathering around the dinner table with friends and family for a meal is one of life's greatest pleasures. Entertaining should be simple, uncomplicated, delicious and... beautiful. It's easy to get inspired when you have these stunning Bonnie and Neil screen-printed and hand painted table runners and table cloths to play with. And they are a natural fit with Katherine Smyth's beautiful bowls and plates, which make everything taste just that much better believe me. Cranberry, lime and lilac - a colour combination that sounds like a delicious Christmas cocktail to me. The darling little bird is one made for us by our friend Carolyn. We give her some of our fabric scraps and they return to the store as these little personality-filled fantail friends. This one is in a Designers Guild silk - mixed (ahem) with some silk from one of Carolyn's husband's ties. He was quite resigned when he spotted this detail. Apparently there is still half a tie left. I'm not sure that this is as good as Carolyn was trying to make it sound.

When it comes to decorating your table for Christmas, a lot will depend on how formal your meal will be. Ours is usually a traditional dinner but with a casual beach twist, so we set the table with this in mind. It will not be quite as co-ordinated as this one, the beach being the beach, but it will have lots of flowers, lots of candles, plenty of wine and wonderful food, my Mum's Christmas 'money pudding' as all the little girls call it, and most importantly, almost all the people most important to me in the world will be around it together. We'll be missing you lots Salsa!

Amanda xx Pin It

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

florabundance ~ flowers at home

How I love it when the garden suddenly has lots of 'snippable' goodies again. It's that time of year when almost the first thing I do every morning and again each night after work is rush outside to see how much growing has been going on in my absence. As you know everything in my garden is a bit trial and lots of errors, and though I long for a huge garden, the reality of my pocket-handkerchief size is about all I can honestly cope with. After the great dahlia debacle of last year, when once again the invasion of the spider mites killed almost anything growing, I have had a big cleanup over winter, and with lots of help and advice from some real gardeners, and a mountain of seaweed fertiliser, I hope everything will be fit and healthy this season. Cross fingers!! Early signs are good if those healthy looking zesty dahlia shoots are anything to go by, although I think everything feels a few weeks behind what I'd normally expect for this time of year.

I've also been planting some other pickable plants so that I'm not quite so one-dahlia dimensional! Last weekend we even managed to start a little bit of a vertical garden for more herbs and a few summer salad leaves. I have no idea how this will go, although I think the fact that Brunell (who is not known for his handy-man skills) and Eva (who will be quite the practical handy-woman) and I managed to get it up on the fence without killing each other is a good omen. And before you ask (Dad), it hasn't fallen down yet.

I digress - those snippable garden goodies - it means that with just one or two flowers and some lovely new green cuttings, I can have some lovely arrangements inside. The beauty of these is they almost arrange themselves, and it's almost impossible to go wrong. Here are a few currently making me smile.

garden flowers via small acorns blog

Granny's Bonnets, Lamb's Ears, Solomon's Seal, Hydrangea leaves and my first rose of the season, Abraham Derby - a deconstructed flower arrangement!

abraham derby rose via small acorns blog

I love flowers on the low down - those little arrangements you see literally when you look down. I tuck these in amongst my books, beside the bed and on coffee tables or stools. Perfect for my informal arrangements, shorter stems or flowers that I can't quite bear to throw out and which when the stem is cut down, will last a few more days in a bowl or silver trophy or a vessel that will cup the petals.

informal flowers via small acorns blog

spring flowers via small acorns blog

Did I mention the mint? A hopeful sign that the garden is going to be alright again. I pulled everything I could find out, and being the resilient herb that it is, it has regenerated itself ten times over. I have given armloads to my neighbours on both sides, who are both in the hospitality business
and still I could supply New World for a month. Needless to say, it finds its way into most of my arrangements.

spring flowers via small acorns blog

The beautiful peony was a gift from a lovely customer who picked some from her garden in the Wairarapa for me. It has lasted and lasted so incredibly well.

spring flowers via small acorns blog

And lastly, a little spring arrangement at the store. Same green ingredients supplemented with a few florist bought blooms. Love love love that Solomon's Seal. Until we moved in to this house I had only ever seen this flower in beautifully styled Designers Guild images. Can you imagine how excited I was that first spring we were here when it popped up in my garden!

Hope you're having a lovely week.
Amanda xx Pin It

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

postscript ~ the peg doll competition 2014

The Small Acorns Peg Doll Competition is over for another year. Is it ok to admit that once all the winning has been decided and announced I always feel a little flat? On the one hand I am so excited for those who have won prizes. And on the other sad, because (and I know it's a cliche) but truly, they are all winners, and I am so grateful to everyone who entered, and if I could I would award everyone a prize.
Yes, if you are unfamiliar with my blog and store, you did read that correctly – it is a peg doll competition. And 2014 is the fifth year we have held it. The first year had us having to explain in detail exactly what a peg doll was. What began as a simple craft based competition for kids, has expanded and become as much fun for so-called ‘grownups’ to enter. Two years ago Te Papa selected 20 of our peg dolls which, with the permission of their young creators, have gone in to the permanent collection of our national museum. Quite exciting for the humble peg doll and quite special, in this high tech world that we live in, to see everyone having so much fun making and creating. Fun and creativity and happiness created from a simple wooden clothes peg. We give away the clothes pegs. They return to us as peg dolls. The proud faces when the kids bring them in to the store almost make me cry. I am just as much a sucker for a peg with a crooked smile made by a 5 year old as I am for the incredible detail and work that has gone in to some of the adult entries.

small acorns peg doll competition via small acorns blog
 (The Wizard of Oz, by Amy Masters - First Place, Grown Up People's Choice)
 
Some entries are just unbelievably incredible, like these The Wizard of Oz pegs. There is not a detail that hasn't been attended to. The scarecrow even has leather hand stitched shoes. The tin man has tiny jointed tin arms. Dorothy's blouse is peg-sized bespoke. I can't remember if it was a collective gasp or a collective silence when we unwrapped this delivery, but you can see why.

small acorns peg doll competition via small acorns blog
 (Frank the Vegetarian, by Harriet age 9 ~ Kid's Finalist)

I do know that this entry made us all laugh out loud, we loved it so much - Frank, the Vegetarian.
Ahh, what a treasure Frank is. Look at his face! What an idea. Frank makes me smile every time I look at him, which is often!

the small acorns peg doll competition via small acorns blog
(Incy Wincy Bikini Girl by Caitlyn, age 10 ~ Kid's Finalist)
 
 So simple and sweet, an incy wincy teeny tiny bikini, jandals, and a book to read in the sun.

the small acorns peg doll competition via small acorns blog
(China Made In by Lynne Davison ~ Runner Up Grown Up)
 
So fragile and delicate - made entirely from little carefully chipped chips of a china plate. The words 'made in china' from the plate's back stamp have been chipped, and rearranged on the back to rename her 'China Made in'. Another collective gasp.

the small acorns peg doll competition via small acorns blog
(Violet by Lola Nicholls, age 6 ~ First Place, Kids People's Choice)
 
The crooked smile - perfectly imperfect in every way, and all the more beautiful because of it. Leaves, flowers & sticks collected on the way to and from school.

the small acorns peg doll competition via small acorns blog
(Give Me A Twirl Girl by Beverley Wong Nam ~ First Place Grown Up)
 
Metres and metres, literally, of carefully cut, curled and twirled paper make up this carefully crafted outfit. Spectacular in its simplicity. Stunning in its creativity. 

the small acorns peg doll competition
(Amelia Rose the Garden Fairy by Anna Best, age 10 ~ First Place Kid's Overall Winner)
 
Looking every inch the winner that she is - when you are 10, and you can create like this - future World of Wearable Art's winner in the making.

So, you can see why I feel the highs and lows of this little competition. It has taken on a life of its own. The bar is set higher and higher every year in terms of creativity and ideas, yet everyone, even those with the most crooked smile, has a chance to win, and most of all, they are all winners to me.

Thank you sincerely to everyone who entered, or who encouraged or helped a little one to enter, or who took the time to vote. You make it the peg doll community it has become.

Amanda xx
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