Vintage China Collection
Collecting tea sets has given me so much pleasure. For years I have always ventured into antique shops while traveling through country towns in search of a bargain or a vintage set that I find so beautiful, it can’t be left behind. I enjoy the energy of antique shops which are laden with history and beauty. It lets me time-travel to an era where beauty married with function to create gorgeous furniture, fabrics, and china.
This photo contains my entire collection. You’d think I have more for my twenty years of collecting, but I really have been careful, budget wise, to not buy every pretty little set that draws my eye. It must be around $30 or less so that rules out a lot. Also I restrict myself to one matched set per holiday. That means there's a lot more looking than buying, but that is where much of the enjoyment lies.
I have also found lots of pretty teacups and saucers in thrift shops, but they aren’t always matching. What I do, is pair them up with a complimentary plate. I will even buy mismatched cups and saucers too. If the pattern is pretty and it’s only a couple of dollars, then why not. You’ll notice that I have set up quite a few mismatched china sets among the few that do match.
I don't care very much about brand names. Of course it's lovely having a Royal Doulton set in my collection but what is most important to me is the pattern and shape of the cups. It's the visual pleasure they give that I value most highly.
I’m inspired to blog about my love of pretty old china because I recently bought a dinner set that I found at the Salvation Army thrift shop. The country scene etching in brown and blue called to be taken home with me. It’s not a full set, only plates, and cups without saucers, so I got it very cheaply. The scene is as pretty as can be. It’s called Castle On A Lake Brown Multicolor and is made by Johnson Co in England. I ask you, can a romance writer pass that up?
I have at times got the cups out and used them. This resulted in a few casualties, so I’ve put the best ones away for safe keeping. I will get them out for occasions though. A ladies afternoon tea is a perfect occasion. A lace tablecloth and strawberry sponge. Can you see it? But for every day I love using some beautiful new cups and saucers given to me by friends and family for birthday and Christmas. I love drinking my afternoon tea out of those.
At the moment, I have my collection tucked away in a kitchen cupboard, but I’d like to display them somewhere. I have a crystal cabinet that I have a lot of crystal and glass in at the moment, perhaps I’ll designate a shelf for the collection. I think some shelves in that corner could be very nice also. I’ll give it some thought.
This post has links for your information only. It’s not sponsored or partnered commercially. However, I am a romance writer and do have links to my books for sale at Amazon. While I write contemporary romance I do love a heroine who treasures family heirlooms and antiques. The elegance of yesteryear is so easily brought into modern day with tea served in an antique cup and saucer set.
A Shabby Chic Retreat For Reading
Getting absorbed in a good book is one of my great joys in life, but I haven’t been reading. It’s bugging me that I seem to put it off for some reason. Once I get into a book I absolutely love it but I just don’t seem to be able to make a start. I’ve thought on this for a bit and have realized that I don’t have a place in my new home designated for reading.
Sure, I can read in bed, but I’m so tired at night that I don’t. The family room is where I watch TV. Sam and I jokingly call it the Downtown Abby room because I’ve watched the series so often. It’s too easy to turn on the TV when I’m in there. Something about lights and movement is addictive to me. I really need to put my phone in another room too. Social media is an ever-present pull. Being a visual person, Instagram is a constantly available source of delight.
As I prefer to read laying down, I’ve decided the guest bed in my office is the place to designate as my reading space. Already a fairly pretty space with the things that live on my desk, I only need to make over the bedside table decor in a shabby chic style, to make it a place I’ll enjoy reading.
I can recline on the bed and make a start on my very large TBR pile. If it wasn’t mostly on my kindle but actual print books I think It would be a meter high at the moment. And there are so many more that I want to buy but can’t let myself until I get through some of my stack at least.
Lately I’ve been indulging in a secret love. Shabby Chic. A very romantic style featuring flowers lace and pre-loved furniture that bring character to a room. One of my favorite bloggers and YouTuber decorates and gardens in this style. www.daintydressdiaries.com is a gorgeous website, with links to all her platforms, is full of pictures of her shabby chic home and garden. She has lots of little vignettes and it’s these that have inspired me to create something that inspires getting engrossed in a romance novel.
While I can’t commit to a whole house in pastel shades, it’s perfect for my office/personal retreat. The bedside table I decorated came from a dear friend. It was the first piece of furniture she and her husband bought when they got married. When she asked if I’d like it, I was thrilled. You can’t get more pre-loved or romantic than that.
To begin, I cleared everything off to create a clean slate, leaving only the necessary lamp for reading. I like the texture of the linen look, ivory shade. Below it is a bunch of faux pink peonies that, I’m amazed, only cost five dollars from Kmart. I folded up the stems so that they’d fit in a green mug. I have a pink three dollar Kmart candle burning and a blush pink rose, pulled off the stem and sat directly on the table top. In the middle off the arrangement is a fairy I’ve had for years, She’s lived in a lot of places with me.
I love the way she’s sitting, happy and relaxed, just chilling out. Her clothes are divine. Lacing, leaves and flowers adorn her sparkly ivory dress. The wreath of white flowers in her hair and her gossamer white wings, makes her look bridal. She looks at me with an expression that says whatever you are or whatever to do, it’s okay.
The addition of the shabby chic decor and a pink cushion on the bed make this part of the room more inviting. I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like because I haven’t felt like I had a place to read. Now, this pretty little shabby chic corner within easy reach of the bookcase will remind me to indulge in something I love, reading romance.
Comfy Clothes Day for a Romance Author
Why should I feel like I don't want to answer the door because of the way I look on these comfy outfit days? I still want to look put together. I won't do a full face of makeup, at the most, I might add a little lip-gloss and a single coat of mascara to the upper lashes. But not necessarily. I've done nothing with my hair in this photo just ran my fingers through it and I have no makeup on. Natural is beautiful also and I often go a for a week without touching my makeup bag. But I do like jewelry, its shiny and adds a touch of whimsy that I find very appealing. Anything that makes me smile on a day where I want to feel cosy and comforted is allowed.
A quick note. This blog isn't sponsored in anyway, I'm just sharing some of the things I've purchased on a tiny budget that give me pleasure. Links in photos are provided for your interest only.
I like to color coordinate what I team the comfy pants with. I have a very long striped pink grey and blue T shirt that is oversize. It's actually a nightie but the grey stripes match my pants and the pink matches a cardigan I bought recently at Kmart Australia.
The cardigan is blush pink and is so soft and not in the least bit bulky. It matches some pretty rose gold and blush pink earrings I also purchased. At $4 they were a steal. I also bought a necklace and bracelets in the rose gold for around the same price. I've worn them a lot this season. I'm loving the blush pink colors and little Eiffel tower on the bracelet because they appeal to my romantic nature.
Taking a cosy comfort day is one way I accept the need to slow down and take a break. It's a gift of comfort to myself and it creates a window of time to do things that I don't normally have time to do. Like make a big pot of vegetable soup and scones for lunch or go through my craft cupboard and give that a refresh. Writing wise I might leave editing for another day and instead, cut out inspirational pictures from magazines or brainstorm ideas for a new book.
I hope you enjoyed what inspires me to relax and live life at a slower pace, at least for a day and feel good about doing it.
For those of us who can no longer enjoy the scones our grandmother's baked because of Gluten intolerance or Ceoliac disease, I have created an alternative that, I think, is similar enough to satisfy a winter scones craving. But this post is also people who need a recipe for visiting friends and relatives who can't have the normal ones. You'll give them a lovely surprise. GF scones are a rarity and make a much nicer treat that the bought GF biscuts .
Making them is a different process and the mix looks nothing like something you can kneed. I tried to make GF scones the traditional way, rubbing the butter into the self raising flour and then adding milk. When this failed I did the cheat and added an egg. I also tried the Country Women's Association mix of cream and lemonade mixed into self raising flour. Each attempt ended up with a squeaky, deathly-dry scone that failed to rise.
I decided to throw out the scone rule book and try something closer to a cake batter, but just a bit thicker. The flour combination above created the cheapest and best bodied version I've had to date. I used one cup of GF self raising flour to a half cup of besan flour which comes from chickpeas. I feel the besan adds much needed protein to the mix. I add one and a half teaspoons of GF baking powder to the dry ingredients and give a good mix with a fork. All that is left to add is an egg, a desert spoon of olive oil and enough water to make a stiff batter. It shouldn't run off the spoon but mound when scooped up. leave to rest for a minute or two and then stir lightly break up big bubbles. Spoon into a greased silicone muffin pan so that about one and a half to two centimeters (half an inch) of mix fill the bottom of each cup. There should be enough mix for about six scones.
Put in a preheated 200C oven for a couple of minutes then turn down to 180C and cook for another ten minutes or until the tops are starting to brown.
Remove from the oven and let sit for a minute before turning out carefully. They are fragile when very hot. leave to cool down to luke warm and then they will have obtained the texture enabling them to be cut like a normal scone.
They are best eaten on the day they are made but they can be stored in the fridge. However, they shouldn't be served cold. They will be tough and crumbly. Warmed for five minutes in a 180C oven should be perfect.
I didn't have any cream in the fridge to make the next picture into what we in Australia call a Devonshire tea. This is, warm scones, split and topped with jam and whipped cream and served with a cup of tea. When in the UK I was served a version of this called cream tea, the same except the scones had dried fruit in them. I guess you could add some raisins, currents and spice to this mix for a UK type scone.
If you have a blog, Youtube channel, or Instagram account with GF recipes, It would be great if you could post the links in the comments below so we can all visit.
Romance author and lifestyle blogger
My whole life is inspired by romance. I write romance novels of course but also love creating DIY's and decorating in a romantic style. I'm rejuvenating an old garden, including rescuing a couple of old rose bushes and planting new ones.