My most treasured things are second hand. Even though new things are very nice, there's nothing like the character only a second hand find delivers.
This second hand cane lounge suite is my favorite possie to drink my morning coffee. I looked everywhere to find an affordable romantic looking outdoor setting for this space, without any luck. This second hand suite was given to me after my sister sold her beach house. Her husband originally found it in an op-shop. I find that to get the character I want, second hand is most often where I find it.
When searching for a shabby-chic mirror, I went online to the usual home ware sites, like Ikea. I had no luck at all, but in the second hand Facebook market place, I found the one I adore.
The roses and ribbon that crown this curvy mirror say romantic, shabby-chic to me. Although I love the gold, I need a light and bright color scheme in this room. There are veranda's outside both windows which can make it quite dark. I have plans to paint it white using a little pot Annie Sloan chalk paint. The dark brown lounge is too dominant for the space. I'd really like a new one but I can't afford that. I'll make do with what I have and recover it in a cream or beige fabric.
You can see the chandelier refection in the mirror. This will also get painted white.
I've been visiting op-shops (thrift stores) in search of cardigans for winter. I did find some, but I also found some shabby chic picture frames and some very pretty tall glasses. The picture frames will be painted white and I'm going to get out my paints and create a still life of pink roses from my garden to go in them.
When walking in my garden I love noticing my second hand plants that add character. Plants I've taken from diving clumps of iris in Mum's garden and lambs ears from my sister's garden have taken off very well.
Cuttings of hydrangea, a neighbors gave me, have all grown well this year. A little burnt in our very hot summer, but they are budding up beautifully for next spring.
Dad gave me his grandfather's crown of rhubarb. It makes a lovely show of foliage in the border and I think of Dad every time I see it. Recently, I harvested some for a Rhubarb sponge desert to have for Easter lunch.
I harvested about a dozen stems and washed them well before cutting them into one inch peices. I placed them into a saucepan, covered them with water and added half a cup of sugar. I let this come to the boil and simmer until the Rhubarb was soft. I overcooked it a bit but it still worked out great. I added a little cornflour dissolved in water to thicken the syrup before turning off the gas. I spread it into a greased lasagna dish and then set it aside to cool a bit while I whipped up a packet mix of GF sponge cake.
I tipped a ribbon of cake mix over the top of the Rhubarb, moving the bowl up and down until the top was almost all covered. I lightly filled in the gaps with a spoon.
I baked it for about 40mins on 175C until the top was golden and the sponge bounced back when pressed in the middle. I can't believe how nice it tasted. As I'm writing this I'm sorry to discover that I don't have an after picture to post. It was Easter Sunday and I'd had a few glasses of wine so I'll hope you forgive me.
Imagine the sponge puffed and golden with the sweet and tart stewed rhubarb base steaming hot. I served it with whipped cream and it was very popular.
Because I feel bad, I'm posting this pic of some Easter eggs instead. By the way, they are sitting on a marble table that I bought second hand.
Creating a romantic home and garden doesn't have to be prohibitively expensive. Not only do I get to have fun seeing how far I can make my money stretch, decorating and creating a garden in my romantic style, but I also find the character filled pieces that bring my home and garden to life.
It's not something you can achieve quickly. A romantic home and garden is curated over time, but it's absolutely worth it and you always have a reason to drift through your local thrift store and see what treasures you might find for a song.
I hope you all had a lovely Easter and I wish you happy thrifting for items that will add character to your romantic home.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been to hospital twice. But in between, I've still been planning our wedding.
A chronic health condition, that I’ve had since childhood, decided to make its presence felt. I needed a couple of days in hospital waiting for that to pass. Fortunately, I recovered in time to attend a food tasting at our wedding reception venue but then had to go back for a day procedure. All is under control now, as long as I make sure to get adequate rest periods, all will be well.
Fortunately, feet up with a laptop counts as rest and as my head is clear of strong pain killers and anesthetic residue, I can get back to normal. I managed to put together a post for my regular spot on Romancing the Genres, about an adventure I had on my way to Jane Austen’s house. Follow the link to read that. It was the inciting incident that sparked my book the Scottish Billionaire’s Secret Lover. It was my first time overseas and I was on my own. I got hopelessly lost and had to rely on ‘the kindness of strangers’.
As I’m writing this blog, it occurs to me that the heroine of that book, Natalie, is an event planner. Like her, I’m in full-on event planning mode, organizing Sam’s and my wedding. As it’s in July I need to get cracking. So have laptop, will wedding plan. The other day, Sam sat beside me on the couch and we researched at least ten different photographer websites. We settled on Peter Layton and made an appointment to see him.
We sat on a comfy couch and watched samples of his photography on a big screen TV. He takes very romantic shots and is familiar with our wedding venue. We chose a package that suits us which includes a printed wedding album. He also helped with working out the timeline for the day because he needs to plan to be at the best man's house first and then go to my sister’s where I’ll be getting ready and then arrival at the chapel for the ceremony and reception after.
The night out at the tasting exceeded my expectations. Ballara Receptions is a beautiful venue with stunning gardens. The walk from the car park goes through them, past the central lake and mini waterfall. We were able to walk through the chapel again which sent shivers of excitement through me. We mingled with other couples and enjoyed a glass of sparkling wine and were served can-epees in the foyer. We went into the main reception room for a sit down dinner and had the experience our guests will have. Sam and I enjoyed the food samples very much, and tasting the wines. It helped us make our menu choices easy.
They had sample table settings and also a variety of place cards and bomboniere. I really liked the idea of chocolates as a thank you to our guests for coming. I wanted something I could put together myself. I also took a photo of the table setting that I liked, the crystal ball bling is so beautiful. I love sparkles and flowers.
My girlfriend is going to do the table flowers as our wedding present so she can use this photo to see what will work well.
Sam was very keen to have a singer at our ceremony so after some research, we engaged the services of a wedding singer called Sharon Crossman. She sings while the guests are arriving and then during the service. We chose a DJ who is also an MC for the reception. Grant from Le Grand Style Weddings is on the Ballara preferred supplier list and so offered a discount as well. The internet was terrific for choosing these musical people. Sharon’s website has samples of her singing some lovely songs and she has a suggested list of songs for different types of weddings. If you look for her on YouTube there’s a lot more clips of her singing.
The bridesmaids are wearing navy dresses which have been purchased. Sam and the groomsmen are going soon to order their suits. The Next job is to order invitations and mail them out. I’m still looking for a package I like that includes place cards and thank you tags for the bomboniere. I also still need to find a makeup artist and hairstylist for the morning of. I have yet to decide if I’m going to make my own bouquets or get a florist to do them.
For the reception I need to get photos of my mum and Sam’s parents ready for the memory table and a guest book. I need to make a seating plan and have it printed out on A2 paper. Ballara has a lovely white frame to put it in but I’ll have fun with fonts and graphics . I’m going to fill organza bags with a few chocolates for the guest gifts and attach a thank you tag but I haven’t sourced these yet. So it’s on the list.
The color palate for the day is navy and pale pink which I absolutely love. I’m enjoying this journey to our wedding day. I believe all of our care and attention to the details will make the day a rich experience that will stay with us throughout our marriage.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate, romance.
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, recusing roses and planting new ones.