Monday, November 28, 2011

D.I.Y. Burlap Wreaths

I am drawm to anything made out of Burlap. I love the rustic look it provides especially when paired with other textured material such as linen, lace and unbleached cotton. I recently saw a burlap wreath in a Christmas Decorating Magazine, where they took Burlap Ribbon and looped and tied it to a wire form to create a wreath. I loved the idea but not having any burlap ribbon on hand I decided to make one of my own using a piece of tighter weave Burlap material. I cut strips of the fabric approximately 15 inches long at two different widths (large and small). I then made each stip into a loose ruffle. Once I had all my stripes loosely ruffled I started by glueing the wider strips using a glue gun to my form (which was a used wood embroidery hoop). Once covered I then added a second row on top with the smaller width ruffled strip to create depth and fullness. I finished it off with three flowers made from burlap and a burlap bow at the top. In the picture you can see a crown ornament hung in the centre but this is optional.

If you want to try making one for yourself below are a few more variations of Burlap Wreaths I found on the internet that provide step by step easy to follow instructions.

Have fun making your own! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Feather Trees

I have a real fondness for Feather Trees and always bring them in for Easter, Halloween and of course Christmas. They add such a whimical touch to your holiday decor and because of their small size are very versatile. You could have one in every room of your house if you wanted to...even the bedroom. They come in a variety of colors and sizes and their wide spaced branches make them easy to decorate . Many companies now make ornaments specifically designed for Feather Trees. 

It is said that the first Feather Christmas trees were created in Germany around the mid to late eighteen hundreds and are regarded as one of the first types of artificial Christmas trees. These first artificial trees were, in part, a response to growing environmental concerns in the late 19th century concerning deforestation associated with the harvest of Christmas trees in Germany. The tradition of feather Christmas trees was brought to North America by German immigrants and were crafted until 1930 when they fell out of favor. However I am happy to say that in recent years they are  enjoying a come back. Antique Feather Trees from Germany are highly collectible and as such can be very expensive and often are not in the best condition. However a great alternative is to purchase a reproduction Feather Tree as the cost is much less. Made in the same traditional way using real turkey feathers you would be hard pressed to tell the difference. 

It is recommented that you store your Feather Tree in a climate controlled area such as a closet. Heat can make the feathers brittle and the dampness found in basements will cause mildew. It is also recommended that you  store your Feather Tree with the branches open if you can. They can be stored in the closed up position, but as the branches are made of floral wire, each time they are bent to open or close it can weaken them. A box will allow for air flow around the tree and cedar chips keep moths away. Or cover with a pillowcase. Save the silicone packets from shoe boxes to throw in with your tree to absorb any moisture. If stored properly, they can last for  hundreds of years to be passed down and enjoyed from generation to generation. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Nordic Noel"

I have always been a fan of the French Nordic style so decided that this year I would decorate the store for Christmas in this style. My husband is from Norway and I have actually had the pleasure of spending a Christmas there. Christmas traditions in Norway are very different from ours. "God Jul" as they say in Norway features a Norwegian Santa Claus called "Julenisse" who wears a long red stocking cap and has a long white beard. He comes to the house with a sack of presents on Christmas Eve.

Christmas food traditions in Norway often feature potatoes, red cabbage, salted lamb's ribs, ribbed pork and sausage although with modern times Turkey has now crept into the dinner menu for some families. Deserts range from cloudberry cream, rice pudding to crème caramel.

On Christmas Eve family and friends join hands to walk around the Christmas tree, singing carols. The children anxiously await the knock on the door, announcing the arrival of Julenissen with his sack full of gifts. Before he takes the presents out of the sack he always asks "Are there any good children here?" I loved experiencing the Christmas traditions of Norway and try to maintain some of those same traditions when celebrating Christmas with my family at home in Canada.

Here is a sampling of some of the wonderful French Nordic Christmas decorations offered at French Vanilla for this holiday season:


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Road Trip....

This past weekend my sister and I attended the first "Island Retreat Antiques and Vintage Martket" in Anacortes, Washington. This market was hosted by the very talented duo Deb and Bob Kennedy of Retreat Design. Check out their blog at: .  Both my sister and I really enjoyed this show and even managed to bring back a few goodies ......for myself and for the store. One of my treasures purchased at the show is this vintage inspired Santos from "Alley Cats Antiques". I knew she had to come back to Victoria with me!

Anacortes is a lovely quaint town. We also enjoyed checking out a number of antique shops just down the street from where the show was held.  

If I could have gotten this baby in my car it would have come home with me as well!

Cute little boat moared at the local marina

Fun oversized drain spout  

All in all had a great time and will definately be attending this show again next year! Here are the dates for the shows to be held next year so make sure you mark them on your calendar!

Hello Bonjour....

Well this is my first attempt at blogging! It's been quite a year and a half for me. I retired from the Federal Government after 34 years and in October 2006, I started a new retail store called "French Vanilla Home and Garden". In July 2007 I launched my store's e-commerce website and now this....blogging! Who would have thought! Has it been challenging?....a bit, stressful?.... some days, rewarding?....most definitely! I love owning my own retail store, filling it with things I love and helping my customers find that perfect item or gift! I am enjoying this new phase of my life and look forward to learning new things, having new adventures and making new friends along the way!

(established July/2008)