It’s flower drying season!

Everyone who knows me knows I love the changing of the seasons.  When it’s dark and cold in the new year, I am desperate for the first flowers of the season and the changing of the clocks, when my poor old pasty English skin has had enough of summer, I long for crisp autumn mornings.

One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is to dry flowers ready to create displays; my personal favourites being hydrangeas, seed heads, honesty and Chinese lanterns.

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I have a couple of the latter in our garden, but I have to be honest and say that they did not do particularly well this year, having been in a neglected part of the garden, so my mum saved me some from their garden (from a plant I gave them, I might add!) and they are just gorgeous.

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I will be using them, alongside my usual stash of hydrangeas, at shows this year and to make dried Christmas wreaths.  Assuming you keep them indoors or in a porch that doesn’t get much exposure to the elements and that they are stored properly in a box with tissue paper and bubblewrap, you can re-use dried wreaths again the following year.

I find the colours much more in keeping with the time of year than the many brash primary colours you see in shops and I will post some pictures once that time of year comes around so you can how easy it is to make them yourself.

Unlike the lanterns and honesty, you really do need to take hydrangea flowers from the plant to dry.  Timing is everything and my best advice is to keep running your fingers along the petals every day until you can feel them take on a papery quality – you’ll know the day they’re ready, I promise!  Try to leave a decent stem – a minimum of 4 or 5 inches ideally, taking off the leaves once you’ve cut them, so that you’ve got plenty still left to cut when you’ve decided what you’d like to do with them once they’re dried.

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Others have advocated drying them upside down to retain colour, but I generally place one or two stems in a bottle or rose bowl up on a shady shelf somewhere with an inch or so of water and leave them alone until they’re completely dry.  The woody stems remain really quite hard, so they can be easily poked into oasis or chicken wire or even willow wreaths without causing too much damage to the petals.  The colours can be really spectacular and vary wildly even when taken from the same plant.

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This year, I also decided to save some lovely pink delphinium which were part of a bouquet I received from a friend in July  and I’m very happy to say they dry beautifully! They are incredibly delicate – one puff of wind or over-handling and the petals would be on the floor!  As the bouquet started to fade, I took these out and put them in one of my lemonade bottles (LOVE these), without water, without cutting the stems.

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As you can see – delphiniums really keep their colour, which was a nice surprise and something I will remember for next year, assuming the dreaded slugs don’t decimate my plants as they did this year (check out the hostas in the background of the picture above – I HATE snails!!).

If you don’t have lots of space to dedicate to flower drying, but like the look, I can highly recommend Nkuku’s kiko frames, which are ideal for displaying petals and smaller flowers whilst drying. Because they’re glass, you can just wipe clean any ‘bleed’ that comes from the flowers and it would be a nice way to keep wedding flowers or confetti alongside other special bits from the day that aren’t really suitable for traditional frames.

You can find lots of different ideas and methods of drying on our ‘Floral’ board over on pinterest, but not all these ideas will work for you –  I, for instance, have tried many many times to dry flowers upside down, but I honestly find I get the best results when I just leave them alone.  If you can give me any tips for retaining the colour in roses, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Feel free to leave your own hints and tips below for other people to try.

Thanks for reading,
Katie xx

 

My love affair with pinterest

I’ve been on Pinterest for some time now – I signed up back when you had to apply to be a member……so, forever!  I’ve used it for Wedding Planning, Christmas Planning, Dinner Party Planning, Lists of Crafts I Will Never Make, Pictures of Chateaus I will Never Live In……. you name it, I’ve pinned it.

Unlike other sites, Pinterest is that rare beast, an almost entirely positive place to be.  Nobody questions your taste, nobody criticises – or if they do….you never know about it!  You are your own interior designer, event planner and head chef. You have no budget.

It’s coming in particularly handy at the moment, as we are currently working on the teeny tiny galley kitchen at my house and my lovely lovely boyfriend is spending his evenings fiddling about responding to my whims and generally being an incredible kitchen fitter, despite his day job being in IT! I am a dreadful assistant, more focused on paint colour and ‘the fun bits’ than making decisions on electrical requirements and whether or not I am happy with the length of various bits of wood, but, I AM trying and I can already see that the end result is going to be well worth the wait.  I am, as he likes to tell me, a lucky gal………!

I have already warned him that I am going to post pictures of it when it’s finished and I think he is secretly pleased, but in the meantime, I thought I would post some of the awesome kitchens that have inspired us along the way……

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Classic subway tiles paired with oak worktops and cup handles – what’s not to love?

 

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Open shelving against white walls – we were determined to let in lots of light, which means, for us, not putting up wall cabinets
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Moving our fridge means we’ll have room for …..a pantry!  Heaven!  Although I doubt it will be as neat and tidy as this one.

 

I look forward to posting pictures of my own kitchen in the not too distant future – we have a little jaunt to NYC planned in the next couple of weeks (he’s right, I AM a lucky gal), so it won’t be until next month that we finally finish.  In the meantime, feel free to share your own kitchen successes below…….it will help to keep us motivated to finish our own project!

PS: Remember that episode of Ab Fab when Saffron is determined to make Edie chose a kitchen and Edie & Patsy end up going to New York on Concorde in search of door handles……..?  We can relate!

Rainy day jobs and why I love them….

Normally, the summer months are understandably spent out and about sourcing new pieces, visiting fairs, dealers and brocantes and generally enjoying the freedom I’m lucky to enjoy in this job.  But – hey, we live in the UK, and it’s always possible that an entire weekend – or even a week – will be lost to rain.

This weekend was just such a weekend, so I had to find something else to do, because while I am at my happiest digging for treasure, constant downpours see me running inside!  There’s always mending and restoring to do, chandeliers to rebuild, textiles to clean and press, stock to sort and – my favourite….. cutlery to polish.

I have to admit, cutlery is one of my addictions.  I am a great believer in *useful* antiques.  We all love the curios; the strange and beautiful things we see along the way, but certainly from my perspective, the majority of what I buy (and therefore my lovely customers buy), are pieces they can use every day, if they so wished.

There’s something beautiful about vintage and antique cutlery that you simply do not get with modern pieces.  Whether it’s the engraved blade of a fish knife, the elegant handle on a mother of pearl service or a set of dainty teaspoons, my heart always beats a little faster when I see some tarnished beauties languishing at the bottom of a box, just waiting for a new home.

This sweet little set of teaspoons which I recently picked up was absolutely desperate for a clean, as you can see. There are a number of cleaning products suited to the job on the market, but I always, always use good old silvo.  You can buy the wadding, but I find it much easier and cost efficient to buy the liquid.

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It’s useful to have a few cloths to hand for cleaning – I tend to clean lots of pieces all in one go, so I lay them out on an old towel, rub in some silvo, a small amount at a time, then leave it to ‘soak’ for a couple of minutes before using a clean, lint-free cloth to rub it off and buff up the piece.  Old tea towels are great for this and I always have a little stash for polishing.  Handy hint – children’s toothbrushs are fantastic for getting into the details on silver plated and silver items!

I’m sure you will agree – it’s quite the difference!

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The same can be seen on this lovely rose bowl, picked up the same weekend, which will also be hitting our etsy shop shortly.  The difference between the polished right and the unpolished left is pretty obvious.

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So, don’t be put off by the sad, tarnished pieces you see next time you’re out hunting. Most pieces you discover will clean up brilliantly, and if there are a few scuffs and signs of wear even after your attempts…… well, the Hello Vintage motto is always to consider great finds to be ‘perfectly imperfect’ – a little patina simply adds to the beauty of the piece.

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Hope you had a great weekend hunting for your own treasure! xx

PS:  If you prefer to use new cutlery, or just like to have a matching set, we have the John Lewis Vintage Ivory cutlery at home which we use when we’re ‘being fancy’ and I have to say I absolutely adore them.