Sur Ma Tête / The Winnie

Processed with VSCOcam with n3 presetSo Winnie isn’t truly vintage (parts of her are), but she is handmade (I figure this series doesn’t have to be limited to vintage, if it’s sur ma tête at any point, then it deserves a wee mention) I did however get her at a vintage/antique shop called Ransack the Universe, here in Toronto. She is made from a vintage men’s tie, and crafted into this exquisite headband, which has a fascinator feel to it and likely the reason I was drawn to it. It’s such a fun piece, although, I often have a terrible time finding an outfit to pair it with. It may be that I don’t own anything that seems to really go with it, color wise. If I want to wear it, I find I end up styling the outfit around the piece, instead of the other way around – all my other hats just go with most things in my closet, but not this demanding baby, no no, she likes to be the star of the show.

Name: Winnie
Age: it’s hard to say, she was reincarnated, so she could be like really old…
Talents: she makes you feel like Blair Waldorf, which is to say you feel ultra gorgeous, dangerously seductive, too rich for your own good, kind of snobby, the most stylish girl in school/life and everyone hates you for it, but you’ll prove you are actually a decent person one day cause you are just a product of your environment and don’t know any better – so Winnie can turn you into a tv show character, the ultimate talent.

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5 Years of Coriander Girl

DSC_0891On Sunday, Meaghan and I headed over to Coriander Girl for their 5 year anniversary party. Since chatting with Alison back when I interviewed her and took pictures of her shop for this blog, I knew what an important day this was for her. I’m sure when taking a leap of faith and diving head first into your dream job, you can only hope for the best, never really certain of the long term outcome. Being a business owner has got to be hard, and being a successful business has to be even more difficult. But if any shop would be a success, this one would be it. So congratulations Alison and the whole Coriander Family! I had such a lovely evening, meeting some new people, seeing old faces, snacking on delicious desserts (those donuts!!!), and getting my wine and cheese fix.

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Carousel Antiques

DSC_4212Even after several decades of marriage, my parents still learn new things about eachother. One thing they sort-of recently came to realize is that they both have a great deal of interest in antiques. Antiquing has become a regular thing for them, and it’s lovely to see them really share something together. I am the only one of their children that shows even a mild interest in this hobby of theirs, (maybe more than mild, almost everything I wear on my body is old, and my home is decorated like a grandmother’s) so while I was in Ottawa they brought me to an adorable antique shop located in the village of Franktown, in a historic building from 1832. Carousel Antiques was an endless cavern of exploration for me. To be honest, I don’t normally buy much when I go to antique shops. I get overwhelmed at how much i could buy, and instead buy almost nothing (unless its the best ever) and just take pictures of these delightfully cluttered spaces. It’s near impossible to get a bad picture when you photograph spaces like this. Carousel was filled with gorgeous wooden furniture in almost perfect condition, vintage clothing (!!!), kitchen and housewares that date from the 30s-50s, collectibles and more. My absolute favourite room was the one holding all the kitchenwares. They have mono-chromatically colour coordinated each corner of the room, which was so aesthetically pleasing to me (if you are looking for a specific colour of something, this makes it very easy). The red and yellow corners were the most prominent – we’re talking Christmas explosion and bursting sunshine madness. Unfortunately I did not find any pastel pink dishes that I so desperately wanted to find. Had they had a pink corner of the room, well I’d probably still be there, living in it. I did however come away with an amazing 1950’s beaded cardigan in pristine condition (im scared to wear it) and an adorable yellow floral apron to make myself look cute while baking.

If you ever find yourself in Ottawa (or Carleton Place or Smith Falls), it’s worth the drive. And the owners are super friendly and know their stuff!

9619 Hwy 15
Franktown (between Carleton Place and Smith Falls)
613-284-2695

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Cool Careers: Alison Westlake & Coriander Girl

DSC_0935I met Alison about a year ago when Meg and I were putting together a post for Blooming Leopold – sharing some of our favourite haunts in our neighbourhood, Parkdale. Alison is the amazing lady behind the beautiful floral & antique shop, Coriander Girl. Located in our lovely little neighbourhood of Parkdale, she opened her doors in 2009.  Alison has such a beautiful aesthetic, and her shop reflects that in the most undeniably sweet & charming way. Seriously, this woman is incredible. Not only is she talented with her wee hands, and knack for interior decorating, she is also such a kind and gentle person.

Alison was sweet enough to let me come by for a few hours, snap some photos of her shop (and little bunny Harry), and talk flowers & antiques with me. She was also kind enough to answer some interview questions so I could share them with you.

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DSC_0776How did you get into your line of work?

I was an actress living in Parkdale. I dreamed of opening a flower boutique, not
because of any real experience but just based on my love for garden grown flowers.
I worked for a landscape design company when I was in school and fell in love with
flowers then. I turned 30 and started really questioning my career, I thought, “why
not now?” I put it out there verbally to friends and family that I wanted to open
a flower shop and a friend told me about the ‘for rent’ sign down the street from
my apartment. I met the sweetest little old man who asked me “You take?” I said,
“I take.” With $50 in my bank account, I ran home and spent 3 days writing my
business plan, borrowed $10,000 off of my Nana and opened the doors to Coriander
Girl one month later.

What came first, antique love, or floral love?

I always thought antique love came first but when I really think about it, I was
making floral bracelets out of dandelions when I was 7.

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DSC_0781All-time favourite bloom?

All time favourite bloom remains Queen Anne’s lace. It grows wild everywhere
including the fields on my mom and stepdads farm. Those fields were so romantic
to me as a teen. I’d curse the sky, crying over some lost love, wistfully dream about a
new crush, dream about traveling the world, all the while surrounded by these little
lacey snowflakes, no two exactly the same. They’re just so exquisite. Second to that,
any garden rose really, Astrantia is also a top 5 and Scabiosa too. It’s like choosing
your favourite child! How can I possibly do that?!

Favourite recent antique find?

A chippy old drop leaf table from one of my favourite
auctions on lower Roncesvalles. But I have an obsession with mason and apothecary
bottles. There has to be a 12 step program out there somewhere.

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DSC_0789Advice for anyone aspiring to open their own shop?

DO IT! If you think about all the reasons you shouldn’t do it, you won’t do it.
So stop thinking about it! Dreaming is great but doing is so much better. And if it
doesn’t work, you can always un-do it.

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DSC_0807How would you describe your aesthetic?

My aesthetic is a soft, neutral palette with floral accents, lacey textures. I always
say if it looks like you found it in grandmas closet, I’ll probably love it! Nothing
too contrived design wise. I like a house that’s lived in and comfortable but not
cluttered. With florals, the look is natural, like they were just picked from the garden
and loosely arranged.

Where do you look for inspiration?

I find inspiration anywhere from a city stroll to a country bike ride. I’m a sucker for
design blogs and magazines. A favorite Sunday afternoon is often spent catching up
on blogs and curling up with a favourite gardening magazine and endless cups of
tea.

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DSC_0819Favourite non-vase vase?

Favourite non vase would be anything old that holds water, from an old milk bottle,
to a watering can. I love using tea cups and creamers for wee arrangements. Old tins
are a staple for us.

Describe your process when styling a wedding.

When styling a wedding, it’s really about marrying the brides vision with our
aesthetic. We always make sure the couple loves the look of what we do because it’s
quite specific. The service we offer is unique in that we work with a local grower
and most of the florals are coming straight from local gardens. We ask our couples
for their colour scheme and most people are just so excited to see what’s blooming
the week of their wedding and they trust us to make beautiful arrangements from
what’s in season. We encourage our couples to supply their own vessels or rent
antique ones from us.

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DSC_0864Where do you like to get your flowers?

Our flowers come from a local grower, My Luscious Backyard and we frequent the
markets near the airport for specific things we need that our local grower is unable
to supply.

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DSC_0904Tell us a little about your home.

Our home is like the shop, creamy white walls, chippy furniture and doilies
everywhere. When I can, I bring home flowers and put them in every room. That’s
how I know I am doing what I love because even after a 14 hour day, I’ll still arrange
flowers for me and my husband.

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DSC_0927Do you host any workshops?

This Winter I’m so excited to finally introduce a series of floral workshops at the
store. It’s been a part of my business plan since that day I signed the lease and ran
home in tears.

You must feel incredibly accomplished.

To watch my wee business grow from a tiny seed into something so remarkably
rewarding, to check the boxes of all the things I had hoped for my business but can’t
believe actually came true. I realize just how powerful the laws of attraction can be
when you decide you deserve happiness.

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Thank you so much Alison for sharing a bit of your life with us!