Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My Quotidian Pursuits At The Cottage

Hello lovely friends,
These past few weeks have been full of all sorts of particulars. Let us have tea, shall we? I'm sipping some green tea {I am forever in need of an eensy bit of natural caffeine} with buttered biscuits {nothing fancy, the utmost simple Bisquick recipe} and the remaining bit of my strawberry preserves from last summer. 

I have managed to capture some delicate photographs as I've been really trying to create a much more lovely portfolio of imagery. I think I am well on my way to having never taken any professional photography classes. What do you think? 

I spent several days cleaning and deciding on a few lovely pieces of furniture for the cottage. I love the refinement of the Victorian Ornate era, but I also love the simplistic primitive humility of a little plain cottage.
I spent one whole day cleaning out the kitchen cupboards, drawers, pantry and guest room. I made 3 trips to the donation center. I must say I feel so refreshed and the energy is full and bustling through the cottage as if there's anticipation of wonderment to ensue. 

I rehung several of my iron skillets, revived a few that were rusted. I also found a new one that I picked up at the thrift store. It's the perfect size for a few scrambled eggs for breakfast mornings.
My BG and I spent time at the fresh market. I am always admiring their displays. It has such a quaint ambiance about it. I believe its the dim lighting that creates a moodiness effect.  
I found some yummy Walker butter shortbread cookies for my tea. I am sorely addicted to those cookie biscuits. I can't help myself from eating the package in its entirety. 
I have gardened and walked this little row of pebbled rocks so many times and yet I came upon these three hearts and I was so tickled to know that I was being blessed by the universe with my most favorite of signs.
More playing with my camera, lighting, and angles. I have not a clue what I'm doing but this is my place of creating and figuring it out as I go along. I hope you'll be patient with me as I find my way.
The gardener and I have been sleeping on a certain side of the bed. I have an injury in my right arm and my BG wanted to switch sides to see if he fared better too. Do you have a certain side of the bed you sleep on?

This week I stripped the bed and started fresh. I donated all the old comforters and sheet sets to the thrift store and picked up a new set at TJ Maxx with a high thread count. We now have one sheet set and I have always gone with white, for white is very versatile. I can bleach them and hang them on the clothesline. There is nothing more refreshing than the faint smell of fresh sun-dried linens.
Some brie cheese tossed in the oven with a touch of garlic and olive oil. I also toasted some sourdough bread in the oven with some freshly grated parmesan cheese. This to me is a meal in itself.
I spent some time on the internet looking for a china teapot to match some thrift store plates that I picked up for a few dollars. I am seeking a bone china teapot, and truly want it to match. I love the softness of the pink in this plate. Soft pink is also one of my brand colors, so I love using it for flat lays and styling.
courtesy of pinterest
I kept Jayne Eyre the movie playing in the background for almost a solid two weeks. When I am working I play the soundtrack at nausea. What type of music do you enjoy?
courtesy of pinterest

Blue is another of my brand colors so I like playing with teacups as they are one of my favorite things to collect. I think I shall eventually gather my bearings on a signature style that is all my own. I did some cookie baking this week. Lemon poppy seed cookies, they are not my favorite, but its variety I seek. I won't be making these again for quite a long time.
When organizing and purging, I take everything out and then sort through. I ask myself these three questions as I hold the items: Do I love it truly? Does it hold a negative memory or energy for me? Is it useful?

The Gardener and I went driving and he helped me seek places to scout out for photo shoots for my blog.
courtesy of getty
I wrote a quite eloquent author proposal for the Mercedes Benz dealership. I am shooting the photos for it this weekend, if the weather permits.

Florida weather has a peculiar way of teaching its residents a sense of adapting to the fickleness. Just when we are getting comfortable, the temperatures rise or we get rain showers with an inconsistency. The mugginess is definetly something to get used to.
I hung some photos of precarious gentleman folk in the hall, and painted up a few silhouettes of the gardener and i.
I made the gardener his tea. I love to try all sorts of different kinds. loose leaf tea is my favorite. We have a darling Teavana tea room in the mall about ten miles away from the cottage. I love to go there, smell and taste the samples of the day.
Yard sales and estate sales will never elude the gardener and I, even if we never buy a thing it's still so much fun to window shop.
Our Brandywine tomatoes have finally stopped dropping, but I can say we had the best bounty we've ever had. They were so wonderful. I had sliced tomatoes and cucumbers every day with my black eyed peas and johnny cake cornbread. The most perfect southern meal to be had surely.
This was an image, as well as the one below I found on Pinterest and its a great inspirational piece for a painting I'd like to paint this week. Do you keep secret pinterest boards?
I ripped apart a bunch more fencing and I plan to patch the pieces together and create a makeshift desk so that I can have a surface to sew on.
I'm purely desperate to get my hands back to smocking, embroidery, and sewing some beautiful summer dresses. I found a wonderfully soft weaved Pima cotton, and I'll be making a shirt out of it with ruffled sleeves, pearl buttons, and a peter pan collar. 
Heres my pile of original victorian clothes that I've collected over the past few years that need to be mended. I have such a pile, I think I may be forced to find new uses for them, as they seem to find themselves in the mending pile more so than I am able to wear them. They are in constant need of being tended to. 
Heres another cabinet {below} that holds medicines, vitamins and essential oils. I aged labels from the office supply store and then used my quill pen to calligraphy on the bottles. 
Here's a TTT {Treasure Trove Tip} when I had to start all over from scratch and I no longer had a supply of old bottles, I made sure that whenever we bought new spices, I'd always buy glass. I then would age the lids with paint to make them appear like they were rusted, and soak the labels off. The metal file drawers were one of the few things that my ex-husband mailed down to me so I stamped some labels with rubber stamps for the bottles. The oils and gummy vitamins are always being used up so I keep them in the same bottles and just hide those in the metal drawers.
 I spent many hours working on my book author proposal so that I can afford to pay for my 13 city book tour. I think it's going to be so much fun, that I can hardly wait. 
How have you been spending your spring thus far? Ihope your'e having a lovely time. 
If you havent signed up for my newletter "The Current" I'd love it if you did. I'm working on a giveaway for signing up, but I havent thought of anything spectacular yet. Do you have any ideas? I'd love to hear from you. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Chapter In My Story And A Cordial Invitation

Hello lovelies,

As I was contemplating my newest post I was in quite the tizzy deciding on where to start our lovely little conversation. Perhaps, a cup of tea and then we shall commence. I must get on with it, as I have a mouthful of pleasantries to discuss with you. I am readily one to go on about things so I will now begin.  What are you choosing to sip today? I am having some lavender and rose. We have the sweetest little shop called Abby's here in Tampa that is owned by a darling little 90-year-old lady. You guessed it, her name is Abigail, Abby for short. She has spent her whole life caring and serving others by providing healthy holistic items for the community. Its an experience to go there. My BG {Beloved Gardener } and I will spend hours in there rummaging and finding darling treasures to bring home to the cottage. It's like a little field trip on every outing.
I have so many lovely ideas swirling in my little MerryMaid mind. I want to truly begin implementing into this blog of all things that are beautiful, whimsical accouterments, ideas aplenty and to inspire us each to be ever learning something new for our lives, or to have moments of clarity with perhaps a great internal dilemma that once plagued our mind with misunderstanding. I want you to eagerly swim to this beautiful blog as it will become a restful place for your soul to land. I want your heart to feel true that once you've landed here you are embraced and loved. I want you to have a tiny escape from the realist approach to life. I do truly love to teach women to create a life of love and I am finding through my hidden treasure within that I do believe there's an in-between amplitude. One where I can inspire you and also create a dwelling of fairytale life in order for us to be able to transition and transform in a graceful, exuberant and aw inspiring way. However that looks for you I know it will be most delightful, and I so very much want to be apart of your voyage, may I?

I want us to share as women. As I've been on my own voyage, I have often pondered on the time when I was in a dark and pivotal moment of sadness and pain. I looked above the surface and swam deep into the depths and I couldn't find anyone there. It was a travesty in my soul. It was a gutwrenching place to be, but one now that I see was quite necessary. For how else would I understand you and fellow lovely women were it not for my own personal experience. I was literally all alone in this enormous all-encompassing world. As I have been able to resurface and love myself through I vowed within that I wanted to create a special little dwelling where women are loved, accepted with no boundaries, feel a sense of community and most importantly an unconditional love that exceeds this life in incomprehensible ways. I would love to be that small 'channel' along with you on your beautiful fairytale voyage.

I am so fortunate and feel so extraordinarily joyful that I am the person I am today. I'm cultivating, flourishing, fostering and welcoming with the wonderment of my very own particular old-fashioned lifestyle, my experiences as a mother, a wife, homemaker, author, artist, and entrepreneur.

I wonder if I'm the only one through this voyage of a being published author and illustrator that I find it in many ways to have odd feelings when I am the one focused on front and center. I have always been the one in the background cheering on another in the front of me. As of late, I have found it quite interesting. I wake up and think to myself Raquel, this voyage is yours and yours alone. I'm so used to it always being about another, and I quite readily can't comprehend that on some days. It's a rather odd feeling to have. Do you feel such as I in that way? I am determined to get used to the idea of being front and center, and I should like to implore you too as well. We are all extraordinary women, each and every single one of us. Let us celebrate that with elegance and a sense of bold self-approval.
I think so often times in our lives, or should I speak for myself that I would slowly navigate to transform into someone else. I'm not quite sure if it's because for so long I didn't love myself, so as an artist I created fairytales and I reinvented myself so often as a way to escape my own unpleasant life. I thought perhaps being someone else would ease the blow for me. I also have contemplated whether that's the way a child learns to cope when tragedy, heartache, pain, violence and all manner of discord surrounds them. I accept that and now I am able to focus my thoughts upon other lovely particulars. Dwelling in such affairs are not good when it comes to matters of the heart. I have learned that especially by living the law of attraction. Why must we watch the awful news, terrible stories, television programs that bring literally no relief? The thing that each of these activities brings to us is simply to see and stay focused on disharmony and negativity.

When I was a religious woman we were exhorted to not watch and visit this manner of things as it was considered ungodly. Whereas I am not a religious woman any longer, I don't see it much differently than someone that is on a spiritual voyage living the law of attraction. I have just reidentified the title is all. I think it's readily apparent in similarities if one can adjust and follow their heart with regards to the understanding and unconditional love for others.

It sounds perhaps odd in a way, but I often tend to believe that I'm not so different than many other women. We are all so very different but so very much alike. It's quite the oxymoron, don't you agree?

As of late, I have continued to transform into the even more loveliest and beautiful mermaid siren that I've always known was deep within me; just a little buried like a wonderful worn old treasure at the bottom of a ship wreckage from centuries past.

I love to relate my life to that of a Mermaid Siren as I feel so connected to the mystery and seriousness of a sultry siren. Doesn't it create a sense of wonderment? I surely think so.

How often we as women have or currently do compare ourselves to other women. I think it's a natural conditioned idea that I am so appreciative to no longer indulge in.

It has never made for a sense of internal happiness and bliss for me as I know why. I am none of the other women. Even though I am an author and an Illustrator, I tend to do many things that seem similar in some ways to other writers and artists, but I am nothing like them in so many other ways.
For many years I would think that something was wrong with me. Whether it was because I had an abrasive way about me as a mother, I have never liked really feminine things such as baby pink curtains and flowery comforters. I don't as readily enjoy frilly adornments in my cottage either. I no longer apologize for my likes and dislikes. I am very much able to appreciate others for their tastes and separate the unlikeliness for myself and that feels especially fulfilling. I happen to love mystery, oddities, and very dark and serious design. I'm not sure it would be called seriousness, but what I mean to say is that I very much like primitive and Victorian. The primitive as it humbles the Victorian in a way of not feeling stiff and oppressive.

Perhaps it's my age, I'm not quite sure, neither do I date myself. I truly believe age is just a number, and I can and will continually spend my earthly days creating the storylike fairytale scenarios in my mind as a way of allowing and following my heart each and every day.

I should hope you will too.

I was reminded yesterday to not look at my peers, but to study the greats. I really loved that piece of advice. I do indeed follow the great which is Beatrix Potter. Cant you tell, I have an affinity for the lovely Beatrix Potter. My storybook is set to release on her birthday July 28,2018.
So much so I have emulated many things she did and I intend to even more throughout my tale of being a writer and illustrator.

I wanted to peak your interest in my next post which will be all about how my process is coming along with my children's storybook. I've been diligently working away at a large sponsorship proposal for The Tale of Merrymaid Scarlette Rose book tour, photoshoots and diligently working away at my photography skills and flat lays.

I suppose it's high time I get to chatting it up with you as to what's happening here at the cottage and my process for my self-published book.

We are indeed friends, are we not?

What are your happenings this week?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Why I Will Never Swim Away From Being A Blogger

My dear Readers,

My wifi was down for five days and I certainly could've gone to the nearest Starbucks to write, but then a tropical storm came through and I didn't much feel like braving it.

I'm still gathering my feel for this delightful place {my blog} that I call my happy place, my abundance provider so I would ask of you to please bear with me, as I continue to get my sea legs. I am focusing on my content and how I may better serve each of you. I have learned through analytics that my main blog readers are upwards in age, consume my content on their home computers, and also seem to like my old-fashioned homemaking posts along with my posts about fear, soul mates, and transformation the most.
Having gotten that out of the way, I'd like to brave the subject of social media and the internet. I get my content ideas from either something I have encountered, as well as, my youtube subscribers. They know what they are seeking and I feel inclined to serve them as they have been with me since the beginning.

I have spoken about the topic of social media/internet on my blog and several times on my Youtube channel. It seems to be a big discussion for many. first id like to touch on a few things that I have noticed recently, and some that my friends have made mention to me within the last few months.

I could keep to myself on the subject at hand and leave it up to the beautiful millennials to cover this topic, but no doubt women in their 30's, 40's and up still stumble upon the messiness that is social media; Instagram in particular.

it's interesting the way Instagram seems to be taking over with regards to the dozens of sponsored posts I see on my feeds on Instagram and Facebook. How we need to gain followers, and there are new hacks and courses enough to beat the ban. {my southern slang is talkin'}
I happen to think Instagram is quite lovely, I have a wonderful rapport with social media now. After reading Gary Vaynerchuk's book "Crushing It", I've modulated completely. I made peace with many things in regards to social media. Social media is nothing more than a mindset.
I believe bloggers should not put all of their eggs in the Instagram basket, or they are in danger of going bust. How often I have had friends that were or still are bloggers, have turned more to Instagram to make a living. The many bloggers that started when I started over ten years ago have slowly stopped posting like they used to. They use it as a hub to get advertising and don't seem to be as evergreen, authentic or consistent anymore. What was once a truly organic place to be, many have taken up real estate elsewhere or just sold out completely.

In my opinion, I would never put all of my energy into Instagram. I'm one to know from experience you have got to always think about the future. How would I have ever known I was going to be starting my entire life over from scratch after a divorce, or that my beloved gardener had a serious health scare a few months ago? No one is promised forever, and I will be the main breadwinner at some point in the near future. You can't put all of your eggs in the basket of thinking Instagram is going to be around forever. Followers do not equal money in your pocketbook. It may be great now, but one must always be thinking outside of the box. and in my opinion, everything always comes back around. I had a friend that became famous on Vine, and we all know what happened to Vine. He wasn't able to translate that over to another platform to make a career of it. Now that is not to say that it can't be done, but I'm just saying be open and don't discount blogging as a reputable business.

I am a content creator and not an influencer. There is a big difference between the two. Truth be known I still get people willing to work with me even though I am small on Instagram. Do you know why? Because I have a real community, be it small, it's genuine. I don't have fake followers, bots nor have I surrendered to the hype of buying followers. I just learned of a friend doing this the other day and I must say I was a little disappointed in her. Oh well, she's on her own journey, I just can't help but wonder if that will ultimately end up biting her in the derrière.

I think the ones' that love the art of slow living,  will always love a good old-fashioned blog. I know for myself I have been reading blogs for years. I adore pouring a nice cup of tea, pulling up my favorite blogs and reading. It's a sheer delight and truly feeds my soul. I  love reading blogs and writing my very own blog. That will never change, ever. I think that the true writers will rise to the top like cream, and the rest will fall by the wayside. So while many are focused on Instagram, I'll be over here tiddling away at a gorgeous blog making a new name for myself.

I want my blog to be like a camera. I want people to experience my blog in the way you go from auto to manual. I want to see my blog readers after following my blog for a year, and then two. How will all of our lives have changed, expanded and grown? I bet by leaps and bounds.

Have you experienced any social media faux pas that has tangled you up in a little fisherman's net of frenzy?

 Just a teeny reminder that if you haven't yet, swim on over to my side panel and subscribe to my newsletter, "The Current."

Yours til my next swim, Raquel

Raquel's Letterbox-In-The-Hedge

Hello dear friends,  I truly believe that a blog can be a kind of post-office-in-the-hedge. Think of it such as this dear friend. There is a...

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