Seasonal Changes and Inspiration For My Shop

This chippy paint mantel was the highlight of some new changes we have recently made to the interior of my shop.  

It inspired me to create a special  "tea" Christmas stocking out of burlap and a few scraps of fabric and ribbon. 

I brought in some simple Christmas greenery and added it here and there.

I love this silver glass light fixture, but I have decided to add it to the inventory of things I have for sale.
I am finding it hard to not want to hoard all these things for myself.

Like this beautiful curvy teapot and oh so shabby heavy silverplate tray.

Within the past few weeks I have had so much fun just tweaking here and there.  Henri's idea was to offer up tea served in English ironstone teacups and saucers accompanied with biscotti or a few dark chocolate wafers.  My shop doesn't see much business this time of year, but I am enjoying this quiet time to plan and dream and tweak to my heart's content.

Outside the shop is a former storage shed that we turned into a place to house our wheel thrown raku pottery.  I gave everything a white washing with paint, and to pretty it up I added some corbels and a sea lavender wreath with a lantern, along with my hand made soft aqua pottery sign.  Henri added the crowning touch with the chandelier he installed.

Most mornings while I'm still in bed dreaming away about all the things I want to do with my shop, Henri is up at the crack of dawn enjoying his first cup of coffee while he watches the sunrise.

If it weren't for him taking the time to capture these shots for me, I would not know what I had been missing.    Now that I know, I have been making it a point to wake up early too.

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you too are enjoying the changes and beauty of this holiday season!


Scenting It Up and Refining My Style

The closest scent I have found to the heady fragrance of the rosa rugosas that grow along the shore here, is Yankee Candle's Fresh Cut Roses.   I adore this scent so much that I have been melting and hand-pouring these candles into vintage tea cups to sell in my shop.   It is the end of the season here for shop keepers, but I am still having loads of fun trying to further define and fine tune the style I envision my shop to have.

A few first time visitors have told me they had expectations of finding a 'tea room' when they first saw the name of my shop.  Since I had a late start for the season, I just wanted to open and get established this year and to test the waters to see how my shop would be received in a town of less than 300 year round people. In Sorrento, you can buy postage stamps and lobsters, and even enjoy a stay at a lovely B&B, but there was never any place that you could just stop in for a cup of coffee or tea while you visit or just browse around for a unique gift.

There are some days that I question my sanity of opening a gift shop that is housed in a gutted-out mobile home and located right next to a long forgotten cemetery.  Sounds pretty crazy when you put it that way.  Yet, there is something inexplicable, even to me, that keeps me focused on what is to come of it all.   In the meantime, I am testing out things like how long moss will survive when planted in our raku pottery.  Displayed on a vintage tea tray, my tiny container moss gardens are part of the local flora and fauna that are found right in our backyard.    

When I found this vintage silver plate and glass carafe a few years ago, I knew it would not get much use in my household, but even so, I just had to have it anyway. (My practical side rarely ever wins.)  And now I am thankful for that, as I have managed to come up with a lovely new use for it in my shop!  

It now holds a simmering brew of lemons, rosemary and vanilla extract.  Found on Pinterest, it is the signature scent that Williams-Sonoma uses in their stores.  I just love it.    

The scent is clean and somewhat subtle.  

Visually, I love the warmth it adds to my shop.  

There is so much more I would love to share with you about my shop.  We have had adventures, discoveries, and numerous 'coincidences' in the stories of a few of the people that have found their way here.  People who have found us by accident, as well as people whose visits have been planned.  There is one in particular that I would like to bring up in hopes that she will contact me when she returns home from her vacation.  It is a story that deserves it's own post and I need permission from her to share a couple of pictures I took of her and her daughter-in-law from that day.  

And I would be remiss if I did not mention how thankful I am for those of you that still find your way over to my blog in spite of my long absence in between posts and visits to all of you over on your blogs!  I look forward to catching up again with you all real soon.  


The Power of Suggestion

In real life, I never planned to open a shop on the Coast of Maine called Frenchmans Bay Tea Co. -- I only dreamed about it.   Now it has become a reality that I am very excited to share with you!  

 I am so thrilled to be able to welcome you to the real Frenchmans Bay Tea Co., sited on the 3 mile long peninsula of Sorrento, which is surrounded by the waters of Frenchmans Bay.

First, I must share a couple of  things with you that are interesting about my new shop.  It is housed in an old mobile home that we gutted and salvaged on a shoe string budget.  Our major investment became the cost of several gallons of white paint that we used to transform it's dark, drab and dated interior. We wanted to create the look of a well-worn, yet inviting space that would house a retail shop for our raku pottery and fun vintage treasures as well as coffee, ice cream and sweet treats.   Mission accomplished.

But there is one more thing about the location of our shop that I must share with you.  When we acquired the property and the mobile home, it came with a long forgotten cemetery hidden in the woods, neglected and overgrown with vines, brambles and thick brush.  Granite footers embedded with iron pipes were the only evidence left that it was once a burial ground, and where years ago all of the headstones were mysteriously removed.

In our efforts to restore this cemetery, we hope to honor the memory of each unknown person that is buried there by eventually placing a concrete monument on each of the 17 sites we have found to date.  The above concrete cherub is one of the first monuments that we have placed in the cemetery for this purpose.  


Rather than delete my previous entries of pretend from this blog, from this date forward, I plan to use this site to share the goings on here at Frenchmans Bay Tea Co. as well as chronicle our fervent efforts to restore this long forgotten burial ground.  I hope you join us in our quest to find out more about the identity of these forgotten residents of Sorrento as we continue to learn how they may link to the very customers that find their way into Frenchmans Bay Tea Co.  Our adventure has just begun!  


Lady Sea Captain

In my dream world, I imagine frenchman's bay tea co. to be a destination sought out by weary travelers hoping to find a quiet respite in an out-of-the-way and sparsely populated locale on the edge of the ocean.  Visitors to my shop would have a few things in common too.  Whether they have a sweet tooth, or a desire for a satisfying hot cup of tea (or coffee), they by all means will share a fondness for sea-inspired treasures.   Every once in a while there will be a visit from a lady sea captain who first heard of my place through word-of-mouth.  

During those periods of time when she must come ashore, the lady sea captain has found her own way of fulfilling her need to stay connected to the sea.  She has a weakness for vintage treasures she can wear that are entirely made out of sea shells, like this tiny wreath of roses that has been fashioned into a brooch.  

They remind her of the sentimental gifts that the sailors of long ago brought back to their loved ones when they returned from their voyages at sea.

The lady sea captain that will be seen in my shop from time to time has her own collection of these sentimental souvenirs too.  

And she knows where she can always find a new one to add to her collection.  But that's not entirely why she comes here from time to time.  

Along with her penchant for these tiny vintage sea shell brooches, she also has a fondness for the sweet and delectable tea cakes she knows she can always find here too.  Word has it, that salty days spent out at sea (or even just on the shore) are often the cause of a craving for sugar. At least that is a theory I intend to put out there for all to consider.  And that, my friends, is possibly how she could have learned of my place simply through word-of-mouth.   

~ ~ ~

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.
                                                                                                            - John F. Kennedy


Bottles Laden With The Sea

For me, half of the excitement of opening up a bottle of wine or champagne is having the chance to use a special bottle stopper.

Right now, I'm not quite sure if my shop could procure the necessary license for serving up spirits.  At least of the alcoholic kind, that is.  Rest assured, there will be other spirits that may be seen from time to time in my shop.  After all, what would a shop on the Coast of Maine be without talk of a legendary haunting!  

So for now while I'm sitting here being a teetotaler, I may as well use a bottle that spent some time in the sea to display this pretty sea horse bottle stopper.   Washed with barnacles it's a dreamy sight.  

Can you imagine the excitement of standing on the shore and having these lovelies wash up at your feet!

Here's a little closer look at Mother Nature's handiwork, in case you're a little like me and find it hard to decide which is your favorite one. 

Secretly,  I hope my shop does that to people.  

I envision a display of these bottles running all along the window sills of my shop where they will catch the light, as well as the eye of a passing potential customer.  

~ ~ ~

The Possible's slow fuse is lit by the Imagination.  
                                                                                                           ...Emily Dickinson


Treasures For My Shop

When I imagine the type of wares that would be found in my shop, my mind conjures up images of exotic cargo carried on sailing ships from faraway places.  I imagine trunks filled with aromatic teas, scrimshaw, English ironstone and brightly colored fabrics depicting the romance of the high seas.

In my shop, there would be yards of fabric spilling out from well worn trunks, in colors that are easy on the eyes.

Scrimshaw brooches hold romantic reminders of the past and could be incorporated into the wardrobes of both ladies and men who long for the sea.

These dishes with a pattern of sailing vessels are casual enough to be used as everyday tableware yet are formal enough to include in a collection of vintage English transfer ware.

I think they would make a pretty accent displayed inside a glass fronted cabinet too.  

In my shop, stacks of tea cups would be plentiful and within reach for anyone longing for a hot cup of tea.

Or for those that prefer coffee, my shop will serve that too.  

I'm very accommodating like that in my imaginary shop by the sea.  For now, I bid you farewell, like the sailor's depicted in my teacup pattern, as I'm off to dream of what other treasures a sea faring vessel would bring to my shop.  Thanks for sailing in to see me!

                                                                           ~ ~ ~
Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.  I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.  
                                                                                                                       ...Louisa May Alcott


Gold Leaf, Garden Pots and a Unique Timepiece

Here I am back again to share a bit more of my dreams with you.  I really want to thank everyone who has stopped by to encourage me, I admit I was holding my breath a little when I rolled this out for fear of what you might think of my little "pretend" situation here.  But you all are terrific, just like I "dreamed" you would be! 

In real life, I stenciled the name of my shop right across the top of this wooden table using a pot of liquid gold leaf. It even glows when the light catches it which makes me dream of a light and airy place with lots of windows.    

A handful of scallop shells help soften up the edges and give it a coastal identity.  

Now that I have a place to sit and gather my thoughts I think a hot cup of tea is in order.   My rose patterned teacup, purposely mismatched with a vintage ironstone saucer, hints at the scent of wild beach roses that would be found right outside my shop.  

I envision the shop of my dreams to reflect the world right outside its very walls, doors and windows.   Like these smooth granite stones collected from the shore that are tiny masterpieces worthy of their own nest.  

It's also part of a birdie motif that I envision.  Like my garden pots that I keep making up with wild abandon.    

This scallop shell turned time keeper is both useful and practical.  And kind of a dreamy way to keep track of time too, don't you think?    

I really thank you for stopping by to play along with me today.  And now I'll leave you with a quote I came across this week that pretty much captures my feelings to a "tea."  

~ ~ ~

We were always dreaming of how it was going to be.
                                                                 -George Lucas