Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture

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Rachel's Blog

Monthly Archives: May 2013

  • My Love Affair With Flowers

    SurroundedbyflowersNot a day goes by when flowers don't play a significant role in my life. Whether by way of my design work of prints, inspiration for a palette, gratitude for beautiful fragrances or heaven on earth in my garden.

    My appreciation and need for flowers crosses over into obsession, never quite enough.......
    Sometimes I am able to satisfy my needs directly from my garden. Sometimes a supermarket can do the job.....
    But any excuse to pop to a flower market...off I go. Over the past few months I have shared my journey via social media to markets in NY, SF & LA.  for various projects. Each and every time I have to give my self strict budget controls or I get completely carried away, with "just one more".
    PeoniesIf I had to choose just one flower, it may just be the Peonie. My fave being pale pink. They can be a little spendy so I tend to let them take centre stage by themselves and don't mix with other flowers.....I just love how big and open they are, revealing their core, vulnerable but strong.
    OrchidsTropical flowers are not my thing. (once a date bought be a bunch of "bird of paradise", and there was never a 2nd date). However some Orchids really do speak to me. I love how they last a long time. There was an abundance of cut orchids at my most recent trip to the LA Flower Market...... nearly fake looking they were so perfect.
    Pale pale Hydrangeas from Holland.
    Fat floppy Purple Iris
    White Lisianthus
    Purple & White Lilacs
    Pink garden Roses
    Pink Peonies
    Baby pink Stocks......= a symphony...................
    This past week my excuse for my over abundance of flower shopping was for a design installation and our party for the opening of our new San Francisco store. (2 excuses in one week was a good camouflage for my need to hang with flowers.)
    SanFranciscoPastSadly our store on Fillmore Street in San Francisco closed its doors back in 2009 when my company hit a bump in the road. While I have no immediate plans to open a lot of new stores, our hearts were truly left behind with the San Francisco store closed......

    HappyInvitationIt was a happy day when we were able to reopen our doors and hearts to our customers in San Francisco. I'm always happy when my travel allows me to stay on the ground. I love love road trips. I find the transition from city to city to be more of a natural experience than those unfriendly skies.

    ArrivingEntering a city by way of a bridge is such a civilized gateway....and San Francisco has some of the most beautiful.
    SignInstallationEach project we take on at Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture has to be carefully considered as actually we are a "big little" company.....We have our village and we pull together to make magic happen.....sometimes just in the nick of time. Our sign was being installed as I pulled up on my car.......
    MyFancyDressAs most of you know I'm pretty attached to my jeans.......and when I meet y'all I like to be my authentic self so to really make an honest connection. But sometimes an event warrants dress up time. These embroidered pants are my version of "dress up", while still being in my own skin.
    I popped out to the local San Francisco Flower Market as they were closing. Cannot imagine why no one had snapped these up. They had the juiciest petals in the best ever shade of lilac....and complimented by the smokey taupe ceramic vase. Truly an ahhhhh moment.
    A lovely localish (to SF) company called Tartellete supplied these lovely cupcakes. I'm still on my "No -Sugar" moment so these little beauties tempted me though out our party.
    And then sometimes after all the socializing, I just like to be quiet and look around at all the little magical moments that layer into what I consider my art and expression.........
    SadieAnd then Lily sends thru a photo of Sadie's beauty day.....
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  • Peace of Mind

    Life really is a wonderful place to be.

    I am so grateful that for nearly 25 years I have had the playground of Shabby Chic which has been a safe haven for my expression of creativity.

    Other life's journeys of family, work and personal evolution are filled with joys and sorrows and life's lessons.......

    And then there"s always Lily's Sadie to bring a smile to anyone.

    Sadie siting comfortably on her Blush Petticoat Collection Sham. Sadie siting comfortably on her Blush Petticoat Collection Sham.

    But in my busy busy life, I have found it more and more challenging to find quietness in my head. So much chatter..

    And I think this is common for many of us......

    And so twice a year I take "timeout" for a spiritual cleanse........

    swingythingIt takes a few days to regroup and slow down. This "swingy thing" is the perfect pace to begin.


    Lily sometimes comes with me. (it's not a Jake kind of place)

    She has a much better understanding of balance than I do. She is a good researcher and has the intellect and understanding of how to apply what is relevant to her. She is also a good teacher.

    LilyBooksThe purpose of attending a retreat like this is to focus 100% on mind, body and soul, talk with other like minded people and converse with Doctors with a wealth of knowledge. These were the two "go to books" full of recipes and disciplines to take back into the world. Both of which Lily read cover to cover. I jumped around from page to page.

    But am excited to try some of the recipes although cooking isn't quite my thing.....

    PrecleansefoodTo have the most successful cleanse it's best to get one's body ready.......cutting out all the yummies.

    No one love cookies and carbs more than me. English Shortbread cookies and a proper cup of tea, or an English roast dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy. Of course once in a while its a lovely treat.

    But there is something rather empowering about disciplining oneself as far as food is concerned. I have learned so much about portion control thru Weight Watchers, which is truly half the battle. But I am enjoying learning about how the body works, what foods do. And how we have so much control of the quality of our lives, thru what we eat.

    The Manifestations of my creativity in my work  is one of beauty, peace and nurture in our homes. I believe it's vitally important that I put the work in to make my personal home (my heart) as peaceful as the home I live in.

    MyPeacefulBedroomOften this is my only true "vacation time".

    The idea of a romantic island getaway sounds more fun, initially but actually I realize if I cant learn "peace of mind", there is little point to me going anywhere. As my chatter in my head follows me. I need to cultivate peace of mind.

    For those of you who have shared my journey, you know I love  the ocean and pastel flowers......


    JapaneseOleandersThought these were so lovely but was sad to find out they are pretty poisonous.......hmmmmmmm

    But there is something about the desert that lends itself to "surrendering". For me that is a lot to do with the wind that often is present and the songs of wildlife.

    rabbitThe wide open space to breathe and connect with nature but little civilization to distract from ones self.

    PaintingoftheDesertFor these few days,  I work on getting balanced with my mind, body and soul....in an effort to improve my inner peace.

    As with so many intentions, when in the moment of it all its easy to think you can continue such intentions when back in the world, but little by little those intentions get pushed aside for things of more urgency, more fun, more important things, and then the chatter starts up again and the cycle goes on.......

    labrynthA Labrynth is a grouping of concentric circles. Entering and exiting at the same place. Following the path to the center. The path twists and turns, bringing you closer to the centre and then takes you away, and then back again..... a metaphor for life. The process is a walking meditation. Time to contemplate, reflect and pray..........

    It can bring healing and deepen one's knowledge of self.

    My biggest lesson is to be as present as possible. I find my mind can be easily distracted and my focus derailed, making an experience less rich and easily forgotten. I am starting with baby steps of meditation for 5 minutes a day. Just to teach my mind to quieten.....so that in that precious place of "now", I am there.

    My hope is each time I take my retreat, I come away with enough to build upon that i can hold onto and I hope the little peace of mind that i find, can benefit myself  and in doing so  those around me.......


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