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Friday, July 29, 2011

My Own Secret Garden

Before you go any further, I am not speaking of an actual garden. Though I could...I do miss having one of my very own, and one day I may just create one on our apartment patio if I can get over hauling water over the carpet from the kitchen to keep the plants hydrated...but that is a rabbit trail. So let me explain. The other day I mentioned my own personal happiness project, based on the book by Gretchen Rubin, I also mentioned that along with her book, I am reading Bonjour, Happiness! Secrets To Finding Your Joie De Vivre by Jamie Cat Callan. 

wish I had better pic. *sigh*

I have been thoroughly enjoying this book. I embrace what the author has to say, I can relate on some levels and strive towards others, and it all seems so very easy to incorporate into my daily life, and budget. One early on pointer the author emphasizes and an idea she returns to on a regular basis, is that we all need to create our very own "secret garden". Now this need not be a physical garden with plants, dirt to dig in and a wall around it to hide it from others.Though if you can have one, she encourages that of course...who would not. The author points out it can be anywhere,from within or around us, even a room. So I have taken it upon myself to start creating my own secret garden in our apartment. 

In the book, in chapter three "Le Jardin Secret: The Secret Garden", the author describes how "France is a mysterious country. Oftentimes, at first glanced she is closed to you." She goes on to write about true secret gardens, of the dirt,flower and wall variety. I will not recap all that she had to say.I really urge you to buy and read the book. The chapter was one of my favorites so far, and would be in my mind a challenge in this world of blogging and social media that I spend my days in to accomplish. Mystery...not revealing all about myself and my life. I read further and suddenly realized that not only was the author not just speaking of true secret gardens or making yourself one...great metaphor, one I understand as I have a few Twitter friends that have manged in true French fashion to do just that; the author would soon go on to telling you how to create your own. Anywhere, and rather easily. The secret garden was more about taking refuge, either within yourself or within a space. Again I will not go into full details, here is the sentence that made it click for me.... "Create a Secret Garden that is yours and yours alone. Once you decide what, where, when, and how you take refuge in the secret garden, protect it from intruders (turn off the phone and be sure to keep the computer out of your sacred space.) ...." WALA! I could do this...even with my addiction to such things as my night, after we all turn in, my bedroom. I do not have a clock, nor a tv, phone or my computer in this room....this could be my "secret garden." 

I am nearly always by myself, what with hubby always at work, no friends in the town which we live, and my daughters having their own lives to attend to, so not real hard to be mysterious, held up in my own mental secret garden...well until I log into my twitter page or write here on my blog, then I am an open book...very open. But I did indeed intend to try there too. Wondering, even doubting that would add to my happiness. However, again rabbit trails, let me get back to creating my secret garden out of a physical space as opposed to within myself.

I initially thought it would be quite difficult. Our budget may have grown some, but at the end of the day it is still a very small one, and hard to afford adding what I truly would like to surround myself with. I am limited not only with funds, but also that I can not paint or change anything about the layout of our apartment..really not even about placement of furniture.So I thought very long and hard about how I could create my secret garden facing the obvious road blocks. It was then that I let my fingers do the work. 

My first goal was to find affordable versions of lovely, glamorous items to "plant" all about my garden.So many of my friends on Twitter can afford amazing, swoon worthy items, to create wonderful environments for themselves...after three years of living on pennies, my frugal side reigns over my heart, so even with extra money, if we had it, odds are good I would not splurge; the web site seemed the perfect place. I typed in the web addy and began my search. The first thing on my list, I wanted powder puffs. My friends chat about them on a regular basis. Wonderful decadent puffs from Paris. I managed after a short period of time to find puffs, from feather to faux fur. The creative juices started to flow. My happiness level had risen just a bit.

I manged to find a feather puff for 3.00. Brand new, a Victoria's Secret white puff with black & white polka dot ribbon. I hit "BUY". Next, I discovered another lovely "shop" and the owner made puffs, and some came on wands. They had been on my list since seeing a photo of Louise Brooks holding a puff on a wand. This puff had lace, and jewels and for a bit more I could get the colors I wanted...pinks and creams. Better yet, I could also get powder to go with my puff, customized to my tastes...I choose Honeysuckle Rose, with a touch of glimmer. My collection had begun. Soon I discovered more, and they are on my list to one day have...I am even in the works for a large pillow sized puff to be made out of the softest of faux furs in the near future. 

Next on the list was to find a powder bowl. I managed to find not the most extravagant of powder bowls, but one that was from a French company that produced powders/scents in the U.S. years ago. The bowl was plastic,swirls of pink and white, had the most adorable feet, and other than a few cracks on the lid that one hardly sees, it was perfect, and the price was wonderful as well. So again I clicked "BUY". I was not finished with filling in a few blanks of my garden. I have a friend on Twitter,Opus Oils, a Jitterbug Perfume Parlor, they make the most divine scents. I knew I could not swing the larger sizes, but they did have samples. I decided on the Les Bohemes Collection, and of course hit "BUY". Now to decide how to display all my lovely new goodies.

I, having spent what I could for the time being, and nearly no budget left, headed to the Dollar Store. I bought several "silver" trays for display,and remembering that my friend Kedra of Opus Oils mentioned the samples reminded her of candies when displayed in a dish, I picked up a cut glass candy dish as well. I also found a pink place mat for my bedside table...I do not own too many pink things currently, and really rather dislike most of my bedroom pieces,I thought this might help. 

While I was awaiting my goodies to arrive, a most touching thing happened. A few Twitter friends took it upon themselves to send me goodies. I had been stressed and upset lately with a few life things going on, and they wanted to cheer me up. One lovely lady sent me a 1920's puff on a wand, in it's original box! She also sent me a vintage paper fan that was in perfect condition. I had no idea these were things she was going to send. Then another sent me my favorite scent in oil form,as she uses it to scent her own "secret garden" aka her bedroom and wanted me to be able to do the same. To top that off, came my birthday before that with a few goodies given, and bought, and I was on my way. A couple days of tweaking, moving about and future plans made and I was on my way to my secret garden taking shape. It has a ways to go. It will evolve, just as a real garden has a penchant for doing, but in just the few things I have done so far, I am already as I mentioned feeling happier. 

That is what the author was getting at...that the simple acts of creating your own secret garden, be it a space outdoors, in your home, a full room, or a corner that is all yours,and of course keeping more of what is going on in your life to yourself, creating that mystery,through all of it you can raise your happiness quota. I just happen to choose my personal space. 

Do you have a "Secret Garden"? Is it you,a place or space or a combo of all three, and does having it aide in your over all happiness?? 

The 1920's puff, and fan that came with it....

and this is how I display it...with the silk rose petals that came with it, and adding in my childhood china doll.

The fan now sits in my favorite poetry book on my dresser.
My Opus Oils order, and my Dollar Store bowl.

My candy dish of scents now on my dresser. I just adore all the 20's mini pics!

My dresser as it is now. Not that it might not change. The veil to the wedding veil from 25 years ago. I of course was a 1920's styled bride.Family heirlooms hang above, an honorary "Aunt" named "Annie" based on Anne of Green Gables, a gift on hubby and myself's first Christmas, and the needle point all in silk, on silk from 1908, from hubby's side of the family, it says " Mother".

A close up of my other puff, my new powder dish, puff, and scented just for me glimmer powder.
My shelving unit, a gifty from middle daughter, as it was.....a good start. I love adding and subtracting from it on a regular basis. Our cat Koko, so ill, so weak, spends a lot of time under's cool.
The little egg box, my Mom made me, it holds a two mini French style dolls  & a wardrobe! Yes, all in that little egg!

Close up of egg containing doll my Mom made me many years ago.

Sadly over the years her toe got chipped...but past that she is in good shape.

Yes! My Mom made everything!! Well except the tiny vintage vanity set.

More family heirlooms, belonged to my dear Grandma, the heart was her 50th wedding anniversary cake topper I gave her... the vases belonged to her Mom and her Grandma...they move around as well. Another 1.00 store tray.

Stage one...including a drawing done for me of Louise Brooks by daughter Rebecca, and goodies ordered from my friend who creates Margarita Bloom.

How it looks now.

My treasured scents ..of course Chanel is there. I dreamed for many years of owning Chanel #5 and now I have the perfume and the oil....I am over the moon! The hat is from Paris!

I need new roses to complete the display, but I am quite pleased with final results. The perfume bottles are a set from IKEA!
My bedside area, the ribbon from the packaging that held the 1920's puff & bridge fan, the pin is one my Mom wore in the 60's and for now until I find a circa 20's or 30's one to replace it, there it shall sit. The box is one I made with my Great Uncle Harold as a child and holds bedside needs. The blue birds belonged to my Grandma, and the photos are of my girls as babies and then one of me and hubby.  I hope one day to have a white mini dresser can never get too much storage, but do dislike the mismatched pieces. For now it holds my Gratitude Journal, my book mentioned above, and hand lotion....all hidden away.


  1. Darling Ruby! What a magnificent Post! I am enamored. The book quotes, the idea of the secret garden, the personal items & space. I can identify completely. I guess in some way my blog is my secret garden, but yes your idea of having that personal one just for our eyes only is great. Thanks for the inspiration. Your chic items are lovely. From the puffer to the fragrances to the family heirlooms. Love it all!

    Have a great weekend hun!

  2. What an absolutely lovely post! I LOVE the idea of having one's own private Secret Garden and am thrilled to be a patch of flowers in yours!!! XOXO

  3. What a lovely post Ruby! Everything is so pretty and perfect...I definitely agree that everybody should have their own secret garden. :) Hope things get better for your sweet Koko. xoxo


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