Thursday, February 11, 2016

Girls and Pearls: "Deco"dence Tablescape

A recent gift with purchase and some winter daydreaming have inspired my tablescape today. It's a girls and pearls, "deco"dence theme (as in Art Deco era).
Whether it's Galentine's Day (a recently coined day for ladies celebrating ladies, on February 13th, as the alternative to the traditional notion of Valentine's Day), a bridal shower, a tea party, or even a fundraising event with women as the central focus, this tablescape inspired me to glam it up with my gal pals in mind.

Back in December, Macy's offered these little dessert plates as a gift with purchase in the cosmetics department (I know, sounds crazy). 
As I was going through my inventory of dishes, I wanted something light and subtle to complement the geometric design of the dishes. My nearly forgotten, trusty Corelle Livingware was exactly what I didn't know I was looking for!

As a side note, I must confess this tablescape grew from my original idea for a simple, side table vignette. Once I found my Corelle dishes (with mugs!), I wanted to hang the mugs on a mug rack I've had, stack the dessert dishes on top, and use the Corelle dinner plates as a riser for the mug rack. The mug rack was a burnished bronze color I didn't care for. I also had a silver plate rack I had scored at an estate sale last summer. Taking advantage of some mild winter temps, I took those babies outside and spray painted them black!
A Side Table Vignette Becomes Basis of Tablescape
Using the plates as a riser was nixed when their circumference ended up a tad small for the legs of the rack to balance upon. Having pulled the two dish towels you see in the above photo for my vignette, I remembered I had a package of new [old] stock, black & white dish towels in my deep inventory of vintage textiles. One of the towels had scenes of Paris. A tablescape idea was born. 
Paris-themed Dish Towels Used as Napkins
Culling from more stashed items, I pulled my Art Deco pressed glass candlesticks, a more recent vintage set of cut glassware, and cast iron Eiffel tower candlelight items.


It then became obvious to add some of my favorite Art Deco handbags from my purse collection to the mix, as the visionary guests' accessories, on this table. (Those gals were bawdy in the '20s and '30s! Purses were small, big enough to hold rouge or lipstick, a few coins and hanky, but they found ways to tote their own nip!)
Notice how the sunlight catches the glow of bezel-set rhinestones of the French handbag, my favorite of these four (below).

Rounding out my girls and pearls tablescape, I added several of my vintage pearl necklaces on the table with abandon. 
As the delicate whites of the dishes juxtapose the geometric designs, the black against white contrasts, the coquette yet bold girls who would grace the scene, the flatware (Nobility Plate, vintage) offers delicacy in appearance as opposed to their utilitarian purpose.
As it turned out, the original idea for the side table wasn't totally lost.  I was able to not only display and stack my mugs and dishes, I also used my MacKenzie-Childs planter pots as utensil vessels for coffee and espresso service. 
The dish towel used as cover for the riser was sourced on our trip to Canada, where we stayed a few days at Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City (a Fairmont Resort).  Four queen bees live in garden rooftop hives there, one of several sites where the resort manages a sustainable bee program. It was a fitting accessory to this tablescape concept.
It doesn't have to be a special occasion to make an occasion special, but this tablescape could be the basis of a great party theme. You can see how my train of thought progressed in taking this idea from pretty ordinary to something that's sure to make guests feel special, start some great conversation, and make for a great time.
Always appreciative of your visits and feedback, feel free to leave a comment and let me know you stopped by.  
Rita C. at Panoply

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Love Letters from the Greatest Generation

My parents were of the Greatest Generation, born in 1918 and 1920. When Dad enlisted in the Army during WWII, my Mother and their a one-year old (my oldest sister) moved to MO to stay with her parents. Mom was pregnant with baby #2. After training camp in 1944, Dad was sent to combat in [mostly] Italy, until his return home in 1946, after months of recovering in an Army hospital from loss of limb. Lucky for my siblings and me, we have some of the letters my Dad sent to Mom during his time of service.
In this season of love, I think it's appropriate to share snippets of my Dad's love letters to my Mom while he served in the Army, prior to his injury. (Note: I wrote a personal tribute to my Dad for his service to our country and to our family, on Memorial Day, 2014. If you're interested, you can read it here.) The letters my family has kept were written from Dad to Mom during the months prior to and just after my sister was born in 1944. Dad's letters were full of hope, longing and love.
"With all my love, Tom" - Dad in US Army Training Camp - June, 1944
A little bit of history:  letters sent during WWII were sent by either airmail or V-mail. I wasn't sure what the difference was, so I researched it. V-mail, or Victory mail, was implemented during the war, to conserve space on airplanes when sending letters back to the states. Servicemen would compose their letters on government-issued stationery (about 7" x 9"), and the letters would then be inspected, censoring any potentially sensitive information (blacked out). The letters would then be photographed and put on microfilm in thumb-size negatives. The film canisters would be shipped by airplane, conserving precious cargo space that piles of letters would otherwise consume, both in weight and volume. Once received by the postmaster at the destination in the states, the letters would be printed on a reduced size paper, just a little more than 4" x 5" (not much bigger than postcard size).

Another very interesting fact of V-mail communication was, besides the fact of postal censorship, it employed invisible ink, microdots, and microprinting, all of which were impossible to photocopy. These were just some of our military's techniques designed to avert any potential espionage communications.

Dad's penmanship was beautiful, his salutations and closings anything but ordinary, and the body of his letters always informative, providing a glimpse into that era where most American history class instruction nowadays gets short-changed with the end of school year time running out (at least that was my experience). Here's one example, as Dad wrote of his initial trip overseas.
V-mail, detailing first trip overseas during WWII
Dad wrote, " This is quite a breath-taking experience but can't you imagine how these kids of younger years are thinking. Much lighter thoughts than my own believe me. If I were to travel all over the world you and the family are my only real thoughts." He went on, "Enroute to aboard the ship for the first time I saw the nation's capital and also the Washington Monument. About the most pleasing thing was a scrap metal yard of Nazi captured planes at Richmond." He closed, "With increasing love, Tom~"

Another letter showed his salutation, "My Darling Wife:", with a portion of the Army Examiner Censor's Stamp in the top left corner.
V-mail salutation, Censor's Stamp
Another letter illustrated an example of  information censored. In this case, it was dates which Dad was informing Mom of possible furloughs. Again, his closing - "I'm forever yours. With all my love, Tom ~"
V-mail example of censorship (dates)
Another letter shows names of cities blacked out, indicating where Dad's platoon saw action. He said, "The war can't last much longer. The Allies are closing in on the enemy from all sides. A few good bombing of the German cities _________________ and I believe they will crack." (Note: the war lasted another year beyond the date of this letter from my Dad).
V-mail example of censorship (cities)
It was evident that Dad eventually learned how to communicate without divulging enemy-sensitive information, as shown by a subsequent letter (below), which was not censored. It states, "Somewhere in Italy"
V-mail vaguery, "Somewhere in Italy"
Dad's sentiments for Mom's situation of having two babies without him present were sensitive throughout, and his closings always seemingly heartfelt.
V-mail closing, "Forever yours in love"
{Sigh}. In a time when cursive writing is becoming obsolete, wherein emails and text messages are the new norm for many to say, "I ♥ U", do you ever wonder if a genuine sense of emotion is lost in the translation? Call me old-fashioned, but I cherish the cards and letters I receive from loved ones, especially on birthdays - our one, individual and special day. I keep many of mine received.

How do you feel about today's standards for communicating, and what's your standard? What are your feelings about cursive writing in the classroom? Do you have children or grandchildren who are not learning cursive writing? Are we dummying down basic skills which generations before us valued greatly, both in terms of education and lifelong relationships?  I hope not.

I hope you will consider sending your loved ones real letters or cards this year, whether it's Valentine's Day, birthday, or whatever you consider a special enough occasion to really communicate. Even better, call them and chat real-time, or visit them in person. It really makes a difference to the recipient, trust me.

As always, I appreciate your readership, and your comments always invite welcome exchanges.
Rita C. at Panoply