Monday, June 1, 2020

Tales of the Traveling Tote, and a Giveaway

Welcome to the 23rd episode of the Tales of the Traveling Tote! Nope, no travels these past three months, sorry. But, if you want to read all about escapades BC (before corona), you can go here. While travel has been put on pause, and certainly life as we knew it BC, let's add a little fun with a giveaway! Be sure to read details near the end for our gift for one of our readers.

Just after our last post on March 9, Mr. P. had a surgical procedure (kyphoplasty) to help ease the pain from the compressed vertebrae he sustained from his fall in January. Our lives were already put somewhat on pause at that point in January, and I played nurse to Mr. P.'s restricted mobility. After his surgical procedure, he had almost immediate relief, and although he endures some discomfort after sustained activity (I told him, "welcome to the club"), we are back to walking our daily 3 miles - thankful! 

We honestly have not been to much of anywhere, other than my trips to pick up groceries ordered online.

Little did I know my typical germophobia of being in a hospital on that day in early March would go exponential after that, but here we are, almost three months into a pandemic. {sigh}
I could post a floor plan and show you how I've been from the garage to the kitchen to the living room, office and bedroom.....you get my drift, I'm sure. Yea, we've all been taking those trips.

I even put my totes away and opted for a hands free crossbody I bought a couple years ago from a Michigan female entrepreneur, K. Carroll Accessories. It was one of Oprah's 2018 favorite things. It's called the Harper, and one option besides the strap is a carabiner clip I can attach to my belt (no sponsorship, just an item I love). Check it out in the video below. You can order your favorite team colors too.
I have spent an extraordinary amount of time cooking and baking in the loft during COVID to minimize our outside contact. We didn't do any curbside meal pickup for our first 39 days of stay at home, and I was more than okay with that. Lots of comfort food cooking and baking has been my M.O. I've got a particularly picky eater in Mr. P., much like a kid, so my strategy has been to bake alongside cooking. When he won't eat the meal, I know he'll eat dessert. Let's be honest, who cares if it's dessert for a meal?? And who cares if you have a little adult beverage while cooking??
COVID Comfort Foods and Desserts
Let me just say this: of all those foods pictured above, the center cherry almond muffins (thank you, Marsha!), the brownies, and orange scones (pictured below) have been on replay at least FIVE times each since late March. Also, that Greek orzo salad in the bottom right corner of the collage above has been made at least SIX times, for sure. I have shared that one with several family members. I gave one entire bowl to my sister for her birthday, lol. She said she ate it for all three meals daily until it was gone. 🀭
Orange scones that rival Panera's!
I also made the lemon curd and cream cheese tart pictured below last week for the first time. Thank you, Mary for that recipe!  I had to improvise using a glass pie dish since I didn't have tart pans, but it sure tasted great anyway.
Other than kitchen time, getting out and walking (mostly in our old neighborhood) on good weather days has been an activity I've looked forward to. It gets us out of the loft, and has allowed me the opportunity to enjoy every bit of spring unfolding, one day at a time.


My girls visited me on Mother's Day, and brought me a goodie box (including fresh cuts from garden iris and lavender transplanted to my oldest daughter's landscape last year from our former home's garden!). They dropped it at our door, then went out to the parking lot and called me to come out on my balcony. 😍
One other enjoyable first was a Zoom call with the Traveling Tote Tribe, though not all of the tribe members joined for one reason or another. Zoom has been become the latest thing for virtual get togethers, classes and entertainment in general.
There is one last project I've been working on throughout much of this COVID, and it involves an essential activity for a family member. I'll share more on that later, but let's just say it involves this guy (below) leaving the building. 🀣

NOW, ONTO THE GIVEAWAY!

The Traveling Totes Tribe is offering another giveaway. Linda P at Life and Linda is our giveaway sponsor this time. One lucky reader who leaves a comment on Linda's June 1 post will have their name thrown into the hat for an opportunity to win this set of four MacKenzie-Childs feather canape knives! Hurry over now!
Without further ado, here are all the links to the rest of tribe members' travels since our March 1 post. One member was actually out of the country when things starting closing down worldwide, but was able to get home safely! 
Debbie with Miss Aurora @ Mountain Breaths
Emily with Miss Courtney Childs@ The French Hutch
Patti with Miss Kenzie and Miss Taylor @ Pandora's Box
Jenna with Miss Coquille @ The Painted Apron
Linda P with Miss Lola @ Life and Linda
Rita with Miss Luna C @ Panoply (you are here!)
Sarah with Miss Merri Mac @ Hyacinths for the Soul
Jackie with Miss Madi K @ Purple Chocolat Home
Ricki Jill and Countess de Monet @The Sketchy Reader
Cherry Kay with Miss Carrie Ann Hall @ Entertaining Women

Thank you so much for dropping by the blog today. I love reading your comments, and don't forget to leave one on Linda's blog for a chance at the giveaway! Come again for our next adventure, which  will be September 1, 2020.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Miscellaneous Musings No. 18: Life in Limbo

Dear readers, I will not bore you with what my corona has been about, probably much like yours, just suffice it to say we are well here, and for that I am so grateful.  I've had a few thoughts on a recurring theme over the past few months that I'd love to share with you. This is a different take on my normal style with miscellaneous musings, but because my blog becomes my journal, I wanted to write these thoughts down. I hope you'll continue reading. The tune with video attached below is one I love. "I'm Alive", by Kenny Chesney, and accompanied by Dave Matthews. It's just right for right now. I invite you to listen, and read on. I do not own the rights to this music or this video.
In my life, I have had several lulls of time that I have felt like I was in limbo.
lim·bo1
/ˈlimbō/
noun
  1. 1.
    an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition.
  2. "the fate of the Contras is now in limbo"

  • As a teenager, I was diagnosed with severe scoliosis at age 14, just when thoughts of becoming a varsity cheerleader was all I thought life was. πŸ™„ I wore the Milwaukee brace for the next 3 years, 23 hours out of 24 daily, participated in regular physical therapy, and had way too many x-rays, just to avoid invasive spinal surgery with rods and a year in a body cast (treatment has changed drastically since the mid-1970s).  My patient compliance paid off in a couple ways. I learned a sense of humility in that brace and, after gradual weaning, was able to deliver my high school graduation salutatorian speech sans Earl (my nickname for my brace) and move forward without the brace. 
  • As a female in the workplace in some capacity since 1974, I waited for the opportunity to reach my potential after college graduation. I plodded through graduate school (part-time) for 7 years and six months beyond the allowed time (with Dean approval) to finish my MBA, while married and working full-time, with two elementary school-aged girls. I was also a part-time, contracted ballerina (my paid avocation) in the Charleston Ballet. I was not a career-long employee to one organization; rather, I sought opportunity to better myself and my family through my working years. I reached what I considered my vocational (work) potential by 1996 with my first managerial promotion. I retired from the ballet at that point.
  • As a young parent and primary breadwinner, I gave up more than 12 years of vacations, and worked many a budget revision to manage a household of four. At one point, I changed jobs and took a nearly 30% pay cut in order to continue my dancing, education, and improving my overall quality of life that the former job was sucking out of me with 60 hour work weeks. Even though this was financially difficult, I considered it a payoff in the long run, as the job I took was the eventual path to my success in becoming a manager. 
  • As an executor of my father's estate, I handled managing / distributing his assets for 15 years. I learned a LOT about family relationships and how fragile they are.
  • As a young married woman / parent, I waited 20 years for my first husband to give up his addictions in hopes he would choose me, his spouse, and his children first. Hard work and tough personal decisions led me to an independent life as a single parent, and eventually to the love of my life (Mr. P.), with two adult daughters, successful by their own doing. I also learned that new beginnings are full of potential.
  • As a manager, I worked through 7 years of various corporate bankruptcies and reorganizations until my retirement in 2003. I learned that new beginnings in business are also full of potential.
Here's my point: limbo - a period of uncertain waiting - has been a big part of my life. I feel as though we are all in a state of limbo right now. Here's a suggestion: allow yourself some time to grieve all that was before the pandemic. Then, either choose to move forward or stay in limbo a while longer, but try to understand your choice and adapt. We each have to go at our own pace, in our own time. I've always wanted to get out of limbo and find a way to move forward. Limbo is very uncomfortable for me, and taking steps to feel like I'm moving forward has always been better for me than feeling seemingly stuck in a forever state of going nowhere (limbo). We are moving at a slower pace as we learn to live with this pandemic until a cure is found and proven.

I am a planner, an organizer. In times of physical limitation, I made sure I was compliant with every possible facet of my care plan, and I tried doing as many activities as I possibly could. In times of job dissatisfaction, I would polish my resume and monitor classifieds and online employment ads. In times of financial difficulty, I would revise my Excel budget spreadsheet to make things work, cutting where I had to (I still have the template). In times of past personal difficulty, I sought professional help to guide me through the transition. In this pandemic, I am doing small things like wearing a mask in public places like the antique mall and grocery stores, doing things by appointment as much as possible, and increasing measures to wash germs away. We are still choosing to not eat inside restaurants as of this writing.

Throughout these past few months, I have busied myself in the strangest ways. Given that we downsized significantly in 2019, I had few home organizational projects pending. So, my time has been spent planning weekly menus, grocery lists, and picking up curbside orders, and wiping things down. I have spent an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen, cooking and baking, just trying to keep safe and avoiding curbside meal pickup for the first 39 days. We've selectively started more curbside meal pickup. I've helped a brother who's single, sharing some meals and even curbside pickup with him. I even helped him empty a storage unit in anticipation of him selling his home. Walking has been the best diversion of time, mostly in our former neighborhood where we can easily distance. It's given me endless opportunities to enjoy Spring to the nth degree and get some decent exercise. Through it all, I have kept my faith. I read inspirational material, I pray, and I try to be positive. In prayer, I've thanked God for my blessings, and offered up intentions for those who've asked or who I think need a blessing. 

I realize some people suffer depression and cannot, at times, even muster the energy to get the mail. I encourage you or anyone you may know in this kind of mental state, or stuck in the state of inertia this limbo may have you in, to seek help, either from friends, family, professionals or any combination thereof. If you aren't ready to reach out just yet, I hope you're able to cope with this state of limbo in a way that's moving you forward, and to have some introspection as you do.

Rita C. at Panoply

Sharing: Grace at Home

Friday, April 3, 2020

Hope Springs Eternal

Welcome to Panoply! We are safe and sound as of this writing, and I am grateful. Hope springs eternal*, so allow me to share my current happy places, in and around my home, as part of a virtual, socially distant gathering of friends across the country in an "Easter's On Its Way" roundup. Hey, we bloggers have always practiced social distancing, am I right?! A special thanks to Amber of Follow the Yellow Brick Home in Kentucky for hosting and reaching out with the invitation to spread optimism and light across the country! 

The view below is a recent, hope-filled sunrise seen from our living room. I have a growing cache of photos I've taken from this view during our first year of living here. They never cease to amaze me.
If you've come over my friend Carol's blog, Bluesky at Home, you've already gotten a feeling of joy from her own style of Spring in Texas. Here in my home state of West Virginia, I have been closely following the signs of spring and new life around me for the past several weeks. Flowers throughout the neighborhood have signaled everything is working for good. That is my mantra. Everything is working for good.
Our Spring entry, pre-coronavirus style. A pansy door wreath and door mat remain until late Spring flowers begin blooming.
Our Spring entry, coronavirus style. Do you see the difference? Sanitize before entering!
Our condo opens to a spacious living area, encompassing living, dining and cooking spaces. Most heavier textiles of Winter have been swapped out, and lighter weight pillow covers and throws in. My Blenko studio piece, "Arches", in a color combination of pawpaw and cobalt, take the spotlight. Just a few hints of Easter and Spring are evident in faux florals and small vignettes. 
On the sideboard and small glass curio/drink stand behind the sectional, bunnies, eggs and florals make their appearance. They are happy signs of Spring and rebirth for me. 
Across from the sideboard, my fireplace nook and ledge have chicks with carts (seen recently, here) parading in front of a bunny with a basket full of eggs. The Old World bunny prints and copper pitcher are vintage finds. Reflecting in the glass of the fireplace you can see hints of my Easter table.
In the otherwise neutral space, my Easter table is set with an explosion of color. A floral teapot and stockpot rest on the cooktop nearby. With an open space such as our condo is designed, there's only room for so much color, and right here is the place! It makes me smile every time I pass by (a lot!).
My office space is my personal place of retreat, where I either work at my computer desk, or sit in the chaise lounge situated diagonally across from my desk to read. An Easter bunny pillow and felted robins in the window say it's Spring. Thank you to my friend Jeanie who crafted my robins.
I'm keeping things light in the bedroom with just a few seasonal pillow covers. The sheepskin rugs stay for now. They feel so soft, and are such a comfort on chilly days and nights. We all need comfort.
Lastly, the laundry room is my work space for household duties. I keep my baker's rack with garden items here: a vintage alphabet needlepoint of wildflowers and garden girl lithograph, my garden photo melamine plates, vintage crocheted potholders by seasonal color, harvested lavender, and other garden baubles.
The shelves hold useful remnants of gardening days past, and hope for days to come.
Hope springs eternal.* Take a walk. You'll see what I mean.

Thank you for your visit. Be sure to stop by my friends' posts linked below. It'll brighten your day, I'm pretty certain. Debbee's Buzz is up next, and comes to you from Pittsburgh, PA, so you will literally be hopping from one state to the next. Enjoy!
*Note:  "Hope springs eternal in the human breast" was written by Alexander Pope in 1732 in An Essay on ManSee this uplifting article from Psychology Today, written by Saul Levine M.D. in 2016 for more. It is as relevant today as in 2016. 
Rita C. at Panoply


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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Easter Bunnies in the Flower Garden

Welcome to my blog, Panoply. If you are a new reader here, I am a vintage and antiques dealer, sharing rented booth space with two of my six sisters in the same antique mall for the past nearly twelve years (currently on hiatus as a non-essential business). In everyday life, I downsized our household a year ago, purging and reorganizing years of things accumulated and duplicated, so my social distancing has no real backlog of projects looming. However, tablescaping is a hobby I still enjoy, and I've readied the table for Easter. Come, join me while I dish on the details!
Today's Easter Bunnies in the Flower Garden tablescape post is an outlet - a sort of pressure relief valve - to our current state of world affairs. Just so you know, I am not living under a rock, but I created this table prior to my state's (and most of the nation's) shutdown. I have been enjoying this delightfully cheerful table in the dining space of my great room each day, and plan to continue enjoying it (minus the flowers, which are long gone) until Easter. I hope you will too. We will most likely only be sharing a quiet dinner and table for two this year. 
This table was first inspired by the tablecloth I'm using. My peripheral vision was drawn right to the bright florals as I passed it on an aisle perpendicular to the one I was walking in the store. Screech! I backed up, and grabbed it. The dinner plates I had, and used previously in this table setting, here.

I found the super cute bunny salad plates on sale, and I knew the colors were just right for both the dinner plate and tablecloth.
There are four different faces of the bunnies in the set of salad plates.
Just as I love mixing vintage with new items for table settings, I love pattern and color play too. I pulled more things from my stash, including the polka dot napkins and flatware, the checked chargers, the butterfly napkin rings, blue cake pedestal, and the blue water bottle I recently got from participating in a make-your-own workshop. I blogged on that experience, here.
I had a coordinating tablecloth for the napkins, but it was for a round table in my previous home. I wondered if there was a runner that might match the napkins. Sure enough, I found a 'new with tags' matching runner on Ebay. The runner allowed me to place a floral arrangement in the center so it would stand out instead of getting lost, as seen in the photo below. (Note: I also purchased a small bouquet of irises to mix in my arrangement, but most of those withered within a couple days).
The runner serves double duty. While its layer allows the floral arrangement to be highlighted on the table's center, it coordinates with (and also highlights) my napkins and flatware in color and pattern. Also [annoyingly] highlighted are some permanent packaging wrinkles in the tablecloth. That was the only drawback to its great price point. It's made of 100% polyester, and I gave up after repeatedly dampening and pressing with no luck. πŸ™ I usually buy only cotton or linen blend cloths for that reason.
Colorful M&M peanut "eggs" were scattered down the runner among a string of little lights.
Each place setting has a miniature watering can place card holder, this time holding a flower packet and candy carrot umbrella for each guest.
The stemware is new, and I know I will be using this for many an occasion to come. It matches my Blenko water bottle to my satisfaction.
Our great room has a definite spring vibe now. The background shows my fireplace nook and ledge, where my chicks with carts (seen recently, here) have found their place in front of the bunny with a basket full of eggs.
 Salt and pepper bird shakers on the table are vintage.
The table, from the bird's eye view. 
I have to share another couple floral items I found after I created this table. This teapot and stockpot were less than $35 for the pair! These sure did spark joy for me, and they came right home to bloom in our kitchen.
Although they'd be pretty enough to serve with on the table, they're serving food, drink and lots of joy on my stovetop, especially during this #StayAtHome season.
And though the flowers are now all withered, a little bunny stole the spotlight on the table's center.
I want to thank Chloe Crabtree from the blog Celebrate and Decorate for hosting this Easter table blog hop. Chloe also has several other social media platforms that you'll find on her blog, and if you love designing and sharing creative tablescaping, I encourage you to join her Facebook group page, Tablescapes and Tablestyling. Also, please enjoy the entire list of stylists below for their inspiring Easter tables, with links that will take you directly to their posts. These were all collectively organized by Chloe as part of this event for our readers' convenience. Enjoy!
For your convenience, below is a list of the elements used on my table, and the sources (no affiliations or sponsorship for me, just information for you).
Easter Bunnies in the Flower Garden Source List
Tablecloth - Pioneer Woman Fiona Floral (WalMart)
Napkins, Table Runner - Kate Spade Charlotte Street (HomeGoods and eBay)
Chargers - Parchment Check; Napkin Rings - Butterfly Garden (MacKenzie-Childs)
Dinner Plates - Mikasa Provence Garden by Kim Parker
Bunny Salad Plates - Hobby Lobby
Watering Can Place Card Holders - Ballard Designs
Vase, Pitcher, Basket (holding bunny) - Blenko
Cake pedestal, salt & pepper - vintage finds
Stemware - Wayfair
Flatware - Pfaltzgraff
Crofton Floral Teapot, Stockpot - Aldi finds (aka AOS - aisle of shame)
Flower Bouquets - Sam's Club
Chicks with carts, Bunny with eggs - MacKenzie-Childs
Copper Pitcher (with yellow blooms), Old World style bunny paintings - vintage finds
Thank you so much for your visit today. I love reading all your comments. Stay well, my friends, and Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Flowers and Birds as Inspiration in Beaded Purse Collection

Those who know me know I have a fairly extensive collection of vintage and antique mesh and beaded purses, mostly dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries. I am a member of the Antique Purse Collectors Society, some of whose members' collections rival those of world museums. There are members within the society whose knowledge of purses through history have led to reference books highly regarded on the subject among collectors. We even have members who are still preserving the art of hand beading and restoring these gems today.

Capturing the essence of spring in the designs with flowers and birds, I thought I'd share a small portion of my beaded purse collection - just one type of the many purses I've collected - which reflects the skill of these little works of art. Grab a drink and get ready for lots of photos. I hope you enjoy!
Many of my purses have come directly from long-time collectors' collections (noted within this post, from the collection of), including those pictured immediately above (tulips, Czechoslovakian), and below, both from the Evelyn Haertig collection. The handbag below is featured on page 74 of her reference book titled, "Restoring and Collecting Antique Beaded Bags".
Other handbags in my collection have been scoured from online websites over the years. As is true with any collection, trying to buy nearly perfect examples is key. I am showing some of my best examples of florals and birds, but I have plenty of lesser examples from my early years of collecting.

The example pictured below (roses) has a chatelaine clip (worn on the waist), and is framed in sterling with British hallmarks, monogrammed 'Anne Vaughan Heins'. It has a push button opening. Although the bag is in very good condition, it has no beaded fringe (but probably did at one time). Replacing fringe is an acceptable restoration in the eyes of handbag experts if done professionally.
Glass beads used in antique purses were primarily manufactured in Venice, Italy, and in Czechoslovakia. Value of purses is dependent on size of beads used (smaller = generally more valuable). Most examples are either hand knitted. woven, embroidered, netted or crocheted, worked in a horizontal and vertical looping technique. Hand knitted beaded purses were mostly made in Germany, historically speaking. The purse below depicts chrysanthemums, and one notable flaw is a few missed counts in bead colors used on the yellow mum (see approximately halfway through the flower and the horizontal line).
The example below has various florals including iris, forsythia, carnations, roses and morning glories, with a twisted loop fringe. Fringe styles can often denote German makers' origin and can be determined by the trained eye (I am not that trained!). The styles of fringe include ball and tassel, plain or twisted loop, plain stick or stick and loop, basket weave, or some combination of these mentioned.
Pictured below is a primarily white glass beaded bag with roses and violets, and a unique, Italian micro mosaic frame. Desirability among collectors can be increased significantly not only by smaller beads in the bag's body, but also when frames used to attach the bags are unusual or jeweled. Jewels may be semi-precious or precious. Precious metal frames, and marked frames by noted jewelers such as Cartier or Tiffany are prized. Other frames can be made of brass, tortoise shell, bakelite or celluloid.
The bag below was machine made (roses and peacock with a celluloid, gate mouth frame), and has a basket weave fringe. The lining is cotton, but many finer purses are typically lined in silk. The bag is in good condition and has a nice, intricate fringe, but would be of lesser value than a handmade bag of similar design.
The example below is knitted columbines - a lesser common floral theme - with a twisted loop fringe, from the collection of Mary Littiken.
Elaborate tassels are part of the appeal on the reticule (drawstring) with roses bag below. It was made in France.
Many French-made beaded bags were made from cut steel beads. The handbag pictured below is one such example, with a Cupid center medallion and rose bordered design, from the collection of Shara Stewart. The fringe is stick and ball, with a push button opening. Steel beaded bags can be determined by testing with a magnet. If the magnet does not stick, the bag is likely made of aluminum beads - another, more modern bead.
The handbag below has a predominantly brown background glass bead, with roses and other florals, a jeweled frame, kisslock opening. From the collection of Lori Blaser.
The French-made handbag below has a beautifully draped knitted body with floral spray, and a coral and gilt frame, push button opening.
The frame on the bag below is 800 sterling silver, with a cherub harvest design frame and floral baskets for the chain, predominantly roses in the body (beaded tassel fringe on ball are missing).
Another example below shows beaded florals and fruits on enameled and jeweled frame, kisslock opening, and simple stick fringe, from the collection of Mary Nunn.
The bag below, while missing its fringe, is desirable because it is a Tiffany sterling frame. The lilacs are a less common floral design found, also increasing the desirability for collectors.
Some floral beaded purses take on more complex designs, such as the scenic beaded purse with garden, gates, staircase, lake and trees with jeweled frame, push button opening shown below. From the collection of Shara Stewart. The scene is repeated on the reverse, as are all of the bags in this post, unless otherwise noted.
Also from the collection of Shara Stewart (and probably a top favorite in my personal collection) is a rare example of a two-sided, beaded scenic garden and lake. Side one depicts people in boat on the lake, with jeweled fob closure.
Side 2 depicts lake with sailboats, and floral path to the water.
Detail of the jeweled fob.
Other beaded handbags appeal to me for the combination of florals with birds, as in the example of floral and macaw bird reticule below.
The beaded bluebirds and cherry blossoms, while a favorite for its design, is another example of a machine made handbag.
Lastly, another example of beaded bluebirds on branches with florals. The intricacy of the design appeals to me for its realistic capture of the birds and flowers. From the collection of Kathy Gunderson.
My first advice for any would-be purse collector would be to seek out what you love. These handbags all appealed to me for my love of gardening - florals and birds. I have several categories of the types of purses I love and have collected, most of which may be seen on my Pinterest account on separate boards by their category (such as antique beaded purses, mesh purses, children's purses, etc.).

I hope you enjoyed this portion of my purse collection, and that it has provided a bit of spring gardening inspiration for you. If you have any questions concerning this or the Antique Purse Collectors Society, I will be happy to answer or refer you to one who can if I do not have the answer. If you do not want to comment below, feel free to email me: wv.panoply@gmail.com. As always, thank you for your readership!