Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Traveling Tote Special Edition #22: MacKenzie-Childs Recognition, and a Special Giveaway!

Hello, readers! Today's post is a very special edition of the Tales of the Traveling Tote, celebrating our tribe's 5th anniversary of travels! We are also celebrating a very special anniversary giveaway that will allow one lucky reader to have a unique connection to our anniversary, and it is sponsored by the team at MacKenzie-Childs! Please read further for the details on how to enter. I promise you it's very simple! Now, allow me to introduce to you to my latest tote.....Miss Penny!
The team at MacKenzie-Childs created tote bags for each of us traveling tote members in celebration of our five years of loyalty and travel adventures! The news of the gift coming was a total surprise to us, but enthusiastically received. The sewing team found insight as to each of our personalities through our respective blogs, and came up with unique designs for each of us. We all had a lot of fun communicating with each other as we received our totes, trying to guess whose was whose. Patti received photos of each of them from us individually, and ultimately sent out the collage photo below, asking us if we guessed correctly. It took me four tries to name them correctly! Here's a collage of each of our bags:
These bags are so easy to carry! Lightweight, yet roomy enough for a weekend stay. Mine made its first trip in early December to take in holiday festivities for a weekend away. I can't wait to take it with me in the years to come!
Cherry Kay created a poem for us to share with you, our readers, as a teaser to our very special giveaway surprise. Be sure to continue reading!

The Traveling Totes Tribe is offering one lucky reader a very special giveaway. Our giveaway sponsor this time is MacKenzie-Childs, in recognition of our tribe's five years of loyalty and travel adventures. Leave a comment, telling me one way in which you might use the tote pictured below. Up to ten readers who do so will randomly have their names thrown into the hat (with our other tribe members' random ten draws for comments left on their posts) for an opportunity to win this gorgeous MacKenzie-Childs tote made expressly for our anniversary! The winner will be chosen January 27th and will be notified by email soon after. This post will be updated once the winner is announced. Be sure to leave your email (either in the comment or by emailing me directly at Panoply) so we may contact you if you're chosen. Good luck!

You may increase your chances of winning by leaving a comment on each of my tribe members' blog posts below. Good luck!

Debbie with Miss Tassie @ Mountain Breaths
Emily with Miss Lulu @ The French Hutch
Patti with Miss Tizzy @ Pandora's Box
Jenna with Miss Hello Gorgeous @ The Painted Apron
Linda P with Miss Gigi @ Life and Linda
Rita with Miss Penny @ Panoply (you are here!)
Sarah with Miss Poppy @ Hyacinths for the Soul
Jackie with Miss Pansy @ Purple Chocolat Home
Ricki Jill with Miss Square Peggy @The Sketchy Reader
Cherry Kay with Miss Waverly @ Entertaining Women
POST UPDATE January 27, 2020: The winner of our MacKenzie-Childs serendipity tote bag giveaway was announced on Patti's blog at Pandora's Box. The winner is Rhonda, who left her comment on Jenna's blog at the Painted Apron. Thank you to all who entered, and congratulations, Rhonda!

Just as a testament of our varied travels so far, here's a graphic of where our original Courtly Check totes have collectively visited in the past five years, in the United States alone! Only seven more states (MI, WI, MN, ND, MT, NB, CO), and we have the entire US and Puerto Rico covered!
Here are the countries to which the totes have collectively traveled the past five years. They include the US, France, Italy, England, South Africa, St. Kitts, Neves, Grand Cayman, Honduras, Mexico, Belize, Bahamas, Canada, and St. Thomas: 
As you can see, there's plenty of adventure left to cover. We're coming for you, world!
Thank you so much to all my readers for following along with the Traveling Tote Tribe. We'll see you again on March 1!

Rita C. at Panoply

Monday, January 6, 2020

Miscellaneous Musings No. 17

Welcome to another instalment of Panoply Miscellaneous Musings. These are a collection of random thoughts from a racing mind, quirky things noted around me, and sometimes just life imponderables. I have a category devoted to these on my blog because, well, it's how my mind works. To know me is to know I typically have many tabs open on my computer and my brain at any given point in time. You may want to grab a drink, as it's been awhile since I've compiled them. The length proves it. So, here we go with Miscellaneous Musings No. 17.

When I created my Thanksgiving tablescape back in November, I told y'all I had a story to tell about the Juliska salad plates I used. Try as I might to eliminate dishes stored in this downsized living, I ended up with 12 of these when my intention was to have 4.
A scam seller attempted catching me in his web on eBay after I ordered these on a Buy It Now transaction. The scammer sent me a total of 3 sets (of 4 plates each) when I paid for 1 set. The seller later sent me an email (in poor English), trying to get me to send money for his [intentional] duplicate shipment to an email outside of the eBay official account (a huge red flag!). I contacted both eBay and Juliska directly. Without going into the dirty details, the seller had apparently tapped into the Juliska wholesale customer database to fake orders under bonafide [business] customer accounts for drop shipments. The eBay representative confirmed fraudulent activity and told me the seller would be handled (no further details). Juliska told me to keep the dishes, but encouraged me to only purchase from authorized Juliska dealers in the future. Turns out the 3rd set ended up back with its rightful Juliska independent distributor after reaching out to me with the shipping address the fraudulent seller had provided. I still have 2 sets, the eBay seller has not been blocked, and I will not be buying other than from authorized dealers. Lesson learned.

Speaking of tablescaping, I saw a great video on a Facebook group I'm a member of, Tablescapes and Tablestyling. It was on competitive tablescaping.
Although I really enjoy tablescaping, I didn't know the competition of such was a thing. Back in 2017, I first noticed our local ReStore sponsoring a tablescaping competition with local small business participants using their items, which would be donated to ReStore afterward for resale. It was great! Winner had bragging rights and all the participants had the opportunity to promote their business through use of items they typically offer for sale.
ReStore Tablescaping Competition 2017
Besides the video and what my local ReStore sponsored, I found another article about competing with themed tables from Apartment Therapy (click on link, here).

Besides dishes, textiles (mostly throw pillows) have been a major weakness for me since the downsize. I read somewhere that throw pillows are stuffed animals of grown women. LOL. Truth! I take comfort in the fact that a girlfriend told me she currently has 15 new ones stored in her basement her husband has yet to see. 😂
My attempt to control the space which throw pillows can consume is in buying Hefty vacuum seal plastic storage bags (no affiliation) until I decide which ones will be purged through my next yard sale. I don't buy pillows anymore unless they have zip closures so I can pull the forms and store them flat. In the collage below, you can see how easy the storage is. The bottom left frame are some of the many no zipper pillows I have vacuum sealed.
The purge still continues, even though it's been almost one year since we moved (which has flown by). Just this morning Mr. P. asked me what I was doing with the four area rugs rolled and standing in the coat closet (top L frame of collage below). Likely, I'll be selling those pictured in the yard sale, too. I thought I'd use them, but haven't. It's just so much easier cleaning wood floors without rugs.
I have at least five or six smaller hooked wool rugs (holiday) in the storage unit, too, not to mention other small rugs I moved and am storing at the loft.

January seems to be the month everybody gets on the bandwagon for purging / organizing. I guess I'll be re- re-organizing. I have one closet in the loft that I call my household closet. It definitely needs re- re-organized, even though it's gone through at least a couple iterations already. What you see pictured below is about one-third of the actual size (R & L sides store nearly equal amounts). Love those high ceilings, but all those boxes you see stacked on the floor have still not been gone through since the move.
Speaking of purging, when you find money or uncashed checks, let me caution you about trying to cash them. We found two last year, one of which cost us a returned check fee after cashing (later waived by our wonderful bank rep) due to its age. Even though both checks were over six months old, one issuer apparently enforced the timeframe, one didn't.

Also related to purging, and this one's important to note! From Time magazine, please read this article. You may want to pin it (from the original source, of course). It tells why you need to make a "When I Die" file, and it's never too early!

Out and about in our neighborhood.......
Our capitol building is undergoing some major structural repairs and this is its current look:
It kinda reminds me a huge Jiffy Pop popcorn pan - remember those? - but most residents around town call it the giant condom. Maybe so, but it doesn't seem to keep bad politicians from proliferating.

You've heard how Southern mamas put bows in their girls hair, right? This Blessed Virgin statue was spotted along one of our walk paths in the new neighborhood.
We occasionally drive through the old neighborhood and walk there when we have errands to run in that area. I still can't bring myself to walk past the house, just drive by. This past weekend we drove by and there must've been over 100 Canada geese on the riverbank. Ugh. I don't miss chasing them at all. One former neighbor sent me a video of the geese crossing the street, told me she missed us. 🙄  I memorialized the geese at the loft, did you notice? It was part of my Christmas decor, at the front door. That lighted floral arrangement is a resting Canada goose.
Can't miss the chance to share my granddogs. Two under two and one spoiled rotten. Can you tell which is which?
If you're on Facebook, there was that 10 year challenge of pictures of yourself. I didn't post it, but this was me, 2009 and 2019.
While we were away in early December, I was in the bathroom and noticed a short hair, either an eyebrow or from my crown, that grazed my face, which happens fairly frequently. I actually don't brush my hair, just comb it after washing, and then run my fingers through it with water each morning. Whoa! That hair was attached, and was on my chin! Baby fine, but still, that was a first! Geez, I'd always heard women talk about that, now I guess I have that to add to maintenance. That's one thing hypothyroidism has not left me without (thin hair). Even my hairdresser said to me, "I thought people with hypothyroidism didn't have eyebrows?" Not this chick.

From the imponderable files......
Are you like us, and basically use the heels of loaves of bread as freshlock mechanisms and never use them much or at all? They're kinda like the bookends of bread books, aren't they?
Lastly, random thoughts at bedtime....this is so me.
If you stuck with me this far, I so appreciate your loyal readership. Drop me a line, anytime. I'm open all night...well, my mind pretty much is, anyway. If you want to see my other Musings, here's a link that lists them all, here.

Oh, and don't forget to come back on January 15 for a special edition of the Traveling Tote. It's our 5-year anniversary, and we've got a great giveaway. You're gonna love it!
Postscript to publishing: I didn't even realize when I hit publish on this post that it was exactly seven years ago on this date that I started my blog!
Rita C. at Panoply
(A special thanks to Rebecca from Zucchini Sisters' Celebrate Your Story #214 for featuring this post!)

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Panoply 2019: It's a Wrap!

Well, I've packed away all my Christmas decor, and now it's time to collage all my blog posts for 2019 as a final step before closing the book, so to speak. I'll have all my posts bound in a yearbook style format using Blog2Print (no affiliation, I just love the product and service).

I only blogged 24 posts (counting this one!) in 2019. That's a testament to my year of downsizing (and the fact that I was too busy to write about the action I was in the midst of). The theme of downsizing was definitely the center of my universe in 2019 and a recurring theme throughout the year. What you'll see below is a photo collage of each of my topics this past year, with individual post links below the photos if you're so inclined. I boldfaced one or more of my favorites in each category.
Home & Garden
Welcome! Our Urban DwellingJuly Garden MemoriesCozying Up the CondoChristmas Home Tour 2019: It's Christmastime in the City
Travel: Tales of the Traveling Tote
Tales of the Traveling Totes #18: Urban Renewal;  Tales of the Traveling Totes #19; Tales of the Traveling Tote: Fun in the SunTales of the Traveling Tote #20 and a GiveawayTales of the Traveling Tote #21: Fall in Utah's National Parks
Purple Passion Fire and Ice TablescapeSpring Blooms TablescapeEmbracing Summer: Pineapple Delight TablescapeA Patriotic Tablescape: Celebrating Freedom, Always!Tete-a-tete Summer Tablescape on the BalconyFeline Fondness for Fall TablescapeTutu Fun! Danse Macabre TablescapeForest Walk Thanksgiving TablescapeBlack Tartan Plaid Holiday Tablescape
Miscellaneous Musings and Organization
Downsizing: Tips on Purging, OrganizingTop Tips as We Gather TogetherMiscellaneous Musings No. 16
Panoply Antiquing
Panoply Booth Displays: Purging Household ItemsPanoply New, Vintage Finds
All of the categories of my topics are pulled from my main menu. If you click on each of those topics at the header of my blog, you'll see the list of the posts pulled for each of the categories. It's just another way of keeping things organized.

Reflecting on the major push of downsizing, purging and organizing, I am happier with fostering less material things which, looking back now with 20-20 vision, had me feeling a bit overwhelmed. My Panoply sisters and I are even purging in our antique booth spaces at this writing, and hope to have a fresh start in 2020. So, even though shopping will still be happening, it will be with more of a "just in time" versus "just buy it" mentality.

I so appreciate each and every one you, my readers, and love the friendships struck through blogging. I hope those of you who read but don't always comment will feel welcome to do so anytime. I always try to visit blogs if you have one, and try to respond by email to comments. It's rare that I can't figure out who the commenter is or that I don't have a contact to reach you, but if so (and you're no-reply commenter), I'll leave a response on the post. I'm really looking forward to hitting 2020 with optimism and enthusiasm. I hope you are, too.

Happy New Year!
Rita C. at Panoply
(A special thanks to Suzanne at Pieced Pastimes: Saturday Sparks Link Party #356 for featuring my annual wrap up post!)

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Christmas Home Tour 2019: It's Christmastime in the City

Welcome to my holiday open house at Panoply! 2019 was a year of big changes for us, as we downsized from our former home and garden to a dwelling in a century old building converted to condominiums in the center of town. You can view our former home and last Christmas here.
After living here nearly eight months, I am about 90% fully settled with places for most of the things I kept. Christmas decor is stored off premises since it is used only one month out of the year, and I am still trying to whittle it down as I go. Today I'm sharing our loft in its holiday style, and how I've incorporated much of what has been restyled in our urban space. Join me!

A little cherub donning winter accessories greets you in the vestibule outside our floor elevator.
Our loft's entry is winter ready with a pom wreath, Christmas goose and cardinal mat. 
As you step into our loft, you're looking eastward toward downtown churches and our state's capitol building in the distance (under white tarp temporarily for reconstruction). The Christmas tree was downsized this year in keeping with our overall change in lifestyle. 
Pillows and a throw were added recently for Christmas condo coordination, but the majority of memorable decorations remain and are reworked in our new space.
Christmas tree at dusk. Mixing modern / urban, traditional, vintage and antique defines eclectic style, yes?
City bridge view from living room with Christmas tree in corner, reflected in plate glass windows. Our balcony is just outside those windows.
A faux magnolia arrangement with little lights, intentionally placed to the right of the tree on the wall unit shelf, screens most of the electronics wiring.
The view of our open space and tree from the dining area. The Christmas tablescape can be seen in more detail here.
The tablescape can last beyond Christmas in its neutral, warm tones.
The dining area corner vitrine holds a vintage tole lamp, lighted Bouguereau (Song of the Angels), and small curio of a portion of my collected sterling and plated napkin rings.
Morning sunrise and sunlight streaming into the loft is a never-ending display in itself. The space directly behind the sectional sofa has two Parsons chairs and sideboard with nested tables (a second one is being used as tree stand). The chairs can easily be moved to the dining table to comfortably seat six.
A collection of small Santas and other baubles are on the left side curio / drink table.
Sideboard decor includes a squirrel nutcracker with cloisonne acorn and WV ornaments on one side, silver bocce balls in compote and simple ornaments with lights in apothecary jar on the other. Notice the stockings in the background, hanging on the edge of the counter. I simply use magnets to hang a few things on the stainless surfaces (even art!) in the loft.
The balcony boy and angel don their winter accessories.
In the main living space, the electric fireplace area is central to two rooms beyond (with track doors). You can see where the Parsons chairs are at bottom right corner of the photo. The dining table is to the left. The fireplace was a good space to display my nutcracker collection. I found frames recently on Etsy to hang antique, hand painted tiles of winter scenes dating from the late 1880s on either side of the little fireplace.
My Orphanello statue (in the corner next to my office door on the right) holds a votive candle (battery operated). Mr. P.'s personal space is the room on the left of the fireplace.
The kitchen corner is mostly utilitarian, but the little trees and angel are seasonal additions.
Stockings are hung at the end of the kitchen bar, and a tartan scarf dresses the ammo basket directly across from the bar.
The laundry room is whimsical with gingerbread people and their hanging laundry. The wreath hanging was made by my daughter #2 in preschool over 25 years ago. The crocheted potholders are another collection in the vintage wash basin. The colors of each season are brought to the surface while the bowl is full of other seasonal colors. The lights add candy-colored fun, as does the gingerbread house on the baker's rack across from the appliances.
The powder room is where my collection of sheep graze. The winter sleigh sheep and tiny orphan sheep on the commode lid are seasonal additions to the usual flock.
My office / personal space is decorated with a few more things saved in the downsize. This is the view from the side of the room where my desk is situated (the edge can be seen on the right).
The curio cabinet in my office has been empty since the move in April, and is where I intend to style much of my antique beaded and mesh purse collection. That will be a good winter project. Until then, the Santa fairies and a few family photos from the early 1960s fill the cabinet shelves.
Madonna and Child on credenza behind my desk (not shown).
The master bedroom sitting area just sports a couple of seasonal pillows, with a favorite ornament on the drink table between. A lighter hand is decorating this year was a welcome change. Buying new pillows and a few salad plates to add to my dish collection (of course!) were my only splurges this year, and I even took most of the duplicate sized pillow forms and vacuum sealed them for storage to maintain clutter control.
One of the many, ever-changing sky views from our living space.
I even downsized my nativity in that I purged the wooden stable. I love the simpler display. It doesn't matter if your style is modern, farmhouse, traditional, urban or any other label, this is timeless.
May your holidays be filled with love and meaningful moments. Try not to worry about what others might view as the perfect Christmas. I found this article on that very subject, posted recently by a niece who has three kids under the age of 12, and thought it was poignant for all of us. 

Merry Christmas 
from Rita C. at Panoply
(A special thanks to Shelley of Calypso in the Country's Decorating Ideas - Best of the Weekend 12-13-19 for featuring this post!)