Monday, February 24, 2014

Spring Themed Luncheon Tablescape

In a previous post,  A Book-Inspired Buffet, Baby!, hosted for my niece's baby shower, I mentioned I set the table with a spring theme.  The shower was midday, and the setting was casual.  It was an opportunity for me to use some of my many dishes and textiles, both items being weaknesses I admit having when it comes to resisting collecting.
This setting features the table in the sunroom - bright and cheery, even on cloudy days, as the ceiling is all windows.  I mixed things up, starting with West Virginia Fiesta, the square dinner plates in Sunflower, as my charger base.  I then layered my Fire King Jadeite Restaurantware dinner plates and Noritake 'Reverie' salad plates.  The Fiestaware was a recent purchase at one of our seconds outlets nearby, the Jadeite was a lucky and reasonable find in an antique mall in Kentucky, and the Noritake (1974, complete dinner service for 16) was an auction score several years ago.
Although the dishware is casual, I don't hesitate to use my sterling flatware.  This pattern is the classic "Prelude", by International Silver (1939).  It was an auction purchase many years ago with complete place setting service for eight.  The forks rest on very casual, white duck cloth napkins, trimmed with a yellow stripe.  I have collected many of these sets, in many different stripes, and mix and match them based on my color theme.  The glassware is classic, West Virginia Blenko, hand-blown, dimpled crackle glass (1970's).  These glasses were handed down to me from my mother-in-law.
More vintage items rounded out the table setting.  Although the silverplate salt & peppers are a bit pitted from age, I couldn't resist rescuing them when found on an antiquing jaunt.  I had a pair once before and, regrettably, sold them, so when I saw these, I snatched them up.
The bowl holding the fresh daisies is the larger of a matte, yellow-washed, ruffled rose bowl pair, an auction buy.  The bowl rests on a vintage crocheted doily, layered on a hand-embroidered table topper, centered on a vintage damask round tablecloth.
Another of my many collections are napkins rings.  I have more than three dozen, but I've never been picky about what I buy, other than the price being right and something about it has to catch my eye.  Since this table was set casually, these rings served only as decor, but still with purpose.  I pulled out all my rings which had names monogrammed on them since I knew we were planning to play a game of trying to drum up names for the mother-to-be's baby.  I think all but the top-most rings pictured are sterling.  The one on the far right, though not monogrammed, has a child's motif.  Most of these were collected from various estate sales.
When at auction, I have several friends and family who know I am drawn to the dishes, and always tease me about bidding on them and soliciting an invitation for a meal.  It's fun to actually be able to put these dishes and textiles together with purpose.  Too often I get caught up in the throes of preparing the food and end up short-changing the presentation, but I do love a nice presentation.

Parties I share with:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

More Vintage Finds & Styling

In the business of resale, we always try to stay ahead of the curve in terms of seasons - shopping for and styling spaces.  The last few months of 2013 were really hectic, but my sisters and I still managed to get some Panoply vintage shopping done, thinking of future vignettes.  We were set for the holidays & new year, but many items are currently sitting in either my basement or my sisters', ready and waiting for the months ahead.

It may be awhile before sister M and I style some of these latest items in our booth spaces.  Sometimes styling has to wait until inspiration strikes from the three of us - my sisters M and J, and me - and that may take a few shopping sprees before a vignette or two comes to life. Some items just have to be fostered awhile until the love for them can be shared.  So, I'll share some items with you now, while I'm spending my days planning, organizing and fostering 'stuff'.

In one of our booth spaces, we typically reserve part of it for a more primitive look, with a bit of a farmhouse or country vibe to it, even industrial.  To that, I have these really cool mail carts with removable wire baskets, on folding wheel bases that I scored - not just one, but three (plus an extra basket!).  Imagine the possibilities of what can be done with these babies.  I may just have to keep one or two of these. They're all cleaned up, ready to roll.
Plus, I've got this galvanized foot locker:
I've also got at a few other galvanized pieces, a long chicken feeder, plus three galvanized carriers left over from last October's wedding decor that can be styled and sold.  I've also got a set of glass, pint-sized bottles (similar to milk bottles) that advertise "Swamp Juice" on them, that easily fit into the chicken feeder.  It would make a great picnic vignette for Summer.

Here's a genuine French garden piece, a tiered, wire flower stand (it's holding small, faux herb pots on the bottom, but I also have vintage English clay pots to sell with the piece as an option).
The stool's already been reclaimed and in use in my bath. ;)  It matches another one I bought at auction - they're from 1940's - 1950's schoolhouses, with an oak seat on cast iron base.  My other one is still in its original wood and cast iron state, as a side table in my TV area.  Since this one was painted, and is now a nice, chippy white, I put it in my bath.
White, chippy stool, a keeper in the bathroom
Of course, ironstone is universally popular, and our region is no different.  I picked this very old, little tea set, a variation on the tea leaf pattern, last Summer.
There's also this crock, a five gallon size, with cobalt blue painting, with a bee sting motif, which is in great shape.
It seems mid-century modern has become fairly popular with the young adult buyers, but my two sisters don't embrace it as easily as I do.  So, this leather and wood chair may or may not get placed into a vignette somewhere along the line. It's a nice, heavy chair which came from a doctor's office, and has brass tacks along the back side of the backrest.  I've actually used it for extra seating this past Fall for family gatherings, but Mr. P. doesn't embrace it either.
I'll try matching it up with some barware or some other kind of a Mad Men-esque look.  This cool bingo cage could look good with it, along with some vintage bingo cards I have to go alongside the cage.
Vintage luggage is always a good seller, and this one is quite handsome with its flat surface and chunky shape.  It's nice and clean on the inside as well, a bonus.
We are most always hoarding buying textiles, and these woolens (below) may have to wait until late Summer or early Fall, 2014, to style and sell, but that'll be okay.  I'm enjoying fostering these throws, and used two of them already in this past holiday season.  The red one on the left is a Pendleton (I used it as my tree skirt), the burnt orange is mohair, and the one on the far right is a Scotland wool.  I like them all, and they were all from the same estate.  We also took away three more boxes of hand-worked linens from this estate.
Most recent quilt acquisitions, freshly laundered - fostering for now; likely keeping
In addition to the pieces mentioned so far, my sister M also has several furniture pieces recently acquired from a family member who died.  We sometimes talk about the need for more retail space, but decided patience is the virtue we'll practice.  We could probably be in good shape to style for the next twelve months - without another shopping excursion in that time frame (which you and I know ain't gonna happen, lol!).

We also try to keep plenty of smalls in stock.  I'm ready to purge some of my vintage purses, such as this group I recently acquired, all of which I'll likely sell.
I'm really looking forward to getting some of these pieces styled, moving toward Spring and Summer displays.  Once like items are grouped in a theme, it usually comes together very easily in styling.  Smalls, such as the beaded and mesh purses, are typically displayed in curios or jewelry cases.  My sisters and I usually talk about our ideas, think through our own stashes, and then go into the antique mall with a plan and execute rather quickly.  

Sometimes we act quickly in styling, as was the case this past week, when a dining room set sold after only five days!  Our display went from this - a rather dark, Pennsylvania House cherry dining set (seats need recovered but sister M chose to let the buyer decide that), set with 1930s Noritake Azalea china, Viking glass tumblers and a Capodimonte centerpiece...
Panoply booth, February, 2014 - Dining Room this - a lighter and brighter garden scene below (same space).  We brought in a wicker rolling cart and chippy, wood garden table, along with the tiered wire basket & faux herb pots (mentioned above), and moved a few other items around.  
Panoply booth, February, 2014 - Garden Space
We've actually sold a couple other big ticket items already this month and had to shuffle other vignettes.  The garden vignette above left a few holes in its previous space, so we quickly brought in some vintage, wooden ironing boards and irons for a laundry space (see below).  
Panoply booth, February, 2014 - Laundry Space
 It's hard to see for the white out, but there's a string of lace with vintage hankies hanging behind the ironing boards, mimicking an old-fashioned clothesline.

Our main space had a settee that coordinated with two chairs, and the settee sold, as did a Victorian fainting couch.  So, we moved the desk over with the remaining chairs (it previously sat beside the fainting couch.  You can see how we styled the spaces previously, in January, here).
Panoply booth, February, 2014 - Sitting Room
We naturally think and plan ahead in terms of season, as most retailers do.  It typically takes less than a half day for even a big move, but can last an entire day if we tackle more than one large overhaul.  M and I have gotten ourselves into a good groove, working alongside each other.

There's always something to look forward to in shopping and styling vintage and antique finds, and using organizational skills is important for even moderate success.  And when it doesn't move as we hoped it would, there's always an opportunity for a yard sale - or, should we decide to purge through local donation, the chance to make someone else really happy with a lucky find. 

I'll leave you with a photo of someone else's score at a recent auction we attended.....
"You'll shoot your eye out!" Look at those horns!  Not our score, but another buyer's
This bench / chaise / couch was part of the personal property of a local estate, but the provenance is that it was a decommissioned piece from a museum in Waco, TX.  The seat (there's a mirror on top of it in this photo), is made from alligator skin, the backrest is an African deer and, course, there's all those horns.  Can you imagine bending over to pick something up and come up to have one of those horns shoot poke your eye out?!  This item sold for $3,400.  Lucky find or not, it definitely made one buyer really happy.

We'll be shopping in the Cincinnati area this weekend, M & I, and we'll be staying with sister J.  We're likely to be anywhere from across the river in Kentucky all the way up to Springfield, OH, out and about, scouting, scrounging, scouring - whatever you call it - while the winter weather gives us a little break.  Have a great weekend, whatever you decide to get into!


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Book-Inspired Buffet, Baby!

(Thank you, Alison, at Nancherrow's Fridays Unfolded , for featuring this post.)
My sister, M, and I hosted a baby shower for our niece (sister J's daughter) this past weekend at my house. As an alternative to cards enclosed with gifts, a popular trend right now is suggesting guests bring a book and sign it in lieu of the card. I took the idea a step further:  I built the midday food buffet around children's book titles for the shower's theme.  It was so much fun! This served a few purposes:  it created baby's first treasured library, it still provided a memento from the gift-givers (less likely to be put aside as cards may be), and it made food fare simple.
Taking on a cheerfully spring-like theme, this was the beginning of the buffet line.  "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" was the appropriate start to the buffet line. 
Variously collected, vintage duck cloth napkins were used, along with several other of my collection of serving pieces - some new, some vintage - all collected.  I coordinated a mix of vintage dishes:  Noritake's Reverie, Fire King Jadeite, and some Fiesta ware.  I'll share the tablescape I created in a separate post soon.
"The Tale of Peter Rabbit"  headed up the veggie station.  "Single Shooters" were created in the mini clay pots (Dollar Tree, 3 for $1) lined with colorful, plastic shot glasses (Wal Mart, 12 for $2).  I put a base of Marzetti's ranch dip and "planted" celery, carrots and green & red peppers in the pots.  The remaining veggies were served in my Mariposa wheelbarrow.

The shower guests were entirely family members, so as a nod to my mother's presence, I placed a little porcelain bird trinket box on the buffet.  It belonged to my mom, and inside was the angel brooch used most recently at my daughter's wedding.  (You can see the angel brooch in my post here).  
The mainstays of the food fare were sparked by "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" and "Strega Nona".
"Strega Nona" means Grandma Witch in Italian, and the story is about a boy who gets into pasta trouble trying to mimic Strega Nona's magic spell she casts on her pasta pot.  My orzo salad complemented the book, and the book complemented my family's and my niece's husband's Italian heritage.  
The setup for the remainder of the buffet was sparked by a couple of Dr. Seuss books, along with "Baby Cakes".

"Green Eggs and Ham" inspired the deviled eggs, enhanced with a couple drops of green food coloring, alongside a plate of  finger sandwiches made with ham salad.
"One fish two fish red fish blue fish" inspired the bowl of Swedish gummy fish, a favorite snack of the guest of honor.
"Baby Cakes" was the inspiration behind the sugar cookie fruit cups served (recipe here), as well as the petit fours brought from Servatii's, an Italian bakery in Cincinnati.  Yum!  Vintage Silvercrest serving pieces were used for the desserts.

Our sunroom is just off of the kitchen, a perfect place for entertaining.  We have a stand-alone heating and cooling unit for the sunroom, so it serves us year-round, no matter what Mother Nature tries to bring on (this day was 25°).  I added a touch of spring (come soon, please!) with a few bright colors in the form of quilts, wrapping paper, and flowers.

A tower of baby necessities, made to look like a 3-tiered cake, was made by my niece's sister, and replaced the sunroom's center table flowers once guests arrived.
 I love the bright colors!  Several gifts in the corner also have bright and cheerful colors.
L to R:  my sister J (Nana), my pregnant niece, me, and my sister M
We didn't really play games, but we did have a lot of fun trying to "help" our niece and her husband come up with names for the baby (they don't know the sex).  Everyone wrote down at least one girl's and one boy's name, and we let our niece choose her favorite - something to go with the very Italian surname, Samuele (pronounced Sam u ell e).  One sister-in-law came up some very humorous names, such as Antipasto, Linguini and Anchovie for a boy, and Marscapone and Rigatoni for a girl, lol.  The picks were Mario Nicholas and Collette Marie.  At the end of the shower, we got a group picture of all of us present, taken by my husband (who hid out in our master bedroom the entire time we gathered).
It's always fun to share our home, centered around a fun event with food fare and family. And happy events.

Sharing again with:
One More Time Events

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Plan Now! Annual Flower Container Ideas

February is always a great time to go back through garden photos and think of warmer, sunnier days yet to come and enjoying time in the garden.  Just seeing the angles of the sun in the photographs can transport me.  I love the garden, with all the planting, weeding, pruning, and cultivating of both perennials and annuals.  Today I'm sharing some of my tried-and-true annual container combinations for a full sun garden.

I live in a USDA Zone 7a climate - we get all four seasons, and our last threat of frost is typically no later than April 30.  I like to have all my containers planted no later than just before Memorial Day weekend (end of May).  I usually plant three pairs of like containers, and then one or two single containers.

I interpret the "filler, thriller, spiller" adage loosely in my containers.  For example, here's a typical combination I'll use outside of my sunroom doors:
These are containers with coral geraniums (filler), a center spike, or dracaena (thriller), and a delicate, white "diamond frost" (spiller).  These are fiberglass pots, filled in the base with styrofoam peanuts (a secret to filling the container and saving soil) and gravel (a secret to providing weight during storms).

Another combination for containers flanking our hot tub:
This is a combination of coral geranium, center spike (dracaena), blue lobelia, and sweet, white alyssum.

One year, I overwintered red twig dogwood branches I had stuck in the dirt for simple, winter interest, and my containers resulted in this after adding annuals the following spring:
Container with over-wintered, variegated, (leafed-out) red twig dogwood branches, sweet potato vines and hot pink penta flowers.

All of the containers shown so far are ones I place in my courtyard.  I usually place the third pair within the yard landscape, wherever there seems to be a need for some color.  Here's an example of one year's look:
This container did not have a tall plant, simply red geraniums with white vinca.

Another year, the pair in the landscape looked like this:
This is a favorite combination of mine:  dark purple "Marguerite" potato vine, central, tall purple Indian grass, and wonderfully scented purple heliotrope flowers.
I've also planted the same as above, but added the white, delicate "diamond frost" to the mix.

Here's a look-see of the container from late spring (when first planted);
To late summer, when fully grown:
I love when the Indian grass gets its plumes!

Here's another look-see of a late spring, newly-planted courtyard container, this time with potato vine, dracaena spike and hot-pink pentas:
And how the container looked later in summer:
One of my single containers usually gets a simple planting, typically lantana.  Just one little plant such as this:
Will grow to this in just a few short weeks:
Sometimes, I'll combine a few plants into this container, usually when I have leftovers from other plantings:
In this case, the plants are heliotrope and diamond frost.
The trick to nice container plants is fairly simple:
  • Find plants that are rated for your growing zone.  In my case, full sun winners are:  geraniums, pentas, heliotrope as fillers; purple fountain grass, dracaenas as thrillers (tall); lantana, lobelia, diamond frost, potato vines as spillers. Any combination of these are a good start for a sunny container, but there are many others.  Visit your local nursery or big-box store and check the tags in plants for your sun exposure options.
  • Use a good potting soil mixture such as Miracle Gro moisture control potting mix.  Use styrofoam peanuts and gravel to fill the base of huge containers to save soil (I place at least 12" of soil in my containers, and use filler for the remaining base).
  • Place the plants in a clean container so that it's balanced, with the tallest specimen central to your pot. This will allow you to regularly rotate the plant so that you get even growth and a symmetrical look to your container.
  • WATER, WATER, WATER!  In the case of my examples, these plants need watered EVERY SINGLE DAY THROUGHOUT SUMMER.  Without watering, container plants will go limp and dry up quickly.  If watering daily is simply not in your schedule, either assign the chore to a family member, look for shade options or forego containers altogether.  It's just too expensive to plant and let die.  Another option is to purchase self-watering containers - an expensive proposition in the beginning, but can provide some relief to the watering regimen.  I have used self-watering containers inside, but never tried them outside.
  • Use Miracle Gro Plant Food once a week for the first few weeks as an option to get full, lush growth in the early stages.  When you fill the spray attachment with the crystal pack and attach it to your garden hose nozzle, it's an easy job.
  • Prune gangly vines and dead-head spent flower heads.  This will ensure continued blooms and fuller growth all season long.
  • Once the growing season is over, be sure to empty dead plants and either compost or trash.  Clean your containers with a wire brush and mild soap and/or diluted bleach, rinsing well.  Store containers.
Happy growing!