Thursday, May 29, 2014

Everyday Tableware Taken to the Maxx

For our everyday dishware, we are currently using Pfaltzgraff's 'Sandbar' from the Sand and Seas Collection. It compares to ironstone - hard-working, heavy and practical.  Until recently, I was never inspired to create a tablescape with it.  That all changed with a recent, successful run to TJ Maxx.
After Megan from Farmhouse 5540 wrote about the vintage-inspired, grain-sack striped kitchen towels she found (there's even more exciting news she shared in that post if you go to the link),  I was excited.  They were sold at TJ Maxx, in pairs, for $3.99!  Red would have been my first choice, simply because I have so little blue in my decor, but it turned out to be a serendipitous thing.

Well, of course, the kitchen towels couldn't be the end-all for the purchase. I bought four of these coordinating placemats for $6.99.
I came home and was immediately inspired to set a table, using our everyday work-horse tools.
While the sunroom is in summer mode, I envisioned a table set for summer, including fresh foods such as corn-on-the-cob.  What better way to utilize the kitchen towels than as oversized 'lapkins' for something such as messy, buttery corn-on-the-cob?  I pulled out my OXO corn skewers and added them to each setting.

The Pfaltzgraff 'Sandbar' pattern (now retired) was purchased years ago at an outlet in Virginia, near DC.  Its texture and pattern mimic the movement of the sea and sand, just as waves continuously alter the beach's edge.  Our glassware is basic, by Libbey, and our everyday flatware is from Oneida.  A vintage, buttery yellow, linen tablecloth grounds the setting.
Just a few pieces were added to the summer-y tablescape, including three, graduated candle lanterns, filled at the base with shells collected from various seaside vacations.  I've also had these for years, and they're nice, in that the base decor can be switched out to suit your theme.
The ceramic serving dish and smaller dip bowl are hand-crafted and hand-painted by a resident artist, a souvenir from a trip to Grand Cayman, BWI.
The light, muted colors play out well in the table setting, fitting right in with the rest of the summer decor in the sunroom.  The total $15 spent on vintage towels and placemats from TJ Maxx take the everyday tableware settings to their maxx potential. ;)

I'll be sharing with:

Monday, May 26, 2014

Summer Annuals 2014, Patching Grass Successfully

I am a fanatic about photo journaling my garden, and have been for about 15 years, when it was just small islands of flowers in my yard.  My summer garden annuals were planted this past week at the front of the house. Here's a look at the front of the property right now, my so-called before - before the summer annuals grow wild and fill the beds entirely:
Front of house, right side
I love this mix of flowers in a red, white and blue color scheme for summer.  This year, I have white vinca, red geraniums, blue angelonia and purple heart, or wandering jew.  My apologies to my fellow master gardeners and all the horticulturists out there - I use common plant names, for the most part, most of the time.  I left Latin back in high school.
Front of house, left side
Remember having wandering jew back in the '70s as hanging house plants?  We put them in the flower beds for the first time last year and absolutely loved the look, especially after they filled out.
Street front, outside of gate
In front of the gate, which butts up to the parking pad adjacent to the street, we omitted the wandering jew, but may insert a few later (they were not readily available at planting). We added a little red & white variegated verbena called voodoo star outside the gate. I've put my first of summer-long, weekly Miracle-Gro applications on the annuals, and it won't be long before they'll take off.  I like both looks - neat and tidy, as well as full and fuller. :)

I still have six containers throughout the landscape that I need to shop for, plant, and place, but that also means I'll be watering every day that it doesn't rain.  Besides, I've already been watering regularly for the past nearly two months, patching grass.

This past fall we had new steel edging put around the entire perimeter of our landscape garden.  Part of the reason for doing this was due to a flareup of  Mr. P's OCD caused by bare patches in the grass.  I kid you not.
Front of house, right side - October 31, 2013 - amending grass edging
Years of manual edging was delineating the intersection of where the porch arc met the straight line of the walkway, and the grass edge was creeping nearly four bricks' width away from that point, driving Mr. P over the edge, lol.  The photo below better illustrates the delineation (see bottom, right corner of photo).
Front of house, left side - October 31, 2013 - amending grass edging
If you look closely at the photos above from last fall (taken October 31, 2013), you'll see about 6" of dirt and seed outside of the annual bed, beyond the steel edging.While new grass started coming in pretty well already last fall, it still needed reseeding this spring (see next photo).
Front of house, right side - patchy, over-wintered grass edging, March 2, 2014
Notice the wintered-over pansies (i.e., smashed to smithereens), and the daffodil bulbs emerging in the photo above.  That photo was snapped March 2, 2014.

By April 2, 2014, the daffodils were blooming, the pansies rejuvenating, but the grass was still bare. So, on April 11, 2014, I seed mulched the area; meaning, I threw about 10# of fescue mix grass seed on the dirt and worked it in, among the soil & grass already there, across about 50' of the front of the house.
Seed mulching against steel edging April 11, 2014 - front of house, right side 
Seed mulching against steel edging April 11, 2014 - front of house, left side
After about two weeks, it really started getting fuller, but not quite right (or perfect, in OCD terms). So I threw another 5# of seed on it for good measure.
Grass amendment progress, against steel edging, April 26, 2014 - front of house, left side
Now, six weeks after the initial spring re-seeding (via seed mulching), the grass looks as you see in the first photo in this post (taken May 20, 2014).  Let's look again.
Grass amendment, fully patched against steel edging, May 20, 2014 - front of house, left side 
It's already been a busy spring in the garden just amending the grass. Generally speaking, I am not a grass person - that's Mr. P's job. Flowers are my thing. Somehow I got tricked into doing this patch job - first, along the front, near my annual beds. When I got to the point where the front strip looked good, there was the rabbit escapade in the yard. So while I was fixing that, I went all OCD, just like Mr. P. I started outside of our brick wall adjacent to our neighbor's property, amending nearly 100' of bare, weed-whacked space about 6" out.

This stuff is NOT for sissies. The thing with grass is you simply have to start it before it gets hot or after summer is over. It's all better for now, and the OCD has settled down for both Mr. P and me, I'm happy to report. However, the Bermuda grass that's been creeping its way into the lawn the last 2-3 years is starting to bother both of us, and that means a complete overhaul, which I am dreading.

Other annuals I plant each year are mandevilla vines on each of the four corners of my trellis. Some years the stars align, and the plants are happy, conditions are right, and the vines completely cover the trellis.  I'm hoping for that kind of summer.
Mandevilla vines on four corners of trellis - May 20, 2014
Meanwhile, there are more blooms in the garden.  As the irises wane, I am seeing the first flush of spirea and roses blooming, along with purple salvia.  The bee balm will soon follow (behind the salvia in photo below).
Spirea, roses, salvia, bee balm - May 21, 2014
My buttercups (as they are known in my world, but some call them sunshine cups, even primrose) are starting to bloom, as are the delicate love-in-a-mist.
Buttercups, with rose-of sharon in center (re-emerging rhododendron in front) - May 21, 2014
Love-in-a-mist - May 21, 2014
The kousa dogwood trees are pretty this year, too.  They're full of white blooms, always later than the traditional dogwood trees.
Kousa dogwood trees in bloom, on either side of curving landscape - May 19, 2014
My clematis is still not blooming, but I am thrilled that my nandina plants are showing a full recovery from winter's freeze. I had resolved myself to having to replace them, but they are all doing well!
Nandina bushes, recovering! - May 21, 2014
Moving on, I'll be working on containers next.  The work of staking my perennial hibiscus plants is also fast-approaching (really need to get started now), as evidenced by the photo below.
'Lord Baltimore' hibiscus - May 21, 2014
This variety of hibiscus, 'Lord Baltimore' - will grow to more than 8' feet tall when staked.  I have three plants in the back of the landscape (shown), and three more directly diagonal from those, at the front corner of the house.  These plants are WORK from May through the first of July, when the first, plate-size blooms show. I place more than 8 dozen, 6' stakes in and among these branches, and single-handedly tie each one - sometimes 2-3 ties per branch - to the stakes for support.  Why?  Because I love the look and enjoy immersing myself among them, in a lounge chair, under an umbrella to enjoy the fruits of the labor.

I'm tellin' ya, gardening grows the spirit and soothes the soul. What grows your spirit?

I link and party with any given number of these fine hosts:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

I'm at Linda's Coastal Charm Blog Today

Hey y'all, I'm over at Linda's Coastal Charm today, and I'm talkin' shop!  I hope you'll visit and find out how Panoply got started, and see some of what we do in our antique mall spaces.  I appreciate Linda's invitation, and look forward to meeting new readers!  For those of you new to Panoply, welcome!  I invite you to add me to your circle of friends, or sign up for regular emails of posts to my blog.

Here's a peek of some of what you'll see while there:
Panoply Romantic Victorian Bedroom Display
Panoply Cottage Display
If you're traveling through any of the three interstates that intersect in our town of Charleston, West Virginia (I-64, I-77 or I-79), we'd love for you to stop by and see us at The South Charleston Antique Mall, 617 D Street, South Charleston, West Virginia.  There are billboards strategically pointing the way to our mall along the interstates, or you can phone (304) 744-8975 for directions.  Again, we're on I-64, Exit 56, easy on/off access coming from any of those three interstates.

Thanks again, Linda!  I am most appreciative of your hospitality!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Springfield Extravaganza 2014 - Pretty Much a Bust

What can I say that Mary Chapin Carpenter hasn't already so eloquently stated in her lyrics when she wrote, "Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug...."?  Springfield Extravaganza 2014  - we were pretty much the bugs, and it was pretty much a bust.

Sisters M, J and I were all ready to go Saturday morning, puffy eyes, boots, and layers all.  It was 48° - BRRR - and even though Springfield had gotten nearly 2" of rain from Wednesday through Friday, Saturday looked fair and promising.  Sadly, we all know promises can be broken.
Springfield is nearly 2 hours north of Cincinnati.  We arrived at 10:30 am to a double lane of cars trying to get admitted and parked, which looked like this:
Entry to Springfield Extravaganza
As you can see, the skies looked pretty threatening already at this point.  Not to be discouraged, we parked and started trekking through the fields.  The wind was pretty brisk, about 10mph, and did I mention it was cold??
Not there more than 45 minutes, vendors were scurrying to cover items, pulling in those things skirting the tarps so as not to get wet.  The winds picked up, things were blowing over, and the skies opened up.

Most everyone started running to any number of the buildings in order to stay dry. We were all cramped.
Almost simultaneously, sister M got a phone call from home.  Her beloved Havanese pet of 13 years had died the night before.  Again, the rain poured - only this time not from the skies.

We waited it out a while longer in the building, but our mojo was shot.  We decided to head back to the car and eat our packed lunch.  The rain didn't let up.

When life gives you lemons, you just make lemonade.  So we left Springfield Extravaganza and headed to the huge, Heart of Ohio Antique Center in Springfield, Ohio, just about 3 miles up the road.  With 116,000 square feet of antiques and thrifty treasures, we tried to get our shopping mojo back.
Heart of Ohio Antique Center, Springfield Ohio
Still not quite excited over much of anything, we headed about halfway back toward home base, and hoped to regain our shopping mojo once again in a small-town antique mall.  Based on the shopping successes we had the day before, we felt it was a sure bet.  Plus, we hadn't quite finished getting all the way through the mall anyway.  We were on a mission to finish what we started.

It was only in this place that we were able to salvage the day and not have to call it a total bust. Among other treasures, I scored these two, awesomely authentic, glass fishing floats pictured below.
And I bought two wood, vintage beach/patio chairs with canvas slings and adjustable arms, still wrapped in protective plastic!  They came from this cute little lady, named Susie, who just happened to be working her booths (below).
She was a hoot, and said she had 8 different booth spaces in this particular mall.  Doesn't every REAL woman wear 5" heels to do her housework?  Work it, baby!  She actually said she was a long-distance runner, and the higher heels made her thigh muscles feel better, and she wears them most of the time.
So, upon leaving all the shopping for the day, car packed and ready for the hour drive back home, we had one more squeeze of lemon.  The car door on the passenger back seat wouldn't open.  Seems the unlocking of the car with the key fob and simultaneous motion of the passenger trying to open the door confused the mechanism, and a piece broke off in the process, jamming the lock. Once I pulled it open, it then wouldn't shut!  We considered bungee cording it shut, but driving 70 mph on the interstate seemed a little scary.  We could see all our treasures being sucked out of the side door as we sped down the highway.  So, using a nail file as a tool (lemonade!), I plucked the broken piece of plastic out of the locking mechanism, and tried slamming the door - it worked!

So, with our collective ingenuity, we pushed the seat forward, and pulled the seatbelt through the car door handle, and clicked it.  If the door flew open, we were giving ourselves a fighting chance to keep it closed.  Off we went.
I drove about 350 miles after that, and we made it home safe and sound. It's a good thing I love lemons.  So, all in all, Springfield Extravaganza 2014 was pretty much a bust.

In case you may be interested, you can read about last year's more successful extravaganza trip here:
Springfield Extravaganza 2013.

Linking with:
Melissa's Thrifty Finds Friday

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

RH: Dirty Dozen on My Doorstep

I don't usually do totally random posts, but today I was surprised when the UPS man rang my doorbell. I wasn't expecting any packages {I know, shocker}.  Here's what was at my doorstep (below):
A package of nothing but 17 pounds of 2014 Restoration Hardware catalogs arrived. I thought it was phone books at first, but those are usually delivered by some individual.  I don't think I've ordered anything from RH for at least 3 years.
A dozen catalogs - for just about everything you could or could not want.  The catalog bundle includes:  1) Interiors 2) Small Spaces 3) Outdoor 4) Baby & Child 5) Upholstery 6) Leather 7) Furniture 8) Rugs 9) Linens 10) Lighting 11) Bath 12) Objects of Curiosity.  UPDATE 5-21-14: There were 13 catalogs - now labeled the Baker's Dozen, not the Dirty Dozen!  I missed 13) Tableware.  It's very thin, but mighty!
Don't worry, this package is a carbon neutral shipment - it says so.  What the heck does that mean, I wondered?  So, I Googled it.

I soon realized saying a package is a carbon neutral shipment pretty much explains why RH products are so expensive.  From the link, it reads:  "the shipment you received was sent by someone who requested that UPS offset the climate impact of the shipment. This means the sender cares about climate change and wants others to be aware of this commitment."  
It goes on to say: "UPS's carbon neutral option supports projects that offset the emissions of the shipment's transport. UPS has supported projects that include reforestation, landfill gas destruction, wastewater treatment, and methane destruction."

Hmm....I wonder if UPS might be helping solve  West Virginia's water crisis that I wrote about last January?
Well, tonight is Trash Night Eve, and I usually sort through catalogs received during the past week and recycle any prior versions, replacing with the new ones. I keep a huge woven basket of current catalogs in my sunroom and actually file them, not alphabetically, but by years of personal consumption and knowing the order that makes sense to no one but me.  Number 4 I'll definitely toss tonight, but I'll be all over numbers 12 and 9, probably this evening.

Did you get any surprise packages today?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Summer in the Sunroom, 2014

(Thank you, Tammy, for featuring my sunroom at One More Time Events)!

I spent some time changing out the colors of spring and added some more summertime-themed items in my sunroom recently.  I last showed the sunroom and how it looked for spring, here. Now, here's a look at how things have shaped up for a relaxed, laid-back summer style:
Gone are the previous throw and spring-themed lumbar pillow from the chaise lounge.  A lightweight, cabled cotton throw and patriotic pillow rest on the chaise.  The bust on the side table was moved to the server, and the vintage swimmer whirligig and lifeguard chair take its place.
I found the Union Jack hooked pillow (below) on clearance at Home Decorators. With a nod to our favorite vacation destination in the British West Indies, it sits across the room from the chaise lounge.
The chair opposite that with the Union Jack pillow still holds my Cat's Studio West Virginia pillow.
The loveseat glider's previous quilt has been switched out for a red and white, very old, hand-worked quilt (auction). There's another auction quilt in the canvas tote to the right.

On the table next to the glider is a cloche of several items collected and placed under it, with a copper tray as its base. There is a bird's nest, pine cone, seashells, moss and acorns, along with a wind chime dangling from the center of the cloche's top - a sort of collage of the seasons - all on a bed of moss.
On the side server is my terra cotta bust, previously on the table next to the chaise.  The old, copper pitcher's forsythia has now been replaced with cotton branches.  Underneath is our basket of recyclable magazines and newspapers, and a few of my design books beside it.
The baker's rack in the corner still holds an ironstone basin (its pitcher is on a shelf in my laundry room), full of last year's lavender crop, which I have been terribly lazy about shucking off the branches.  Besides, I have plenty lavender sachets in drawers and closets for now, so I decided to take a few bunches and place them, as is, in vases.  Here, I've placed them in one of a trio of creamers. I showed you those (and the cow) in my post where I took you on a pick.  I guess those won't be heading for the booth space anytime soon. ;)  The round, European board was sourced from Paul Berkowitz's shop, Great Stuff by Paul (you may have seen him written up in Country Living years ago).  The thick board came from a recent tag sale.
The MOP & sterling collared butter knives were acquired in a box lot at an auction - they're by Frary & Clark Aetna Works (really, really old), and were basically just freebies thrown in.
The "Marguerite" statue previously on the baker's rack now rests on the bench at the back of the sunroom (see below).  You can also see an armillary next to the dieffenbachia plant in the corner. That was part of my Frontgate gift card redemption, which I received just after Christmas.  It is super heavy (cast iron), and I want to place it in my garden, but can't decide exactly where.  I think I'll need to spray it with a clear coat of polyurethane before I take outdoors in an unprotected area, so that's another reason why it's still in the sunroom.
I'm still a little unsettled with things in this room, but I've decided to wait a few days and come back to it, to see where the mood takes me.  Meanwhile, there are other rooms I'm toying with, and getting more items ready for the booth spaces......
Are you looking forward to and getting ready for summer, or still just enjoying these wonderful days of spring?  Are you making subtle changes inside, or going all in with big projects?  

I link and party with any given number of these fine hosts: