Sunday, March 29, 2015

Panoply Booth Space Expands - March 2015

Panoply has expanded its booth space in our local antique mall! During the last week of March, a small area just between our other two existing booth spaces was vacated by the previous dealer. With that vacancy came a long-awaited opportunity of occupying that small area and adding cohesiveness to our overall retail space. 
Panoply's newly added space, March 2015: +50 sq.ft.
While the additional space adds a mere 50 square feet in total rented space, its overall impact is huge in our eyes, bringing our total area of two spaces to just over 300 square feet. The photo below shows the macro view of one existing booth space, along with the additional square footage.
Macro view of expanded Panoply space: open floor space (L-shape) are aisles. Far right is service elevator, which is the back side of our other main booth space. Door visible is Employees Only layaway area.
We often referred to this space as the ponytail - it is very small in and of itself, but the previous dealer always had quality, primitive smalls showcased and was a great neighbor. She has now retired, and we didn't have any trouble filling the space by bringing in additional items already in storage.
Panoply Casual Linens, Thinned
The overall mix turned out to be a sort of farmhouse / industrial vibe. We started by thinning out our existing casual linens (above), and adding a portion of them to the new space (below), focusing on anything with reds.
Next, we stacked stools and added galvanized & wooden storage containers into the mix.
We did the same on the pegboard above, adding a mix of mostly metals and woods. 

Miner's lamp, galvanized lunch box
We then continued the metals, moving more into an industrial mix, with more stools, an antique commercial typewriter, architectural pieces and a mannequin form. We went back a couple days after the initial styling and added a couple of mid-century medical items into the mix to ultimately create a sort of quirky, steampunk twist to the industrial vibe.
Industrial mix: metals, medical and architectural pieces.
Lastly, we placed a garden table with more mixed metals in the form of hardware and architecture, and softened the overall appeal back to a farmhouse look, with textiles and glassware. The space to the right of the garden table is the door leading to the Employees Only area.
Garden farmhouse: wood, metals, wicker, hardware (spigots / faucets), mason jars, textiles
Panoply Expanded Booth Space - March, 2015
Even though the winter was slow-going at the mall insofar as sales were concerned, we took advantage of this opportunity to expand rather than passing on the chance, for the sake of strategy. We've re-energized our spirits and creative juices with this recent move, and hope it will lead to good things in the future.

We ended March with a weekend trip to Cincinnati to visit and shop with sister J. More of those treasures will be shared in an upcoming update to our booth spaces and/or my personal picks for fostering. ;)

Have you ever taken a risk with a decision - business or personal - in the hopes of future growth? 
As always, thank you for your visit!
Rita C. at Panoply

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Casual Spring Buffet Ideas, Recipes

Any meal for a crowd takes planning and hard work. I prefer my plan to be time-saving, organized and served buffet style, in order to enjoy the maximum time together with my company. I'm sharing one of my spring family soirees I hosted (Easter) - from tablescapes to main meal to dessert - that outlines my go-to, casual approach. Our home easily accommodates a crowd, and a casual approach always wins the day. Perhaps you'll find some inspiration in some of these ideas, whatever your spring meal celebration is.
Grocery tulips in Blenko vase, vintage items including ceramic Peter Rabbit basket with Cadbury chocolates, fork as easel for antique postcard, eggcups with marble eggs, metal rabbit.
One of the easiest things to do to make the atmosphere festive is to purchase grocery store flowers. I then shop the house for vintage decor to create various vignettes around the flowers.
Asiatic lilies brighten the space, alongside robin's eggs in upcycled mason jar lid nest
An easy, two-for-one idea that I like to take advantage of is purchasing potted perennial flowers that will bloom with my event, and then later plant in the yard afterward.
Asiatic lilies in galvanized bucket sit alongside other vintage items on bench at back of sunroom.
Asiatic lilies are my favorite plants to purchase and place around the sunroom in spring time, then later plant en masse in the garden. It's always a nice surprise when the perennials return in subsequent years.
Casual Easter table #1: in the great room - utensils, napkins at the ready for guests. Blenko basket with glass & marble eggs, grocery tulips in Blenko vase, vintage rabbit.
I set my tables in the sunroom and breakfast area with casual, vintage duck cloth napkins edged with various pastel stripes, and move the vintage decor pieces around until the look pleases me.
Casual Easter table #2: in the sunroom - utensils, napkins at the ready for guests. Grocery floral arrangement of tulips, daisies
Plates, additional utensils, and glassware are stacked and placed on nearby counter spaces where the buffet will be served. Doing this well in advance allows easy, self-serve access, keeps the layout organized to ensure all dishes and beverages will fit and have a good flow, and saves time with last minute multi-tasking.
Organizing wet bar prior to dessert service
For the meal itself, the following is a relatively easy buffet lineup I've used, with time-saving advantages built in. Most of these items can be prepared ahead of time and/or left heating while numerous preparations are in progress. This lineup also allows choices for the various picky eaters preferences of guests. Links, recipes and other relative information are provided with the outline of the meal in three sections: appetizers, main meal, desserts.

  • Fresh fruit tray with Marzetti's cream cheese dip (available in refrigerator section). I prefer to select and prepare my own fruits, but you can purchase a ready-made tray.
  • Veggie 'shooters' (with a Peter Rabbit theme for Easter). I purchased clay pots from the Dollar Tree, lined them with plastic shot glasses from the grocery. I placed a teaspoon or so of Marzetti's ranch vegetable dip in the base, and 'planted' cucumber, carrot, and celery sticks inside. My Mariposa wheelbarrow holds additional veggies.
Veggie 'shooters' and wheelbarrow, fruit tray, seven layer salad
Main Meal Selections:
  • Seven-Layer Salad - I generally follow the recipe from
  • Crockpot Ham - carefree recipe from  This was so easy! However, I reduced the cook time to 4 hrs on low (warmed for 2 hrs thereafter). I coated the inside of the crockpot with vegetable spray (Pam) first, and covered the ham with a teepee of aluminum foil so moisture would not escape. Mine was a spiral ham, about 9 lbs, so I turned it on its side to fit in my 6 qt crockpot.
  • Scalloped Potatoes - my sister's recipe, found at bottom of post
  • Sweet Potato Casserole - family recipe, found at bottom of post
  • Dinner Rolls - I loved Rhodes brand yeast rolls (freezer section)
  • Green Beans, Southern style, seasoned with bacon grease and pepper 
  • Corn
  • Devilled Eggs
Meal Buffet: Beverage Service at far back counter, dinner plates and meal on island. Fruit is moved to end as dessert choice

Dessert Bar:
Dessert choices, clockwise: Pina Colada icebox pie, Cadbury's eggs, Sugar cookie fruit cups, lemon flower tarts

The buffet meal outlined here certainly proved a winner for my crowd, and could easily be a repeat performer. I prepared this meal entirely by myself, but it is certainly conducive to being delegated among other family members who would like to contribute to the preparation. Just point them to the links or recipes within this post.

I hope you'll find some time-saving, inspirational ideas in setting a casual buffet from this post. It's my go-to approach for hosting a crowd. With my family, it's always a crowd!

Do you have a go-to approach when you're hosting a gathering?

Thanks for your visit!
Rita C. at Panoply

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Crossover Collectible: Purse Ephemera

I surround myself in my office with my antique purses, one of my favorite personal collections that I've shared here on the blog in numerous posts. What you may not know is I also have a crossover collection related to my purses: purse ephemera. More specifically, I collect old photographs of women and children with purses from the past, mostly antique.
What is a crossover collectible? Well, first we need to define collectible and, according to what's written in the "Antiques Roadshow Collectibles: The Complete Guide to Collecting 20th Century Glassware, Costume Jewelry, Memorabilia, Toys and More From the Most-Watched Show on PBS", even the experts can't seem to agree on that.
To summarize the Antiques Roadshow's (AR) book's discussion in my own words, collectible is a catchall term for things between 25 and 100 years old that are not old enough to be called antique, but are compelling, available and [relatively] affordable. Experts agree that anything over 100 years old is an antique, and may or may not be a collectible. So, a crossover collectible is something that may be compelling to more than one type of collector. My purse ephemera collection may appeal to those who collect purses or old photos (and further by daguerreotypes, tintypes, real picture postcards or RPCC, etc., (using the general term photo for simplicity here).
The example in the AR book cites Willie Mays bobble head dolls - of interest to those who collect "dolls, baseball, or black memorabilia" - as a type of crossover collectible.
Purse ephemera could also include advertisements, which I do not actively collect (although I have a couple vintage magazines with a purse advertisement or two). My interest in collecting purse ephemera is blamed attributed to a fellow collector, Mary Nunn, who is also a member of the Antique Purse Collector's Society. She had one photograph, as seen above, that totally enamored me, and sparked my interest. The interesting thing about that one, however, is that it is not actually an original photograph. It is a digital reproduction, but I didn't care, I had to have it as part of my Native American collectibles! Wait, so I guess that's another crossover.....
So, as I would troll sites such as eBay, Etsy, and Ruby Lane looking for vintage and antique purses, I would come across an occasional photo of a woman or child with a purse. My purse ephemera collection was born. I have a fellow dealer friend who collects daguerreotypes that gifted me the three shown at the top portion of the collage below.
It got to be pretty exciting to find these photos of women, and especially children, with purses. Next time you're looking at old photos, pay attention - you'll see how rare it is to find those with purses! To find a photo of a purse I actually own an example of is even more exhilarating.
My friend, Mary, has such a wonderful collection of these old photos and advertisements, and mine pale in comparison. What's really fun, though, is when Mary posts one or more of her photos on Facebook, and we create captions for the women and children holding the purses.
If any history is available - whether written on the front or back of the photo, a noted studio pointing to location where the photo was taken, or finder's description of how a photo was sourced when selling - it only adds to the fascination of this quirky collection. To find these supporting details in the history of purses is part of the Antique Purse Collector's Society (APCS) ongoing mission - to gather and share information found.
Of course, as time marches on, more and more photos have become available, and it's much easier to continue documenting the history of purses. So, the next time you're posing in photos, you may want to include your purse as one means of dating the picture and capturing the history of the fashion style.
Finding these little collectible gems from the past is still a challenge. What makes this crossover collectible so appealing to me? Several reasons, including: 1) the rarity of finds increases the thrill of the hunt; 2) they're certainly less expensive than the actual vintage and antique purses; and 3) the excitement of the find satisfies, both the desire to have the item and the desire for the glimpse of history acquired.

If you are interested, here are a few other posts I've shared on my purse collection:
Chatelaines - Keys to the Castle (and a Collector's Heart!)

There's also a link on my sidebar of my online photo book I produced in Shutterfly. If you click on either that image or this title: "A Panoply of Purses", it will take you to the album on the Shutterfly website and allow viewing.  Once at the website, click on VIEW BOOK, then click FULL SCREEN for enlarged photos.

Do you have any of what's considered crossover collectibles? Is it a collection that stems from one of your mainstay collections?
Thanks for your visit!
Rita C. at Panoply

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring Flings Around the House

I must admit - I don't spend a great deal of time repeatedly decorating in my home. I keep things pretty simple (other than Christmas), mostly switching up textiles from season to season. However, I've made a few changes in anticipation of spring (coming soon!). You could call any of these changes my version of a spring fling - I'm having a few - around the house.
Pillow Talk Around the House - Winter transitioning to Spring 
If you asked Mr. P., of course, he would probably say I do a lot of decorating (anything more than once in a lifetime being the benchmark). Truth is, he's probably helped me edit my collections.
Consolidated Glass, Martele (hand-forged) line in the style of Lalique, "Love Birds" Vase, c. 1926. A keeper in our decor, 'picked' by Mr. P. on one of the few estate sales where he accompanied me.
Since I am a vintage and antique picker / dealer, I do like to find, buy, and bring items out for display while "fostering" them at home. It helps me determine which things will become keepers in my collections. When I finish fostering, or tire of part or all of a collection, I take it to the booth spaces for someone else to have the chance to add to theirs.

New vignettes are happening at home, some in high traffic areas....
Portions of Ironstone, Quimper Collections
Other vignettes are in less-trafficked areas of the house, quietly tucked away. I like having my books around the house, too, in places where I can easily go to choose one for reference or to relax and spend time reading. Books are a natural vignette, but I generally only display what I reference or am currently reading.
Spring Smalls Through the House
I don't want a lot of clutter (although I admit I have some of that, too). I just want a few pieces to surround myself with and be able to enjoy, whether walking through, working, or just sitting in the house.
Hand-hooked Spring Textiles from Local Artisan; Ma Maison-French Garden House 
I don't foresee a time when I'll tire of finding interest in new, old things. My latest loves are these altered art bottles, from two friends I've met through blogging.
Altered Art Bottles
The Madonna with Child I bought from Joy at Savvy City Farmer. The smaller bottle I purchased from Gigi of Old World Patina. I placed my altered art bottles in the sunroom. You may have noticed them beside my lemon plant propagation experiment. :) Also, the toss pillow covers in the leading photo (left side) were made and bought from Meg at Oliver and Rust. The green knitted throw is also a vintage find from her shop - all purchased last year, but just now being used. They're my latest flings vignettes.

What's your latest spring fling? Have you been to any flea markets, and have they just opened or are yours open year-round? Have you found items you're just fostering, or are they keepers?
Thanks for your visit!
Rita C. at Panoply 

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lemon Plant Propagation Experiment

I started an exciting (to me), yet elementary, experiment in early February of propagating a lemon plant from seeds saved from store-bought lemons. I'm now sharing the step-by-step tutorial of the process and progress of that lemon plant experiment.
I mentioned in an earlier garden post that I was trying this experiment. Why a lemon plant experiment? A number of reasons: 1) the plant is supposed to be super fragrant in the home; 2) it was a good, indoor winter garden project; 3) it was a cheap way to start my own plant since I buy lemons for my drinking water anyway; and 4) there's a little bit of a science nerd wanting to challenge herself to see if it can grow to more than just a houseplant (as in, could it bear fruit?).

Day 1: The process to get the lemon seed germination started was fairly simple, but tedious. It took about 1 hr to yield 20 or so seeds. From the photo below, I'll take you through the steps.
Preparing Lemon Seeds for Germination
Step 1: Slice your lemons to yield your starting seeds. I cut two lemons every 2-3 days, and not all of them yield seeds, but these two had many. I started with about 24, expecting to lose a few while preparing for germination.

Step 2: Lay seeds out, cleaning lemon away as best as you can.

Step 3: This is where it gets tricky because the seeds are still slippery, even after cleaning. Using a sharp knife tip (I used my Swiss pocket knife), carefully hold the seed body, and snip the pointed edge of the seed to break the outer, woody covering.

Step 4: With either your fingernail (or edge of the knife blade), carefully peel back the outer layer of the seed covering. You should then see a second seed covering, brown in color.

Step 5: With either your fingernail or knife edge, carefully scratch the brown, second seed covering. I used my fingernail for this. You have to be careful, especially at this point, so as not to cut the actual seed or split it. I broke a few.

Step 6: Wet a paper towel (I used half of one, select-a-size), and lay the peeled seeds in a row on one half of the wet paper towel. Fold the other half of the paper towel, covering the seeds. Place the paper towel in a gallon-sized plastic bag that seals with a zip-type close. Place the sealed, plastic bag on a flat surface, in a sunny, temperature-controlled room for at least 3 hours of sunlight daily.

Those are the steps for germinating your seeds. It is important to place the seeds in a sunny, warm room, where they're exposed to sunlight at least 3 hours or more daily. Even though it was mid-winter with freezing temps, I placed mine in my south-facing, heated sunroom, where the ceiling is all windows.

I checked my seeds each week for the next two weeks. Below is a photo of the germination progress from week-to-week.
Progression of Germinating Lemon Seedlings
Day 8: As you can see by the photo, the seeds were already showing signs of sprouts within the first week (2-11-15). When the seed opens to what looks like two green leaves, those are actually called the embryonic leaves, or cotyledon.

Day 15: By the second week (2-18-15), a few sprouts were gaining some healthy growth, and a few more were showing first signs similar to the prior week's progress. At no point did I need to add water to the paper towel. It remained wet inside the plastic bag the entire first two weeks.

Day 17: I planted the seedlings. The photo collage below shows, in sequence (counterclockwise, starting from the postage stamp photos at top, right), the steps taken. Keys to planting success: a good soil (I used organic soil suitable for vegetables or house plants), and containers with drainage (I used clay pots with two styrofoam peanuts in the base to keep soil from falling through, and also an egg crate with drainage holes poked in the bottom).
Planting Lemon Seedlings Day 17
I had 20 seedlings (all 20 of my original seeds sprouted!), some with longer roots than others, but I proceeded to plant all of them. I placed the clay pots in a copper tray with some tiny gravel pebbles to sit upon. For the egg crate, I simply placed the bottom half inside the lid (cut to separate) as the underplate. I put just a tad bit of water in each underplate as a source of moisture to evaporate around the starter pots. I placed them back in our temperature-controlled, southern facing sunroom, with plenty of light.

Day 18: I suspected what would happen - the clay pots were pretty dry within 12 hours (surprisingly, the styrofoam seedlings were not!), and I knew remembering to water daily was going to be a chore. I have an antique bell cloche with a fairly wide base. So, I set the 4 clay pots on an old dinner plate, placed the cloche over it, and left the styrofoam crate out (since it was still holding moisture).
Lemon Seedlings Day 18 - Cloche Placement
Day 19: The photos below show growth already, in just 24 hrs of placing under the cloche. Look at the center of the embryonic leaves (cotyledon). That's the beginning of real leaves!
Lemon Seedlings Day 19 & 20 - Moisture Under Cloche
Day 20: Success with the cloche was already apparent, and the egg crate seedlings appeared slightly dry. I decided to cut up the crate sections and squeeze them under the cloche also.
Lemon Seedlings Day 20 - Remaining Seedlings Placed Under Cloche
I made sure my pots were moist, returned the cloche to cover them again, and continued checking my seedlings daily. Since the cloche has no air holes, I knew I needed to allow air to circulate to avoid the chance of mold growth.
Lemon Seedlings Day 20 - All Seedlings Under Cloche
Day 22: After a few daily checks of the seedlings under the cloche, I noticed one clay pot looked to be showing the beginning of mold growth around its edge, above the soil line. I removed the cloche lid, carefully scraped the inside of that pot with a wet rag, and left the cloche off of the seedlings. I continued monitoring the seedlings daily.
Lemon Seedlings Day 22 - Removal of Cloche
Day 31: I removed seedlings from the styrofoam egg crate and planted them into two additional clay pots. These were originally my runts of the seeds, but they all seem to be doing fine. I placed all of the clay pots on the copper tray I originally started with. I'm misting/watering all seedlings daily (keeping top soil moist) since removing the cloche on Day 22. Despite the cold temps outside, throughout this experiment my sunroom is warm, dry & light, so the soil tends to dry at the surface each day.
Lemon Seedlings Day 33 - Growing!
Keep in mind that these seedlings are not the lemon balm herb plant. Friends have told me the lemon herb plant, like mint, can be quite invasive in the garden, even when planted in containers, as the seeds become airborne and spread unwantedly. I'll place these babies outdoors once the weather warms beyond threat of frost in my Zone 7a region. My plants should end up being tree-form specimens (ha, in a few years, maybe).

Or, I could just order one plant from Williams Sonoma and pay $69.95 +S&H (2015 pricing).
Williams Sonoma Bare Root Meyer Lemon Tree, 18-24"
Like I said in my earlier garden post, houseplants can be really needy, and I may just get tired of babysitting, so I'm not about to spend that much on buying one that may not survive indoors. I'll keep you posted on the outcome of my experiment. Until then, this has kept me occupied while the garden sleeps. Spring, Come Soon!

What have you been doing to pass the time of this [seemingly] never-ending winter? Or are you one of the lucky readers living in a more temperate climate?
Rita C. at Panoply
A note of thanks to those who commented or sent emails with your concerns re: Mother Nature's Wicked Encore. Our home is fine, as is my daughter's. Several people in our surrounding communities were/are, however, flooded or suffered mudslides, and many are still without power. Winter 2015 won't soon be forgotten.

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