Thursday, June 30, 2016

Drunk on Junk

Well, I've done it again. I've fallen off the wagon of junkers anonymous. Remember that neighbor and the look what she's I've done (below).
I had gone to her house the week before her sale, but then she had the sale....and these dishes didn't sell. She talked me into them after the sale. It's Castleton China's Independence Ironstone, and I found a good reference article on the history behind this set.

Meanwhile, at the neighbor's sale, I came away with a few more things. She had once rented space in an antique mall, so she had a fair assortment of vintage items. I tell ya, I have to be in a mood to pick over junk, and that's why I don't really like yard sales. Start. Stop. Park. Haul. Score. No score. Repeat. Not to mention the cleaning once you get it home. I'd rather go to a destination, where all the dealers are, or a house sale (estate, tag), where things are better organized in displays (or by logical room storage). In the case of this yard sale, the neighbor had things sorted and stored [mostly] clean. I just walked to her sale, and later went back with my car to pick things up, so it was a little different from most yard saling.
Clockwise (above photo), starting at 12 o'clock: I bought another vintage purse (petit point, Made in France); a copper fleur de lis scone/biscuit/cookie cutter; perpetual desk calendar (bought another one, noted here); two state hankies; a chrome bullet-style Dixie Cup cup dispenser; a metal soap saver; and a Haeger ivory planter. All of these are resting on an absolutely gorgeous pale pink chenille bedspread with rose motif and pom pom trim.

Another weekend, another estate sale yielded these items (below). Mostly vintage kitchen utensils, a couple of McCoy flower pots, and a bag of square nails (tucked inside one of the mason jar jugs).
Most of the kitchen items are already in the mall space, and I have an upcoming tablescape using some of the other pieces shown in these photos.

To all the junk still out there...I'm coming for ya!

Rita C. at Panoply

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Miscellaneous Musings No. 3

I'm back with another edition of my miscellaneous musings. They don't necessarily need to be read sequentially, but if you missed my prior two and want to read why I pen these, you can go here and here. It became apparent that I needed a label for these musings, so I also created another category on my menu bar to quickly navigate these posts of my preoccupations. I'll collect these occasionally and post them, and maybe one or two of you will be able to relate. I hope so.

I saw this annual flower display at my local Lowe's recently - a great combination of petunias (hanging pots) shaped into a flag. So what if the number of stripes aren't quite right, it's still great for summer!
In my one of my recent relapses of vintage shopping, my sister M and I stopped by a local thrift store. Imagine our surprise when we looked at a very cute, handpainted German creamer and sugar for $2.95 each. "Didn't one of us have one like this?" Umm, yea, that's because the ones on the shelf WERE ours! Remember that yard sale we did back in April? We donated lots of things afterward, and they made their way to the shelves for resale once again. We even made the locked case for a few items (below). See that Ginori trinket box write up? I did that on my original ticket, and they updated it with an eBay lookup. :)
One of the things I miss from Debra Oliver's Common Ground blog was her weekly link party of online shop proprietors, which she titled "Monday Marketplace". She featured Etsy and other boutique shop owners. I never linked up, but I sure took interest in those who did, and especially those featured. One of those was Elliott-Heath Designs. Heather is the proprietor who custom designs and prints a wide selection of graphics onto pillow fabric covers she makes. As a person who knows how to sew, I can say her quality is excellent. Just before Memorial Day, she ran a gift with purchase promo on her Facebook page (you can follow her on FB here). The flag pillow cover is the gift (12"), the bee hive cover (18") is what I ordered.
Neither Mr. P. nor I are particularly skilled at handyman type work, but we most certainly appreciate any and ALL trade skills people who are (especially when they show up when called). We have a saying when we're able to fix things around the house ourselves. When one asks the other how they did it, we respond with (and this is with absolutely only highest regard and NO disrespect), "I put some butt crack on it". In this case, it's particularly relevant. I fixed the chrome lever for the flush on our laundry/utility/bathroom. It was literally worn out from so many flushes (washer nut was stripped). I took a photo of the interior model, looked it up online, order the part, and changed it out. Boom. I even bought new flappers and changed those out in two commodes. Easy peasy.
I mentioned in my June post on the garden that we weren't seeing many cicadas in our city neighborhood, but my sister M, for one, was seeing them in swarms. She lives in a wooded, higher elevation nearby. Here's a picture collage of her back yard, the first week they were observed (below).
Gross, right? M says a couple weeks into their appearance, they would hit windshields, windows, and even her as she was mowing the lawn (the vibration?). Here are a few funny stories related to those bugs. See that caladium plant in the collage above? Well, M said it died the day after she saw the cicadas on it, just like two knockout roses she had just planted right before this plant, and the cicadas were to blame. Turns out, her husband fessed up. He had RoundUp in what he thought was the bug sprayer. :) Second story: M's granddaughter (9) and her little friend made a game of throwing balls up into the trees to see how many cicadas would fly out. Lastly, one person on Facebook commented the cicadas only come out every 17 years because it's been that long since Jon Secada had a hit song, hahaha. (I think it's actually been a little longer). Their six week journey should be over now, since the first spotting in our region was the week of May 23.

Shopping at Sam's Club a couple weeks ago, Mr. P. and I were cruising through the seasonal aisles. He commented on these garden orbs for sale (below), "Oh, let's buy some garden orbs. Everybody needs some of those", when I was thinking they looked pretty cool.
Hahaha, I left well enough alone, since I already have two I use in the house and garden now, off and on, at various times. That he obviously hasn't noticed. Ever.
Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? Remember that DOS-based computer game that taught geography and history?  Well, here's our version:
If you guessed Myrtle Beach's Broadway at the Beach, you were right. These pictures were taken the evening we were waylaid on our last trip via air travel, the first week of May. I have never seen Broadway at Myrtle Beach look so empty as it did this night (below).
Don't you just love a good sign? I snap photos when I'm out and about and they they make me laugh or just give pause for thought. As for those pictured (below): good advice on love and lasting relationships; possible incarceration for feeding the you're going to have a sit-down dinner with one. And just $1 for painting or defacing the rocks? Btw, the cool stuff made by local folks is NOT at the Stupid Factory like the sign points in the collage. Shutterup - bet you can't.
This idea below made me look twice. I bet if you use these as window boxes around your house you'll scare your neighbors, pets AND thieves! 
One of my sisters lives in SC, and she posts some hilarious things on Facebook daily. Have you heard of Dead Man's Fingers? When she posted this picture and link (below), it sort of creeped me out.
Then I remembered something I found in my own garden in early May when I was digging and transplanting plants (below):
It's the same thing, and totally creeped me out then, too! I took the photo so I could ask my extension agent what it was/is. It's a fungus, Xylaria Polymorpha, commonly known as Dead Man's Fingers. Apparently, morel (mushroom) hunters encounter it in spring (though it's NOT edible), and it grows on damaged or decayed trunks and roots (as in my 3 or 4 year old decayed birch tree stump's case). If found on a living tree, literature says it won't be for long - it sucks the life out of and creates soft decay to where a tree could fall or shrub die out of the blue. Check out the link on the scientific name and read about it, then Google images of it. It's gross, and looks like something out of the props closet from a zombie apocalypse.

We've all heard about squirrel bandits on birdfeeders and flower bulbs, beavers on trees....well, the other day I caught a sapsucker on one of my hummingbird feeders! At first I thought it was a Downy woodpecker, but was able to determine otherwise by my research. So far, I haven't been able to catch him with my camera in hand. At least I know now why one feeder was depleted faster than the other two. I was thinking my hummers liked the newest location where I had placed that particular feeder, on a support pole for my weeping cedar atlas.
Well, that's all for this edition of miscellaneous musings. I hope there was something in it that made you smile. Our little corners of the world are full of random stuff, it seems.

Rita C. at Panoply

Saturday, June 25, 2016

My Home, My Heart

I have a heavy feeling in my heart for my home, West Virginia, and its current state of flooding disaster. If you watch the news, you have heard that we were devastated by heavy rains in a 24 hr period on June 23, 2016. Of 55 counties, 44 have been declared disaster areas, with the current death toll at 23, an undetermined number still unaccounted for, as several hundred were stranded in a nearby shopping area for two days where a road washed out. Our people are resilient, but this was an historic flood of 1,000 year magnitude - yes, 1,000 - in one area particularly, close to where I reside.
We are safe in our home, even though we live parallel to the river which receives most of the waters from the smaller streams in the hardest hit areas. The photo below shows the water mark on our riverbank just after the rains on June 24, and again on June 25 after the waters receded somewhat. Note the steel pylons in the water (left of frame) and the differences in the water levels. All the residual mud used to be grass.
The above water is nothing compared to the state of affairs and losses of others. The most remarkable - even surreal - footage seen on national television came from White Sulphur Springs, WV, when a house exploded into fire, and was carried off by the force of the water.
The owner of the home was in her attic when the house exploded, and sustained burns over 70% of her body. Her daughter started this GoFundMe page. I certainly hope she receives as much attention in the aftermath as her burning home did in the news. (Postscript: Sadly, the woman in this house expired on June 26th, 2016, according to the link.)

The historic WV Greenbrier, America's Resort, which I've written about before (here), was hit very hard, and the immediate implication is the PGA tournament leg, the Greenbrier Classic, has necessarily been cancelled (scheduled for July 7-10). The golf course, along with many of the resort's structures, were seriously damaged, and the cleanup efforts will be huge. Tourism is one of the only things West Virginia has going for it, and that's just been put in jeopardy, too.

Right now in our capital city, the arts community is in the midst of a twelve day FestivALL, where "a city becomes a work of art". It would have been easy to cancel this series of events pre-scheduled for this weekend, but instead, it has become a conduit for partnership in flood relief. Red Cross is working with the city, and donation stations are set up in all the major venues of the events planned. I attended the street fair today, with many artisans selling their wares downtown. We all show our love and support in whatever way we can, and I am happy to say the turnout was fantastic today.

I'm sure I speak for all of our state's residents when I say we covet your prayers for strength in our attempts to recover from this disaster. We are all affected.

Thank you to all who've reached out, checking on my status.

Rita C. at Panoply
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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Easy Dessert: Jam Pinwheels

When I received my July- August Country Living issue on Father's Day weekend, I saw this recipe on page 20 for Jam Pinwheels (photo below):
I had all the ingredients to make them, so mid-morning on Father's Day I did just that. I know a recipe is a keeper when Mr. P. likes it. It's an easy and oh, so good recipe!

Giving credit where credit is due, Country Living was good to mention the blog, Handmade Charlotte, for this recipe's publishing, so I searched that website to bring it to you in its original form. Jam & Cream Cheese Pastry Pinwheels actually appears to be the recipe of Kayley McCabe.

I had Blackberry Jam and Orange Marmalade already open in the fridge, and I had a small jar of Lemon Curd in the pantry. The Pepperidge Farm frozen pastry shells yield eighteen of these pinwheels, so I prepared an even mix of each flavor. Mr. P. loved the blackberry, so I left those for him, but my [first] favorite was the lemon, followed by the orange marmalade.
The cream cheese is mixed with a tsp of lemon juice and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract (I always add more vanilla), along with 1/4 c of confectioner's sugar. Click on the recipe link above, or see the CL printed instructions for details and for proper pinning, please. They're easy to copy with yummy results. The pinwheels make for a fun display when serving, too.
A great anytime dessert, but they'd be especially good for a breakfast dessert. Or, just skip the breakfast and go straight for the dessert with coffee, tea or milk. ;)
Rita C. at Panoply

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

MacKenzie-Childs Inspired Tablescape

This is both a before and after, as well as a tablescape post. I created a tablescape to highlight a few things MacKenzie-Childs inspired, which one of my very talented blog friends helped me realize, and in a most significant way.
Here is what I started with (before, pictured below) - several vintage silverplate pieces I had in my Panoply inventory.
And here is what Patti from Pandora's Box transformed them into (after, below):
Patti also created the runner I used for the table. Amazing work, isn't it? If I hadn't told you it wasn't the real deal (MacKenzie-Childs Courtly Check pattern), and you didn't stalk their website or retail shops (or barn sale!), you wouldn't know it wasn't straight from their artisans' hands.
With my new pieces as the basis for my tablescape, I assembled other things in my collections to complete my styling. My plate stack includes a chalkboard-painted charger (last year's plaid charger used here is this year's little black charger).
Flowers from the grocery were enhanced with a few flowers from the garden. Everyday lemons are scattered on the table and in the arrangement as pops of sunshine.
I used the champagne bucket as the vessel for the flowers, but fully intend to use it in a variety of other ways after tablescaping.
Drink service is fulfilled with both the MacKenzie-Childs Courtly Check inspired silverplate, along with my Blenko classic water pitcher.
Placemats and napkins are vintage, as are the pewter napkin rings. The napkins have a bellflower print woven into the damask, very dainty. The airy weave of the placemats lets the wood grain of the table keep the setting grounded.
I am crushing on these transformed pieces that were previously just sitting in storage. They are currently residing in my dining room, but my plans are to use the champagne bucket in the kitchen with a couple other utilitarian pieces, one of which I purchased from Patti's own stock. :)

Source List for Tablescape:
Silverplate coffee service, champagne bucket - vintage, and hand-painted by Patti Pultorak. See more photos, including the runner, and many more items on Patti's Facebook page, or by contacting her through her blog.
Green glass pitcher - Blenko
Chargers (Michaels), transformed from plaid to chalkboard (Valspar, Lowe's)
China - 
   Dinner plate - Mikasa Magnolia (vintage)
   Salad plate - Gail Pittman Hospitality collection for Southern Living (discontinued)
   Bread and butter plate - Noritake Reverie (vintage)
Flatware - Oneida, everyday
Pewter napkin rings - vintage
Glassware - Libbey and Keurig, everyday 
Placemats, damask napkins - vintage
The authentic MacKennzie-Childs Courtly Check pattern is my favorite, but I only have a few pieces of the real thing, mostly accessories. Most of my readers are aware of the Traveling Tote series, involving a MacKenzie-Childs Courtly Check pattern tote bag I have (see posts under Travel header at the top of my blog on the menu bar). I appreciate the quality of the hand-painted work of artisans, but that artistry comes with a price which necessarily must cover overhead and profit margins for the company to remain viable. The annual MacKenzie-Childs barn sale of steeply discounted inventory is a shopper's mecca, and happens at the factory in Aurora, NY. It is coming up July 21-24, 2016. I only wish the barn sale was a traveling expo, (can you say Country Living Fair??), lol.  I must say, though, Patti, has satisfied my wants for now, and at a very affordable price range, and with comparable artistry. Thank you, Patti!

Do you collect MacKenzie-Childs? If so, which patterns? 
Rita C. at Panoply
(A special thanks to Chloe at Celebrate and Decorate for featuring this post at Celebrate Your Style #32!)
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Sunday, June 12, 2016

June Garden, My 2016 Annuals

After last month's color burst in the garden, it remained chilly through the third week of May in my zone 7a region, but it warmed up quickly afterward. It was time to get busy with my annual plantings, both in my front beds as well as containers in the courtyard.

I had my annual beds at the front of the house switched out from the pansies to my red, white and blue color scheme the week before Memorial Day. My rotation of plants here include red geraniums and red vinca, white vinca and diamond frost, and purple heart and angelonia, which appear as blues.
2016 annual flower beds, front of house
I purchased a couple of simple, summer silk wreaths on sale from Michaels (online) for the front doors. Though Mr. P. prefers the doors to be au naturel, I like these for their simplicity and color. The fern in the urn on the porch has been a staple the last few years for summer.
For this year's annual container plantings, I got some really good deals at Lowe's the week before Memorial Day. I went there on a day when rain was expected (and did). While I strolled through the aisles. I was mixing plants and colors which caught my eye, then found some $1 pentas on the orphan rack in the back (tip: go to the orphan rack for good deals!). When I proceeded to check out, the gal started discounting everything I had, making comments like, "well those blooms already look past their prime", etc. I ended up getting a 40% overall discount on everything I bought - amazing!
2016 annuals purchases
I ended up also buying two more mandevillas for my trellis (had already planted two at front, was impatiently waiting for the moonflower seeds to germinate on the back side of it). She half-priced those!

So my containers for 2016 ended up fewer than last year (that's a good thing), and they're all currently in the courtyard. Flanking my sunroom doors are the largest of the containers, and they turned out pleasing, but different colors than I've used before. Clockwise, starting at noon (pictured below): fuchsia pentas (fillers), purple heart, yellow petunias, asparagus fern (all trailers), repeat. Centered is a dracaena spike (the so-called thriller, or taller specimen).
2016 large annual containers: pentas, purple heart, petunias, asparagus fern, with dracaena spike center
My other two (slightly smaller) containers flank the hot tub, and they're also a slightly different mix than I've ever used. Clockwise, starting at noon (pictured below): pink trailing vinca, lavender trailing verbena, and purple heart (also a trailer). Centered is a purple fountain grass (thriller).
2016 medium annual containers: vinca, verbena, purple heart, with purple fountain grass center
I had a random lemonade lantana and some pink vinca trailer leftover, so I planted a hanging basket and hung it high on the trellis while I wait for the mandevilla to grow upward (see pictured below, and pink mandevilla are at the base).
Lantana and vinca hanging basket
With much anticipation elsewhere in the garden, the next wave of perennials started blooming. The spirea bushes were in full bloom while the red bee balm and black-eyed Susans beside them started to bud and bloom.
My clematis vine took off in vertical growth and bloom, while the mountain bluet and rozanne geraniums continued in keeping the blues as ground cover below.
Just in time for early June in the southeast corner of the garden, the evening primrose, or buttercups, showed their happy faces and cast a sea of sunshine. A lot of people don't like the invasive nature of buttercups, but they're easy to contain by simply pulling them out in clumps. The same is true for bee balm.
The hydrangeas are finally blooming - yay! Just like many other bloggers, we're recovering from a very bad 2015. For me, it's been even longer as a result of a hard pruning the year prior (mine bloom on old growth). The picture below shows the beginning of my three remaining hydrangea bushes blooming (I've taken out 4 of 7), and I hope the rest of June and July show many more full blooms.
My magnolia has begun blooming as well, and I love catching a whiff of those flowers each time I walk through the trellis to/from the courtyard/landscape. I fell off the wagon of no more added perennials (blame it on the gal who discounted everything at Lowe's), and planted three pink gaura plants beneath my Japanese Bloodgood maple (see them peeking out in the photo below).
Pink gaura perennial planted at base of Japanese Bloodgood maple, in and among liriope and periwinkle
At mature growth, they should be no more than 18-24" tall and as wide, with wispy fronds of dark green to burgundy leaves, with delicate pink blooms. There are other varieties of gaura, and color choices (white and purple).

I've already harvested my lavender on four separate occasions, and spotted a little lizard family among them in the courtyard. The smaller, white lavender plants are my youngest ones, and they were relocated earlier this spring in the landscape. All seem to be thriving.
There's been a lot of this (below) going on, especially in the time since Memorial Day, as we've had a some really hot and humid weather, without rain. Not only was I watering my grass amendment on the riverbank, but all my annuals and seedlings needed daily watering (we do not have a sprinkler system). Gnats and mosquitoes like people who sweat, just sayin'. One thing we've not had a lot of, though, are the cicadas. They're around, but mostly in the higher, more wooded elevations.
Other garden work includes hibiscus staking and sunflower making (pictured below). I necessarily stake my hibiscus plants (top frames) so they'll be a nice, massive and tall show in July. I'm growing two varieties of sunflowers from seeds (bottom frames), one being a Mexican (bushy). I'm hoping the bushy one will fill once the buttercups are spent, in the southeast corner of the yard. Notice the difference in growth rates of my hibiscus in the collage. The plants on the top left (see squiggly stakes against brick) are nearly 5' tall, while the ones in the front landscape (right) are only about 3' tall. That's the difference in the southwest and northeast corners of my landscape and sun exposure of each, but eventually they catch up with each other.
With all my garden work to date, I haven't had a single episode of poison ivy, even with weeding, pruning and fertilizing beneath many of the plants, and that's a small miracle!

Recapping my June perennial blooms in the garden....
...the gateways around my home.
Memorial weekend sunset view, a particularly beautiful evening to the unofficial start of summer, from my front porch. 
Containers in the courtyard at sunset, with solar lights adding a soft glow on the flowers.
Thank you for coming along while I shared my June garden with you today. I love seeing any and all of what you're growing this year, and reading comments of the timing differences for each of our regions. Whether it's new container arrangements or perennials in your landscape, feel free to share. :)
Rita C. at Panoply