Sunday, October 30, 2016

Miscellaneous Musings No. 5

If you've been reading my blog lately, you may have come across one or more of my Miscellaneous Musings posts. Not really fitting into any of my menu categories otherwise, it became its own in 2016. A mish-mash of topics, here we are with No. 5. I suppose they'll continue as long as I keep collecting these random thoughts to share.

Are you a fraidy cat?! No need to be with this version - an Art Deco period, all original beaded purse, sporting black cats. It's the latest addition to my antique and vintage purse collection. It's also the extent of my Halloween decorations this year.

Do any of you read Martha Stewart Living magazine? She always has a page titled, "Martha's Month". And, she always has an incredible list of things she plans to (and I'm sure DOES) get accomplished each month. Then there's my month.
Martha plants trees. I pull weeds. Martha winterizes vehicles. I get a few loads of clothes laundered. Martha checks and fill birdfeeders (have you seen how many she has??). I kill 6, very slow flies that have somehow found their way into my home, hoping to winter over. Martha does cardio, core and weight training. I walk (regularly, yay), but then eat a local joint's homemade biscuits, and raid my pantry of cheese sticks, pepperoni rolls, almonds, and anything else I can get my hands on in between meals. Martha sets out tableware. I search boxes (numerous times) for the dishes I know I stored last summer in that basement stash. You catch my drift.  We could all use a team of minions to order things getting accomplished in home and garden.

Speaking of the garden, and all that cleanup needing done...Mr. P. mows our lawn (declaring next year he will have a minion), and he does a fine job of it. He always uses the leaf blower afterward, to get grass clippings away from edges. This time of year we see a LOT of spiders assisting in decorating for Halloween with their webs near any light source, shrubs and gates included. Mr. P. was aiming for one corner of the porch recently, and came in to inform me he made a mess. Um, yea, you could say that. He aimed the blower in the corner, and apparently one spider exploded! I ended up having to clean the entire porch balcony. Afterward, I got my trusty Terro Spider Killer out and sprayed all corners. I should be good until the first freeze, when Mother Nature takes over the chore. This stuff works, and lasts about 6-8 weeks. I use it from spring through fall as a preventive measure. No kickbacks on this blog, just sharing.
I love the South. Good manners, good people, good food. This past summer, when Mr. P. and I were in Tennessee (Bristol) for the funeral of his college coach, I was amazed and impressed with how folks were so courteous when the funeral procession traveled from the chapel to the cemetery. People coming from the opposite direction pulled off the road until we all drove past. I even saw a few gentlemen standing along the side of the road actually take off their hats as we drove by.

Speaking of Bristol..have you seen the latest Geico commercial? I mentioned in this post about the unique characteristic of the town, and how there is actually a Bristol, TN...on the opposite side of State Street is Bristol, VA. Check out this commercial .....Virginessee, or is it Tenneginia? lol

Traveling from Georgia in September, I can't remember which state I saw it in but...have you ever traveled down the highway and seen a similar sight as the photo below (three crosses, highly visible)? Well, it could be a result of a fellow from West Virginia, named Bernie Coffindaffer.
Example of Coffindaffer 'Crosses of Mercy'
These crosses of mercy, as he labeled them, are all over West Virginia, and can now be seen in other states, thanks to Bernie. Here's a little back story on Bernie Coffindaffer, and the start of his personal mission. In summary, Mr. Coffindaffer felt it was his mission to construct these crosses - with his own money, to the tune of nearly $3 million before he died - in areas most in need. Now there's a non-profit established, Crosses Across America, to continue his work and maintain those already in place. 

For those of you who love Fiesta dinnerware (or dishes!) =), the WV Culture Center just opened an exhibit in Charleston, West Virginia, featuring an 80-year anniversary celebration of the WV-manufactured china. The exhibit will go on for six months (through sometime in April, 2017). In addition to some nice local press via an article in the Charleston Gazette, the actual exhibit features every color Fiesta manufactured since 1936 - with its original five colors - and all the years following (with only a break in production from 1973 - 1986). Since its reintroduction in 1986, Fiesta dinnerware has been oh, so popular! If you go, admission to all exhibits and our state's museum at the Culture Center are free. There's a really nice gift shop, too.
Do you have any guilty pleasures? I admit it, I do. I take my daily vitamins with a Diet Coke. An ice-cold, slushy diet coke. Diet Coke that I store in a little Sub Zero right at the top of the stairs, near the bedroom and bath. ice-cold swig is good most anytime. I drink a lot of water, too, but that Diet Coke is a vice I probably won't give up anytime soon.
I've told you before that I'm always drawn to signs that speak to me for whatever reason, usually because they prompt a double meaning of some kind. Here's just one sign - from our Great American Road Trip - that I was able to catch through the lens.
Spotted in Arkansas, this was the name of a convenience store/gas station. No. Just no. Never. And who do we know that is presidentially famous, and hails from the state of Arkansas? It was the first thing that came to mind when I spotted the sign.

With that, I must go. I've got a lot of things to cross off my list in November, and it's time to turn the page on the calendar. November is here. Martha's leaving me in the dust.

Rita C. at Panoply

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ironstone, Transferware Fall Tablescape: "Meat and Potatoes" China

Today's tablescape - perfect for fall, including Thanksgiving - is an example of yesteryear's "meat and potatoes" china, or ironstone, and the inspiration for the meal being served? Why, meat and potatoes, of course!
Without delving into the history of ironstone china's humble beginnings, suffice it to say it was the English working class's early 1800's response to the fine porcelain china being imported years prior, and used exclusively by the upper crust of society. Soon thereafter, white ironstone became the "meat and potatoes" china for the majority of English households and, by the mid-1800's, for American households as well.
Later, when methods for mass-producing transferware patterns onto the ironstone became standard production, those finer designs also became part of the middle class's cupboards. The transferware designs first mimicked the finer, Chinese designs being imported on the finer porcelains, only much more affordably so. Eventually, American potteries sprung up, as did fresh, new transferware designs.
With a dropcloth as the table's base covering, each place setting is built upon a twig placemat. My tablescape today was inspired not only by my own, randomly collected brown transferware and ironstone over the years, but also by the history of how these pieces would have been first used - to celebrate the harvest and hunt by our early American settlers - in a gathering of thanks for the meal provided.
Perhaps small game such as rabbit, pheasant, or fowl would be served.
Or, even venison or other game may be served as the main course. The entree, when presented under dome, is elevated to centerpiece status at the table. A tureen of harvested potatoes, mashed, is the choice complement for this "meat and potatoes" theme. The ceramic pitcher (a yard sale find) was poured, painted, and fired by the mother of the seller. Its hunt scene motif fits the concept perfectly.
Place service would be enough to include not only the main course and salad plates, but also an individual bone dish and butter pat for each person. A bread board is nearby.
Earthenware napkin rings, made by a local potter who uses the maple leaf as her signature, are much the same material as the century-old ironstone (which, by the way, has no iron in its material composition). They signify fall, the season of the hunt and harvest.

The flatware (vintage) is utilitarian in design, much like white ironstone is, and substantial in weight, while the the meat knife hints at finer design with its Mother-of Pearl handle, much like transferware designs are on ironstone. Beverage glasses, though crystal, provide a sense of earthy grounding to the table - a masculine-feminine, yin-yang touch. They are Lenox Impromptu, from the mid-1970's, and were purchased on eBay (for a song!) to complement stemmed glasses of the same color, pattern I already had.
Most of the transferware and ironstone have maker's labels, but no two are alike (other than the four swallow salad plates). None are perfect, and most have been found on separate vintage and antique ventures, through stores, estates, auctions, and individual dealers. Some of these pieces have endured the test of time, dating to the mid 1800's. I generally only buy something now when it's unique to my collection and reasonably priced (like the double handled gravy boat) or particularly handsome (like the tureen/underplate and large platter). Although crazing in the finish appeals to me, I will only use pieces with obvious cracks or with large chips for display, not food use.

The meat dome has an interesting backstory, having come from the historic Brown Hotel in Louisville, KY. The Brown Hotel opened in 1923 and still operates as a luxury hotel today. I purchased this dome from a dealer in the upper Midwest, bringing it back a little closer to its home.
Should the company decide to move outside after the meal, the throws on each chair can easily be taken with guests to ward off the evening chill. In use here are just some of my throws collected from estate sales over the years.

The earthiness of brown transferware has always appealed to me best, and it is probably the most common to find. Even though I've kept this tablescape neutral, it would be easy to jolt the mix with use of bright yellows, golds, reds or greens. A nice mix of color can be accomplished with any number of items - florals, linens (tablecloth, napkins), glassware, placemats or napkin rings - let your inspiration get you carried away!
To see more of how I use my brown transferware collection in my home, you can visit this post on my laundry room. To see other tablescapes, you can use the drop down menu at my blog header, or use the search button for keywords, such as transferware or tablescape, located just above my profile picture. Several related posts should come up for your viewing.

Thanks for your visit at the table today. I hope you leave a bit inspired. Feel free to leave a comment!
Rita C. at Panoply
A special thanks to Michael Lee of Rattlebridge Farm's Foodie Friday and Everything Else and Kathryn of The Dedicated House for featuring this post!

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Visit Atlanta's 'Chihuly in the Garden' By October 30!

What better way to utilize public grounds within city limits than to establish spectacular gardens, such as Atlanta, GA has done with their Botanical Garden?  An oasis in the midst of urban chaos, the Atlanta Botanical Garden is celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. Bringing Dale Chihuly's glass artwork as an integrated exhibit among its gardens for its celebratory occasion, you must go before October 30 if you want to see it. I was very excited to see the exhibit in late September and, just in case you do not get to attend, allow me to take you on a virtual tour now!
L: Nepenthes Chandelier; R: Blue and White
A couple of Chihuly's works are permanent to Atlanta's Botanical Garden collection, including those pictured above. On the left frame is the Nepenthes Chandelier, located in the Hardin Visitor Center upon entry into the gardens. Pictured on the right is Blue and White, located in the Levy Parterre garden.
Indigo Blue Icicle Tower
Walking along with the exhibit map, I knew I was going to be amazed, as I had previously seen photos a niece of mine had taken from a summer visit, as well as at least one other blogger's.
Earth Goddess with Fiori Boat and Niijima Floats
Incredible as Chihuly's elements were, it was the beautiful coordination with the existing plantings that made this exhibit so special. The notable Earth Goddess sculpture is just one of those areas where the installation really was outstanding.

In the photo below, you catch a glimpse of yet another brilliant way in which Chihuly's work was showcased. Note the bridge structure to the left of the Earth Goddess' head. That's a walkway within the grounds, upon which Chihuly's Trumpet Flower Arbor was installed.

Below is the garden's walkway once upon it, and the glass art above it.
The photo below shows the Trumpet Flower Arbor as viewed when looking at it from the ground.
Trumpet Flower Arbor
Some of the installations were very subtle in placement, almost blending into the environment and/or the plantings.
Fern Dell Paintbrushes
It would be hard for me to choose one work I preferred over others. We arrived just after the gardens opened at 9am, so the sunlight and dappled shade really made the works even more spectacular.
Green Hornets and Waterdrops, Neodymium Reeds
I can't imagine this exhibit being any more beautiful, yet it also has an evening hours separate from daytime operational hours, where the installations are showcased with special lighting.
Water Mirror with Saffron Tower
The hardscapes in the Botanical Garden are also outstanding. There are places to rest, dine, explore, and get lost (yes, we took a couple wrong turns, even with the exhibit map).
There were also Chihuly artworks inside the Orchid Center. Among the rainforest environment, the glass blended almost seamlessly, as if the installations grew there.
Top: Ikenbana; Bottom: Black and Green Striped Herons with Icicle Clusters
Clockwise from top L: Ikebana; Sapphire Neon with Neodymium Reeds, Floats, and Logs; Sapphire Star, White Belugas
Three Graces Tower; Red Reeds, Zebra Reeds
Turquoise Marlins and Floats
There was a Japanese garden (pictured above), a Children's garden, and even an edible garden within the Botanical Garden's walls. The day we were there, the edible gardens were being worked by (this is an educated guess) several Master Gardeners. A requirement to maintain certification as a Master Gardener is to provide documented volunteer service hours, and there appeared to be several people being given direction in that section.
One of the best surprises of going to the Atlanta Botanical Garden was Mr. P.'s reaction: he loved it! He would normally be bored out of his mind with just walking and looking, but he thoroughly enjoyed not only the exhibit, but the well-designed, overall appeal of the gardens.

Although this exhibit will soon end, there was staff already preparing for its holiday lights season. The gardens also hold special events and allow private rentals. I provided a link to the Botanical Garden's website above if you'd like to find more information. I highly recommend a visit there. I hope to someday visit Chihuly Garden and Glass in the Seattle (Washington) Center, Chihuly's native state. I know some of my blog friends have, and it looks amazing.

If you don't get to see this exhibit, I hope I've done it justice for you through my photos. Thanks for your visit here today.
Rita C. at Panoply

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Shopping Vintage: Metro Atlanta GA

While in the Atlanta area in late September for a family wedding, I took advantage of some vintage shopping. Want to go virtual shopping? Let's go!

First stop was Architectural Accents on Piedmont Road in Atlanta. Oh boy!
While I didn't make any purchases in here, I knew it was going to be special right when I walked in and was greeted by a carousel horse.
Clearly, this is  a haunt for designers as well as end users. You can find just about anything you'd be looking for to make a period-accurate restoration or renovation, or make a new build look older with character pieces. It was incredible to see so many pieces of everything from door handles to doors themselves, corbels, grates, fences, lighting, and yes, even kitchen sinks.
From Architectural Accents, I made my way to Buckhead Thrift Store but, again, did not purchase anything. Home items were discounted 50% the day I was there, but I just didn't find anything I had to have.

Onto to Marietta and the Classy Flea I went. Most items were very reasonably priced, but I had a few reasons to show restraint. First, I was traveling with Mr. P., and remember...he does not like stuff, so coming back to his car with a huge load was undesirable from either of our standpoints. Second, it was hotter than blue blazes the days we were in town, and I didn't really want to exert myself too much in handling. Lastly, my sisters and I had just divided three estates the week before this trip. I have so much stuff from that divide boxed away in my basement, and it's making me feel a little anxious knowing I need to sort it all out, clean, price, etc.
Some of the items that piqued my interest while at the Classy Flea are shown in the photo above. Can you guess which items I picked? (Answer comes later in post). I left without buying anything the first day.

The next day, I went to the Marietta Antique Mall. It's a relatively newer shop, based on my conversation with the owner (open just over 2 years). It was fun just looking at some of the dealers' displays (nice). Below are a couple that caught my eye.
The photo above is one dealer's booth, split into two frames. He/she had some cool things, and I liked how they were styled, and season appropriate.
The photo above is two separate dealers' items, but I really liked them all. I could've easily purchased all of it, but there was no discounting incentive for either. Look how cute those terracotta mugs are on the French country table on the right!

So, what did I purchase in this store? Just a couple of items that will be good for our seasonal Derby displays next year are all I took home. The item on left is a horse head hook mounted on salvaged wood, and the horse on the right is cast iron - quite handsome, I thought.
After seeing all I wanted to see and having time to think through what I really wanted, I went back to the Classy Flea. I asked the store's policy on discounting (always a good idea, by the way. You can usually get a better deal if you offer to pay cash and, in my case, bundle items from one dealer). Together with cash and bundling, I was able to score a better deal than sticker price. Of the collage above? Here are the things I ended up buying (see check marks on photo below).
No, I didn't buy the desk, but I did buy the lamp sitting on it. Check out the ram's head detail, which I love!
I also purchased the oil painting of the rooster. It measures 24" x 28" in its heavy, ornate framing. It is signed, but I haven't tried to research it yet. The dealer noted it was from an upscale estate in Atlanta, and the woman's home was impeccably styled with French country accents, she said.
I bought this pitcher and glasses set also. Surprised? Yea, me too. I rarely buy glass, but I liked the weight, the shape, and the coloring of this set. Plus, the price was right. It's marked 'P' on the bottom of each piece - any of my readers know the brand trademark? It stumped me.
So, I passed on that beautiful inlaid wooden desk, and the ceramic rooster pair. I already have a rooster larger than those in my dining room, and Mr. P. hates it, so I decided not to hassle with that, and the chance I might be stuck with them if they didn't sell.

However, I did buy a couple more things. If you know me, you get three guesses as to what they are, and the first two guesses don't count.
If you guessed dishes, you're right! The rooster salads are Limoges, and were part of the bundling with the oil painting (same dealer, and sourced from the same estate). The cabbage luncheon plates are Bordallo Pinheiro, and were too good a price to pass.
That's it for my purchases and virtual shopping in the Metro Atlanta area, but here's a quick glance at a couple items that came from my portion of the estates my sisters' picked:
The mirror (17" x 21") and buffet lamp came from the same estate as a few items we already have styled in our space at the antique mall now. You can see those pieces here (a larger mirror, leaded glass fireplace screen, framed Victorian fan).

Thanks for virtually shopping with me. Did you see anything you liked, or would have chosen for yourself? Leave your comment* (see note below) and let me know what you tend to look for, or what draws your attention when vintage shopping. The hardest part for me is deciding what to keep awhile and what to sell already, once I do make a decision to buy vintage items.
Note: Readers, I'm not sure what's happening with Google+/Blogger, but about 10 days ago, I stopped getting notifications of comments on all my posts. Hopefully the tech team there will remedy the situation soon, but know that I am not intentionally overlooking your comments. I'll look into alternatives if the issue doesn't self-correct soon.
(A special thanks to Diana of Adirondack Girl at Heart's Vintage Charm #53 for featuring this post!) 
Rita C. at Panoply

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