Sunday, December 29, 2019

Panoply 2019: It's a Wrap!

Well, I've packed away all my Christmas decor, and now it's time to collage all my blog posts for 2019 as a final step before closing the book, so to speak. I'll have all my posts bound in a yearbook style format using Blog2Print (no affiliation, I just love the product and service).

I only blogged 24 posts (counting this one!) in 2019. That's a testament to my year of downsizing (and the fact that I was too busy to write about the action I was in the midst of). The theme of downsizing was definitely the center of my universe in 2019 and a recurring theme throughout the year. What you'll see below is a photo collage of each of my topics this past year, with individual post links below the photos if you're so inclined. I boldfaced one or more of my favorites in each category.
Home & Garden
Welcome! Our Urban DwellingJuly Garden MemoriesCozying Up the CondoChristmas Home Tour 2019: It's Christmastime in the City
Travel: Tales of the Traveling Tote
Tales of the Traveling Totes #18: Urban Renewal;  Tales of the Traveling Totes #19; Tales of the Traveling Tote: Fun in the SunTales of the Traveling Tote #20 and a GiveawayTales of the Traveling Tote #21: Fall in Utah's National Parks
Purple Passion Fire and Ice TablescapeSpring Blooms TablescapeEmbracing Summer: Pineapple Delight TablescapeA Patriotic Tablescape: Celebrating Freedom, Always!Tete-a-tete Summer Tablescape on the BalconyFeline Fondness for Fall TablescapeTutu Fun! Danse Macabre TablescapeForest Walk Thanksgiving TablescapeBlack Tartan Plaid Holiday Tablescape
Miscellaneous Musings and Organization
Downsizing: Tips on Purging, OrganizingTop Tips as We Gather TogetherMiscellaneous Musings No. 16
Panoply Antiquing
Panoply Booth Displays: Purging Household ItemsPanoply New, Vintage Finds
All of the categories of my topics are pulled from my main menu. If you click on each of those topics at the header of my blog, you'll see the list of the posts pulled for each of the categories. It's just another way of keeping things organized.

Reflecting on the major push of downsizing, purging and organizing, I am happier with fostering less material things which, looking back now with 20-20 vision, had me feeling a bit overwhelmed. My Panoply sisters and I are even purging in our antique booth spaces at this writing, and hope to have a fresh start in 2020. So, even though shopping will still be happening, it will be with more of a "just in time" versus "just buy it" mentality.

I so appreciate each and every one you, my readers, and love the friendships struck through blogging. I hope those of you who read but don't always comment will feel welcome to do so anytime. I always try to visit blogs if you have one, and try to respond by email to comments. It's rare that I can't figure out who the commenter is or that I don't have a contact to reach you, but if so (and you're no-reply commenter), I'll leave a response on the post. I'm really looking forward to hitting 2020 with optimism and enthusiasm. I hope you are, too.

Happy New Year!
Rita C. at Panoply
(A special thanks to Suzanne at Pieced Pastimes: Saturday Sparks Link Party #356 for featuring my annual wrap up post!)

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Christmas Home Tour 2019: It's Christmastime in the City

Welcome to my holiday open house at Panoply! 2019 was a year of big changes for us, as we downsized from our former home and garden to a dwelling in a century old building converted to condominiums in the center of town. You can view our former home and last Christmas here.
After living here nearly eight months, I am about 90% fully settled with places for most of the things I kept. Christmas decor is stored off premises since it is used only one month out of the year, and I am still trying to whittle it down as I go. Today I'm sharing our loft in its holiday style, and how I've incorporated much of what has been restyled in our urban space. Join me!

A little cherub donning winter accessories greets you in the vestibule outside our floor elevator.
Our loft's entry is winter ready with a pom wreath, Christmas goose and cardinal mat. 
As you step into our loft, you're looking eastward toward downtown churches and our state's capitol building in the distance (under white tarp temporarily for reconstruction). The Christmas tree was downsized this year in keeping with our overall change in lifestyle. 
Pillows and a throw were added recently for Christmas condo coordination, but the majority of memorable decorations remain and are reworked in our new space.
Christmas tree at dusk. Mixing modern / urban, traditional, vintage and antique defines eclectic style, yes?
City bridge view from living room with Christmas tree in corner, reflected in plate glass windows. Our balcony is just outside those windows.
A faux magnolia arrangement with little lights, intentionally placed to the right of the tree on the wall unit shelf, screens most of the electronics wiring.
The view of our open space and tree from the dining area. The Christmas tablescape can be seen in more detail here.
The tablescape can last beyond Christmas in its neutral, warm tones.
The dining area corner vitrine holds a vintage tole lamp, lighted Bouguereau (Song of the Angels), and small curio of a portion of my collected sterling and plated napkin rings.
Morning sunrise and sunlight streaming into the loft is a never-ending display in itself. The space directly behind the sectional sofa has two Parsons chairs and sideboard with nested tables (a second one is being used as tree stand). The chairs can easily be moved to the dining table to comfortably seat six.
A collection of small Santas and other baubles are on the left side curio / drink table.
Sideboard decor includes a squirrel nutcracker with cloisonne acorn and WV ornaments on one side, silver bocce balls in compote and simple ornaments with lights in apothecary jar on the other. Notice the stockings in the background, hanging on the edge of the counter. I simply use magnets to hang a few things on the stainless surfaces (even art!) in the loft.
The balcony boy and angel don their winter accessories.
In the main living space, the electric fireplace area is central to two rooms beyond (with track doors). You can see where the Parsons chairs are at bottom right corner of the photo. The dining table is to the left. The fireplace was a good space to display my nutcracker collection. I found frames recently on Etsy to hang antique, hand painted tiles of winter scenes dating from the late 1880s on either side of the little fireplace.
My Orphanello statue (in the corner next to my office door on the right) holds a votive candle (battery operated). Mr. P.'s personal space is the room on the left of the fireplace.
The kitchen corner is mostly utilitarian, but the little trees and angel are seasonal additions.
Stockings are hung at the end of the kitchen bar, and a tartan scarf dresses the ammo basket directly across from the bar.
The laundry room is whimsical with gingerbread people and their hanging laundry. The wreath hanging was made by my daughter #2 in preschool over 25 years ago. The crocheted potholders are another collection in the vintage wash basin. The colors of each season are brought to the surface while the bowl is full of other seasonal colors. The lights add candy-colored fun, as does the gingerbread house on the baker's rack across from the appliances.
The powder room is where my collection of sheep graze. The winter sleigh sheep and tiny orphan sheep on the commode lid are seasonal additions to the usual flock.
My office / personal space is decorated with a few more things saved in the downsize. This is the view from the side of the room where my desk is situated (the edge can be seen on the right).
The curio cabinet in my office has been empty since the move in April, and is where I intend to style much of my antique beaded and mesh purse collection. That will be a good winter project. Until then, the Santa fairies and a few family photos from the early 1960s fill the cabinet shelves.
Madonna and Child on credenza behind my desk (not shown).
The master bedroom sitting area just sports a couple of seasonal pillows, with a favorite ornament on the drink table between. A lighter hand is decorating this year was a welcome change. Buying new pillows and a few salad plates to add to my dish collection (of course!) were my only splurges this year, and I even took most of the duplicate sized pillow forms and vacuum sealed them for storage to maintain clutter control.
One of the many, ever-changing sky views from our living space.
I even downsized my nativity in that I purged the wooden stable. I love the simpler display. It doesn't matter if your style is modern, farmhouse, traditional, urban or any other label, this is timeless.
May your holidays be filled with love and meaningful moments. Try not to worry about what others might view as the perfect Christmas. I found this article on that very subject, posted recently by a niece who has three kids under the age of 12, and thought it was poignant for all of us. 

Merry Christmas 
from Rita C. at Panoply
(A special thanks to Shelley of Calypso in the Country's Decorating Ideas - Best of the Weekend 12-13-19 for featuring this post!)

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Black Watch Tartan Plaid Holiday Tablescape

Welcome to my blog, Panoply, and my Christmas tablescape, Black Watch Tartan. Tablescaping is a fun hobby I've enjoyed over the years which complements my love of home decor, and it provides a means of satisfying my love of dishes. I am a vintage and antiques dealer, so tablescaping is also a way of styling things found. Let's dish, shall we? My complete source list is found near the end of this post.
It's no secret that I am a fan of plaid for fall and winter decor, and at Christmastime I pull out each and every piece I have. This year in our new home (a modern loft in a century old building), I wasn't sure how I'd use what I had, but knew I didn't want to buy a lot of new things after purging so much this past year. I also didn't want a major clash going in our new space. The Black Watch tartan lambswool throw became my inspiration to use for this table's base cloth.
Black Watch Tartan
Last year, right before the possibility of selling our home and downsizing, I purchased a set of Pendleton salad plates to add to my "mad for plaid" collection. That set had one Black Watch pattern, but I was leaning toward toning down all my red plaids on this table and in the loft, in general, since our sectional in the adjacent, main living space is a rust color leather. So, I bought more plates. 🤣
Maclean Hunting Tartan
I pulled from two sets of plates to get the overall look I wanted to achieve, and my everyday, workhorse dinner plates on my glass, ice-like chargers completed the plate stack I desired. I kept the rest of the table design fairly simple.
Macleod Hunting Tartan
A couple more subtle nods to plaid can be detected in the flatware and water glasses.
Unidentified Tartan - could it be MacDiarmid?
In addition to the dinner plates, creamy whites via the alstroemeria bouquet, napkins, angel wings and velvet scripted ornaments on the wine stems add needed lightness to the table. Tiny lights and silver napkin rings add a touch of brightness.
This look works as I'd hoped, blending my dining space decor together with the adjacent, open living space, and keeps the overall tone of the table winter-themed, versus an in-your-face Christmas clash. 
The corner vitrine in the dining space is filled with various collected silverplate and sterling serving pieces, and my napkin ring collection rests on top in two small curios. The concrete pillar next to the vitrine is part of the 1907 building's original architecture incorporated into our loft's modern design.
At a recent estate sale I picked up a map and book of Scottish tartans/clans, which is a nice reference guide. There are SO many clans and patterns, both ancient and modern. I tried, mostly in vain, to identify the tartans of my plates, adding to my trivia-filled rolodex of brain cells. It's what I like to do when I shop vintage / antique items, and suppose it's part of my overall curious nature. Starting from the first individual place setting listed earlier, I most closely identified the following tartans: Black Watch, Macleod Hunting, Maclean Hunting, and the last one (predominant green, with black, red and white, and also pictured at the top of the photo below) I could not identify. If you know it, please share in the comments!
A glimpse of more of my Christmas decor can be see in the photo below. 🎄 To keep the old and not want to buy new color scheme decorations to coordinate with our new home has been a test, but I'm one of those people who feels guilty not using my old things. As a result, my intention of remaining downsized has been working pretty well so far. 
Source List
Black Watch 'Coming Home' lambswool throw as tablecloth, Longchamps wine glasses - vintage
Glass chargers - Pier 1
Dinner Plates - Pfaltzgraff 'Filigree', eBay
Salad Plates - mix of Pendleton Home Collection, Nora Murphy Hunt Club and Certified International Plaids, Kohl's
Water Glasses - Ralph Lauren 'Glen Plaid' Highball, eBay
Flatware - Lucca 'Fortessa', Sur la Table
Napkins - Home and Hearth, Target
Napkins Rings - Ballard Designs
Crystal vase - Gift (Tiffany's)
Faux magnolia - Afloral
Alstroemeria flowers - Grocery
Velvet script, angel wing ornaments - unknown, years old
I'd like to invite you to visit all the bloggers listed below, who are sharing their Christmas table inspiration on the respective days noted. The links will be updated so you may find them here, all in one convenient location. A special thanks goes to Chloe Crabtree of the blog, Celebrate and Decorate, for organizing this group. It's a pleasure to be among them.




Thank you for visiting today. I appreciate each and every reader and comment. Let me know you stopped by so we might have the chance to get better acquainted. 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Tales of the Traveling Tote #21: Fall in Utah's National Parks

Hey there, travelers - armchair or in real life - it's time for yet another instalment of the Traveling Tote, and a giveaway! To see all my past travel instalments and background info of our tribe's beginnings, you can start here.

I hope you've enjoyed your Thanksgiving, but before we jump head first into the Christmas season, let's savor fall one last time. It was the season that seemed to take its good 'ol time coming, and hasty exit out, am I right? Today, I'm sharing my fall adventures, the highlight of which was more than a week spent in Utah. Traversing the "Life Elevated" state's all five national parks (and two state parks) in late September, early October proved to be a perfect time to be there. Pictured below are the brochures of the parks we visited in Utah, in order visited (top to bottom).
Mr. P. & I live in West Virginia, where a couple of perfect fall days also prompted day trips (I'll share later in this post).  Grab a drink, lots of photos are coming. Oh, wait, one more thing! Be sure to read to the end of this post for more about our tote tribe's giveaway. It's easy to enter. Also, catch all my tribe sisters' travels with their post links provided. Ready? Let's go!

Our Utah adventure began by flying into Las Vegas as our jumping off point. We're NOT Vegas goers of any sort, but we did stop long enough to rent our car, have lunch with former neighbors who retired there, and snap a few photos with my tote, Miss Luna C. 😉
Zion National Park
From Vegas, we moved on to Zion National Park, the first of five national parks visited. Of course, Checkerboard Mesa was the key photo op for Miss Luna C.
Below is a highly magnified view of the bottom L photo frame from the collage above.
In each park, we chose different trails to explore the vistas. In Zion, one trail hiked was the Riverwalk, but only to the headwaters of the Narrows. Warmer weather would have enticed us to go further along the trail into the water, but not this trip. In the photo below, you can see a person heading into the water near where we stopped. Mornings were cold (near freezing), some days very windy, but most days warmed to low 70s.
In Zion, you can only drive a car to the visitors' center, at which point you must hop their shuttle buses to come and go to various points of interest. For that very reason, we blew off Zion (for the most part) in our 2016 trip across the country. Actually, the drive on the opposite side of Zion (considered the exit, see map further in this post), heading toward Bryce Canyon, showcases some of the best views in Zion. The Zion / Mt. Carmel tunnel is just one of those views, where windows are carved out of the rock walls of the 1+ mile tunnel (see two of those windows pictured below, and shots of the views from within).
From Zion, we drove Route 89 toward Bryce Canyon.

Bryce Canyon National Park 
We cannot say enough about Bryce Canyon. It is, hands down, our favorite of all the national parks in Utah! We first drove the scenic route, slowly, about 18 miles, and jumped out of the car for photo ops along the way. It was windy and cold early in the day, good fall weather and color. Even amid previous areas scorched with wildfires, there was color on the hillsides that we weren't seeing at home in late September.
The canyons in Bryce are just gorgeous. Just a couple notable ones are Agua Canyon...
 ....and Natural Bridge.
Starting from Sunset Point, we hiked the Navajo Loop/Wall Street Trail. Again, fantastic rock formations, vistas, and vantage points for photos. The bottom left frame in the collage below shows tiny specs of people on the trail as a matter of perspective.

After some good grub and a very rural drive through what felt like someone's private ranchland with an easement running through it (and hardly any cars passing), we arrived at Capitol Reef, our third national park in Utah.
The road from Bryce to Capitol Reef
Capitol Reef National Park
We planned to stay at Capitol Reef for a few days, and it was a good decision. On our first full day there, we arranged for a Jeep tour with a personal guide, so we'd be sure to see all the key points of interest. Our guide, Mason, is a native Utahn, and was 100% familiar with the park and its history. Views captured in the collage below are (clockwise, L to R): Miss Luna C and us at the park entry sign; Egyptian Temple; one of several canyons (with the Jeep, Mr. P., and Mason standing outside as perspective); Mason; the capitol dome, for which the park got its name.
In this park we explored and hiked on our own the second full day, taking in the Grand Wash trail. It felt like we were engulfed by the canyons, and we saw petroglyphs believed to have been carved by the Hopi and Zuni Native American tribes people between 300 and 1300 CE (Common Era, or AD).
Famous for its fruit orchards within the confines of the Capitol Reef canyons, there is a museum house established within the park, and they serve hand pies from fresh picked fruit during season.
Mr. P. and I each chose our own pie and ate them after our nearly 5 mile hike.
Oh, and one more thing about Capitol Reef....Butch Cassidy hid in these canyons, often referred to as Robbers Roost. Word has it that Butch Cassidy named one of the rock formations after a girlfriend. Pictured below is Fern's Nipple within the park. 
Our stay was spent outside the park boundaries, at the Capitol Reef Resort, and the collage below captures our views from our private porch from our suite off the main lodge. The covered wagons, teepees and one room cabins were all options for lodging, although the winds were gusty the nights we were there.
Coffee on the porch was a morning and/or evening ritual, with great views, and there was a firepit for s'more-making at night.
What a great place this was, and with great, great views!
Once we departed Capitol Reef, we were heading toward the town of Moab, from which we planned to explore the last two national parks. Along the way, however, we made a stop to a state park recommended by Mason (our guide on the Jeep tour at Capitol Reef).

Goblin Valley State Park
This place was a bonus stop! Imagine a shallow inland sea floor dating back to the Jurassic Period 140 to 170 million years ago and you get a sense of what this place is like. Hundreds of tidal deposits of sand, clay and silt created these 'goblins' among the flat edge of the tidal basin floor over millions of years. Just about 90 minutes is all one needs to explore this unique area.
From Goblin Valley, we reached the town of Moab, our stay for the next two nights.
Another state park recommended by an antique collector friend from Utah was Dead Horse Point State Park.

Dead Horse Point State Park
Legend has it that cowboys of the late 1800s wrangled herds of feral horses along this narrow piece of land - most notably across the "bottleneck" (no wider than two lanes that leads to the end point) - with steep cliff walls as the only a sort of corral on the mesa. Supposedly the wranglers chose the best horses and left the rest without food or water on the mesa, with no exit or chance of survival. The legend continues that those who found the resulting carnage gave the area the name Dead Horse Point. In the collage above, look closely at the bottom left frame. Can you see a shape of a horse in the rock formation that's circled?
Just about 90 minutes is worth the time of exploring this mesa, with marked trails for viewing both east and west rim cliff walls (opposite sides of the narrow road, or bottleneck. Shortly after, we were off to our next planned stop.

Canyonlands National Park
Our least favorite of the national parks visited, we stayed long enough to drive through the entire park and sought advice from the park ranger for a recommended trail to hike that would be around 4 miles. He suggested Murphy Point Trail, which we found rather boring until reaching its end point for views. We made the best of it, though, and enjoyed another short trail, Mesa Arch, which was a preview of the next (and final) park to come, Arches.
Arches National Park
Our second favorite national park in Utah (Bryce Canyon our #1), Arches, was the final park we explored on our Utah trip. We hiked several trails. We loved this place in 2016, again now in 2019, and we would go back again. Just a quick summary of some of the more notable features......

Clockwise, L to R: Arches gate entry, Landscape Arch, Tunnel Arch, Skyline Arch
Clockwise, L to R: Balanced Rock, Sand Dunes Arches trail, Sand Dunes Arches
Broken Arch, and view looking up to the arch
Double Arch
North, South Window Arches, and plein air artist painting same
Turret Arch
Elephant Butte and Sheep Rock
In summary, we spent 10 days driving out of and back to Vegas, traveling through all the national parks in Utah (and two state parks). We logged over 1,200 miles of driving, and had a blast. It was the perfect place to chase fall when summer was dragging its feet back home.

West Virginia Day Trippin'
A couple of (separate) nice days in West Virginia had us out chasing color. Color was so very late in West Virginia, as it was across most of the country this year, but we still enjoyed our outings.
New River Gorge, Fayetteville WV; Hawks Nest State Park, Ansted WV
One day was spent hiking in the New River Gorge park in Fayetteville, WV (about an hour's drive southeast of us), and another day was spent hiking in an area about an hour northeast of us (Stonewall Resort), then looping south and west again toward home on rural, country roads.
Fog lifting on WV I-79; Stonewall Resort Lake; the "Mystery Hole" in Ansted WV; Babcock State Park, Clifftop WV
The best way to see almost any of our country is to take a country road whenever possible! I hope your fall included some country roads and regional flair, too.


The Traveling Totes Tribe is offering another giveaway. Emily at the French Hutch is our giveaway sponsor this time. One lucky reader who leaves a comment on Emily's December 1 post will have their name thrown into the hat for an opportunity to win this set of MacKenzie-Childs dish towels! Hurry over now!
NOTE:  This giveaway may be closed by the time you read this post (sure hope not!), but tune in to our future tales for another chance in our giveaways.

As promised, here are all the links to the rest of tribe members' travels since our September 1 post. There are some very seasoned travelers in this group, and you won't want to miss the tote antics!

Debbie with Miss Aurora @ Mountain Breaths
Emily with Miss Courtney Childs@ The French Hutch
Patti with Miss Kenzie and Miss Taylor @ Pandora's Box
Jenna with Miss Coquille @ The Painted Apron
Linda P with Miss Lola @ Life and Linda
Rita with Miss Luna C @ Panoply (you are here!)
Sarah with Miss Merri Mac @ Hyacinths for the Soul
Jackie with Miss Madi K @ Purple Chocolat Home
Ricki Jill and Countess de Monet @The Sketchy Reader
Cherry Kay with Miss Carrie Ann Hall @ Entertaining Women

We have a very special instalment of the Traveling Tote coming to you on January 15, 2020 with a giveaway you won't want to miss! Be sure to mark your calendar for that date!
Then, we'll recap again on our regular quarterly instalment, coming to you on March 1, 2020.

Thank you so much for dropping by the blog today. I love reading your comments, and don't forget to leave one on Emily's blog for a chance at the giveaway! 
Rita C. at Panoply