Thursday, July 2, 2015

Decorating with DPS (first in a series)

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I joke around about the way my house is decorated.  I say things like "little old lady house" or "set design for an episode of Murder, She Wrote" or whatever (and then people are offended, which they shouldn't be, as I am making fun of MYSELF, and not them). But whatever the case may be, my house is a series of collected items, most of them having sentimental meaning. These things (though hopelessly out of style) are not to be tossed into the box for Goodwill.  But they can be a bear to incorporate into the house.

I mean...what do you do with the DPS?*

My friend Janet (who is also a partner in the booth, and has a fabulous food blog--check it out!) recently gave me this huge ironstone platter. I have been collecting ironstone for about 30 years.  I keep the majority of it in a Sheraton-style plantation desk in the foyer of Brandywine. The platter was too large to display on a shelf, so I made a little stand for it to sit on top.  (This platter is HUGE, as shown in the small photo below where I have a pack of [candy] cigarettes on it.)

I have found that there are two schools of thought when it comes to DPS.  Some experts say to keep it all in one place, and some say to spread it around.  In the case of my ironstone, I keep it MOSTLY in this desk.  I have a few plates on the wall in the kitchen, but the rest is in the foyer.  I also have mixed the ironstone in with some other white pottery, like this frog band vase:

Every once in awhile I find something like this, which I need like I need a hole in the head, but it's just too cute to pass up.

Anyway, this is what a concentrated collection of DPS* looks like.  Next time, I'll show you how I've incorporated larger pieces!

Now here's a plug for a contest Janet has entered: she is trying to feed some hungry folks by winning money for the Food Bank of NW NC.  These are the good folks who feed a lot of my students and their families.  Please go and vote for her so that my kids don't go hungry!!

*DPS - Dead People's Stuff

Sunday, June 28, 2015

What I found appealing...the fashion issue

There has been a lot of talk around the web and on facebook regarding the idea of a "capsule wardrobe."

This image is from 4vector, who tells me it's free.  I hope they are telling the truth.

(Not this kind of capsule. This kind of capsule is for owies.)

A capsule wardrobe is what my mother, in the early '60s, called "mix-and-match separates."  My mother has dressed in mix-and-match separates for all of her adulthood.  I was taught that mix-and-match separates were the answer to most of life's questions...which is strange, if you think about it.  But the mix-and-match mentality went away around the same time our little excursion into Viet Nam wrapped up, and unless you knew where to shop (like the now-defunct Carroll Reed) and which brands to buy (like John Meyer of Norwich), your mix-and-match separate choices were limited.  You had the less-expensive old lady lines like Alfred Dunner (no offense to those of you who love Alfred...he has legions of fans out there) or a few die-hard lines like Pendleton, which is more "J Jilly" than it was traditionally, when owning a Pendleton jacket, pair of slacks and two skirts meant you could throw in a couple of blouses and a turtleneck and you had outfits for 10 days.

I got to thinking about this capsule wardrobe thing (even though I feel the need to call it something else--maybe not mix-and-match...maybe just Eminem) and read a book and a couple of articles (more about the book this week) and my friend Shelley was talking about finding our "old lady style" and I knew it was time.  I knew I had to find my "old lady" style too.  (By "old lady style" we don't mean that we want to look like old ladies, we mean that we want to adapt our style so that it can carry us forward into the retirement home, if need be. Think more "Meryl Streep/Jamie Lee Curtis" and less "Grandma Hazel.")

(I thought maybe I wanted to have "Dame Helen Mirren-style", but then I thought maybe I just want to be British.)

This is Dame Helen Mirren and I got this from the Game of Thrones website.

If you are as intrigued as I am about finding your "uniform," there are some good articles out there for you to peruse.  

*Here's one about building a "uniform" and what stylists have chosen for their own capsule wardrobe.  (Bonus: it's from the UK!)

*Here's Un-Fancy, a woman who has a 37 piece wardrobe.  Luckily, she's skinny and pretty and everything looks great on her.  She could wear a potato sack and it would be gorgeous.

*I am going to try this backwards hanger strategy in this BuzzFeed article.

*And for those of you over fifty (you know who you are), here's an article that might be helpful.

What did you find appealing this week?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Walkabout Wednesday is back!!

This spring, I took a day trip to Asheville, NC.  The purpose of this trip was to see the Dressing Downton installation at Biltmore House.

And while seeing the costumes was fabulous, and reading about the construction (or reconstruction, in the case of vintage pieces) was interesting, the weather was crappy. Hence the gloomy photos.

If you have never been to Asheville and you live within driving distance, I highly recommend it!  I've been numerous times, both with my family (where we spent the night at Grove Park Inn, which is AMAZING!) and with school groups (where you get to ride on a odorous bus with 6th graders who are packed in like sardines), and over the years it has become quite the resort town!  The Biltmore Village that borders the estate used to be kind of run-down and pitiful, but there are now some gorgeous shops and great restaurants.  (There went my opportunity to be an entrepreneur, I guess!)

No photos were allowed inside the mansion, and they had several docents in each room to be sure that cameras weren't out.  Maybe if I had a way to surreptitiously get some pics with my phone, I could have...but there were a thousand people in line and I wouldn't have been able to get a good shot.  You'll have to trust me when I say that the costumes were fabulous.  There were also multiple scene shots and story boards to describe the episode in which each of the costumes was worn, and the historical context of the episode. It was incredibly well put-together.  As a teacher of both English and History, I approved!

While I was in Asheville, I puttered around in a few antique/junk shops. My very favorite (and in my top 10 of all time) is the Antique Tobacco Barn.  It is chock full of goodies in all price ranges. You can find some really unique stuff there.  I always end up buying something that I didn't even know I needed 'til I saw it!

I hope to get back to Asheville this summer or fall on a PRETTY day, so I can walk around and check out a few more places.  If I do, I'll let you know!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tray vignette

A group of talented (and nice!) bloggers have a challenge every month to use something you own and put a new spin on it.  This month, we use a tray.

My mom always had (and still has, to a lesser degree) a bunch of trays in her kitchen.  She uses them daily.  I am not like that.  I have a couple of trays on top of my ladder pot rack, and I almost never use them.  So I got up on the kitchen chair and grabbed the first one I saw...this awesome green enameled tray from Target.

We recently changed the coffee table in our living room from a blanket chest to one of DL's restored factory carts.  I decided that the green would look great on the old wood, and so I walked around the living room looking for some things that  would create an interesting scape.

The first thing I added was this little pewter nut compote from the dining room.  It has one of our dozens of birds nests (we have an arbor where several appear each year, and generally two or three blow down over the course of a year.  We don't ever take them out of the arbor, but if they blow down to the ground in the fall, they're fair game because mama won't come back to a nest that's been moved. And they're always empty anyway.).  The nest has two painted wooden eggs and a small honeycomb, which we found (weirdly) in the hatchback of the Volvo.

Then I added a small vintage jar.  It was obviously someone's souvenir of Niagara Falls.  (I collect Niagara Falls stuff, having spent a great deal of time there as a kid.)  After that, I added an oversized rabbit's foot fern.

I like the natural elements of this grouping (I'm counting Niagara Falls as 'water.' So sue me.) and the way the green tray contrasts with the old wood.  You can't see it here (because the photos are taken in place...I'll be more specific next time), but the fern is about six inches taller than the compote, which is about six inches taller than the jar, so the scale is nice.

There will be another tray in the not-too-distant future, so stay tuned!!

Sunday, June 21, 2015


After spending the last two weeks in testing mode, I'm back! I have an incredible list of things to do this summer...stay tuned for:

*some beautiful Walkabout Wednesdays
*a quirky laundry room
*some crafty fun
*a cocktail or two
*a few good books
*junk revisited
*and a giveaway!!

And next week is the return of What I Found Appealing. My readers wanted me to keep it, so I will!  I will also include weird tablescapes when the mood strikes--it was a close second.

Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

May read and June book!

This month, we read a book by a fellow blogger: Home is Where My People Are, by Sophie Hudson. (Sophie writes BooMama and is quite hilarious.)

Anyway, I LOVED the voice in this book.  She writes in a lively conversational style which is something that comes naturally to a few folks out there, but not to most, so it's a gift. If I could allot a whole bunch of time to writing, I could write more conversationally, but as it is I get approximately 7.4 minutes for each blog post, not including the pictures which take FOREVER but you have to have them.  Pictures are a necessary evil.  Pictures are how people JUDGE you even though you are clearly a WRITER and not a picture-taker. 
Anyhow, she's funny.

And I liked good chunks of her book, but some of the more religious overtones were a stumbling block, but that's okay because it's not Sophie's fault that I got turned off by religion because someone who shall remain nameless wouldn't let me go to Catholic religious instruction with my friends, but maybe that's because I wasn't Catholic.  

So there's some religiously-affiliated stuff in there.

Now, for some of the other titles I read this month...

Save the Date and Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews

Yes, they're predictable and yes, they're easy-to-read, but they are just for fun and I love them!  That is all. Plus, she has what could be the cutest cottage in all the land.

Because how could I not? I mean, it's almost like they wanted me to read it by giving it that title! So...what happened while they were watching? Turns out, quite a bit! It was definitely another chick book, with lots of related chick stuff. And wine drinking. 

Next month, we're all choosing a self-help or other book of that ilk.  Lawd knows I can use all the help I can get!  I'll read a couple and get back to you!!

Monday, June 8, 2015

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