Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Happy Birthday, Alice!

After a summer of totally ignoring my blog, I decided that I should post something and what would be better than celebrating Alice's birthday with a tea party? Do you know how old she is this year? She is having a big, big birthday, but more about that later...

Did you love Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, when you were young? I certainly did. Of course, at the time, I had no idea that Lewis Carroll was a pen name for the writer with the very odd name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson! No wonder he used a pen name. His fantastic book is considered to be written in the genre of "literary nonsense", but I think there are many lines in the book that are not nonsense at all!

For instance, when Alice came across a fork in the road and saw the Cheshire Cat in the tree, she asked, "Which road do I take?" The Cheshire Cate replied, "Where do you want to go?". "I don't know", said Alice and the Cheshire Cat told her, "Then, it doesn't matter".  Wow, I think that makes a lot of sense, don't you?? It always helps to know where you want to go...

 And, now, it is time to go to the tea party to celebrate Alice's birthday. We do not wish to be late!

The table has been set and the guests have been invited.  What to serve?  Well, since Alice is 150 years old this year (!!!), I could not possibly bake a cake large enough for all of those candles, so I decided to make a dessert with my new baking rings!

I have to admit that the dessert was not perfectly formed, but it was my first attempt at using the rings, since I purchased them from Amazon. I had seen so many photos of wonderful desserts on the internet that were made using these rings that I wanted to try my hand at making one. The rings that I bought are 3 1/2" in diameter and are a little large for individual desserts, unless you are really, really  hungry.

The rings come in several sizes and I am thinking of ordering some that are smaller in diameter and taller. Have you tried using these? I enjoyed the process, but the next time that I use them, I will be more careful in pressing down each layer to have a smoother appearance.  I so hope that Alice forgives me and allows me to bake her a new batch for her 151st birthday next year - lol!!

Alice looks a little shocked at the white rabbit and I am sure we can all understand her dismay, since she was embarking on an adventure full of surprises!

Of course, I had to use Whiting "Imperial Queen" flatware for "you know who"...

The Queen of Hearts, of course, from John Tenniel's original illustration. She does not look very pleasant, does she? Carroll's first edition of Alice's story was published in July, 1865 and another edition followed soon after in November of that year. I read that only 23 of the original first edition of 2000 have survived.  I am quite sure that they are extremely valuable.

I wonder what sort of tea Alice would like with her dessert? Surely she is hungry and thirsty, after swimming in the salty tears that she shed, when she was a giant.  I do not think I would like to see a mouse swimming with me, however! I might lose my appetite, if that happened. I hope that Alice has not lost hers. We have to eat our party food and then the guests must sing "Happy Birthday" to our very special birthday girl!

Oh, writing this post has made me want to rush out to my screened-in porch and start traveling with Alice on her adventures, once again. As a child, her adventures were my adventures and she took me to a crazy and exhilarating world.  Happy Birthday, Alice - may you live forever in the hearts and minds of everyone who has read Mr. Carroll's books! You will always live in mine.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Fostoria, Friends and Birthdays!

I feel like I have been away forever - traveling and being sick. After a nice vacation, I had the Shingles and, yes, I had the shot a few years ago.  Thankfully, they were not too horrible. The anti-viral medicine was worse, than the disease.  I mention this only because I did not realized that, when you have the Shingles, you are contagious for the Chicken Pox.  Did you know that? I had no idea - just thought you might like to know it, if you were as clueless, as I was.

Well, enough of that subject.  What I really want to discuss in this post is the fact that this year, 2015, is the birthday of two iconic tableware patterns.  First, it is the 50th birthday of Wedgwood's "Wild Strawberry" dinnerware pattern.

Here is a wonderful "Wild Strawberry" window at Harrods in London. I wish I could be there to see this one and the others that are paying homage to this delightful pattern.  With summer almost here, strawberries are a fabulous addition to the dinner table. I am so happy that I own a few pieces of this pattern.

The one that started my collection is the footed vase that my friend and neighbor, Susie, found at Goodwill for $10.00, when I was away on a trip.  She called me and asked if I would like to have it and, of course, I said, "Yes!".  You might remember Susie, as she is the one who graciously loaned me her gorgeous "Georgia" transferware plates in a previous post that you can see Here.

While we are on the subject of sweet friends named Susie, a childhood friend of mine recently gave me these beautiful Fostoria green "Argus" iced tea glasses. I am humbled by her gift and the fact that she is allowing me to the be keeper of these glasses, until they pass to another obsessed Fostoria collector.  These pressed glass pieces (No. 2770) were created by a special arrangement with the Henry Ford Museum and were produced from the 1960s to 1985 with some being produced in the 1990s.  They were made in green, gray, cobalt blue, clear and ruby. Thanks so much, Susie.  I hope you like the way they look on my table.

Now, we finally are ready for the real star of this post, but I will give you a little background first:

Whoa!  What happened here and what does this Picasso painting have to do with this post?? Well, this painting, "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon", was painted by Pablo Picasso in 1907 and the art movement, Cubism, was born.  Georges Braque and Picasso were the first to experiment with this form, but many others followed.  In 1913, a very famous international exhibition of modern art was held at the 69th Regiment armory in New York City. Every since, this show has been referred to as the Armory Show. The artwork displayed was shocking to many Americans, as they were used to more realistic paintings. Cubism was just one of the new styles introduced, but it was well represented.

Apparently, the cubist style made an impression on a man named Phillip Ebeling, because two years after the Armory Show in 1915 (a century ago!!), he applied for a patent for a Fostoria pattern (No. 2056) named "American".  Below is a drawing which accompanied the patent request:

American was the best selling Fostoria pattern for 70 years and was imitated by other manufacturers. I will not go into the crazy history of these manufacturers, because you will definitely go to sleep here. I will just write that there were many mergers and buy-outs among them.  However, two of the more famous patterns were "Whitehall" and "Cube or Cubist".  There was even a brief period of time, when a "Whitehall American" pattern was produced!

One of the reasons that I chose to purchase these goblets is that they have a hex-foot (six sides). As far as I know, Fostoria "American" was the only manufacturer to create goblets like these. Many books and articles have been written regarding the differences among the cubists patterns, but I have never seen any other pattern with a hex-foot. Also, "American" was mostly made in clear, although, Fostoria did make some pieces in color.  It is much more likely to find "Whitehall" (Replacements lists this, as a Colony pattern) or "Cube" (made by Jeannette glassware) made in colors.

This pitcher is a good example of the difficulties in identifying "American". However, an expert would point out to you that this piece is the "Whitehall" pattern, since the "American" pitchers have handles that end at the top of the pitcher, like this:

This all makes my head hurt and I am a Fostoria obsessed fan!  I do not have enough time left in my life to become an expert, but my heart is thumping a little faster at the thought of the hunt - oh, please, someone stop me! I have no more room! Oh, by the way, on Replacements the difference in the price of these two pitchers?  The "Whitehall" costs $15.99 and the "American" one is $79.00. Ummm, maybe, worth the hunt, after all??? Maybe, I could find some more room...

I could go on and on and on, about all of these wonderful pieces, but my crazy obsessions are not shared by everyone. However, one of the reasons that I am obsessed by many fine pieces of tableware is because of the history behind them.  The decorative arts move with history, just as fine arts do.  China, crystal and silver patterns change with different art movements that come and go. One moment, society is wild over Art Nouveau or Baroque and the next, we must own Minimalist art or architecture.  It is all connected and I wish that I could preserve all of it for the generations to come.  My poor husband, definitely, thinks that I am doing my part!!

So, Happy Birthday, "American" and "Wild Strawberry".  You both look great for your age and I hope there are many more birthdays to come!!!


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Monday, April 13, 2015

Pinterest Anonymous!

You can confide in me, friends...Does you heart skip a beat, when you see this emblem? Do you want to drop everything and fling yourself into the vortex of the Pinterest "other world"?? Well, I for one am here to confess:  Hello, my name is Diane and I am a Pinterest addict!

When I first signed-up for Pinterest, I truly did not understand how wonderful it was and created only a few boards with a few pins on them.

These were my first three boards and I did not have this many pins on them, but I thought this was pretty great.  I discovered how to follow other people - the first two were my friend, Mona, from Hidden Art of Homemaking and my friend, Emily, whose daughter is an up and coming New York designer, Lindsey Coral Harper.  I wrote about Lindsey in a previous post that you can read Here.  I started following Lindsey a little later, but all three of these women have incredible taste and I knew that I would find creative ideas on their boards.

Now, I am following 80 people and have 42 boards - I have holiday boards and color boards and recipe boards and obsession boards...and I cannot stop pinning!!!! I do need help, but I decided getting my addiction out in the open might be good for me. So, I hope you do not mind, if I confess  my obsession and share a few of my favorite pins with you.

This is probably my favorite pin.  It is on my "Mad for Plaid" board and it is a photo of a WW1 era Scottish Officer's doublet jacket.  The wrap is the Cameron of Erracht Highlanders tartan.  Since I have Cameron ancestry, it is beautiful to me! I bought a blanket exactly like this in Scotland and love it.

Another of my absolute favorite pins is this one from Japan.  Most of you know that Cherry Blossoms are near and dear to my heart and this photo shows how our Cherry Blossoms look, when they are falling.  My city looks like pink snow is coming down!  This pin in on my "Pink" board.

In case you think I have forgotten about tableware, fear not! This tablesetting from a house in Provence can be found on my "Green" board.  I have visited Provence, but dining at this table with that view, even once, would make me want to move there!

How do you like this very swanky china that is pinned to my "China Obsessions" board?  I have no idea of the origin of this photo.  It was posted on the internet by someone who stated they did not "own" the pictures she posted.  I found it on Pinterest and pinned away! I am not sure that I would have an occasion to use this, but it is fun to see! If you love "bling", you will adore this!

With Mother's Day coming up fast, you might like this "Mother's Day" bouquet that I pinned onto my "Other Holidays" board.  It would be such a fun family project (without Mother, of course - it should be a surprise!) to use as a centerpiece on a Mother's Day dining table.  What fun! 

I have a board for pantries and butlers' pantries and this is one of the pins that I wish I could build in my house.  It is part of Celine Dion's Montreal home.  Can you imagine???  Look at all of the small drawers that could hold flatware and napkin rings.  I want this!!!! Pinterest, how could you make me want to kill for desire this so much????

The last pin that I will share is this iconic photo of Audrey Hepburn, when she played Holly Golightly in "Breakfast at Tiffiny's". This pin is on my "Black and/or White" board.  I long for the days, when clothes were meant to enhance a woman's look - the woman was supposed to "shine".  People might say, "You look wonderful", instead of "What a beautiful dress!". Almost every piece of clothing that I see these days screams something (not sure what!), instead of being classy and elegant.  Oh, well!  I am sure that I am part of a older, lost generation.  However, I do miss elegant, well made items.  One thing regarding Pinterest, though, is that by looking at all of the photos on the site, it is easy to get a sense of one's own taste. That is a real plus, if you think you love everything, like I do.  When I look at my boards, I am amazed how almost everything is goes together like a jigsaw puzzle.

If you are having a severe problem staying away from Pinterest, please contact me - the first meeting of Pinterest Anonymous will be next Wednesday at 10:00 A.M - hahahaha!!

Happy Pinning!!


The Louvre, Paris - from my Favorite Places and Spaces Board

Monday, April 6, 2015

Greatest Show on Earth?

Oh, to be in Georgia now that it is Spring!! The dogwoods and azaleas are blooming and all eyes are looking toward Augusta this week.  Yep, it is Masters time and all of us are excited to say the least...

It, definitely, looks like Spring in my garden back yard! As beautiful as our Yoshino Cherry trees are,  when they are blooming, there is nothing like the show that the dogwoods and azaleas present each Spring.

Every year, I try to set a table worthy of the glory of the golf course at Augusta National, but I have  never achieved anything close.  My husband and I, fortunately, have been to the golf tournament many times, but we no longer have access to badges to attend - one of the few downsides of retirement (sniff!)! I am not terribly interested in golf, but I would not take anything for the times that I have witnessed the Masters course in full bloom.

Of course, I always must mention that my husband, also, was fortunate enough to play the course a few years, ago, with a friend from Augusta.  In Georgia, that is almost as good, as finding the Holy Grail! It was a very happy day for him.

I started collecting Masters tableware on my visits to Augusta and my collection has grown quite a bit from the early days, when the only things that I brought home from the tournament were plastic cups! This year on my table, I am using salad plates that came in a set of four - two white with green geometric shapes and two green with white geometric shapes.  They all include the Masters logo and have gold trim.

The first plate that I ever found was this one made by Shenango.  It is thought to have been part of a tableware collection that was used in the dining room at Augusta National, probably in the 1940s.  I found it on eBay and I have never seen another like it.  It is slightly worn and looks like restaurant ware. In this photo, you can see a few other pieces in our collection of Masters memorabilia.  One of my previous posts showed many more pieces. If you would like to see them, you can view that post here.

I wish that I had photos of the flowers and trees on the golf course, but I do not.  We never attended the tournament on practice round days, when photos are allowed.  However, I am trying to show the next best thing - azaleas from my yard.  Can you imagine a hole on the course covered with azalea bushes all blooming at the same time with these gorgeous flowers?? It might just be the "Greatest Show on Earth". Since the land where the golf course was designed previously was a plant nursery, each hole is named for a different plant or tree. "Azalea" is one of the prettiest!

We always liked to collect these glasses.  The Masters logo is on the front and the list of the previous tournament winners is printed on the back.  They are the perfect size for juice, a small glass of milk, or a cocktail. We, also, have a couple of the wine glasses.  I wish that I had bought more of those, but perhaps they were sold out on the day I arrived at the gift shop.  We usually attended the Masters toward the end of the week and the gift shops were always madhouses with many of the newer items  already gone. If you have ever been, you will understand what I mean!

Each year, there is a newly designed mug that everyone tries to buy.  I think this green one was the newest model the last year our family attended. I have a few others from different years.

I know that Spring is beautiful everywhere, but I must write that Spring at the Masters is something to behold. I am wishing all of the golfers competing this week good luck and I am sure that the suspense will be terrible, until we see who will be awarded the newest "Green Jacket" on Sunday!!


P.S. Oh, a very special "shout out" for good luck is directed at golfer, Russell Henley, at the Masters.  He is our "home town" favorite...

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Easter Plus!!

Do you know my young friend, Gina, who writes the wonderful blog, "Random thoughts from an incoherent mind"?  I absolutely adore her and her blog.  If you have not read it, you can follow the link here.  You will love her blog and how she can decorate a mantel!! When I was ready to write this Easter post, I truly had an incoherent mind with many random thoughts!

As I was pulling out china to plan my table, I decided that I would like to use my Bordallo Pinheiro
"Cabbage" chargers that I have been slowly collecting.  Here is where the random thoughts began...

When I left home for college, I entered a school that had previously been an all girls' school.  It started admitting boys who boarded the quarter (yep, we had quarters, then, instead of semesters!), before I arrived.

Traditions ran strong there and each class had a theme.  I was in the "Royal" class and we had a sister class two years ahead us who were called the "Irish" class.  Together, we formed the "Royal Irish" group. The other sister classes were the Elephants and the Thunderbirds, who became the "Thunderphants".  These were the four designations and each freshman class fell into one of them and remained there, until graduation. My sister-in-law, who entered the school two years after I did,  was part of the next Irish class - and so it went.

Back to my table - guess which colors our "Royal Irish" classes claimed!  Purple (Royal) and green (Irish).  So, I started thinking about my classmates and wondering if they might enjoy seeing a green and purple Easter tablescape.  Random enough, so far???

After selecting these colors, I decided not to use too many typical Easter accessories, because I have a very sick grandson who will enter the hospital tomorrow, the day after I am typing this post.  I am not sure what my Easter will be like this year and did not feel much like bunnies and chicks running all over my table. I am writing this a bit early, as I am headed out of town tomorrow to keep the other two grandchildren, while my daughter is with Carson at the hospital.

The wonderful reticulated salad plates on top pulled all of the colors together.  I found them for a fantastic price at Maryland China online.

The other random mind issue was that I started thinking about the family in which I grew-up and all of the Easters that we shared.  I dug out a few of old photos and thought I would share them with you.

Yours truly with my Easter basket.  I look very proud!

My dad, my sister and me

My dad and my brother.  I guess my mom was taking the photos!!

I remember how those times were, especially, happy.  The Easter bunny came and we had new clothes to wear to church.  One year, my mother ordered a fancy yellow dress for me from Rich's department store in Atlanta.  I thought I was a princess, indeed.  It came with a matching parasol - can you imagine?? Sadly, I have no photo of that - so wish that I did!! I'll bet most of you have similar good memories of past Easter mornings.

I guess this random mind had better get back to business!!

In addition to the Bordallo charger and the Thun salad plates, I used a purple JC Penney "Chateau" dinner plate.

Sferra lilac "Dusty" napkins and Laurie Gates purple flatware from Horchow were, also, part of the place setting.

I resisted the urge to use two different Fostoria goblets this time, even though I do own purple ones. The purple one here was a very inexpensive purchase from Old Time Pottery. but the topaz one is Fostoria.  It is stem #5099 with the Versailles (#278) etching.

Oh, how pretty, pretty this stemware is, but I could be prejudiced, since I have a definite obsession with Fostoria.  If you are not aware of this, you can read all about this obsession here.

I did include one bunny in the post and I do want to wish all of you who celebrate Easter a very happy and, especially, a very healthy one!


P. S. I thought you some of you might remember my grandson and the guest tablescape that he did for Confessions of the Obsessed a few years ago - see it here. Get well soon, dear boy - Nana loves you!!

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