Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bird Housing

It's truly Spring here in the Northeast!   We've been buried in this seemingly endless winter, trying to keep the oil tanks and the bird feeders filled.  But now the trees are beginning to bud, the bulbs are sending up shoots (no flowers yet, not even daffodils!), the sap is flowing and the birds have returned, looking for the choicest nesting spots.  I even spotted a pair of bluebirds ~~ the first EVER in my yard! ~~ hopping about the deck!  There are also several pairs of cardinals and some robins flying recon missions around the yard.

We always have a few nests ON the house and in one of the umbrellas, but our summer house maintenance plans will disrupt their usual nesting sites and those "natural" habitats will be temporarily unavailable.  The birds will be forced to find spots in the acres and acres of wooded area surrounding our house!  Hmmm...I wonder if they will be able to deal with roughing it?
This one doesn't look very pleased with the idea.

Some of them may be interested in this delightful multi-family dwelling.  Santa left it for me under the tree after I texted a photo of it to Mr. Fun.  I was very surprised and delighted!  

And even with the noise a spring rain would make on this 
galvanized metal roof, I think mama and papa bird would like it too.

Quite a few birds have already flocked to my table
 to inspect the new digs.

Three of them have alighted 
on my Mariposa luncheon plates ...

... perhaps attracted by the bamboo shoots and edges 
or by the fruit on the border of the Mikasa dinner plate.

Maybe they were enticed 
by the bamboo flatware ...

... or by the gorgeous detailing on the pitcher.

Competition for summer houses is always fierce!
  This hand carved wooden robin has already found a door,

and it looks like he has staked his claim.

This cutie has already found berries to bring to his love as she sits on the nest.

He is painted on the lid of an enamel box, 

in which someone has already deposited a few very choice 
~~ USDA Grade "fabulous" ~~ 

I have others, all gathered during our travels, 

or collected to commemorate special events, 

but any birds who promise to lay more Halcyon Days enamel eggs for me 
are welcome to come and live in my birdhouse!

I am in the midst of a very busy year, planning a wedding and college graduation festivities, and a few house projects, just to make sure the stress level remains high. 

But preparing this springtime table for all my blogland friends 
has reminded me that playtime is important, too!  

And so for your dining time entertainment, 
a poem.

Birds are starting to sing,
Just because it's Spring.
Bees are starting to sting,
Just because it's Spring.
Bells are starting to ring,
All these things are happening,
Just because it's Spring.

written by yours truly
in 2nd grade
I called it Spring

please join me and my dishy friends
for playtime at

Let's Dish
Tablescape Thursday
Linda :)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Starting the New Year Right

Happy New Year!

There's nothing like a brand new year to excite and encourage me.  It's a time for me to evaluate, reinforce and revise my daily actions, 
my plans and my dreams.
And to do all this I need to start my year as I start each day, with a few essentials.
That means a fresh "to do" list followed by a healthy breakfast ...

... and having it on pretty dishes is a definite bonus.

This year Mrs. Claus added a few packages to Santa's bag 
(just to help him out, although he does very well on his own :)
and she chose some gorgeous Burleigh to add to my growing collection.  She knows a girl needs dishes, and there is plenty of room in my cupboards for more blue and white.

Burleigh is one of the few remaining potteries which still actually manufactures pieces in England, and they do it in the same factories using the same patterns and processes as they did in the 1860s with clay from Devon and Cornwall.  
You can read about their history HERE, including information on the relationship of Burleigh, Burslem, and Burgess & Leigh.  
Although they also make some pieces in black, red and now plum, their blue and white patterns are the most popular.

Victorian Chintz, a pattern of roses and primroses, has been discontinued, 
so I Mrs. Claus scooped up several pieces, including the bowls and small plates on our New Year's Day breakfast table.

Each pattern is beautiful but I love mixing them together.  
The Asiatic Pheasant pattern has been in production since 1826, when it quickly surpassed the quintessential Georgian blue and white pattern, Blue Willow, in popularity.


It is dainty, but not cloyingly sweet.

The pheasant appears on the back 
so your dining companion can enjoy this cup too!

Jugs and tankards come in several shapes and sizes, and one of my favorites is this plump one which I filled with a fern for our centerpiece.

Although we had a very white Christmas, all the snow melted during several days of rain.  
We had a dusting of snow on New Year's Eve.

This view out my window gave me the idea to add a little "snow" of my own to the jug as a ground cover for the fern and to help draw attention to the detailing of the pattern.

I didn't intend to talk about these pretty dishes today.  I was going to talk about my intentions and ideas for the new year, like eating healthy 
~~  (you know I'll have that mother-of-the-bride dress to fit into!) ~~

~~ and learning how to take better photos ~~
(I had to add this one of a vintage glass we used here for juice, because I think I got it right)

~~ and upcoming renovations (house and blog!) and some local attractions and shops which I will take you to soon ~~

but I'll save those for the future.  New Year's Day is a quiet, reflective day for me, a time to plan, make lists, rev my engines and set my course for the year.

So for now, Miss Honey (here dressed in her Blue Calico)

and I

wish you a wonderful start 
to a most amazing, happy, fulfilling year in 2014.

Linda :)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Something Old, Something New: Borrowing From a Master

I love challenges ~~ the anticipation of the delight in meeting a goal makes my insides tingle with excitement, and my insatiable need to learn more about everything and anything is fed as I gather information and formulate my game plan.  And while success can be an ego boost, the path to that success provides plenty of opportunities to give my ego a reality check.  The “masters” of any field, including tablescaping and homemaking, have achieved that title for a reason, and the mere mortals among us usually enjoy their efforts without thought as to the immense skill involved in creating the beautiful table or environment.  We may not even see the numerous tiny details which all blend so seamlessly that the individual items disappear and the result seems as if it would be simple to achieve.

When I accepted Cuisine Kathleen’s challenge to “copy” a table, I knew I would find one from the many masters among you rather than from a magazine, and I began stalking perusing your blogs.  In a temporary overzealous fit I thought of doing several, but luckily that reality check hit and I realized that would be impossible.  But how to decide?  I loved so many.

Suddenly I needed a very romantic setting, and I immediately thought of a beautiful Valentine’s table I had long admired.  Could I turn it into a Christmas table?  It was created by master tablescaper Delores from Vignette Design

***If there are any of you who have not discovered this most incredibly fabulous and lovely blog, you must go there.  But not, say, when you have popped a sheet of cookies into the oven and have eleven minutes to spare.  No.  The cookies will burn.  Bake the cookies, pour yourself something delicious, and settle in for a long, wonderful escape to Delores’ beautiful homes.***  

This table is just one example of many I have admired on her blog.  Prepare yourself for breathtaking beauty:

vignette design

Just gorgeous!!

At first I thought the ideas on this table would be simple for me to borrow, as I had some floral plates, red chargers, and red goblets.  I gathered the things I thought I would use.  But my elements did not seem to give such a ~romantic~ air to the setting, and that above all was what I wanted.  So I would have to adjust.

I closely examined each item on her table, and then chose an appropriate substitution:


The white lacy linens are so important to this table, but a quick look around my house verified that I had nothing lacy and pretty!  So with this excuse I visited my favorite shop downtown for something new: dainty linen mats and napkins, in very bridal white.


Delores used a red charger, plain white underdish, and a gorgeous reticulated floral plate.  My floral dish, which I purchased years ago in Austria, needed some softening around the edges ~~

(this surprised me, as I have always thought of them as very feminine), so I used one of my favorite nameless white dishes which I always call bridal veil.

They added just the right amount of softness!

Silverware and Napkin Rings
My wedding silver, Gorham Old French, is not very feminine and curvy, but it seems to be the only “real” silver in my house, and my Christmastime budget is definitely not allowing for a new pattern ~~ and I do love it.  One of Delores' many talents is the ability to combine rustic and elegant touches, and her choice of napkin ring is a perfect example.  I would never have thought of using this woven one, but it is perfect for adding warmth and texture.


This summer when I foolishly convinced myself that I would stop adding dishes, glasses and anything table related to my collection, I passed up a set of six, perfect condition glasses, exactly like the ones on my inspiration table.  So I tried my red goblets, but they were too chunky.  These old crystals are some of my favorites and they are very delicate with pretty stems.

Their icy bowl makes the most musical "ding" for toasts!


When Delores posted her table she said, “The roses and candlelight are the stars here.” I do love roses, but to change this table from a Valentine setting to a Christmas setting I decided to change the roses and baby's breath to 



Upon closer examination I noticed the ferns Delores had included in the individual bouquets, and thinking of my ferns buried under the snow, I went out into the winter wonderland of my yard to search for some greenery.

(my pink tree and my old metal chair ~ in the snow!)

Luckily, I found these luscious holly berries and leaves.  

I clipped some to bring in, but I could not bring myself to cut the paperwhites which had just opened.  And the poinsettia did not quite have the same romantic flavor as the roses, so I added shooting star hydrangea blossoms for the perfect touch of white.

These blossoms also added a tiny touch of blue! 

I haven't yet hung my snowflakes in this window (like this) so
I added a poinsettia in a mercury pot with glistening "snow" balls.  And then Mother Nature sent down her own huge, fluffy snowflakes for the background!


Mercury glass votives held all the candles on Delores' table, and luckily my collection included both the silver and red needed.


Her silver votives have a pretty base, so I added a candle ring with the tiniest bit of diamond-like bling.

I finally had all my table elements gathered.

As I assembled my table I  enjoyed the beauty of each piece and thought of the many different ways each could be used with different accessories.

My romantic Christmas table
inspired by Vignette Design:

~~ the place setting ~~

~~ the table ~~

It is really the way the pieces are combined that enhances the beauty of each and sets the desired mood.

I was very happy with 

~~ the dainty linens ~~

~~ and pretty dishes ~~

~~ the flowers in mercury glass ~~

~~ all set on the table near the window ~~

and I just needed night to fall so I could light the candles ~~


~~ the magical finishing touch at a romantic Christmas table for two.

The warm glow of the candlelight is especially inviting as the snow falls outside.

 Enjoy the beauty of the blue hour, candlelight, and real crystal!


Delores, thank you for all the ways you have inspired me!  And thank you for letting me borrow your ideas to transform the table I would have set into a 
beautiful, romantic one, with 
something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.

Which I needed for two very special people. 

Because The Boyfriend asked.
And Charlotte said Yes.