Sunday, August 30, 2009

Two for One!

It's time again for Metamorphosis Monday and Thrifty Treasures! Please join our hostesses for the respective events: Susan of Between Naps on the Porch and Rhoda of Southern Hospitality. Please take time to leave appreciative comments for Susan and Rhoda. They both give SO MUCH of themselves to educate and entertain us week after week! Let's visit as many of the participants as we possibly can!
Today I'm combining what could easily be two separate posts. I had some catching up to do. As some of you know, I missed a few days of blogging last week due to illness of a family member. Things are going much better now! Thank you for the good wishes, prayers, and words of support. I appreciate you all so very much!

OK, time to start the show-and-tell portion! Here are this week’s items from my favorite local thrift/junk store -- the one that sells contents of abandoned storage units.

For a total of $4, I brought home 2 footed iced tea glasses, 4 Syracuse China (restaurant ware) bread plates, blue glass bowls (6 round and 1 oval), 3 glass votive holders, 2 lead crystal candle holders, a Scotch Brite cleaning cloth and a sink stopper (both new in package), 2 colorful place mats, a dark green ornamental finial, 5 plastic food storage containers, and a hand-painted oval platter (signed on the back by the artist).

A closer view of the platter:

When I saw this fan at a local estate sale, I thought of how popular they had been in the days before air conditioning became commonplace. The estate sale lady said I could have it if I wanted it. Free!

A vintage hand-wrought aluminum tray from a different estate sale on the same day. Price, $2. Definitely in need of a good cleaning with warm, soapy water. The next step in its restoration would be an application of Wright’s Silver Cream. It works on aluminum as well as it does on silver.

Looking across the table with the late afternoon sun streaming in through the solarium windows:

A closer view of the glassware. In the lower right hand corner is a tray I purchased at Goodwill.

A closer view of the tarnished silverplated bread tray. Price, $1.99. If you read the upside-down lettering, you’ll see that the tray is by Gorham.

Here it is again, now exhibiting a mirror-like shine after I polished it with Wright’s Silver Cream (my favorite – inexpensive, effective, and widely available at grocery and variety stores). I left the dark patina in recessed areas to accentuate the ornate pattern. It's called "Versailles."

I enjoyed the play of light created by the late day sun within the cast shadows of the clear glass items.

The week’s second Goodwill purchase is a Cuisinart coffee maker with built-in grinder. The appliance lists for $149. I’ve seen it for as low as $95. I had never seen one for the price I paid at GW -- $2.99!!!

Here it is, ready for use after a good scrubbing. The grinder and all the other features work beautifully. The insulated carafe keeps coffee piping hot for hours!
There you have it. Total spent? $11.00!

This is Smoky, an 18 pound Russian Blue. He was three years old when he was adopted from a shelter. He's seen here in his favorite chair.

Here's Smoky again, on my favorite bed ... on my favorite 14-piece Chris Madden comforter set! It listed for around $600 (you know I didn't pay that much ... but still!).

He looks sweet here, doesn't he? He can be stubborn. You don't pick him up against his will ... he's a big cat, and he has big claws that can really dig in ...

He used to have fun lying on his back, propelling himself around this chair ... using those great big claws. Here's the result:

The thing is ... it's such a comfortable chair, and the colors are nice in the walk-out basement. Re-upholstering seems a bit excessive, since the rest of the chair is fine ...

Perhaps a bit of decorative camouflage is in order. Fringe maybe. Measure the length of the fringe (starting about an inch from the floor), mark with tailor's chalk ...

Attach fringe with E-6000 craft glue, and secure with pins while it dries ...
The result:

And there are two of them!

The fringe wasn't inexpensive but, at just under $100, it saved two comfortable chairs from being moved to the sidewalk to await the trash collectors!

Friday, August 28, 2009

I Love Lenox!

Well, perhaps “love” is too strong a word, but I do like Lenox china very much. Very much!

From the Lenox website:
“For 90 years, Lenox has created fine china dinnerware for the White House, the vice president’s official residence, over 300 U.S. embassies, and more than half of the governors’ mansions. Lenox became the first American china to be used in the White House in 1918 when President Woodrow Wilson commissioned the company to create a 1,700-piece service bearing the presidential seal in raised gold. Over the years, Lenox has created new state services for five additional presidents – Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush”

This is what I consider my primary set of dishes, a discontinued pattern from the Lenox Presidential Series called “Monroe.” It’s a service for 12+, and I have quite a few of the serving pieces. I like the creamy color and the simple maroon and gold geometric border. However, I thought it might be nice to add variety by sometimes replacing the salad plate with an accent plate. That seems to be a popular trend in table setting.

I found one I liked at a local department store: the Lenox Eternal accent plate. It was on sale for around $30, but some quick mental arithmetic told me it would be a rather expensive proposition to purchase 12 of them. Besides, I often prefer vintage items for both the look and the feeling of history and continuity they “bring to the table.”

Through eBay searches, I discovered a pattern I liked called Essex Maroon. It was manufactured from 1938 – ’78.

I always enjoy seeing the artwork and reading the florid prose used in Mid-Twentieth Century advertising. Here’s a vintage ad from 1951.

Ad quote: For beauty famous the world over, Lenox. For you, beautiful Essex Maroon. The richness of 24 kt. gold scrolls and glowing maroon in a superb traditional pattern, one that will bring grace and loveliness to your home for generations to come.

Another ad read: For US Embassies the world over, Lenox Maroon. For you, Lenox Essex Maroon.

I bought a few pieces to try mixing with the Monroe dishes. I liked the look and watched for a larger set to become available. Soon one did … from an estate in Boston. The condition was perfect (possibly unused). I negotiated a “Buy-it-now” price (quite a bit less than the Eternal accent plates alone would have cost).
Thank goodness the seller purchased insurance, because this is what I received:

They were packed in their zippered vinyl storage cases. They’re fine for keeping dust off, but not great as packing material. However, everything other than the saucers arrived intact.

I filed an insurance claim with the Post Office. It took a while, because the amount of the claim prevented it from being handled locally. It seemed at first that I might not be able to file a claim at all, because the quality of the packaging was questioned. I think the local Postal workers took pity on me (I wasn’t crying, but I felt like it!).

Weeks later, I received a check. I found replacement saucers a few at a time. There was frustration involved. Some of the saucers were marked “Lenox, Made expressly for Ovington’s.” I now know that Ovington’s was an exclusive gift shop on Fifth Avenue in New York. I didn’t mind the backstamp, but I wasn’t pleased that two of the saucers had rim chips. Many e-mails ensued, negotiations, partial refunds. It’s a long story, but I finally have enough saucers (some came with cups, so it didn’t come out even).

Anyway … moral of the story?
If you purchase fragile items online, insist that the seller NOT use Parcel Post. Priority Mail usually costs only slightly more. I’ve been told that Priority packages are handled with greater care and make far fewer stops along the way. Always buy the insurance. However, that does no good if items aren’t packaged to the satisfaction of the Post Office. Look at feedback for the sellers, paying particular attention to comments on how well items were packed.

What about you ... have you heard the dreaded "rattle of death" when you received a package containing fragile items? Sadly, this isn't the only time I've experienced it. It's never fun.

I think I’ll set a table for you with my Lenox dishes. Would you like that?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

So ... IS Beige the New Black?

I'm sorry I'm posting late (and re-posting a recent table). I apologize in advance for not being able to respond to comments and visit as many of you as I'd like. I've missed time at work this week, and I'll be playing catch up for the next couple of days.

I wanted to participate in "Let There Be White II," hosted by the gracious Kathleen @ Cuisine Kathleen. Be sure to visit her and all the talented participants!

My thoughts of blogging have been minimal during the past few days. I was awakened by an early morning phone call on Sunday. My father was displaying symptoms of a heart attack and was being rushed to the hospital. Thank goodness my brother and sister-in-law live nearby! I tossed a few things in a bag and made the 120 mile drive in record time. A stent was installed, and his respiration returned to normal. The pains he was experiencing in his chest, both arms, and his right leg disappeared completely.

There was concern for his kidney function, but it appears that early test results were a false alarm. Once he was no longer dehydrated, readings returned to normal. We're deeply thankful that his heart muscle seems to have sustained no permanent damage. His readings are those of a healthy, much-younger-than-he-is man. There's another blockage (70 percent) and other narrowings, but those should be easier to address, at a time when he's not in an emergency situation. His doctor told him solmenly on Sunday evening, "We saved your life this morning."

I've barely checked e-mail during the past few days, but I did contact Susan of Between Naps on the Porch. Thank you, Susan, for your friendship, support, and prayers on my father's behalf.

Now, dedicated tonight to my wonderful father, the white/beige tablescape:

I’ve wanted to set an all-white table for you for a while now. It’s difficult to go wrong with white; it’s clean, classic, and can be very elegant.

But … what’s the old joke? Something about the blank canvas being a polar bear in a snowstorm? I decided to fudge a little and incorporate off-whites, creams, and beiges. Even at that, it was … interesting … photographing a table with a limited, pale, neutral palette. Naturally, I also used crystal and silver on the table, but they too can be difficult subjects to photograph.

Everything on the table is vintage except: the tablecloth, the sugar bowl, and the pearl ornaments.

I hope you’ll enjoy the result:

You’ve seen the ironstone dishes before in my first (and thus far, only) Pink Saturday Post. You can see it HERE.
The dinner and bread plates were Goodwill finds. The pattern is "Snow White Regency" by Johnson Brothers. The backstamp indicates that they’re from the 1960’s. I purchased at least a dozen of each size for a total of just under $10 (they were on sale for half price). They were in very good vintage condition (slight crazing on a few pieces … which doesn’t bother me at all).

Looking across the dining room, into the sitting room. It seems to me that the white and ivory items on the table harmonize nicely with the pale yellow walls and off-white woodwork.

Looking down at the center of the table.
Swans seemed to be the right color and, for me, they evoke a tranquil image. Graceful creatures gliding across a crystalline lake…

The round serving bowl and the white pitcher on opposite ends of the table were both GW finds. The swan and the shell-shaped container are flower pots … the swan from GW, and the other, part of a set of three graduated sizes from a thrift store. They’d been used, so I gave them a bath before I served you “pearls” for dinner! The inexpensive pearlescent ornaments were on clearance after Christmas at Hobby Lobby.
The little ceramic cherubs scattered about came from my favorite junk store … and cost almost nothing. The silverplated napkin rings are monogrammed with an “S.” That’s a nice, curvy letter to have … even if it’s not my initial, right?

The crystal stemware is by Heisey, stem number 6003. They were made from around 1953-1957. I found the set on sale at an antique mall in Benton, Illinois. They were dusty, but in quite good condition. The mall owner said the dealer who had brought them in is an elderly man who enjoys buying from estates and selling the items (and not too concerned about making money, which is why they were priced very reasonably).
A closer view of the stem on the sherbet glass. The silverplated chargers were on sale at an antique mall. They can double as small serving trays. These paper doilies came with the glass plates ... probably had been sandwiched between them for decades ... the edges are turning brown and curling, but they were doing their job ... protecting the plates from scratches while in storage.

The flatware is “King Cedric” by Oneida, introduced in 1933. This set was an eBay purchase … well under $50. "King Cedric" was one of the few silverplated patterns duplicated in sterling. The plated version was so popular that Oneida began selling "Cedric" in sterling beginning in 1949. I noticed that one of the teaspoons on the table is marked “sterling” on the back … otherwise, it looks identical to the others.
Oneida also produced china and crystal in the “King Cedric” pattern. The designs featured urns, fruits and flowers. At one point, that was a popular trend for silver companies to coordinate everything for the bridal registries. It simplified making selections and boosted sales … not a bad idea, was it?

I like the way the underside of the plates is reflected by the chargers. The sugar bowl in the upper right is by Wedgwood. I bought it for 75% off at a local gift shop. I’ve used it as a container for small flower arrangements.

Those faceted stems really sparkle, don’t they? I hand washed all the crystal just for you before setting the table. Thirsty?
A close-up view of the pattern. I think the cutting is called Southwind. If not, it’s a very similar pattern.

You’ve seen the flowers before. These Oak Leaf Hydrangeas were used in my first “Christmas in July” post. It’s HERE.

They’ve dried nicely now. I plopped them down in a crystal candle holder (reg. $5.99, half price at Goodwill). It’s two pieces and wouldn’t hold water but, fortunately, no water’s required for this centerpiece! The candleholders are by Lenox (older ones, made in USA) from an estate sale … half price on the second day (of course!). The large white cream pitcher, bottom of photo, left of center was on sale for 49 cents at GW.
A swan's eye view .....

The silverplated “silent butler” for brushing away crumbs between courses is by Godinger. It cost just a few dollars at an estate sale. Godinger manufactures plated items that look old and expensive, for a fraction of the cost of genuine antiques. It appears tarnished in the photo, but it must be reflecting the colors of the hydrangeas and of the chandelier. I DID polish the silver for you!

How many swans do you see?

I was glad the skies brightened for a few minutes to provide some natural light to illuminate this un-colorful setting!
This shows the detailing of the vintage linen napkins.

The table runner and placemats match the napkins. I purchased the set at a recent estate sale. They were in perfect condition (possibly never used). I think I paid under $5.
You can see the details of the flatware pattern here. Art Nouveau design is characterized by organic, especially floral and other plant-inspired motifs, as well as highly-stylized, flowing curvilinear forms. “King Cedric” strikes me as an art nouveau design, with a deco twist. What do you think?

The sterling salt and pepper shaker set also came from an estate sale …. another Day 2 bargain!

The charger looks gold here, but it’s a trick played by the incandescent lights of the chandelier. I liked this photo because it shows the pattern of the Heisey salad plates.
I ended up using this setting for a small impromptu dinner party. I’d been in the mood for chicken and dressing (stuffing for you non-Southerners!), so that was what I served. I realize it’s not typical summertime fare but, if it sounds good, why wait ‘til the Holidays?

Dessert in the sherbet glasses was super simple … Heath Bar ice cream drizzled with coffee liqueur. Mmmmmmm……