Friday, December 31, 2010

Beginning With An Ending - Holding On and Letting Go

'All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.'*
Havelock Ellis, 1859-1939, British physician and psychologist

Interesting statement; enlightening to ponder at this New Year juncture. Regarded thoughtfully
it can vastly improve the quality of your life.
Hold on to: creativity, family, rituals, patience, health....Let go of: worry, grudges, material things complaints...Think about it.

What would you like to hold on to and let go of for 2011?

For years, my family and I have picked Angel Cards (Kathy Tyler, Joy Drake, 1981) as reflections on life to be lived. Their intention is to renew our spiritual connections, to set goals, to maintain balance, to live a full life... for times gone by. And so, for this 2011...

'We'll drink a cup of kindness yet for Auld Lang Syne.' Robert Burns, Scottish songwriter, 1788

Peace to All!

*A heartfelt thank -you to my sister-in-law, Rosie, for forwarding this inspirational message along. Love Love Love to you!

Monday, December 27, 2010

T is for Transferware

The transferware printing process was developed by John Sadler and Guy Green of Liverpool England in 1756. Transfer printing on earthenware, ironstone, porcelain and bone china is a process whereby a design is etched onto a copper plate which is then inked. The next step transfers that design to a special tissue which is then laid onto the piece, glazed and fired. Transferware pieces have a crispness to the pattern, resembling a decal. Elaborate transfer patterns are a direct response to the plain utilitarian white ware of the times. Only the affluent could afford colorful dish ware, which was a labor intensive process involving hand painting by artists. Due to its ability to be mass produced, transferware became an affordable luxury, with 'Chinese blue' an early favorite along with Asian-inspired motifs. It was initially produced in one color only, with blue the priciest and brown the least expensive. There were many hues of blue, red -'pink', black -'jet', brown -'sienna', purple - 'mulberry', and green. Flow Blue was a mistake due to high heat of firing and, later, the addition of lime and/or chloride of ammonia to achieve the effect. Although considered a manufacturers error, flow blue became the most popular color from the mid 1800's to the early 1900's. Patterns include Romantic, Aesthetic, and Historic. Transferware is often registered and dated under the English system of marks and numerals. Its value is determined by the date, rarity of the pattern, and print quality. The most collectible items were made in the early 19th C, yet early 20th C transferware is fairly abundant and easy to find. Enjoy the hunt!

Friday, December 24, 2010

And to All a Good Night

The Night Before Christmas, 1823, written anonymously yet attributed to Clement C. Moore, was responsible for this image of Santa

From Our Home to Yours - Merry Christmas to All!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tie it with a bow

"A well tied tie is the first serious step in life."
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Irish Playwright

Today, on this the shortest of daylight hours, we feel the pinch to get it all together; to wrap it up. I, for one, am not good at it, yet you would think I would be. A lover of all things beautiful, a stickler for chic elegant and polished,...a person with no patience when it comes to wrapping. My friend Pam has a gift and gives a gift of beauty - always. Her taste is exquisite and her ability to put it together amazes me; no matter how simple the item inside, it is the item outside that combines to make it special. For some really pretty ideas, go to Gathering Sprigs - Gifting and Giving. Heather's gifts are... lovely. Don't you agree half the fun is in the opening; sometimes you can judge a 'gift' by its cover!
Check out this delightful Furoshiki Gift Wrapping here and here and do your part recycling.

As you spread out on the floor, with the kaleidoscope of paper, bows, and embellishments, don't forget to crank up the Holiday tunes and enjoy yourself. My feline friend does and I think she has the right idea!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Let Your Heart be Light

Twenty year old Advent Calendar

Jingle Shells

'It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.' W.T. Ellis, 19th C Poet

It is not about things to buy or to receive. It is not about rushing around with anxiety filled days, crammed full with plans, shopping and parties. It is not about snow, or tinsel, or caroling. Christmas: it is about feeling PEACE and spreading PEACE through our families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers - person to person, all around the world. Take a moment to think, reflect, relax in the true reason for the season. And may this spirit come through as you Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, 1944 (re-written in 1957) by Hugh Martin, crooned smoothly by Frank Sinatra. This song is chosen in memory of Ol' Blue Eyes, who would have celebrated his 95th Birthday on 12 December, 2010! And, as I think of it, isn't that what Christmas is all about, Celebrating a Birthday! Happy Christmas to All!

This week I am participating in WeekWord - Christmas. Head over to Allie's for inspiration and the full list of players....and
Join in the Christmas Party at Holiday Haven for more seasonal inspirations!

Monday, December 13, 2010

S is for Silver

In 1837, Tiffany and Company was founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany and Teddy Young as a stationery and 'fancy goods emporium' in New York City. Tiffany and Company's entry into the silverware business began in 1847 when the store retailed silver from several NY silversmiths, including the very talented John C. Moore. It was the increased demand for silver which lead Tiffany to open its own silversmith shop, with John Moore at its helm. Charles Tiffany took over as sole proprietor in 1853 and expanded the business by opening stores in major cities throughout the world. By 1855, despite the looming recession, Tiffany & Co. was recognized as the leading silverware house in NY. In 1867 it became the first US firm to win an award for Excellence in Silverware at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. John Moore was joined by his son Edward and together they catapulted Tiffany to world-wide fame. For well over 160 years the name Tiffany has been synonymous with 'beautiful objects of unsurpassed quality'. From sterling flatware, hollowware and jewelry, to stained glass windows and lamps by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the name is recognized internationally as a trademark for beauty and elegance.

Dorothy, of Sterling Matching Service, is my guest for this week, as a knowledgeable source on silver and a professional extraordinaire......With one week into Happy 91, Dot! you are my inspiration.

1. How did you come into this business; from what background?

"I used to be in the Antique Business..until I couldn't carry the furniture anymore. I began buying at auctions, at the age of 17, with my mother who encouraged me to 'always buy the best'. A woman named Marge introduced me to the wholesale silver business which I very much enjoyed, in addition to other antiques. The silver part of the business began with my husband around 1975, when we started collecting early American silver from the late 1700's. I began searching for choice pieces myself and learned to identify top quality items. I am very particular and careful in my purchases.

2. Do you have a particular skill that serves you well?

"I have an eye for detail, pay attention at auctions, and learn from established dealers. It is important to be educated and selective. I got lists and lists from suppliers and I became knowledgeable on what to look for in an item of value. I am the type of person who is a perfectionist and wants to do things for myself. Quality of a piece is the most important part of it. Big businesses often overlook flaws. That is what sets me apart."

3. What were some major obstacles you had to resolve to forge ahead in your business?

"I have been a widow for more than twenty five years and it was difficult at times to transport everything by myself. From the tables, to the displays, to the silver as well as driving the van to and from shows (and sleeping in it!) - it was tough going as I got older. It was these obstacles that ultimately led me to the computer. It took a year or two, and I was up and running with my Silver Matching Service business. I had to learn to take all my digital photos, and carry on my business via the web. I find one of the most frustrating parts of it all is the paperwork, which never seems to end!"

4. Tell us a little bit about your education and how it contributed to your success as a business woman.

"I graduated from Middlebury College in 1942, with a B.A. in French. At the time, I was required to take a Political Science class which was so difficult I wished to drop it. Upon requesting of the Professor, I was promptly denied with 'Don't you suppose you will learn something, Dorothy?'. . That very professor wrote in a recommendation: 'Although not an A student, Dorothy is the type of individual who has such perseverance she will succeed in anything.' That one experience stayed with me and shaped me into the person I am today.

5. Describe yourself in six words or less.

"I am known for being determined and independent. I follow what I know to be true, with pricing objects, and in dealings with customers. I tend to not follow the pack and practice business etiquette with integrity.

6. What aspect do you enjoy most, and least, about your business?

"I love learning something new everyday. I enjoy going to shows, and finding choice pieces on e-bay. Packaging is my least favorite part of the business; there is not much to stimulate your thoughts!

8. What is your most treasured possession?

"I would have to say it is early Tiffany "English King"pattern (1900), service for 12! This set is special in that it came from one family, and even includes serving pieces. It could fetch $35,000 today. Tiffany's craftsmanship shows exquisitely and is truly a work of art.

Dorothy can be reached on line, at just in time for the holidays!

Through a very scientific and random process, the numbers were mixed and my hubby picked, and the winner of the 'Reason for the Season' Snow Globe is drrrruummmrollll please - KIM!(I hope to be the first to know.)
Please e-mail me your address/contact information. My wish is for peace and happiness to you and yours during this holiday season. Thanks for playing!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Blooming Friday

Schlumbergera buckleyi, Christmas Cactus Kalancho luciae, Paddle Plant
Schlumbergera buckleyi, Christmas Cactus, a native of Brazil, is an epiphytic plant (found in the upper canopy of the rainforest, relying on other plants for support) with flattened leaves resembling stems. This genus is named after Frederic Schlumberger, a 19th C French cactus collector. The first hybrids only available in red, are easily grown in bright indirect light and well drained soil. It thrives on neglect!

Narcissus tazetta, Paperwhite Narcissus, are those fantastically fragrant flowers that emerge from bulbs forced in water. And, here is a tip, courtesy of Dr. Bill Miller, Cornell University: to prevent the leggy look that often develops, give those precious bulbs a little 'nip'. Actually, a 4-5% solution of 80 proof alcohol (1 part alcohol - 9 parts water) will reduce the height of the plants by 1/3 - 1/2, resulting in a very well behaved arrangement. Now is the time to begin watering for a lovely Christmas display.

'The earth laughs in flowers.' Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) - May they bring you a smile!

I am participating in Katarina's Roses and Stuff Blooming Friday . At this time of year, as the hours of sunlight continue to shrink for another 10 days, I relish any and all blooms to brighten my spirits and home. Happy Holidays to all!

Monday, December 6, 2010


'Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.' Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

As a participant in the Holiday Home Party at The Lettered Cottage I present our Dining Room Mantle.
In light of the current economic environment that is permeating the world, I title this creation Simplicity. It is inspired by 'less is more', a phrase used in the 1855 poem by Robert Browning and adopted by architect Mies Van Der Rohe (1886-1969), reflecting a premise that 'simplicity and clarity lead to good design'. What does 'less is more' mean to you?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Handel's Messiah at Symphony Hall, Boston

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

'Words printed here are concepts. You must go through the experiences.'
(St. Augustine, 354-430)

And, after all these years, I still feel privileged to have attended the 156th performance of Handel's Messiah at Boston Symphony Hall. The building itself is considered one of the finest Concert Halls in the world and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Opened in 1900, it was designed by architects McKinn, Mead & White who garnered the help of Wallace Clement Sabine, a professor of Physics at Harvard who acoustically perfected exquisite sound to each of the 2,625 seats. It has been described as 'unassuming elegance in a shoebox shape', referring to its 61 foot high, 75 foot wide and 125 foot long building. The stage walls are sloped inward to further focus the sound, and the seats remain original and uncomfortable, sparely shaped and thinly covered with leather.

Handel composed this oratorio between August 22 through September 14, 1741. It was first performed in London in 1743, and it is said that King George II was so moved by the Hallelujah Chorus that he 'sprung to his feet' and in respect for the sovereign, the entire audience followed suit. To this day, the tradition continues. Handel's Messiah is an absolutely stunning performance of musical and choral excellence. Such a very happy way to celebrate my special day and the beginning of the Christmas season. If you cannot attend, listen to it; again and again it will inspire you.

A heartfelt thank you to my parents and my son Aaron for making this day special for me. I love you all!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Birthday Giveaway Snow Globe

Today is my Birthday and I am now exactly 4 minutes into it. Everyone in the house is asleep except me and my feline friend. So what better way to celebrate than with a present. And, isn't it better to give than to receive? In the spirit of the season, I am giving away this sweet vintage snow globe, which enchantingly plays 'Silent Night' amongst the silvery glitter. It can be yours by leaving a comment below, to this question:

If you could have any wish granted, what would it be?

I will randomly choose a winner on 12/12 and announce the lucky person next Monday.
Good Luck! and, Happy Birthday to me! 12/4 at 12:04 with a 4 in my age - FOURTITUDE (:
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