Monday, November 29, 2021

The Chapters of Our Lives

2021 has been a chapter-ending year.  It started early, on January 5th to be exact, when  Alfie, came in from turnout with a very lame leg.  That chapter ended less than three months later, when he died on a clear but cold Saturday afternoon in March when that same injury forced us to end his life.  He had lived a very good life and I respect that he did it "his way."

Another chapter is also ending in 2021.  Ironically, it was Alfie that started this chapter.  Years ago, at a horse show in Virginia, a well-respected licensed official came over and complimented me on Alfie. She admired a pretty horse and wanted to know about him.  That lady over time became a very dear friend and we have spent many days and nights together in her home near Farmville, Virginia watching movies, reminiscing about our horses and we worked together on history projects for the Virginia Horse Show Association.  This dear friend is not going to live out 2021 and likely not the week.  In this year of chapters ending it is appropriate that she selected the same year to go out in, as Alfie.  They had a lot in common.  She also could really ride.  That's her at Upperville back in the day.

If I have learned anything this year is that life gets a lot harder as you get older. Things come and go but by the time you reach a certain age you learn to appreciate what is important. In this new world of pandemics that should be quite clear by now.  So we are going to do our very best to find new traditions this season to adopt. We have a list of movies we watch each December.  We've already watched "movie one"- Christmas Vacation.  White Christmas always comes last.  Here is a list of the top 100 Christmas movies of all time if you care to select a few to watch this season. Other favorites - Christmas in Connecticut and Holiday Inn.

Another one to add to your list is The Family Stone.

We will make at least one trek to The Homestead to see the beautiful holiday decorations and I am adding a trip to The Boar's Head in Charlottesville (to get out while we can).  Make new chapters when the old ones close - keep the book of your life moving forward.  Enjoy your Monday and PLEASE get vaccinated.  In this hateful world we find ourselves in, please do something kind today for someone you love.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

The Gift of Glass - How to Become a Collector

Readers know that I am a glassaholic if there is such a thing. I became a glass collector totally by accident, being at the right place at the right time many years ago.  My SO accepted a job that was right in the middle of "elegant glass country" and we spent a weekend in the town that we were moving to looking at houses.  While we were driving around we saw a sign for a "Glass Show" and decided to venture in. This glass show happened to be the annual Old Morgantown Glass Show where collectors go to find the most unusual and most collectable glass.  The glass shows are still the very best way to find collectable "elegant glass" from the 1920's through the 1970's although you can find glass on Etsy and Ebay.  This is not the heavy colored "Depression Glass" that you often see at antique malls but very well made, sometimes hand-painted glass that was made from molds, from etchings, from artisans brought over from Europe starting in the early 20th century. My favorite pieces tend to be made in the 1920's and 30's. Search Ebay under "elegant glass."

Most of this glass was made in Ohio, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania where the raw materials existed to make the glass. These glass companies at one time employed thousands of people and were well-known throughout America.  The glass went out of production in the 50's, 60's and 70's.  Mass production killed it. Today, clubs and museums have proliferated, trying to preserve the history of the glass.  Each club has its own "glass show" like the one we found that day in June. If I had the time I'd go to the shows - they are generally held on the same weekend every year - in or the near the town in which they were made. Cambridge's show is in late June in Cambridge, Ohio. The museums are also great places to visit where collectors have donated their most fabulous pieces to preserve it and to allow others to see the finest pieces ever made.  And there are many books out there on the glass - my glass library is large and still expanding.  There is still so much to learn!

The fun is learning about the history of the glass - who made it, when it came out, when it went out of production.  Colors can date glass.  Certain colors were made starting in specific time periods.  And each company has their own colors - their shades that differ from other companies.  And the stems can also tell you what company made the glass in some cases. The etchings though don't always tell the story and some glass companies outsourced their etchings. And much has been lost so every now and then a pattern or a piece will pop up that no one has ever seen before.  

My favorite pattern is Imperial Hunt Scene made by Cambridge Glass (Ohio) for a very short period of time from the 20's into the early 30's.  It was made in a only a few colors - clear, amber, green, peachblo (a peachy pink), black (rare) and blue (very rare).  You also find pieces in pink and green (the preppy version).  The hunt scene is etched around the edge and sometimes it is in gold. You'll pay more for the gold. This is a sandwich plate. I have this one in green.

Cambridge was a very large company and they produced many items.  For example, in Imperial Hunt Scene there are 17 different sizes of glasses ranging from an 12 oz footed tumbler to 2 1/2 oz footed goblet. So it hard to find pieces that are the same size and color.  And it is rare and very collectable so finding it now is difficult. I own two pieces in the light blue and two pieces in the black.  My rarest piece is likely my large satin peachblo vase etched in gold.  I have bought most of my pieces at glass shows. You can also find interesting pieces of IHS - cigarette holders, candlesticks, plates, bridge sets, finger bowls, and I have yet to ever see an ice bucket but I know they exist.  They also made Imperial Hunt Scene on the Tally Ho blank.  This is a much heavier glass and I don't like it nearly as well. I have only seen this in clear (and I have a set of 10) but I have seen pictures of IHS on the Tally Ho blank in green.

There is very little out there right now on Ebay and Etsy (Santa must be bringing some glass) but peruse it regularly.  And I have a picker who finds glass for me and calls me when he finds things for my collection.

The very best books to own are two books by Hazel Marie Weatherman.  "Colored Glassware of the Depression Era" and there are two volumes, 1 and 2. 2 is better. If you can find this set it's a great way to learn about the various companies and it's full of pictures from advertisements from way back when. It is my favorite book and I thumb through it all of the time.

My other collection, albeit much smaller, is bulb boxes. I bought my first one at a glass show in Pittsburgh about 15 years ago and fell in love with it. They are also rare and I don't see them too often although last year I found two on Ebay. The ones I prefer are made by Tiffin.  Tiffin made these only in a few colors - amber (below), reflex green (a lighter green), black, rose pink, sky blue (really an aqua), and crystal satin.  I have all except amber and crystal.  I cannot tell you lovely these are and they are heavy. They are 9 1/2 inches long and I put Paperwhites in my black one at Christmas.

Tiffin was based initially in Steubenville, Ohio but moved to Tiffin, Ohio after a fire.  It was one of the rare factories that did not close during the Great Depression.  These boxes were made in the 1920's and 1930's and expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $275 for a bulb box in good condition.

LE Smith also made a bulb box and I have a few of these.  They are smaller, not as beautiful but still are worth collecting.  LE Smith was based in Mount Pleasant, PA which is just off the PA Turnpike east of Pittsburgh.  They made plain window box and also a larger one with nymphs. There is a white one now on Ebay:

The other pieces I collect mostly stemware - wine glasses - various patterns and companies.  My favorites - Fry, Morgantown Glass, Fostoria, Heisey, Central Glass Works, among others.  Stay tuned. Become a collector!

Friday, November 26, 2021

Extravagant Gifts

Gift giving is my favorite part of the holiday season - to give and to receive - and it's fun to pick out the extravagant gifts you'd give (or would like to receive) for that very special someone or that very special ocassion.  

My Herend animal collection is old (I've collected them since I was in my 20's) but I'd love to have this one and he reminds me of Alfie (Alfie was built like this with a long back). Herend is always appropriate.

Candles have gotten more expensive but really good candles have never been inexpensive. I'd love to receive an Acqua di Parma candle (or anything from this brand for that matter).

I don't know anyone who does not love Hermes.  Picking out the right scarf is the fun of it all - my first one was purchased in St. Barts, my last one in Boston.  Somewhere in between - in Paris (a few times), Vienna (a few times) and other places.  They will never get tired, outdated, out of fashion.  Love this one.  She will always treasure this.

A Limoges box is timeless. Pick out the right one for your loved one and it's a forever piece.

Love the fox one:

A classic Herend Cache Pot is sure to please.  This is lovely.

This glass fox intaglio necklace is a one of a kind:

This cachepot is divine:

What lady on your list won't love this handmade necklace from local artisan Sally Lowe?

Happy shopping Santa!

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanksgiving Table Settings

We have a lot to be thankful for this year with a few very close friends and relatives not so well at the moment.  Cherish these special holidays while you can!  Time flies by very quickly.  

We'll have an intimate Thanksgiving this year at the farm, very quiet and low key but we'll be thinking about friends and family elsewhere.  My Christopher Spitzmiller plates were scheduled to arrive yesterday but did not, so I'll show you what I was planning to use for the holiday:

These dinner plates in green....

With these salad plates and bowls. I serve soup with Thanksgiving so I pick one of my patterns with bowls:

My idea was to have an equestrian-themed Thanksgiving, again.  But we'll see what we end up with! Here are some other ideas, just for fun....

Love these plates from Etsy. It would be fun to have a set of these and I'd pull out the green or the gray and do place mats.  I have some dark green quilted corduroy mats from Juliska that would work well with these. Then add tortoise silverware....and then I'd pick some glass from my collection.

Here are some other possible options:

I have a complete set of June Lane, a Lenox Kate Spade pattern.  It's popular to use at Thanksgiving because I have the rim soups. It makes a stunning table paired with beige and white Matouk scalloped place mats and jacquard napkins.

I rarely pull out Rothchild Birds for Thanksgiving because I don't have bowls.  It is likely my favorite pattern of all time.  Wish my collection was this large!

It's been a very long time since I used my Wedgewood pattern. I don't have the soup bowls for this one either.  But this is about as classic as it gets. It still sets a lovely table after all these years.  I never tire of this one.


An old standby for the fall holiday season - my Juliska salad plates in orange (very sadly discontinued). I pair these with white dinner plates and it sets a lovely table with pumpkins and greenery.

Stay tuned for the Thanksgiving table setting.  Hope you have a wonderful turkey day!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Holiday Do's and Don'ts

 I've adopted a few "Holiday Do's and Don'ts" for the 2021 holiday season. 

1) Not shopping at Amazon this year, instead, trying to support local or online small business.  Honestly, there are so many great small businesses out there that we can support.  I still love Etsy.   Love these glass horses made by Heisey in Ohio. People collect these. Color will dictate price.   These vintage horses are so adorable.

Start a collection of Heisey horses for that horse lover on your list and provide this book to educate the receiver. (Hint, I'd try to find this book for less on Thriftbooks):

2) No "holiday emails" - what happened to the art of the nice handwritten note? And if you have to send email, please no misspelled words or incorrect grammar.  I love the notes that I receive from readers - such a treat.  You can never have too much stationary.  Ever.  My stationary stash is almost as large as my needlepoint stash but still smaller than my glass and china stash, I mean collection.

3) No gift cards for someone you know well. Part of gift giving is the thought that goes into selecting the gift.  Gift cards are a lazy gift. Isn't the fun of it picking out the perfect gift for someone you care about?  Creativity is key.  Give this vintage bulb box (I love these) with Paperwhite bulbs and rocks (you set the bulbs in the rocks) with instructions on how to grow. I buy my rocks at Lowe's or Michaels.

4) Better shop extra early this year with the supply chain issues. Do not wait for last minute bargains this year - they likely don't exist. The Black Friday sales are already out.  I ordered these plates for a gift and they finally arrived this week (was not sure they were going to get here but alas, they are here).  Santa is not working overtime this year - he's shutting it down by mid-December.

5) Be festive.  There was little festivity last year due to Covid and we are still not back to "normal" and frankly, it may be a long time before we get back there again.  But dress up, cook great meals, set your table, turn on the holiday music. Tartan from Tuckernuck!

 6) Shop vintage.  Love this vintage print which is quite reasonable. I'd frame it myself, buying a plain wood frame from a hobby store and paint it a wild color.  So easy to do and can be inexpensive.  

7) As a creature of habit there are certain gifts that I give every year. Someone on my list will get Ariat. I love their clothes and live in their shirts all winter long.  Someone will definitely be getting one of these.  Dover and Smartpak have the best selection. Do stick with what you know and love.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Christmas Decorating Ideas

I pulled out my stash of old Southern Accents (remember that great magazine) and old Southern Living Christmas magazines to peruse holiday decorating at its finest.  We won't be entertaining this year but I like to do some decorating right after Thanksgiving. Here are some ideas saved away to whet the appetite for holiday decorating.

I bought my Paperwhite bulbs yesterday! And picked up a spool of plaid taffeta ribbon.

Go to Michael's and buy inexpensive red berries.  They used to be about a dollar a stem.  Put these in your wreaths, on garlands, into outside planters with greenery. It's an easy fix if you don't have red berries (and I don't).

Saturday, November 20, 2021

All I Want for Christmas is Rebecca Ray

She's at it again - that creative, Ohio-based entrepreneur is hitting it on all cylinders and just in time for Santa.  If you have not shopped at Rebecca Ray please treat yourself. Her quality is impeccable (it's hard to do that today) and I love her "vintage is best but brand-new" style.  And does her black horse not look just like Alfie?  Guess what's in my cart?  And her products are all American-made. What's not to love about this brand that seems to get better with age?  I purchased my first bag from her many years ago at a horse show in Chagrin Falls and have never looked back. Support this great small business!

The perfect holiday napkin for the horse lover in your world:


The Alfie napkin:

The Alfie place mat:

You can shop her site here.  Love her products and cannot wait for my Alfie napkins to arrive. Stay safe, it is getting bad out there again. Enjoy your Saturday!
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