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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy Frank Comes To That Old House

It's been 8 days since my last blog post.
That's almost a record.

So today, before I run out to (probably) buy a chair from a guy
tearing down a house to build a McMansion, here I am.
Posting.  Because I missed you!
It was a terrific Thanksgiving at That Old House.

We had two turkeys:

That's one of them on the platter, and the other?
Well, yes, it is tempting to say that the other turkey is sporting oddball plumage
in the shape of a turkey shirt bought years ago at Cracker Barrel.

But I won't say that.  Noooo. . . .  I'll just explain that I cooked a huge turkey breast
the day before, to have extra white meat.  That was the other turkey.

Other than this picture, taken of Dion after Happy Frank's Giving Day,
when our gluttonous dog could not move,
(in which, as Dion believes, Happy Frank brought him two adoring small children, turkey dinner snack sticks,
and buckets of handouts from guests), I got no other pictures of Turkey Day.

By now, the dining room table is bare.
There are still some of the Thanksgiving flowers on the sideboard.
And if you look really closely, you can see that the dining room windows are still nekkid.
I did not get the draperies sewn, nor did I recover the dining room chair seats.
You don't really need to look closely.  Bare windows kind of announce themselves.
As do crummy old chair seats.
 But . . .
we had a wonderful holiday weekend!
We were 24 gathered on Thanksgiving, we had Howard's parents here from faraway Florida,
we had the baptism of an adorable great-nephew on Sunday on Long Island,
my brother and his wife stayed with us Sunday night, and we bade goodbye to Howard's folks yesterday.
In between, lots of visiting and eating and laughing.

When I review my "Thank You" list, my list of blessings, our family is right there at the top.
We are very lucky ducks.

Plus, I am rich!
Well, okay, not exactly rich.  If by "not exactly," we mean "not at all."
I opened my booth at an antiques mall last Tuesday, and that very day someone made a nice offer
on the drop leaf table I'd gotten at an estate sale.  My first sale on my first day.
This genuinely old and very genuinely used drop leaf table now lives in someone else's house.

And now I'm off to hunter-gather some other pieces, and haul them down to the booth.
I've already got the van partially filled.
This is a little more time consuming than I reckoned on, but it's fun.

Although Rudy, our wooden ghost who reminds us when things need doing around here,
is reminding me that it's time to get rid of the Autumn decor, and start thinking about
Have a lovely Wednesday, my friends. 
It's a beauty of a day here in New Jersey!  -- Cass

Tomorrow a tale of Dion's latest feat of derring-do, and the consequences!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gobbling Up My Time!

I apologize for the lousy quality of the photographs in this post.
They are phone snaps -- and cell phones are not great cameras.  They are not even great phones.

Have you seen the Countdown to Thanksgiving clock on the sidebar?
Two days.  Two days!
Time to get realistic.

For the past few days I have spent more time than I anticipated prepping for
and setting up my new booth at Somerville Center Antiques.

It doesn't look as if it took a lot of time,
but son of a gun . . . it did.
The booth, partially done.
It needs more stuff.

That seriously cut into my sew drapes, recover shield back chair seats, solve the debt crisis
list of things I was going to accomplish before Turkey Day.
My annual To Be Done By Thanksgiving List.

Reality check.
The TBDBT List has morphed into the TBDBC List . . . to be done by Christmas.
The Thanksgiving List is pretty much down to: clean, cull, cook.
Projects can wait; cooking can't.
I am very happy with one thing -- the 5 x 7 lipstick red rug we put down.
I have my eye on a heavy wrought iron screen for the rear of the booth,
that I can back with fabric, and then use "S" hooks to hang things on it.
None of my mirrors or pictures is here yet -- nowhere to hang them! 

So today is a cleaning day at That Old House.
For everyone; Dion DiPoochy is at the grooming salon.
Luckily it is also raining, so it shouldn't take him long to get himself
satisfactorily filthy and smelly when he gets home.
Money well spent, eh?

And now, it's away from the computer and into the conservatory,
where I've got piles and piles of books that until Sunday lived on the white bookcase
that now is holding dishes and "smalls" (I love that term) at the booth.

Where will I put all those books?  To Be Determined!
Have a lovely, serene Tuesday, my friends.  -- Cass

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dishin' On The Winner!

Last Monday, That Old House
announced a Giveaway of a book.

A book called DISH.
A big book called DISH, that celebrates what so many of us love so much . . . dishes.
Written by a House Beautiful features editor.
And I'm pleased to announce our winner.
From The Gazebo House, it's Rett -- or "Rettabug," as she's known.

And no matter what kind of dishes Rett loves,
from blue and white
to mid-century modern
to classic . . . .
She can find it in DISH.
Congratulations, Rett!
Now email me so I can get your mailing address --

Dish: 813 Colorful, Wonderful Dinner Plates

And that's all I've got on this sunny, beautiful Monday.
I'm off now to finish (ha!) setting up my booth at the antiques center,
and then it's errands, and then home to begin Thanksgiving prep.

My T.B.D.B.T. List for Thursday has shrunk.
This is the current list:
1)  Clean the bathrooms.
2)  Find enough chairs.
3)  Feed everyone.  Lots.  Well.

Seriously, friends.  Doesn't that really cover it?
All the best and congrats again to Rett! -- Cass

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday and Settings

Today is the last day to enter the Giveaway for a copy of the new coffee-table book DISH.  With pictures of more than 800 gorgeous dish patterns, this book should keep you busy on long winter afternoons till well after Christmas.
Visit last Monday's post to enter, here.  Just leave a comment on that post,
and come back tomorrow to see if you won!

We're buzzing today, 
bringing things to my booth at the antiques mall,
and taking care of some business here at home; never a dull moment for old house owners.

Two years ago, the week before Thanksgiving, I tootled down to Princeton and snagged 51 Fiesta-style red dinner plates, made by Oneida, for the grand total of $20.  A few days later, I used one of them in two seasonal table settings.


Here goes, a repeat of that post from November 2009.

Two table settings.

One is sweet and country, the other more edgy and urban.

Edgy first.

This tablesetting is in honor of my daughter Anne, away at grad school and much missed.
The big black cup is from her school; the logo is on the other side.
How perfect for chili on a cold night!

Chili, eaten with one of these massive lovely old 19th century nickel silver spoons.
Anne loves old flatware almost as much as I do.

The ceramic hand was one of Anne's undergraduate projects.

I like having it keep me company.

And I can't say my daughter never gave me a hand.

The red placemats and napkins were a set: $5 for 4 of each at HomeGoods.

Anne likes these old pewter S&Ps that were my Mom's; they have good classic lines.

I love the mercury glass candleholder I bought on a Goodwill
hunting trip with Annie, near her school.
It echoes the lines of the wineglass, a handblown crystal wedding gift.

Now, for something completely different!

Swapping out the edgy for the sweet.

Same big red dinner plate, same linens, same flatware, but a rooster plate from T.J. Maxx
(bought on a trip to visit our daughter Alida in California) brings in some other colors.

We add in Turquoise, as shown in a bowl (Dollar Tree) that also can hold our make-believe chili.

An aqua blue wineglass, a summertime thrift shop find, one of 5, blown and bubbly.

I've promised these to Alida, and eventually I'll ship them out.  Perhaps.
I'm thinking maybe I like them even more than she does.

Two little chickens join us, bringing salt and pepper.
I think they are looking for the rooster on the plate.

The mercury glass light is still with us, and still lit.

A few mums in red and yellow in a very old silver spooner, well tarnished and used.

Do you have a favorite? Do you like the more modern supper setting:
or the cozy country one?

Have a lovely Sunday!  -- Cass

Link Parties!
The Tablescaper hosts Seasonal Sundays, and you should visit.  Yes, you should.  Click here!
At Happy To Design, it's Sunday Favorites.  Re-runs of favorite posts, and great fun.  Click here!
Visit and enjoy.  :-)

Seasonal-Sunday-Teapot-copy_thumb3Happy To Design

Friday, November 18, 2011

For My Mom at Thanksgiving

Warning:  This post is just me talking, mostly.  And it's long.  Sorry, no pretty pictures today.

The little lady in the center
of the picture, below, is my mother.  
Our two daughters and my sister's four girls surround their Muttie.

I don't remember exactly what year this was -- 2004, 2005?  
We had not yet moved to That Old House; this is in the living room of our last home.
That's my brother-in-law Scott's ear in the lower right corner . . . it was Thanksgiving Day.

Maybe someone else in the family can pinpoint the year.
I think it was the Fall that Aine was born, as I remember Mama holding a baby girl in her arms.
Now ask me if I can remember what year our great-niece Aine was born.

Whatever the year, it was the last time Mom joined us for Thanksgiving.
The Alzheimer's was already taking a terrible toll on her cognitive and other abilities;
it was a triumph of her will and my father's stubbornness that they got to this last gathering.

The next time they crossed the rivers to New Jersey from Long Island, it was to assisted living.

Alzheimer's took Mom's life in January 2010.
As all too many of you know, losing somebody this way is a long, slow, heartbreaking ordeal.
One of the heartaches is realizing that your grief, afterward, is all mixed up with relief.
That feels so wrong. 

In the year that followed, I was absorbed with our Dad; at 90, he was getting more frail, and there were repeated hospital admissions for one thing or another.  When he passed away, 13 months after Mom, my grief was keener, more immediate, and I missed him terribly.

And it bothered me that I missed Dad more than I had missed Mom.
I thought it was because Dad had been there with us, was still enjoying life, loving parties, making cell phone calls, watching his big screen TV, flirting with pretty girls . . . he was still Dad, and still very much a presence in our lives.

But my feelings for Mom are more complicated.
I began grieving for her in 2002, when I first suspected that something was seriously wrong.

As Alzheimer's destroyed more and more of her brain, it took her further away from us,
and really -- isn't that what grieving is?  Mourning the loss of someone's presence?

By the time she left this Earth, most of her had already gone.  And so had much of my grief.

So that brings me to this year, and Thanksgiving.

And in my holiday planning, my TBDBT List making, my menus and timelines and guest lists and more . . . 
I am missing my Mom.  More.  More keenly.

I guess I've entered a new phase of grief.  I'm grieving for all we lost in those last 8 or so years, all those phone calls that never happened, all those laughs that weren't shared, all those memories that weren't made.

I am ridiculously angry that my mother suffered so terribly in the grip of this monstrous disease; what good is anger if there's no one you can be angry with?  Stuff happens, and Mom drew the short straw on this one.

In an odd way, it feels good to be feeling so bad.
I'm grieving the old Mom, the whole Mom, the Mom before Alzheimer's began dismantling her brain.

So, Mama, I'm doing a little more crying these days.
Like, now.

How lucky we were, you and I, the two Catherines, to be so close,
laugh so well together, argue so well sometimes, too.

Hello, Mrs. Tip Top Lady Bread . . . wish you were here.  -- Cass
Mom's Recipe Box, jammed with memories.
I like seeing her quirky handwriting.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


(Click here for a chance to win a copy of DISH, a big beautiful book
all about -- you guessed it -- dishes.  It's a That Old House Giveaway.)
So today is Thursday.
Which means that the next time a today is a Thursday,
it will be Thanksgiving Day.

Don't anybody panic!

Believe it or not, the To Be Done By Thanksgiving List at That Old House is quite modest
this year, compared to past years when it included such things as solving the conflict
in the Middle East and developing a vaccine for Polio.  What?  Really?  Okay, scratch that last one.
But you get the idea.  I often have very ambitious TBDBT Lists.

But not this year.  This year, simple is the byword.
There are just a few things to do.  I have a project involving this fabric:
 meaning that unless I conquer my paralyzing fear of my big fancy sewing machine,
the dining room windows will be nekkid come next week.  It's drapery sewing time.  Crunch.

If I can get Howard to wield the screwdriver -- a tedious job that seems like work,
so I pass it on to him -- I'd like to recover the dining room chair seats.  We've got 12, I think.
Some of them look like this.  Some are even worse.

Thankfully that's a pretty quick job.  Ha!

Our kitchen needs a lick o' paint here and there,
touchups and old holidays from last year's makeover.
That second coat on the backsplash that never got done.  Easy stuff.
I need to locate the old silverware and give it a shine,

and the Thanksgiving china, glassware, table linens,

the ice buckets, damask napkins, fresh candles, fresh flowers . . .
and make sure all are clean or polished or ironed or arranged -- that everything is ready.

Even the chandelier gets new bulbs.

Well, you know what it's like.
 There's a house to clean, food to buy, chairs to rent, menus to finesse,
recipes to check, a list of what-gets-cooked-when-and-in-what-vessel to make,
along with a list of what serving pieces will hold what food,
and then there are the prayers that for one more year, no one will be poisoned by my cooking. 

I just love this holiday!

Today, I am doing a Thanksgiving place setting.
For one.
No time to do the whole table; I've got other fish to fry.
I hope I remember to snap pics of next week's real deal.

This is not a fancy for-show table setting.
White china.  The food's the star on Thanksgiving Day.
These are the things that we really use on the day.  Every year.
Right down to the kitschy salt and pepper shakers.

What it is:
Dishes:  My 25 year old Della Robbia-style white china, from the old Bradlee's chain.  Used once a year; they'll last forever.
Flatware:  Our ca. 1912 Georgian silverplate.  With monograms, some of them even our own.  eBay finds.
Stemware:  Irish crystal, inexpensive, heavy, and great for parties.
Napkin:  Large vintage linen, hemstitched and mitered.  eBay, natch.
Crystal candlesticks:  Assorted, from Big Lots and Tiffany.  Not kidding.  
Frosted Votive Candles:  Wedding leftovers from June.  I could give them as door prizes, we have so many.
Salt and Pepper:  Turkeys, of course!  (A gift.)
Amber Turkey compote dish:   A cranberry sauce must.  (Another gift.)

Have a lovely Thursday -- Cass

Link Parties!

Susan at Between Naps On The Porch hosts Tablescape Thursday.  Who can resist?  Click here!
At From My Front Porch To Yours, it is Treasure Hunt Thursday.  Click here and visit!
No Minimalist Here hosts Open House Party Thursdays Click here!
At Coloradolady, Suzanne hosts Vintage Thingies Thursday.   Click here!