Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Slowing the Pace of the Frenzied Life

   Slow down. Take a deep breath. Do you find yourself or those that you know living overwrought, frenetic lives? Are you distracted and weary? Do you spend too much time in the car? Are you consumed with guilt at the thought of taking a bit of time for yourself with nothing particular in mind?

   Ask yourself when was it was that you last curled up in bed or on the sofa with a good book, or even better yet, wrote a letter to someone that you love. Have you forgotten how to doodle? Or are scared to try to craft that poem or are you too busy to take the time to write down the hymn you love so well and tuck it someplace special? Do these just sound like guilty pleasures that you cannot allow yourself to indulge? Sadly, our culture has lost the art of rest. We are constantly in motion from dawn to dusk. The notion of productivity rules much of our day. It's time to put the phone on mute, forget where the car keys reside, turn off the computer, ignore the laundry, and do what it takes to take a break. To stop.

   I dare you to set aside the tasks at hand. Sit in silence for just a few minutes. Become aware of your own breathing. Then let the random thoughts come. Go with them.

    Perhaps there really is a special someone who needs to be reminded that you still care about them and a handwritten note (not an email) is the only thing that will suffice. Or better yet, maybe it is finally time for you to dig out that journal and begin once again to record the refrain or the jumble of words that are continually running through your mind.

   There is no time like the present.  Grab a cup of coffee, take a seat and join with me in celebrating the singular beauty of the written word.

You might want to begin with a hand-made book like this one from The Nib and Quill

Add some vintage calligraphy pens from Birdie Vintage Home on Etsy

Add a Victorian inkwell, of course. (From Corvidae Curiosity)
Vintage Victorian Ornate Brass Double Inkwell Footed
And then some lovely inks. This particular ink is handmade from acorns and 
is the same type of ink that was used long ago to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Calligraphy - home made acorn Drawing  ink.
You can totally go old school and even sharpen your own feather quills if you wish.
3 - 16" Assorted Peacock Quill Feathers - Cruelty Free - Humane -  No.703D
Round your desktop out with this lovely antique ink blotter from ArtinBoxes
Antique Leather Ink Blotter, Fleur de Leaf Design in Gold
And if you somehow find yourself lacking inspiration, here are some ideas to help you get started

Graduation gift, Calligraphy Custom, Inspiration, Encouragement,  Bible Scripture Verse, Jeremiah 33, verse 3
Source: via Kathy on Pinterest

Source: via Jim on Pinterest

   Are you with me yet?

 Even He knew when to rest.

Oh, and a Bic pen and a sheet of notebook paper will work just fine!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Linen Lovelies: Preserving and Enjoying!

   In addition to a collection of lovely silverplate, I will be featuring a beautiful assortment of vintage linens in my new booth at the Gaslamp Too. I have had such fun rounding them up from a wide range of places. From estate sales to thrift shops, these beauties have been calling out to me. In the process for getting ready for opening day, I have perfected my techniques for washing and removing stains and am delighted to share my tips with you:
  1. Step one: carefully look over your linens in bright sunlight. Hold them up to the light. I am always surprised at what is revealed in a careful inspection. Sometimes I spy a moth hole or a frayed hem that is easily repaired. Other times, there are signs of age or stains that were never treated properly the first time. 
  2. I begin my age spot and stain treatment with a q-tip treatment of half bleach and half water mixed in the bleach container cap.  I have learned the hard way not to have too much bleach anywhere near the linens so I use the cap and replenish it as needed. I take the q-tip and moisten the end slightly and then gently roll the q-tip over the darkened area(s). I do this next to my kitchen sink because as soon as the stain begins to lighten (keep rolling the q-tip over the affected area and wait patiently for a minute or two) immediately put the treated area under running water to retard the process. If you do not do this, the bleach will continue to act and can literally cause your most fragile linens to disintegrate (another thing I learned the hard way!) 
  3. After I have rinsed the bleach from the treated areas, I put the linens in a gentle overnight soak in in the sink with a mixture of Gain detergent or Cascade dishwasher detergent and Oxyclean. You will need to use about 1/5 of what you use in your washer or less. The key for me is that the cleaning solution should not feel slimy. If it feels slimy, you are using too much detergent!
  4. I inspect the linens again in the morning, rinsing them clean and treating again using the process outlined above, if necessary. Gently squeeze as much moisture as you can from the linens but do not wring them dry.
  5. Spread your linens out to air dry (preferably outside where they will naturally stiffen as they dry). Under NO circumstances should you use an automatic dryer as the rolling drum can damage your delicate items. I use the sunshine as a natural bleach, and if I still detect yellowing, I will sometimes squeeze a lemon over the linen as well to aid in the process.
  6. To finish my linens, I steam iron them carefully and follow up with some heavy starch. 
    I also came across some great ideas for transforming your lovely little linens into something that will allow you to showcase their beauty. Take a look at what you can do.

These vintage linens make perfect little pillows

The pillow below was rescued from a damaged damask tablecloth and large size damask napkin.

This has to be one of my favorite ideas! This lampshade is definitely creative as well as fun!

You can always display your linens in a guest bedroom

Or just stage them in a simple basket

Don't keep them tucked away in a closet, you'll enjoy your collection 
so much more if you find a way to enjoy your antique linens every day!

Don't forget to stop by Gaslamp Too on Powell Place in Nashville on August 8th. 
We'll be open for business that day. Hope to see you there. 
I am booth 366 -- near the back on the right hand side!
The Feathered Nest!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Finding the Hidden Gold

We meet for coffee, my friend and I.

She has a luminous beauty that has been honed
and made incandescent by circumstances beyond her control.

We talk about life and where each of us finds ourself in this journey.

I have come hoping to encourage her.

Source: via Maggie on Pinterest

     We carefully sip our hot fragrant cups of coffee, guarding them with our hands. She eats her oatmeal while I enjoy my raisin scone with hints of lemon. It is easy, these precious hours we spend today in one another's company. It is refreshing for my soul. I don't pretend. Nor does she. We are content to be ourselves. It is a gift. One I do not take lightly.

   This lovely woman and I found a common ground in our faith years before. We studied God's word side by side, prayed and walked together through a season of life fraught with change. Oddly enough, we somehow find ourselves several years later on that same continuum, living lives fraught with change.

   I am the older woman in this relationship of ours, she much younger. Today she confessed that she once thought I lived a perfect, flawless life. I resisted the urge to laugh or to scream. I was shocked and horrified. Thankfully, the story of our friendship moved beyond that lie.

   We have been honest. We have shared our stories. We are sharing our stories.  We are each learning daily about the blessing of truth and the gift of freedom. And perhaps most importantly, we are learning the importance of acknowledging and embracing the loneliness of the soul. Ahh...the loneliness of the soul. No one wants to acknowledge it, much less embrace it. Yet, the loneliness of the soul, is, I believe, precisely what draws us into communion with the One who has called us His own.
     The hours slip by. I have come hoping to encourage, but I leave knowing that I have received far more than I have given. If there were scales on which to measure, it would be an uneven exchange. But there are no scales. There is only the gift of the Spirit. He comes, He sees, He ministers. He uses the words and the voice of the young woman who sits across from me. I hear Him calling to me. She and I have shared two hours of conversation, but I have been bathed in the gift of the Lord's presence. I am more than satisfied. I am at peace.

"My heart rejoices in God my savior"..."therefore I am filled with gladness of soul."

Sweetened by the coffee, the scone,
 and the face of the girl before me,
in the broken and the real,
I find the beautiful,
the hidden gold.

The Lap of Luxury

    The St. Regis in New York City. An historic and iconic hotel that is equated with luxury and the finest of the finest. They are not lying. They deliver. Totally. So much so that it was hard for The Husband and me not to go around with our mouths dropped open. Our own personal butler. Really? A bedroom with walls padded with striped silk. Are you kidding?  A marble lined foyer inside our own luxurious suite. Did I mention that we had a doorbell? There were also not one, but two full-size marble everything bathrooms with soaking tubs and what The Husband called the best shower he had ever had. Ever. A sitting room entirely to ourselves. Tea or coffee every afternoon to order delivered by none other than our butler on bona fide Hutschenruther china accompanied by flat silver marked with the St. Regis crest. Oh and I almost forgot...the Bentley town car. Good for only a ten block radius. Gee.

Photos of The St. Regis New York, New York City
This photo of The St. Regis New York is courtesy of TripAdvisor
The front door
The mail box in the Lobby
    We normally do not travel at this level of luxury. The Husband is a proud carrier of his Reddy Red Card (for The Red Roof Inn). The closest thing we have ever come to this type of experience was our time at the  Hotel Cavalieri in Rome. Both hotels have much to commend themselves, but I would give the St. Regis the Grand Prize, hands down. They are service personified.
   I got really nervous when we were making dinner reservations with the concierge and he said, "Ahhh...I have just the place for your pre-show dinner." I finally had to ask him the gauche question that he probably seldom hears at the St. Regis: "How much do the entrees run?" I don't think anybody talks about money there. They don't have to. But despite the fact that we were staying in the lap of luxury (courtesy of dear friends), we were sticking to the budget. So as soon as I asked that question, the concierge looked at me. It was then that I decided to break the bubble. I told him that we do not live like this...and I gestured to our surroundings. I told him that we were very ordinary people who just happened to be staying at the St. Regis. His eyes twinkled. He understood and booked us into a delicious, but very reasonably priced neighborhood Italian eatery. I breathed a sigh of relief. It made everything so much more enjoyable not to pretend that we were accustomed to this lifestyle. It was a wonderful respite. We ate great, slept great, and loved talking with everyone we met. But we were who we are. No pretending. Middle class Americans living it up for a few nights that are not soon to be forgotten. Here's to the St. Regis. No matter what type of guest you are, when you stay with them you are royalty. I left my crown there. Folks back home wouldn't recognize me if I wore it anyway. And besides, it was a fake.
Photos of The St. Regis New York, New York City
This photo of The St. Regis New York is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Photos of The St. Regis New York, New York City
This photo of The St. Regis New York is courtesy of TripAdvisor
The St. Regis New York, New York, United States of America

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Don't Let It Turn Black, Put It to Good Use!

   I recently bought a few pieces of vintage silverplate at a friend's garage sale. Those of you who know me are laughing. What were you thinking, you might ask? My house already looks like a Southern version of the London Silver Vaults thanks to my grandmother, my Momma, and my own penchant for lovely old things.
     However, the blackened silver pieces I purchased are ultimately not destined for my house. No sirree, they are going to my booth at the antique mall. As an aside for you inquiring minds, I will soon be heading out to Gaslamp Too, the soon-to-be opened daughter mall of the mama, Gaslamp Antiques. If you can find Gaslamp One (across from 100 Oaks, adjacent to Staples and Home Depot) then you can find Gaslamp Too 'cause we'll be right around the corner on Powell Place. Don't worry that you have missed out on the latest addition to the antique market in Nashville because the mall is not quite open yet. We are hoping for a "soft" opening around August 8...just in time for the arrival of my first grandson! Oh well. I like it just fine when things get a little crazy around here.
    But back to the topic at hand. Why would anyone want to buy and polish anything these days? I don't know about you, but Wilton Armetale just doesn't do it for me. Neither does Mexican pewter. Even though I own some, I still have a fondness for that timeless elegance and patina of vintage silver. It just has a certain cachet. And if you worry about buying silverplate as opposed to sterling...worry no more. Most people cannot tell the difference, and I think you are a lot more likely to put the silver to good use and use it well if you haven't invested a minor fortune in its go ahead and buy the silverplate anytime you have the chance. Look for forms that attract you and don't be scared of a little tarnish, most of it will clean up just fine with a little elbow grease.
   Here are some creative ideas of what you can do with that silver you might be coming to buy from me or some that you have tucked away in the bottom of a drawer, hopefully NOT turning black!

In a Nutshell
photo courtesy of decorvillage

Ornamental Centerpiece  To add a sense of festive abundance to the table, get creative with non-floral centerpieces that can be used for a holiday wedding. Classic silver ball ornaments add interest when piled high in a silver compote or displayed in apothecary and bell jars. Fill in any empty spaces with mercury glass votives, taper candlesticks, additional ornaments and oversized pinecones.
baubles or balls either one look great in a compote
Take that champagne bucket and fill it full of rolled up silverware for your next party, 
tied with a bit of raffia or pretty ribbon if you wish, 
or just put it to everyday use by using it as a planter

Think outside the box a bit and use a tray to make a wreath

And that English toast rack would make a perfect landing spot for bills,
 stationary, cards or post-it notes of varying shapes and sizes
photo via designsponge

This is the best idea yet that I have seen for putting silver to perfectly good use while keeping 
it absolutely tarnish free! Yippee. This one is on my list to try:
photo via Apartment Therapy

You will definitely find some of these ready for sale in my booth, all reasonably priced as well.
photo from gypsy flea market

Vintage photo frames never go out of style. And just look, this person put them on a tray and 
didn't bother to polish that darn thing. I think it's called industrial chic. 
If so, I have a lot of industrial chic going on at my house!
remember silver trays

This is, by far, one of my favorite uses of the large tray. 
I will also have several of these on sale! 
They are spit and polished and ready to go!
Pinned Image

Since they have a base metal underneath, most trays are also magnetic, which means that they can be mounted on the wall, propped on a surface using a book or frame stand,
 and voila, you have an instant magnetic board!
Pinned Image
And if that is not enough, here's a whole wall of ideas for you!
Doesn't this little bird just make you want to sing?!
photo from
Think creatively. Share with me some of your own great ideas! 
And mark your calendars to come out to Gaslamp Too to visit me after August 9!
 I am booth 366, The Feathered Nest,on the right hand side near the back! I'll be looking for you!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bless the Lord Oh My Soul

and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name...
with arms wide open by Misconception Photography

Bless the Lord, oh my soul 
and forget not all His benefits.

Who forgives all my iniquities; 
who heals all my diseases;

Who redeems my life from the pit

Who crowns me with loving kindness 
and tender mercies.

photo taken by my friend, Marjii Aldom Smith, Sewanee, TN

other photos from and Google Search