Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Find: Fun House(s)

I seem to have gotten off track this week!  So, I will pick up next week on the subject of design.  Please check back on Monday...

In the "Friday Find."  It's a fun book for anyone who is interested in classic television, because it's all about those houses in which we've all spent a lot of time.  I found it when cleaning out a bookshelf in my office.  I love old movies and old tv shows, so I have quite a collection of DVD's and books on the subject.

You can find this book on or often on Ebay, and it is so much fun!  Click here to preview some pages!

Another Friday "find" which I think you will have a lot of fun with is the very clever website, Hooked On Houses.  The author writes about all kinds of things...including houses used in films and television.  Click through and explore.  It's fun!!

Great pics of the Driving Miss Daisy house when it was on the market in Atlanta....inside and out!

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thursday Thoughts: Super Bowl Commercials

This was my favorite Super Bowl commercial last year:

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at this year's Budweiser commercial:

And here is the commercial itself, for those of you who want a sneak peek!

And...just because I love those favorite commercial of all time: Post 9/11/2001...but slightly updated for the 10th anniversary....It shows the construction of the new Freedom Tower in the background:

As you can tell... I watch the Super Bowl for the ads just as much as the game itself.  But Richmond's own Russell Wilson is playing in this I'll be paying much more attention to the game itself.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Marvelous Monday: Real Life Downton Abbey

First, I must qualify this by saying I am still VERY disappointed with some of the choices that Julian Fellows made in this past season of Downton Abbey.  Having said that, I watched the whole season, hoping its writing would improve (which it didn't).  So, this will probably be my last Downton post.

Photo from Google images

Photo courtesy of

The concluding episode of Downton is always the Christmas show.  Although it received mediocre to poor reviews in the UK, the closing episode is very "pretty" and has to do with Rose's being presented at court (and to the Prince of Wales).  It probably won't be shown here for a few weeks, but I thought you might be interested in a "real-life parallel" to the story, recently published in the New York Social Diary.

If you haven't read that particular column from NYSD, get a cup of tea and settle down.  Take your time.  It is full of fascinating people and places!  You'll learn more about not only the Prince of Wales (Duke of Windsor), but about Lilly Pulitzer's mother and other wonderful women of their time, such as Mona von Bismark (more on her tomorrow). You'll even see Bing Crosby at play! Take a closer look...especially at the later pictures of the parties at home in the 1960's.  Look at the backgrounds in these pictures.  Beautifully genuine and elegant...not staged, overly decorated or "showy." Classic, in the very best sense of the word.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Find: Hidden Treasure

Each Friday I will try to highlight some "treasure" that I have discovered in my house during this massive decluttering/downsizing venture of mine.  You might have seen my post on Facebook that I found a long missing gold earring under the washing machine.  That was cool...and other things have followed.

This discovery is a bit different.  I am a huge classic movie fan, but I am...and have been since my childhood...a tremendous Judy Garland fan.  So, some years ago, when Judy's CBS TV series was released on DVD, I was one of the first in line.  I have a rather large collection of the TV classics on DVD for fear they won't be on TV any more and I will be lost.  So, those DVD's went into one of the cabinets which house The Andy Griffith Show, I Love Lucy, Perry Mason, Hazel, The Donna Reed Show, Keeping Up Appearances, etc., etc. etc.  I have a lot of "etc."!!!  Well...I watched a few episodes, but didn't get back to them. As I reorganized one of the DVD cabinets, they came forward and I decided to watch order of how they were filmed/released.

WOW!!! What a talent...what an extraordinary voice and presence.  And what a valuable thing to own.  Those DVD's, now out of print, sell starting at $125 per set (There are two box sets of DVD's in the collection).

One of my favorite episodes of The Judy Garland Show is when she hosts Barbra Streisand, age 21.  At that point, she had a nightclub act and had appeared in I Can Get It For You Wholesale on Broadway.  This was pre-Funny Girl (play and movie) and she was simply amazing.  But, she was also nervous...and to watch how Judy handles that is heartwarming.

Thanks to YouTube, you, too, can see moments from this hour long special.  Enjoy!

In this number, Judy and Barbra each take one of their well-known numbers and blend them together seamlessly. This was Judy Garland's idea and it was perfect!

This is a cute medley of songs based on the show's "theme" that week of trying to cut costs when doing a weekly TV show.

And finally...the Tea For Two discussion segment, where Ethel Merman "appears" to join in a belting number. She (as Ethel Merman often did) took over, but it is touching to watch Judy reach out to Barbra and make sure she is included!

Have a great weekend!  Cheers, Liz

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday Thoughts: Sharing What You Know

Wanted to point you back to my friend Alison's wonderful blog (actually it belongs to Alison and her friend, Ellen)... Another super post on The Gracious Posse today!  They talk about one of my favorite subjects...silver!!  Also, one of my favorite things to do....I kid you not....polishing and properly storing silver.

When I first started my blog I wrote about silver and about one of my favorite places in the US... Replacements Ltd. in Greensboro, NC.  You can find that post here.  In it, I highlighted the Hagerty company and their products. I still firmly believe these are the best products on the market and I do not use anything else...ever...on my sterling or silverplate.  Check out the Hagerty's website yourself to learn more. (*Just my personal opinion/experience.  I am not a spokesperson for the company, nor do I guarantee their products.)

I remember my first trip abroad, in 1971 when I was 12. Traveling with Miss Betty meant lots of time in the shops and stores that had beautiful china, crystal and silver. Starting next week we'll talk about all of those things, the design genius Van Day Truex and more...but for today I want to leave you with one thought (same as before): "Use what you have!"

Most of us have things that stay "put up" except for the occasional holiday meal or celebratory occasion.  But even if it's the simplest of meals at home...use what you have....even the good stuff!  The more you use your silver, the less you have to polish it.  (And even though hand washing is often required, enjoy that as well. When you handle the pieces, think of the artisans' hands who made them.  Care for them!!) VERY careful about the information you glean online (or other places) about caring for things.  Here are some things I have learned in my professional life:

1. Do not put your sterling silver pieces in the dishwasher.  Not only is the detergent not good for it, the solder line that connects the knife blade to the handle can be easily compromised and it is a very expensive "fix."  Also, do not mix stainless steel and silver when you are washing up.

2.  The best way to prevent tarnish is to use, use, USE your silver! The second best way is to store silver in felts or lined containers. They do not have to be airtight, but closed is good. Lined flatware storage boxes, china cabinets, etc.  I use Hagerty's silver tarnish prevention strips in those areas (not touching the silver itself) to ward off tarnishing.  But, do not store your silver in plastic. It is tempting (and I have done that with silver-plated "junk" items myself!), but it is not optimal for the silver.  Moisture can be trapped and tarnishing and even pitting can occur.

3.  Use a quality silver polish or silver foam to clean your silver and buff it with a soft cloth. Do not take any shortcuts on this path...especially not the aluminum foil/baking soda trick. Stay away from anything that looks like a shortcut or trick. Also, use quality tools... the silver brush that Hagerty's sells is awesome for detail work, and their sea sponge is a great applicator for silver foam! I have a lot of silver...been collecting it for years and inherited a ton of it as well, so I actually have a professional polisher come in a couple of times a year and work with me.  She trained in South America, with a family that had a huge collection, and she has taught me a lot of tricks.  (For one, she polishes, buffs and then washes again with soap and water before drying/buffing one last time.)

4. Remember to touch-up needy items between the big work.  Silver gloves, sprayed with aerosol silver spray are specifically made for this and they are an excellent tool for decorative silver that you might have out in a living room, library, bedroom, etc. You can polish them/touch them up right there in the room! No long walk to the kitchen...

Check back tomorrow for "Friday Finds"....we'll start talking about hidden treasures in our houses and how to enjoy them!



P.S. We do a major polish twice a year...besides that, it's just touch up!

Baby cups going back four or five generations
with pictures of my daughter, nieces, nephews, and godchildren.

Cigarette case collection and silver bowls

Engraved award pieces from my grandparent's era

Dining room corner cabinet

Breakfast room corner cabinet.  Nine feet tall and full of lots of different pieces.
My favorite piece of furniture because it has an extraordinary story...
that needs its own blog post!

And how many of us have TONS of silver frames?
(Love the plated ones that have a sealant, so they don't tarnish!)

My great-grandmother's silver-plated coffee/tea service.'s dark in the Butler's Pantry.
Only the professional polisher can do justice to this.  It takes muscle!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wednesday Wondering: Social Media In Print

I had the best time this week, creating a very special present for a very special friend.  I actually made two of this item, because it's a baby gift.  Hoping that it is something the baby will keep forever (it focuses on his family), I made a second version that he could touch, fold, drool on, etc....and use!!

It made me reflect on the things we want to keep in life.  Family photos, videos, artwork.... but what about the things we randomly share on social media?  Especially Facebook?  Are those things you would want in print...your own annual (yearbook)?

Well...if the answer to that is "yes".... you're in luck!  Just saw this via Facebook and think it looks amazing, IF you don't have a lot of junk on your Facebook page.

Have any of you ventured into this type of memory book?  What do you think?  Let me know!

(I have not tried this, nor worked with this company before, so I cannot personally recommend it, but they have been offering 30% off, and I believe prices start at $11.  Check it out here.)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday Trends

First of all, a disclaimer:  I am not a trendy person.  I do not follow trends. I do not care for trends. The adjective "trendy" drives me crazy.  Not to hard to figure that out about me, as I am the CLASSIC Preppy! LOL

I believe the classics are always "on trend"...but I must admit that I am grateful when a trend brings something back (even if I never considered it to be gone).  As you can tell my some of my posts over the past few years, I love to entertain.  I know, I know...I DON'T like to cook....But hey!....That's why God made caterers, right?

One of the things I like to do most is host "Dessert and Discussion" parties.  This can be a Bible study, a book club meeting, a political name it.  The food is always easy to get together and the drinks are a breeze.  And there must be punch!

Miss Betty used to make her punch in the kitchen and have it served to her guests in a beautiful sterling silver pitcher.  Her sterling julep cups are one of my favorite things...but I take a different route to my punch...preferring to use my mother-in-law's glass punchbowl and exquisite silver ladle.  Just had it out over the holidays, putting it to real use! That party had guests of all ages, so the recipe had no alcohol.  It is my favorite punch...North Carolina Sweet Tea Punch...and the recipe is super simple: Sweet tea, pineapple juice and ginger ale.  Fill the bowl with ice and float some lemon slices on top.  Easy-peasy.

When reading one of my favorite local blogs (The Gracious Posse), I learned that punch bowls were making a comeback.  Thanks, Alison and Ellen for spreading the news!  You all will love their article (and their blog) and you can find it here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Marvelous Monday: House Repair Edition

Sorry... no decent post today.  Have to re-do a shower/bathroom that has a leaky shower pan.  Basically just a new floor...but I'm on the run. So grateful for Morris Tile, here in Richmond!!

More tomorrow.... from SNOWY Richmond!


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Throwback Thursday

I had my hair done yesterday and I swear I still have as little hair as I did 54 years ago, when this picture was taken!  So glad that my girls have hair more like my husband's side of the family!!

Don't you love black and white photography?  I had my girls photographed in black and white as babies, too....and black and white photos for other important occasions as well.  Aren't we lucky to live in a digital age, where this look is achievable with the click of a button in a photo editing program!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wonderful Wednesday: Embracing Your Challenges

I am not known for my cooking or baking skills.  There are a couple of things that I can "do" and do well...but it's just not my thing.  I especially don't like to cook for friends who are sick or have suffered a loss.  They've been through enough already.

Two friends are sick right now.  Tomorrow is my night to bring them dinner.

All I can say is "Thank the Lord for Spoonfed and Honey Baked Ham!"

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Thoughts: Telling A Story

I will be posting a little more on organizing this week...and then getting into some fun posts about china, crystal and in any "classic preppy" household!

Each and every year I dread the un-decorating of the Christmas tree.  This year, however, I looked at it with a new eye.  This year I made it a challenge.  If I had a box for a special ornament, it was found, matched to the box and put in a special drawer.  Everything else...all those ornaments that are laid carefully into the big red and green box, but then run together on the way up and back from the attic....well, those ornaments were charged with a special task.  They had to go back in grouped with their "friends"...the ornaments that went together to tell a particular story.


It was fun!!  I know, I know....I can't believe it either... but it was!!!  Such sweet memories came bubbling forth. Ornaments from my childhood, from our first year of marriage, from when our "babies" really were babies... Grouped into gallon size storage bags, they fit perfectly into the bin with room to spare.  Broken ornaments were mended, those in no shape to go on were properly disposed of, and ornaments not used in the past few years went into a bag for next year.  If they don't make it to the tree, off they go to Goodwill.

I wrote about this on my personal Facebook page and had a friend call me yesterday, who said she'd been inspired to try it as well.  She loved it!!  So, try it next year....or, if your tree is still up, this year!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Musings: Inspiration

Sometimes one is inspired!  That happened to me the other morning...just as I was waking up.  I am giving credit where credit is God.  He put this thought in my head.

For months I have been working at decluttering/downsizing, and have been successful...but find that I often have hotspots of clutter in certain rooms...the master bedroom being the main culprit.  I want to live a life that "flows"... not one that is jammed by clutter and mess.  But, I think I have been concentrating on the wrong verb.

I woke up with the word inhabit on my mind.  But in this instance it wasn't its typical meaning.  I saw the word as broken into "in-habit"...and then it hit me!  You live IN the habits you have formed...and I have formed some bad ones.  I have cleaned up the clutter, but I haven't put as many new habits into place as I should have.

So....add that to my New Year's resolutions.  Use what I already have and develop (and practice) new habits!!

Look at all the potential hotspots!
The sofa and chairs in the sitting area of our bedroom have been clutter magnets.
No more!!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Freezing Fabulous Friday

It's another cold one out there...and rainy and icy.  So Younger Daughter, who has the flu, and I are tucked in the house....warm and snug, high and dry.  Today is one of those gloomy days which make me very grateful that I have no commitments and can have a pajama day.....but.....

The sun is shining for me in South Florida, where a dear young friend of mine has just gone into labor.  She and her husband are expecting a precious baby boy.  These friends are like family to me...and I am with them in spirit, if not in person.  I cannot wait to see that sweet baby!!

The picture to the right is of my friend's father, for whom the baby is named.  It is one of my all time favorite photos ever.  He was a man of the sea and I know that the baby will grow up with the same love for God's beautiful creation.

Have a great weekend, all!


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Thursday: Thirty-One Days Of Organizing

Many of you are probably familiar with Peter Walsh, the former co-host of the TLC show Clean Sweep.  Peter has written many wonderful books on organization and has appeared many times on Oprah as her go-to guy.  He has a great website and a fantastic Facebook page.

Each January Peter does a daily task video, designed to help us conquer clutter and get into a Happy, Organized New Year.   Although we're already nine days in, it's not too late to join the fun.  (These are simple 10-15 minute tasks, so it's not too late to catch up.)  You can find Peter's website here and join him on Facebook here.  All his videos are also on his YouTube channel.

Here's to 31 days of success... Start whenever you want, but just keep moving forward!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wonderful Wednesday: Clutter Confessions

The Master Bedroom in my house seems to be the place where everything is left when no one knows where it goes....or where clean laundry comes to wait to be put in the proper place.  I'm getting better, but it's a challenge to keep it the way I want it to be!


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tuesday Thought: Finding Your Balance (Forgetting Perfectionism)

Let the organizing continue!  I must admit...I have made so much progress that I am starting to run downhill with it, gathering up so much speed that I actually have to slow myself down.  I am also learning that I was wasting a lot of my time worrying about doing things "perfectly" and when I couldn't....just giving up.  Don't be like I was...get that "p" word out of your vocabulary.  There is no one (or no thing) that is perfect!!!  I'm going for that Mary Poppins truism, "practically perfect in every way."  Emphasis on "practically!"  Even Mary Poppins realized that perfection was impossible!

Here's an example...  Etiquette and protocol are my thing, so almost everything I do adheres to old-school rules.  Take the dinner party we gave for New Year's Eve.  It wasn't formal as much as it was festive, so a number of things I did were not my traditional choices. Placemats instead of a tablecloth...fine. Bread and butter plates on the table... ok.  It wasn't so formal that I had servers, and the table was all silver and gold, so the sterling bread and butter plates actually added to the look.  The one "mistake" that glares back at me when I look at the pictures was something I did in a hurry without thinking about it.  The dessert actually only required a spoon, but at the last minute, I decided to use my dessert forks as well...and as I rushed around the table adding them, I put them above the dessert spoon, rather than below....where they properly belong.  No one but me noticed this, and in a way I am glad I did it...because it was a WONDERFUL party and it made no difference whatsoever where those forks were. Knowing that helps me break through the wall of perfectionism even more.

How about you?  Does perfectionism ever get in your way?  I realized after my dinner party that I needed to find more balance in that area.  After everyone went to bed I was so bound and determined that the house be completely back in order that I was up until 3am cleaning up.  I even washed, ironed and stored the linens. That's perfectionism on steroids!  Breakfast the next morning with our company was beautiful...but I was tired.

I am so excited that the awesome Debbie Bowie, of the Rock, Paper, Scissors Institute organizing company is offering a free telephone seminar on "perfectionism."  To register simply go to this link. The seminar is Tuesday, January 14th from 7-8pm (EST).  After registering, you will be sent the toll free number to dial into.  When you dial in that night (hope to see you there!), you can hear Debbie speak on this important topic and ask your questions! Again, it's all free!!

Check out Debbie's website, too.  I have really enjoyed my coaching sessions with her and she has helped me break through a lot of walls in my struggle not knowing what to keep and what to get rid of, in order to live the best life possible.  She even has a New Year's micro-coaching special right now.

Have a great "imperfect" day!


Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year: New Beginnings

Happy New Year, everyone!  I am excited about 2014, and have a lot of plans to make it the best year ever!!

Continued healthy eating, exercise and weight loss are on my list as always...but this year that is a subset of my main goal.

"Use what you have."

It's as simple as that.  Use what I have.  Doesn't sound like much of a resolution does it?  But guess what?  Through the last few months of organizing and decluttering I have discovered (as I am sure you would as well) that I have an abundance, and a lot is going unused.  Plus, I am spending a lot on things I really don't need!

What do I mean by that?  Well, because my husband and I have lost both of our parents, we have inherited all kinds of wonderful things for gracious living....linens, silver, china, etc.  Plus, we had our own.  Most of it was packed away.  Not any more.  It's out and laundered, ironed, polished, sorted and stored where it's secure, but accessible.  My use it all this year.  That should mean a lot of elegant meals!  (The same thing goes for clothes, books, CD's, DVD' name it.  We have more than our share...)

Speaking of elegant meals, I realized my dining room was going unused except when we had company. Our house is a French Provincial design, so the dining room is situated at the front left of the house with only one door in/out. This is great in one way, because I can close that door and keep the dining room beautifully clean (no desk on the dining room table for me!).  But, it also means it's not used as much. Plus, I have a very long table, so it often feels odd for the four of us to eat around it.  After giving a couple of parties this Christmas, I started to think about the flow of the dining room and the placement of the pieces in it.  I also started thinking about my grandmother (whose table it was) and her wonderful (much smaller and cozier) house.  She used the table a lot more than I do.... And then I remembered!  She always took the banquet ends off the table (a drop-leaf) and used it in its simpler form, unless she had company.  That worked perfectly...and now we are using the dining room!

Table with banquet ends

Table for four

Banquet ends go against the wall when not in use.
Easily moved back and forth!

You will notice in the pictures above that the gilded sunburst mirror has moved.  That's because I remembered ("Use what you have") that years ago Miss Betty gave me two frames that had come down through the family, but (according to Miss Betty) had their canvases removed during the "War Between the States."  I suppose they were removed for safe keeping, but they have long since disappeared.  The frames, which were in bad shape, were restored/re-gilded about 10 years ago and have been wrapped in cloth in a plastic bag ever since.  I had completely forgotten about them...and they are the perfect size to go on either side of the window!

In these frames, I am putting paintings of my great-great grandparents, Elizabeth Hunter McMeekin and John Wesley McMeekin of Fairfield County, South Carolina.  Not sure if the frames came from the McMeekin, Ragsdale or Stanton branches of my family, but I have daguerrotypes of these people and I think a good portrait painter could do them justice!


It is a GREAT feeling to finally bring order to things...and give things away that we no longer use.  I know they will be blessings to others, and will no long be "noise" (clutter) in my house.  As I told the amazing organizing coach I am working with, I want my house to be a symphony...everything in harmony.  Clutter doesn't allow that to happen...too much competing noise.

More on this topic tomorrow.... Have a great day, all!