Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

2011 was a year filled to the brim for our family. Some days were filled with joy, others tempered with sadness. 2011 brought the birth of new babies in our family, but it also brought the loss of ones we loved. It brought us good health on some days, but illness on others. It brought us the joy of childrens' laughter, but it also brought a few tears. And it brought us grandchildren growing as fast as weeds.

Life is full of ups and downs, but if we keep focused on the One who brings everlasting life, we will experience it as we should. May 2012 bring each of you, my friends, health, happiness and the fullness of life.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Santa tablescape - Saying goodbye 'til next year

Packing up my Christmas china, I decided to take a few photo's before it went back into the china cabinet for it's eleven month hibernation. I had always wanted Christmas china, but while my children were growing up, I always found a better use for the money than splurging on things that weren't necessities.  In 1993 my youngest daughter was working at Waccamaw Pottery (a Southern homegoods store at the time) for the Christmas season in her senior year of high school.  She surprised me on that Christmas morning with a set of Christmas china - she bought a service for 4 and talked her dad into buying another to complete a service for 8.  She had bought it at the last minute on clearance plus got her employee discount.  And it was my favorite theme - Santa Claus!  It fit right in with my collection of Santas that I had received as gifts over the years.  I still get excited when I open up my buffet each December and start digging around for the Christmas china.  I'm sharing because I think you'll love it too!

A simple holly design on the saucer

A winter snow scene on the salad plate

And the most exciting part of all!  Santa peeking out from behind the tree on the dinner plate.

See!  The winter snow scene that's on the salad plate is from the window behind Santa, and there's the holly at the bottom.

The "holly" goblets you see in the background were made by Libby Glass in the 1980's for Arby's as a giveaway with a combo meal.  I picked these up at a flea market this fall for $10 for 10 glasses. I am a flea market fiend!  Check out some of my Saturday Morning treasure blogs mingled in with my others to see some of my fantastic finds.

My Fitz & Floyd S & P's and some little F & F snowmen decorating the tree in the background.

Another Fitz & Floyd Santa with a carload of gifts.

And Merry Christmas to all as he rode out of sight.
Back they go into the bottom of the buffet until next year where they'll evoke the excitement of Christmas all over again.  Do you have some favorite pieces that you pull out during the holidays that make you smile? 

See other beautiful tablescapes with Susan at Between Naps on the Porch.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Simply..having..a wonderful Christmas Day!

God has blessed us richly this Christmas with our health and our wonderful children and grandchildren.  A quiet and simple Christmas today....if you can call a house with four teens, a nine year old and a cat quiet.  The pictures tell it all.
The two of us
Our three grandchildren plus two "adopted" exchange-student grandchildren for the year - Nadir from Spain and Sarah from Germany.
Our oldest daughter and her family.

Our youngest daughter and her husband.  She has the 4 girls - two of her own and two exchange students.
I couldn't leave Theo out.  He's bravely showing the big bad wolf who's the boss.

What a blessing to have our family close by and all together for Christmas.  I hope that your Christmas was as lovely as ours. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

From our house to yours - Merry Christmas

Here's wishing old friends and new friends a very, merry Christmas - from our house to yours! 
Although we've been experiencing 65 - 70 degree days here n the Carolinas, it snowed in our Christmas village and they're all getting into the Christmas spirit.

Santa is serving up a slice of Orange Slice Candy Cake.  This cake has been a family tradition for over 60 years.  I can't remember a Christmas that my mother didn't make it and there would be a mutiny in our family if I didn't do the same.
Christmas!  For Christians throughout the world, Christ is the real reason for the season.

I don't want to leave out my friends from other religions - so Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you!  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Shiny Brites, Small Vignettes, The Christmas Elf, and Plumping packages

You can "plump" your little packages by adding a vintage ornament and a piece of vintage costume jewelry to make it look more appealing.  Everyone loves pretty packages.
Don't just plop your presents in a gift bag.  Make it look a little special. Of course, there are gifts that work much better in gift bags, and there's those times when you simply don't have the time or energy to do anything else, but when possible, plump up those packages a little.  Who doesn't like to open pretty packages.

Add a little sparkle with a Christas tree brooch, dangly earrings and a shiny mercury ball.  When I go to a gift exchange, everyone chooses the prettiest packages.  Sometimes the outside package is deceptive though - the same goes for people.
Decorating with shiny baubles.  If you haven't noticed by now, I love, love love old ornaments.  Shiny Brites are my favorites.

A view of my little foyer table from the stairway with all it's tinsel and glitter.

More Shiny Brites and Santa making his list.

The German pyramid nativities look so pretty when the candles are lit and the fan blades turn the nativity scene around and round.  I'll post it later when I light the candles.



Don't look so innocent.  We know you did it.
All lit up and waiting for the family to come in.
Merry Christmas to all - and to all a good night! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas in the South - The Elf on the Shelf basking in the sunshine

If you want snow for Christmas, just pass by South Carolina on your way north.  I've been working out in my flower garden this morning separating bulbs and replanting them.  No jacket - no long sleeves - just a summer t-shirt. It's a balmy 65 degrees today.

Elfia - watching me work

Not having much luck using that pitchfork!
Too much work!  Basking in the sunshine.

You would never know it's December except for the Christmas music the church bells are playing in the background.  I love it!

We do get cold weather here in South Carolina - we even have snow, but December is the month for fickle weather.  It's either a balmy 70 degree day or a cold, dreary 30 degree day - or somewhere in between.

Wherever you are, here's wishing you a joyous Christmas season - no matter what the weather!

Note:  Elfia, pictured above is a vintage elf from the 1960's.  Similar to her brother Elfie in this post.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Greatest Christmas Gift - Treasured Words

Yesterday I was storing some seldom used things on the very top shelf of my closet - mind you, the ceiling of my closet is ten feet high and the shelf is so high, a stepladder is needed.  As I was shoving the item up and back, a box fell off the shelf and landed on top of me.  It was an old Tampa Cubs cigar box and I couldn't imagine what it was doing there.  As I lifted the lid, I saw some old photos and a typed sheet of paper - three ring binder paper - typed single spaced on an old fashioned typewriter.  I recognized the type - the "o" never came out fully formed on that cheap little manual typewriter that I used during the 1960's.

But I had not typed it.  My heart skipped a beat when I realized what it was.  This paper had been the object of many of my thoughts over the last twenty-five years. Now, it literally dropped out of the sky into my lap.  Why now?

It was the year 1984.  My mother's last six months of life had its ups and downs - mostly downs as she had been diagnosed with non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver that year as a result of a bout of hepatitis c she had as a child.  She was now seventy-eight years old.  The cirrhosis had developed slowly over time and by the time the symptoms showed up, too much damage had already been done and she did not have long to live.   Mom was very sick - the blood to the brain was not being cleansed by the liver, so there was a lot of confusion.  Each time after a treatment though, she was very lucid and tried to relay as much information as she could to each of us.  One such day, I went over after work and she had my old typewriter out.  The ribbon was worn out and it barely worked,  but she had managed to type out a long paragraph or two.   She told me she was going to work on it a bit and asked if I would type it up neatly when she finished.  I told her I would.  It was something she wanted to give each of her children. 

Her disease caused her to squirrel away things and although she and I looked for the typed page, we couldn't find it again.  Soon after, she became ill again and passed away nine days after Christmas.  I often wondered what happened to the paper and what she had wanted to say to all of her children.

When our father died, each of us ended up with personal items that belonged to mom and dad. I vaguely remember seeing this box and I remember I wanted it because there was a photo of mom in it when she was pregnant with me - dated September 1948.  There was also a photo of mom and dad on their 50th wedding anniversary and an old recipe in her handwriting. But I never thoroughly went through it.  But here was the typed paper that we had searched for and never found, tucked away in the bottom of the box.  And here were her words:

"These words that I have on this piece of paper are not my words and are by an unknown writer, but they are words of love to live by.  I have been sick and my time is close by and I have not been able to get out and buy presents for you, so I began to look around and found these words and I am adding a few words to them.  Maybe, maybe, they will help us at a time when we need HIM most, to love God and to worship and obey Him is one of the greatest pleasures we have.  MAY GOD LOVE and protect and keep you from all harm is my daily prayer.  I love you and may you look over all my mistakes.  LOVE MOM" 

Anyone who knew how sick my mother was those last few months would marvel that she had gotten these many words out.  There was some Divine intervention that helped her put those words on paper.  Only a Mother's love.  And here are the words of the anonymous writer that she wanted to share.  The BOOK it speaks of is, of course, the Holy Bible.

THIS BOOK contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword and the Christian's charter. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object, our good is its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgement, and will be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents."

There were seven of us, and now there are four of us remaining children.  I wish I had found these words to share with my sister and two brothers who are gone, but the four of us who are still here will treasure these words and know that they were the last Christmas gift our mother gave to us.  No greater gift than to direct our path to God's word. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Original Magical Elf on the Shelf - 1960's style

This is my Elfie - he's been around since the 1960's.   You can usually find him hidden in different branches of my tree.  He came out tonight for a photo op.
I recently watched the TV special Elf on the Shelf.   For those who haven't seen the show, I'll give you a brief rundown - correct me if I don't get it right all of you Elf on the Shelf enthusiasts.  The program focuses on a 9-year-old boy skeptical about Christmas. His two younger sisters adopt an elf they name Chippey, who has to convince the boy that Christmas is real.  The rules are not to touch Chippey or he loses his magical powers to go back and forth to the North Pole telling Santa who's naughty and who's nice.  Well, of course you know what happens.  What 9-year-old boy wouldn't touch Chippey.  And of course he loses his magical powers and the boy has to figure out a way to help Chippey get them back.

Hmm, I thought, Chippey looks suspiciously like my 1960's magical elf named Elfie (I know, not a very original name, is it?).  Maybe he's a great grandchild or something.  And I didn't know elves could reproduce - I thought they just happened.  Tonight  I was reading my friend Tara's post in Modern Parent Online about her Elf on the Shelf and the little lies that go along with having a magical elf.  It floored me that she thought they were lies.  I mean everyone knows that elves exist don't they?  Hasn't everyone seen an elf dart by, peeking through the window during the days leading up to Christmas?  I specifically remember one flying by our car window one day in the parking lot at Belk's Department Store in the late 1970's when my youngest was having a mild tantrum.  When I mentioned seeing the elf, she straightened up immediately.  Magic, indeed!

I have several of these little elves from the '60's tucked away in the branches of my Christmas tree. I unpack them carefully each year and wait for the magic to happen. And it always does.
p.s.  Elfie doesn't look as creepy as Chippey, does he?
The blur in this photo is caused by Elfie flying by so fast.  Can you spot where he settled in the tree?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The light of the world

Our little village has been filled with mixed emotions this week.  We’re an active community of just a few hundred people with a small main street of older homes and four churches.   Four churches, you may ask, with so few people?  But each church is a different Protestant denomination and although we all have a common theme in our belief, Jesus Christ, each denomination has a slightly different doctrine or emphasis from the others.  Even so, we’re all just Christians who try to live our lives according to our consciences and our understanding of God’s Word.   We all blend beautifully.

Our small Presbyterian church is filled with the delights of the Advent Season during the weeks leading up to Christmas Day.  But for two years in a row, our Holy Days have been saddened by the sudden death of two good men in our church and community.    Al Williams passed away suddenly Friday after a brief illness.   Our grief is strong.  His lovely wife, Janesta is heartbroken.

Al was an unassuming man.   Wherever you saw him, he was just Al.  Not “Elder of the church” Al.  Not “owner of a beautiful home and nice things” Al.  Not “well educated and intelligent” Al.  Although he was all of these and more, he was modest and unpretentious.  No matter what station in life – rich or poor, well-dressed or unkempt, college graduate or high school dropout, Al made no judgments and treated everyone with respect.  When Al asked you how you were doing, you knew he wasn’t just making small talk – he genuinely cared.  Our church and community is a much better place because of all the lives that he touched.

Our calendar of activities continues despite our sadness.  Our Lighting the Way services that are held on the third Sunday of Advent each year went on as planned today.  Our community meets on Main Street and starts lighting candles that are placed in lanterns leading from one church to another.  We stop briefly at each church for worship with music and scripture and move on to the next until all the candles are lit.  As I watched the candles being lit tonight, I was reminded of the light that takes us out of darkness.  Jesus is the light of the world and through Him we reflect the light of God’s love and grace to others.  Al was a reflection of God’s love and grace, and as we continue our spiritual journey lighting our Advent wreath in the days to come, our hearts will quicken with each flicker of the candle.   We will remember that our good friend Al is now in God’s light and will be in His presence forever.   Maybe, just maybe, our sadness will be tempered with joy in that knowledge.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas decorations slowly going up - and a day in the life of a chicken

Not much time for words - life goes fast in December doesn't it?  Just a few pictures to chronicle everyday stuff.

The bantams day on the park bench.   Look lively boys - the girls are watching.!
Ahh!  I love the look of the old mercury ornaments.

The little tinsel tree is up with the vintage ornaments - I love the way it's reflected in the mirror above it.

I have a smaller tree this year so that it doesn't take up my whole living area.  Decorated with vintage ornaments - I'll do some closeups when I get time.

I hope your December is more relaxed than mine.  I've barely had time to decorate.  I love perusing my friends' blogs and seeing all the beautiful decorations.  I feel like I'm visiting in their homes.  How about you? 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tallying up the Flea Market Treasure profits and the Fickle Nature of Antiques & collectibles

Recently I blogged on my frustrations with Ebay on this post, but also admitted that it has the most traffic of any selling site other than Amazon.  I all but said I was going to quit selling on Ebay because of their new fee schedule, but changed my mind as I picked up some yard sale and flea market collectible bargains over the last couple of months.  And it's also helped that Ebay has been a little more generous about listing fees hoping to pull back some of their old sellers and gain some new ones for holiday sales. 

I showed you some of the items I purchased and told you I would follow up on what it sold for.  I'm happy to report that I made enough off my Ebay selling to buy all my Christmas presents this year for my children and grandchildren.  Here's a quick recap.

June McKenna collectible Santas that I mentioned in this highlighted post brought me in a profit of $300 and I haven't finished selling all of them.  Department 56 villages in this post netted a profit of $175 plus I got to keep a lot of pieces to add to my collection as I showed you in this post.

Some jewelry that I showed you here did well also.  The Hattie Carnegie brooch that I bought for $10 sold for $55.  A pretty Corocraft brooch that I bought for $3 sold for $94 and a couple more pair of earrings netted a profit of $20.   I was so happy to have come out so well.  And there were a lot of little odds and ends that I picked up bringing my total profits to well over $600.

I know this sounds like it's easy money, but it's not.  I've spent years pouring over books on antiques and collectibles.  I've browsed hundreds of antique shops and malls paying attention to what is selling well and what carries a big price tag.  I've spent many, many hours researching on the internet what's hot and what's not, and it constantly changes as new generations become adults and want to collect things that remind them of their childhood.  Things that we Baby Boomers were willing to pay so much for twenty years ago are no longer hot because we're aging out and living on fixed incomes.  It's the Gen Xer's now who have the expendable income to buy memorabilia from their youth.  It's a very fickle market with it's ups and downs.  My advice to you if you're holding on to a hot collectible hoping it will get hotter - sell it now for it may be worthless if you continue to hold on to it.  Ten years back, my daughter could have padded her pockets with about $1000 with her Holiday Barbie collection.  Just a few short months later, the bottom fell out of the Barbie market and now she would be lucky to get $300 for them. 

I kid about it and say that I have an "eye" for spotting a bargain, and I suppose I do, but the "eye" had to be trained and has used many magnifiers and corrective lenses over the years.  Some people go at it full force but to me it's just a hobby - but it's a productive hobby that turns into a little nest egg if I'm lucky.

You know where you'll find me on Saturday mornings - along with my eagle eye and magnifying glass.  If I pass you by and don't speak to you, it's because I'm focused - very focused - much like an eagle honing in on his prey.