Happy Thanksgiving 2020!

Wishing a safe and blessed Thanksgiving to all my friends in the U.S., and a heartfelt “Thank you” for being part of this community, wherever you may be in the world!

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What will your holidays look like?

What will “the holidays” look like for you this year? Are you scaling back or forging ahead as usual? I’m sure this blasted Coronavirus is factoring into nearly everyone’s plans in one way or another.

As for me, I’m planning to “carry on” as close to normal as possible, with some adjustments, of course. I’m hoping that by doing a few things just as I’ve always done it will help the holidays seem less disrupted.

Decorating – My home will be bedecked and bejeweled as always! In fact, I’m planning extra sparkle at Christmas just to help keep spirits bright. Tablescapes will also be part of the decor, even if they are just for fun this year.

Food – I scuttled plans for my annual Christmas Cookie Exchange party, so as kind of a consolation prize for myself I’m watching a lot of cooking shows and trying some new recipes. Any actual holiday cooking will be strictly traditional favorites. (Speaking of cooking shows… I’m amazed and delighted that my daughter has launched her own cooking channel over on YouTube! She’s adorable, y’all, so give her a quick thumbs-up and a comment if you like – I know she’d appreciate it!)

Gifts – I’ll probably do a lot of my shopping online this year, but make no mistake: there is still shopping to be done, and I love choosing gifts for others! In case you’ve got hostesses and tablescapers on your list, I’ve chosen a few things via Amazon that you will LOVE to give! Check out my Holiday Gift Guide here!

Gratitude, Reflection, and Resolving – Like every year, I’m taking full stock of the many blessings in my life and I’ll be looking ahead to finding the things I can do better in 2021. These activities aren’t just “mind exercises,” they’re part of the way we mark the passage of time – traditions, in and of themselves.

I haven’t really talked much about “the virus” here on the blog. I just hate it, as a topic of conversation and for the impact it has had. Of course I recognize the need to be cautious, but in my opinion things have been blown way out of proportion in terms of our reaction to it. I’m distressed over what we have done to our economy (national and local) because of it. I’m distressed over the way it has divided us. I wholly reject phrases such as “the new normal” – there is NOTHING normal about not being able to hug each other, not being able to attend weddings and funerals, or sit with dying relatives, or patronize struggling small businesses. And don’t even get me started on the hypocrisy I’ve witnessed in all of these areas.

My approach has been to essentially keep living my life as normally as possible, but even then I have become hyper-aware of potentially “unclean” situations and I now have a certain level of anxiety about being in crowds that I’ve never really had before.

Suffice to say that like everyone I remain very concerned about the virus’s ongoing impact on our public health, the economy, and of course individual friends and family members. It is distressing and disheartening, to say the least. Which I think is why I’m determined to “keep calm and holiday on” this year!

How about you? Whatever you are planning for your holidays, I wish you good health and happiness!

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Election Day 2020

It’s election day here in the U.S. and today I’ll go out and do what women have had the right to do for only 100 years: I’ll vote! I hope and trust you will do the same!

Wedgwood Flow Blue with Votes for Women replica coffee cup and saucer | Vintage Floral Cottage

My first Election Day place setting consists of a gorgeous Wedgwood & Co. “flow blue” dinner plate in the “Roma” pattern – this plate is older than my right to vote! It was a Goodwill find, only 99 cents due to the chip in the rim.

The flatware is my handed-down Oneida “Chandelier,” and the cross-stitched napkin is one of a set done by my great-grandmother.

The coffee cup and saucer are replicas of the dinnerware used by Mrs. Alva Vanderbilt Belmont during luncheons she held beginning around 1909 for the purpose of converting her New York society friends over to the cause of woman’s suffrage. (Her daughter Consuelo was concurrently fighting for this same cause over in England, where she was at that time Duchess of Marlborough.) You can read a little more about Alva here, and for immersive reading try the book, Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt: The Story of a Daughter and A Mother in The Gilded Age by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart. It’s an amazing book!

My cup and saucer were a gift from my sweet sister-in-law, who knows I’m fascinated by Mrs. Vanderbilt Belmont’s story and of course smitten with dinnerware!

If you did not vote early this year (and I know many did), be sure to make time to get out and exercise your right!

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Wait… what happened to Fall?

I swear I have no idea what happened to Fall, y’all! One minute I was enjoying our gorgeous Autumn colors and the next it turned frigid and now everything that was still blooming in the garden has been cold-snapped and is done for the year! This is literally the difference one day made in my little zinnia garden!

Left: October 18, a little faded, but still lots of bloom time to enjoy… or so we thought! Right: Oops, October 19, all done for the season!

I’m so glad I went out and cut some still-fresh zinnias from the patch, because the very next day, they were gone.

This turned out to be the last bouquet from the zinnia/cosmos patch out front (my cardboard flower bed).

Don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful for the beautiful colors this year but honestly, between the Coronavirus, an August “derecho” (inland hurricane), and now an October deep freeze… it really looks like 2020 just does not want us to have nice things!

Left: Our visit to the Pheasant Run Farm “Sunflower Experience” on Saturday, August 8. Right: the destroyed sunflower field at Pheasant Run Farm on Monday, August 10 after an inland hurricane cut a swath across Iowa.

A couple other things I’m grateful for this week: we determined (unexpectedly) that my little mobile home needed a new furnace – got that put in the Friday before the Monday when everything froze. (I’m grateful for the financing on this major purchase, too!) And, I’m still working from home so I don’t have to go out in the cold and snow to get to work.

Trying really hard to find the silver lining here! LOL

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Fall colors, velvet pumpkins, and classic Currier & Ives dinnerware: 3 things I’m loving right now!

Sometimes I feel like a squirrel in traffic, you know? Too many things to look at, listen to, pay attention to. It’s in those moments when I try to make a conscious effort to slow my mind, find something beautiful to observe or appreciate, and just become purposely mindful of the details. Right now I’m happy to say I’m fully immersed in enjoying Autumn – in particular, I’m loving fall colors, velvet pumpkins, and my classic handed down Currier & Ives dinnerware by Royal China!

Fall Colors

Three beautiful fall color scenes | Vintage Floral Cottage

We had some very cool, rainy weather in early October so our Fall colors are gorgeous right now! I don’t even have to go far to see beautiful trees against bright blue sky – there are many of them right outside my front door here in the little mobile home park.

Velvet Pumpkins

I’ve been sewing up some additional velvet pumpkins to add to my collection this past week. In the last few years I’ve saved the stems off any small gourds I’ve used in Fall decor, and once dry I use them to give a bit of natural texture to my little creations. My all-time favorite, though, is that light blue one with the wrapped jute stem. I just love the dimension created by the folds in that one!

Classic Currier & Ives Dinnerware

Over in the Thrifty Tablescapers group on Facebook, we were recently reminiscing about what dinnerware patterns we recalled from our younger years. Answers ranged from paper plates to Limoges! Royal China Currier & Ives is definitely the one I remember most fondly, and it got mentioned by a few other ladies as well. For me, Fall leads to Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving leads to Grandma’s house. And Grandma’s house means this lovely blue and white ironstone!

The set we used for holidays throughout my childhood was gifted to me by Grandma Verdie when I was 30, and I still enjoy it today. The pattern was actually a grocery store premium beginning around 1954, and by the time I was old enough to remember it in the early 70’s, Grandma had service for 12! It has gone through two whole-house floods in its time with me, and I downsized quite a bit after the second flood in 2008. There are many other patterns that I thoroughly enjoy using, but this one is my sentimental favorite.

What’s on your radar right now? What are you loving about Fall? Do you remember any particular dinnerware from your younger years?

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