Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book Spotlight - The Settling Earth by Rebecca Burns

The Settling Earth is a Collection of Short Stories by Rebecca Burns.

Marriage transplants Sarah thousands of miles from home; a failed love affair forces Phoebe to make drastic choices in a new environment; a sudden, shocking discovery brings Mrs Ellis to reconsider her life as an emigrant - The Settling Earth is a collection of ten, interlinked stories, focusing on the British settler experience in colonial New Zealand, and the settlers' attempts to make sense of life in a strange new land.

Sacrifices, conflict, a growing love for the landscape, a recognition of the succour offered by New Zealand to Maori and settler communities - these are themes explored in the book. The final story in the collection, written by Shelly Davies of the Ngātiwai tribe, adds a Maori perspective to the experience of British settlement in their land.

Amazon Links:

The author's website:

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Aprons

When people learn that I sell vintage treasures, they often ask what I collect.  The answer, truly, is "not much."  The longer I work with vintage items, it seems the less I actually collect myself.  However, there are a few things that will always catch my eye, little vintage treasures that I have to bring home.

Aprons are one of my vintage favorites.  I love them.  They remind me of spending time with my Granny in her kitchen, seeing my Mom wear pretty hostess aprons while entertaining, and making aprons in home economics class.  My mother gave me this little piece about aprons;  it brings back a lot of memories for me.

Grandma's Apron

I don't think our kids know what an apron is.

The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath.  Because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears…

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.

After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men-folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.

* * * * *
Vintage aprons make me happy.  I especially like aprons that are red and white (for my red and white cherry kitchen), Christmas aprons, and aprons with dog motifs.   Here are a few from my house:

Hand appliqued cherries:

Christmas - I love this Mid-Century print:

An embroidered chef carries food in on a tray (is that a plum pudding?):

Cocker Spaniels sit in baskets in this cheerful red print:

One of my personal favorites - cute little pink gingham dogs and rick rack trim:

A red and white Valentine theme apron - how could I possibly resist?

Do you remember aprons from your childhood?  Do you ever still wear an apron?  I would love to hear from you in the comments, below:

Monday, January 26, 2015

Music Monday - "Blue Rondo à la Turk" by The Dave Brubeck Quartet (1959)

Dave Brubeck is my favorite jazz musician, and Time Out is one of my all time favorite albums (of any genre).   "Blue Rondo a la Turk" appeared on the album Time Out in 1959.  Dave Brubeck was inspired by an unusual song he heard some Turkish street musicians playing.  He asked one of the men about the rhythm, and the musician replied "This rhythm is to us what the blues is to you."  Hence the song title.

This video is fun!  The Dave Brubeck Quartet plays the song on a magic carpet as they fly above a Los Angeles freeway.   Stick around for the motorcycle cop at the end of the video.  This was filmed for "The Lively Ones" television show first broadcast July 25, 1962.   Enjoy!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Downton Abbey: Season 5, Episode 4

What Happened (A Very Short Summary)

This episode highlighted relationships between men and women.  Rose's father came to Downton with news of his upcoming divorce.  Tension built between Robert, Cora, and Simon Bricker, as Bricker continued to flirt with Cora.  Violet looked for her Russian Prince's lost wife.  Edith worried about Michael's disappearance after he was bullied by brownshirts in Germany.  Isabelle received a proposal from Lord Merton, which she is considering.  Mary flirted with Charles just before she tried to turn down Tony's proposal.  Tony refused to accept her rejection.

In other news, Barrow took a mysterious drug, as Baxter worried about him.  Anna visited Piccadilly, where John Green was killed.  Robert had problems with modernization, including a discussion with Tom and Mary about building houses on the property and a conflict with Sarah Bunting.  During the dinner conflict, he called Daisy and Mrs. Patmore to the dining room to quiz Daisy about Sarah's tutoring.

On a happy note, Isis appeared in several scenes.  Downton needs more Isis scenes!
Character Of the Week

I am not a great fan of Robert -- I find him stodgy and stubborn.  But he was the focus of a lot of attention and conflict this week, so I will give him the Character of the Week title.

Line of the Week

As part of her search for the lost Russian princess, the Dowager Countess learns that many Russians moved to Hong Kong and worked as servants, taxi drivers, milliners, or prostitutes.  Violet sniffed, “I will not suggest which of those callings the Princess Kuragin was most suited.”

Most Striking Visual

Mary chose a statue of Peter Pan in the park as a meeting place to break off her engagement to Tony.  The juxtaposition of the happy childhood statue and their conversation was striking.

"Oh My" Moment

Tony's refusal to accept Mary's rejection surprised me.  He has been such a little puppy dog with her up to this point.  

What I Hope Will Happen Next (All Speculation - No Spoilers!)

I hope Daisy will continue her education (go, Daisy!).  I hope that Mary will continue to flirt with Charles -- they have great chemistry!   I hope Tom will stay at Downton and turn away from Sarah.  I hope Edith will stop moping and tell the truth about Marigold.

How about you?  What did you think of this episode?   What should happen next?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

International Book Giving Day Is Coming February 14th

International Book Giving Day is coming up on February 14th.  I think it is wonderful that this day coincides with Valentine's Day.  What better way to share love than to share a book and the love of reading?   This day is designed to promote childhood literacy and to put the gift of a book into the hands of children around the world.  The website is lovely:  just click here.   You can download a Gus Gordon designed bookplate to print, or an Anna Walker designed bookmark.

Of course, if you are shopping for children's books, I hope you'll visit Birdhouse Books.  I have a lovely collection of books for children -- mostly vintage but some new editions as well.  Birdhouse Books on eBay:  click here for nostalgic children's books.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Inspiring Quotes from Maya Angelou

Last night I could not get to sleep, and I went looking for my favorite Maya Angelou quote.  I found it, and others as well.  They inspired and uplifted me, and I thought you might find the same thing.  I love the way her words combine wisdom and poetry.

“When someone shows you who they are believe them, the first time.”  This is an important quote for me.  At one point I had it posted several places in my house.  I think I may do that again.

"Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option."   I love Dr. Angelou's words of wisdom about relationships!

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change
your attitude. Don’t complain.”   This is the same idea as the Serenity Prayer, and I am a wholehearted believer.

"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can
decide not to be reduced by them."

"You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody."

"You are the sum total of everything you've ever seen, heard, eaten,
smelled, been told, forgot - it's all there. Everything influences each of
us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are
positive."  I am such a believer in this -- positive thoughts and images in, and positive out.

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.”

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."

"My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you
are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness."   I love this quote.  It has such power!

"Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances."

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song."

I have always found Maya Angelou so inspiring as a writer, a woman, and a person of faith.  I would love to hear from you in the comments below - any thoughts on Dr. Angelou, favorite quotes by her?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Downton Abbey - Season 5, Episode 3

What Happened (A Very Short Summary)

Lots happened!  Mary and Tony chatted at the hotel as she prepared to leave for Downton.  He said he wanted to observe all her routines since they would govern his life.  After Tony left, she had a forlorn expression.  Mary was found out by the Dowager Countess, who was not at all pleased.  A London bobby investigated the death of Mr. Green, and Bates came under suspicion.  Drew's wife decided not to share Marigold with Edith.  Cora's admirer, Simon Bricker, caused conflict in her marriage.  The Dowager Countess met with an old admirer - a Russian prince.

Line of the Night

"You have to take control of your feelings before they take control of you." (the Dowager Countess to Lady Mary)

Character Of the Week

The Dowager Countess has a past!   This was particularly interesting after her umbrage at Mary's behavior.

Most Striking Visual

The moment where Violet saw Prince Kuragin was perfect, classic Downton.

"Oh My" Moment

A tie between Mary being found out by the Dowager, and the Dowager reuniting with her Russian admirer. 

What I Hope Will Happen Next (All Speculation - No Spoilers!)

I hope that Mary painlessly breaks things off with Tony.  I hope Tom drops the awful Sarah Bunting.  I hope that Edith is reunited with her baby.  I also hope that Isobel finds happiness, since there was a hint of a big scene with Lord Merton in the trailer for next week.

What did you think of tonight's show?  What would you like to see happen next?  I would love to hear from you in the comments, below.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Faves - Podcasts: Beyond Serial

My Friday Fave this week is podcasts.  I love them!   I work at home and often have projects like photography or packing where I want something to listen to as I work.  I listen to SiriusXM radio, audiobooks, and podcasts.   Although I have listened to podcasts on my phone and computer, I usually tune in through the Podcasts app on iPad.  It just works so well.  For that reason, I am always looking for fun podcasts that are available on iTunes.

Serial was the big podcast that made news this past year.  I missed the big buzz about Serial.  I heard about it soon after it started, but didn't tune in because I'm not a fan of crime related books, movies, tv.  Several of my friends were avid listeners and big fans.

Here are the podcasts that are on my iPad -- and I recommend them all:

Completely Uninformed with Janette and Pete - A chatty NYC based show by an unlikely pair of friends - a 60 year old cat person and tv producer and a 32 year old father of three young children.  I first heard Janette and Pete on Rosie O'Donnell's old SiriusXM radio show, and they are funny and often thought provoking as well.

eBay Radio - Everything eBay related, with lots of guests and information.  The hosts are Griff (Jim Griffith) and Lee Mirabel.  If you sell on eBay, this show is a must listen!

Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast - Gilbert Gottfried (yes, that Gilbert Gottfried) interviews retro pop culture figures like Henry Winkler, Adam West, Bill Persky, Frankie Avalon, Micky Dolenz, and more.  These shows run around an hour each and they are great fun.

NPR:  Fresh Air - My favorite NPR show.  I love the arts related segments.

Scavenger Life - A couple living in rural America, scavenging for unique vintage finds (free to very cheap) and selling them online.

That Kat Radio - eCommerce information, hosted by one of my online friends, Kat Simpson.  Kat has a couple of guests each show, with lots of great information about selling online.

The Mom Squad Show - Fun and funny chat with radio personality Christine Eads and CNN host Kyra Phillips.  I listened to Christine's SiriusXM radio show Broadminded for years.  I absolutely love this podcast, and only wish it aired more often!

The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor -  Short daily segments about the day in history, with a short poem or two.  I love Garrison Keillor as a radio personality, and he has one of my all-time favorite voices.   Garrison Keillor + poetry = perfection.

This American Life - The NPR show is available in podcast format.  Quirky, thought provoking, never dull.

Do you enjoy podcasts?  I would love to hear about your favorites in the comments, below.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Betsy McCall Paper Dolls

Do you remember Betsy McCall paper dolls?   When I was growing up, McCall's magazine featured a paper doll page in every issue.  The paper doll was Betsy McCall, a little girl who had everyday experiences like Girl Scouts, painting, making Valentines, decorating for Christmas, and more.  Betsy had a little Dachshund dog named Nosy.  As a lifelong "dachshund person," of course I love the Nosy paper dolls most of all.

I used to cut these paper dolls out and play with them.  Since they were on magazine paper (thin), I sometimes mounted them on cardboard. 
I purchased a few McCall's magazines not long ago, and plan to frame the paper doll pages for my study.  

Do you remember Betsy McCall paper dolls?   Did you play with any other paper dolls as a child?   I would love to hear from you in the comments, below. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Giveaway: Vintage Valentine (Ends Fri. 1/23)

I have always loved Valentines.  As a little girl, I remember Valentine boxes in school and little envelopes with colorful cards from friends.  I also remember being fascinated by beautiful older Valentines at antique stores.

When I first opened an eBay store, it was all vintage children's books, which I love.  Eventually I added in vintage holiday cards (especially Valentine's Day, Christmas, and Easter).  I really enjoy working with vintage holiday cards at Birdhouse Books.  Buyers love them because they are fun to frame, great for unique crafts, and a sweet, unique gift tucked into a greeting card.  I offer combined shipping for all my vintage cards, and have a huge assortment:  Vintage Valentines at Birdhouse Books.

I am hosting a vintage Valentine giveaway ending Friday, January 23.  Entry is easy with the Rafflecopter form below.

The prize is one vintage Valentine of your choice valued under $10. I will notify the winner on January 23 by email.  The winner will have 48 hours to respond to email.  

You will see all the cute Valentines under $10 at Birdhouse Books by clicking here.

Entry is easy with the Rafflecopter form below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 12, 2015

Music Monday - "Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra (1977)

Because it's a drizzly January day, "Mr. Blue Sky" seems like a perfect Music Monday song.  "Mr. Blue Sky" was a 1977 rock song by Electric Light Orchestra (ELO).  It was written by ELO and has an almost orchestral feel.  It has always reminded me of the Beatles, especially their bigger songs like "A Day in the Life."  I have loved this song since first listen.  The 2012 animated music video is fun too;  look for the singing chorus of flowers near the end of the song.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Downton Abbey - Season 5, Episode 2

What Happened (A Very Short Summary)

Mary, assisted by Anna, plans an assignation with Tony Gillingham.  Charles Blake realizes Mary has chosen Gillingham and comes to Downton so they can talk.  (Picture of Mary and Charles, above.)   Edith steps in as a sort of godmother to Baby Marigold, so she can stay in her life.  Isobel and the Dowager Countess visit with Lord Merton.  A policeman comes to the Abbey with news that there was a witness in Mr. Green's mysterious death. 

Character Of the Week

Lady Mary boldly moves forward in her plans to have a tryst with Lord Gillingham, checking into a Liverpool hotel on her own and meeting him in an adjoining room.  She plans birth control (with Anna's help) and moves forward in secret, trying to plan her own future and happiness.  This is the most determined we have seen her to move forward since Matthew's death. 

Most Striking Visual

The wireless comes to Downton Abbey.  Not surprisingly, Rose advocates the wireless radio, while Robert and Carson oppose the idea.  The family and staff are amazed by the wireless - progress before their eyes.  Daisy comments:  "Why is it called a wireless when there are so many wires?"

"Oh My" Moment

It was truly surprising to hear that there was a witness in Mr. Green's murder.  Mrs. Hughes looks shocked - and troubled - by the news, since she suspects that Mr. Bates had something to do with the murder.

3 Day After Downton Thoughts

1. Maybe if Thomas found love, he would be a nicer person.  I actually felt for him in this episode, as he seemed very lonely.

2. I do not think Mary should have asked Anna to pick up the birth control, when Anna was clearly uncomfortable doing so.

3. Although I have liked Tony so far, I did not like his thoughts to Mary on how to lie successfully.   Now I am wondering if he should be trusted.

What I Hope Will Happen Next (All Speculation - No Spoilers!)

The trailer for next week's show teases the appearance of a man from the Dowager Countess's past (!!).  Mary is moving forward - hopefully toward happiness.  I hope that things move smoothly for Edith with baby Marigold, but Drew's wife does not seem as amenable to the plans as her husband.   And what of the new arrival, Simon Bricker?  He seems interested in flirting with Cora.

What did you think of tonight's episode?  What did you consider the "oh my" moment?  And what would you like to see happen next?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

10 Memorable Books

Every month or so on Facebook there is a thread that goes around about 10 memorable books.  You are to post your books and share the thread with your friends.  As a lifelong book lover, I participate every single time, and always find my book choices change a bit.  I thought it would be fun to share my list with you and ask for your 10 memorable books as well.   I may have to revisit this list again later with a new one.  Reading is like that!

1 The Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace - These are my desert island books! This series tells the story of 3 girls from age 5 through their 20's, in turn of the century Minnesota. 

2 The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder - Childhood favorites. I love everything about these books.
3 The Keeping Days series by Norma Johnston - Another series with a turn of the century setting. This series tells the story of a family, a young girl who wants to be a writer, and her friends.
4 Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen - Two sisters, one practical and one romantic, seek love.
5 The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - I love the way this series has given a love of reading and imagination to a new generation.
6 The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - Perhaps the Great American Novel.
7 The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler - A noir detective story set in Los Angeles. For years I reread this book every summer. 
8 Time and Again by Jack Finney - Time travel, love, history, old New York. 
9 Possession by A.S. Byatt - Poetry and poets, romantic passion and a passion for words. A beautiful book.
10 Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire - A twist on The Wizard of Oz, and a wonderful fantasy world on its own.
I would love to read your 10 memorable books in the comment section, below. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday Faves: All About Movies

Happy Friday!   This Friday Faves edition is all about movies.  It's funny;  I love movies but will go for some time without seeing any (schedule!) and then I end up seeing several in a short time.  This past week has been like that.

Fiddler on the Roof
I saw this movie first as a child with my family.  I was young and mostly remembered the daughters' love stories and all the music.  After reading the play for a book review last month (link here), I really wanted to see the movie again.  I'm so glad I rented it!  Fiddler on the Roof tells the story of Tevye, who drives a milk truck in Russia in the early 1900's, his wife Golde, and their 5 daughters.  The 3 oldest girls are interested in love and marriage, and the story is about their lives, but also about the changes in tradition within the family.  This 1971 movie was directed by Norman Jewison and stars Topol as Tevye.  It is a beautiful, sprawling musical epic.  I found the gravity of the story moving as an adult, although I still loved the light moments, and of course, the music.  It is 3 hours long - a time commitment, but well worth it.

Into the Woods
I've wanted to see Into the Woods since I first heard it was being filmed.  I saw, and loved, the play a few years ago and only imagined how it would translate to the big screen.  The movie adaptation far exceeded my expectations.  Into the Woods is an imaginative retelling of several fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, interweaving plots:  Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel.   It is beautiful, with fanciful set design and costumes.  The Stephen Sondheim music was amazing.  Standout performances included Meryl Streep (the Witch), Emily Blunt (the Baker's Wife), and Lilla Crawford (Little Red Riding Hood).  It is a family friendly movie, produced by Disney, and I recommend it very highly.

Big Eyes
I love Tim Burton's movies, and am fascinated by Mid-Century pop culture, so this movie intrigued me.  Big Eyes tells the story of Margaret Keane (Amy Adams).  She was a single mother in 1956 California, working as a struggling artist, when she met Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz).  Walter Keane was all bluster and schmooze, and he claimed to also be an artist.  Walter ended up taking credit for Margaret's work, and marketing her iconic "big eye" paintings of children and animals as his own.  The film has a spectacular 1950's setting, including a glimpse of the jazz club where Cal Tjader played, galleries, the New York World's Fair, and the breathtaking Mid-Century home where the Keanes lived.  Tim Burton had a less stylized look than usual for this film, letting the MCM design and setting stand on its own.  I think this was a good choice.  I found Margaret a compelling and ultimately inspiring character and have enthusiastically recommended this film to friends.

I won a year's subscription to Netflix.  Hooray!  I've wanted to try their streaming service for a while now, and am so excited to finally check it out.  Although I may end up watching more classic tv shows than movies via Netflix, I had to add it to my Friday Faves list this week as well.  (I'm sure some movies will sneak into my play list there!)

Have you seen any of these movies?  I would love to read your thoughts in the comments section?  Are you a Netflix fan?  Any recommendations there?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Fizzies

This is my first Throwback Thursday post here.  I love retro nostalgia, especially 1960's - 1970's, and am excited about adding a blogging day dedicated to memories from the 1960's, 1970's, and probably 1980's, too.

Do you remember Fizzies?   This was a candy tablet that you dropped into a glazz of water.  It fizzed and made a carbonated drink.  I never was a huge fan of soda, but for some reason I loved Fizzies as a kid.

Fizzies were first created in 1956 by the Emerson Drug Company, the inventors of Bromo-Seltzer.  In the 1960's, they were sweetened with Cyclamates.  Cyclamates were banned by the FDA in 1968 and they were no longer produced, although they were still on store shelves until the 1970's.  I remember Fizzies as a little girl in the late 1960's.  I recall liking orange and grape.

I had no idea that Fizzies were still around, but they are still made:  Fizzies site.  Who knew?!   I enjoyed visiting the site and remembering this childhood treat. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

On Goals

I love goals.  I love making new goals at the beginning of each year and creating an action plan.   I prefer goals to resolutions.  Resolutions, to me, are lofty aspirations.  Goals are more pragmatic, with a specific action plan.

I've found a few tips that help me achieve goals:

1. Make a small number of goals at one time, and if they are connected in some way, that seems to help.

2. Break goals down into specific steps.

3. Plan the week ahead on Sunday night, and always look at goals to make sure they have a place on the upcoming week's schedule.

I especially have loved daily goals.  Last year I read the Bible in a year with the Youversion app.  This app (for computer, phone, or tablet) breaks the reading down into daily segments.

In 2010 I set the goal to write a poem each day.  I was just coming off a period of writer's block and thought this would shake some cobwebs loose.  I loved writing a daily poem so much that I have kept it up.  Some of the poems are ones that I would send out, while many others are little exercises in mindful living.  But I love the process of writing them, and the way I look at the world differently when I write poetry.

This year I have four goals:

1. Get all my eBay work done on Mondays (writing and scheduling listings, creating new collections, and scheduling tweets).  Spend the rest of the week getting my vintage items up at: Bonanza, eCrater, Etsy, Amazon, Alibris, Biblio.  I love my eBay store, but sales have slowed there for me the past couple of years.  I really feel this is something I need to prioritize now.

2. Spend a few minutes each morning doing work related social media:  Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and possibly Instagram, Stumbleupon, and Google+ as well.

3. Blog regularly!  Make blogging a bigger part of my life.

4. Go back to work on my not-quite-ready-to-discuss-it-yet writing project, and also start sending writing out again.  When I was in college and grad school I published regularly in literary journals.  I've fallen out of the habit of doing this, and I find I miss it.

So there you have it - my 2015 goals.  I'll touch base during the year and talk about some of these goals more here.

What are YOUR goals for the upcoming year?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments section, below.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Music Monday - "Manic Monday" by the Bangles (1986)

Happy Monday!  I'm back in Music Monday mode here.  I've missed talking music with you.

Today's song is "Manic Monday" by the Bangles.  This song, written by Prince, was a hit in 1986.  I always thought the lyrics were perfect for the day:

"It's just another manic Monday
I wish it was Sunday
'Cause that's my funday
An I-don't-have-to-run day
It's just another manic Monday."

I was in college when this song was popular, and I remember dancing to this song at clubs and parties.  Where were you in 1986?  And what is your memory of this song?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Downton Abbey - Season 5, Episode 1: A Shaking Of the Ground

Hooray!  Downton Abbey is back.  It's been a long wait between seasons in the U.S.   I'm going to try something different this season.  Instead of full recaps, I'm just going to chat about the show here.  I really enjoy chatting Downton, and hope you will also post your thoughts in the comments section. 

What Happened (The Very Short Version)  

Life at Downton Abbey is changing.  Carson says:  "I feel a shaking of the ground I stand on. That everything I believe in will be tested and held up for ridicule over the next few years."

Edith's baby, Marigold, is staying with farmer Drew and his family.  Isobel is being courted by Lord Merton, although the Dowager Countess is trying to thwart the process.  Carson has been asked to coordinate a war memorial in the village (instead of Lord Grantham).  School teacher Sarah Bunting is continuing her friendship with Tom, and raising the ire of Lord Grantham with her outspoken political views at a party.  Miss Baxter confessed her secret past (as a jewel thief!) to Cora, rather than having Barrow tell on her.  Tony Gillingham asked Mary to go away with him on a trip so they can get to know each other before they move forward to get engaged.  (The scandal!)   Edith inadvertently set a fire in her room.  During the evacuation, Jimmy's former employer visited and they got caught sleeping together.  And Molesley colored his hair (very unattractively). 

Character Of the Week 

Edith is my choice as character of the week.  She longed to be with her baby, Marigold, and the pain she felt leaving her with the Drews was palpable.  Later in her room, she also missed Michael Gregson ... which resulted in her tossing a book toward the fireplace and setting fire at the Abbey.    

Most Striking Visual

Molesley's newly blue/black dyed hair.  Lord Grantham remarked:  “Molesley – you look very Latin all of a sudden. Do you have Italian blood?” 

"Oh My" Moment 

The fire!  This was the most dramatic moment of the night.  I'm glad everyone got out of the house safely - and (always the dog lover) I will admit I felt a real relief when I saw Isis safely out.  

What I Hope Will Happen Next (All Speculation - No Spoilers!)

I hope that:
... Edith finds a way to be with her baby.
... Mary resolves her feelings toward Tony (to marry or not).
... Miss Baxter is allowed to stay at the Abbey.
... Sarah Bunting either learns some manners, or Tom finds a more appealing love interest.

How about you?  What did you think of the Season 5 premiere?  What would you like to see happen next?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

15 Fun Facts About Me for 2015

1.  My favorite color is lime green.

2.  My favorite album is The Beatles Hey Jude

3.  My all time favorite song is "Birdhouse in Your Soul" by They Might Be Giants.  It inspired my store name!

4.  I love any vegetarian food that involves curry, salsa, or tomato sauce.

5.  I studied cake decorating.  I can still make sugar roses.

6.  My favorite books for children are the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. 

7.  My favorite grown-up book is The Great Gatsby.

8.  I stop watches when I wear them.  My grandfather and uncle did this as well.

9.  I was a singing telegram messenger in college.  My character was Bessie Mae Mucho.

10.  I sometimes listen to old time radio shows when I cannot sleep.

11.  I lived on an island as a little girl.

12.  I am a tea lover, although I also like coffee.

13.  I played a nurse in a theater production of South Pacific.

14.  Paul McCartney is my all-time celebrity crush.

15.  I love otters.

I could go on, but I won't!  I would love to hear YOUR 15 fun facts, too. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Mid-Century Ranch House Exhibit at the DeKalb History Center Museum, Atlanta

Shhh!  I'll tell you a secret.  I played hooky from work for a while this morning.  I'm self employed, but I try to keep regular work hours.  This morning, though, I found out about an exhibit at the local historical society that I couldn't resist.   The DeKalb History Center Museum is located in Decatur, Georgia - metro Atlanta.  They have a new exhibit called The Mid-Century Ranch House:  Hip and Historic!   It focuses on the design of ranch houses and why they were so popular in metro Atlanta in the 1950's and 1960's.  The museum is open Monday - Friday;  you can read more at the website:  DeKalb History Center - just click here.

This is the entrance to the gallery.  The design of this exhibit is a lot of fun:

This display features Starburst dinnerware by Franciscan.  I've sold some of this on eBay in the past.

This dinnerware is by Russell Wright.   Nice retro ads just above the case, too.

A selection of kitchenware including a Sunbeam Mixmaster.  My Mom still has one of these!

Fun retro 1957 Frigidaire refrigerator ad.  I love the pastel colors!

This Mid-Century Modern den is just about perfect.  Look at that wall of glass!

A pink bathroom!  I love these.  There is a great website called Save the Pink Bathroom, dedicated to preserving these in homes.

A nice photo with labels showing specific features of Mid-Century ranches.

Ranch design books and magazines.  The W.D. Farmer books, Homes for Pleasant Living, were used for a lot of houses in suburban Atlanta.  (I've sold these on eBay in the past, too.)

This house looks just like the ones in my childhood neighborhood:

A 1960's map of DeKalb County, showing how the suburbs were expanding - with lots of ranch homes.

This was my favorite part of the exhibit.  A perfect panelled living room waits - complete with 1950's - 1960's music from the hi-fi:

And another view:

Here are a couple of popular floorplans:

Moving on through the museum, there are also a couple of other Mid-Century vintage exhibits.   One exhibit is all about Mathis Dairy.  This dairy delivered milk in the Atlanta area during my childhood years.  We also went to field trips to the dairy.

A little history of Mathis Dairy.  Interesting stuff!   The Mathis kids went to my high school.

I Milked Rosebud!   Rosebud was a sweet, patient cow at the dairy -- very popular on field trips.   You got a little tin button to wear after you milked her.

Milk bottles and caps:

A box like you would find outside Mid-Century homes, waiting for the morning milk delivery:

The other fascinating exhibit at the museum was a display of photography by Guy Hayes (1913 - 1998).  He worked for The Atlanta Journal - Constitution and photographed everyday life in the metro area.

Interesting juxtaposition of two women with homemade food:

A dog and pony show:

Carnival chalkware at a fair or amusement park.  These chalkware figures were prizes on the midway.  One of my friends collects them.

High school cheerleaders, 1950's vintage:

Dad and son cooking out in a suburban backyard:

Mom and children in the kitchen, 1950's:

Two young women playing music in a paneled den:

The exhibit is fun and free, and a visit takes an hour or less.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Mid-Century Modern Ranches or retro Atlanta history.   I'm already planning a return visit!