Saturday, January 28, 2012

How Do You Cope With Stress?

I'll admit it...I've never been very good at coping with stress.

Do you ever have times when everything that could go wrong seems to go wrong at once? Yesterday was a day like that for me. It was an insane week at work and a cold, rainy drive home. But I'd made it to Friday night...time for the flannel pj's, a good book, and some time to regroup.

I was comfortably nestled in my big chair in front of the fireplace, feet up on the ottoman, a new Patricia Cornwell mystery open to Chapter One...

When the phone rang.

 "Hi. This is Lori from Home Health calling about your mother." Well, if you're a Boomer like me, caring for elderly parents, you already know that a phone call that starts out like that on a Friday night isn't going to be a good one. As it turned out, Mom was OK and, after an hour or so, I settled back into my chair with a cup of hot tea to see who Kay Scarpetta was going to find murdered next...

When the phone rang again.

 "Hello. This is Diana from your daughter's group home. Just need to let you know that the power is out here. A line is down, and we may need to evacuate the residents. Should we call you to come pick your daughter up if the power is not restored soon?" Down went the book and off came the flannel pj's as I quickly dressed again and transformed into Super-Mom mode.

Before I got out the door, the phone rang yet again. The power at the group home was back need to go out in the rain and pick up DH for the night. By now, the basket of wine in the dining room was beginning to look pretty good! But it was almost eleven o'clock, my tea was cold, and I decided to try a more primitive coping strategy...jump into bed and pull the covers over my head. 

With the sunlight streaming into my bedroom this morning, I thought about the many ways we women manage to cope with the stress of everyday life.

Calling a friend and sharing horror stories seems to work pretty well.

My sister, Nancy, was my best friend. She was always the first person I called when things got crazy. She knew me so well that she just "got it". She'd let me rant for awhile and then manage to get me laughing hysterically as we relived the wackiness of it all. I miss being able to a call her.

So, instead, I blog. Do you sometimes find that reaching out on your blog is like talking to an old friend?

Of course, junking is a great stress reliever too. I don't even have to buy anything...just surrounding myself with rusty old things for a few hours seems to do the trick.

Sorting is a good stress reliever too. I can spend hours all alone in my craft room just sorting buttons...or collage supplies...or fabric...and be perfectly content.

Sewing something by hand seems to calm me down. Somehow it makes me feel connected to other generations of women who lived in a simpler time.

Rearranging is another favorite coping strategy. By the time I have tried four or five different mantle arrangements, I have forgotten all about whatever it was that was bothering me.

The experts say that exercise is a good way to relieve stress...I prefer any coping strategy that does not involve spandex or sweat.

So now that I've had a day of shopping, rearranging, chilling in my craft room, and blogging, I'm feeling sane again...and curious...

How do you cope with stress?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What's Your Silver Pattern?

The November 2011 issue of Country Living Magazine contained an article on collecting sterling silver flatware in the monthly section on "Vintage finds and what they're worth".  Which has left me with a distressing question...

If the silverware I received as a wedding gift is already vintage, what the h*** does that make me???

Aside from making me feel really old, the article was interesting. It talked about the ten most popular "vintage" sterling flatware patterns and gave their current values. The best-selling pattern? Chantilly by Gorham, with a current value of $130. per fork.

Chantilly was followed closely by #2 Grand Baroque, #3 Francis I, #4 Old Master, #5 Strasbourg, #6 Rose Point, #7 Buttercup, #8 Prelude, #9 Fairfax and #10 Repousse, with forks in these patterns valued from $110. to $200. each.

This is my silver pattern, Fontana by Towle. It didn't make Country Living's "Top Ten" list but I still love it. It's old and simple...a lot like me now that I'm vintage!

When I first got married, selecting a silver pattern was a right of passage. I never really gave it much thought. (It was kind of a schizophrenic time back then...most of us couldn't decide whether we should  burn our bras or choose silver patterns.)  But now, many years later, I still enjoy breaking out "the good stuff" for special meals with family and friends.

By the time I married again, times had changed and I was more interested in collecting mismatched dishes and flatware from Dansk and IKEA that I could change out to suit my mood. 

Do young brides today still register for sterling and china?

My great aunt, Eunice, worked in a high-end jewelry store in Connecticut and gave me this little silver pin in my silver pattern. I'm not sure if it was a salesman's sample or something that one could actually purchase at the time. But it still sits in a special corner of my jewelry box.

To show you its size, here it is next to a teaspoon in the same pattern...a cute little collectible with lots of happy memories attached.

I also have a few pieces of  MIL #1's silver.

Her pattern, Fairfax by Gorham, is #9 on Country Living's list and, as was the custom in her day, she had each piece monogrammed.

This little "Silver" towel was a flea market find. The embroidered fork and spoon look pretty happy together but I do feel a little sorry for Mr. Knife...guess he just couldn't cut it (sorry...couldn't resist!).

Did you choose a silver pattern when you got married?

If so, do you still use and enjoy it?

Or is it stored away in a big silver chest in favor of more casual or funky dinnerware?

I'm happy that I have both choices...timeless sterling when I'm feeling "vintage" and colorful retro when I'm ready for a little walk on the table-setting wild side.

How about you?

This post is linked to the following blog parties...I hope you'll take a few minutes to visit them:
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps On the Porch
Tabletop Tuesday at A Stroll Through Life

Monday, January 16, 2012

Playing With Scissors

Have you noticed that, like pens and pencils, scissors have a habit of disappearing just when you need them in a hurry? Like when you finally get the string around all four sides of a package and are gripping the ends in your teeth? Here's a quick and easy solution...

All you need is a potholder (I bought these at the Christmas Tree Shop for $.99 each), a vintage button, a needle and thread, and, of course, the elusive scissors.

Fold the potholder, stitch up the bottom and side, add the button, and you're done. The loop on the potholder is perfect for hanging the scissors right where you can see them. Perfect for kitchen sheers or sewing scissors in the craft room.

I couldn't decide which way I liked these better so I'm showing you with the pointed end tucked in and the other with it left in a point.

I'm making these in red and white to use as little Valentine could use any color potholder that strikes your fancy, as long as it's square.

Vintage ones would be fun...
photo from The DIY Spot

They could also be filled with crochet hooks, knitting needles, reading glasses, small kitchen utensils,or pens and pencils to hang by the phone. For Valentine's Day, I was thinking about lining one with a paper doily and filling it with candy for a neighbor.  A simple shipping tag could be attached to the loop and stamped with a Valentine greeting...or check out all the free printable ones listed here.

Now it's back up to the craft room for me...still reorganizing and finishing up a few projects...assuming I can find the scissors!

This post is linked to:
Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays at Coastal Charm
Show Off Your Cottage Monday at The House In the Roses
Tutorials & Tips Link Party at Home Stories A to Z
Transformation Thursdays at The Shabby Creek Cottage
Sat Nite Special at Funky Junk Interiors

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Tempting Target Find

While shopping for sheets for my mother the other day at Target, I spied this white wicker candle holder with glass liner for $14.99. I was tempted, but because I like to decorate with vintage items, and because I'm trying to downsize a bit, I walked away.

And then walked back and bought it.

Here's what changed my mind: I always feel bad packing away the beautiful red pillar candles that have only been partially burned at the holidays...never mind the few new ones I usually receive as gifts. Paired with a few Valentine's items, I like how my left-over-from-Christmas red candle looks with the white wicker of this piece.

The candle holder I chose is 8 inches high and 7 inches wide; they also had a taller one. It's nicely detailed for $14.99 and, placed next to my favorite books, warms up the coffee table in the family room on these cold January days.

Right now I'm burning a pumpkin candle in it...this one left over from Thanksgiving. In the warmer weather, I can envision this piece living in apple green bliss as it lights up our screened porch on warm summer evenings..

So I've convinced myself that this purchase met both of William Morris's home decorating tests  ("Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful").  
And my Mom's sheets? I ended up buying them at LL Bean!

This post is happily linked to:
Nifty Thrifty Tuesday at Coastal Charm
Tuesday's Treasures at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Table Top Tuesday at A Stroll Through Life
Tutorials & Tips Link Party at Home Stories A to Z

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Shocking Before and After

Looking back to last year's blog entry about my New Year's resolutions made me feel pretty good...because, in 2011, I actually kept one of them...I lost weight.

This Post may be the most embarrassing one since yours truly wrote about eating dog biscuits back in a March post. But I've vowed to "keep it real" on the blog so I'm going to reveal some of the ugliest "before" pictures you have ever at 188.6 pounds. These photos are for mature audiences only so clear all children (and men!) away from the computer. Oh...and get ready to laugh...I did (after asking my DH why he didn't just shoot me when I looked like I did then).

Here I am in 2004...proving that Denial is a lot more than a river in Egypt. (I can assure you that no hot guys were honking at this big mama as she drove by!)

And with my sister Nancy in 2006...we were both heavy then but doing a really good job of kidding ourselves about it. After all, what are sisters for?

Here is yours truly with my friend Claudia in February an Italian restaurant, of course. My waistline did not need one more ounce of pasta!

I saved the best for I am dressed as a "wizardess" for our July 2010 Gourmet costume party...white is clearly not the best color to wear at 188.6 pounds.

Hmmm, maybe adding a jaunty little wizard's hat will improve the look...

And with Nancy again in September of 2010. She had been on chemo for four years by then (she called it her "cancer diet") but I was still piling on the pounds.

I joined Weight Watchers in October of 2010 out of sheer desperation. After seeing myself as the obese white wizardess, I simply could no longer kid myself: I wasn't "big boned"; I was fat. And the program worked. By December 31, 2010, I blogged that I had lost almost 20 pounds...I was down to 170.

I think losing weight is definitely a mind game. You have to be ready to commit to changing your lifestyle. I still hate to exercise but, by staying with the program, I was finally wearing size 10 jeans in this September 2011 photo...with 30 pounds gone.

In November, as I struggled across the grocery store parking lot with a frozen fifteen pound turkey in each arm, it suddenly hit me that that was how much extra weight I'd been dragging around all these years...two whole turkeys worth!

And now, at 150 pounds, I look and feel so much better...

And am comfortably wearing my first pair of size 8 jeans...EVER! Even I can't believe that...I was a size 16 when I started this journey 14 months ago.

I still have another 10 pounds to go to get to my goal of 140...I'm 5'5" tall and that is the weight my doctor would like to see me reach. I eat completely differently now and know that 2012 will be the year I'll make it to goal. When I do,  I'll celebrate by sharing the "After" photos...

I can't wait to write that post!

p.s. Thanks Mary's best WW leader and I will have all the hot guys in Maine running after us soon!