Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What would you do with this china?

So, I've finally unpacked the china that originally belonged to my maternal grandmother.

This is what remains of the set of Homer Laughlin American Vogue Rambler Rose china.

The set originally belonged to my grandmother and was passed down to my mother.  My mom wanted me to have it, but for one reason or another, I never claimed it until after my mom's untimely death last November.

And just today, I unpacked it.

There are only six dinner plates, and two of the five remaining teacups are chipped or cracked. Otherwise, everything is in remarkably good shape.

I'm just not sure what to do with this lovely china.

Should I actually use it?  Should I just display it? (I do have a hutch currently filled with odds and ends of other dinnerware.)

Should I attempt to sell it?  Since my mom never used it that I can remember, it doesn't have a great deal of sentimental value attached.  But I'd rather keep it that not. However, I do see on the internet that there's a market for Homer Laughlin patterns.

Advice, please!

Friday, August 08, 2014

I Give Weird Nicknames (from the archives)

Okay, so I'm experiencing a MAJOR blogging drought.  But I've been blogging for over 10 years, so there's quite a bit of material locked away in that archival vault, right? And some of you may be new to my blog and never read some of this material.  So I'll be digging deep into that vault for the next few days...weeks?...and really hope you enjoy some of the old stuff.  

The following was first published in June of 2004

It's a compulsion. I can't seem to let people who are close to me just have their given name...I have to give them a nickname, and often it gets completely out of control.

For example, take my daughter Elizabeth. It started with me calling her "Lizzy Boo." Then, for some reason, it progressed to "Lizzy Boo, the Tiny Roo." Not content with that, I had to shorten it to just "Roo"...which then morphed into "Roony Toon." From there it became "Roony Toons Adventures" (yes, I know it's weird!!!), then "Roony Toons Adventures in Odyssey," then just "Odyssey." Oh, the Odyssey of a nickname! Nowadays, I will often say something like, "Roo, will you answer the phone?" or something to that effect, so I guess it's calming down. Although for a while I was calling her "Roo Paul," and she just put her foot down on that one. You have to draw the line somewhere!

My husband Doug was first "Dougie-Wuggie" while we were dating (please don't get nauseous...I know it's syrupy!) Then I shortened it to Wugs or Wuggles. Sometimes I even call him "Wuggles the Clown." He totally answers to Wugs, though, because I've called him that for years.

Sometimes, the nicknames stick. When were were very young children, I started calling my sister Lisa "Lido." I have no idea why...but now that's what I call her, more often than not. We both attended the same Bible college, and as others would hear me calling her "Lido," they picked up on it too. Soon, complete strangers were calling her "Lido"--which she wasn't crazy about. "Lido" was a pet name that should have been reserved for close friends and family!

Then there was my good friend and former co-worker, Joel Griffith. (Joel is now a staff writer at Slavic Gospel Association.) I found myself calling him "Joel," with the emphasis on the second syllable. That reminded me of a girl I went to high school with, whose name was Joelle Palermo. So I started calling him "Joelle Palermo," and that got shortened to "Palermo." Soon, just about everyone who worked at the radio station at the time was calling him "Palermo," and I even still call him that to this day...and he answers to i

Now, my co-worker Charmel is often called "Charmie"---thanks, of course, to me. It's caught on to the point that people even call her that on the air sometimes. (Actually, it started as "Charmie-Pooh." Yep. Really.)

Even the dog is not exempt. Our German Shepherd's name is Stormy, but for some reason I morphed that into "Stormcloud Trooper," and now, more often than not, I will just call her "Trooper." Smart dog that she is, she answers to either one!

Interestingly enough, given I'm the great bestower of nicknames, I don't really have one myself. Unless you count the fact that my real name is Cynthia and I'm almost never called that. Although, my dad used to occasionally called me "Cindoza," and my brother-in-law Steve called me "Cindinka." Come to think of it, my brother David has called me that too, and even "Dinkers" for short.

This weird nick-naming thing must be genetic. Apparently, Grandpa Garrett was a great giver of nicknames. And my sister Lido and I found out something really strange recently. One of the nicknames I had given Elizabeth at times was "Creekie May." (Don't ask...I have no idea why.) Come to find out, completely ignorant of that strange nickname, my sister sometimes called HER daughter "Creekie La Luna"!!!

I often call my sister Bev "Buv" because of the way a friend of hers used to pronounce it. And don't even get me started on all the strange nicknames I gave my brother when he was a kid. The one that has stuck through all the years is "Dave-o," which is useful to help distinguish him from my sister's husband, who is also a David.

As I re-read this before posting, I am once again reminded that I am REALLY weird. (sigh.)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Five Things I'm Loving on My Fitness Journey!

With spring finally in place and summer just around the corner, my husband and I are making a conscious effort to eat less, exercise more, and devote ourselves to healthy living more than ever.

The stunning flowering tree in my neighbor's back yard--a herald of springtime

Several products/items/practices have really helped us in our journey so far.  First of all, we've taken up bike riding--my husband with unbridled enthusiasm, myself more tentatively.


I love the used bicycle my husband bought me.  It's no-frills, although it does have doesn't make me have to lean way forward and put all my weight on the handlebars.

However, our first ride together was a near-disaster for me.  I hadn't been on a bike in years.  I felt awkward, un-confident, and at times, downright scared.  On top of that, he took me on a 50 minute trek that wore me out.

That was this past Saturday.  I'm happy to say I haven't given up.  In an effort to gain confidence and get better acquainted with my bike, I've taken it out around our neighborhood for 20 minute spins every day this week.

Each day I gain more confidence and less awkwardness.  I plan to build my endurance and sureness to the point where I can accompany him on lengthier treks...Rockford has great bike paths!  Baby steps, you know.

My Fitness Pal

I've tried the My Fitness Pal app with some success before.  This time, I got my husband hooked too. His health and weight were really starting to concern me.

The logic and basic math of the calorie-counting app really appeals to him.  I've developed a new appreciation for it too.  One of my favorite features? The bar code scanner.  Anything with a bar code can be instantly scanned into your My Fitness Pal database.

Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt Bars

Everyone needs ice cream, or at least something like it, in the summer time! At only 100 calories and 7 grams of protein (!), these delicious bars are definitely a guilt-free treat.  They're not as sweet as your average ice cream bar, but that doesn't bother me a bit.  

I pick these up at my local Walmart.  So far they only carry two flavors--chocolate fudge and sea salt caramel.  Both are yummy, but I see on their website that other flavors are available.

Popcorn Indiana

I stumbled on these delicious products at Walgreen's, but was happy to find them at Walmart too.  So far I've only tried the Kettlecorn, which has a lightly sweet flavor, and the Aged White Cheddar flavor.  Both taste great, and are a good calorie investment, at only about 130 calories for two cups.

These are just great when you crave a crunchier texture.

Add caption

Aunt Millie's English Muffins (Multi-grain or Sourdough)

I've put myself on a bit of a hiatus from breakfast cereal, because frankly, I tend to overeat it, and not just at breakfast.

I found Aunt Millie's Muffins at Walmart after I had been eating the Thomas brand for a while.  I found out that Aunt Millie's is much better, thicker and more satisfying, and costs less than half of the Thomas brand!

The varieties I eat are only 100 calories per muffin, so I can add some of my favorite all-fruit spread without guilt.  I try to have some protein as well, usually in the form of an egg or peanut butter.


There are lots of other things that are helping...abundant fresh fruit, cucumbers, squash, Skinny Cow products, and more.

Are there any health/fitness products you've been loving? Let me know in my comments section!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Our Gallery Wall of Family Pictures

The inspiration for our gallery wall

When I first saw this picture on Pinterest, I was struck with the similarity to the stairs leading down to the basement in our home.  I really wanted to create a gallery wall on our own similar wall.

When we finally repainted, I knew now was the time.  I wanted to use only black frames as in the picture, and family members had already given me a few.

However, although there was a light above the stairs, it wasn't enough.  The light at the bottom of the stairs wasn't working, and needed a fixture.

A trip to Ikea yielded a pretty but inexpensive fixture, and an electrical-savvy nephew installed it. Let there be light!

I had ordered a vinyl quotation about family online, and that was going to be the focal point.  However, as my husband was trying to apply it to the wall, there was a problem. It...would...NOT...stick.  No matter what we did!

Undeterred, we headed to Hobby Lobby and found a couple of half-price items that filled the bill admirably:

The "family" sign is metal, and I think it has a nice 3-d effect.

Now we hung our pictures.  Here we decided to not be rigid about placement, as we know we'll be adding pictures from time to time.  In fact, I've already added two picture collages since we did the wall.

Here's how it looked initially:

Here's how it looks now:

I love our gallery wall, and look forward to adding more pictures in the future!

I'm participating in the Wake-up Wednesday linky party, hosted by Sew Crafty Angel!

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Smalltown Texas Home Show

My son's family and I had some free time between soccer games last Saturday, so we decided to check out a home show in downtown Hutto, Texas.  The downtown area is charming, and the streets were filled with home-oriented businesses touting their services and offering their wares.  

Hutto's mascot is the Hippos...thus the pictures of my grandsons posed atop, alongside, or peeking into their open mouths!

The boys enjoyed posing with these handsome Hutto firefighters and checking out the fire engine display.

Spin the wheel for a prized! The boys both won nerf footballs.

I love how you can buy pretty much anything made in the shape of Texas!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

An Unexpected Legacy from My Mom

This lovely hand-painted piece is in the "Market Garden" pattern 

When my mom passed away unexpectedly last November, the last thing my siblings and I were thinking about was "What things of Mom's do I want?"  Trying to deal with being gobsmacked by grief was pretty much our main focus.

But the time came when we had to make some decisions.  Would someone want this piece of furniture? What about pictures? Knick-knacks? Either someone took it or it would wind up at Goodwill.

I set aside a few knick-knacks and one piece of furniture that I had always loved.  When I was recently in Texas for my niece's wedding, we brought the stuff home.

Among the things I chose were three pieces of porcelain.  I had seen these in my mom's home for many years--she had inherited them from her beloved Uncle Bill and Aunt Cynthia, who I've talked about before on this blog.

These pieces are in the Rothschild Bird pattern 

But I must confess, I don't think I've ever picked them up and looked at them. When I chose them as my sister and I were clearing out my mom's house, my sister remarked, "I think those were pretty expensive."


Well, last night I got curious.  I turned the larger piece over, and found this stamped on the underside:

Turing the piece around, above the "Hungary" stamp I saw the word "Herend."

A Google search turned up this information:

The Herend Porcelain Manufactory (Hungarian: Herendi Porcelánmanufaktúra Zrt.) is a Hungarian manufacturing company, specializing in luxury hand painted and gilded porcelain.
Founded in 1826, it is based in the town of Herend near the city of Veszprém.
In the mid-19th century it was purveyor to the Habsburg Dynasty and aristocratic customers throughout Europe. Many of its classic patterns are still in production. 
After the fall of Communism in Hungary the factory was privatised and is now 75% owned by its management and workers. As of 2006, the factory is profitable and exports to over 60 countries of the world. Its main markets are Italy, Japan, Russia and the US.

Some further investigating told me that the singular characteristics of the stamps on the bottom of all three pieces indicated they were made sometime between 1915 and 1939.  (The crown on the stamp was no longer used after the Communists took over the factory in 1948.)


So are they valuable?  I have no idea how much they would bring, moneywise.  I saw pieces on eBay that went for around 200 dollars. If they're truly rare, they might go for much higher.

But I'm not interested in selling them.  Their sentimental value is to me is, well, priceless.

They represent my Mom's beloved aunt and uncle, who adored and cherished her as if she was their own. They represent my beautiful mother...and every time I look at them, I'll have a warm feeling of closeness to her.

I value the beauty of the pieces...the fact that many years before I was born, an artisan lovingly hand-painted them.

I'll admit, though, that knowing they're truly valuable has caused me to appreciate them more, and I'm honored to have them in my home.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

A Lovely Spring Wedding in Texas

My niece Katie and her fiance Ryan were married in a beautiful outdoor wedding last Friday at the Taylor Mansion in Taylor, Texas.  The weather was perfect and it was simply a fairy-tale wedding.  
Here are some pictures I took...

This was actually taken at the rehearsal.  The beautiful Victorian house, built in 1878, was ideal for an outdoor wedding.

Bridesmaids wait for their moment inside the mansion, their lavender-tinted babies' breath bouquets waiting in vases of water. The mismatched mint green and beige dresses ended up harmonizing beautifully!

My beautiful daughter-in-law Daylyn is a talented harpist.  Here she's playing the harp before the ceremony.

Katie's father, my brother-in-law David, is a pastor and officiated the vows.

Officially Mr & Mrs!

I snuck this photo while professional shots were being taken.  Don't worry, I stayed well out of the professional photographer's way! 

Since my parents, Katie's beloved grandparents, have passed away, they were honored by their photo placed by the cake.

All in all, it was a beautiful celebration at a gorgeous venue.  I'm so happy for my beautiful niece and her new husband!

I'm participating today in Wake-up Wednesday, hosted by Sew Crafty Angel! Join the fun!

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