April 6, 2019:


The income taxes are finished and were taken to the Post Office yesterday to send out via certified mail, which now costs nearly $16 for two 8 1/2 11 envelopes with return receipt. Yikes! But worth it because I have proof positive once I get the little green cards back that the returns were delivered and received. And just in case, there are tracking numbers that I can also tap the U.S. Post Office for to verify that delivery was made. In these times, it's better to be safe than sorry

I have been working in little bits and pieces outdoors whenever a window in our crappy weather has presented itself. Today, however, was the first day where I was able to spend an extended period of time outside. First, I cleaned up areas on the sidewalk and driveway along the edges where pine cones and branches tiny branches blown off during the seemingly wind storms we endured over fall and winter 2018-2019. After resting for a bit, and removing the winter hat, gloves and jacket, I moved to the back yard because I'm sick of feeling sick to my stomach every time I look at it through the patio doors in the dining room and window above the kitchen sink. This winter left it a true disaster zone. I worked steadily raking small areas and filled two trash can size black trash bags full of debris blown down from my arborvitaes and neighboring trees over the winter, in addition to about half a ton of nut shells. The nut shells are my fault because I feed all the neighborhood squirrels. They are so entertaining, and very smart! I also made a small dent in starting clean-up of the flower beds, where the "mild" (ahem) weather and thawed earth has encourages perennials to start popping through, whether I'm ready for them or not!

All in all, a somewhat decent start to making a larger dent in clean-up operations. I worked outdoors about 4 hours off and on. I didn't want to overdo it, and truth be told, I'm pooped! It's humbling to not be able to work as long or as hard as I used to. I can get it done, but I have to take lots of rest breaks so it takes quite a bit longer now. Good thing I'm retired


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Blessings to All!

Happy Easter everyone!

Okay, I tried to do double bunny-ears but wasn't very successful.
Don't ya just love my Easter finery - baggy grey stained sweatshirt? I've
lost weight!  Hmmm, I think I look rather like Mr. Spock - need to do something
about those eyebrows...  And notice - yes, it's true, I actually do
live in a ruined mansion whose walls are falling apart...  Geez, I
seriously need to do something about my hair.  Head transplant, maybe...

The sun has been out the past several days and temperatures here in southeastern Wisconsin, while still below normal, have stayed above freezing even at night, and a lot of the snow cover has melted and continues away. YIPPEE!  That, of course, gives me a horrible itch to pull out my rake and gloves and get going on yard clean-up - whew - what a mess out there!  But that's still at least a couple of weeks away, short of a miracle streak of weather in the 50's with drying winds!  Ground is as mushy as a rotten tomato right now, ICK!  My sump pump is running, the robins and blackbirds have returned, the juncos will soon be gone on their way back up north, and the other birds are going bonkers right now with their mating rituals.  The air is filled with bird song, and it's so beautiful!

I celebrate Easter, but I am not religiously inclined.  That does not mean, however, that I am not without faith in a Great Creator, who made all things and put into motion forces that I suspect we human beings will never fully understand, at least not until we get our hearts in tune with the Universe.  Not easy to do, evidently, and that makes me so sad. 

But whoever first said that hope springs eternal in the human heart sure had that right!  Because spring, the season of renewal and rebirth, springs forth each year, even though sometimes it seems it will never come (like this year!!!)  And with it, for me personally, come renewed energy, more than my usual "glass is almost full" optimism, and hope.  During Easter Christians of varying denominations surround themselves with symbols of such renewal which, however, predate the death and resurrection of the Christ by thousands and thousands of years.  Muslims, Jews and other faiths and ancient traditions do the same:  first fruits, symbols of fertility (eggs and rabbits), feasting foods, spring blossoms. It seems that as far back as we can go in our written history, and even then some, these practices have been with humankind, in various forms, all around the world. We celebrate the renewal of life and our hopes for peace, prosperity and the blessings that come annually from Earth's glorious renewal, and look forward to long days of sunlight, warmth and abundance! 

Warm Badger Baked Ham (the BEST) and fresh hard-crust rolls, served with butter
and local brand Koop's Honey Mustard.  I'm nearly 62, born and raised in Milwaukee, WI
and this is one of our local traditions I've celebrated for as long as I can remember. 
I do not know if it's from the Germans or the Poles, but from whoever, THANK YOU!

Special treats and first fruits!

 Dark chocolate Easter bunnies and pascal lamb, and jelly beans!
Good for one's heart.  I've already eaten the others in the package...

White Zinfandel wine - love the pink!

Lots of Dove dark-chocolate eggs, YUM!  I've been happily munching
over the past week, two or three a day.  Good for the heart, ahem.

One must have an Easter Basket, of course!
Eggs are filled with special treats that will keep me
happy for weeks and weeks!

And daffodils!  I bought two 20-stem bunches for $4 each.
I've got one now sitting next to this laptop (off the counter,
darlings!) and already they're making restless rustling
noises and soon the film around the base of the buds
will start to creak and then pop off!  POP! And the flowers
will slowly open, one by one.  A miracle taking place right in
front of my eyes.  The green of fresh live and the yellow of sunshine.

Geez Louise, almost forgot my Easter Bunny Ears!  Pepper Spray, one of those Rocking Cougars I ride the bus with to/from work, gifted each of us with a pair at the beginning of last week, and we wore them and wore them!  MAKING PEOPLE SMILE.  And ourselves too, of course, darlings :)

I AM the Queen of ALL I survey.

Easter Blessings to All of You and Your Loved Ones, Darlings!  Doncha just love my dimples :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Console Table Design Inspirations

Hola!  Since buying my sister Yvonne's lovely Queen Anne style console table (an unexpected and not planned-for acquisition) and it being delivered last weekend, I've been busy redoing the gallery wall where the table is now situated.  Before, there was no table on that wall and I had no plans to add one, so the framed photographs were marching their way down the wall toward the floor.  I had my magic 30 squares/senet game all laid out, with a 31st square for "X" marks the final resting place (the pyramids at Giza).  After table, I had to rethink things.

Nope, no photographs of the final configuration of my photographic senet board; I had it totally off the wall and torn apart on the family room floor before I ever thought to take a photograph, duh. 

Gallery wall redo has been picked at every night after work for the past week plus last weekend, and I have made definite progress.  Still a way to go, but I hope to finish it up today.  What was on the lower two-thirds of the wall has been substantially modified and I tinkered around with the layout of the top rows, too.

I started hunting around before last weekend for inspiration how to decorate the console table once I have the background finished.

The table is not large, which is good because my dinette's square footage is small: 10 feet 10-1/2 inches from wall to patio door, and 9 feet wide (from island to beginning of family room carpeting).  The console table's lack of height, however, is presenting me with some issues regarding its proportion relartive to the size of my dining table.  The console table is a smidgeon over 27" tall, while my 56" diameter dining table, on a massive pedestal, is about 32" tall, and my roomy chairs are a whopping 42" tall!  Here are a few photos to give you an idea of what I'm dealing with.  Please forgive the mess, I was not expecting to take photographs today but you know, that's how it goes sometimes:

Oy!  Rooms in progress, what a mess! It's still winter here and I've got the winter shawl on the dining table, along with piles of paperwork (tax returns and never-ending medical and other bills waiting patient to be processed) and photo frames and photos!  Also, I need to note to myself that one should never take a photograph of a fridge with junk on its side, LOL!  Not to mention the yellow plastic cup I use to scoop out nuts for my "pet" squirrels, sitting on the countertop... 

The second photo gives you an idea of what I'm trying to do on the gallery wall.  Will it stay the same?  I don't know!  It still has a way to go, and it's like pulling my own teeth putting up each photograph, such a struggle trying to get an arrangement that I see as balanced and attractive.  I cannot tell you how many nail holes I've already filled in.  If that wall was my lawn, it would be aerated for the next five years.  I've tried the laying-out-on-the-floor-and-make-a-nice-arrangement-before-you-put-a-nail-in-the-wall approach, bwwwhhhaaaahhhhaaaaa.  Didn't work, I changed things around as I was putting the photos up on the wall despite liking what I had laid out on the floor. I think I have caught the I must do better disease.  Oh Crud!

Anyway, there is another row of photographs to go up, and perhaps even a row underneath that, bringing it very close to tabletop surface.  And I may even continue photographs down either side of the table, just because...

The second dinette photo, taken from the family room looking toward the kitchen, I think gives you the best perspective on those proportion issues I'm dealing with. Am I crazy?  Should I just not put the Queen Anne console table there, move it elsewhere?  And yet... somehow, crazy as it sounds, I find the juxtoposition of the disparate styles and scale of the furnishings appeals to me.  But perhaps it's a challenge not worth taking on...

Ahem.  I am somewhat confident that, with the right mix of accessories to add the appearance of height to the table top but hopefully make it relatively crash proof (more on this in a subsequent post), I can make my Davidesque table live in a permanent state of truce with my Goliath-like table and chairs.

Inspiration abounds on the internet, if one looks in the right places.  I briefly visited Houzz, but everything I saw there was far too grand and extragavant for my modest maison, not to mention modest (nonexistent) budget.  I'm not a member of Houzz, so it is sometimes difficult to get to where one wants to go there, let alone copy a photograph, even though I always faithfully provide a link back and citation to the source.  I am also not a member of Pinterest.  Same issues there.  I seem to have this thing against joining up at uber-popular sites, it just rubs against my grain.  Well to put it frankly, most of the stuff posted at those sites is far too grandios for what I've got going on here at Maison Newton AND my budget!  So, I zeroed in on many of the blogs I regularly visit, to see what I could see:

I couldn't help but visit my friend Debbie's Debbie-Dabble blog.  We have very different decorating styles but Debbie is a master of working with layering effects and making her spaces look larger than I suspect they are, she is fabulous with adding lots of finishing and special details that it takes the eye time to take in and discover, and her decorating exudes a comfortable/comforting feeling that never fails to soothe me and bring a smile to my face.  Debbie really has a special touch in creating a certain atmosphere within her home.   Here is a photograph from Debbie's blog, from her March 18, 2013 blog post on her Easter Dining Room:

Yes, I confess, I copied Debbie's header photograph, of her mantle! While not a table top, the lessons it teaches me are the same that can be applied to any flat surface.  (1) Use of different heights in objects to add variety and fill in those "negative spaces" that Christine Fife often writes about at her blog.  (2) Use of pictures and decorating objects on the wall in the background to continue the layering effect and add depth and richness. (3) Use of semi-symmetry. (4) Use of textiles to add interest and additional layering.  (5) Use of lighting, which adds a particularly spectacular cozy effect at night. 

The vignette above is also from Debbie's website.  You can see how beautiful it looks when lit at night, and what an atmophere it creates in the room.  What I also noted was Debbie's use of a "stepped-up" table top to link the table top area to the area on the wall above the wallpaper border, as well as her use of small shelves and decorative objects on the wall to link the table top to the wall above and its decor.  Again, she shows a masterful use of layering and adding three-dimensional depth to her vignette. 

I don't know how I missed this March 7, 2013 blog post by Wendy at The Shabby Nest, but I did!  She is redoing her entry hall area and, lo and behold, I expect it will have a console table in it.  The photographs she put up in her post Entry Way Inspiration are like - to die for spaces!  I was particularly drawn to these two designs.  I'm sure you can see the similarities in them:

Source: crushculdesac.tumblr.com via Wendy on Pinterest

Source: cotedetexas.blogspot.com via Wendy on Pinterest
What I liked about these Wendy selections is the arrangement of art around/above the tables, as well as the use of mirrors.  I don't have a chandelier to dangle in front of my console table, my not too big or glamourous chandy is hanging above the dinette table, moved from my first home in 1989 and installed into this home when I had it built in 1990.  It's 1930's Art Deco and it reminds me of that first home, that I loved very much!  Anyway, it does not play a role in the presentation of the console table and wall on which it is on, except to shed incidental light when on. 

I noted the use of mirrors in both of these vignettes, as well as the storage stools underneath the table in the second photograph. I saw this idea in other photographs, too, although they were not always storage stools or cassocks.  I think that is a great idea.  Not only would such storage add much needed "bulk" (substance) underneath my delicate console table, storage stools or cassocks can always be used for emergency seating in the family room or for footstools, or side tables to hold drinks and serving bowls with a tray on top.  And, of course, there is the added bonus of extra storage, of which one can never have enough!

The displays on the walls above the two console tables (above two photos) are beautiful, and designed for their respective wall areas.  But, I have to face facts, I'm cramming my wall space full because I don't have just a few photos I wish to display, I have several lifetimes of family that I wish to highlight as well as photographs of Mr. Don, may he rest in peace, and my Goddesschess buddies from over the years, on our various travels here and there.  Trying to balance all of that out is, frankly, nearly impossible, but I've got my selections made nonetheless and I'm trying to fit them all on to that one wall.

Well, I could go bonkers and put walls of photographs up everywhere, LOL!  And maybe that's the solution...

Anyway, take a look at the sideboard design by Melissa at Daisy Mae Bells's dining room:

Once again, the repeating theme: mirror, stacked prints, layered table-top objects filling in the negative space between table and wall.  But I'm not limiting myself to six or nine or twelve or sixteen or twenty framed prints or photographs...

I like Melissa's use of a gathered skirt to fillout the table and give it substance against the substantial/chunkier designed dining table and benches.  And I want one of those bird cages...  The table looks narrow, even narrower than mine, and yet she has a lot of objects on it.  although I'm sure they'd mostly be cleared if she wants to use it as a sideboard during a party or large family meal.  And - wonder what's tucked underneath that table skirt!!!

And, finally, from the March 11, 2013 blog at CreateInspire:

This is wrote past Monday when I first came across this sideboard redo:  Love the buffet but it was actually the decorated result that caught my attention:   Simple, elegant, not too gradiose, not too minimalist. When I saw the decor, I said to myself "Self, you can surely do something like that!"

But - wonder what such a design would look like with photographs hanging on the wall behind it?  Ach!  I don't know, I don't know.  I'm just plowing ahead anyway.  I've got laundry to do and more pictures to hang, and right now we've got a full-blown nor'easter going outside.  Wet, heavy big flakes.  OH NOOOOO....

Right now I've got to get a load of laundry going, do something for supper, and dig out some long-buried small wall shelves, to see if I can do some "Debbie Dabble" magic on that dinette gallery wall.  For the time being, no lamp or lamps.  Hmmm, just occurred to me, how the hell does Debbie get all of those lights lighted up. Surely she doesn't have an available outlet every few feet!  Extension cords?  How to hid them with my leggy beauty of a table, with only one outlet on that wall to boot?

Oh, my head is starting to hurt...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Miracle Blur? Yeah -

- I only have to take off my Walgreen's readers, look in a regular mirror and I've got instant Miracle Blur.  Seriously!

In today's mail is my April edition of Vogue, with a lovely photograph of First Lady Michelle Obama on the cover.  Even in my hay-days I never had toned arms like hers, yikes!  Jealous!

From L'Oreal website: $24.99
Inside what promises to be an interesting read this month, is an advertisement for L'Oreal Paris' Revitalift Miracle Blur, Instant Skin Smoother.  Promises to make you (your facial skin, that is), look instantly smoother, clearer, cleaner, erase wrinkles, etc. etc. Yeah, right.

Well, I'll say this for L'Oreal Paris, they're gutsy, because they included a free sample in this magazine, and I'm damn sure going to try it and I promise you I will write about what results (if any), I see in the mirror after applying (after washing my face and moisturizing) tomorrow morning. 

The advertisment says "Not a moisturizer.  More than a primer."  So, it's like a BB cream for grown-ups? 

Hmmm, sounds like a hoaxy kind of make-up to me:

"Velvety-Matte Finish"
"Unique Cushiony Texture"
"Blurs Lines, Pores, and Wrinkles"

If I'm putting makeup on my face, tell me so, flat out.  Don't BS me about it, covering up the reality of what this product actually is!  If it's makeup, of course, I won't buy it, because I love my Bare Escentials Mineral Makeup, and won't switch back to some liquidy form of foundation, no matter how much hydroxy-whatever it has in it.

Really, if you want excellent non-toxic about 99% all natural products for skin care (cleansing, moisturing, exfoliating), check out L'Bri, invented by a wife-husband team right here in southeastern Wisconsin.  Excellent stuff, love it and won't switch to anything else after years of searching, and struggling with skin problems once menopause, and then post-menopause hit.  EEK!  My youngest sister, Yvonne, got turned on to this product line in 2009 and invited me to a party to demonstrate the products at her house in early 2010.  I went out of sisterly loyalty and out of curiosity, convinced there was nothing new under the sun and that the product claims were all bogus.

Well, at the party, I was intrigued enough by the demonstrations of the products that I bought some, and I've been using them ever since February 2010.  Unlike many products, cheap and expensive alike, I've tried over the years, L'Bri products actually work for me.  So I've got nothing but 100% praise for them.

Updated Sunday, March 24, 2013:

Hola Darlings!  It's a cool, blustery and overcast day here, snow is threatening.  I HATE THIS CLIMATE.  Have I mentioned how much I HATE THIS CLIMATE...

Okay, so after I washed my face this morning I put on some L'Bri light non-greasy moisturizer and headed downstairs.  Then, I remembered that Olay L'Oreal Revitalift Miracle Blur sample I'd set aside from the latest issue of Vogue magazine.  I grabbed it off the desk in the  front room and went to the powder room.  I opened up the sample package and put some on my fingers and applied it to my face. 

Hmmmm, I did not seen any kind of transformation whatsoever.  Definitely nothing like the before/after photographs that were included in the magazine ad!  I also do not like how it feels on my face - kind of gooey and heavy, like it's smothering my skin.  Yes, my skin does feel "soft" but to tell you the truth, my skin has been feeling soft ever since I started using the L'Bri products, including regularly exfoliating with its wonderful facial peel gel (made for very sensitive skin).  In short, I did not see any 'blurring' of crow's feet and laugh lines, my dark spots weren't even partially blurred away, my redness was still quite evident, as were the dark smudges under my eyes.  My eyesight is so poor these days without my Walgreens readers I can't even see my pores, so I can't tell you truthfully whether they 'blurred' away. 

Then, I hiked to the Pick 'n Save supermarket and back.  After putting away the items I bought, I went upstairs and checked my face in my hand-held magnifying mirror, the one I used to put on my make-up on.  Seriously, I could not see any difference in how my skin looked from before I put on the product to afterwards, and when I checked in my magnifying mirror it was close to an hour after I put the product on, so there was plenty of time for it to "soak in" and do its miracle stuff.

No miracles occurred on my face!  So, this product is not for me.  That's not to say it doesn't work, but perhaps it is designed for 30- and 40-somethings, not 60-somethings.  We 60-somethings have to be SOOOOOOO careful what we put on our skin!  It sucks to get old but that's life, darlings. 

So, I'm going to stick with what I know works for me, which are the L'Bri products.  They have aloe as their primary ingredient, no lanolin or mineral oil.

Family Tree Matters

A few days ago my friend, Rose, whom I "met" at ancestry.com when I first started researching the Newton/Villeneuve and Jablonski family trees (three-four years ago now), sent me a jpg of a very precious photograph.  The photo was identified (helpfully!) as my paternal grandfather, Frank C. (Chester) Newton, taken sometime between 1900 and 1910.

Rose is married to a gentleman whose grandmother was Myrtle Agnes Newton, one of my Grandpa Newton's older sisters.  The jpg she sent was one of Myrtle's family photos.

Myrtle was my great-aunt.  She married Forest Edward Sensiba in Iron River, Michigan, on July 19, 1915 and, as far as I know, lived in Iron River thereafter until her death.  Great-aunt Myrtle was the last of the children of my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, David Newton/Villeneuve and Laura Ruth Bailey, to pass away, in 1976.  My Grandpa Newton died in 1964, and it was a traumatic experience for me, because we were very close.

Grandpa Newton was born on January 2, 1894.  I am a very poor judge of how "old" someone is, I always guess wrong!  I know Grandpa fought in WWI, I believe he was drafted sometime in 1917.  He received a 21-gun salute at his funeral.  I remember how very loud it was.  Of course, 1917 was seven years after this photograph was taken.  Do you think he is a teenager in this photo?  In 1904, he would have been 10.  I think he looks about 12, which would make the year of the photo 1906-1907.

He is sooooo handsome!  And as a young man (in his wedding portrait, for instance) very very handsome. When I saw this photograph for the first time a few days ago, I thought how much my youngest brother, Jeffrey, looks like Grandpa Newton. 

Here is a photo of Grandpa Newton about two years before he passed away. It was taken in the summer of 1962 in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, at my Aunt Laurel's house on Racine Avenue (old Highway 11).

Can you see the resemblance between the young Grandpa Newton and the 68 year old Grandpa Newton?  I do!  Here, we were getting ready to listen to a Cubs game on that newfangled invention, the battery-operated transistor radio!  See how big and bulky it is, in it's leather case! 

At the time, I was living at the house where this photo was taken for a year in order, so I was told, to make my Confirmation (Roman Catholic faith).  It was the house where my Aunt Laurel, Uncle Verne, Cousin Kathy, and Grandpa Newton lived. Grandma Newton had died in January, 1962 and Grandpa Newton had come to live with Aunt Laurel, his oldest daughter, after the house, further down Highway 11 was sold.  But after Rose sent me the picture of my young Grandpa Newton, as I printed it out and pondered where to add it to my gallery wall (in a constant state of flux right now), I began wondering if I may have been sent to live with my Aunt for another reason, too. 

As the oldest daughter of Grandpa Newton's oldest son, perhaps I was sent there as an experiment to see if I would be able to "cheer up" Grandpa.  Of course, as an 11 year old, that would never have occurred to me; I was just so happy to be there!  But now, looking back at age 61, I think it could very likely be true that there were more things at work behind the scenes, so to speak.

I'd always been close to both Grandpa and Grandma Newton, staying with them for weeks every summer for - I don't know how long!  From age 5 or 6, I think.  One summer, my sister Debbie, next to me in age, came along, but she was very homesick and she only stayed a few nights, and then mom and dad came to take her back home, and I once again had the front bedroom and that roomy bed that squeaked every time I moved all to myself.  I remember a night - isn't it funny how our memories work? -- my sister Debbie and I were laying in the double bed with the iron bedhead that was shoved up underneath the double window at the front of the house, overlooking the front yard (with a colonade of massive trees down the driveway to old Highway 11).  It was the first time Debbie was staying at Grandma and Grandpa Newton's too!  The windows were open.  In the distance, I could hear the whistle of a train, and all around, the sounds of night were there: crickets, animal calls, the sound of tires on blacktop as an occasional car passed by on that old narrow highway.  I would fall asleep looking up through the window at stars, every night.  So many stars.  Back then, Sturtevant was a tiny village on the road to Racine, with no street lights!  In Milwaukee where I lived, one could not see such a sky at night. And one never heard all of those sounds of "silence."

I remember how safe and snug and secure I felt in that bed, that night, with the windows wide open to balmy night air, snuggled underneath the blankets that smelled of fresh air and sunshine (line dryed), and for every night I stayed there, for years!  But my sister Debbie, nope, she was crying. She was scared.  She just wanted to go back home.  And no matter what I said, she wouldn't stop crying until she finally fell asleep.  My poor sis cried herself to sleep.

I was sad to see her go, a few days later.  I don't remember crying.  Did I?  What I'm thinking now is that I was thinking then that even though I was sad to see my sister go home, I would now have Grandma and Grandpa all to myself.  And so it was; but there was one summer when my next in age sister, Darlene, came to stay, and my recollection is that she loved it. Darlene is about 3 1/2 years younger than me.  She wasn't home sick at all.  But it was only for one summer.  That was the last summer I remember spending at the old house on Highway 11, so perhaps the following January (1962) was when Grandma Newton died, the house was sold, and Grandpa Newton went to live with Aunt Laurel and Uncle Verne.  And then I came to stay for a year. 

Maybe some day some distant relative will come along and stumble across this blog post, for as long as it exists, and will appreciate these recollections.  In my heart, these things seems like they happened - yesterday.  But they were over 50 years ago, now...

Oh, how I miss you, Grandma and Grandpa Newton.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Got My Console Table!!! Now What?

Hola darlings! Spring shows no signs of returning to SE Wisconsin anytime soon, alas.  More snow and below freezing temperatures expected tomorrow; today we had sunshine for part of the day, and the iced-over snow already here melted a bit. That means the sidewalks on my trek to the bus stop tomorow morning will be - treacherous.  Sigh.

Today B-I-L Jer delivered the Queen Anne style console table I bought from my sis.  She's so pretty!  I shined her up with a coat of Old English furniture polish right away.  The wood is dry!  'Sis had her sitting in front of an eastern exposure window for more than 20 years, and it took its toll.  But overall, the table is in excellent shape.

Check out her sexy legs:

I'd already rearranged my paintstakingly put together (NOT) gallery wall on this wall in anticipation of test-running the table on it.  She's a match made in Heaven -- not too big, nott to small, although I thought she was taller than she actually is, for some reason.  Her dimensions are 27" tall, 47" long and 16" wide.  There's plenty of room to walk past her from the hallway and the kitchen into the family room.

In my anticipation of receiving this lovely little lady, I raised the pictures of my gallery wall too high -- well, that's a story for another day...

So now, there she is!  Ta da!  And what the heck do I put on her?  Oh.

While I'm pondering that, meanwhile I took off the switchplate for the lights because it was -- I discovered after all these years -- crooked!  And what I discovered inside was -- euuuuwwwww!

This photograph doesn't do it justice!  For instance, two mini-spider webs can't be seen, but trust me, they were there!  And all the construction crud -- from 22 plus years ago!  So, I pulled out the Dirt Devil and sucked things out as best I could without touching anything, and it's cleaner now than it was.  I cleaned up the face place and got rid of that crud outline where the faceplate rested and reset the faceplate.  Thought my problem was solved.  Ta da!  Meh.  Still crooked.  Damn!  I never noticed it before because I didn't have photographs hanging above it before.  So, removed the nearest photograph and that crookedness is not quite as noticeable even though now there's gap that in the arrangement I've had to balance (sort of) on the other side of the wall.  Arrrggghhh!

So, now on the hunt for ideas how to decorate that lovely little console table.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

What is it your town can do really well...

....hmmmm, we can sew!  Yes, we can sew...

OH MY GODDESS!  A little while ago to catch up, I visited one of my favorite sewing blogs (yes, I can sew, no, I'm not very good at it, and yes, I love it anyway, just like I play chess :)   10,000 Hours of Sewing.  I love Victoria!  Please check out her blog.  Meanwhile, I hope you will enjoy this film clip from "The Three Amigos", aptly entitled "We Can Sew!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Yearning for a Round "Library" Table, Part 2

Hola darlings!  Thank Goddess it's finally Friday!  I don't care it's supposed to rain all weekend.  It's getting lighter and lighter earlier and earlier every day, and as of Daylight Savings Time switch an hour ahead on Sunday, the sun won't be going down until close to 7 p.m.!  Woo woo!  I already more peppy and energized. 

Guess what!  I bought my youngest sister's Queen Anne style console table last night (after I posted here) -- she gave it to me for my original ridiculously low offer price, even though I offered her 2x as much, which was probably a fair price (though she wouldn't get it on Craiglist or at a rummage sale).  I also had to tell her, regretfully, that I would not be able to use the lovely teal wing chairs after all, because they just won't "go" with the celedon, white and taupe color scheme I'm putting into the family room.  Those chairs will probably haunt me.  I've always liked them. 

But, with chairs or without, I found some lovely round tables - on a smaller scale than the traditional "library" or "hall" table, at many price points.  I kept to my decision to shop for smaller diameter tables (1) to fit into the space and (2) not look like a duplicate dinette table which is only a few feet away through a wide-open doorway!  My dining table is 56" diameter.  Let it be noted, though, that if I had a large enough space that was more closed off from the dinette, I wouldn't hesitate to shop for a round dining table to serve as my library table!  As it is, however, here are the smaller tables:

Table above -- Hooker Pedestal Accent Table in a "rustic" style/finish, found at Mathis Brothers.  Specs:

Width (side to side)30"
Height (bottom to top)25"
Depth (front to back)30"

It is priced at $349.95.  I like this table (1) for its styling and (2) for its finish.  Love the contrasting finish and the "country" or "shabby chic" look -- but it's not over-the-top.  This table's lines are elegant!  Its finish would relate to the new color scheme that will be in my family room and its lines, as well as its finish, are different enough from my near-by dining table in the dinette as to not make one blink about two round tables in relatively close proximity.  

I found the table above at Wayfair. Isn't she pretty!  I love the classic lines and the two-tone finish accented in gold.  Tres Napoleonic Directoire!  It is the Stein World Pedestal End Table 11404 and is priced at $359.99.  Specs:  31" H x 32" W x 32" D.  As a practical matter, I will probably own my black finished with gold brass trim entertainment center for many more years, and this table's finish is a lovely bridge between the black and wood-tone elements I've got going on in both my family room and the dinining area.  The pedestal design also somewhat echos the pedestal design on my dining table, without being in any way a copy.  It would fit beautifully -- and I also like that it is 6" taller than the Hooker table, and a wee bit wider, as well (2").

What can I say about the beautiful table above?  It is a reproduction of a Round Regency Pedestal Table from Scully and Scully, selling for $2,950.  It is a much larger diameter table than my other chosen tables -- it's 44" diameter and 30" tall, mahogany, its top and edge of slip-matched swirl mahogany veneers, and made in America to boot!  What's not to love?  Oh, if only I had unlimited wealth and a larger space.  Look at that finish, and the design is just exquisite. 

I found the table above at Overstock.com.  Its the Kalepso Table made in Indonesia by native craftsmen -- handmade, hand-finished.  Each table is slightly different.  She's a beauty, isn't she! Love that center "crown" underneath the center of the table, lots of sexy curves too and no MDF used.  She is priced right now at $179.99.  Specs: 

Dimensions:  28 in. dia. x 28 in. H
Materials:  Indonesian hardwood
Model No:  MJ709 
This table is the smallest in diameter of the tables featured above (but not the shortest), but she is so lovely, and that price, just amazing, actually, considering she is entirely hand made and one of a kind, made to specs but when one is dealing with hand-made, well, hand-made things don't always measure up to machine-made specs!  The trade-off is the price versus those extra inches to hold a lamp, and some books, and still have room to set down a drink. 

Oh, I don't know, I don't know.  Maybe I could buy one of the under $1,000 tables with part of my income tax refund -- but I seriously need to put money aside for a new roof and don't need to be buying ANYTHING right now, not even replacing my worn-out slide-ons.  And then there is the issue of the over-large (queen size) sofa sleeper that I really like, and the matchy Chippendale style wing chair, also too large for the space (realistically), and the 1986 entertainment center -- and I'm reading way the hell too many blogs and being pulled in way the hell too many different directions design wise!  I need to go eat a baked potato right now, I think. 

I need to attend to my P's and Q's first, and get the rest of the wallpaper removed, the walls primed, the drywall damage fixed, and THEN everything painted, including the woodwork. The new curtain rods installed, bookcases -- what on earth am I going to do with those bookcases?  EEK!  May be finished right around January 1, 2018, which is my target retirement date. 

Okay, now I'm thinking about my study.  Maybe I've been cursed...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Yearning for a Round Library Table

Hola darlings!

Well, the last couple of days have been rather synchronicitous (hmmm, wonder if that's actually a word...)  As you may know, I've been in the process of redoing my family room for about a year now, and I haven't made much progress.  My problem is that, on a really really miniscule budget, my eyes are bigger than my wallet. 

Oh, I've got the paint, I've got the fake wood (yes, I bought fake wood) chair-rail and blocks (inner and outer corners and joiners for in-between to span a long run of wall)  that I will be able to install myself (I hope) with glue and NO NAILS!  I've got the textured and patterned wallpaper for the lower part of the walls, I've got my celadon horsey that I found at TJ Maxx more than a year ago that was the inspiration for the whole adventure!  I also have what I think is an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous area rug I bought at Overstock.com that will anchor the seating area, and to-die-for "seaside blue" curtains that I picked up at J.C. Penney's -- actually went to the mall and shopped there in person because I wanted to see the colors with my own eyes. 

Well, it has seemed for the past 13 plus years (ever since I and others started up Goddesschess) that I no sooner form a thought than all of a sudden I'm bombarded with images, conversations, newspaper and magazine articles, or -- well, for instance, when I was cleaning last weekend, I came across an old Traditional Home magazine, from October, 2009, that somehow I'd not read yet! So on Monday I took it along for my bus ride to the office, and - me bad - dog-earred several pages.  Perfectly innocent, right?  Here are scans of two of those pages:

Oops!  A crooked scan, geez.  But I'm not doing it over, please try to ignore the, er, crookedness.  Anyway, the cover of the magazine (top scan) features four wing chairs around what I call a "library" table (also may be called a "hall" table).   It's probably as tall as a tea table and, as far as I know, always round.  I am guessing that the diameter of the table isn't more than 36" -- so the chairs are pulled in close, and what a great way to promote conversation or play a game of chess, or 500 rummy.  I love the design of that space.

The second picture - it just took my breath away.  While I'm not crazy about the use of those stools -- how uncomfortable those would be when you're trying to sit at that scrumptious table reading a book or chatting with some friends over tea or coffee or cocktails -- the overall design just wowed me!  Mentally I substituted appropriately scaled upholstered side chairs in place of those stools.  The table in Pic 2 is quite a bit larger than the table in the first picture, and is loaded with books, a topiary, and that exquisite Tang Dynasty style horse.  Oh my!  The entire setting just draws me in and I want to sit for hours exploring those books -- wonder what they are...

Above is my own modestly priced but all wood version of a Tang Dynasty horse purchased some years ago from the Museum Store in the mall downtown.  She is very well done, with good coloration and fine proportions.  And my Xena, Warrior Princess, aaaaayyyyeeeeeiioooooooaaaahhhhh, giving a Xena shout-out, rides forth to some new adventure, as she waves to her buddy hanging around above...

I found the prints (above) online -- they feature Tang Dynasty horses, the black one is being ridden by a trainer.  Ah yes, you can see my lovely (not) wallpaper with some parts already torn off, sans border that used to top it, that was installed far higher than any wallpaper border meant to substitute for a chair rail had a right to be!  Well, I took 32 inches (average height for chair rail from the floor) and stretched it to 42 inches.  LOL!  The frames in the pic are positively ANCIENT, darlings.  Plastic - black shiny plastic.  And fake gold trim - it's like thick gold-toned foil glued around the black plastic.  LOL!  I adore them, of course.  Two hundred years from now I'll be able to pass them off as genuine bakelite, and who will know...  Now the table - and that far too tall for today lamp (one of a pair) -- what on earth am I going to do with those?  They are still in perfect condition.  Table purchased in 1986, lamps purchased in perhaps 1995. 

Perhaps now you see why I particularly fell in love with photograph #2 from the October 2009 Traditional Home magazine.  I don't have a statuesque and stately urn, nor a live topiary, nor a small crystal sphere, and the only magnifying glass I own is in my Walgreens readers, but books I have - multitudes of books, in all shapes, sizes and colors, in all subjects.  I am a book lover's haven of books!  I want to show off some of my books in a delightful "library" vignette featuring an exquisite round table with perfectly-proportioned Queen Anne chairs against a sophisticated taupe and creamy white background (don't forget the chair rail that I will miraculously install perfectly level and plumb), with either Xena's black Tang Dynasty horse or my TJMaxx find, the celadon-colored pottery Tang Dynasty horse not done very well (her propotions make her look like the Incredible Hulk of faux Tang Dynasty horses) but I love her anyway.  In the background, through my exquisitely draped and ornamented window, you will just be able to make out my lush backyard gardens in the summertime, and if you listen carefully you may even here a cardinal's song...or a Milwaukee Brewers game on the radio.  And see me with holely socks stretched out on the too large sleeper sofa that I really don't want to get rid of.  Ahhhhhh....

Now, if all of that wasn't enough  to put me over the edge (Monday night I'd already started window shopping online like a woman possessed to see if I could find a suitable table at a suitable price and I continued Tuesday night, frustrated but more determined than ever), Wednesday over lunch hour I was visiting Savvy Southern's Style Wow-Us Wednesdays and there I saw post #28, which led me to The French Hutch and Emily's March 4, 2013 post on some wonderfully gorgeous chairs in her household.  AND -- this photograph.  You'll have to visit to see it -- scroll down to photograph #19 of 34 and then click on it to enlarge, and you'll be taken to a slideshow that shows a larger photo. It shows two Chippendale style wing chairs opposite each other and in the middle rests a beautiful antique round table stacked with books and a floral arrangement of hydrangeas.  It's in the study.  The study.  You should never ever see the room I call my study. 

When I got home from the office Wednesday night, there was an email from my youngest sister.  She and her hubby have sold their large house here in southeast Wisconsin and are moving to what we SE Wisconsinites call "up north," about 4 1/2 hour drive away.  Yeah, pretty far up there.  I'm losing my baby sister.  She may as well be moving to the fricking moon. 

They're downsizing and need to get rid of some furniture.  She asked me if I was interested in buying anything.  Well, it just so happens I've always admired her Queen Anne style console table that has excellent proportions and a mellow cherry finish -- and it has three (or is it two?) drawers.  In the same room - a seldom-used living room - are two deep teal wing chairs in a silky-looking waffle-weave fabric in a modified Queen Anne style.  So, I asked what she'd be willing to part with them for.

She replied, and truth be told, I wasn't very tactful when I told her she was nuts for the price she was asking.  So, I said forget about the chairs, this is what I'll offer for the table (a ridiculously low price).  She probably will never speak to me again...

Had those pieces on my brain ALL DAY LONG TODAY.  Geez!  The scale of my sister's wing chairs would fit much better into my 12 1/2 x 18 foot family room, but I just wasn't sure about the color.  Deep teal, how would it look with my tending-toward-green celadon, taupe and white walls/trim?  Could those colors possibly work together?  Hmmm... Over the lunch hour I did some searches and the only way I might be able to make it work would be to start over with print curtains, that I would have to make, featuring the colors together with some taupe.  I saw some intriguing combinations and patterns, but realistically, it's just not going to happen.  I like my new as yet unused curtains far too much to junk them at this stage!  They haven't even been hung up yet - they're virgins! 

When I got home tonight I pulled the curtains and the rug out of the garage where I've been storing them and did a close examination.  Ooohhhh, I did make the right decisions on the rug and the curtains.  Then I tried my best to see what the curtains would look like against screen shots of medium to dark teal colors on the computer.  I decided that my sister's teal wing chairs just will not go with my curtains or the rug.  So, unless she makes me an offer I absolutely cannot refuse, no teal wing chairs will be joining Maison Newton.  Maybe I could paint them...  No Jan, NO! 

But that Queen Anne style console table, that's a different matter.  I made her a more serious offer tonight, I'll see what she says.  She may try for a decent price -- it's pretty obvious that my sis hasn't checked prices on our local Craig's List, else she would realize she will only get a relative pittance for her beautiful table, either through Craig's List or a rummage sale.

So - yep, I want a round table for my family room.  Never mind that I have a 56" round and rather imposing dining table right next store in the dinette, which can be seen in all of its glory, surrounded by four equally imposing chairs, from the large doorway between dinette and family room.  Ah yes, the "open concept" design in its infancy.  I think it would look rather silly to have two round tables of relatively close size so close to each other, don't you?  And how could I coordinate the styles and/or finishes so they wouldn't jar against each other?

Oh, decisions, decisions.

None of which has stopped my online window shopping, LOL!  I thought perhaps something around 36" diameter would work.  More tomorow...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Changing Up the Mistress Bedroom

Hola darlings!

More snow is on the way but, for now anyway, the forecast has been downgraded from 6 to 10 inches to 2 to 5 inches, hooray!

This weekend I decided I wanted to change up my bedroom a little bit.  This is what it looked like in January:

Oops!  How embarrassing.  I was certain I took several photos of the red/black/white floral print comforter on the bed, right around January 1st or so.  But I checked both laptops and can't find them anywhere.  I have no idea what I did with them -- and that is very very scary, eek!  Maybe I didn't take them like I thought I did???  So, no "before" pic.  This is the print, though -- because I had put up the matching valances earlier in the season -- check out Readying the Bedroom for Winter from October, 2012!  Wow, I got ready for winter early. 

That's the pattern of the comforter, trimmed out in the lovely red/black/white mini-check - pleated!  It really is a lovely comforter, and quite heavy.  It took a great deal to get it folded properly and stuffed back into its plastic storage bag, I'm not going to take it out and put it back on the bed in order to get a photo of it, LOL! 

And this is what is what the bedroom looks like now (try to imagine the red/black/white floral pattern on the bed, before):

I took down the red/black/white floral valances and put up the Waverly toile curtains on the windows (black toile pattern against an antique white or ivory background); also swapped out the heavy (and uber-warm) red/black/white floral comforter for this lighter quilt in cream/taupe/grey.  I've been waking up with the night sweats again, it was time to change out my blankey since the temperatures have moderated outside.

The curtains were purchased in 2007 on clearance from Penney's, as was the comforter.  I don't remember what I paid for them but I wouldn't have bought them unless they were a good deal :)

They totally change the look of the room.  Lighter and brighter, ready to move into spring. 

I tried to take a close-up of the toile pattern, but rather difficult to do when the curtain won't stay spread out flat, LOL!  I think I need another hand.  Amazingly, because I never save stuff like this, I somehow managed to save the original packaging these curtains came in.  The pattern is Wellington Country Toile. 

Here's a close-up of the floral "basket" pattern on the quilt:

Mother Goddess still on her pedestal :)  She approves of the changes.

Not the best photo (above), but I love this frame!  I found it at TJ Maxx a few months ago and it was very inexpensive,  like $4.99.  It's picture size is small, only 4 x 6, but I remembered three beautiful hand-made note cards I had purchased in December, 2011 -- still sitting in my desk waiting to see the light of day!  This is one of them.  It's a little short but width-wise it fit perfectly.  It's a lovely graphic of koi, in Buddhist philosophy they represent good luck. The graphic adds an important touch of red (Feng Shui Principles 101) to the room and the good luck symbols are powerful attractors of positive qi (chi) that you want circulating in your sleeping space to renew and restore you and stoke you up for the next day.

I was thinking at first that I would keep the white mesh canopy up, but maybe fold it back so it's "in half" and tack up the top to the ceiling half-way back to the hooks above the bedstead and then hook what is now at the foot of the bed on the hooks at the head of the bed. But I'm not enamoured of the very white color with the cream/ivory tones of the curtain quilt and the curtains. So, for summer I am thinking of going with one of those little mini "tent" canopies.  I'll see.  It depends on whether I can get a good deal on a cream-colored canopy in the style I want.  I may also move the furniture around, just to switch things up.

I love feeling like a princess every night when I go to bed.  Some form of canopy will be present for the foreseeable future. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cleaning the Curio Cabinet

Hola everyone! Warning - LONG POST!

I am catching up here.  On Wednesday, 2/27, starting the night before with snow that clogged "rush hour" here, the snow started falling.  We were supposed to get 5  6 inches.  We ended up with twice that amount that, unfortunately, caught the city unawares.  The forecast was, you see, for much less snow, because the antiquated models do not take into account "lake effect" snow caused by Lake Michigan when the wind is blowing in a certain direction (i.e. OFF THE LAKE!)  and temperature differentials between land and water make a BIG different in snow fall totals as far inland as seven miles.  As the crow flies, I'm about five miles inland, so if there is lake effect snow, I get hammered.

And Maison Newton did get hammered, as did most of the rest of Milwaukee County! 

I've posted pics of the snow and drifts and snow banks, etc. in the two previous posts (scroll below).  What had been a relatively mild and snowless winter abruptly changed when February rolled around.  Sigh. February came close to breaking a record,  near 30 inches of snow just in one fricking month.  I'd rather have gotten it in December and January, when one expects lots of snow in SE Wisconsin, NOT at the end of February when one is waiting for spring to come and thinking the worst is over.  We barely had a decent White Christmas here!  That's just not right!

Conditions were so crappy early Wednesday mornng I exercised some discretion and stayed home from the office. Soooo glad I did, for it was awful out all day long.  As it turned out, at least 50% of our people were unable to make it to work that day, so I was not alone! That doesn't make me any happier about having to waste a PTO day in winter, but so it goes.

I spent a good part of the early to mid-morning (at least 4 hours), cleaning the curio cabinet. 

Out came the glass cleaner, water, rags and paper towels.  Voila!  Eventually it looked presentable again. 

I took lots of pictures of the contents, including new pics of my collection of pink elephants.  I know, I know -- who the heck collects pink elephants?  Well, I do. It all started when my Mom gave me Grandma Newton's pink elephant.  Grandma Newton died in 1962, when I was 11.  I loved her so dearly, and it still hurts so much to this day to think of her being gone.  I was very close to Grandma and Grandpa Newton.  But, as an 11 year old, I probably would not have fully appreciated the value of that little pink elephant and may not have taken so good care of it as I do now, so it's a good think Mom kept it put away for a later day.  But when I moved out to my first apartment, Mom whipped it out from somewhere (her undy-drawer, I think), and gave it to me. 

It's been one of my most prized possessions ever since.  It's value is in it's memories and sentiment.  It was made in Japan (mark is still legible on the bottom)  post-WWII?, and it has some gold paint trim and little red lips(!), and is different in form and style from all of the other pink elephants I've collected (or that have been gifted to me) over the years.  But I've no real sense that it is worth any $.  Not that it matters.  To me, Grandma Newton's pink elephant is priceless.  Well, maybe if it was worth $1 million, then I might sell it and fund a Newton/Villeneuve - Bellanger Family Memorial as well as an annual Newton Goddesschess Women's Open Chess Tournament with nice cash prizes!  Ah, dream on...

When I moved into my first house in 1986, one of the first pieces that went into place was Grandma Newton's little pink elephant and it held center stage on top of my t.v., and then was showcased inside a built-in bookcase.  But it looked lonely.  It was the only one, and sort of lost.  Once I build Maison Newton and moved in, I started collecting more pink elephants.  I wanted Grandma Newton's elephant to have company.  Oh I know, that sounds crazy, but that is the reason why, the true reason why, I decided to collect more pink elephants. 

Well, you can see from the flash showing up in the photo that I'm no photographer!  Damn!  That's the curio cabinet. It is made by Pulaski and is a beautiful oriental-style, with solid-brass fittings, in a medium-dark finish but not espresso, it's color is more like a dark rosewood (but I don't think it is real rosewood).  There are two old-fashioned fluorescent tube lights inside that have long since stopped working (cords dangle out the back) that I did not replace when they died.  Glass doors upper and lower, glass sides, mirrored back.  Solid wood, except for the back, unfortunately, which is just plain unfinished fiberboard, ugh! 

This baby cost me $700 back in 1986 when I bought it - a TON of money then, or so it seemed at the time, but I seemed to have a ton of money back then.  What the hell happened?  Yeah yeah, I keep committing the cardinal sins of blogging - one of which is I'm not supposed to mention the price of anything unless I bought it for $1 or at a rummage sale or something like that. Oops.  I keep doing it anyway.  Call me a slow learner.  I shudder to think what such a piece would cost today, if I could even find the equivalent in workmanship and materials.  But I fell that in love with it that I pulled out my wallet and never looked back.  I've not regretted my decision :)  When I think of this beautiful cabinet possibly being painted over in chalk paint some day once I'm gone and one of my relatives sells it at a rummage sale, not knowing its true worth, Oh Goddess, it makes me ill just thinking of it!  Incentive enough to live forever, or however the hell long I can, and that's a fact, Jack! 

The cabinet anchors the tall wall next to the open staircase to the second floor.  The foregoing photo is my view of the cabinet when I work at the desk in this room. 

I'm much happier with these photos than previous ones I've taken at night (which may have shown up in prior posts) - they didn't turn out well at all.  Today the light was excellent!  This is the top shelf.  You can see a reflection of the opposite wall in the mirrored back!

Close up of the top shelf, left side: porcelain vase with pastel iris and butterflies was puchased at one of the last top
end furniture stores on old 16th Street (today the area is overrun with illegal aliens) in 1986.  The furniture store
location is still there, but the type of goods sold there today is much different than what used to be stocked.
Porcelain plate with pastel irises to the immediate left was a birthday gift many years ago from my sister, Debbie. 
Of the three elephants that you can see in this photo, those on the far left and the far right were gifts; the larger
clear pink glass elephant in the center is by Fenton and was purchased at one of my outings to the Fireside Theatre
in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, at one of the gift shops there.
Yadda yadda.  This is the right side of the top shelf.  Chicadee plate purchased from Hamilton Mint eons ago.
The little bud vase to the right is from an ancient relationship, a man I still think of with sadness.
Large glass elephant to the left is a recent purchase (last year) ; center rear pink elephant is by Fenton
and purchased at one of my outings to the Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin (one of several purchased
during many outings); the little glass elephant elephant to its ight, ont he black stand, was a gift from my
honorary god-daughter, Michelle.  And, the little cloissone elephant in front, also a gift from Michelle.  It's
actually a miniature box that opens.  So precious!
Second shelf: Holds the bulk of my collection of  pink elephants. Oops for hands holding camera clearly visible!
You're going to see a lot more of me in the following photos.  They were taken at close quarters -- I wasn't
about to tug the sofa out of the way to take photos of my curio cabinet contents!  Several of these elephants
were gifts, the rest have been purchased over time.   Grandma Newton's prized pink elephant is at the front,
on the right. See the little redlips curved in a tiny smile?  True, some of these elephants aren't "pink" per se,
but they all hve at least a touch of pink on them :)
Tried to get the entire second shelf in this photo.  Grandma Newton's little pink elephant is center, front.

 There she is, Grandma Newton's pink elephant (center, front).  She's a very pale pink, looks nearly white in contrast to the
other elephants.  You can see some of the gold painted highlights still on her after all these years.  Interestingly,
many of the pink elephants in my collection were also manufactured in Japan, and date back to post-WWII and
the 1950's.  A few of my pink elephants (they are actually planters with a space to put a small plant) were made
in the USA and date back to the 1930s.  Some of my elephants don't have a "provenance," but I bought
them because I liked them :)
Fourth shelf:  This is my prized Roses and Thistles porcelain chess set that was given to me by a co-worker just
before she retired, a few years ago.  They used to hold whiskey :)  Yes!  Some of the pieces still have the
original seal and cork in them, but the whiskey was either drunk and then the cork and seal put back or
it has long since evaporated if it was left intact!  My co-worker, a tax accountant, worked for many years for a major
oil company in Texas and traveled the globe, often traveling on Caledonia Airlines.  These pieces were
a promotion at one time by Caledonia Airlines and were handed out to passengers.  The rarest pieces
today are the pawns.  If anyone has eight black and eight white porcelain Roses and Thistles pawns that
they want to sell, please contact me :)  I have the original boxes that each of these pieces came in. 

Here are the two Queens:  Black Queen is Mary, Queen of Scots; White Queen is Elizabeth I.  The two
Queens were cousins in real life.  It was Elizabeth's unfortunate duty to eventually sign a warrant for
execution of her own cousin, Mary, because of continual plots surrounding resurrecting the Catholic Queen
Mary to depose Elizabeth and become the Queen of England.  Interestingly, it seems that the black
porcelain pieces are slightly smaller in scale than the white pieces -- I attribute it to prejudice
against the black pieces by the original creator of the set.  Or maybe Caledonia just made the
white pieces first, and was running out of money when they started manufacturing the black pieces...'

Fifth (bottom) shelf:  Miscellaneous gifts from over the years, except for the piece on the far left...

Isn't she beautiful?  This is another piece of Grandma Newton's.  It's a little planter.  Years ago, unfortunately,
it got broken while moving from one apartment to another, and I didn't glue it back together very well.
But she's still here with us.  This piece, and the little pink elephant, are my most valuable possessions.