Monday, February 22, 2016

Taking inspiration where you find it.

Before I started Blogging in 2013 I had been an avid reader of blogs for several years and one of the first blogs that I read religiously was a blog called Between Naps on the Porch or BNOTP written by Susan, the blog's author.  It was and is among other things a (mostly) decorating blog with two longstanding weekly link parties.  It was through those linky parties that I found more interesting blogs to read and follow and through my very infrequent participation that I found a few new readers of my blogs and some new blog friends.  The number of talented people out there writing about interesting topics is astounding but that could be its own post.

I want to share what inspired me from Susan's blog last week.  Early in the week she shared a picture of a professionally decorated room that was a favorite of hers with a list of 25 things that she learned about decorating from that one picture.  That post is here.  A few days later her post for the Tablescape Thursday link party showcased her Blue Willow dishes. That post is here.

Those two posts inspired me to share some photos of my Blue Willow and provide a list of things that I learned about tablescaping from her two posts.

I also have some Blue Willow pieces that were collected by and loved by my grandmother and are temporarily mine to enjoy until they make their way to my youngest daughter who loves them just as much and has requested that they be hers someday.

Grandma was not a picky collector.  She lived in a town of around 600 people that had one antique dealer.  I don't know for sure but I am pretty confident that Grandma bought every single piece of Blue Willow that came through that little antique store.  She didn't have place settings.  She had pieces.  Blue Willow was made by many companies and in different countries and she was not a purist so her pieces span much of what is out there.  She also didn't appear to care if a piece was in mint condition.  Many of her pieces have been well used  and have the cracks and crazing to show for it. I think that most of her collection was amassed as a younger or middle aged woman with not many pieces added in the decade before her death.

A few of Grandma's pieces that are favorites of mine or ones that I find interesting:
my corner cupboard


coffee or tea pot, two cups and creamer.  Missing sugar bowl.

three different sets of salts and peppers.

gravy boat

two bowls

Three coffee mugs
 And then a list.  Susan had a single photo of a table in her earlier post and then on many photos of a different table in her second post.  The first showed a beautiful crocheted set of table linens made by her mother while she was pregnant with the author and two patterns of pink china used together.  The china was vintage and very feminine.  The second featured multiple photos of the traditional blue and white Blue Willow china in a matched place setting with a single piece of a second pattern in green and very nontraditional green silverware.  Both were absolutely lovely.  Her tablescapes always are.  She is one of the best.

Here is my list in no particular order.

1.  Mixed patterns of china, when well paired, provide interest on the table.

2.  China and flatware patterns that are not obvious choices for use together, when paired, can often create a very different feel than if either were used separately.

3.  Even flatware sets can be combined for a different look.

4. Using parts of two sets allows you to stretch your collection.  In the Blue Willow post Susan's striped and dotted flatware set did not contain a salad fork and using the salads from a similarly colored but very differently styled set works.

5.  Vintage pieces like the crystal salt cellars are still fun to use and add a little extravagance to a table.

6. Vintage linens like the exquisite set made by Susan's mother have a timeless appeal and should be treasured.  Anyone who crafts can imagine the time investment in making such an intricate and flawless set.

7. A tablecloth is not always used.

8. Layering two napkins is a great look and may provide a way to include a heirloom or special napkin with less risk of it becoming stained from actual use.

9. There are lots of options for under the plate.  The crocheted placemat is a very different look that the white ceramic charger used under the Blue Willow.

10. The charger or placemat can be used to bring out a certain aspect of the china.  In the pink table the linens were ecru with pink and green crocheted flowers.  Each of the china patterns had pink as a predominant color.  Each of the china patterns had a floral component.  The pink banded china pattern had a gardenia in the center and the other pattern had an border of flowers on the rim.  The gardenia from the banded pattern was repeated in the centerpiece.  In the blue table the white is repeated in the charger and both china patterns and the green of the silverware and the smallest plate is repeated in the centerpiece and the stemware and the napkin rings.

11. Your china can be beautiful without costing a fortune.  Susan told how her Blue Willow was purchased piece by piece at a grocery store as a promotion where purchasing an certain dollar amount of groceries allowed a person to purchase the dishes inexpensively. 

And speaking of inspiration, Susan was the person who blogged back in June of 2011 about this new internet community called Pinterest and offered to 'invite' anyone who wanted to join.  At that time you could request to join but if invited by someone who was already a member it was much quicker.  Since then their policy has changed and you no longer needed an invitation to join.  I am not sure how many people Susan 'invited' but I was one of them and glad that I was.

Sharing with Met Monday at BNOTP


  1. Very pretty, and good points. I like to use sheets for tablecloths, because some of them are so pretty. xoxo Su

    1. That is a great idea. Some are really pretty and they also launder well. :)

  2. I just adore Susan and her blog. Not only is she a fabulous and inspirational decorator, I think that she is genuinely a nice person. She always answers my comments and on occasion we have even emailed back and forth about topics. I find that rare for the bigger bloggers. Your own collection is lovely. I like mixing and matching pieces on a table, too. I think it makes it more interesting and I don't always use a table cloth either. I like the look of a rustic wooden table against the delicate vintage pieces you describe. I just think it's so charming. Ps...I love those drawings on your wall. I am assuming they are your kids? So sweet!!

    1. Yep, those are my kids, as children. It is kind of funny. I was shopping with my mom and I had two kids at the time and there was an artist set up in the mall that was doing drawings with charcoal I think, anyway it only took him a few minutes to do each one. Then, later, I had another child and when she was about the same age as my others were when their drawings were done we were at a mall and the same guy was doing more drawings and so we were able to get hers done too. It is so weird because it was not like it was our local mall where we always shop. We had to drive to the Twin Cities. I am not even sure that it was the same mall. My older two are 33 and 31 and my youngest is 26. So those drawings have been around a little while. :)