Vintage Pottery Floral Casserole

Usually I open my blog posts with a family story, but I’ve got nothing this week. This piece of vintage pottery isn’t even mine. Do you see the tears rolling down my sad face?

GotMyReservations Vintage CasseroleMy favorite local antique shop is special — it’s kind of cross between a thrift shop and a high-end decor shop. Janet at Lucky Junk specializes in found items and French Country decor and mixes them together in a funky design style. Her vignettes in the store are gorgeous and always thought-provoking. I’m sure you know that “I can do that!” moment.

GotMyReservations Vintage Casserole 2

Lucky Junk is open twice a month, usually on the second and fourth weekends. Janet posts the schedule on the shop’s web site and Facebook page. She also sells Vintage Market goods including chalk paint and wax. I took a class there this spring.

GotMyReservations Lucky Junk Painting WorkshopWhen I saw this beautiful casserole in a Lucky Junk cupboard, I knew I had to feature it. It’s just gorgeous! It would be really fun to build a tablescape around its bright but slightly aged colors.

GotMyReservations Vintage Casserole 3

The casserole is marked Japan on the bottom but doesn’t have any manufacturer’s mark. It was quite reasonably priced if you can’t live without it.

I’m linked up this week with Dawn at We Call It Junkin’ and Christine at Rustic and Refined. Be sure to stop by and say hello — and “like” their Facebook pages as well as Lucky Junk’s page.

GotMyReservations Coffee Thank You Sign Off

Biltmore Part II: Biltmore Estate Landscaping

What pairs well with the biggest private home in the United States? Why, one’s own forest and mountain, of course.

On our visit to the Biltmore Estate we marveled at the beautiful landscape surrounding George Washington Vanderbilt’s mansion. It is even more amazing when you realize that most of this landscape was immature during Vanderbilt’s lifetime. He and his very famous landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, both died before really being able to appreciate the glory of what they designed.

GotMyReservations Biltmore View of Mt Pisgah

Biltmore Estate forests with view of Blue Ridge Mountains

Continue reading

Floral Fantasy Tablescape

I don’t want to jinx it, but my garden has never looked better! Even with the plant loss from our crazy winter, this rainy June has rejuvenated all of my sad plants. It seemed a perfect week to feature a flowery tablescape.

GotMyReservations Floral Fantasy  Intro

It all started with my inspiration piece –a Nippon Rose pattern vase. I traced its history here. The greens of the piece combined with the yellow and red roses reminded me of English country gardens, overflowing with colorful flowers. The base of the centerpiece is a distressed green wooden tray found on the sale rack at Joann Fabrics. I created a floral centerpiece with faux flowers picking up the yellow, red, lavender, and greens in the vase and the linens. Continue reading

A Mighty Fortress

Music Man and I have a favorite brass group that we “follow” whenever they are performing in the Chicagoland area. The King’s Brass is a seven-piece brass group with additional keyboard and percussion players. Founded 35 years ago by director Tim Zimmerman, the group plays about 120 concerts a year in churches and concert halls. The members of the group are all professional musicians with gigs at universities and symphonies, but they travel six months of the year with King’s Brass. Their concert tour schedule is here; if they are in your area and you like church music, I highly recommend that you try to attend a concert.


Click into photo for source and more information about King’s Brass.

Continue reading

Nippon Rose Vase Tablescape Inspiration

It’s that time of the week again, when I start looking around my house for inspiration for this week’s tablescape. Although I only have a small hoard cache of items to choose from compared with some of the tablescaping queens, there’s still lots of things to share with you. I wish I had a storage room in my house like the one at Biltmore, where I could store all my pretties in one place.


The Flower Room at Biltmore Estate, where the servants would create fresh floral arrangements for the house. Click into photo for source.

I’m just not in the mood to do a fake Fourth of July tablescape, so I’m waiting until next week when I’ll actually use the table setting to entertain friends. It’s still June, and summer has barely gotten rolling here in Chicagoland! Continue reading

The Sunday Review: Two Visions of Anne Boleyn

9780547328188_p0_v1_s260x420On her web site, Susan Bordo says that her goal in writing The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen was to delve into the question of why Anne Boleyn and her story continue to fascinate new generations. What was so special about her that Henry VIII risked everything to have her? Continue reading

Vintage Ferris Wheel Tablescape Inspiration

When Cuisine Kathleen posted her “summer whimsey” challenge, I knew that the time had come to bring out my vintage Ferris wheel and feature it in a vacation tablescape.

GotMyReservations Chein Disney Ferris Wheel

J. Chein Disney Ferris Wheel

I grew up with this toy and played with it whenever we visited my great-grandmother’s house. I was named after her, and the toy was passed down to me eventually. I had it evaluated at one of those appraisal parties and they said at the time that it was worth about $100, but to me it’s priceless and will be one of the last items to pass on to family members when it’s my turn. The Ferris wheel brings back good memories of playing at Grandma Jennie’s house. Continue reading

Montmartre in the Sun — Photo of the Day

If you haven’t climbed up to Sacré Cœur in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris, you haven’t actually lived Paris.

GotMyReservations -- Montmartre in the Sun

Walking in the footsteps of the artists and performers, ladies of the night, and now millions of tourists, the narrow winding streets of Montmartre take you back to another time. Because its architecture and character is protected by a historic district designation, Montmartre doesn’t change much.

I recommend getting Rick Steves’s Montmartre Walk on Kindle for your smartphone or iPad and follow the tour up the hill. We did this on a sleepy July morning and by the time we got to the top, we were ready to enjoy the quiet reverence of Basilique du Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre. And the views from the top are worth every step!


GotMyReservations -- Sacre Coeur view

View from the top of the Sacre Coeur Basilica.

I’m linking up with The Tablescaper for “Oh, The Places I’ve Been”, Travel Photo Monday” at Travel Photo Discovery, and “Travel Photo Thursday” at Budget Travelers Sandbox, so stop by and get some more inspiration for your travel bucket list!

Got my bags, got my reservations,
Spent each dime I could afford. 
Like a child in wild anticipation, 
I long to hear that, “All aboard!”

Music and lyrics by Bud Green, Les Brown and Ben Homer (1944)



The Sunday Review: Getting Up to Speed on the Tudor Court

After Friday’s Travel Diary post, I’ve had several requests for the quintessential book about the Tudor Court. Clearly, I cannot name just one. Impossible. I can, however, give you a glimpse into a reader’s history and how I developed a passion for Anne Boleyn’s story.

Yes, that’s me inserted into the Queen Elizabeth I painting. My son gave me this for my birthday last year!

I came into my obsession through a couple of different avenues, but we’ll start with my childhood reading. As a precocious reader, my parents let me run amok in my hometown library, and I devoured everything I could find about the Tudor Court. I was fascinated with how a man, even if he was a king, could somehow get away with having six wives and killing two of them — remember the old saying, Divorced Beheaded Died Divorced Beheaded Lived? I was entranced with how Elizabeth I got to the throne and at some point, I figured out why the current Queen of England was Elizabeth II. I was hooked.

When I began to teach American history, I realized that my students had no idea why the early English colonists left to start over in what they called the New World. The idea of religious freedom had little meaning if not compared to the religious situation the colonists left. Teaching my students about settlements in what we now call the United States made me want to know more at an adult level about the English Civil Wars and the Reformation in Europe.

Click into this family tree for more resources on the War of the Roses between the Lancasters and the Yorks and how a Tudor got to be king!

Learning about how the Tudors got to the throne made me finally realize why Henry VIII was willing to do just about anything to get a legitimate male heir. After all that his ancestors went through to get that throne, he was pretty determined to keep it — and why Elizabeth I was just as determined to not let marriage undermine her authority.

Click into this family tree to find out even more information about what happened to the Tudor line.

Enter current historical fiction and its magic. Most historical fiction being produced today is well-researched and written by fine writers who do a great job of creating compelling stories that are reasonably accurate. There are myriad resources available to the HF writer today; primary sources are collected and shared in great libraries and on the internet. The body of “domestic” documents (diaries, recipe books, household accounts written by women) that have been collected give the authors a much better view into their characters’ lives and it shows in the books they write. I read historical fiction with my internet browser at the ready so that I can either verify or expand on the material presented. It’s a good time to be a writer of historical fiction and an even better time to be a reader. There truly is magic in these books for the adventurous reader.

So what do I recommend? Let’s start with three female writers who are well-known for their work in historical fiction about this time period. I’ve read “quite a bit” of their work . 🙂

Phillipa Gregory is a well-regarded historian and author who has written many novels about the York/Lancaster/Tudor saga and her books are probably the most accessible of the three authors I have chosen for this post.  Her web site has a nice feature with her books set against a historical timeline. Personally, if I were starting my reading today, I would follow her timeline and start with The White Queen, the story of Elizabeth Woodville. This book helps set the stage for the rivalries to follow. Next is  The Kingmaker’s Daughters, which is followed by her newest and unreleased book about Elizabeth of York, who married Henry VII, thus starting the Tudor line. The Constant Princess depicts a fictionalized version of the life of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife. The Other Boleyn Girl is loosely based on the life of Mary Boleyn, Anne’s sister, who was Henry VIII’s mistress and that relationship was one of the reasons used to declare the marriage between Anne and Henry null and void. The Other Boleyn Girl was also made into a movie starring Scarlett Johanssen. The Boleyn Inheritance covers the time period of Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard, with Jane Boleyn finally getting consequences for her actions. The Queen’s Fool takes the reader into the problem of Mary Tudor, the forgotten heir to the Tudor throne. The Virgin’s Lover features Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, and finally, The Other Queen is the story of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Hilary Mantel is the author of two highly-acclaimed novels about the Tudor Court, written from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell. Both Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies have won the Man Booker Prize in England and are extraordinary extensions for people who already know something about Henry VIII and the political shenanigans that went on during his reign. The third book in the Cromwell trilogy is due to be published in 2015. I loved both of these books and am eagerly awaiting the third of the set.

Last but certainly not least is Alison Weir, also a renowned historian and novelist. She has written so many books about this period that I have just linked up the Alison Weir book list on for you to look at. In checking out her online personna, I discovered that she actually leads British history tours. I AM INTRIGUED.

Although none of these ladies wrote a book about Henry’s last wife, Catherine Parr, there are a number of authors that have. I read one of them and was not impressed, but just in case, here’s a link that gives you some options.

More than you wanted to know? I hope not. After all, writers are readers and readers make better writers. I hope you will read some of these books and let me know how you liked them. Want to recommend something else? Go for it — I’m always ready for something new in this genre, and thanks for spending time with my great obsession today!

Follow on Bloglovin



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...