Looking for the light revisited

Hey, friends! It’s nice to see you again. Thanks for sticking with me. I’ve been busy taking photos!

GotMyReservations Reflection

In photography class we are working on using natural light to illuminate our photos — to “see the light” is the hallmark of a good photographer. As bloggers, we know that a striking photo is important to our work. It’s also easy to use simple items to boost the light in your photos — try using a piece of white posterboard as a reflector. In this photo of a crystal punchbowl, I had a white foam core board over on the right, and the mirror also gave more reflected light. You may remember this mirror from a previous post about creating vignettes. I also posted another photo the last time I took a photography class. I’m very consistent. 🙂 Continue reading

Inspiration: Gold, Green and White Tablescape

I love to visit stores with beautiful tablescapes for inspiration. This spring, Macy’s sponsored a flower show at many of its locations and along with the amazing floral displays, there also were beautiful tablescapes. I was a bad girl and didn’t source out any of these items in the photos, but they speak for themselves. Gorgeous!

GotMyReservations Macys Tablescape 1 Continue reading

Wonderful World of Disney Tablescape

This week’s tablescape was inspired by my vintage Ferris wheel (I talked about its history here), and seemed the perfect week to showcase it in Cuisine Kathleen’s “summer whimsey” tablescape party.

GotMyReservations Chein Disney Ferris Wheel

J. Chein Disney Ferris Wheel

Growing up, we traveled in the summer since my father was a teacher. Every June, we packed up the trailer and headed off on a long car trip. The longest — and my brother says the most interminable — trip we ever took was from Ohio to California. It was on that vacation in about 1965 that I first went to Disneyland and was enchanted by Walt Disney’s vision. 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

The Biggest Dish Room in the United States? — Biltmore Part 1

The original photo of the two-story butler's pantry at Biltmore is courtesy of The Biltmore Estate.

The original photo of the two-story butler’s pantry at Biltmore is courtesy of The Biltmore Estate.

Dish rooms are my joy, my thrill, my raison d’être. Well, maybe not quite that much, but y’all know how much I love dishes.

When we began to plan our visit to the largest private home in the United States, I hoped to see lots and lots of dishes. Gobs of dishes.

Located in Asheville, North Carolina, Biltmore House and its surrounding estate was imagined and created between 1889 and 1895 by George W. Vanderbilt and his all-star team of Richard Morris Hunt and Frederick Law Olmsted. It is still held privately by descendants of George and Edith Vanderbilt and is open to the public. There is a general tour of the house with an available audio guide that takes about two hours. There are also auxiliary guided tours of areas that are not on the main tour. We spent two glorious days exploring this beautiful estate.

In addition to the regular tour of the house, we also signed up for the Butler’s Tour, which took us “downstairs” into kitchen and mechanicals areas not seen on the other tours. This two-story butler’s pantry just took my breath away.

I’ll share lots more about our trip to the glorious Biltmore Estate, but today I’m going to start with a visit to the gift shops on the grounds of the Estate. After all, it’s dishes that we are interested in — right? Continue reading

Springtime in Vienna Tablescape

It was pretty wet and chilly, that March spring break in Austria eleven years ago — my first trip to Europe. That doesn’t keep me from thinking about Vienna and Salzburg when I think spring. The pansies were profusely blooming and there were flowers and trees making their homage to spring everywhere, despite the weather. Nature is like that.

GotMyReservations Mirabell Gardens

Mirabell Palace and Gardens in Salzburg was one of the shooting locations for the Sound of Music.

Those pansies kept coming back to tantalize me when I started planning this week’s tablescape. I knew I wanted to incorporate the beautiful faux pansies I had seen at Joann’s, since it has still been too cold to have plants outside. I remembered the intricate embroidered cloths that I bought in Austria and voila! I had my inspiration for the week. Continue reading

Easter Tablescape — Bunnies, Fruit, and Flowers

This Easter represents a milestone for our family. My daughter is hosting Easter dinner.

I’ll be helping her to create a beautiful table for her party, but since we have vastly different styles, I just HAD to set my own table with our traditional Easter decorations — my collection of Easter bunnies and fruit plates.

GotMyReservations Easter Tablescape Intro Continue reading

Ice and Snow Tablescape

It’s still snowing here in Chicagoland, and the weather reporters are calling for more snow today and again on Saturday. Under these circumstances, it’s only natural that my thoughts turn to white dishes.

GotMyReservations Ice and Snow Tablescape Intro

Actually, I was intrigued by Yvonne’s post earlier this week at Stonegable where she enumerated ten reasons to collect white dishes. I loved her layers of different patterns of white, so I tried to showcase my own white palette. Continue reading

The Countdown Begins with Worship and Music

Advent is the time of preparation for Christmas; Christians are told in scripture to prepare for the coming of Christ. In the Empty Nest, Advent will also be a time of preparation for a glorious celebration with family and friends during the Christmas holidays. There are many traditions of Christmas that we celebrate which are connected to our religious beliefs, but there are also many things we will do over the next twenty-five days that are all about our secular celebrations.

25 Days of Christmas 2013 Intro

I’m okay with both the sacred and the secularity of Christmas, and that’s what I’m going to be sharing with you during my 25 Days of Christmas 2013 countdown. We are an Empty Nest where the birds will all come home for the holidays for the first time. I talked about my hopes for grace and patience here.

GotMyReservations-Advent WreathAs in life, some days are glorious and awe-inspiring and others are just full of work. I’m going to talk about both types of activities throughout the series. I hope that you will follow along as we clean and decorate, go to church, perform in and attend concerts, go out to dinner, and prepare meals in our home — the normal events in life that lead us closer and closer to Christmas.

Today we celebrated the first Sunday in Advent at church, and watched as two young families lit the first candle of Advent. We remembered the first time our little family participated in a similar service, and our four-year-old daughter read the prayer. It was enough to make the Empty Nest cry to think about that day.

This afternoon we enjoyed a brass concert with many different styles of carols and songs offered by five different brass groups. One of the people in the audience asked if we actually used the pipe organ in our sanctuary, and I assured her that we certainly did — along with our praise band, our folk service, our big band Sunday, our youth services, and our newest additions, masterworks Sunday, which featured strings, choir with pipe organ, and brass quintet. We are an equal opportunity musical church. 🙂 Here’s a beautiful rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus with pipe organ and brass quintet to get you in the mood for Christmas!

I’m ready to get ready for Christmas; will you join me?

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)

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