Never-ending challenges for practically all of us are organization and storage. Our quandary at Southern Vintage Table, and maybe yours as well, is how to store our inventory safely and keep it visible. We have lots of stuff – china, linens, flatware, serving dishes, frames, vases, silver accessories, baskets, suitcases, candle holders, etc. Lots and lots of stuff. How do we keep it all safe, visible and organized? Here are three quick tips that have helped us and might be useful for you, too!
Tip 1:Decide your organization scheme.
Should you sort by type, style, color, pattern or size? Many times it’s a combination For example, we sort teacups by color and napkins by color and size. For dinner plates, we sort first by style then by color.
Tip 2: Store in a clear container.
To economize, we were storing a lot of things in boxes. We labeled the boxes but it still was hard to remember what was inside, especially if it was stacked underneath another box. We decided to invest in clear containers with the lid attached. Now we can see the items through the plastic and these bins stack onto of each other neatly and safely.
Tip 3: Cocoon delicates with bubble wrap and then cling wrap it!
If you have delicate china or glassware the major consideration is how to store safely yet visible. This vintage Blue Willow teapot was in a cardboard box covered with brown paper because we didn’t want it to break. Unfortunately, we also couldn’t remember what box it was in. As the adage goes, “out of sight, out of mind” but, in this case, we didn’t want to forget we had it. Now it’s on the shelf with a cocoon of protection – a layer of bubble wrap, sealed with plastic wrap.
What’s cool about using this combination is that the bubble wrap gives it cushioning and the plastic wrap acts like tape to keep it all snuggly closed. And, when you stack one on top of the other on the shelf, they cling to each other which prevents slippage. I also like that when I go to unwrap, all I have to do is to cut away the plastic wrap which separates quickly and easily from the bubble wrap. With tape, I usually have to cut the tape which also cuts the bubble wrap, making it difficult to reuse.
These three practices have helped us keep track of our inventory at Southern Vintage Table. Keep us in mind as you plan your next dinner or party – we are ready and organized!
My first memory of our annual Thanksgiving family reunion is from the 1960s. The 9 of us, my mom and 8 children, piled into the car. With food dishes in our laps, we headed to Dunn to meet up with the rest of the Bass family. Grandma Susie and Grandpa Wiley lived in Dunn and we gathered at their church for our feast. As years passed, we have moved the location several times, from Durham to Efland to Chapel Hill and now Rolesville, but more than 40 years later, the gang continues this wonderful family tradition.
Since I started collecting plates for Southern Vintage Table, I envisioned using stoneware at a Southern family reunion. As my sisters and I planned this year’s gathering, I suggested we use this collection from the 60s, 70s and 80s to set our tables. With the array of vintage stoneware patterns in blues, golds, greens, browns and yellows, the table setting would also include vintage textured glasses, placemats and cloth napkins.
Rowena, Sandy and I arrived at the Masonic Lodge late Wednesday morning and many hours later, we transformed the rustic meeting room for our 70 Bass relatives and friends. With help from Sandy’s friend, Rose, we covered the tables with brown paper and used placemats to color block the stoneware patterns. Between the sets of 6 plates we designed a simple, natural tablescape with magnolia leaves, pine cones, sweetgum balls and moss. With the striking orange lilies from Fernrock Farm, a cluster of magnolia leaves, twigs and vintage Mason jars, our tables were ready.
Here’s a collage of photos of the Bass family and friends before, during and after our Thanksgiving meal. After the meal and with everyone’s help, we quickly got the tables cleared, the dishes washed and packed, the floors swept and the furniture moved back into position. Thank you, Russ and Cait, for sharing your photos!
Since our first Thanksgiving reunion, several dear members of our family have left us and each time we get together, we honor them – Susie and Wiley, Jack and Neva, Toot and Maeline, Chester and Lois, Bill, Gerrie and Mike. To the folks visiting other relatives and to the ones who got snowed in, we missed you and hope to see you next year.
Once again, the Bass Family came together on Thanksgiving. We hugged, we feasted and we parted, feeling content and connected. ‘Till next year, Bass Family and Friends!
Planning a family reunion or a rustic wedding? Consider using our stoneware collection at Southern Vintage Table!
Got another cleaning tip for you this week! If you have a silver-plated dish, platter or goblet that has lost its sheen, I have a product you may want to try.
This is the before shot of a silver-plated goblet I picked up at a local thrift store. I thought it could be cleaned with silver cleaner but, unfortunately, the silver-plate had simply worn off – this was as good as it was going to get. The red you see in the photo is the base metal.
I found a product that will return the silver sheen – it’s called Alexander Hamilton House Silver Secret.
Months ago I found this product online and haven’t been able find anything else about it except what’s on their website. I decided to give it a try on some silver plated cutlery that had some of the silver worn off. Well, my expectations were a bit unrealistic because, as it clearly states on the website, it is not a filler. Although the silver adhered to the cutlery, the surface was not smooth. For this project, however, it looked like the silver-plate had just worn off so the results were much better.
With gloves on, I am re-plating the goblets with a cloth that was dipped into the plater. Since the liquid has silver in it, you’ll want to wear gloves and protect the surface you are working on. I used parchment paper on the counter.
Consider trying Alexander Hamilton House Silver Secret if you have silver-plated items that need a bit spiffing up. From my experience, it works much better when there are no surface pits or scratches. Please note that I am not endorsing this product for any gain – I just happened to use it and thought others might want to know about it as well. If you have any experience with this product, please share in the comment section!
Wheat is a classic vintage design. As I shared in a previous post, wheat is the symbol for prosperity, love, home and hearth, harvest, spring, birth and hope, making it the perfect pattern for America’s favorite family holiday, Thanksgiving. As a special request from Jami, here is a Thanksgiving tablescape featuring vintage wheat patterns, amber glassware. linens and silverware from Southern Vintage Table!
Pinecones with tags and twine become place names for guests and leaves collected from the woods are nature doilies on the vintage lace tablecloth. (The tags are a free download from the website, Love vs Design.) I also tied the corners of the rectangle lace table cloth with twine – saw this trick at the state fair table setting competition!
The centerpiece is a tower made from an antique sieve with a wooden distressed cake plate turned upside down. The final piece is an antique spool once used in clothing factories with an arrangement of dried flowers in the center hole. A burlap ribbon (see directions at the end of the post for how to cut a straight line in burlap). Pine cones, leaves and nuts complete the natural centerpiece arrangement.
For practically all my life Thanksgiving has been spent with my extended family on my mother’s side. We all bring our favorite dishes and sit down to a great Southern meal – turkey, ham, dressing with gravy, deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, collards, chicken & dumplings, potato salad, field peas – and amazing desserts such as carrot cake, chocolate pie, pecan pie and chocolate eclair cake. After our feast, the older folks linger at the tables and catch up on family news and the younger crew heads outside for the classic Turkey football matchup. I’m now part of that older crowd but I do remember some great football games when I was younger!
This year, with the help of my sisters, I am setting the table with plates from the vintage stoneware collection from Southern Vintage Table for our annual Bass/Heath/Roberson family reunion. I’ll be sharing photos in an upcoming blog!
May your Thanksgiving be filled with love and joy with family and friends!
My focus this week at Southern Vintage Table has been to clean and organize – linens, silverware and china. As I shared in last week’s blog, I was given a set of vintage china – a beautiful cream-colored pattern with red and blue flowers around the rim. Most of the pieces were in impeccable condition but some of the plates were discolored. I was determined to find a way to get Lillian’s china cleaned. Well, keep reading ’cause I have some good news – it can be done!
Here’s how it was done. I first researched how to get discolored vintage china cleaned and below are three articles I found. Be sure to read all three because they each convey slightly different information but most importantly, there are safety precautions you’ll need to follow if you decide to use hydrogen peroxide. Of course, there are many more articles about cleaning china so you may want to do your own search for ideas, but this is certainly a good start.
I first tried OxiClean soaks by filling the sink with very warm water and adding a full scoop of the detergent. I soaked the dishes overnight, checked them in the morning, removed the cleaned items and refilled the sink.
I did this all week and many items came completely clean. I could tell some stains were fading but they were still visible so I went to the next level – 8% hydrogen peroxide, which I ordered online. The article mentions to be very careful with hydrogen peroxide and I will agree – it will hurt if you touch it with your bare hands! Be sure to wear protective gloves.
One of the articles mentions to fill a container and soak the entire dish. I didn’t have enough to soak all of them so I poured the solution on the plates and the bowls and let them soak overnight.
The next morning I poured off the solution into a container so I could reuse it, put the plates and bowls on the cold racks and then set the oven to 200 degrees. Per the directions, I baked them for 1 hour. When I removed the pieces, I put them in hot soapy water. As the article warns, do not put them in cool water straight out of the oven or they may break.
The first time I removed the dishes I was so impressed with the technique! All of the dishes were definitely cleaner and most were completely unstained. Some needed a second go-around. Only a few still had some discoloration but it was hardly noticeable, especially when you saw the before and after.
After cleaning Lillian’s dishes, I tried the technique with two other sets of dishes that had similar stains. These two didn’t need baking because the hydrogen peroxide bleached them overnight.
Right now, I have one final sink of dishes soaking in two scoops of Oxi Clean. I also added a stash of vintage napkins and I already see that the stains are disappearing! It’s been a long process and I am still at it, but what terrific results! If you have dingy or discolored china, read through the above articles and decide what technique you should use. It’s definitely worth the effort! One final note, if you have crazing, this will not fix the cracks but it will help remove the stains between which making them much less noticeable.
PS – As far as my long ago goals, I’m finished with the silver and still working on napkins but should have them finished this week! I’m crossing my fingers on that one…
“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Since I opened Southern Vintage Table, I have been heartened by the excitement of my friends and family for the concept of this business. Folks love the idea of finding, collecting and bringing together the collage of vintage china and tableware patterns! Many have also generously gifted me with their personal family treasures and I have loved hearing about their mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. In this post, I want to honor the family dinner table pasts of four women – Mildred, Grandmother Björk, Edna and Lillian.
Mildred, who recently passed away, lived in the NC mountains all her life. She and her husband of nearly 70 years dearly loved each other and their family. Her son and my brother-in-law, gave me her set of amber Whitehall glasses by Colony Glass. I do love this vintage amber pattern but I mostly love that they were once part of the Webb family’s happy dinner table for so many years.
I got a call one day from Nancy that she was cleaning out cabinets and had some things she wanted to share with me. Along with the vintage glass, silver items and decorative aluminum trays, she had a set of 12 gorgeous vintage placemats made by her husband’s Grandmother Björk. Nancy remembered that Grandmother Björk loved to crochet and even when she was almost blind, she was still sewing and edging linens. With their delicate, perfect design and their classic ivory color, I can easily envision Grandmother Björk carefully stitching these to use at her family dinners.
My friend, Priscilla, sent me a message that she wanted me to come over for a visit. She showed me all around her happy home and I reveled at the beautiful nature displays. (She and her husband both taught science.) Our tour ended in a room where she had stacked items she thought I could use with my business. Among the many treasures were two boxes of vintage silverware and one was from Edna, her husband’s mother. Edna, the wife of an agriculture professor and the mother of two PhD boys, loved to cook fresh vegetables from her garden. Everything about this visit filled my heart with gratitude, especially this lovely vintage silverware that Edna lovingly set around her family dinner table.
This week Carrie of Fernrock Farm and I made a business call to the Chapel Hill Carriage House. It turned out that the owner’s daughter was once a student of mine and I knew her sons as well. At the end of the tour of her beautiful grounds, Brenda asked me if I would like to have her grandmother’s china. She explained that it had been boxed up for years and she really wanted to share it with someone who would love using it as much her grandmother did. Her grandmother, Lillian, lived in Arlington near Boston and enjoyed serving big dinners to her family. Of course, I was both honored and thrilled!
The delicate blue and red roses against the cream background give this pattern that perfect vintage look. Although I couldn’t find the name of Lillian’s china, it does say on the back that it was “made expressly for Gilchrist – Boston”. Gilchrist, I discovered, was a major department store in Boston that opened its doors in the mid 1800s and closed them in the mid 1970s. Now, Southern Vintage China is the caretaker of Lillian’s lovely set of china, which probably dates from the 1920s-30s.
One final story about this week’s gifts. When I was visiting Priscilla, I met Becky, a friend of theirs who regularly goes on mission trips to tear down houses that need rebuilding. After Priscilla introduced us and told her about my business, Becky shared that she recently had been to her 90-year-old father’s home and had picked up a set of glasses that were now in the trunk of her car. The glasses, she explained, had once come packaged with tea and then she offered them to me. Wow – aren’t they incredible? They will be featured in an upcoming blog!
Sets of glasses, linens, silverware, china and more – all shared by the families of Mildred, Grandmother Björk, Edna, Lillian and Becky’s mother. How does one show her appreciation for such beautiful gifts? SimpIy and sincerely, I thank you.
Each time we set the table at Southern Vintage Table, we honor these women and many others who loved their families and the special time they spent around their family dinner table. Namaste.
PS – My to-do-list continues from weeks’ past. Something more interesting than ironing napkins and cleaning silverware always comes up! Thank goodness…
Two weeks ago I mentioned that I had picked up a beautiful vintage china pattern from the 1930s that I needed to photograph and inventory for Southern Vintage Table. Time to check this goal off the list!
This pattern was made in Japan by a company called Garden City. According to a leading china replacement company, Garden City had only 17 patterns. This one is known as GAR13 – pretty plain for such a delightful, bright pattern!
Normally, I don’t buy whole sets of china, but there is the exception – might be that the pattern is extraordinary or it’s an exceptional buy – and in this case, it was both. Here’s the set I purchased.
What I saw in this pattern wasn’t necessarily how beautiful it would look at the dinner table but how well the florals of green, blue, yellow and pink would go with so many other patterns. With the distinct green rim, it is a perfect pattern to layer. Whether it anchors the place setting as the dinner plate or sits between the dinner and dessert, it makes a lovely presentation.
Starting with showcasing the dinner plate, here are a few gorgeous place settings!
The outer green rim sets off the trio of vintage patterns so beautifully in these settings with the Garden City pattern as the salad plate!
And, of course, two layers are simply beautiful as well!
China Garden’s GAR13 is now part of Southern Vintage Table‘s inventory. We can mix and match it with our other beautiful patterns for a charming, eclectic look your guests will love!
The continuing saga of my long list of goals continues. But first, I want to update Carrie’s ribbon count – she won 10 blue and 6 red! Her flowers are that beautiful! This week I’m focusing on painting and ironing with a marketing call in there, too. Thanks for checking in!
Last week’s post was about setting goals for the week at Southern Vintage Table. This practice had the desired effect – it kept me focused, busy and feeling very accomplished as I checked things off. But I didn’t get to everything and, having been a teacher, I can’t help it – I have to give myself a grade. Here’s my personal evaluation of the week, starting with the trips.
Trip 1 – Nursery. Monday was a beautiful day for a country drive to the nursery with Carrie of Fernrock Farm! I bought 5 varieties of sedums, including my favorite – hens and chicks. Later in the week I drilled holes in 16 teacups/gravy boats/bowls that had small and even not-so-small imperfections, like cracks or chips. Now they have become sweet little sedum gardens. Imagine seeing one at your place setting with your name on it – wouldn’t you love it?
Trip 2 – State Fair. Carrie, Trudy and I went to the state fair Tuesday and had a marvelous time. We checked the outdoor garden area for ideas and then went through the Cut Flower competition Carrie entered her dahlias, a speciality of Fernrock Farm, into the fair competition for the first time and won 6 blue and 2 red ribbons. She’s now officially an award winning flower farmer! I, on the other hand, didn’t get to enter the Fine Dining competition because of the lottery, and when we found the display, we quickly realized why. There were only 7 tables in the competition. The tables were lovely and some were quite glamorous, but if I get to be in it next year, I do believe I’ll be adding “award winning table setter” to my resume!
Trip 3 – Mom and the thrift store. Mom, as usual, was delightful and loved the treat I brought her. I found two unusual things at the thrift store stop – a set of Tiara Glass Ponderosa footed tumblers and a stein ice bucket. Aren’t they great additions to our Vintage Bar collection?
Trip 4 – Merry Hill Farm. Three goals were related to Merry Hill Farm – the book, the special pricing and the vignette. Got all done! Thanks to feedback from Carrie, Trudy and Randy, I finalized the special offers to couples who book with Southern Vintage Table, Fernrock Farm and Merry Hill. The beautiful trio of venue, flowers and vintage china is the perfect package for a special event! Our book for Merry HIll arrived Friday – perfect timing for Saturday’s couples coming to Merry Hill. And, here’s the vignette I delivered and set up.
Other goals. I cleaned 6 pieces of silver – got a full basket still left to do. I started measuring and taking photos of the lace toppers. As I put them on the clothes line, I noticed that I have some repair work to do on several. Sigh… but not a surprise with vintage linens I didn’t iron one napkin, didn’t take inventory of the new china additions nor did I paint and distress this week. I did put up a chalk board for blog ideas but need to add more.
With the beautiful weather ahead, I look forward to my work week at Southern Vintage Table and checking off my old/new list. As far as my grade, I’m giving myself an extension but so far, it’s looking pretty darn good!
PS – Here are Carrie and Trudy looking at the Decorated Cake competition at the fair. Yes, they were beautiful! Inspired us to go to our next stop – fried elephant ears. Can’t go to the fair and not get something fried, right? And, you have to see the giant pumpkins, too!
One lesson I am learning as the small business owner of Southern Vintage Table is to set goals for my week ahead and create a schedule. This practice keeps me focused, busy and positive! Here’s what I am working on for this week- and probably into next week, too.
1. Write a blog and keep it real. (Working on this goal right now.) Publish Monday. Get an idea board for future blog topics.
2. Produce and order a photo book with Carrie from Fernrock Farm in collaboration with Merry Hill Farm. Deliver to Lynne at Merry Hill on Friday for Saturday’s appointments.
3. Finalize special pricing packages for Merry Hill clients. Print copies and get vintage china vignette ready for Friday delivery.
4. Visit nursery with Carrie to pick up indoor sedums to plant in china teacups for Merry Hill vignette and future clients. Drill holes in teacups and plant sedums.
5. Visit the NC State Fair Fine Dining exhibit. (Yes, they have a competition for table decorating but there is a lottery for entrants. Unfortunately, I didn’t not get selected but I’m going to do a little research and be ready for next year! I’m working on an idea that uses one of the vintage trumpets I won at the auction as a center piece.)
6. Plan with Carrie our next marketing strategy (wedding planners and caterers?) and set appointments.
7. Take photos of recent china pattern purchases for inventory book and for upcoming blog. (I picked up a beautiful pattern from the 1930s that I can’t wait to share!)
8. Measure and take photos of lace toppers for inventory book and upcoming blog.
9. Paint and distress recently purchased frames. Buy blackboard, have it cut and mounted in each. Take photos and inventory.
10. Clean recently purchased silverware. Take inventory. (I may try a new technique for cleaning off tarnish that uses baking soda, aluminum foil and boiling water.)
11. Iron and sort vintage napkins.
12. Stop by a couple of thrift stores on my way to visit my mom. (Love this part of my job!)
LOTS to do, but after years of teaching, planning and grading papers, I LOVE that my work schedule includes trips to the state fair, a nursery and a few thrift stores! Work is fun and fun is work!