Seersucker Flash Mob by Jim Eikner

Photo Courtesy of Jim Eikner
Photo: Courtesy William H Haltom

Not since Gary Cooper strode that dusty western street to do in the seemingly invincible black-hat jaspers in the academy award winning movie, has “High Noon” assumed such dramatic proportions. But it was just at that seersucker hour at the beginning of the Delta, the Peabody Lobby, that a flash mob assembled to claim long-neglected rights on Friday, August 29; a day that shall live in the annals of late-summer “Cool.”

Photo Courtesy William H Haltom
Photo Courtesy William H Haltom

Several score sported gray and white, blue and white, butterscotch and white, red and white seersucker! They were distaff demonstrators and Atticus-attired he-men (and NO, I won’t say he-persons) voicing eloquent appeals that the MidSouth Fashion Police spare wearers of the puckering cloth until the Ides of October, at least. So perfectly plausible and ringing were the arguments against having to wear tweeds to the first September football game played in 90 degree heat, that the fabled walls to Southern Comfort came tumblin’ down. The Fashion Police must have been sworn in amid blasts of early autumn lake-effect chill in the upper Midwest to deprive the Ashley Wilkeses of the MIdSouth of their seersucker so soon…so soon.

That vaunted Community Organizer, Bill Haltom, spread the word yet another year that the banner of his cause, unfurled and proud seersucker, would wave in demonstration for common sense and cool heads. His disciples were vocal in appreciation as Haltom in rhetoric fully reminiscent of Rev. King, exhorted, cajoled, wooed and tested with a wealth of seersucker trivia. Surely, the Peabody and Memphis have earned yet another historic distinction…..The Seersuck Heard Round the World?

“We cotton to all y’all, you hear?”

Jim's seersucker article-3
Photo: Courtesy William H Haltom

Contain it, and Let it Flow! by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Shade Container by Gardens OyVey Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Shade Container by Gardens OyVey Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Container gardens add interest and beauty to patios or gardens, and intrigue and curb appeal to entryways. Combining various heights, colors and textures, like this one created by Liam Boyd of Gardens OyVey near Arlington, TN is an inviting way to welcome visitors to one’s home. (Check out our 2013 article, Oy Vey! Paradise in a Gulley!to read more about the innovative plant nursery— www.gardensoyvey.com)

Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter—containers can provide beauty throughout the year!

Containers can be seasonal, or can be planted with a mixture of compatible greenery that can withstand cold temperatures.

Another planting by Gardens OyVey features hardy ferns alongside colorful and sturdy Heuchera and trailing vine, which flows over the edges. The planting here was assembled in December of 2013 on the day before an unseasonal ice storm, and survived not only that cold event, but a January and February filled with 9 degree days and nights.

Arrangement by Liam Boyd of Gardens OyVey Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Arrangement by Liam Boyd of Gardens OyVey Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Don’t have a yard in which to garden–contain it!

Container gardening is ideal for renters who might want to take their garden along to their next residence, and it is the obvious solution for gardening in small areas or apartments with limited gardening opportunities, such as balconies. For those who love to cook with fresh herbs, but have nowhere to grow them, a planter filled with basil, thyme, oregano, chives, and tarragon is not only practical, but is pretty and fragrant. A strawberry jar is an ideal container for such a planting, and can fit on a small porch.

Indecisive or confused about how to plant a container?

Millstone Market Nursery Birdcage Garden Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Millstone Market Nursery Birdcage Garden Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

A veritable “mother lode” of beautiful and inventive container gardens which are already assembled can be found at Millstone Market & Nursery in Germantown, TN. www.millstonenursery.com Owner Tricia Hunt had so many calls for their wonderful creations that she now employs three full time people to do nothing but create unusual container gardens and arrangements. Using mosses and ferns, a small birdcage planter was assembled to be a charming addition to any garden table.

Drainage is no problem in a container like this one, but special care should always be taken to provide a large hole for excess water to escape, or to insure that it is allowed to flow through something natural such as pine bark mulch or broken clay pot shards. Placing moss on top of plantings is a beautiful way to seal moisture in, and adds additional interest to the collection.

Millstone Market Nursery Creation Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Millstone Market Nursery Creation Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Survive the long hot summer surrounded by lush greenery!

Gorgeous summer arrangements are available at Millstone Market & Nursery, and this one features summer’s star, Caladiums. The variegated beauties are joined in a rustic wooden basket by another summer favorite, Impatiens, with Wood Ferns providing height and Ivy trailing out of the base.

Dig in!

The possibilities for what to plant and what container to use are endless, and provide numerous opportunities for personal expression. Add beauty and interest to your garden or front entrance, or just plant it on your bicycle and drive it around the neighborhood!

Millstone Market Nursery Bicycle Planter Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Millstone Market Nursery Bicycle Planter Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Easy and Creative Easter Egg Dyeing

Photo by Mary Prater
Photo by Mary Prater

Spring has sprung, the azaleas and dogwoods are in bloom, and everywhere you look, bulbs are sending up their flowers. It’s hard to beat springtime in the South. This has always been one of my top four favorite seasons. Along with the better weather and native beauty, Spring is also Easter time. Easter is such a bright, colorful and joyous holiday. I grew up running downstairs Easter morning to find my basket, with its pretty embroidered bow, filled with treats and small gifts. My mother was never one to just throw some jellybeans on fake grass, or buy a pre-made basket, and call it good. She always put thought and effort into our holidays. Our baskets were beautifully arranged and decorated with the eggs hidden and ready to be found before going to church. We would pick up the Paz box at the Jitney Jungle the night before and create the brightly colored eggs. We used the boxed stuff until Kirsten Barber had her birthday party right before Easter one year. She had everyone wrap their eggs with clover, onion skins and twine. I thought she was crazy, but once we took them out of the boiling water…they were the prettiest eggs I had ever seen! I am not my mother, and I have been known to grab a Paz box, some fake grass and jellybeans and call it good. But every so often, I think of those beautiful eggs. So this year I have hunted down some interesting and pretty ways to dye your Easter eggs without the box. Take a look at these ideas and be sure to click on the image if you want to learn how to make these yourself. You will be linked to the websites with instructions.

Beach to Bistro by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Multiple Options photo by Deborah Fagan Carpeneter
Multiple Options photo by Deborah Fagan Carpeneter

She goes from “beach-to-bistro.” Ease of wear, comfort, quality and classic lines are the hallmarks of the versatile creations by designer Ellis Dixon, and her transitional casual-wear can be dressed up or down to become perfect attire for almost any occasion.

She lives in central Portugal, but her “southerness” originated in Memphis, Tennessee. She has thoroughly embraced the “total lack of urgency” of her new home in Lisbon, as well as its beauty, healthy eating habits and work ethic. Throughout each day, she works really hard at creating her line, but is filled with “a sigh of life” the minute she steps out into the unhurried world in the beautiful country. The relaxed Portuguese culture, the Mediterranean colors and the mild climate have not only had a major impact on her personally, but are clearly reflected in her design decisions.

Photo of Ellis Dixon by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo of Ellis Dixon by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Living out of a backpack for several years was the impetus for her “convertible” design concept. During years of extensive travel she became aware of the necessity to pack only a couple of basic pieces which could serve multiple purposes. That practice became the model for the timeless, transitional casual wear that make up the Ellis Dixon collection. “If you take one good casual piece and throw on a beautiful necklace, it becomes a dynamite outfit!” In a struggling world-wide economy, the design notion is a marvelous alternative, and under any circumstance, it gives the wearer the option to “design their own style.” As more and more people embrace the idea, Dixon wants to make fashion decisions easy and understandable.

The exquisite Ellis Dixon bridal designs follow the same formula of simplicity and timelessness. Her “easy” style inspires soon-to-be brides to seek her custom made gowns, and the result is elegant drama infused with the bride’s personality. The characteristic quality and simple sophistication of a Dixon design are also clearly evident in one of her gorgeous, sexy wedding creations.

Made-to-measure swimwear is the basis of Fluid, a Galveston, Texas casual wear company for which Dixon is the lead designer. She and partner, Megan Turnbow, built the line from the ground up, and although Fluid features the made-to-measure swimwear, it also includes ready-to wear suits and the light, “flowey” sun-wear for which Dixon is best known.

1950's Stewardess Cap photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
1950’s Stewardess Cap photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Both Fluid and the Ellis Dixon collection were presented at a recent runway show in Memphis. One of the pieces in the show, characteristic of her “user-friendly” style, was an “infinity” dress, which can be worn in multiple ways and thus lends itself to total “individuality.” Dixon’s whimsical personality was also evident on the runway with the addition of 1950s “stewardess” caps as accessory pieces.

Opening a “gallery-like” boutique in Portugal is Dixon’s “pie-in-the-sky” dream. Her shop would not only allow talented local artisans to “exhibit” their wearable, salable art, but would also provide them with industrial sewing equipment to generate what they already have the ability to create, but lack the means to produce. There are currently limited retail options for locals to sell what they have the “artisan know-how” to create, and Ellis wants to fill that gap. “It would be a grass roots sort of thing, where members of the community would come together to share their expertise– sort of a ‘sewing bee.’” That spirit of life permeates each of Dixon’s own designs and is helping her to make a substantial name for herself in the design world.

To learn more about Ellis Dixon and her concept of “convertible” clothing, check out www.ellisdixon.com, and for “made-to-measure” swimwear, www.fluidswimwear.com

The Infinity Dress photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
The Infinity Dress photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Life, Color, Comfort by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

So, we sprang forward last weekend, but spring didn’t come with us! Innovation may be necessary to combat the winter blahs, and a few simple decorating solutions may lift our spirits until we can actually get outside and start digging in the dirt.

It’s been so cold that even my daffodils are afraid to come out. My ferns however, have survived the winter by living inside, so I created a mixed table arrangement, and voila’, immediate spring! Combining a few ferns with other greenery has provided instant life inside and made me forget for now that everything outside is still barren and brown.

bedroom

 

A green plant is like having an unobtrusive friend in the house. Plants are after all living things, but they require little tête-à-tête One potted palm can immediately create the illusion of life and allude to what we imagine spring will be. The addition of greenery, along with paintings or prints that evoke the colors of nature, goes a long way toward generating a feeling of comfort.

Bright, colorful art is a wonderful way to brighten the mood of any room. Don’t despair however, if original art is out of the question. Prints or posters are readily available and can produce a similar result, at least until spring actually fully unfolds. I really hate that wishy-washy groundhog.

livingroom

A Garden Shop For All Seasons by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Winter wonderland by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

A magical experience awaits shoppers who visit the Urban Gardener during the holiday season!  The Memphis garden décor shop is enchanting throughout the year, but when the “season to be jolly” rolls   around, it becomes a captivating winter wonderland.

Ornaments, wreaths and table top décor flow from shelves, walls, trees and ceiling. Every square inch of the urban gift shop is filled with inventive holiday décor during November and December, and the colorful displays are beautifully arranged to create a bewitching celebration of the season. There are limitless opportunities for decorating or holiday gift giving, and the shop continues to offer the less holiday oriented items like wind chimes, garden chairs, garden tools, hats and planters.

Photo
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

An unexpected, but resolute decision to open the Urban Gardener came about during a chance meeting in the mid-nineties.  Allison Clark and Jen Jordon Smith met while both were volunteering at the Southern Living Idea House, where they became fast friends.  The new friends discussed their mutual desire to open a retail business, and when Allison suggested they partner in that endeavor, Jen didn’t even want to take time to think it over, but immediately responded with a resounding “yes!”  Proof that opposites attract is evidenced by the triumph of the business and the growth of a beautiful friendship.

Right brain and left brain joined forces to manage the charming shop creatively, efficiently and cheerfully.  Jen thrives on decorating the shop throughout the year and working with customers, and her skill sometimes takes her into the customer’s home to decorate for the holidays, or to consult on design ideas for their garden or home.  While Allison also loves working with their customers, she is the “numbers” person, and is happiest being in the background doing the unseen financial and organizational end of the business.  Although each is capable of performing all aspects of the business, they are perfectly suited to their individual roles, and so have created an extraordinary and unusual partnership.

A passion for gardening was at the heart of the original business, but the focus has evolved over the course of 17 successful years. In the beginning the shop sold live plants, mostly indoor, but Allison and Jen quickly realized that they would need to be either a nursery or a garden shop, but not both. The shop began to be more focused on indoor/outdoor garden inspired decorative items, and they gradually added jewelry and more interior design oriented elements.  They experience an incredibly busy May and June, and in the last 10 years they’ve turned the shop into a spectacular November/December “Holiday Event!”

“We love the domino effect of owning a local business.”

Come On In by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Everyone they knew or didn’t know advised the partners against the spot they chose to open the shop, but their intuition told them they had chosen the right location.  The Urban Gardner was the shining star in the neighborhood for a while, but gradually the area began to grow around the artistic shop, until it is now teaming with vital businesses. Situated in the heart of East Memphis, the shop is actually perfectly located and accessible from all points in the Metropolitan area, and at this time, the “girls” have no intention of relocating or even expanding.  “They don’t want to lose the magic!”

“Nobody comes in because they need something. They come in because they want something, and so they’re always happy.” Those “happy” customers have likely been attracted by the enthusiasm that radiates from the shop owners who adore what they do. Accompanied daily by Jen’s dog Jordie, Jen Jordon Smith and Allison Clark have “created an enviable life for themselves, making a living doing what they love, while being around beautiful things and beautiful people, and each sharing the experience with their best friend.” It’s the Holidays year-round at the Urban Gardener!

Outside Urban Gardner by Deborah Fagan Carpenter
Photo by Deborah Fagan Carpenter

Patrician Spoke Depression Glass by Lyla Faircloth Ellzey

 

Photo taken from Ebay.com
Photo taken from Ebay.com

The elusive cookie jar with lid! I have it! I’ve seen it but once in all my years of collecting. When I found it, I had been collecting the Patrician Spoke pattern of Depression Glass in the amber color for about twenty years. Since I had not seen one ever, except in my Depression Glass Guide book, I wanted it desperately. I found it in West Virginia in a little out of the way, down a dirt road, (and at the very end, to boot) antique store that had several pieces of my pattern. Would the store keeper/owner deal with me on the exorbitant price proudly displayed and adhered to its exalted side? Not on your life! It remains the single most expensive piece of Depression Glass I’ve thus far purchased – even with the monetary difference that the $115 I paid then means for today’s prices.

Photo Ebay.com
Photo Ebay.com

Stored on my computer is a list about a yard long when printed out. It is a list of my pattern of glass Depression Ware pieces that I own. An impressive list, to be sure, it is the result of at least an additional twenty years of diligently scanning the shelves of probably a hundred antique stores in pursuit of that hidden treasure that sits with a crown of dust behind a larger piece in a different pattern.

 

Photo Ebay.com
Photo Ebay.com

 

Photo Ebay.com
Photo Ebay.com
Photo Ebay.com
Photo Ebay.com

Hard to see and even harder to identify unless you move everything around it and check out the pattern. Its color attracts you. Its tell-tale pattern is what makes you drag out the credit card for just one more purchase. After all, a complete set would be ideal. Oh, the times I discovered another pattern entirely and felt the rush of disappointment hit me. You see, it is getting harder and harder to find pieces of my pattern that I don’t already have. Forty years of looking at thousands of pieces of glassware all over the United States has netted me quite the collection.

Photo Ebay.com
Photo Ebay.com

I have completely filled a quite large display case/china cabinet with these gorgeous, glowing gifts from the period of the Great Depression. It is almost a complete set for twelve. Made by the Federal Glass Company of Columbus, Ohio in the 1930’s, between 1933–37, many different pieces compose the place setting and serving pieces.

The Federal Glass Company was established as a hand operation in 1900 in Columbus, Ohio. In the beginning they made pressed wares. Some of the early products had needle etchings. Federal had the foresight to anticipate the public demand for large quantities of reasonably priced glassware. They made the switch to automation and by the 1920’s they were one of the foremost companies in the production of cheap machine-made tumblers and jugs. During the 1930’s Federal was one of the leaders in the production of machine pressed, mold etched colored dinnerware. It is these pieces that I collect.

Photo Ebay.com
Photo Ebay.com

Many patterns from the era are being reproduced, and large prices are being charged for them. Beware the new productions, which occur in many of the patterns. Fortunately, Patrician Spoke in amber is one of the few patterns not being reproduced. Usually, the discerning eye can spot a reproduction because the colors are darker and there is no sign of wear. And the cost for the documented original version is priced considerably higher.

My list is almost complete. I do have 12 dinner plates and 12 luncheon plates. I have 12 cups and 12 saucers. I have 12 sherbet glasses and 12 cream soup bowls. I have 12 of my very favorites – the cute little berry bowls. Twelve cereal bowls sit beside the 12 six inch bread plates. By them sit the 8 larger 7 ½” salad or dessert plates. I just haven’t found the other 4 yet!

Photo Ebay.com
Photo Ebay.com

By the enormously expensive cookie jar sit the two pitchers of different sizes, the salt and pepper set (with tops) and the creamer and sugar set. The covered butter dish has a place of prominence among the glasses, sitting right in the middle of the 12 9-oz tumblers. Missing one of the 14 oz iced tea glasses, (alas, only 11 found so far) is sad, but the fact that I’ve found only three of the cute little 5 oz juice glasses is reason to weep! There is a classy footed glass as well, and I’ve managed to find only four of them.

I have serving pieces and accessories of all sorts. Two round vegetable bowls nestle with an oval one near the two oval platters, which are surprisingly small considering the huge roasts and platters of fried chicken that were routinely placed upon the dining table in the ‘30’s. I purchased two grill plates to use as relish dishes. They look exactly like the large dinner plate except they have three divided sections like one might find in a diner where you’d order a meat and two sides.

Photo Ebay.com
Photo Ebay.com

I finished the collection with two jam bowls, which I use as such, but they look for all the world like the bottoms of butter dishes without the tops. Makes sense to me. If you can’t sell them as butter dishes since they have no tops, call them jam dishes, slap a hefty price on their sweet little rims and the adoring public will grab them up. I surely did!

My collection of Patrician Spoke (named so because of the spoke pattern in the middle of the plates) has kept my attention for forty years. It’s a good thing it was spaced out over that time. My estimate is that I have approximately $3,850.00 invested in the 139 separate pieces in my astounding collection.

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