Saturday, June 30, 2012

Victorian Fashion Eye Candy

I have been told by more than one person I may have been born in the wrong century. As you know, I LOVE antiques, especially from the Victorian Period (1837-1901, when queen Victoria ruled England).  I also love the formal and grand look of the Victorian Dress.  While I am glad we no longer dress like this everyday (Have you ever tried to pick something off the floor in a corset? Trust me, not fun), I do think it's fun to play dress up from time to time.

Today I am going to share with you, what I call Victorian Fashion Eye Candy. Enjoy!

Corseted Dress 1885 The Metropolitan Museum of Art 
c. 1868
c 1881 The Met
Late 1870's day dress
Silk Ball Gown c 1868

And finally, here is one of me.  How did I do?  I would love to say that I made this outfit, but sadly it was purchased.

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Land of the Pampered, Home of the Entitled

I love America. I'm proud to be an American.  I am proud of how my ancestors helped shape this country and made it into the great nation it is.  I love hearing the family histories of how my ancestors came here as French Huguenots fleeing religious persecution, or how some came over as indentured servants.  My great great grandma Ida and her husband Wray were some of the first settlers in Kearney County, Nebraska.  Their first house was a sod house (aka soddy) and Grandma Ida was the post mistress and ran it out of said soddy.

Example of a sod house

I imagine how hard life must have been for my ancestors, settling this new land. Most everything had to be made by hand. There was no Wal-Mart to run to. In fact, to get anywhere, you had to go by wagon, hitching up the horses in preparation; there was no hopping into your car to run to Wal-Mart.  Meals were made from scratch; there were no such things as pre-sliced bread or a microwave oven.  Fields had to be turned with an ox or horse hooked up to a plow.

Think about it, no TV, no radio, no internet, no cell phones.  Want to communicate with someone across the country quickly? In the days before telephone and telegraph, there was Pony Express.  It only took 10 days.  It only cost $0.25 for a 1/2 ounce.  A quarter might not seem like much today, but keep in mind the average laborers' wage without board was $0.90 per day and one could buy an acre of land for between three and five dollars.

Pony Express poster. Wonder why they preferred orphans...
When I think about all the hardships my ancestors went through settling this country, I have to wonder what they would think if they could see how we live today.  I think they would marvel at the speed at which we can travel and communicate.  I think everyday appliances such as a refrigerator, microwave, and washing machine would seem like wonderous inventions.

What would they think about our society?  Would they see us an advanced Utopian society?  Or would they see us as lazy, whiny cry babies?  Would they shake their heads in disbelief at how "hard" we work?  Would they be shocked at what we expect our government to do for us? Would they still see us as the land of the free and the home of the brave, or would they see us as the land of the pampered and the home of the entitled?

Just a few random thoughts to ponder...
Until Tomorrow

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More Upcycling Ideas

Dearest Reader, I apologize for my lack of posts as of late.  Life has been crazy busy and I have failed to take the time to blog. I miss talking to you and I hope to do better in the future.

In the meantime, I will share with you some great upcycling ideas (just in time for the weekend to go raid your favorite antique store/flea market).  I must credit pinterest for these grand ideas.

Turn an old birdcage upside down and use as a light fixture. Stunning!

Lights Made From Whisks From A Commercial Sized Mixer

Decorative hooks made from old forks

Hall Tree made from an old door.  I wish I had an entry way in my house that justified a hall tree.

 Use old distressed shutters to make an interesting outdoor table.

There you have it. a few upcycling ideas!  I hope this inspires you to turn discarded items into treasure!

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. How many times have you heard that? I've heard it a lot over the past twenty years (I believe I first heard it in 1992 during my freshman year of high school).  I wholeheartedly agree that we should reduce what we use, reuse what we can, and recycle what we can't.

As a loyal reader of this blog, you know I'm very much into antiques.  I love the history of the pieces and I love how well built antiques are. Sometimes I just love the strangeness of an antique piece.  However, I have long felt that buying antiques (particularly furniture) is very eco-friendly.  I have done a blog on repurposing (catch up here) which I think is great as well, but what I'm talking about today is using the antique as it was intended to be used.

Have you ever thought of an antique as being functional? My bedroom furniture is ALL antique. The bed, the night stand, the cheval dresser, the settee, and the chest of drawers.  How much would a bedroom suit be (and you typically don't get a loveseat) at a new furniture store?  Over a grand? EASY!  Want to know what I paid for all the furniture I just listed? $885.  Antiques can be economical as well as functional.

Let's say you need more storage space for your kitchen.  What to do?  Let's see what Target has.
Here's a middle-of-the-road cupboard. It's not hideous (like the $79.00 special).  This cute little piece will only set you back $389.00.  For this deal you get a pantry made of natural-toned hardwood and the frame is a sturdy wood composite. Wood composite, who doesn't love that! Oh, and one other detail - assembly required.  Let's move on to Ikea, the Swedish mega store everyone but me seems to love.
Not bad. A little more stylish than Target and slightly more pocketbook friendly at $279.00.  But this is Ikea, so you first have to find where this is located in the warehouse section (read "go pick it yourself") AND then you have the joy of putting it together.  In this gem you get solid pine, glass, and fiberboard.

While Fiberboard and wood composite sound so appealing, I'd rather just go with good old-fashioned wood.  Wood I don't have to pay to put together.  I could go to a furniture store and spend big bucks, or I could go to an antique store and buy myself a hoosier (actually mom Marcusson purchased mine as a Christmas gift).  She paid a little over $300 for mine.  And look how beautiful it is!
And look how wonderfully it matches my kitchen cabinets.
I could go through the same exercise for bookcases.  However, I think I already made my point, so I will just show you a picture of my lovely Empire cabinet (ringing in at almost 200 years old and a price tag of $295.00).  I dare you to go to Target and/or Ikea and find something this beautiful for that price. Even if you do, you'll get to put it together yourself.

Next time you need a "new" piece of furniture, I encourage you to give antiques a try.  Keep in mind antique store inventory changes all the time and you will want to shop around for dealers who know what they are talking about and put fair prices on their stuff.  If you are in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, I encourage you to go see Karen at McGillicuddy's in downtown Garland.  They are open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 11a-5p.  Karen is far-and-away the BEST that I have found in the area.

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Saturday, June 9, 2012

What is Steampunk?

As you know dear reader, I LOVE antiques.  I completely geek out over them.  About a year ago I "discovered" a very cool genre called Steampunk.  I felt that Steampunk was a great tie in for all of my antiques.  As I post on Facebook about Steampunk this or Steampunk that, I have started to get the question, "What is Steampunk".  Enough of my friends have asked that I have decided to do a blog post about this genre.

To start, I think we'll start with a definition from Steampunk (Noun) a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world.

I don't know about your, but I don't think words do Steampunk justice.  I think Steampunk is best understood when you see it.
Steampunk outfits. Notice the goggles and use of brass findings.
Another example of Steampunk dress.  Notice the stylized gun.
Steampunk Laptop
Steampunk Stereo
Steampunk USB
Steampunk inspired cat art
Another example of Steampunk dress
Steampunk R2D2
Steampunk jewelry by yours truly
Steampunk inspired art by yours truly
  As you can see there are many many examples of Steampunk.  If you would like to know more, just go to Google and put in Steampunk.  You will come up with a number of examples and links.  Should you want to read some Steampunk fiction I recommend the Parasol Protectorate Series by Gail Carriger.

I hope today's blog post has helped to answer your question "What is Steampunk".  Maybe it has peaked your interest and you will want to add a little steam to your life.

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Friday, June 8, 2012


Dear Reader - If you have followed my blog for awhile, you will know I have struggled with a mystery illness for over a year now.  In early January, I detailed my mystery illness struggle (Catch up Here).  A couple of months ago I reached out to a former coworker who also has an autoimmune disorder to see who her doctor was.  She gladly gave me her doctor's name.  It then took me another month to put on my "big girl pants" and make an appointment.  You may ask why it took so long.  Making a doctor's appointment may seem like a very easy thing to do.  However, there comes a point where you can no longer deal with the emotional roller coaster of hope (surely this doctor will be able to help) to devastation when they shrug their shoulders and send you to the next specialist.

I went to see the new rheumatologist on May 24.  I took with me all the copies of my medical records, organized by the specialist that had ordered each test.  It was a considerable stack.  My new doctor patiently listened to my tale of woe, then took my records while I changed for an examination.  After looking over my records and examining me, she came up with a diagnosis.  She said, "You have CREST, it's right here," as she pointed to the tests my hematologist ran last July. She also said that I have fibromyalgia.  I was already being treated for the fibromyalgia, with the medications my GP "threw against the wall" last August (after my first rheumatologist told me he didn't have a magic potion for me).

One would think being diagnosed with an autoimmune and fibromyalgia  would be a huge blow.  This diagnosis felt like a massive weight was lifted off my shoulders.  My husband even commented later that day that I looked like the weight of the world had been lifted from me.  My new doctor ordered several new lab tests to get baselines.  This included a lung function test, as pulmonary hypertension is a concern for people with CREST.  The best part of my appointment was having a doctor tell me it was her job to help me manage my illness.  Finally a teammate with an MD to her name!

Yesterday I had my two week follow up.  We went over test results (including a confirmation on my CREST) and came up with a game plan.  I will see her again in four months, unless I need to see her earlier.  It was good to find out that my liver and kidneys are functioning normally (kidneys can be a concern as well for people with CREST).  It's good to finally have answers.

As blessed as I feel to finally have my answers, I must tell you I also feel rage, mainly at my first rheumatologist.  He had the same information presented to him.  He said he could do nothing for me.  When I begged for his help, I got a smart alec answer, which was highly unprofessional.  I wonder what would have happened if I had been given the help I needed at the end of August instead of sarcasm.

I have to believe that everything happens for a reason and that there is a purpose in everything.  I do not know at this point what the purpose of this trial is.  I hope in time to figure it out. 

I do know one thing, Dear Reader:  You have to be persistent in your medical care.  I have found there are good doctors out there, who will help you, and there are also doctors out there that really shouldn't be practicing.  If you run into the latter, don't give up.  There is a lot of information out there (on the internet).  Do research.  Talk to people and see who their doctors are.  Dr. House may be a fictional doctor, but doctors with his talents do exist in reality, as well.

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gentle Reminders

Dear Reader, I was on Pinterest (shocking, yes I know) recently when I ran across a pin.  I will share it with you below.

This was one of those pins that makes one stop and think.  My first reaction was DUH!  But upon further reflection, I believe everyone of us does need a gentle reminder of proper etiquette from time to time.  I especially like number nine on the list, as I wrote a blog back in January on this topic (Catch up here).

I think our society as a whole needs a "gentle" reminder of everything on this list (although some might need a more forceful reminder, say being whacked over the head).  Our society needs to remember to respect oneself and to respect other.  Be polite and courteous never go out of style.

With that in mind, I'd like to encourage today's girls, our societies future women to consider

Those are my random thoughts for today.

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How to Fix Rust on Antique Metal

Dear Reader, I typically like to have a cute and catchy title to my blogs. I just can't figure out a cute way to say "How to Fix Rusty Metal".  Maybe I should have called up Mater (from Pixar "Cars" fame).  He might have come up with something cute. He may have just told me to Git R Done.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I picked up an antique item that had some rust on it.  Figuring it could be fixed, I asked the human encyclopedia of antiques, my friend Karen, what to do.  She told me I needed some Naval Jelly.  I asked where I could find Naval Jelly and she told me any hardware store should have it.  I stopped in to my closest Lowes and found some.  In today's blog, I am going to share with you how to use Naval Jelly

Here we have a miniature pot belly stove with a little rust on it.  If possible, I like to use  or in this case reuse) Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers bowls for crafting. It's a great way to protect my counters and a great way to reuse this disposable item (tip of the hat to my college brother Chris who lives on Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers and saves the bowls for me).

Apply the Naval Jelly to rusted areas.  In the case of this piece, it had light rust all over.  I like to apply the Naval Jelly with an old toothbrush that has been demoted from teeth cleaning to general use cleaning (after sanitation in the dishwasher of course).

Get a nice coat of the Navel Jelly all over the piece.  Depending on the rust you may need to let it set for 10-20 minutes.

When the time is up, rinse off and allow you piece to air dry.  Depending on the amount of rust on your piece, you may need to repeat treatments until all the rust is gone.

Dear Reader, you may be saying "That's great Melissa, but what do I do to protect my piece once I get all the rust off?"  That is a fantastic question, which I will cover tomorrow (I can't give all my good tips away in one day, sheesh).

Until Tomorrow - Melissa

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Superhero

A couple of weeks ago, I challenged my readers to become the change they want to see ( Catch up here).  Last Sunday, I introduced my first Sunday Superhero (Julia's story here).  I am always on the look out for people who are doing good things in their community and aren't getting the pat on the back or the high five they deserve (that is a hint to send me nominations!).

Earlier this week I saw a post about 90's TV shows.  There were multiple comments about how "wholesome" TV was in the 90's and how they wished shows like that were still on.  I agree that there is a lot of trash on TV these days.  I wonder, how do we best CHANGE the situation? Do we complain on internet message boards or do we turn the dial and not watch?

I see a lot of complaining about our society, but I see very little action.  It made me think of a quote by Edmund Burke "All that's necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing."  I don't know about you, but I don't want evil to win.  So the question is, how do we compel good men into action?

First, we must give good men the courage to stand against evil.  It is never easy to the right thing when it is unpopular.  Even in extreme circumstances, it is within the human soul to find courage.  Consider the picture below

History does not record who this brave soul is.  It doesn't record what happened to him because of his defiance.  It would have been much easier for this gentlemen to salute than to stand with his arms crossed.  This man had the courage to stand against one of the greatest evils this world has seen.  It is for this courage, I am naming him this weeks Sunday Superhero. 

When the time comes, will you have the courage to stand against evil?  Or will you go with crowd and do nothing?  Remember, change begins with you. You have to become the change you want to see.

Until Tomorrow - Melissa