Rescuing porcelain china

My Vintage Stylist characters are not only busy styling and suggesting lovely tablescapes for the boutique, but offer custom styling services as well. This highly successful new service rests largely on boutique-owner, Mimi Shepherd’s vintage knowlege and experience with what delights guests invited to dinner or to share a celebratory slice of birthday cake.

Mimi’s keen eye searches out charity and thrift stores and Estate sales for amazing vintage china, finds that come with a pedigree such as Limoge, Spode, Meissen, Minton, and Wedgewood among many others. Fine glassware, too can be discovered, Coupe style champagne glasses are a favorite.

My friend, Bonnie Chase at bonniechasedesigns.com is a real tablescape stylist who actively seeks out vintage treasures with which she designs wonderful tables. Shown here is a fabulous example of a Mottahedeh salad plate in the Duke of Gloucester pattern Bonnie lovingly rescued from a favorite thrift shop. A fruit and butterfly motif adorns the gold-brushed plate edge and is elegantly styled on a Florentine tray with a lux napkin decorated with a gold-metalic thread design. This presentation with its promise of a delicious treat to come, would make anyone smile.

Set any beautiful tables lately?

The Vintage Stylist’s spring table

Mimi Shepherd, the Vintage Stylist, asked if I might share her featured tablescape table here on the blog and it was so pretty, I agreed.

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She has a way with design style: the bright sunshine yellow table runner, the all-white, new beginnings plates, paired with those crocus-blue patterned napkins. The Cotswold sheep at the centerpiece were collected just outside Windsor Castle and a great inspiration for her shop’s followers. She reports the new tablesetting display feature is receiving much interest, along with the usual vintage selections of clothing and accessories. I think her shoppers are anxious to get on with pre-Covid normal life and that includes small dinners to entertain friends and host family gatherings.

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From the sweet, fresh blue and yellow-faced pansies, the mini daffodils, and the goblets ready for toasting and bringing in a brighter season, the table is joyful and celebratory. She’s invited me to join Rhose Guerin from Yellow Pansies in a Blue Cobalt Jar, and Annie Savone and Julie Bishop from Loving Vintage. I can’t wait to see them all again!

Wishing all a happy and healthy Spring!

The vintage stylist asks for help!

The Vintage Stylist’s featured shop display

So, spring hasn’t arrived quite yet and I was happy to receive the vintage stylist, Mimi Shepherd’s, email that featured a raucous pink/red/orange colored tablecloth she’d selected for the staring placement in her shop’s boutique tablescape section. It was great to see some color brighten another rainy, overcast morning and I told her that. Mimi always seems to be leading ever forward with her style sense, but this time she wanted reassurance that she wasn’t stepping off the edge using this scape as her design focus.

Now, Mimi’s the expert stylist and I was quietly pleased she’d asked my opinion, so I shared my humble take on the scape. I told her the classic element bust was certainly a vintage element, as well as the wine and water goblets. Victorians loved flowers didn’t they? And you certainly couldn’t get any more vintage than that … unless you counted the Greco/Roman influenced statuary. And I reminded her of what she always says about vintage that it needs a new angle or beat to jazz it up some. The color certainly provides that amp. That seemed to jolt her confidence and she signed off quickly to put in the finishing touches to the display. I can’t wait to visit her shop once the spring reveal is presented!

Closet tablescape designing

My heroines secretly do fuss with pretty tablescapes … time for them to step out of the china closet and share! What is tablescaping? Setting or laying a table with a thought to how basic requirements for eating a meal come together in a pleasing, joyful way. I think of it as a collage … layering different dishes with a mind toward shape, texture, and color, and considering flatware utensils, beverage containers, napkins, as well as whimsical objects that emphasize a seasonal theme, or color story.

Professional chefs will tell you your eyes start a meal. The table sparks our appetites and says you care enough about those you share meals with to fuss a little (or a lot) to influence their meal experience in a good way. The goal is to always bring a smile and anticipation for the meal to follow. Tables can be minimalist, set with soft, compatible colors, simple foraged wildflowers, and set outside, or with greater structure and formality.

In The Vintage Telepath https://www.amazon.com/Vintage-Telepath-Loving-Book-ebook/dp/B07DK2DJ5S/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=The+Vintage+Telepath+Nancy+LaPonzina&qid=1614107346&sr=8-1 Julie Bishop’s mom Violet May, knows about setting a table and creating a theme and an environment. Unfortunately, these attempts are lost on Julie who struggles with all things connected to her mom’s spiritual and metaphysically inclined spirit. In Loving Vintage, https://www.amazon.com/Loving-Vintage-Nancy-LaPonzina/dp/1983038113/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1614107806&sr=8-1 vintage stylist Mimi Shepherd has a love for styling porcelain, but little time at the moment as her biggest challenge is setting her daughter onto the right path. But now, in the forthcoming The Vintage Stylist, we finally see Mimi embracing her china love and tablescaping addiction when she adds a boutique china section to her own specialty shop.

These heroines are coming out and embracing their joy for making everyday life just a little more gracious and beautiful. I’m glad to see it!

I love “Chateau Diaries” on YouTube

With all the many Corona Virus restrictions in place over the past three months, entertainment opportunities to offset tedium during this same time frame have been meager indeed. Travel is practically non-existent,  viewing entertainment sorely limited, family and friend gatherings measured out via number of face masks and square-foot real estate. However, as a writer, these same limitations present me with a silver lining. I can escape to my current work in progress, The Vintage Stylist, the third and final book of my Loving Vintage series. But even after getting lost in my fictional world with characters: Annie Savone; Julie Bishop; and Mimi Shepherd, I need to shake myself out from that world and take a stretch. Mummy with Vintage Telepath

One of the brightest parts of our day now is to view the YouTube channel, Chateau Diaries. This is an amazingly entertaining, informative and special pandemic escape vlog created by this Chatelaine of the 16th century Chateau de LaLande tucked away in the center of France. This is the ongoing vlog series of Stephanie Jarvis and her passion to lovingly renovate and restore the chateau to its former glory. She lives there full time and is visited by Isabel Jarvis Attfield, her spirited and intrepid Mummy, friends and other family. They are joined by Workaway volunteers from the four corners of the earth who search for a different way of life other than the universally accepted nine-to-five drudgery as they help in the restoration effort. As an anniversary gift to Mummy and with love and gratitude for all the entertainment value Chateau Diaries has added to our days, I sent some of my stories for Mummy to add to her To Read stack. My heroines are very much like Isabel … strong, thoughtful, courageous, woman, most of boomer age, who are willing to think out/plan a solution to an everyday problem or one that philosophically challenges their living circumstance and quality of life.

This YouTube channel  is so relaxing to view! Stephanie, Mummy, Scotman, Michael, Oliver, Nati, Selmar, Diesel, Thomaz, Marie, the Illusive Nic, Dan the Gardener, Antoine, Marie Wiik, Mary “Poppins,” Percy Attfield, the “Ians,” the peacock, peahen, and peachicks … all these wonderful characters will brighten your day and grow a huge smile on your pandemic weary face! I highly recommend it!

Discovering a new genre

I do enjoy attempting to solve puzzles and this often morphs into trying to locate missing persons, and the more fact-based study of actual genealogy charts and the genealogical universe for family history. This interest of course, found its way into a major plot point in my story Loving Vintage.

Boomer heroine, Annie Savone takes on a determined quest to examine how she came to be with very little information; information that must be extracted from the murky depths of a muddled private adoption. Actually the story does become something of a dectective story … what a surprise.

Enter a new read by author, Nathan Dylan Goodwin with a genre new to me, Forensic Genealogy. An English author, he sets his stories in charmingly historic real life locations in beautiful Sussex, England. As a reader, I always attempt to Google story locations and thrilled when they return real places. I can even map street names. So exciting. When I first started writing, I chose to set my stories locally even though many tried to change my mind. So here was a shared commonality.

Goodwin’s Forensic Genealogy series is based on main character, Morton Farrier, a gifted genealogist, and his cases. The first story includes forensic insight for how to analyze an old photo in terms of time the image was taken, noting background detail, and the angle or perspective from where the photo was captured by a photographer. I was hooked immediately, as I had processed these qualities in my story and pleased that I had thought enough about what would be relevant in an old photo, to be helpful to the heroine. I was thrilled my fledgling insight had created a storyline that was relevant and productive.

I am excited there are eight more books in this series, eight new reads for me to enjoy and learn from a master at building a satisfying story for my readers. I hope you grab a Quarantine-silver-lining to read through some titles and escape via a great story. Stay safe.

Adding joy to your winter day

From Nardi Point …

Yes, something was missing. Where were the flowers Laurinda took pleasure in collecting and placing on the oak kitchen table? She knew Laurinda stepped off the deck into the wooded area and gathered pieces of nature  to celebrate her mornings. Pinecones, green sticky ball seed pods, holly leaves bright with red berries sometimes mixed with honeysuckle vine, Bluebird feathers, and juniper berries—all were arranged casually and admired. She could read Laurinda’s mood by the seemingly spontaneous items she collected, for each of nature’s items held meaning. Their absence concerned her.

Bringing Nature Home is all about floral arrangements inspired by nature and how these arrangements contribute to wellbeing in our daily lives. Each season produces natural elements, that if we give pause to see, can uplift our spirits. Blog Winter

Laurinda practiced this. She took moments out to walk the golden pine-matted woods and collect pine cones, small twig shapes, varied leaves, a red Cardinal bird feather, berried branches, native grasses, and any wildflower that presented itself. All brought seasonal delight and joy to her day.

So, though the calendar may read winter, wrap a warm scarf around your neck and explore the botanicals out there waiting for you to collect and enjoy.

Novels and contemporary development

Surprisingly, contemporary novels often chronicle historical and local geographical development. Today I was reminded how details in my novels do this. My debut novel, Nardi Point, is set in a growing North Raleigh, North Carolina new subdivision; specifically an IT professional couple take on the construction of their first home and creation of a family. 2018_NP_PP_coverWell, increased development in this region’s corridor has increased exponentially and the model subdivison for this story, Tadlock Plantation, is completely sold out and even expanded into adjacent, The Registry, where once a sleepy dairy farm existed.

Closely followed by book two, A Path through the Garden, the heroine lives in the Youngsville area. That town’s Main street, where “founding fathers would not have trouble recongizing it today as it remained unchanged newly two hundred years later,” is now quite changed. New shops, antique havens, coffee and coffee shops, family farm visit experiences, new architectural improvements, increased foot traffic, have updated the growing town and region.PAPERBACK Cover APTTG

Writing is such an adventure. Writing in the present and reflecting on those words several years after, provides quite the opportunity to consider our busy lives and places in our world. If you keep a journal of sorts, dip back into its pages for references to your setting, where your world unfolds, and muse over the changes that have occurred. These changes can mirror those in our thoughts about our inner selves as well. Change is indeed the only constant.

Happy reading♥

Selecting my next read

My To Read pile is dangerously low. As a contemporary women’s fiction writer, I try to keep up with the latest fiction trends, genres, and what readers are reading today. But, I also don’t want to be disappointed by stories that I shake my head about, sigh over and put down. cropped-blog-header-refresh.jpgAt one time if I picked up a title I’d read it to the last page. Now, not so much. Down it goes. My favorite genre? Why the type of stories I write of course—thoughtful professional heroines at a crossroad.

Today’s favored trend is the multiple character point of view. You know, each chapter alternates with a different character. Author Susan Meissner does this well. I enjoyed A Fall  of Marigolds, her contemporary look at a plot that includes September 11, 2001 characters as well as characters in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire that occurred March, 1911. Yet, the formula emerges—both character stories meld and become whole in a unified happy-for-now ending.

My local Indie bookshop, Page 158 Books, reintroduced me to memoir. Wow. What’s happened to contemporary memoir? Both my selections proved terribly whiny with each story seemingly trying to outdo the other through a “series of unfortunate events” steamrolled by poor choices.

I turned to friends Mary, Pat, Lisa, and Elaine for their take on reading-time-well-spent novels. And here’s what I did. First, I researched category ratings per Amazon for all my novels. Included were categories: Contemporary Women’s Fiction; Contemporary Women’s Domestic Life; Family Life Fiction; Education & Fiction; Biographical Fiction; and Magical Realism. I then cross-checked friends’ recommendations to see if the titles might be included in some of these categories. You may want to try this, also. Bring up a favorite title and see the category it’s placed in. You can then search that category on its own and see what’s returned. It could spark a new title discovery.

My To Read pile is once again healthy and growing. Which books on your reading lists might you compare my novels to? Let me know. Everyone enjoys an exciting and entertaining read. Home from the beaches, cozy fall reading time is here. (Smile)

Sitting too long…a cautionary tale

Nancy is super engrossed at the keyboard. Her thoughtful heroine is about to make a fatal error….

Four hours later—Nancy is super engrossed at the keyboard. Her thoughtful heroine is still not thinking right, she’s going further down the rabbit hole. And Nancy hasn’t moved from her position yet!

Yes, this is how the past several years have gone starting five novels ago. Why am I sharing this with you? So you become smarter than I was and not completely disregard exercise from your daily routine. I don’t have the time or inclination to think about exercise. Well, the time is available that’s true, but I’d much rather be “super engrossed at the keyboard” than wasting it doing any sort of exercise.

It started with a hitch in the leg/pelvic region. What had just happened? It seemed for a moment maybe one leg was shorter than the other and it resulted in an uneven limp/walk. I shook it off and thought an actual short “refreshing walk” would rid me of the kink. Only about a block away from home, my upper legs burned, my stamina deserted me and the thought I may not be able to walk back to my home crashed into my brain.

I asked our family physician, did I need  xrays?  Medication? Gulp, surgery like in hip replacement? Am I disabled? He is so patient with his writer patient. “No. You need exercise, like a nice refreshing walk. I also recommend physical therapy.” I shook my head. Argggg! I seemed to be without a choice.

Two months later, I thank my physical therapist, Sheila Gallagher-Whitlock for introducing me to best practice exercises for tight hip-flexor and Psoas (pronounced so-as) muscles. For me it means various exercises, a daily walk, a stand-up desk, and writing intervals of no longer than twenty minutes. Twenty minutes!

So all my beautiful readers and writer friends, I humbly offer this tale for your consideration. I never dreamed this could happen to me, but I’ve since learned I am not the superwoman I thought. No, I could become disabled for if this condition had been left unchecked, the muscles I work so hard to improve daily could have reached the point of no-return and a nice little scooter would have been my only future option.

This tale I share is even more important than a New Year resolution! If like me, you find your daily routine is light on mobility, do what you can to change that! I wish you all the very best in 2019!

From Nancy, writing from her stand-up desk!