Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The "Done for Now" Dining Room

Our dining room is almost a perfect square with windows or doorways on every wall and chair rail cutting the room in half. There are several narrow areas for art, but the room is so small that I have felt like if I put art on multiple walls, the pieces would have to be related.

When Marc gave me a beautiful, antique tray with a interesting inscription, I thought that it might be nice to hang on the wall. When Marc gave me a second beautiful tray, I knew the dining room walls were going to be the perfect place to display a set of trays.

I've collected silver-plated bowls with interesting engraving for years. I usually gravitate towards bowls that were won as trophies and this being horse country, there are plenty of them in the area antique shops.

One Sunday afternoon rendered an armload of trays...and I passed over ones that were made in the last twenty years! I laid the trays out on the floor to determine which might look nice lined up together and tucked the rest into odd spots.

My china cabinet started looking a little crowded after a while!

The large tray in the middle has the funniest inscription. It's the trophy for a tailgating competition that took place at a hose show. The tray was the prize for the second runner up. Which makes we wonder what the winner and first runner up received!

When we were in the condo, I styled the shelves of my china cabinet, since it was one of the first things you saw when you came in the front door. I never got around to doing that since we lived...and my stemware collection has grown, so I need as much space as possible for my crystal. 

Having something on the walls makes the room feel a little more finished. At some point, I'll do something to dress up the drapes (line them, add trim) and possibly add a rug. Down the line, we plan on redoing all of the floors since the first floor has two different kinds (parquet and laminate), but that will probably have to wait until we are ready to renovate our kitchen.

I'm pretty happy with where our simple, little dining room is now. 

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Polish Your Silver! (How One Product Banished Tarnish)

I was looking around Gordonsville Antiques here in Central Virginia a few weeks ago when I saw a beautiful, silver tray in one of the stalls. Aside from it being larger than most (18" tall and maybe 24" wide), it had the most charming inscription. The tray was presented to a couple with fantastic names (Izler and Sevi Solomon) by the Columbus Philharmonic Orchestra Association. I didn't buy the tray, but as I'm sure you can imagine, I regretted it for the rest of the afternoon. I even mentioned it to Marc when I got home because I was so charmed by the inscription.

The tray was soon forgotten because I rushed to New Jersey when a family member got seriously ill. After a few stressful weeks up north, I finally came home to find the tray, a bottle of champagne, and cupcakes waiting for me. Talk about a great homecoming!

The tray had a little tarnish on it and I used the silver polishing cloths from Target on the worst spots without much luck. I hate those cloths because they smell terrible and I find them so messy to use. While we were at an antique store, I decided to try the silver polish they were selling, Pine-Ola.

This stuff is magic. Now, one of the Amazon reviews for this product warns that it is abrasive, so I don't think this is for every day polishing. I decided to make a quick pass over all of my trays and bowls and the results were awesome.

My tray was looking shiny and new. I loved it even more now.

I started looking out for trays that had interesting inscriptions. There was one from the 40s for a Richmond man who was involved with the Federal Reserve. Another from a dog show. One more that was for the "second runner up" in a tailgating competition for a horse show (if the second runner up gets a silver platter, what does the winner get?). With each acquisition, the Pine-Ola got the tarnish off.

That Pine-Ola had a bigger test a couple week later when Marc gave me a tray for my birthday that had more tarnish than anything I've ever owned. The engraving was incredible, though. It was from 1896 and was from the employees of "Clark's Mile End Spool Cotton Company" (which merged with Coats in the 1950s to form Coats and Clark, a common thread brand.

I couldn't resist working on the tray right away. I made a quick pass over half of it while my coffee brewed the morning of my birthday.  Pardon the bad, 6 AM kitchen lighting:

When I was able to spend a little more time on it, the tray wound up looking like this:

If you let your mouse hover over this image, you should be able to see the difference between the unpolished and polished tray. I'm so happy with the outcome. Polish your silver!

So, what am I doing with all these trays? I'll show you next time.
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