Creativity DIY Flowers Gardens Home Decor Home Projects Plants Uncategorized


Good morning! It’s so much fun to see plants and flowers that are blooming both inside and outdoors!

First, Anne C. sends us a picture of “Green Arrow,” the GCV Centennial Daffodil.

“Green Arrow”

Bebe L. writes, “I love having house plants. Today, I’m sharing three that are in bloom at my house.”

Phalenoposis orchid
Amaryllis “Amadeus”
Creativity Flowers Gardens Home Decor Home Projects Plants Uncategorized


Sylvia N. has a very uplifting comment.

“This is not an arrangement obviously,  but I wanted to show them off because they were planted 15 years ago In this pot when our house was opened for Garden Week! This year they made an appearance for some reason. Miracles do happen!”
Creativity DIY Flowers Gardens Home Decor Home Projects Plants Uncategorized


Good Morning! Here is a message, and a charming arrangement, from our Garden Club President, Michelle H.,

Creativity DIY Flowers Gardens Home Decor Home Projects Inspiration Plants Uncategorized

Abundant Spring 3

Nothing brightens a rainy day like flowers and flower arrangements! Small or large, pots of posies, and blossoms in beds make you smile, and soothe the soul. Here are a few more from my “floral friends.”

Pam S., another gardener extraordinaire, has sent two pictures of her narcissus borders, one is a close up, and the other, the actual long shot. Aren’t they a breath of Spring!
Linda MG writes, “
I keep these three small vases on the windowsill in my kitchen all year, and fill them with seasonal flowers/greens. Makes me happy to look at them when I’m doing my kitchen duties!”
Pam S. has another wonderful floral image. As she says, “This  brave daffodil could serve as a symbol for us.  We too will survive this Coronavirus !”
Culture DIY Home Decor Home Projects Plants Uncategorized


While we may be confined, Nature Abounds! Spring is truly “Springing.” If nothing else, Mother Nature provides a little mood-lifter in the forms of budding leaves and flowers, as they peek out from garden beds! My friend, Anne, is constantly creating exquisite tiny arrangements that just make you smile. I am going to share a few, and invite you to send me pictures of your own floral “festives!”

Enjoy and share with your friends! Thank you! My email is:

This little beauty bedazzles in a jelly jar! Don’t you love the blossoms, grape hyacinth and nandina!

Mint, grape hyacinth and star of bethlehem are a delight!!!
Don’t you love this combination peony, lady’s mantle, redbud, cosmos, hosta, euonymous, lamb’s ear flower?

History Inspiration Uncategorized

Elizabeth Van Lew

By Elizabeth Bickford

By Elizabeth Bt“Crazy Bette,” that is one of the names by which Elizabeth Van Lew was known. A very effective Union Spy in the Capitol of the Confederacy, Miss Van Lew cut a wide swath through Confederate plans and Richmond, Virginia’s social circles.  Born in Richmond on October 15, 1818, she was the only daughter of John Van Lew, a prominent and prosperous hardware merchant who had relocated from Long Island. Elizabeth’s mother, Eliza Baker, from Philadelphia, was the daughter of Hilary Baker, abolitionist and an early Mayor of that “City of Brotherly Love.”

From an early age Elizabeth and her brother, John Newton, were exposed to abolitionist thoughts and ideals. When she was quite young her parents sent her to be educated at a Quaker School in Philadelphia. This time spent with her relatives, their friends and other students at the school, galvanized Elizabeth into a full-fledged abolitionist. When she returned to Richmond after her father’s death in 1843, her heart burned with a passion to see slavery overturned. The first place to begin was at home, because, despite his wife’s abolitionist leanings, John Van Lew owned slaves. 

Upon his passing, Elizabeth convinced her brother, John Newton, to free their father’s slaves. Staying true to her mission, Elizabeth then took her entire inheritance and bought the relatives of their former slaves so that she could free them, as well.

The American Civil War provided an ideal opportunity for Miss Van Lew to pursue her cause in earnest.  At first she ministered to Union prisoners who came to Libby, Belle Isle or Pemberton Prisons. Her contact with fellow abolitionists strengthened her zeal. She was perfectly situated, in society and, within the City of Richmond, to be able to gather secret information about the Confederacy and send it on to Union Generals. And, in addition to gathering secrets, she also smuggled people across enemy lines. Further, she set up an underground network of spies and established funding that was used to bribe officials for information.

Her incredible espionage abilities, such as creating networks, identities, raising monies,  disguising herself, and committing acts of derring-do, elevated Elizabeth to the head of the Union Spy Network in Richmond. She held that position until the end of the Civil War.

After the war was over, President Ulysses S. Grant, a man with whom she had much contact during the previous five years, granted her a Postmaster’s position in Richmond.  Feisty to the end, it is reported that one Sunday morning in church, the minister was extolling the virtues of the Confederate General, Robert E. Lee, and Miss Van Lew arose from her seat, and exclaimed, “I came to worship Jesus Christ, not Robert E. Lee,” as she strode out of the chapel.

And, while she was beloved by her Unionist colleagues, she was reviled by her Confederate neighbors.  She had no family, and after her death, her house was burned to the ground by residents of Richmond.

To this day, Elizabeth Van Lew’s skills and bravery are lionized. She is a member of the United States Military Intelligence Hall of Fame.

Sources: Van Lew


 Image:           “Van Lew, Elizabeth ,” House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at   Dickinson College,

Food Holiday Recipes Thanksgiving Recipes Uncategorized Vegan

Vegan Cheesecake: EASY to Make!!

So, I was on the horns of a dilemma — it was the proverbial 11th hour and I had to come up with a vegan dessert for a “FakesGiving” (a.k.a. early Thanksgiving). I did happen to be near a Trader Joe’s and thought that they surely would have something pre-made that was vegan.  No such luck! After circling the same aisles about 10 times (what’s the definition of insanity: trying the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome…) I came to the conclusion that I was just wrong.  “Back to the dairy counter,” I thought! And sure enough, they had vegan butter, vegan cream cheese and coconut creamer.  I already had some vegan flax eggs in the freezer. I knew I could do something with those ingredients.

Once at home, I looked up cheesecake recipes and found one on the KRAFT website that was adaptable (at least I hoped it would be).




So, I combined:


3 8oz packages of vegan cream cheese

3 flax eggs (1 flax egg = 1 tbsp flax egg powder and 3 tbsp cold water)

1 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp triple sec



1/2 cup vegan butter, melted

1.5 cups gluten free flour

1/3 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

Heat oven to 325

Butter (vegan butter) a springform pan

Put crust in the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes

After the pan has cooled own, add the filling

Bake at 325 for one hour

Remove from oven and once the cake has cooled, refrigerate for at least one hour (longer is better).

Take sides off of pan and remove the cake using a large spatula.


I made a ganache by combining a large amount of vegan butter with 2 large chocolate bars (broken into bits), some triple sec and a little salt in a large metal bowl and then poured scalded coconut creamer over the mixture.  Just as with any ganache, you stir til it is cooled and all the pieces are incorporated.

Et Voila!  Let them eat cheesecake!


Culture History Inspiration Museums Realizing Your Dream Stories Uncategorized Vintage

Making a Museum: Establishing A Collection-This one is focused on Everyday Life


What does it take to start a museum? What is the impetus? What do you want to say or explore? Is there a topic upon which you want to expound, examining its’ multitudinous dimensions? Are there stories that highlight a specific theme that you want to tell? Do you want to preserve specific memories?  These are the driving forces behind establishing a collection/museum.

In the first of this several-part-series that focuses on creating displays that cause conversation, I’m going to cite the Museum of Everyday Life in Glover, Vermont.  Charmingly situated on the edge of the road, on the shores of a small pond (where, one of my compatriots, told me, a large set of plastic shark’s teeth used to jut out of the water, evoking JAWS!), this old barn beckons you to ENTER!

According to the Museum’s website, the Museum

“…is an ongoing  revolutionary museum experiment based in Glover, Vermont. Its mission is a heroic, slow-motion cataloguing of the quotidian–a detailed, theatrical expression of gratitude and love for the minuscule and unglamorous experience of daily life in all its forms. We celebrate mundanity, and the mysterious delight embedded in the banal but beloved objects we touch everyday.”

And, true to their mission, the Philosophers who staff, curate and direct this most un-stuffy and unusual exhibition have collected quotidiana that defies definition.  In fact, as their First Manifesto states:

“The Museum of Everyday Life is proud to launch its mission of glorious obscurity.”


While, mostly, the objects on display underscore our desire to grace the very ordinary with a little bit of life, the staff is also interested in discussing why we need these items.  For instance, toothbrushes are one category of household necessities is well-represented.  The Philosophers ascribe the need for the humble toothbrush to our interest in foods, particularly sugary ones, vis-a-vis our equally strong interest in preventing tooth decay.  One of the most eye-catching dental devices on display is a “His and Her Toothbrush,” an alligator  who comes apart. The chopper cleaner that was crafted by Katherine Nook is brightly colored and sure does bring a smile.  It makes you wonder why she didn’t make more of them!




Pencil Sharpeners



This is fabulous pencil art!

A history and homage to The Match is another amazing exhibition. A matchstick rollercoaster,  working instruments made of matches, the story of Prometheus and a giant match are some of the objects that kindle the imagination with their luminescent wit!




This stunning beauty is made of all things metal — and she sure does shine!

Significant collections of safety pins, keys and locks explore humanity’s needs to hold things together and keep them locked up.  Clare Dolan, Chief Operating Philosopher, together with her Co-Philosophers, have amassed amazing arrays of these pins, locks and keys and explore their uses with depth and wit. 

When it comes down to it, the Museum of Everyday Life provokes discussion about how we live by taking a gander at some of the material culture that comprise our day to day existence. I like what Clare Dolan said in a Vermont Public Radio interview, and I’m paraphrasing here, that she hopes this will inspire others to start their own museums featuring their own stories!

For an online tour of the Museum, and, lot of interesting information about its’ history, programs and current exhibitions check out their website

They also have a cool Facebook page.  And, speaking of similar concepts, check out the Museum of Everyday Life in Iceland: Hversdagssafn – museum of everyday life.



DIY Fashion Home Projects Uncategorized Vintage

Mama’s Got A Brand New Bag!

Vintage clothes, antique hats, old fashioned frippery, they can all be so chic, so stylish, so hip and so dirty! Stains and smells easily ruin the look and contaminate cachet.

What do you do with those gorgeous gowns or prestigious purses bedazzled with beads, especially if you are working on a budget or don’t have access to tailors or others who are used to working with antique fabrics.

In the course of wading through my mother’s things, I found a beautifully beaded evening purse that I just couldn’t give to Goodwill or a local Theatre group or throw away. It is awfully pretty and awfully stained.

First, I tried using a stain remover, something guaranteed to remove any discoloration, but it just did not work (for me at least). In fairness, that purse is old and the stain is probably almost as ancient. So, getting it out might be a fools errand, so to speak.  I might do more damage to the bag if I bleached it. So, if that’s the case …. why not just go with it and try covering up the stains with a new stain?

A few years ago I learned about tea-staining linens from a lady who I knew.  She had a real flair for decorating and mentioned that she often dipped clothing and towels into tea to achieve a certain effect. So, I tried her idea and dyed a dust ruffle by soaking it in a big bucket of hot tea. It occurred to me that I could accomplish the same thing with this little evening purse.

Using tea is a simple, affordable and easily accomplished solution, so I decided to give it a go.  In essence the purse became an extra large tea bag!

Start with a large pot of water …….

  and, bring it to a boil…..                                                                                                                   

Add a Tea Bag         

      Let it steep.

Pull lining out of the purse.


Lower purse into hot tea and let it steep for an hour or more.  Remove and let dry.


It sports a new shade of chic-ness!  Let this dry for a day or more….And, Mama’s got a brand new bag!


Death DIY Estate Legal Documents Uncategorized Wills and Trusts



I have been away because I have been working assiduously on my mother’s estate and now have some new information to impart.  Again, my experience has been, at least partially, determined by the fact that I live in Virginia, and, thus, am subject to the laws of the Commonwealth, but, I think that some of these points are universal.

In terms of getting rid of stuff:

This sounds easy, but, believe me, unless your relative/friend was uber organized or had already given everything away, and/or designated which items were intended for specific people, this can be a huge job.

There are a number of options:

Goodwill and Salvation Army are two obvious choices. The Salvation Army will accept/pick up furniture that is clean (i.e. in good shape, not covered in pet hair, etc.)

Other choices include: The Celebration Church and some “Pickers”/Junk Shops.

1-800-Got- Junk charges to pick up.

In some cases you may want to go to Auction houses — usually you will have to transport the furnishings yourself.  Frankly, after a million trips to Goodwill and the Dump, I am tired of hauling stuff. Find someone who will pick up!

Some thrift stores will accept old clothing — but, they will want clothing that is very fashionable and, frankly, they don’t pay you very much for the beautiful old dress or coat that reminds you so much of your departed loved one.

I got an excellent tip on another place to dispose of those old, cool pieces of clothing and other items: high school and college theatre departments.  This is especially true with high school theatre departments because they truly have no budget for costumes or props.  It makes me feel better that these clothes/hats/dishes, etc. will have a new and dramatic life!


I have been told that some people actually enjoy this aspect of handling the estate.  I think I would not have minded it so much if I haven’t felt like the stakes were so high.  I’m probably too nervous about it, but, here’s the skinny:

If you have to remember anything, remember to SAVE EVERYTHING and MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A PAPER TRAIL.


1. Make sure you have bank statements from the date of death, which is frequently not the date that the Estate opened. The Commissioner of Accounts will want this to verify the value of the bank accounts as of the date of death. And, will want to see the expenses (funeral, etc.) that between the date of death and the opening of the estate.

2. DO NOT use online bill pay. This is something that no one really tells you. The Court wants a true paper trail of all financial transactions and online bill pay makes that difficult to establish. So, play it safe and pay by check!

3. Be sure to keep your deposit slips and copies of every check that you deposit — even little ones.

4. Keep all copies of invoices/bills, etc.!!!

5. If you do a distribution to the heirs, make sure that they endorse the checks, rather than having a spouse or someone, deposit the check directly to the bank account. The Court wants to make sure that the person to whom the check was written was actually its’ recipient.

You are going to need those invoices, cancelled checks, bank statements, even deposit slips, as back up when you submit the Accounting. Make copies of everything for yourself, because the Commissioner of Accounts will take the originals.

In Virginia, the Commissioner of Accounts can charge you extra if they don’t “like” the way the Accounting was done.  It varies from locality to locality, mostly because some Commissioners of Accounts are more persnickety than others. 

I’ll keep you posted. I’m thinking, give everything away, go off the grid and get a trust. This ain’t pretty….just sayin.