A Lesson in Etiquette

dear miss vanderbilt

dear miss vanderbilt

dear miss vanderbilt

1. Hand-Embroidered Etiquette Napkins | 2. Amy Vanderbilt | 3. Animal Cocktail Napkins | 4. Vintage Wedding Napkins | 5. Tea and Toast Butter Dish | 6. Beast’s Feast Tureen | 7. Very Fond of Food | 8. Marcella Plates | 9. Canister Labels | 10. Glass Pedestal Stand & Dome

Amy Vanderbilt, author of the famous etiquette books Dear Miss Vanderbilt and later a cookbook illustrated by the famous pop artist Andy Warhol, is considered the go-to girl on all questions about etiquette since she published her first edition in 1952. Some of the questions her readers wrote in are absolutely hilarious, hilarious to think that some of these social rules were actually mainstream. Yet, in all their hilarity, there is a tinge of sadness to see how quickly her etiquette rules have been ignored–or all but dismissed– in pretty much one generation.

These quotes are some of Amy’s responses to a few “Dear Miss Vanderbilt” letters written to her about table manners. I found them irresistible and had to share. My favorite? “Ladies no longer have to pretend a disinterest in food,” when asked by a young woman whether it was proper for a lady to admire the food, rave about a recipe, or cheer over a morsel of dinner that a hostess provided. Apparently, before the 1950’s, ladies just pretended not to eat…because, you know, eating is sooooo vulgar. For overturning THAT myth, Dear Miss Vanderbilt, I am eternally grateful.

– <3 A. 

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Lessons in Patience: Julia Child    Style Secrets from: Emily Dickinson

Home Envy

I had the great pleasure, that ended in the great horror, of walking into Pottery Barn recently and walking out with the realization that, that store could have been a figment of my imagination for as realistic as it was for my life. Everything was so exquisite, and the women shopping there, even more so. Rugged yet elegant, natural yet chic, the store had beautifully combined the usual dichotomies perfectly. Even their salt and pepper shakers were so adorable, it was ridiculous:

Perhaps Pottery Barn isn’t your style, but I’m sure you’ve all had the drooling episodes of walking into stores you adore but cant afford and emerging frustrated and suddenly dissatisfied. Home-envy I guess you could call it- a very dangerous affliction.

A Remedy:

The quickest way for me to get over my home-envy, is doing a little DIY. So today, I thought I would share some anyone-can-do-it mural DIY to perk up your home if you too are sneering at your side-table or railing at your rug.

Wallpaper is making a comeback, and, for good reason. Putting a fun pattern on your walls or even a single wall can make a huge impact in an otherwise typical room and with so many modern patterns available, the word “wallpaper” no longer conjures up images of bad 80’s motels and outdated grandparent’s houses. However, wallpaper can be awfully expensive and is notorious for making messes and ruining walls with its super-sonic-sticky glue. So, why not paint it instead?

Step One: Supplies

  • picture of a pattern you can download or upload onto a computer
  • a projector that plugs into your computer
  • paint
  • patience

Pick a pattern that isn’t extremely intricate, mostly because you will hate yourself later for having to paint in a bunch of detailed lines. I mentioned that you can choose a picture you can download or upload because, the easiest way to do it is obviously to download a picture off the internet. However, my image came from a piece of scrapbook paper. I took a picture of the piece of paper on my phone and then uploaded it to my computer:

After doing our wall, a friend loved it so much she wanted to do it in her home too. She wanted to use a pattern of actual wallpaper she found on the Anthropology website. It was super expensive though, so, she just copied the image, I edited it in photoshop to get a large enough image to project, and we had our template to paint the pattern ourselves:

Like I mentioned before, this image is pretty complicated and was very difficult to paint. She had some extreme patience and a steady hand though and it turned out fabulous.

Step two: Painting

If you have no artistic ability and are looking at this project thinking, “uh, yeah, no way would mine look like that,” think again. If you can color in a coloring book, you can do this. Pull up the image in whatever photo viewing program you use (I use Picasa) and put the settings on full screen slideshow. Then, plug in the projector and point it at the wall you want to paint on, and start filling in the lines.

DIY mural and wallpaper

Easy, yes? You may have to play with the alignment of the projector to get the image in the right place on the wall. As you can see, this only covered half the wall and we had to realign the projector to paint the bottom half. Just line up the pattern again once you have re-positioned the projector and you have a seamless wall.



DIY-mural-wallpaperThe other pattern, because it was so much more detailed, was much more difficult to paint. However, the effect is stunning if you have the patience to hang in there.

DIY-mural-wallpaperThe best thing about this is that if you mess up you don’t have to scrape off a whole wall of rumpled wallpaper, you can just paint over it and re-stencil. Or, if you end up hating it in an hour, a week, or a year, just paint it away and create something new.

Pottery Barn has yet to infiltrate my own world, however much I wish it too, but I think this easy project keeps you loving your own abode in a super cheap, fun way, and kills that home-envy just a little bit.

Happy Friday to everyone, hopefully this has inspired you to do some fall decorating this weekend. This marks the end of week two of Vintage Muse Modern Views and I wanted to thank everyone who has been faithfully reading along. Don’t forget to head over to http://www.etsy.com/shop/VintageMuses and check out some pretty things. This weekend there will be some pretty patterns added for you to choose from.

– <3 A. 

Make A Wish

As promised from yesterday’s post, today is handmade birthday-idea-day!

I also thought that today would be the perfect day to introduce the Two Redheads. My very dearest and longest of friends, they make birthdays and everyday-days look extra special in the simplest of ways and so are prime candidates for being Mrs Gigglebellys. (If you’re confused at this point by that reference, read yesterday’s post before you go any further, or else this post will become “curiouser and curiouser” (Lewis Carroll) that is, of course, unless you just enjoy reading nonsense).

Backyard Birthdays

The Muse:

Reagan: Impeccable taste in candle scents; pays attention to thread-count; could make the Buckingham Palace Gaurds laugh if anyone could; believes snow leopards are beautiful and resemble herself-she’s right; can rearrange any room to resemble Pottery Barn; as beautiful as she is tall (she’s very tall); in her own words: “I like fat laughs on skinny men.”

The Party:

outdoor birthday ideas

Visit any wedding or party blog, and indoor furniture as outdoor party-decor has become the latest modern view on the classic patio furniture. With the lines blurring between indoor and outdoor, making a “room” in the open air with items you already have is a brilliant way to create something new by simply rearranging. For her own birthday party, Reagan did a smashing job giving a typical backyard some extra special homemade loving.

Stretching knotted sheets across a frame of ladders and ropes are all that was needed for this canopy. This Redhead is a pro at making what you already have work in a whole new way.

Mixing colors and patterns is also another way to make your everyday items look new, expensive, and elegant. That chair no one sits in? The teacup in the back of the cabinet? The tablecloth you always forget about? In a new environment they all suddenly look so special.

 birthday party ideas


Don’t get carried away with little things, but also remember, nothing is too small. Making a sheet-canopy, eating lunch on the grass, and picking pansies for headbands sounds pretty simple…and it was, but, also so very magical.

For the City Girl

The Muse:

Mckenzie: Once sat on the curb for an hour waiting for a pizza to be delivered that she ordered as a pick-up; looks good in gold; should be published; could collage anything; collages everything; kindred spirit; could get lost with a compass; in her own words: “I like lists and I hate going to bed.”

The Party:

The big city could pose a challenge for the party-planner seeking charm with very little pocket-change. Mckenzie’s birthday weekend was quite the San Francisco treat though despite the small budget. The focus here was where to spend. You don’t have to decorate a whole house to make it feel festive, these charming cupcake toppers come in a kit with all kinds of different themes and easily lend an instant feeling of magic without spending hours hanging streamers, getting light-headed blowing up balloons, or ordering clowns and bouncy castles.

san francisco park

Entertainment is probably the biggest birthday-budget-buster. Mckenzie solved that problem by having the preparations for the party become the party itself. If finding time in your schedule to make homemade dessert or even dinner for a party makes you break out into a cold sweat, you don’t have to order out. Allowing party guests to join in the baking is so much fun and is a sweet time-saver.

Getting guests involved in the actual party makes it feel so much more personal and special. And this Redhead can definitely make you feel special. Give her party-twist a try, I promise you’ll make someone’s day by making your birthday a memorable bash.

– <3 A.