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Monday, October 31, 2011

A Brief History of Interior Design and Decoration (Part 2)

Happy MONDAY again, sweet friends!!! I can't believe it is the last day of October! This month has really flown!!! We have had some warm and beautiful days this month as well as some really chilly, dark and drizzly ones. Today it is chilly and overcast and looks like we might be in for some rain later on this afternoon. I am still hoping that all of my friends that got snow this past week-end are doing well and staying warm. I have been working on my regular Monday household chores around our home this morning and decided to take a break while one load of laundry is washing and another load is drying to post this week's decorating and design history installment. I hope that you will like it and that you might learn a little something you may not have known before.

Greek architecture and furnishings reflect a great understanding of the elements and principals of design that continue to be used by the architects and designers in the 21st century. In contrast to the use of symbolism in the Egyptian world, the Greeks emphasized the use of line, repetition, variety and form in their buildings, homes, furnishings and art work. This is most evident in the buildings that were used for worship, government and commerce and the fine arts and furnishings of the culture.

The monumental official buildings of Greece exhibit a grand scale with tall columns spaced in rhythmic rows and a variety of elaborate entablatures. The buildings were skillfully designed with precise symmetry and balance, generally rectangular in form and usually constructed of stone. The roof lines were supported by a system of trusses constructed in a triangular configuration that added strength to the roof and formed the pediment area of the building fa├žade. The pediment was decorated with repetitive patterns and moldings. The various styles of these moldings and patterns are the origin of those seen in many modern structures. These include the egg and dart, bead and reel, dentil pattern treatments as well as cyma, fillet, fascia, torus and ovolo moldings. Under the Pediment was the entablature divided into three areas: a cornice, a frieze and an architrave with additional moldings and carvings of trigliphs and metopes in the frieze area. Perhaps the most identifiable element of all Greek architecture was the stately columns. These strong vertical columns were admired for their ornamental qualities rather than structural strength. The shaft of the columns were carved and fluted and given a slight curve, or entasis, perhaps as a method of aiding water shed. They were then topped with capitals that were indigenous to their particular architectural order. These three distinct orders of Greek culture were the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders. Doric columns had capitals that were simple, Ionic columns were topped with scroll like capitals and Corinthian columns had profuse carved Acanthus leaf motifs at their crown The Corinthian order was a late historical category and not preferred by the architects of classic Greece. Rare substitutes for columns on buildings were tall female figures known as caryatids. The form was generally used as a chair or table leg design, but they were occasionally used to adorn Greek structures. Furnishings used in these stately structures included the highly decorated thronos and the diphros stool with legs that were either fixed or folding.

The homes of Greek citizens were much simpler compared to the impressive scale and magnificent ornamentation of ceremonial buildings. Nonetheless, their homes incorporated furnishings decorated with patterns that added contrast and interest to their every day lives. The central feature of these domiciles was the open courtyard areas with all other rooms placed around it, often in a radial balance. There were no windows in these early homes and the sun from the courtyard was used as the main light source. The interior walls were constructed of sun-dried bricks of mud and early examples had simple plaster or whitewash as the finish. In later periods color pigments were added to provide variety. Rooms in most homes included a living room focused around a hearth, called the oikos, a kitchen and a bath. The room most prized by the men of these homes was the andron. This was a covered room off of the courtyard with an alter to the family gods where men would meet to dine. The andron often had decorative mosaic floor treatments and would accommodate seven or more klini, or reclining couches, to be used by the guests with individual tables, called trapezas, with three legs. The legs of tables and klini were often designed with wooden legs ornamented with turnings. The most graceful form of furniture developed by the Greeks was the klismos chair. These chairs were used throughout houses and semi-public buildings. The klismos had a splat back and elegant outwardly curved legs and is frequently represented on painted pottery vases from the Hellenistic period of Greek history.
The pottery of ancient Greek vases was one of the crowning achievements of Greek culture. The vases in their varying shapes were created for functional uses but were also highly prized because of their painted surfaces. The two major styles of vase paintings were the black figured and red figured forms. The earlier black figured vase had a red clay background with images painted on in black ink while the later red figured versions used the opposite method of painting the background in black and leaving images in the red clay state. Greek artisans were also well known for their work in sculptures of stone and bronze. These sculptures developed over time from the simple work of the archaic period (600-480 B.C.) in early Greece to the highly detailed and animated work of sculptures during the Hellenistic period (323-146 B.C.). Among the pieces that best represent the work of the latter Hellenistic artists is the statue of The Laocoon Group that portrays the Trojan priest and his two sons as they strive to free themselves from snakes sent by Apollo to destroy them. The degree of agony expressed in the faces of the figures is great and lifelike as are their torsos represented in stone as writhing and twisted.
The architects and artisans of the ancient Greek world began to develop and better understand the elements that define strength in design. Throughout the course of Greek history a great number of designs that are used as standards for the development of modern buildings, furnishings and art forms came into being. The quest for quality and clarity of line and purpose pursued by the craftsmen and architects of ancient Greece is a attribute that is rare. As cultures continue to emulate the forms that made up the structures of this ancient civilization few come close to their simple perfection in design.

I have included a link to a site about Ancient Greek Art and Architecture. There are many wonderful resources and images there. I hope to post a Daybook entry sometime tomorrow. For now I will close and wish you a good day.  May your day go well and I hope that you will accomplish all you have on your "to-do" list! Sending you ((Hugs)) from WV!

Stay Cozy,

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reshuffling Stuff and Just Hanging Out

Greetings and good afternoon from my cottage to yours, sweet friends!!! We are having an ABSOLUTELY BEA-UTIFUL day here in good ol' Dunbar, WV!!! The sun is shining, our skies are blue and the temperature is cool, but not too cold! I have seen some wonderful photos of SNOWY-WEATHER from some of my dear friends in other parts of our country on Facebook! There is snow in the upper part of our state and in PA and some of my friends in the central states further west of us are having some pretty heavy snow, too. I like a good snow day, but am VERY glad that it has not come our way just yet. Hope that all of my friends in "white weather" territories are staying warm and have their power! Think of me as you sip on your hot chocolate or hot apple cider, it won't be long before that powdery white stuff will start falling around here, too. I am almost sure that we will have some before Thanksgiving as we did last year~Bbbbrrrrrr!

For now we are just enjoying the sunny skies and have been working on rearranging some of our closets. We have repurposed a couple of them as the way we use our home changes from time to time. We took ALL of our board games (we have about 30 of them) out of my dining room closet and have them now tucked away in the upper pantry cupboard in the little area between our kitchen and dining room. This was a breakfast nook area at one time and my washer and dryer now sit where a tressle table and benches once stood. It is much better than having them downstairs in the basement and we would not be apt to use a breakfast nook, anyway. I have been going through some of our belongings and am getting ready to donate some of the items in good and usable condition to the youth of our church for an upcoming rummage sale they are having. I love when they have these sales as they also have hot dogs for sale~and are they GOOD hot dogs~YUM!!! Anyway, that is what I have been doing today. I just had to take a little rest as I had been rushing around and got a little dizzy~whew!

I will have to take a few pictures to share of the newly organized game pantry and my decorating in our dining room. Wishing you all a great week-end and I will be posting another installment of my History of Interior Design/Decoration on Monday.

For Now, Stay Cozy,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY: October 25, 2011

Outside my window...
The sun is shining and the skies are clear blue! Simply a beautiful autumn afternoon!!! The temperature is in the 70s and the trees have some color still on them. There is a Maple tree on the next street that looks like a picture out of a travel guide with bright red and some yellow and a few green leaves left. Just GORGEOUS!
I am thinking...
that it is good to feel like writing again. I went through quite a dry spell this time, I was getting a bit concerned about whether or not I would ever start wanting to write again. So glad that God answered my prayer and gave me the desire to share my thoughts again.

I am thankful...
for this wonderful, beautiful time of the year and for all of the many blessings my Lord has given to me in my life. I am especially thankful for my family, our home, my sweet friends, and the dear brothers and sisters we have at our church.
I went to my weekly women's Bible study this morning and had the sweetest time in fellowship with those dear sisters in the Lord. I started attending last fall and couldn't wait to get back to the group after our summer break. I love to learn more about God's word and to stay after for lunch and just to have time to talk to the ladies about what they have been doing since our last visit. We all take turns at fixing items for the lunch and we have some pretty good cooks, too! Today we had soup and sandwiches. Next week we are having spaghetti and salads. The book that we are using for our study is called, "Becoming a Vessel God Can Use" and is written by Donna Partow. It is a wonderful study about the men and women of the Bible that could be considered "unlikely vessels" and how the Lord used them for His glory and purpose. I am really enjoying this study.

From the learning rooms...
Caleb and I are working on drawings of DNA, plant cells and animal cells. We are still working on our study of the 1950s and for math he is working on problems involving percentages.

In the kitchen...
There is a BIG beef roast with vegetables slowly roasting in the crock pot~MMmmmm! Just the right dinner for a cool fall evening. It is supposed to cool into the upper 40s by tonight.
I am wearing...
a pretty blue floral pullover shirt and my favorite pair of slacks. I am still dressed from Bible study this morning.

I am creating...
this blog post and happy memories for my family at home. I am thinking about going out on the front porch to rock a bit with Caleb in a bit. He is busy drawing some of his action characters right now. I love our life here at the cottage! I am thinking about making some embroidered felt ornaments for our Christmas tree and to give as gifts to friends.

I am going...
to my momma's tomorrow to take her for her weekly shopping trip. She was in the most wonderful mood today; laughing and talking about sweet memories of when she was a child. She was also happy that her next door neighbor had come over yesterday to help her with some fall chores around her house. She has wonderful neighbors and friends!
I am wondering...
what I might get into this coming week-end. I have several things that I need to be working on, but not sure where to start. Time will tell...
I am reading...
Becoming a Vessel God Can Use by Donna Partow and My Heart's in the Lowlands by Liz Curtis Higgs
I am hoping...
that my family will stay healthy this coming winter and no one will have to deal with any major illnesses. I would also love to see my children start thinking about returning to attending church services. Praying deeply over each of them~they are all so dear to me.
I am looking forward to...
a peaceful evening with my hubby and my son. Evenings are always the sweetest time of the day to me.
I am hearing...
my son's video game music, the sound of water running and my old computer humming along.
One of my favorite things...
The smell of smoke from a neighbor's fireplace on cool fall evenings~ahhh!

 Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

Outside our town library only 2 weeks ago!

I hope that you will have a blessed week ahead. I would also like to thank Peggy for hosting this Daybook. It is always a blessing to me and a fun way to catch up with friends about what is going on in your day. If you would like to add a Daybook post to your blog, go to The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Brief History of Interior Design and Decoration (Part One) Ancient Egypt

HAPPY MONDAY, sweet friends!!!! I am a little later at getting to my computer than I had anticipated. I was hoping to have this post up before noon, but the morning got away from me and it was time to get our breakfast and start the homescool day before I knew it. I hope that you will enjoy this little series on Design History from my blog. As I mentioned in my last post, this was a little book that I put together for a History of Interior Design class at the University of Charleston around 2003 and it was one of my favorite college courses and class projects while I was there. My View Book contained many images, but I will not be posting those here as I am concerned about violating any copyright laws. I will post appropriate links of interest that you may want to visit if you would like to see examples of the type of styles of which my posts might reference. The first installment is on Ancient Egypt and covers a period from 4500 BC to around 30 AD. It is a little long for a blog post and I had thought about breaking it up into 2-3 posts, but decided that I would go ahead and post it all as I want to complete this series within three months or so with once a week posts. Without further delay, here is my first installment:

Ancient Egypt 4500 BC-30 AD

Ancient Egypt is often referred to as the “Cradle of Civilization”. The architects and artisans responsible for the buildings and furnishings used by the inhabitants of this land took inspiration from nature and religion in their designs. The Nile River Valley was rich and supplied an abundant array of date palms, pomegranates and papyrus along with the beauty of water lotus blossoms. The seasons of flooding and draught that brought life to all of these natural treasures had an influence on every area of Egyptian life and on the materials that were available for the creation of monuments, homes and furnishings in this area of the world.

The three seasons of flooding, seeding and harvest created a sense of continual existence throughout Egyptian culture. The very sun was considered as a god and was represented with an image given the name of Ra in Egyptian  religion. As astronomers of the time began to notice that the sun and moon followed the same repetition as the seasons of the river they began to equate these cycles with the idea that all life is ever lasting. To the Egyptians the afterlife was their fourth and final season. The gods that were worshipped by this ancient people are represented by natural beings and phenomenon. Large, splendid temples were built to these gods were filled with pictorial messages about these beliefs. Rulers of the Egyptian world were considered to be gods and, therefore, even in death were given great monuments for their passage to the after world. The great pyramids are perhaps the most identifiable example of Egyptian architecture are said to have been designed in a triangular configuration to point the sarcophagus to the final destination and to draw energy from the sun for their journey. Inside the tomb there were chambers for the deceased and their many earthly possessions, passages along the inside that lead to the chamber and away from it and areas with corbelled, or stacked, walls.

In addition to the pyramids the great temples nearby exhibited the use of hieroglyphic symbols on almost every surface of the structure. The symbols each held great meaning and were used to convey important messages to all that observed them. The range of symbols is endless as well as the combinations they were used in which often altered their basic meaning. Such symbols include the serpent seen as a badge of royalty, the lotus flower that represented purity, the scarab signifying eternal life, and the sun disk and vulture with outstretched wings that were seen as signs of protection. The structure of the great temples was generally symmetrical and based on an axial plan around a central line. At the entrance of the temple there were usually statues, several sphinxes, or a pair of obelisks followed by a courtyard area. The hypostyle hall beyond the courtyard was supported by many columns and each progressive chamber was held to be more private and sanctified. Just above this area was a clerestory with openings to allow light to pass through. Light also entered from the roof through a series of light holes cut into the roof. The walls of these ancient temples were constructed primarily with stones cut in precise squared ashlars. The sphinx, a creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human, became a form of monument in its own right as well as the tall tapered obelisk carved of rose granite. The obelisk form is still used in modern times and was the model for the Washington monument in Washington, DC.

Homes of the Egyptian people varied from very simple one room units with a door at one end and a window opening at the other to affluent homes with several rooms on various levels. These houses were built with rubble stone or mud brick and the only thing that changed with affluence was that the bricks for the homes built for the wealthy were fired. A common feature in almost all Egyptian houses was an open area on the roof of the building to permit the dwellers to sleep outside during hot nights. Houses were furnished with a selection of either built in or free standing pieces. Built in pieces were an important component of mud brick houses and took many forms. These included a type of dining table and seating bench called the dais and mastaba along with storage areas that were carved into masonry walls. Movable furnishings were generally owned by more well-to-do members of society because of the cost of materials used to construct these pieces.

Although the banks of the Nile provided wonderful crops as previously mentioned, as well as flax and cotton for fabrics, there was not an abundance of trees for construction of buildings or furniture. The wood that was used in furnishings for homes and temples came from their native acacia, sycamore and willow trees and imported ebony and cedar wood. The Egyptian craftsmen brought the art of wood joinery into existence with a series of methods for strengthening the wood at connecting joints to reduce the effect of warping over time. The attention to detail that resulted in quality pieces that would last sprung from the idea that the owner would need these furnishings in the after life. The joints included methods that are still used today such as dovetail, mortise and tenon, miter joint and double shoulder mitering. The joints were nailed or pegged for added strength  and topped with metal clamps.

The ceremonial chairs owned by royalty were often covered in gold leaf with inlays of ebony, ivory precious stones and pieces of a colorful glass like pottery that became known as Egyptian faience in patterns of hieroglyph symbols. Other less ornate furnishings used by the wealthy were decked with legs that were carved from wood to resemble the hind legs of animals, stools with stationary crossed legs carved in the shape of duck bills that appeared fold, and chests for storage. Another noteworthy piece of furniture was the sloping bed that had a footboard and a headrest of glass or metal. The headrest was shaped so that the head could rest when the user was sleeping on their side to protect hair styles and allowed for better circulation of air in hot desert climates.

The people of ancient Egypt used their resources to add comfort and beauty to their culture and daily lives. The forms of their architecture and developments in art and wood crafting created a standard for many generations to aspire toward and learn from. Civilization appears to have, indeed, sprung forth from the River Nile and the accomplishments of the Egyptian culture will be seen repeatedly throughout future civilizations.

For more information and photo examples of the styles and structures mentioned in my little article above, you can visit the All About Egypt travel site as they have some wonderful information and images there. I hope you are having a blessed day! Hope to post a Daybook entry tomorrow!

God Bless and Stay Cozy,

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Grand Being a Grammy!

Good morning, sweet blog friends!!! I am going to take a minute to write a little post before starting my day. We have very special company with us this week-end~our sweet little granddaughter, Kayleigh!!! We had grandson Hunter with us last week and this week it is Kayleigh's turn! I love having the "grands" around, they just add so much more fun to our weekends! Caleb and Kayleigh are having a quick bowl of  cereal and watching cartoons right now, so I am taking a minute to blog a bit. We will be waking up "Paw-paw" (heehee) in a few minutes and then we will fix our "real" breakfast.

It has been a really good week here at the old cottage! Caleb and I had a wonderful time studying more about the 1950s and DNA and so much more. Friday Caleb had his test on the first section of 1950s history and got 14/15!!! He has really enjoyed learning about this decade and especially the music and television shows of the era. He really got into the Korean War, too. We watched a LOT of videos about the 50s, it has been a fun study and we are ready to move on to the next section which will cover the years after the Korean War.

I wanted to mention, too that I have a neat little history lesson coming up for those who follow this blog. I am going to post a series of articles all about the history of interior decoration and design for you. It is a little something that I did a few years ago for a college class. The History of Design class was one of my very favorites when I attended the University of Charleston. I had always wondered where some of the furniture and art designs we still reference today had their origins. This class helped me reach an understanding of design and the cultures from which they came. I hope you will enjoy the series. I will be posting the first installment on Monday.

Finally, I stopped by my old blog on the Homestead Blogger the other evening only to discover that, sadly, they will be taking that site down. I have not blogged over there for a while, but did not want to lose my content (or my sweet friends there), nonetheless. I sent a note to my friends to find me here and on Facebook. Then I hurriedly copied all of my past blog posts over into a Word Doc. There was a lot of family history in those posts. Wonderful record of good days spent with family, times of sickness, little poems that I had shared...all too precious to even think about losing forever. I think that is one of my favorite things about blogging; the fact that the events of our lives are recorded and celebrated and shared with friends. I may repost some of those here at a later time.

For now I am wishing you all a splendid, happy and wonderful week-end. Hope that your days are filled with the blessing of family and friends, love and laughter and lots of good things to celebrate! Sending you ((HUGS)) from our cottage to yours!

Stay Cozy,

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fall Fun Days

Good morning dear ones!!! I just have to take a few minutes to post a bit about this past week. You know that this is my ALL-TIME FAVORITE time of year! I love the changing leaves, the cooler temps, that earthy autumn smell in the air and the thought that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. There are just so many things to love about autumn! This past Sunday the three of us had attended morning church service and had a good dinner together. It was such a pretty fall day, the kind that is just perfect for a walk in the woods, so Caleb and I headed to good old Wine Cellar Park. We collected some leaves and walked the nature trail and had a good time talking and just enjoying the beauty around us. 

We are so very familiar with this little patch of woods. The little creek that runs through it was full from recent rains and it babbled gently as we walked along. Caleb stopped to see if the vine that he and his friends loved to swing on was still there. He was saddened to discover that it had been broken since our last visit. The little bridges are always a fun stopping place and I snapped a picture of Caleb standing on one of them.

I think this will be his official "school picture". We had a very pleasant afternoon and then watched movies at home until time for the evening church service.
Tuesday our son, Greg and his family stopped by for a visit and brought pizzas for our supper. The kids all had fun playing video games, eating pizza and laughing and talking as the grown ups visited around the dining room table chatting the evening away. Every now and then one or two of the kids would come in and sit down with us and join in the conversation. It was so very pleasant. I LOVE when our kids come home, even for a few hours.
On Wednesday as part of his school day, Caleb made candy apples. Robin had picked up a little kit at the store and we took time to have some fun making them together. It was a messy job, but SO much fun and a yummy treat, too.

Thursday evening my sweet hubby treated us to supper out at a local restaurant and then we went to a Jr. High football game at our granddaughter's school in Poca, WV. She is in the band and plays the clarinet.

The band did a wonderful job of entertaining us.They played the National Anthem at the start of the game and then three songs at half time. It was the first time in ages since I had been to a school football game and I really had fun with my family, though I will have to remember to take some kind of cushion the next time we go to one~lol. Those bleachers were rough on an old girl! :-)
Today I am headed out to my poetry club. The topic for our poetry today is early childhood and I have a couple of favorites to share. I hope that each of you has a sweet week-end and hope to post a little more later in the week.

God bless and stay cozy,

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Home Again, Home Again

I am home after having my heart cath this past Tuesday! Everything went well with the proceedure and I am very HAPPY to say that NO blockages were found~YAY!!! I do still have issues with palpitations and extra heartbeats, a condition I am just now learning about called Premature Ventricular Complexes (PVCs). I stayed in the hospital until yesterday (Friday) for some further testing; a glucose intollerance test (ick) due to elevated blood sugar levels and an MRI to try and determine if I would be a candidate for Cardiac Catheter Ablation. I got through that icky glucose test and was so VERY glad to see lunch arrive at last~lol! Thursday the MRI lab was backed up with emergency cases and so I had to wait until yesterday for that test. I had never had and MRI, but had heard they could be a very clostrophobic experience. I thought I would be OK, I tried really hard to just relax and keep my eyes closed, but in the end, I had to push the panic button~WOW it is really tight in there!!! So, I will not be getting the Ablation at this time. I am taking meds to control my blood pressure and one that helps control the heart rythm and my doctor wants me to give up caffine. That is going to be hard for this coffee hound~sigh, but it will help to lessen my PVC issues. Right now I am just so very GLAD to be HOME!!!
I do have to tell you all about the BEAUTIFUL room I had for my hospital stay! It was wonderful with colors that were inspired by the sky and clouds, a wonderful BIG bath, deluxe shower and each room on the new cardiac care unit has its own computer for the medical staff so they no longer have to haul one around on carts. There was a fold out sofa bed for family to stay with patients and a wonderful flat screen television and I spent much of my days watching HGTV and the Hallmark channel. It made the stay so much more pleasant! I am posting some photos for you to see:

Hope to get back to my writing as I am feeling so much more relieved that a major surgery is not in my near future. God bless you all and hope you have a wonderful weekend!!!

Stay Cozy,