The great debate... Placemats or Tablecloths? Which are better?

Making a table look beautiful is an art, and there are lots of ways to do it.  Two of the most common ways is to use a tablecloth or placemats.  Which is better really depends on the look you want and even the kind of table you have.  Either option can make a dining room look fantastic and stylish or dated and dowdy.

Personally, I like using both, but with our current table, a tablecloth isn't really an option... keep reading to find out why.

When we had our round oak table, I loved using tablecloths.  They gave the table, and the whole room, a soft romantic look.  A table can look beautiful with a tablecloth when it's done right. I'm not a fan of plain white tablecloths, because they look a little too "banquet hall" to me in a home. A tablecloth has to have some kind of detail to elevate it from utilitarian.

Table with Tablecloth
Beautiful table with a tablecloth
Here's our old oak table with a beautiful tablecloth I bought at the Linen Store in Nassau, Bahamas, many years ago. It's a crisp white and makes everything look pretty.  Even so, I did add some additional layers...a pale green napkin and two smaller placemats to give it a little more interest.

Table Setting
Table setting with china from the 1940s.
The china is one of my four sets... Yes, I'm nuts for china. I love being able to mix and match these two patterns from the 1940s.

Our "new" rectangular mahogany table fits the space we have for dining so much better than the round one did, but I miss how pretty the round one looked with the tablecloth.  The truth is, as much as I love my current dining set, I think it looks a little dowdy with a tablecloth because of the Duncan Phyfe style chairs.

Make a formal table more casual
Pretty placemats give formal table a casual look.
Our current table looks much better with placemats. The placemats don't hide the beauty of the mahogany wood. It definitely has a more formal look, which is downplayed with placemats. A tablecloth looks out of place in our tiny little house, because it would be over the top formal.  Plus, a tablecloth hides all the detail of the table, which makes it look plain and unappealing.

Informal Place Setting
Mixing different pieces on a placemat.
One thing I've enjoyed with this table is being able to use lots of different styles of placemats.  I've learned, however, that I do not like the square or round ones that I would sometimes use on our round table. They are just the wrong shape.

Round placements with a round table.
Table topper with round placemats
This shows how the round placemats looked on the round table. The table topper was a nice addition to the table, because it didn't get in the way when you wanted to sit down.  Some people don't think you should use tablecloths and placemats together, but I disagree...when done right, it can look very charming.

Formal Placemats.
Another more formal look with placemats.

We've actually donated these wood placemats, because the color clashed with the table and they slid around too much.  But I loved the look of the gold plates with the black and white napkins.

As you can see, you can get lots of different looks with tablecloths and with placemats.  You can get a formal look both ways just by the dinnerware you use.

Square Placemats
Pretty in pink with square placemats
Which do you prefer?  Tablecloth or Placemats?  Or do you prefer something else?  Share in the comments!

New Blog updated with some Old Posts

An empty blog is a boring blog.  It's an indisputable fact.  And, unfortunately, since being forced to start a new blog, my blog is empty.  I don't want a boring blog!!   That's why I've decided to transfer some of the posts from my old blog over to this one.  These will mostly be posts about things we done to our house.  It just seems a shame to have to lose all the work I did on the old blog.

Lampshade DIY
Old lamp, New look...  New blog, Old post
Today I added Before & After: Making over a LampshadeOff-Center Window in the Bedroom, Craigslist Finds Update Kitchen, Kitchen Renovation...The Blinds are GONE, and many more. Since they aren't new posts, I'm going to keep the original dates on the posts.

At first I thought I'd add a couple every week, but once I got started moving posts, it just seemed easier to to all of them at once. An added bonus to doing them all at once is I didn't accidently end up with duplicates.

The posts that didn't get moved over here need to be reworked.  I really want to find a way to bring back my "Inspiration" posts.  If I can work it out, those will most likely become a monthly feature, as they'll involve a lot of work.

Our Pets are Children

Here is some cuteness overload pictures to fill in while I work on getting some great content on my blog.  It's a little daunting going from a blog that had a ton of content to having to start over, but it will be worth it.  I promise!

We don't have any human children. Our pets are our children.  This is what I tell people when they say pets aren't kids:

Jasper sleeping
Jasper, our baby boy, sound asleep
My pets are my children. They rely on me for everything in their lives. I get up with them when they're sick, and I take them to the doctor and nurse them back to health. I worry about their safety and their happiness. When they make a mess, I clean it up. I am constantly picking up their toys, because they still haven't learned to pick up after themselves. They still haven't learned to speak, so I have to guess what they need when they cry, and pray that I guess right.

Tia looking over her shoulder
Tia, our baby girl, looking over her shoulder.
My pets are my children. They forgive me when I make mistakes. They wait patiently when I go away, and they're always happy when I return. They want to be close to me. Which means I cannot have privacy in the bathroom. And when I'm on the phone, that's always the time when they need or want something. There is no such thing as private time with my husband (their dad), because they are always wherever we are when we're home. And let's not forget that we have to get a babysitter for them when we go on vacation, because they cannot stay home by themselves, and they never will be able to.

Jasper in a box
What is it about cats and boxes.  Jasper just loves them!
My pets are my children.  They will never outgrow the baby stage of life, and they will never buy me a Mother's Day card. They will never grow up and become independent. They won't ask to borrow the car. They won't go to college, and get married or give me grandchildren. They'll never have a chance to become President or even get a job. Instead, they will always rely on me to provide everything they need for the rest of their lives.

Tia fast asleep
Tia stretching while asleep.
My pets are my children. I celebrate their accomplishments, I laugh at their antics, and I worry about their well being. Like every other parent, I often find myself questioning whether I'm doing a good enough job taking care of them. But I know, that when I adopted them, that they became my responsibility and I cannot give up because it's too hard. I chose to bring them into my life and my heart, they didn't choose me.

Now, doesn't this sound just like having children?

What about you?  Are your pets your children?  What things do you do that make you feel like a pet-mom or pet-dad?

Vacation with Mom

Last month, my mom and I went on a week-long vacation to the Bahamas just the two of us.  We stayed with family, which made it very affordable and actually very relaxing.  This is something I've wanted to do with my mom for a very long time, and I'm so glad we got a chance to do it.

My said she told some of her friends about going on vacation with me, and some people she didn't know commented that they didn't think that sounded like very much fun for me. Well, I'm here to tell you, I had a fantastic time going on vacation with my mom!  She's my best friend, so why wouldn't I have a good time with her?

Rain in the Bahamas
View from the patio of the rain on our first day.
Our first night in Nassau, we just relaxed with my Bahamian family.  Alice made lobster for us that was sooooo delicious. My mouth waters just thinking about it.  It was raining the first day, so it was nice to just hang out and adjust to the hotter weather.  They live on the canals in Coral Harbour, so from their back patio, you can see the boat owned by one of their neighbors.

The next day we went shopping on Bay Street. My niece helped me pick out gifts for Jim, and we had ice cream. So much fun! Until then, I hadn't had the opportunity to spend much time with her, but I quickly became her favorite aunt from Michigan. After we finished shopping we headed for Arawak for some crack conch.  Yum!

Bahamian Food
Looks yummy!  Crack conch, Macaroni, Beans & Rice and Plantain. 
One of my favorite things about the Bahamas is the food, and trust me, I ate a lot of it while we were there.

Saturday, Mom and spent the day shopping just the two of us.  Mom loves to shop. I think she would have shopped every single day.  But she made a mistake when she packed to go to Nassau... She used her smallest suitcase and filled it completely. I'm not sure why she did that, because she knew she was going to be bringing things home.  In the end, she ended up buying another suitcase to bring home all her treasures.

My beautiful mother
My beautiful mother.
Mom has lost a lot of weight, and she got a ton of compliments when I posted this picture of her on Facebook.  She's not on Facebook, so I had to read them all to her.  This was taken after we had lunch while shopping. It's on a balcony overlooking Bay Street. I think she looks fantastic.

More food
More food! 
We also got to go to my nephew Jake's birthday party.  Lots of food again, and all of it brought back so many wonderful memories. I can't even tell you how many times I went back for more!

Me and Mom
Me and Mom
I love this picture of the two of us on the beach with Atlantis Hotel in the background. I'm glad Alice suggested stopping there to take a picture.

Mom and I had such a great time! I can't wait to do it again.  Maybe next time we'll take a cruise together.  She's been on several cruises before, but I haven't, so that would be fun to do together.

This is just the highlights from our trip. I have a lot more pictures of some gorgeous scenery that I'll post later.

Do you like to go on vacations with your mom?  Where's the best place you've ever gone with her?


Starting Fresh


I know everything looks empty here, and there's a reason for that.  I've kind of been forced into starting fresh.

A copyright troll is trying to extort money from me for using an image on my blog that I embedded from Houzz.  They claim, although they have provided no proof, that they own the image and that I have to pay them a licensing fee for the time it was on my blog.  Well, according to terms of usage, which is agreed to by everyone who participates and posts to Houzz, images posted to their site are allowed to be used on the web without compensation, which means they waived being able to be compensated for the use of that image when they posted it to Houzz. And believe me, I read those terms of usage over and over to make sure I understood them.

Bahamian Flowers
From my recent trip to the Bahamas

After so research, I found  out these 'copyright trolls' make quite a bit of money by seeding the internet with pictures and then pouncing on unsuspecting bloggers who have used the images in good faith...which is what I did when I used the image from Houzz.  Unfortunately, they can make life miserable for a blogger even when the blogger hasn't done anything wrong, and they have put quite a few small business out of business by their unscrupulous means of making money.  The particular one that contacted me operates under no less than six different names, all doing the same thing, from the same address--something that legitimate companies with good reputations don't have to do.

That said, although I'm quite certain that I didn't do anything wrong, I've decided to start fresh with a new blog that does not contain any pictures from sources other than myself and from people I have personally received permission to use or that are verifiably public domain. I'm just not willing to give the copyright trolls any more opportunity to make my life difficult, which is the reason for the fresh start.

Truth be told, I'm now kind of excited to be starting fresh. I plan to recreate many of the posts I had on my old blog, but with a fresh new take on them.  I'll also be looking at adding some new features to the blog and to my website.

Sometimes things happen for a reason. I think this happened to me to help jump start my creativity and my business. I can look at it as a negative or a positive, and I'm choosing to make it a positive.

Let me know if there are any features you like to see, and wish me luck!!


UPDATE:  Houzz contacted the company that accused me of copyright infringement and asked that they follow the terms of agreement and procedures set out in those terms in regards to copyright infringement. Basically, they told the company I shouldn't have been the one contacted, so I feel much better.

MORE INFO:  Laurel Bern had the same thing happen to her. She wrote a wonderful post about her situation and goes into how the Fair Use provision of Copyright Law applies to most Bloggers... Of course, Fair Use is decided on a case by case basis, which can make it difficult. Know this, most of the Copyright Troll will not actually go to the extent of actually suing you if they contact you. They are banking on the chance that you will just pay what they ask, even though they don't provide any proof that their claim in valid.  Unless you are sued and get a letter from a real judge from a court of law, you do not have to pay.

UPDATE: Since it was my use of an image that caused me to start a new blog, I wanted to share this graphic I found regarding whether an image can be used or not. It's very informative, but not exhaustive in covering every situation. It is best to always ask permission, but there are some instances when fair use does qualify the use of an image. It should also be noted that if the image is used on a blog or a website used to earn income, that does not automatically disqualify fair use. I still stand by my contention that my use of the photo that I was contacted about did fall in the boundaries of Fair Use, as I was using it as a teaching/information aid, and not using it to promote my own services or work.

Great infographic from the Visual Communication Guy

Update:  I was contacted by a reader who shared another wonderful reference for copyright law. This one includes information about UK copyright laws, which are different than here in the United States. It's definitely worth checking out.  It's call The Ultimate Student Guide to Images.