My First Tattoo, My Grandmother’s Signature

I recently got my first tattoo and it is a different type of fashion that I kept at bay for such a long time. What happened was my grandmother passed during the Christmas holiday season and my family was gathering for the funeral and memorial service. My daughter had the idea to get a tattoo of my grandmother’s signature. When my cousin, mother, and step sister heard about this they wanted to get one as well. I was the last one to agree. I wanted some symbolism of my grandfather on my father’s side since we were close. Therefore, I was still thinking about it but felt I was going to end up with two names when my cousin suggested I get two lavender stalks underneath my Joyce signature. We all called her Nanny Maxine. That was a great idea so I went for that one. Maxine’s last name was Joyce.

I wanted to write this post also because it is rather rare for a 54-year-old woman to have a grandmother. I was lucky she lived to be 95 and to get to know her better through the last few years since we always lived rather far away from her and my grandfather when I was growing up. For five years we lived in Europe during the time I was 7 to 12. During that time my two grandmothers came to visit but I didn’t see my grandfather, Rufus T Lavender and my other grandfather, Maxine’s husband Lester had passed away when I was 7. I loved to get my grandparent’s letters whenever they wrote me and I learned a lot from them when I was a teenager and got to visit them again after we moved back to the United States. Both my grandmothers loved to sew. Both of my grandfathers were creative as well.

My Nanny Maxine liked to sew clothing that was fashionable in France, for instance, and my mother grew up wearing some very lovely dresses as a result. I attached two photos of my nanny with my mother when she was young and most likely my grandmother sewed those dresses.

My Nanny also loved to garden. She spent many years growing up on a farm and that “farm stock” as it is called is what made her tough and got her through a lot of hard times in life.  When she was a teenager her father and a sister died. Her mother went to beauty school to learn a trade.  Later on, when her mother finished beauty school she spent the afternoons helping out at the beauty parlor. She worked hard at a young age to help out and she was a person who loved to laugh and joke around despite the losses she had endured. I will always remember her laughter.

I learned to enjoy crafts and appreciate handmade things from all of my grandparents.  My Nanny Maxine just so happened to live the longest of them all and we were very blessed to have her company for many years. My nanny had two children and she helped my grandfather when he built homes. She had a mind for helping layout electrical plugs in a way that didn’t create extension cords showing up everywhere.  When her husband passed away she took a job selling children’s wear in retail. She helped raise my cousin Star as well and was a loving grandma to me, my brother and my cousin Laura. She also had three great-grandchildren. The picture of the sailor doll is a doll my Nanny made for my mother when she was a little girl. Her father was away in the war and therefore my mother didn’t know what her daddy looked like. She carried the doll around since she knew her daddy was a sailor.

The picture of the sailor doll is a doll my Nanny made for my mother when she was a little girl. Her father was away in the war and therefore my mother didn’t know what her daddy looked like. She enjoyed carrying the doll around since she knew her daddy was a sailor. My mother must have been thrilled when she finally got to meet her daddy. He came home around the time she was four. In the meantime, my mother saw some other sailors but Nanny had to tell her those weren’t her father.

Later on in life my Nanny Maxine discovered she liked jazz music. Some jazz musicians came and played at her funeral. She wanted a party of sorts to celebrate her life. The pastor told about when she crawled around in the yard helping my mother plant bulbs. Despite her age and not being able to work in the garden regularly anymore she wanted to get involved. She kept pulling herself along and didn’t mind getting dirty.

I am happy with my tattoo. It was a bonding experience to get it done with so many family members and my mother went first. She is 75 and it was also a first for her. Even my step-sister Amanda decided to get a Joyce tattoo. The tattoo artist, Shauncey Fury, said one lady that comes into Hula Moon in Pensacola, Florida had never had a tattoo until after her husband and parents had passed. Apparently, her parents didn’t approve of tattoos. After one year the woman has had 69 tattoos. I am not planning on anymore for now but I thought this story was worth sharing. I hope you enjoyed this post!

vintage photo

Nanny with Emily, my daughter

Nanny with my mother and Jeffrey

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Thrifted Black Dress from a Housing Works Shop

I fell off the blogging sphere there for a bit but now I am back. I have been busy with adding items to my Etsy shops, taking some classes online prior to beginning my work search again soon and just living life.

I have been in need a black dress for a while. The one I had no longer fits due to lifting small weights at the gym! I put off buying one since I haven’t been working more than a couple of days a month with my foot healing. Now it turns out I am in need of one so I had to buy one.

I found this Cache dress at the Housing Works thrift shop in the West Village. It is at 245 West 10th Street and they were having a January sale. Any purchase from Housing Works goes to help fund their efforts to help those affected by HIV/AIDS and homelessness. So you can shop further down the chain of mass production plus help a good cause at the same time! They have various shops in NYC and Brooklyn.

I found another designer dress I liked more but it needed a repair and it wasn’t as practical. So I went for the more practical dress since it could be more multi-functional. At first, I wasn’t sure about the leathery looking appliques on the dress. I thought perhaps it was too much like a superhero look but I put that caution aside and tried it on. Then I was sold on the dress.

I always like to brighten up a black dress somehow so in this point I used a red silk scarf that has a floral design in the center. If I was going to wear a slightly bold, mod look I have some red plaid stocking I could wear with it. That is what is great about a relatively simple black dress; it is more versatile than a fancier one.

I recently found a group on Facebook for women who are in the process of going gray or who decided to stop coloring their hair. It is called GGG Going Gray Guide. It could be a confidence booster if you are on the fence about stopping dyeing your hair. I for one am very happy with my gray hair. It was a hassle to keep dyeing it and I have eczema so I wasn’t happy about the dyes and any chemicals.

Well, I hope you all are enjoying the New Year thus far. I am in the midst of serious spring cleaning since after spending so much time opening two Etsy shops the last few months I need to do it now. There are numerous things that I need to recycle or donate. It feels good to clear out some old things and make way for the new with being more conscious not to get too many of certain items. T- Shirts for instance. I am letting a lot of them just wear out and not replacing them. I always need some for wearing under wool sweaters so I won’t itch (the wool makes me itch) or just to have to wear when dressing casually. I am however aiming to end up with a small fraction of what I had before.

I hoped you enjoyed this post and I will try not to fall off the blog sphere again any time real soon!

housing works find

 

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Holiday Windows In NYC Christmas Time

This is going to the quickest post ever. I am going to visit family so in a rush. I had to take my annual photos of Saks Fifth Avenue windows and Bergdorf’s in the daylight since I sprained my pinky toe. Yes, while I am recovering from foot surgery!  Therefore some photos have a glare from the sunlight which normally doesn’t happen at night. The cool thing is in some of the photos the city scene and the window scene seemed to merge in a very cool way.

Anyway I hope you enjoy the pictures and have a great holiday season!

shop windows for christmas 001

Saks windows xmas NYC

xmas windows NYC

NYC Christmas

Bergdorf Windows

 

All photos and written material by Marilyn Lavender. © Marilyn Lavender, 2016.  “All rights reserved.”

 

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Inspiration from Tasha Tudor’s Illustrations and Creative Work

I have always found Tasha Tudor and her work to be a great inspiration. She was an extremely talented illustrator, a writer, and loved working with her hands. She enjoyed gardening, growing flax, spinning, weaving, basket making, sewing; she had numerous creative outlets that she excelled at. Tasha Tudor was born in 1915 in Boston, Massachusetts. She was the daughter or a naval architect and a portrait painter. She took to gardening at a very young age and enjoyed the simpler things in life like milking her cow. She didn’t show much interest in becoming “a debutante and coming out into Boston society.” “I was teased in school because I was so connected with the past, wore old-fashioned dresses, and wouldn’t cut my hair. ” (1)

In 1938 Tudor married and started a family. She published and illustrated her first book, Pumpkin Moonshine in 1938 also. She and her husband, along with two children lived in Webster, New Hampshire, where the couple had bought an old farm. In 1942 Tudor began designing greeting cards for Herbert Duller, Inc. By 1943 a watercolor she had done was on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1944 she illustrated and released a book called Mother Goose. The success of this book allowed her and her husband to buy a farm that had an old homestead upon its grounds, from 1789. Tasha had two more children after moving there, in total two boys and two girls.

Tudor’s illustrations often were filled with pictures from her life; her own children, flowers and plants that she lovingly grew and her pets. She really enjoyed Christmas and Valentine’s Day and passed this enthusiasm on to her children. She also loved to put on marionette shows while her children were young.  This brought in extra spending money and was fun for the entire family.

Her son, Thomas, went abroad for school and when he returned he brought home a corgi dog which became very attached to Tasha. She went on to adopt up to twelve corgis dogs and even created a story called “Corgiville Fair”, which was published and a huge success in 1971.  By 1972 she was eager to move to Vermont and purchase a smaller home than the larger home she had raised her children in. Her marriage had ended in 1961 and a second brief marriage was also behind her. She bought some land in southeastern Vermont that had secluded acreage and some forested areas. Her son Seth built her a home based on another home she liked, owned by friends, that was a Cape Cod style farmhouse from 1750. He also built her a barn for her many animals and a staging area for marionette shows. She cut back on her illustration work the year she moved, but later on, she continued to work until her early eighties. Tasha illustrated nearly a hundred books in her lifetime.

Tasha continued her love for gardening in her Vermont home. The pictures of her home show a landscape filled with daffodils, lettuce poppies, dame’s rockets, roses, and many other flowers.  Her home was filled with antiques and precious pieces passed down through her family for many years. In Vermont, she raised goats instead of cows and enjoyed having her grandchildren come to visit and dress up in her vintage clothing. She died in 2008 in Marlboro, Vermont. Her daughters, Bethany Tudor, and Efner Holmes, also became successful illustrators and writers.

The last twenty years of her life she became well known worldwide and her books were translated into many languages. There are numerous books written about her life and work. If you would like to find out more I recommend viewing the Tudor family website. I have the books Tasha Tudor’s Heirloom Crafts and The Private World of Tasha Tudor. I really enjoy sitting and reading these books, as well as the inspiration I derive from seeing all the beautiful pictures. There is a museum in Brattleboro, Vermont that is dedicated to her life’s work and they have various events and show the PBS documentaries about Tasha’s life.

tasha tudor

Tasha Tudor inspiration

Tasha Tudor Christmas

“My antique clothing collection is a great folly of mine. The majority are from the 1830’s, but I have examples from every style and decade from 1770 to 1870. It is very common for a friend who tries on one of my old dresses to feel transported to another time. It gives a different perspective on life.” (2)

tasha tudor

(1)  pg. 20 The Private World of Tasha Tudor

(2) pg.66 The Private World of Tasha Tudor

All photos from Flickr, except the last three which were taken from my book. The photographer is Richard brown for those photos. All written material by Marilyn Lavender. © Marilyn Lavender, 2016.  “All rights reserved.”

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