My name is Cynthia and I love interior design, architecture, antiques, all things vintage, all things British (a tried and true Anglophile), a love of things that are time worn and hold secrets of days gone by. I love animals and try to respect their place in our world. I enjoying talking about the most beautiful places in the world, some exotic, some in our own neck of the woods. I love family and friends, music and movies. And most importantly, I love talking about these things with a daily dose of humor because I love to laugh and we all deserve to. So come on...let's go for a stroll.

AND PLEASE CLICK ON THE ENTRY AND LEAVE ME A COMMENT - I can't talk to you if I don't know you were here, dearest dahling...


Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas at Our House and Remembrances of Mother

For years, I have reveled in decorating for the holidays.  After having a wonderful dinner with family on Thanksgiving, I start hauling the storage boxes up the stairs from the basement.  It is usually a 4-5 day process to get the house decorated -- I used to put up 8 trees (craziness, I know).  But age and health issues have caught up with the hubby and I, and I have downsized some.  In addition, with my mother's passing last year, the enthusiasm for Christmas decorating has definitely been in decline.  This year, however, I once again have experienced the spirit of Christmas. It has been a therapeutic process, which has helped me to realize that my mother, Anne, would have wanted me to carry on the tradition.  She absolutely loved the holidays.  For years, the my family celebrated with her on Christmas Eve, and then celebrated with my husband's family on Christmas Day.  My mother used to wear one of those funny, bouncy Santa know, the one with the built in spring on the top with the white fluffy ball on the end.  We were "forced" to play Christmas games such as "Unscramble the Christmas Words" and "How Many Santas Are In This House?"  The winner was always awarded with a "fabulous prize" such as an ink pen that did double duty as a flashlight, or socks that could easily be found at the checkout counter at most department stores.  I remember getting one of those purse hangers which allows you to hang your purse from a table so that you don't have to place it on the floor.  My grandmother was also the recipient of one and  insisted on using the awful contraption at restaurants.  It took her as long to get the purse on the hanger as it would to order, eat the meal, pay the check and drive home.  My mother made Christmas so special.  It was the best night of the year.  To say that I miss the holidays at her house is a huge understatement.  The only thing I miss more is her.

So, I decided to decorate with her in mind.  In December 2009, I did well to even have a tree, having suffered through her death only 4 months earlier.  This year, my heart felt back in the season.  After all, it's about so much more than decorations.  It's about family, friends, peace of the heart and mind, and in my case, carrying on the memory of my mother in a way that would make her smile.

I took a few pictures of my living room and dining room Christmas decor.  I didn't take any photos of my vintage decorations in my kitchen (they are actually my favorite), nor was I able to get photos of the white feather tree that is in Sarah's bedroom.  It features all her favorite colors: turquoise, black and white.  There just weren't enough hours in the day to take photos of everything.  Please bear with me on the photo quality - I have a new camera and I'm still learning all the features.

 I hope you enjoy them and if you know my mother, please remember her during this holiday season.   
It's not hard to do -- she was unforgettable.

That's my husband Tony sitting on Santa's knee - 1959 - not happy at all at the time - love this photograph

Our mantle

Her name is Edith - after the most wonderful French singer, Edith Piaf, one of my favorite artists

Our white tree - I always set it on top of a vintage suitcase to give it height - I also use fabric as a tree skirt instead of a traditional one - I still don't have presents under the tree - tomorrow!

Got this little blue tree for practically nothing at the end of the season last year

The "Wizard of Oz" Tree

This tree is a lot of fun to decorate

When I was a little girl, the flying monkeys scared me most of all

I have a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore

He's a horse of a different color

That wicked Mrs. Gulch

Sarah's Tree -- this tree contains all those sweet ornaments she made as a child, along with many sentimental ornaments that she has been given over the years, many of them from my mother

We Love Lucy

Two things we can't do without - Macy's and Starbucks

A vignette on our foyer table - that's a picture of my grandmother tucked into the velvet poinsettia -- my cousin Amber tucked in the background, along with some religious themed vintage postcards

My dear friend, Susan Casey, who passed away over 25 years ago, is pictured just behind the mercury glass bird in the foreground - she was so beautiful, inside and out

The canvas print of the girl shown here is one of my favorite things in my home - I just love her

Our sofa table -- that's a photograph of Sarah with the nonhuman members of our family - Lucky (1999-2010), Archie and Sam - not pictured - the notorious Charlie - he's turned out to be a sweet boy after a rocky start

Merry Christmas everyone! God Bless You and I hope you have peace in your life and that your holiday is everything you hoped it would be!  Be safe and be happy!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Magic Among the Castles

Neuschwanstein, c. 1869, Germany, photo by

Like so many, I am fascinated by castles. It is hard to believe that castles actually exist on planet Earth, not just in fairy tales or Shakespeare's classics.  Little boys dream of wearing a coat of armor, riding a black stallion, with a sword at their side, crossing over the draw bridge to a castle.  Little girls dream of wearing a long cape made of dark blue velvet, waiving from a castle tower to the crowd below, as they shout to her that she's the most beautiful girl in the world.  And then there's my dream...of living in a fabulous ancient castle in England (where else?) with a staff of 150 taking care of my every whim, all the whilst Daniel Craig and Johnny Depp arrange a dual just beyond the moat, both determined to have my hand in marriage, and having to listen to George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio whine because there's no four man dual.

Ok, back to reality.  I'm a 49 year old wife and mom from Sharpsburg, Georgia.  Needless to say, there's a big difference between my world and that of the Tudors. Furthermore, had I lived in the middle ages, I probably would have been one of those 150 servants, slaving away for King Henry VIII, and being forced to cook those gargantuan turkey legs he was so fond of.  But anyhooo, back to castles.  I thought it would fun for you girls out there, and the only men who follow my blog (my Uncle Gary and my husband Tony), to be treated to photographs of some of the most beautiful castles in the world, during the winter season.  The only thing better than a castle is a castle in the snow.  Grab a hot toddy and dream along with me for a moment.

Scharfenstein Castle, Germany, photo by

Kronborg Castle, circa 1420, Denmark, photo by Dian Emery

Gillette Castle, Connecticut, photo by

Durham Castle, circa 11th century, England, photo by Sharon Stuart
Castle Burg Hohenzollern, Germany, photo by Mystic86

Dunnotar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland, UK, photo by Geoffrey Noell

Cennen Castle, Wales, UK, photo by Hugh Gillings

The Round Tower, Windsor Castle, England, photo from

This blog begins and ends with  Neuschwanstein...the most incredible of all castles - the hilltop location and the architecture...truly breathtaking.  An example of the attention to detail and the work that went into building this incredible place is that the bedroom woodwork took 4 years.  King Ludwig was truly obsessed
Photo by

and just a few more of about obsessed!

Photo by

Photo courtesy of

Photo Credit Unknown

Monday, December 20, 2010

The West End, Westview Cemetery and 5 Generations of Women

My grandmother, Mae McDaniel Griffith, 1898., at age 14. The photo is torn at the lower right corner

Although my blog is usually devoted to interior design, architecture, antiques and Anglophilia, at times I find myself wanting to write about something else, which in this case, is my family.  While in the West End neighborhood of Atlanta this past Friday, on my maternal grandmother's birthday, as my daughter Sarah and I rode through Westview Cemetery to place flowers on family graves, I once again started thinking about the family that lived in West End, and what the area means to me.

Mae McDaniel Griffith and Herman Griffith
 I lived in West End until the age of 7 and I have always heard stories about the life there before me.  My family's connection to West End began and ended at 571 East Ontario Avenue, in a 1921 brick bungalow purchased by my great-grandparents.  It had a large front porch, a storm cellar and lovely molding throughout.  Its only bathroom featured octagonal black and white tiles.  There were three fireplaces and a terraced backyard, with a beautiful apple orchard shading the last terrace.  This address would be home to my great-grandmother, my grandmother, my mother and I -- four generations of women in my family.  My grandmother, Elizabeth Griffith Ford (1913-1999) and my grandfather Charlie (1914-1988) lived there with my great-grandparents.  My great-grandfather, Herman, worked for the railroad. While working on the tracks one day, a train switched tracks, the alarm failed to sound, and he was run over by the train, losing an arm and a leg, which confined him to a wheelchair.  My great-grandmother, May McDaniel Griffith (1884-1959), was known to the family as Little Mother, as she weighed 3 pounds when she was born.  Pre-cut diapers wouldn't fit her so a swatch of fabric was made to fit.  I have that little diaper, along with the tiny bonnet that she wore the day she was born (my mother passed it down to me and it's in a box with a handwritten note from my grandmother).  Little Mother was a nurse and worked for years at the Georgia Baptist Children's Home in Atlanta.  She was a spitfire of a woman, described by some as mean, but known to those who loved her as tough and fair minded.  Her size and background in nursing made her so (I also have her original nursing textbook and dictionary, which I hold dear).  

My grandmother walked to her job as a cashier at Food Town on Westview Drive.  She later retired from the Sears and Roebuck in West End, having worked there for 17 years.  As time passed, my mother, Elizabeth Anne Nunn Poliquin (1938-2009) and her brother Robert Frederick Nunn, also lived at the house on East Ontario.  And then along came me, and my mother and I lived there for a time because my mother and father were often separated (theirs was a tumultuous marriage).  Annie Sanders, nanny to my mother and uncle and Jacqueline of all trades to my grandmother (that's the female connotation of "Jack") , lived a few blocks away on Altoona Place.  She continued to work for our family until she was well into her 80s, although I use the term "worked for my family" loosely - she was family.

Little Mother is interred inside the mausoleum at the historic Westview Cemetery, which is less than a mile from our home on East Ontario.  She made my grandmother, her only child, promise that she would never put Little Mother "in the cold earth."  So instead, she is in the mausoleum behind a cold slab of marble, but who would dare argue with her?  We lost my grandmother in 1999 and she is buried at Westview, along with my grandfather who passed in 1988.  My great-grandfather Herman is buried near my grandmother and grandfather, having no intention of being buried with my grandmother in the mausoleum.  By the time she passed away, they had long been divorced and he had moved to a boarding house on Peachtree Street.  My Aunt Lois, her husband Jim, and my sister-in-law Tammy Banks, are also buried at Westview.  My beloved mother is buried closer to where we now reside.

Westview Cemetery, founded in 1884, is one of the most beautiful in all of America.  Its original gate is one of the oldest existing structures in Atlanta.  Back in the day, it was not unusual to go to Westview for family photo ops, especially on Easter and Mother's and Father's Day.  The mausoleum, the largest of its kind and considered the grandest in the US, dates to 1943 and features stunning stained glass windows, a cathedral-like chapel, hidden alcoves, and halls, all in a Gothic, Moorish architecture that is awe inspiring.  With several hundred acres of interment, Westview is one of the largest cemeteries in the world, and is the largest in the Southeast.  It consists of 582 acres, only half of which is developed.  It is a nonprofit cemetery, as the land was donated by a prominent Atlantan.  Before the civil rights movement, African Americans were prohibited from being buried or from even entering Westview.  There is also a large Jewish section.  In 1918, its receiving vault held the bodies of the victims of the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic until they could be buried properly.  It also contains part of the site of the Civil War Battle of Ezra Church. 

This blog begins with the women who lived in West End, and ends with my daughter Sarah, who represents the fifth generation in this line of women in my family.  This line of women on my maternal side also includes my cousin Vicki, her daughter Amber, my Aunt Shirley and my Aunt Dora.  My sister-in-law, Stacy ranks up there with the West End women as well, even though she is in Vancouver Washington and has probably never been to West End- we still love her.

One final note:  I hesitated to include this last bit in my post, but decided that it is a part of the history of the house as much as my family, and must be mentioned in order to honor those who came after us.  571 East Ontario came to be remembered by many for a tragic event that horrified Atlanta for years.  When we moved from West End to College Park, GA, my grandmother sold the house to a Ms. Willie Mathis.  On March 5, 1980, Ms. Mathis' son, Jeffrey, age 10, walked up the street to the same Food Town where my grandmother once worked, to run an errand for his mother.  He would never been seen alive again.  His skeletal remains were found 11 months later, a victim of the alleged Atlanta serial murderer, Wayne Williams.  It is hard to imagine that this tragedy occurred on this same beautiful street. 
Rest in Peace little Jeffrey

There is a caption with each photo below with details - please read 

This is a photograph of the original homestead of my great-grandmother, Mae McDaniel Griffith - this land is now part of McDaniel Street in Atlanta.  My great-great grandfather traded it for a horse and buggy.  The bottom series of photos are of my great-grandmother and my grandmother, Elizabeth Griffith Ford

My grandmother, age one year

This photo, along with many of the photos featured in this post, are from a photograph album my grandmother kept as a young girl.  Her handwriting is under each photo.  This one is entitled "Some of My Family" - I wish I knew their names

My grandmother and her son, Robert Frederick (Fred) Nunn,  1933

My grandmother, pictured 3rd from right on top, with friends, unknown place or people -again, wish I knew

My grandmother and grandfather, Charlie Ford, US Army, pictured in front of a fountain at Westview Cemetery,  1949

My grandfather posing at Westview Abbey Mausoleum, 1949

My great-grandmother, Mae, in 1957 - she would die 2 years later of breast cancer - my mother would be diagnosed  in 1988, and would survive, only to succumb to lung cancer in 2009.  I would be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 -
I am now in remission - Praise God
My mother posing in the yard of the East Ontario house in West End - look closely at the flower border in the background - those same Bearded Iris bulbs bloom beautifully in my own garden each spring - my grandmother and I transplanted the bulbs together -- they originally came from my great-grandmother's plantings - I have at least 200 of them

My 5th birthday in the dining room at East Ontario, 1966 -- check out my beehive - my mother thought it was a good idea for me to have the same hairdo that she had - not! Try to stop staring at me long enough to appreciate the beautiful molding and the plate shelf in the background

My mother and grandmother, 1967, in front of the beautiful tulips at the Westview Abbey Mausoleum - here's my mom's  beehive - hers was frosted and was the inspiration for my own lovely hairdid in the photo above --
Mama is doing her standard "leg" pose

Ceiling, Westview Abbey Chapel

Stained glass, Westview Abbey

Westview Abbey
Another photograph of the chapel

The receiving vault at Westview -- this is where the victims of the 1918 Spanish Influenza were held until burial
Westview Cemetery

Stained Glass - Westview Abbey Mausoleum

This door is about 10 feet from my great-grandmother's resting place inside the wall of the Abbey Mausoleum

This is the window on the opposite end of the hall where my great-grandmother is interred

Another view of the chapel - I have sat here for quite some time - my daughter finds it beautiful
but very creepy - I find it peaceful and lovely

Chapel - again 

Exterior view of the Abbey

My daughter Sarah, age 8, 1999, the 5th generation...she never lived in West End but just like those before her, she had her picture made at Westview Cemetery.  This sweet photo was taken by my mother.  The tradition continues...
I have no idea who this is -- this photo was in the aforementioned photo album kept by my grandmother - no caption was included, no description - just a precious old photo that I felt I needed to include

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