Ivy and Ironstone is the name of this blog because neither “Antique Silver & Zinnias” nor “Hostas & Transferware” had the alliterative cachet of “Ivy & Ironstone,” and I am a writer at heart.
This blog has been percolating in my brain for a long time.
In the last few years of my editorial career, I was writing and/or editing a handful of blogs for the trade associations I worked with and I liked that writing. Quick. To the point. A little more down-to-earth than a lot of the business writing I had done. It suited my personal voice as a writer. And I liked the potential this format offered. The best blogs invite interaction with the reader. Every writer wants to know there is someone out there reading and responding.
Along the way, I became familiar with design blogs. Okay, more than familiar. I was hooked. I have always been a bit of an interior design junkie and an avid reader of shelter magazines. These blogs were like a continually refreshed magazine on my laptop! And although they offered inspiration for decorating the mantel (you can look for my take on that in an upcoming blog post), they covered the other fun stuff that captured my interests: cooking, entertaining, gardening, antiquing, travel. You can see where I’m going here.
Of course, now I was thinking I can do my own blog. I’m a competent writer. I’ve had lots of fun, some success and even a few decorating misadventures. I love the hunt for antiques and vintage collectibles. I am an enthusiastic hostess (Note: I did not say organized or excellent or any adjective that indicates quality. I like to entertain and I think many of life’s moments merit a celebration.) I’m an avid reader (I’ll share my book group experience later, including the book club that’s more than 35 years old). And I think travel is a very good thing.
I started writing bits and pieces of blog posts, first in my mind and eventually in a file on my laptop. But they were really just bits and pieces, not one of them was a complete post.
By now, I was no longer “newly retired” (that first year just flew by!) and I realized I had missed several blog-worthy topics, including a gut renovation of our kitchen, trips to Edinborough, London, Paris, Provence, Napa/Sonoma, and Yosemite.
I ran the blog idea past my husband and daughter. My husband wondered when I was going to do something so I could keep on writing. My daughter, who is a media professional and a successful blogger on her own, added that a blog would also help me sharpen my photography skills. (Oh, right, I thought, a lifestyle blog would require photos to illustrate it. Is this good news or bad?)
Dig in or move on. So, here I am, blogging at Ivy and Ironstone.
Once I began working seriously on this blog and registered the name, my husband began muttering about not understanding what Ivy and Ironstone means. Perhaps I should explain. Ivy and Ironstone is both a metaphor for my own grab-bag of interests and what I hope will be a readable, memorable name.
About the ivy…
Ivy is my code for gardens and gardening. I have always loved getting my hands in the dirt, potting or planting. There is a tactile quality to gardening that I find both relaxing and creative. And, of course, there is the pleasure in seeing something grow and flourish.
Although I am the ivy (and flower and herb grower, as well as a tender of landscape bushes and plants), it is my husband who is the true gardener. He plants and tends an oversized plot in a community garden where he grows tomatoes, beans, peas, potatoes and more. It’s a time-consuming labor of love, where you sometimes even have to carry water in many buckets to tend the plants (which explains a lot about why this is his garden, not mine).
And then there is ironstone…
Ironstone is one of the first antiques I collected. I began with pitchers but quickly moved on to platters, sugar bowls, and other serving pieces. (Then I got into transferware, a whole other story!) To me white ironstone is the quintessential antique; the lack of additional color and pattern forces you to focus on the shape, the details on handles and spouts, the mix of form and function each piece embodies. These pieces were hard-working tools in someone’s kitchen, serving up fresh milk or a Sunday roast. I like the fact that these were useful pieces.
Many of the things I collect — baskets, transferware, vintage linens — began life as useful objects, gaining their value as collectibles much later. The simple truth is that I love things with a patina, a little crazing or tarnish or a worn edge that adds character. (And if she were still here, my mother would point out that is also an apt description of me!)
Finally, Ivy and Ironstone is the name of this blog because neither “Antique Silver & Zinnias” nor “Hostas & Vintage Linens” had the alliterative cachet of “Ivy & Ironstone.” I am a writer at heart. My first professional position (after college and my fling at grad school) was as a catalog copywriter. The details aren’t important, but I was coached by a magazine editor who critiqued every word and sent me back to the typewriter (yes, this was before computers) to edit and revise until every block of copy was perfectly crafted to capture the most sale-able essence of each item on that page.
Since then I have spent a lifetime as a writer and editor, often taking my pencil to someone else’s copy. Although the topics varied widely — housewares, health care, fence installation, the Affordable Care Act, ceramic tile, and green building to name a few — as a retired editor I love the prospect of writing about the things I care about. Cooking and entertaining. Collecting. Reading good books (and even a few that are not). Traveling with my husband. Chronicling this new retirement chapter in our lives.
Ivy and Ironstone. This is my new brand. I’m hoping you will spend some of your valuable time stopping by on occasion to read about what I’ve been up to.