Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dear Fatty Breadkins

First of all I want to thank all of you for your wonderful comments and emails from my last post.  It's nice to know that many of us have a bit of design schizophrenia due to all of the images and beautiful homes that inundate the web these days.  And I'm also glad to know that like me, many of you have decided to go your own way and not feel badly about the things you have and the homes you dwell in.

Ok, so you are probably wondering what the title of this post is all about and I'll be happy to tell you, but be prepared for a long post with lots of pics.  I should have broken it up into two posts, but I'm just too darned lazy to do that today...well most days to be honest!


So a few years ago when my siblings and I were going through and cleaning out my parent's home after my father died, we got to a pair of candelabras that had belonged to my great aunt.  Aunt Frances was a lovely, funny, and always elegant woman who lived in a beautiful neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia.

She had wonderful taste, and visiting her home as a child was like wandering into an old English country estate mixed with a healthy dose of Virginia gentility.  It was sort of intimidating as a child to visit what seemed like a mansion at the time, eat tomato aspic, and play on the supple leather club chairs in the library, but it was also a place where you felt like a grown up and used your best manners.

Though she lived into her 90s, Aunt Frances left a very big hole in our lives when she left.  She was the last surviving member of my maternal grandmother's immediate family and like a grandmother to us since ours had passed away.

When she died, my mother inherited and/or bought at an estate sale many of her things, including the candelabras you see above.  I should have known something when neither of my sisters jumped at the chance to grab these silverplated beauties.  My one sister even flat out said,..."no, I don't want anything silver that I have to polish, living on the water is murder on brass and silver!"

But me, being me, and thinking, oh don't be such a baby, what's a little silver polishing in the grand scheme of things, I took them!  For awhile I was faithful, I would use a polishing cloth often and keep them gleaming, but then our love affair ended.  I would walk past them in my dining room and mutter under my breath, "just look at yourselves, you've let yourself go, and you used to be so shiny and pretty."  That gave way to me thinking, "tarnished silver is all the rage, yes, that's the ticket," but like with all things, you have to face the truth sometime, at it's at times like these that you have to call on Fatty Breadkins.

About 4 years ago now, we visited the Biltmore Estate while on a trip to NC for a family reunion.  Mr. Tide, myself, and our kids decided to take a day trip and go visit the estate since we had never been there before.  I'm not a big lover of Victorian decor, but I did want to take advantage of being that close, so off we went.

We decided to take the self guided audio tour, and while our kids zoomed through and didn't listen to most of it, Mr. Tide and I took our time and thoroughly enjoyed the narration.  As many things as they told us on that tour, the one thing that stuck, was a story about one of Mr. Biltmore's favorite staff members, a woman he supposedly lovingly referred to as Fatty Breadkins.

In the narration, or to the best of my not so good recollection, she was someone who either worked in the kitchen or polished silver.  Either way, in my head she became synonymous with silver polishing.  Yup, Fatty Breadkins has turned into my silver polishing heroine, a woman who loved her job, or at least was said to have found joy in it, and who I dearly wish would show up from time to time at my house to polish silver!


You see, though I may not like Victorian decor that much, I can still appreciate their attention to detail and love of beauty and decoration!  When we left the Biltmore, I looked at Mr. Tide and informed him that with lighter wood choices, and a few changes here and there...I could have lived there back in the day.  He was quick to remind me that I would likely have been Fatty Breadkins, not one of the people changing clothes 8 times a day and traveling, painting, and perfecting my operatic voice or piano skills.  I simply gave him a look that said "I beg to differ."

So what does this have to do with anything?  Well, over the past 2 days I have tapped in to my inner Fatty Breadkins, and I'm happy to say that I think she may just be giving me 2 thumbs up on my efforts.

My hands are sore, I worked like a dog, but oh how shiny those candelabras are and how pretty they look again after a year's worth of salt air, humidity, and utter neglect on my part.  Yes, once again they are gleaming and screaming for a candlelight dinner, anyone want to join me?!

And I even have a few tricks up my sleeve to help them become an epergne, with a few glass candle/vase holders that I've had for years and only used a couple of times.  I've always wanted an epergne, one of those gorgeous hand pierced silver and glass centerpieces that graced many a Victorian table, though they've been around since the 1700s.

Now I just need to find a few more of these glass holders, which aren't so easy to find, so if you know a source, do tell please!  I used to have 4, but can only find 3 of mine, and ideally I would like to have 6 of them, so that I can either use candles, or put flowers in them.

And getting back to what I was saying yesterday, I am making sure that each day I take stock of the beautiful things in my own home and learning to love its flaws.  I haven't shown you my living room and dining room for quite some time, so I thought I would take some pics to share with all of you.

In the past I would have probably shown you a vignette instead of the whole room, because I would have thought that I needed to make it perfect, or I would have wanted to wait until I had replaced this or that...but no more, here it is, air conditioning vents and all.  Do I still want to replace the dark wood tea cart and buffet in there, yup, but not until I find just what I'm looking for, and that could take years people.  I'm one of those people who knows exactly what I want, so asking the universe to help me find it, then afford it, is often the trick.

And here is the living room, with egads...a ceiling fan and the dreaded green couch I want to replace.  But instead of not showing it to you because my perfectly comfy, perfectly usable green couch is still here and not the pale blue confection that lives in my head, I'm letting it all hang out because, I still love this room just as it is.

And I'm betting that a lot of you love your rooms too, you're just afraid someone else will think differently.  Such wasted time worrying what others think, isn't it? 

Because let's face it, Fatty Breadkins would have loved my house, my silver, my ceiling fans.  I bet she dreamed of ceiling fans and lights in the ceiling to make her job easier!

And what's not to love when you have one of these in your house...he says, "Mom, have I mentioned that I love these floors, they are SO comfy!"

I hope you find something to love today! :)


  1. Lovely room, I actually like the sofa. I like what I feel comfortable not what other people think or like. My homies a reflection of me and only me.

    Your dog is so beautiful and yes he is so comfy on those beautiful wood floors.

  2. Ok, you had me at the title, and then feeling a little weepy as I recalled the division of my beloved grandmother's things. I am so glad you took the candelabra. They look stunning and I love your epergne idea and putting a few short blooms in them. (I would accept that invitation to dinner, BTW.) Lastly, is the chandelier over your dining table from Solaria - because I have the same one in my RI cottage if it is. Love it regardless. And love where you are; think I have gotten there as well.

  3. My you have been busy. I LOVE the polished candelabra! I also adore your dining table! Covet it a bit! You have the kind of home I would want to "hang out" in. Comfy. Cozy. Welcoming.

  4. Oh Kat, I LOVE this post! and the title?...I thought you were calling my name. (carbs and I have a love/hate relationship) You've shared so many important thoughts about how we feel about our homes and the contents thereof. We've set a bar way too high here in blogland. and your family silver is wonderful, even tarnished; as our memories are not.

  5. There has been MUCH to love about my day! I really do love silver, though I sure could use a Fatty Breadkins, too.:-) I give you huge kudos for your accomplishment on that candlelabra!

  6. I wonder if we may have passed each other at the Biltmore? We took the audio tour as well and I was absolutely fascinated by the servants quarters. I don't remember the Fatty Breadkin's part, but it did remind me of reading The Help and how those maids spent hours polishing the silver for every frivolous little party.

    I love the candelabra, I have a similar one I found at an antique shop. Have you tried the baking soda/boiling water method? Let me know.

    Your living room and dining room are exactly as I expected in knowing you. Relaxed but elegant. Very pretty but comfortable. Your silver, polished or tarnished, fits in well because it's not all about appearances, it's seeing the beauty in spite of the flaws, the timelessness and it's place in your heart.

    Thanks for being there for me yesterday, sweet girl.


  7. Well Fatty...I may call you "Fatty" might I...for starters I love this post. Like your lovely candelabras, maybe we should also use a little elbow grease and polish up our outlooks. Contentment...isn't that what we all want actually? Reads to me like you are well on your way to achieving just that.
    BTW...there is nothing as satisfying as watching the black disappear and the silver appear. It's messy, but oh so gratifying.
    xo Deb

  8. Thank you for sharing this. I actually like to polish silver . . . instant (well, almost) gratification and it is such a mindless task. My thoughts can wonder. Did you also take the "downstairs" tour? It was my favorite. My daughter and granddaughter rated the roof top tour as their favorite.

  9. Dearest Kat, we think alike about our rooms. I take pictures of them as they are with exercise balls and pencils in sight. They may not be styled or just how I want them but it is how we live. Your dining and living room are lovely. I am quite patient and will wait for a piece I know I can use and at the right price. I think of polishing silver as exercise. That candelabra is splendid. xo, olive

  10. Your home is wonderful. I have some silver too and about every six months or so, I work on it. Once or twice, I even used toothpaste (which works quite well, btw).

  11. Nobody is going take my ceiling fans away. it is hot in Alabama! Too bad some decorators would frown.

    I love your attitude and glad you are sharing it.

  12. What's not to love, your home is so warm, inviting, stylish and even offers a "cool" breeze should you need one! Love it all and your silver ain't too shabby...rather fancy I'd say! :)
    Precious pup too...

  13. Your home is SO lovely, Kat...I love the relaxing colors, obviously the dogs do, too! It just looks like a beautiful place to gather and to relax! Love the story of your silver, too!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.