Life’s Too Short to Worry About This Stuff


In the Life’s Too Short/I Can’t Waste Any Time Worrying About This Stuff Column:

Data Breaches: Every time I turn around lately, I’m on the receiving end of an email or letter informing me that a website or store or utility company I have done business with has been the victim of a ‘data breach.’ That between some date and another date, some nefarious group hacked into the data with the result being that some of my data, i.e., credit card info, name, birthdate, address, might be in the wrong hands.

When this sort of thing first started happening, I felt the usual panic, wondered what to do, wrung my hands, etc. But now? I just shrug my shoulders and shake my head and maybe change my password or maybe ignore the whole thing. If this sounds like an ostrich burying its head in the sand, you might be right. But the fact is, we all provide personal information online or at the cash register. We hope, of course, that that information is secure but there is always the risk that it might not be. In this age of digital everything, personal information is readily accessible – too accessible – but that’s the way of the world nowadays.

The people behind all of this are contemptible, of course. They do bad things that affect innocent people. I think it’s terrible. But, in the end, I can’t go into a panic every time I this happens, because it seems to happen more and more often. I can’t be worrying all the time about identity theft. There’s so much written about all of this – especially on the web – that one can quickly be overwhelmed by it all. I’m not going to be blissfully ignorant, but I refuse to let this crap rule my life.

So I shake my head, shrug my shoulders and move on.


Rules on Blogging: Please stop. Please stop with the ’10 Things That Make a Good Blogger’ kind of posts. Or ‘What Every Blogger Needs to Know.’ Or, even more maddening, ‘How to Coordinate All Your Social Media or When to Schedule Your Pinterest Pins or your Facebook Posts or your Instagram posts” or “How to Use Social Media.” Always with the proviso that you must do these things if you want to be taken seriously. There’s just too much of this kind of ‘expert’ advice out there. And the result is that we lose that individual stamp that is so vital, the thing that makes one person’s blog different from every other blog out there.

I realize, of course, that for many bloggers, their blog is their business. I get it. And I respect that.

Regretfully, at least to me, blogging has changed. What started out as a creative way to share with each other and expand our world, to journal, to share photos, to create, to write – let’s stop for a moment and say that again – to write, has now morphed into an arena where everyone has to have a new project on the blog every day, then has to Tweet or Facebook or Pin and hype the heck out of it. And every stat has to be checked and rechecked and compared to every other blogger’s stats.

If there’s any way to squeeze every ounce of joy out of blogging, that kind of stuff is sure to do it.

The number of bloggers out there has multiplied and multiplied and multiplied some more since I started blogging six years ago. The arena has become much more competitive, with everyone vying for readers, for ad clicks, for a rung on the ladder of ‘blogging success.’ It’s exciting, for sure, this blogging world. And blogging can lead to recognition, to possibilities, to maybe even a book deal. All well and good. Though, as to book deals and blogger hype, I have to raise this question: When did everyone become an ‘Expert?’ The internet has suddenly given everyone a chance to claim the title of Expert. Really? I’m highly suspicious about that one.

Let me say here and now: I don’t claim to be an Expert on anything.

I don’t want to see blogging become the equivalent of a strip mall, where everything is the same and the content is so similar that one could be in any city or town with all of the shops so interchangeable that nothing is really new or fresh or original.

I have to stop myself because there’s SO much I could say about all of this and I will, someday.

Really, in the end, my point is this. I started blogging for the sheer pleasure of it. It brings me joy. Anything that takes that joy and boxes it up and surrounds it with a list of ‘rules’ and things I must do will be summarily tossed out the window.

Life is too short and joy is too hard to come by. It’s too precious to mess with.

Happy Saturday.


Egg Cup Eggstravaganza 2014 – Part Four

Day four. The finale. For today’s post, I’ve gathered up the rest of my egg cups, those cups that are on display hither and yon in the cottage. All this posting about egg cups has me sort of obsessed by them again. Isn’t that the way it often happens? You get used to seeing something in your home, walk right by it (or them,) don’t even register that it’s there and then suddenly, you see it with fresh eyes and kaboom! It’s all you think of.

Okay, here we go: the finale!


Starting from the left:

1. A beautiful egg cup in my favorite colors. It has no mark so I’m not sure who made it. It’s vintage, though. I got it a few years ago at my favorite shop in San Diego, Vignettes. It usually is on display in the china cabinet in the den, with a found bird nest sitting on top of it.

2. A chick coming out of an egg, with some pretty flowers painted on the base. Marked Japan. Another gift from my Mom. On display in the kitchen china cabinet.

3. This is an egg coddler, not an egg cup. This particular one, given to me by my mom, has a bird on one side and two birds on the other. Marked Royal Worcester Porcelain, England. On display in the kitchen china cabinet.

4. A sweet chick. I believe this one is newer and not vintage. Unmarked. Given to my by my mom. On display on top of my bookshelves in the bedroom.

5. Love, love this goose egg cup. I found it in a local shop. Marked ‘France.’ Also on display in the den china cabinet.


These adorable egg cups (in what is called the ‘bucket’ style) were a gift to me last year from dear Judy. I love them. They are on display in the kitchen. And, by the way, what is the answer to that question? I’ll leave you to ponder it.


And finally, my two newest acquisitions. I bought them just the other day.

1. A Delft egg cup in the shape of a chicken. (I’m not particularly crazy about Delft, but I’m trying to add different shapes to my collection and this one is charming. Signed ’1332 Kenith (or Renith) R.’ Probably newish.

2. A Flow Blue double egg cup. Vintage and unmarked.

Well, my friends, I hope you have enjoyed my annual tour of the egg cup collection. I try to do it a wee bit differently every year. I’m sure I’ll have even more to show you by this time next year.

By the way, most egg cups are very affordable and you can find many of them for a few dollars in antique shops and flea markets. I think the Flow Blue cup, for example, was about $4.00 and the Delft chicken was $5.00. Figural egg cups, especially the rarer ones, are pricier. Very, very old egg cups in ironstone or rare patterns command a higher price. But I often find that dealers are not very up on egg cups and the prices they might command, so you can usually get a great deal. In the beginning days of my obsession, which would have been around 2002, I haunted eBay and that is where I found many of my figurals. Etsy wasn’t in existence then, but now it is and you’ll find some wonderful examples there, as well. Of course, the best part of the hunt is discovering a gem tucked away on the shelves of a shop. I keep hoping to expand the figural part of my collection, but they are getting harder and harder to find. Certainly, the rarer ones – like the bunny painting the egg – are increasingly scarce. I don’t check eBay all that often, but I haven’t seen that particular egg cup in a long, long time. I’m so happy I started when I did because the figurals (my first egg cup love) were the ones that I found enchanting and whimsical and in 2002, there were still a lot to be found.

I’m fairly picky about what I collect, but I’m going to expand the collection into souvenir egg cups and double egg cups in various china patterns. I cannot pass up a pretty china pattern, as you know.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me.

A note to Debby Messner: I got your email yesterday but whenever I respond to that address it bounces back to me, so I wanted to let you know that I signed up for Club Little House swap. Thanks for telling me about it, my friend!

The winner of a copy of Casebook is SueZK! I’ve just sent you an email, Sue. Congratulations! (Winners are always chosen by the Random Number Generator.)

Happy Friday.


Egg Cup Eggstravaganza 2014 – Part Three

Today, we’re traveling downstairs to the den where we’ll find some more egg cups. They are very special and just might be my favorites. They are displayed on a charming shelf/whatnot that I found in a little antique store many years ago.



Top Shelf:

1. This Humpty Dumpty is made by Mansell in Great Britain. I had my eye on this little fella for a while and managed to snag it on eBay. The hand-painted egg is from Prague.

2. Oh, be still my heart. I rarely, if ever, see this one nowadays and, let me tell you, the minute I saw it, I had to have it. Another crazy middle-of-the-night bidding war on eBay many years ago resulted in it coming home to Mockingbird Hill Cottage. The Bunny as Painter, painting a face on an egg. Marked Japan.


Middle shelf:

1. Another gem. The head comes off and is a salt shaker or salter. The bottom half, from the neck down, is the egg cup. This one is rather large and a couple of years ago, I saw a pair of them for sale. That’s when I realized that they were originally sold as salt and pepper shakers. The details, the sweet face with the smile and the rosy cheeks – sigh. Love it. Marked Ardalt 6343/Occupied Japan.

2.  Oh my goodness. Another one that stole my heart. A pig getting ready to dine on an egg. Same story. Had to have it. This was made for Tiffany by Elizabethan Staffordshire in England.


Bottom Shelf:

1. Definitely worth the most of any of my egg cups, this Doc egg cup is part of a set of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs egg cups that were made for Walt Disney Enterprises in the late thirties. They are not easy to find (Snow White herself is almost impossible to find and when she  shows up somewhere she goes for a lot of money.) Obviously, I’d love to have them all but for now, little Doc lives here at the Cottage. Marked ©1937, W. D. Ent. Made in Japan.

2. A little boy/cowboy. I lost track of him recently and then discovered him under the bed (our old bed) upstairs, where he had rolled after falling to the floor as a result of an unfortunate incident involving the collision of my head with the egg cup shelves. See Tuesday’s post for that story. He’s back and I love him. A reader mentioned that she thought he wasn’t a cowboy but an English character. Nope. He’s a cowboy. I have a reference/pricing book that I use and he’s definitely a little boy/cowboy. I’ve also seen the same description on several other reference sites. Love the legs sticking out. Marked Japan.

3. Though this little cherub-like clown is holding an egg, this is actually a toothpick holder. But I love it so much that I include it with my egg cups. Wouldn’t you? Marked Japan.

Tomorrow I’ll share egg cups that aren’t found on a official ‘eggcup shelf’ but are on display in various parts of the house.


By the way, I use this book, which is a treasure trove of information. It’s out of print but I regularly see it listed on eBay. If you’re at all interested in this genre of collecting, this book is a must have. There’s Snow White on the cover. I want her. Sigh.

It’s cold here in the Northeast, but it’s sunny, thank goodness. More work outside today. Don, who usually isn’t at all into that sort of thing, is on a roll. He likes being busy outside and I’m going to take advantage of it while I can.

Happy Thursday.


Egg Cup Eggstravaganza 2014 – Part Two

Before we begin, may I just mention that we have a bit of snow on the ground this morning?

No, you’re not seeing things. Snow. It will be gone in a few hours, but you can imagine my shock when I got up this morning. Will this friggin’ winter never end?

Okay. Deep breath, Claudia. On to happy things, like egg cups.


Today’s group of egg cups lives on a charming shelf or ‘whatnot’ in our bedroom. It’s the first shelf unit I bought to house my growing collection. I love it.

And I haven’t painted it!

I once was picking something up from the floor and bumped my head on the bottom shelf, causing two egg cups to fall and break. They’ve been repaired, but I was not a happy camper. I also was clearly not paying attention to what I was doing.


We’ll start with the top shelf:

1. An egg cup with legs, the feet clad in Mary Janes. This looks to be a  part of Carlton Ware’s Walking Ware line. Made in England. This cup is unmarked, which makes me a wee bit suspicious that it’s a copy.
2. A rooster pulling a cart. Made in California. It still has the metallic sticker (that’s a really good thing for a collector.) I found it in a local shop. The sticker says “Made in California. Rio Mondo Potteries. El Monte, CA”
3. A rabbit on an egg cup. That’s a porcelain egg I found somewhere or other inside the cup.
4. One of the very first egg cups I found. It’s lustreware and it’s beautiful. Made in Japan. That’s a glass egg inside the cup.
5. A chick emerging from an egg. This egg cup is vintage but the design itself is still being made. From Bordallo Pinheiro, Portugal.
6. Another of my first finds. Very basic double egg cup in green and white. Unmarked.


Middle shelf:

1. The other Fannie Farmer Egg cup that I own. I love, love this one. Fannie Farmer and Made in USA are molded into the base. It’s very heavy and it was made by Brush McCoy Pottery. Yes, that McCoy. I see a lot of these with the red paint missing or flaking off. This particular one is in pristine condition. Painted egg in cup from Prague.
2. A bunny rabbit, not unlike one I featured yesterday, carrying the egg cup. Unmarked.
3. A new egg cup, one of two that Don brought back for me from Prague. It’s a Souvenir Egg Cup (there are a lot of them out there and I’m hoping to add to that part of my collection in the future.)
4. A goose pulling an egg cart. Lovely colors and a lustreware-like glaze. Marked ‘Japan.’ The painted egg in the cup is from Prague.
5. A lustreware duck egg cup. Made in Japan. Part of a group of egg cups given to me by my mom. She found them at antique stores and yard sales.
6. A Delft egg cup from Holland. Marked with the number 28. Given to me by my mom.
7. One of my first eBay finds, a Holt Howard Rooster double egg cup. Marked Holt Howard 1961.


Bottom shelf:

1. My most recent find: a beautiful red transferware double egg cup. Found it in a local shop. It’s unmarked, but I’m pretty sure it was made by Johnson Bros.
2. A chick breaking out of an egg. It’s unmarked. Given to me by Mom.
3. A Walking Ware egg cup made by Carlton Ware in England. Marked with Carlton Ware and Walking Ware, England. Love the green Mary Janes and the cute socks.
4. Another egg cup from Prague – this one is square-shaped. From Don.
5. An egg cup with a wooden base and a porcelain top decorated with roses. Marked ‘Japan.’ Given to me by my mom.
6. Beautiful brown transferware egg cup. Marked Mason’s Vista. Made in England.

(The painting is by Christie Repasy.)

More coming tomorrow in Egg Cup Eggstravaganza 2014, Part Three. And yes, there will be a Part Four.

Happy Wednesday.



Egg Cup Eggstravaganza 2014 – Part One

Yep. It’s egg cup time again. Easter time = egg cups, don’t you think?

For those of you who are newish to this blog, I collect egg cups: big, small, figural, double, plain and fancy – mostly vintage.


Today, we’re going to concentrate on the figural egg cups that live on this shelf in my studio.


There they are. (Getting a photo requires a wee bit of acrobatics on my part, as these are in the niche at the top of the stairs which is occupied by the sewing machine table.)

These are figural egg cups – my favorites. They are whimsical, adorable, and charming. Do you see the egg cup that is second from the left? My godparents gave me that egg cup when I was a wee little girl and I managed to hang onto it through adulthood. One day, while we were living in our rental in Westchester County, I read an article about egg cups – I think it was in Martha Stewart’s magazine – and there was my little egg cup in a photo along with all sorts of other adorable egg cups. I became enchanted by them. As an inveterate collector, the realization that I could collect these little gems made me giddy. And so began my relationship with egg cups and eBay. It was not unknown for me to get out of our bed in the middle of the night to place a final bid on an egg cup that I coveted. (Sssh! Don’t tell Don.)

I see less and less of these beauties on eBay nowadays; they are harder and harder to find. Nevertheless, I still hunt for them.


The first group:

1. I fell in love with this bunny egg cup, partly because the big pink ears and eyes remind me of Scout. Made in Japan.
2. My childhood egg cup – made for Fanny Farmer. Fanny Farmer would offer a new egg cup every Easter. I have another Fanny Farmer egg cup that I’ll show you tomorrow. My godparents are both gone now and this is infinitely precious to me.
3. Two little chicks or ducks on a teeter-totter or seesaw. That window motif is found on many figurals. Made in Japan.
4. A rabbit outside his little home. There is the window again and a door, as well, and it has a lustreware glaze. It’s unmarked.
5. A tough looking dog  - love his face. Made in Japan.

All vintage.


The second group:

1. What’s not to love? Polka dots, a little girl in a bunny costume. Adorable. Unmarked.
2. A bunny peeking around another house – there’s the window motif again. Made in Japan.
3. Two rabbits holding up an egg cup. This is one of my favorites and I believe its presence here is the result of a middle-of-the-night bidding war on eBay. Made in Japan.
4. This one is very sweet. Mama and baby ducks. Lovely, soft colors. Made in Japan.
5. A Scottie dog egg cup. Made in Japan.

All vintage.


The third group:

1. A slightly crazy looking bunny in front of blue egg cup. Made in Japan.
2. Another bunny rabbit peeking around the side of the egg cup. Made in Japan.
3. Two dogs holding up an egg cup. I love the design at the top of the cup – the stripes and circles. Unmarked.
4. A pig egg cup. How could I pass that up? Marked with the number 10 in a circle and Japan.
5. A duck and a chicken on either side of an egg cup that is sitting on green grass. Another middle-of-the-night bidding triumph. Made in Japan.

All vintage.

Oh, there’s lots more! I’ll be featuring them most every day this week.

Maybe you’d like to start an egg cup collection? (Just putting that little idea in your head.)

By the way, look what I found at the foot of a tree in our woods the other day:


That’s part of a saucer in the Harlequin line by Homer Laughlin, who also made Fiesta. I compared it to my yellow Fiesta pieces and the shade of yellow is different, brighter. Fiesta’s yellow, while bright, is a deeper shade. Harlequin’s lines are sharper and more angular. I have collected Harlequin in the past – still have a few pieces.


It’s going in my kitchen china cabinet. You can find all sorts of things in the woods around here. The other day, I found a lot of old bottles, which I’ll share with you another day.

Happy Tuesday.


Book Review: Casebook by Mona Simpson


Today I am reviewing Casebook by Mona Simpson for TLC Book Tours. As always, I am provided with a copy of the book in return for my honest review.

About the book (from the publisher): From the acclaimed and award-winning author: a beguiling new novel about an eavesdropping boy working to discover the obscure mysteries of his unraveling family. He uncovers instead what he least wants to know: the workings of his parents’ private lives. And even then, he can’t stop snooping.

Miles Adler-Rich, helped by his friend Hector, spies and listens in on his separating parents. Both boys are in thrall to Miles’s unsuspecting mother, Irene, who is “pretty for a mathematician.” They rifle through her dresser drawers and strip-mine her computer diary, finding that all leads pull them straight into her bedroom, and into questions about a stranger from Washington, DC, who weaves in and out of their lives. Their amateur detective work starts innocently but soon takes them to the far reaches of adult privacy as they acquire knowledge that will affect the family’s well-being, prosperity, and sanity. Once burdened with this powerful information, the boys struggle to deal with the existence of evil, and proceed to concoct hilarious modes of revenge on their villains and eventually, haltingly, learn to offer animal comfort to those harmed and to create an imaginative path to their own salvation.

My review: This is a story-within-a-story and the clever way in which it is set up shall remain a secret – I don’t want to spoil your reading experience. This is not my usual reading fare, but I found myself fascinated and delighted by this book – by the gradual unfolding of this story told from Miles’s point of view.

Every child listens in on conversations, does a little spy work, peeks into corners or closed drawers. I certainly did. With a premise that many of us can identify with, Simpson takes us on a coming-of-age journey that includes divorce, betrayal, secrets, lies and love. How much do we really need to know about the private lives of our parents? How much knowledge is too much knowledge? And how does a young boy who simply wants to protect his adored mother come to terms with his actions and their repercussions?

Miles is a thoroughly engaging protagonist. Simpson understands human frailty and she has a sense of humor, which is evident throughout the book. The characters come alive on the page: Hector, Miles’s best friend; Irene and her female friends, Miles’s father, the stranger (Eli) from Washington, DC, Miles’s twin sisters, dubbed “The Boops.” Detailed, sharply drawn, they and the somewhat privileged world they inhabit in Santa Monica, are vividly realized.

Above all, it is a story of a boy’s love for his mother and the way in which every action he takes (both good and bad) shapes the young man he becomes at the end of the book.

It is beautifully written. I found myself missing Miles after I had finished the novel; found myself wondering what his life as an adult would be like. I simply love when a writer creates a world that is so real, so compelling, that I have to shake my head at the end of the book to remind myself that it’s fiction. Isn’t that the best feeling? It’s what reading can do for you. It can transport you to another world.

Needless to say, I highly recommend this novel.


About the author: Mona Simpson is the author of Anywhere But Here, The Lost Father, A Regular Guy, Off Keck Road, and My Hollywood. Off Keck Road was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and won the Heartland Prize of the Chicago Tribune. She has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Guggenheim grant, a Lila Wallace-Readers’ Digest Writers’ Award, and, recently an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

I’m giving away one copy of this book to a lucky reader (U.S. residents only.) If you want to be entered, please leave a comment on this post.

Happy Monday.


Corners of the (Doll)House


I’ve been sharing a corner or two of our real-life house with you the last two Sundays. However, I had a meeting with the owner of the dollhouse the other day and she made it very clear that I should feature the corners of her little haven this Sunday. Ahem. She seems to be quite […]

[Continue reading]

It’s All Right


We look for signs of spring, signs of new growth. After a winter that lingered much, much too long, we’re off to a late start this spring. But the signs are there, if you look closely – buds on the lilac bush, for example. Tulips leaves poking out of the ground. Tiny little signs. Buds […]

[Continue reading]

Letting The Light In


I’ve been working outside the last couple of days and it’s been wonderful but tiring. The fresh air, working for hours….I’m not used to it! Yesterday I cleared some of the saplings that sprout up around this property and are usually too close to already established trees. Then I started on the dreaded battle with […]

[Continue reading]

A Gift – All The Way From Australia


Remember when I told you that something was coming in the mail for the dollhouse? Something a special someone had made? Just because? It came in the mail yesterday. All the way from Australia. Yes, you’re right. You can’t miss it. It’s that incredible bed! (Pardon me while I take a moment to scream with […]

[Continue reading]