Wednesday, November 11, 2009

JUST A COTTON PICKIN' THANG!

I grew up in "cotton country", and moved back to the same cotton-growing area as an adult. Growing up in this part of Arkansas, there were several expressions that were a normal part of our language, and I didn't realize until I moved away that they were not part of everybody's vocabulary! One of those expressions was "cotton is king". Our neighbor, Memphis, had a festival every year called the "King Cotton Festival". Cotton production was such a major part of our economy at that time that the expression made a lot of sense.


Another expression that was used in my area of the country was "not a cotton-pickin' thing" or more often, "not a cotton-pickin' thang". Many times this would be the response to the question "what are you doing". This expression doesn't make sense, because picking cotton by hand (which is what was done when I was growing up) is not a "doing nothing" kind of job. I know about picking cotton, because when I was growing up our town hosted THE National Cotton Picking Contest (of course, nobody said "picking" - the word was "pickin'"). Eventually, although cotton farming remained a stable in our area, other industries and businesses became more important, and the Cotton Picking Contest disappeared.



Cotton is picked (usually by machines now) and taken to the gin in the fall. This time of the year, I still get nostalgic for the old cotton picking contest; for the sounds and smells of the gins working into the night (modern technology has allowed gins to function without noise); and streets littered with enough cotton to make it look like it has snowed on the edge of the yard (when I was growing up, cotton was thrown loosely into the back of large trailers and taken to the gin. A lot of cotton was lost between the farm and the gin. Now, cotton is tightly packed and bundled into truck-size modules to go to the gin, and there is very little cotton litter on the roads.)




Yes, I do have a tablescape today. I just got a little sidetracked (or maybe a lot). I know - you're not surprised. Sorry-I just needed to reminisce for a little bit. In celebration of cotton going to the gin (and in memory of the former glory days of growing cotton in the Delta), I am sharing a Cotton Pickin' tablescape.




Okay, now I have to laugh out loud at myself! I bought these place mats at a garage sale one time. They have cotton bolls painted on the corner of them. When I tried to use them the correct way, the beverage glass had to be placed right on top of the painting of the cotton boll, so I turned the place mats the wrong way. Now that I'm looking at my pictures on this post, I realize the cotton boll is probably supposed to be in the bottom left corner instead of the top right!! Oh well, maybe I'll remember that the next time I use them. (So, if I am still blogging next fall, and if I do another cotton tablescape, you can laugh out loud when I forget all about this little revelation I just had and turn the mats the wrong way again!)




That's a miniature cotton bale being used as a bread-serving table.




A framed painting of cotton bolls serves as a tray in the center of the table.

Cotton boll glasses were a wedding gift 40 years ago. At that time, it was a "must" for any bride in the Delta to receive at least one set of cotton boll glasses! (I'm telling y'all this, because I know all of you want to rush right out and see if you can buy some 40 year old cotton boll glasses!) I stenciled the cotton bolls on the fabric for napkins years ago. I used to have eight of them, but stains have caused them to dwindle down to four. Salt cellars belonged to my grandmother. Flatware - Target. Metal chargers, Green plates - Estate sales. I think the wine glasses and decanter were a gift, but I've really had them way too long to remember.


Thank you so much for your visit. I'm still sending cards to Katherine and to Andrew (If you'd like to send cards to them, please see my sidebar for directions). Don't forget that you can find links to all of the wonderful Blogville tablescapes at Between Naps on the Porch. laurie

70 comments:

salmagundi said...

I've only seen cotton in the field once, and it was a glorious sight! Enjoyed your tablescape - love those chargers and your centerpiece. Take Care, Sally

Kathleen said...

Only you! Love it..AND cotton is my fabric of choice..natural fibers for me!
The table is adorable and I loved your cotton pickin explanation!
Now you know NO ONE will have table like this!:)

Carol said...

Your cotton themed tablescape is so unique & beautiful. Love those cotton bolls in the vases!

Hugs,
Carol

food with style said...

never seen cotton live and in person so OF COURSE i love it! very clever post~

emptynester3 said...

The look, the feel of cotton.... great Tablescape!

Really Rainey said...

I love your cotton pickin tablescape! Its just amazing!!! So creative... I'm taking some photos tomorrow of the cotton fields around here and doing a post some time in the near future. I was waiting for the bog trucks to some and harvest and the HUGE bales on the side of the road. Your photos are fantastic! Again I love your creative table using the cotton!
Have a great rest of the week...
~Really Rainey~

Sue said...

This is such a creative and unique tablescape, Laurie, and I love it. The cotton bolls as a centerpiece make such a statement. I like the napkins that you painted, too. I have a great recipe for cleaning linens, if you want to try saving your other stained napkins.
hugs, Sue

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Don't forget, Laurie, that down here in Arkansas, someone who is doing really well is said to be "in high cotton!"

Love your table. C.

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Laurie,
You never cease to amaze me with your creative and unique tables and posts! I love the history lesson too because to this Northerner it's all foreign. Who would have knew? We have some strange phrases up here as well but your's are lot's cuter! Thanks for sharing this it was so much fun and pretty too! Hugs, Cindy

mbkatc230 said...

What a fun table Laurie! I really love the clear green glass against the metal charger. And your cotton accents are perfect. Great mosaic, the fields really do look like snow when you are passing by. Have a wonderful day. Kathy

susan said...

Laurie-I love this. Of course, I would:) However, you have brought up a sore subject for me. Several years ago I packed up my cotton bowl glasses (which were on display) to make room for Christmas glasses--haven't seen 'em since :). And yes, I have looked every cotton pickin place I know to look! Love those arrangements and chargers! Thanks for your sweet comment!

Mid-Atlantic Martha said...

Love this -- I was looking for some cotton bolls not too long ago and couldn't find any anywhere. I guess I'm too far "north" for that --- anyway love those glasses and all your cotton tablescape!

Stacey said...

Laurie, I love your cotton pickin' theme. I grew up around cotton too. It's beautiful in the fields, isn't it?

I have a page I tore out of a magazine years ago that is a wreath made of cotton plants and bolls. Give it a try sometime, it was really pretty.

ginny said...

Thanks for all the info on cotton! Your tablescape was truly a creative endeavor. I loved the cotton boll glasses! Everything looked so pretty.

Foley said...

So cute! Have never seen a cotton field, other than the movies! But the cotton pickin contest seems like it would produce alot of cut knuckles!! LOL
The tablescape is gorgeous...and I have never run across the cotton ball glasses..the entire table is unique..great post!!

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Oh I do so remember cotton and all the festivals that went with it in Texas. My uncle ran a Cotton Gin in Lubbock and we use to have the best time. Too bad this isn't still a great celebration. I love your table, and I love that you used cotton in the vases. I think it is gorgeous. Hugs, Marty

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Pretty table! Really like the green plates. I remember picking cotton one time and I don't think I was very productive. :)

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

I'm still on my bloggy break but visiting here and there. I love this table, Laurie!!! Great story, too!

J's brother and his wife had friends in Sikeston. They visited there during "cotton pickin'" time. She brought home cotton and used it as an accessory. I always wanted to be in that neck of the woods at the right time, to pick up some cotton. My oldest daughter went to school at Cape. In all those years, I never managed to be there at the right time!:-)

Sarah said...

Laurie, you take me back to my youth. I love this post. I grew up in south TX where cotton was King. My uncles were cotton farmers, and I know about picking cotton by hand. The kids always wanted to join in and pick some cotton, but my uncle said he would pay us not to pick in his fields. Guess we weren't very good at it. LOL Another tidbit of information. I was a cotton buyer one summer. My uncle owned a cotton gin and one of the cotton companies wanted a local person who knew the farmers to buy on the green card. So that was my summer job. A great experience! I've never done anything like that before or after. I even have a little cotton bale on my charm bracelet.
Love your tablescape. If my aunt and uncle were still living they would too. It's fun to use the cotton bolls as center pieces. I remember doing that as a child. ~ Sarah

ellen b. said...

This is fabulous Laurie! I love how you turned those placemats. It was fun reading about cotton and some traditions that will never die :0)
Blessings...

Carrie said...

What a delightful post! I learned about the cotton growing area of our country and enjoyed a very original and beautifully set table! All your cotton accessories are truly special.

Marcee said...

So soft and elegant. Just beautiful:)

Maryrose said...

Just darling. You are very clever. The first time I saw cotton growing was in Arizona. Thanks for the great post.
Maryrose

Kim @ Starshine Chic said...

Cute tablescape!!! I've never seen cotton growing in the field. Only in movies such as Gone with the Wind. I love that movie. I love that you also gave us some history on cotton in your area. We do have cottonwood trees here in southern California that gets cotton like stuff everywhere.

Karen at Nittany Inspirations said...

I have never seen a field of cotton. I like that your whole tablescape is on the cotton boll theme. Very pretty.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I really love this post. I live in the Midwest, but I've made many trips down South over the years. These days I go several times a year (my daughter and parents are in Florida). I've always loved to see the cotton in the fields. I really thought it would be too "buggy" to bring in the house. It makes a great centerpiece.

Sue

puddin07 said...

Lauarie, such a unique and creative tablescape as always! My Mother had to pick cotton as a child, and she wasn't too fond of it! I've never seen cotton growing in a field, and thanks for the history lesson. Love Ya! Connie

Mimi said...

What a creative, unique tablescape. I ♥ the whole cotton pickin thang, especially the centerpiece!

Cathy said...

I come from a long line of cotton pickers...I am one classy gal;)!!!

The friends we made when we lived in Ca were always so amused by our humble background...hehe!!!

Your post brought back alot of memories of my great grandparents tales...thank you!!!

I love how you tied your tablescape into your walk down memory lane. It is beautiful...as always!!! You are a wonder!!!

Enjoy!!!
XOXO
Cathy

xinex said...

Your post is so much fun and very informative, Laurie. So original too! I betcha no one would ever think of doing a cotton ball tablescape, lol,. but it is so cute!....Christine

Pinky said...

Laurie, This is one of the best, prettiest, most creative tables I ahve ever seen! Just beautiful....and so clever. Actually I WOULD love to find those cotton ball glasses:):) But then again, I seem to have an addiction to all things "table"!!!! I didn't post this week with Susan but plan to next week! XO, Pinky

Rebekah@Red's Nest said...

This is a very cute theme for a tablescape. I don't care which direction that little cotton boll is supposed to be it all looks great. My dad grew up in a very poor family picking cotton. He always said it was very hard work.

Kristens Creations said...

Hi Laurie, What an awesome cotton pickin tablescape!!! I love it! Your post was amazing!! My dad always says, "You little cotton pickin thang" or "What the cotton picken..." LOL! I guess it's an Arkansas thang. I admit, I say thang alot! hehehe! Thanks for checking out my christmas decorating. I'm glad to be done with that monster tree! I hope you recieve your frame tomorrow. Have a great Friday! Kristen

The DIY Show Off said...

I love your stories. I'm from the north but I've heard of the cotton pickin saying. Of course not "thang". lol

:)

I wanted to tell you thanks for sharing the giveaway with your readers too!

Have a great weekend Laurie!

Roeshel

Connie said...

Laurie, That was very interesting about the cotton. Up here we "pick" apples, strawberries, and peaches. I guess the weather determines what can grow where.
Your table is a vision, as usual. You do such a good job. I have learned quite a bit from all you gals about your traditions. I grew up that way, but this next generation seems to have overlooked the finer things in life.
Interesting post.
Have a good weekend, Laurie.........

Sharlotte said...

I love your cotton theme! The linens, glases, dishes...just beautiful! The colors are so warm and welcoming...thanks for sharing!

tales from an oc cottage said...

How pretty!!!!

m ^..^

Maryrose said...

Thanks for the tip on my pictures. Hopefully I can figure that out. Funny I can see all the columns on my computer. Have a great day.
Maryrose

xinex said...

Hi Laurie! Actually inside my cloche are promeganates, not apples. Hard to tell the difference, isnt it? I decided to add the garage walk in closet for my additional china storage because I really ran out now. My new china set is sitting on the kitchen counter with no place to put them, lol...Christine

Liz said...

Hi Laurie! This is just the cutest post. I have never seen such a big deal made out of cotton balls. :)

It is just a darling table and really so full of history! I love it!

~Liz

Mrs. B. Silly said...

Cotton boll glasses! Son of a gun, I never did hear tell of them thar thangs before. ROFL about the placemats!

I do know the expression "not a cotton pickin' thang" quite well though, my Momma grew up in cotton country and did some picking during her high school days. From the stories she tells, it didn't sound like a whole lot of fun!

Shelia said...

Well, hello, sweet thang! :)
Oh, I've heard so much about cotton. Being born in Alabama, my Mother picked cotton all her days. My granddaddy had a farm and all the kids would pick their tiny hands off! Too bad we have no pictures. They were poor and didn't have the luxury.
But I must say, I've never seen cotton boll glasses! You have everything on your table down to a tea - or cotton boll. Love it all! You are the greatest!
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Miss Laura Lu/RMS4291960 said...

Hi Laurie! You forgot "just a cotton pickin minute!" I love your tablescapes girlfriend! It's amazing there's any dry cotton to pick! but hasn't this weather been great lately! You have a blessed day! Lauralu :)

Helen said...

Dear Laurie,

Well, kiss my grits if this isn't one of the most information packed posts! Not to mention the pretty tablescape.

Enjoy your weekend, blog friend.

Lori (All That Splatters) said...

What a beautiful table! Gorgeous dishes, and I love the card showing through the glass plate. So creative!

Connie said...

Hi Laurie,
Thanks for the push. I have a hard time jumping in where most people know each other. Funny, because I have been known to be quite a talker, lol.
You are a real sweetheart !

Brenda @Cozy Little House said...

They're pretty no matter which direction they go in! I remember as a kid once someone gave me freshly picked cotton and I thought it was so funny looking I took it to school for Show & Tell!
Brenda

Ginger said...

I've never seen cotton growing in the fields but I bet it would be an amazing sight.
You are always so creative...I think we should nickname you "Ms.Party planner" We can pick your brain for ideas.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Cotton figured big in my family's life, too. And I love the expression, "high cotton." Loved this post...

XO,

Sheila :-)

Mary Ellen (megardengal) said...

I love the way you use clear plates to get so many different looks! I gotta find me some!

KarenHarveyCox said...

Laurie,
Well now I always ooh and aah over your tablescapes, but this is truly genius. I love those photographs of cotton fields, I have never experienced this in person, but it must be the most amazing scene. Your table and the attention to details blow me away. You should be a wedding planner. Oh, I love that centerpiece, you are so creative.

Karen

Suzy said...

Love your cotton picking table! I'm from Louisiana, so seeing white cotton in the fields is a familiar sight for me. I admit to pilfering a branch or two for a display. I usually would wait until they picked and there was a stray plant that still had cotton on it! Your table is beautiful.

SmilingSally said...

Clearly, you win for the most unique tablesetting. I'd love to come to a dinner party at your house!

The White Bench said...

Your tablescape is so special and unusual, Laurie! What a creative idea!
Thanks for stopping by, and for your nice and kind words!
Monica.

Confessions of a Plate Addict said...

Hi Laurie! I'm still getting caught up after my trip to the beach! I drove past lots of cotton fields in Alabama on the way home, too! It was cotton pickin' time! I find myself frequently using a term for grading cotton..."fair to middling"...to mean that I am OK when asked how I am. Do you say that? And we also say that you are "in high cotton" if you are doing well financially! Funny how these cotton terms still hang on! Love your tablescape as always!! Happy weekend...hugs...Debbie

Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

Laurie,
That's a beautiful tablescape...especially those chargers!
:) Diane

aBohemianMarket said...

Hi Laurie:
I am a Southern California woman (60) and I am asked if I am from the South all of the time because of the gravely twang to my voice : ) I grew up using that expression too: "not a cotton-pickin thang" and the emphasize was on thang : )
I love your table scape and it is well put together!!!
I gues the cotton terms drifted to the West coast on the backs of the folks coming out this way; my Dad was from Kansas and my Mom from Nebraska. You have a delightful blog and I will be back to visit.
Regards
carole ann

nannykim/spindlecottage said...

This post was fantastic. We still do have cotton fields not far from here and I so enjoy seeing them when they are full and ready to be harvested!! First of all I love the table of yours--it is gorgeous. I love this tablescape and all of the cottin pickin things that are on it (ha, I had to say that!!). Really wonderful!

~CC Catherine said...

Sweet Precious Laurie, How I've MISSED reading your blog posts! This one, as usual, has struck my fancy. I didn't know that much about cotton before...and I have found it not only informative, but humorous in the style in which you deliver your narration of the pics. You are a gift to me tonight...as laughter has been few and far between of late. But, you inspired it tonight...my favorite was when you shared the Cotton vases you got for your wedding...you are too funny girl...I Love it all! Your writing, your tablescape, and the cotton coming out of the vases, for real....set it off for me! I loved it! The little cotton notecard was also precious...It's always the little touches that strike me.........just like YOU! What a lovely TOUCH of God you are to me Laurie! Hugs amundo! :) ~CC Catherine

Fifi Flowers said...

LOVE all that cotton decor... sooo pretty!

Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) said...

What a neat tablescape! I loved hearing the history and back ground info. Cotton is King is definitely one of the phrases I hear around her when touring some of the beautiful historic plantation home. A lot of cotton was grown here in GA. I think it's probably a good thing that it's all done by machinery now...sounds like some seriously hard work. Great post, Laurie!
Susan
P.S. Your placemats look perfect to me! :-)

ann said...

I DO BELIEVE THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVS.IS BOLLS SPELLED LIKE THAT?I THOUGHT ALL THIS TIME IT WAS BALL!IT'S NEVER TO LATE TO LEARN IS IT?
OOPS/1 HERE I AM IN CAPS.MISTAKE YALL,MISTAKE.
LOVE YA...ANNIEPOO

Ldy ~~ Dy said...

It's always fun to stop by and read your posts. Your cotton ball tablescape is really creative! Loved it!! By the way... I loved your stories. Didn't mind the side-tracking! Hugs!

Manuela@Pleasures of Homemaking said...

This is so pretty and unusual! I don't think I've ever seen this theme before and you put it together so beautifully!

Manuela

debianne said...

Nothing is better than seeing a field of cotton ready for harvest. Wonderful table setting. I love the mini cotton bale...I also have one! That call of cotton...it's in our DNA if we're from the South!

OCDesigner ~Athella said...

This tablescape is simply beautiful. I don't know how you keep coming up with such beautiful things to display.

OCDesigner ~Athella said...

This tablescape is simply beautiful. I don't know how you keep coming up with such beautiful things to display.

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

Laurie, I have to say you win the prize, in my book, for the most creative tablescape I have ever seen. Any you have cotton glasses too...who knew? Virginia is not a big cotton state...more like peanuts and tobacco but there are some cotton fields and I was thrilled to see them not too long ago when I took my Mom on a little day trip. It's a beautiful thing to see. xo Lynn P.S. I don't know if you can vote more than once. I doubt it. :)

Sara's Sweet Surprise said...

Laurie~I just had to come back to comment about this marvelously creative post!! I love "EVERY COTTON PICKIN' THING!!! I'm always amazed at the amount of creative place settings you put together. I'm always left excited to see what you'll come up with next.
I would have never notice the place mate facing the wrong direction. so,it'll be fine next year too.
I'm going to take that cute idea of wrapping my french loaf wrapped like an ear of corn...adorable!

I do have a question...do you have a warehouse to house your dishes and stemware,lol?

I hope you enjoy Tryptophan playoffs on Thanksgiving!

Sweet Holiday Wishes,
Sara

prashant said...

I've never seen cotton growing in the fields but I bet it would be an amazing sight

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