Saturday, September 22, 2012

Rainy Day

What are you saving for a rainy day?
I took photos last Saturday in the last of the daylight.  It was really a bit too dim, but I kept going anyway.  I was so interested in what I was doing, and of course the light changing was gradual and my eyes could easily adjust, so it didn’t seem too dim – and then suddenly I realized I was peering in the darkness.
I saved the pictures to post on a rainy day, when I didn’t have good lighting for fresh pictures.  And as it turns out they are murky anyway.  Sometimes the learning curve is steep, isn’t it?
I thrifted this book.  I almost left it behind, as I thought it was probably too outdated.  Funny how our language changes.  The title is American Country.  Now, we would say Vintage, Cottage, Farmhouse, Shabby, Primitive, etc.  But it was only a quarter, so I picked it up again, and looked more closely at the pictures and saw how appealing they were.  There is no publication date in it.  It is a TIME-Life book.
DSCN1405I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely irrational about my love for old cookbooks.  I want to make everything in them, even if they would be strange to contemporary tastes.  This picture shows how appealing the artwork  is.  I think I have the book in the upper left:  All About Home Baking.  Remind me and I’ll share sometime.  Really, half the charm is in the wording of the text.  The language has a cheery, quaint quality that is terribly endearing.DSCN1408 Do you collect vintage kitchen tools?  I do, and I have the gray enamelware dish/plate/pie tin you see in the picture below.  Check out the bread-slicing guide!  That would be handy in my house.  Slicing bread straight really is an acquired skill, and I’ve become pretty good at it.  (But I must say that the rest of the crowd around here could use more practice!)DSCN1409I love the prim look of shelf edging.  I have made some crocheted edgings, but never put them up on any shelf edges.  What am I waiting for?  I have never seen newspaper edging, but I so love the thrifty creativity of the humble American housewife that it proclaims, don’t you?  I’m dying to try it.  I loooove to cut paper shapes.  I still cut strings of paper dolls in all kinds of costumes, you know the kind?  When you’re done, and unfold them, you have a series of identical dolls holding hands?  I’ve made gingerbread boys, ragdolls, Boy Scouts (guess why), snowmen, clowns and schoolgirls.  This is how I pass time at family gatherings when the kids need to settle down from the frenetic running around the house.  Yeah, I do better at the kids’ table.DSCN1406Have you ever used one of the early electric toasters?  I have once.  I was visiting my great grandmother for the day, and she made me tea and toast.  With homemade bread, and homemade strawberry jam.  No, really.  And I’m not kidding when I tell you that she also showed me how to cut and press wool strips, and braid a chair mat that I still have to this day. (I really need to take a picture and share that.)DSCN1410I recently inherited the toaster cut off in the pic below from my grandmother’s basement.  For all I know, it was the toaster from Great Grammie’s house.DSCN1346The strawberry-painted glasses are a recent GW find.  They are in good condition, but some of the paint is a little cloudy from dishwasher exposure.  (If you have painted glasses, never put them in the dishwasher, the detergent is too harsh; same for colored Pyrex casseroles and mixing bowls!)  There was a matching pitcher on ebay, which I should have bought.  Wouldn’t it be a charming lemonade or sweet tea set?  (Speaking of ebay, I’ve taken the plunge, and made my first listings, wish me luck!)DSCN1343
I love the old canning jars with the glass lids and the wire bail.  I created this little grouping the other day when I was doing my “Back-to-School” mantel display.DSCN1344Speaking of canning, I am working up to learning more about canning, (not that I have a garden, and a bountiful harvest to preserve), along with learning more about pressure cooking.DSCN1348
I’ll leave that as a tease, hinting for future posts.  I have recently bought 2 vintage Presto pressure cookers (4 qt.), for only a quarter apiece.  And a vintage pressure cooker cookbook.  So, if you want me, I’ll be in the kitchen.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

How do you like them apples?

No, I haven’t gone apple picking.  I’ll wait and buy a sackful of MacIntoshes at the store.  Do you know, the cute little paper bags with a handle?  I’ll make an apple pie and serve it hot with vanilla ice cream.  Another time, I’ll make apple crisp, and again serve it hot with vanilla ice cream.  And maybe, I’ll try making apple turnovers, too.  (Notice I said maybe.)
No, the apples I’m talking about are the decorative items in my happy red kitchen.  I had just taken the screens down from the casement windows, brushed away the cobwebs and dust, rubbed all the wood with lemon oil, washed the windows and created a little arrangement that made me smile.  Then I realized how pretty it looked in the late afternoon light, so out came my camera.  Do you like shortbread cookies with your tea?  I’ve only made it once.  It’s pretty decadent as I recall.  Mostly butter creamed with vanilla and powdered sugar, and a little flour thrown in to hold it together I guess.  I used the mold on top in the picture below.  It’s one I bought about 20 years ago, and has 9 flower and fruit motifs.  The round one below it I thrifted recently; both by Brown Bag Cookie Art.
Kitchen StoryThe large apple cookie jar is a recent thrift store score, and the Bread-and-Butter pickles in the Mason jar were a generous gift from a co-worker who has been sharing his garden bounty.  The dishtowel is a calendar towel that I crocheted an edging for, and now it’s my fave.
On another leaf,  I found the most adorable book (for only a quarter).  Do you know the book Wind in the Willows?  Of course you do.  Well, anyway my little happy discovery is another book by the same author, Kenneth Grahame.  It is a collection of short(er) stories, and was published before WITW. 
Dream Days Mosaic
Many of the illustrations are by E.H. Shepard, and I believ he also immortalized the WITW characters.  But another treat is that some of the art is by Maxfield Parrish!  If you don’t recognize the name, you can click on it and see who he is.  I’ll bet you’ll recognize his early 20th century art.Dream Days 2I love the italicized font with the flourishes. 
This is just a gratuitous picture of a vintage saucer I found last week.  I love the colors.  Absolutely smitten.  And the images:  birds, a ship, cherry blossoms and a windmill.  What’s not to love?Pretty Saucer
Just found the little squirrel covered candy dish.  Very a propos to keep one’s treats and treasures hidden.  Do you remember those old penny candies in the yellow and red wax paper?  The Squirrel-Nut-Something caramels?  If I can find them, I’m going to stash some in this dish.  In the meantime, it has acorns.  Those acorns around the candle are huuuge.  I picked them up after a football game in Kennebunk on Thursday.  I have never seen them this big.  I wonder if next summer’s squirrels will be bigger than usual.
The 3-footed dish is also a new thrifting find.  No cover.  Too bad, but too pretty to leave behind.
What treasures are you squirrelling away this weekend?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Historic New England

Oh, I’ve had such a wonderful day!  I took a day off work to meet a college friend who lives in New Hampshire.  We chose a spot on the Maine-N.H. border – South Berwick to be exact.DSCN1360
Historic New England (formerly known as The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities) has 3 properties in South Berwick, but only one was open today:  The Hamilton House.  So that’s where we met, and took the tour, before having lunch (an amazing lunch) at the Pepperland Café.  This fabulous restaurant is across the street from another Historic New England property, the Sarah Orne Jewett House.  Do you know the name?  I know it, but I don’t know if one would if one hadn’t read Country of the Pointed Firs for their New England Literature class (sprinkled in with Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson and Frost).DSCN1365
On the tour, guests are not permitted to take photos inside the house.  But, oh did I have an itchy shutter-release finger.  The house, built in 1785-6, was home for Hamiltons, then Goodwins, before being bought and restored by the Tyson ladies of Boston.  They must have had significant resources at their disposal, and worked hard to restore it to the grandeur of its early 19th-century life. DSCN1387 They added gardens and used the house as a summer home, wintering in Boston, and ultimately leaving the house and garden and much of the furnishings to the Society, I think they said in the 1940’s.  Do see the photos of the interior on the website.
We strolled in the garden before and after the tour, enjoying balmy breezes off the Salmon Falls River.
So, I’ll share with you some shots of the lovely gardens.  In the picture below, I have my back to the house, and you can see a little cottage.  Apparently, this was situated in N.H., and was to be demolished.  But the Tyson ladies had it moved.  This garden area used to be the location of a decrepit barn, which they obviously removed.  By placing the cottage among the gardens, they had a little place for seclusion, or for entertaining.  Currently, the docents have some office space in there, and they begin the tour there.DSCN1362
The cottage has a little garden all its own.  (And I didn’t adjust the color on these morning glories!!)DSCN1372
Apparently, it was a common practice to use a millstone as a paver in gardens, and the Tysons collected no less than 14 for their gardens.  I photographed many of them, but I’ll spare you.
You probably recognize the pineapple as a colonial symbol of hospitality.  I read (I think on the Colonial Williamsburg website), that when a sea captain came home from exotic places, a pineapple was displayed prominently (perhaps on the gate, or above the front door?) to indicate that he was receiving callers.
This fountain is marble, and a treasured piece, and is replicated on a painted mural in the sitting room overlooking this garden.  (oops, I just realized I uploaded this photo twice, but it’s so pretty, I’ll leave it.)DSCN1362
There were some lovely cherubs cavorting here and there, see them hold up the bird bath?

One feature of Georgian architecture is Palladian windows.  This one in the door below was installed in the little garden cottage to echo those in the main house.  There was a much larger one opposite it, which I wish I had photographed, but it was in shadow.  You could see that both were entirely the original glass, completely with ripples, bubbles and wavy distortion.  I was hoping that would show in the pic, but it doesn’t.
DSCN1384Just a striking bouquet, even in shadow, in front of the large Palladian window that I didn’t get a picture of.
DSCN1378So sweet, I wish I had taken close-up pictures of the facial expression.
Just a gratuitous view of an old New England barn, where one of the 3 full-time gardeners has just finished mowing.
After my visit with my friend, I drove and drove all around the hilly farmland, enjoying rustic pastoral views at every turn.  Farmers’ Markets, antique shops, and PYO (pick-your-own)  apple orchards.  In all my years here, I have never picked apples.  Everybody always asks:  “Have you picked your apples yet?”  And for years, I would shrink guiltily, and say vaguely, “No, not yet…”, and silently wonder if I should feel ashamed of not harvesting the bounty allotted to me.  I’ve since gotten over it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

So Easily Influenced

DSCN1349 - Copy
I probably wouldn’t have seen the potential in this find.  In fact, the first time I saw it, I left it behind.  I ended going back for it.  Having just read every post on Becky’s blog, I aspired to have a little bathroom display over the toilet, like this.    It’s her first post, but not her first attempts at home decorating with vintage goodies.  Well, I’ve already blogged a little bit, and I feel like I’m beginning to challenge myself to really cozy up my home.
Before this little vintage shelf unit, that lighthouse pic was alone on the wall, looking small and forlorn.  And the little jars and shells were on top of the tank.  I guess I should have taken a “before” picture.  Maybe over time, I will improve this arrangement and then this will be the “before”!  And I’ll keep working on my photography skills.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Thrifting for Thrills!

I’ve been doing a lot of thrifting lately.  It’s hard not to, GW has opened an outlet next to the building where I work 5 days a week.  I’m not really good at identifying true vintage, so it’s a good thing that the prices are so very reasonable.  I am so easily influenced in what to collect.  I see a display on a blog that I like, and then I am spying similar treasures at the GW, and the next thing I know I am taking them home, and trying to re-create the vignettes I’ve seen on my favorite blogs. 

In an unabashed declaration of my admiration, I direct you to my latest blog infatuation:  Sweet Cottage Dreams.  She does some especially delectable Christmas decorating, and caused me to fall in love with chippy, vintage-looking Santas.  (Although I do think I had a tendency in that direction already!)  Check out these kitschy vintage Santa mugs on   This Santa is actually a planter, with an opening in the sack over his shoulder.  I think it’ll be perfect to put candy canes in.  As I look at this picture, I realize that it is too cluttered to see all the great finds individually.


DSCN1350      So, here are a couple

 DSCN1351of views showing Santa’s cheery charms.


And check out this happy mug!  (Get it?  Mug?! Heh-heh!)

And another view of the Christmas-y things.  That box with the tree stand really has the tree stand in it – score!


The vase that looks like old mercury glass probably isn’t, but I wouldn’t know.

Do you love the doll-sized park bench?  It’s really painted cast iron and weathered wood.  I think somebody had a front porch display because there were a couple of pine needles still on it.  I’m considering ways to use it, including using it to display my treasured Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls.

The crescent bone dishes are green transferware, and bear the marking:  “Genoa J&C Meakin Hanley England”.


These don’t appear to be too terribly old, but I think the bright red cards with the charming illustration make a good accent piece in a vignette, and the Bingo cards will be terrif for various crafting projects (at least I know that I’ve seen others do clever things with them!).


Again, these items aren’t particularly old, but made it into my cart by virtue of their timeless charm.  The fabric is a curtain, rather small.  I will not use it for a curtain, it is quite loud when you stretch it all out.  It will be better suited incorporated in pillow tops, tote bags, that sort of thing.  The colors are so cheery, no?

That’s all for now!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why is this necessary?

I admit that I am a bit counter-cultural in the following way:  I do not embrace the idea of boarding away for college for every person.  I love the idea, but in reality, well, not everyone is ready for the vast independence that campus life offers.  And not everyone finds the best peer group to rely on for support and counsel.  In my dream-life, college students would be in a place where they can test themselves and their world with significant safety nets.  I'm not sure those safety nets are always as effective as they could be.  About a half-century ago, colleges with a boarding student body, were charged with the responsibility of being in loco parentis, "in the place of a parent".  And I like to think that in many ways, the dorm parents, house mothers, etc., if they truly understood how to be most effective, became an older, wiser guide; slightly detached and overtly more objective than actual parents.   
Today, we know more about adolescent brains -- that abstract reasoning isn't fully formed and judgment hasn't matured (until early-mid-twenties).  And yet, we now view an 18-year-old as an adult.  "Coming of age" used to occur at 21.  That was the age for voting.  It was only lowered to 18 when  it was pointed out that we were drafting and sending 18-21 year olds off to fight wars and possibly be maimed or killed when they couldn't even vote on the people who made the decisions to fight a war. (26th Amendment, 1971)
When I went to college in 1980, the legal drinking age in Massachusetts was 18.  I was 17, but it wasn't an issue.  At all.  I went to the college town bars and was never carded.  Now the legal age is 21 in Mass, and in Maine, where I now live and have 2 college-age sons.  It's hard to gauge if procurement is as easy now as it was then.
This past weekend, a couple of Massachusetts kids came up to the nearby college (less than a mile from our house) to visit a friend.  After some partying, the 2 ran afoul of the campus police, and despite not being chased, they fled the campus and hit a telephone pole at 80mph (in a place where the speed limit transitions from 40 to 30 mph).  The passenger is dead, and the driver, who was only 20, when he recovers from his injuries, faces a handful of serious criminal charges, including manslaughter.
This story could take place anywhere among any group of young people.  But, I can't help but think that it's all about "likelihood"s.  As in "people who lead a sedentary life are more likely to be obese", or "children who read are more likely to become life-long learners".  I believe that young people who have mature adults actively involved in their lives are less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors.  Accidents can happen, but doesn't it make sense to minimize risk for the factors we can control?  Such a fine line we walk as parents...  giving them space and wanting to hover, just the right amount. 
 So, you can imagine the trepidation with which I drove away from our college freshman on Friday.  I have a good deal of confidence that we have raised him well, and covered him with prayer.  He is not an impulsive person, and has never given us reason to doubt his good choices.  But you know that anyone can become of a victim of one bad choice, whether one's own or someone else's.  So I guess you know what my Labor Day weekend was like.
 Other than maternal neurosis, everything was as it should be:  his dorm is an ivy-covered brick building, his dorm room looks like a dorm room, the R.A.'s seem like 2 very nice boys.  (Yes, I said boys, not men--sorry, but it's hard to imagine anyone I could have given birth to as being a "man" or a "woman".  I wonder just how long this mommy denial phase will last?)

This is called "The Ballroom" and is a sort of lounge/study on the first floor of the dorm.  He is housed here with other overflow freshman until rooms and room-mates become available when all the no-shows and enrollee's remorse cases are counted.  This building is scheduled for renovations into office space.
Friendly upperclassmen helping unloading and moving in.
 Welcome to Estabrooke.

 Necessities: long board and D-pole.
For now, he probably actually believes that home is where you hang your hat.
We Mums know better.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Do you know what time it is?

 No, I don't mean what hour of the day it is....  even if that little bird is trying to tell you...
 I could draw you a picture........
 Or spell it out for you....
I tried to do a little seasonal decorating,
I wanted it to look like some of my favorite bloggers' displays.
I need more practice though.
Somehow, for me, it just looks like clutter.
But it was fun creating little vignettes, trying to create a multi-level effect.
Choosing "vintage" wherever I could.
But I'll keep trying.