Friday, December 27

Being Norwegian

Yesterday we went antiquing -- today we drove to the farm.  As we were driving through the countryside and looking at all the snow-covered fields, our granddaughter asked me if grandpa had been 100% Norwegian and if so what percent was she.  All four of my husband's grandparents were born in Norway and immigrated to Illinois in the mid to late 1880's and were married here.  Correctly, she figured out that she is 25% Norwegian and to help her get the feel of what that means, I took her to the town of Norway right here in IL.  The epicenter of this very small town is the Norway Store -- the local grocery, gas station, restaurant and gift shop all combined in one very old wooden building.   It opened in 1848 and has been family owned ever since.  We have been buying specialty items there for years but she had never been there so today was the day.

Once inside, we figured what the heck, we might as well eat!  Seemed like a good idea to both of us so before looking around at all the unique Norwegian themed items, time for lunch!

Mens and Ladies room doors -- ya gotta love their sense of humor!

The stave ornamentation on the roof of the building -- Ole standing guard in the liquor department and our own little Norwegian!  Uff da!

Thursday, December 26

Antiques and more!

It's the day after Christmas and all through the house . . . we were tired of the holiday mess and ready to do something different.  Our granddaughter is visiting from AZ for her first white Christmas in many years.  Yesterday we were in all day watching snow flurries and enjoying the fire, opening presents and having fun being together as a family.  She played hide and seek with her 2 young cousins and uncle and by the end of the day we were all exhausted -- except for the 2 little ones of course!  So today we decided that we needed to do some antiquing and maybe find something new for our various collections.  Success for me -- for her, not so much.
She found a hanging chair that was calling her name but probably wouldn't fit in her suitcase.  I found a vintage narrow shutter that is 64 inches long and exactly what I wanted for a beam between my living and dining rooms.  It was definitely my "find of the day".

After all that strenuous looking and shopping,  we definitely needed a little sustenance so I tossed a coin (heads it's pizza, tails it's pizza) so pizza it is! Giordano's in Chicago is the best ever!  We both love their stuffed pizza but not what's inside so we each ordered our own -- spinach for me (YUM!!!) and Canadian bacon and pineapple for her (YUK!!!).  So now we are full and sassy and a little bit lazy and back in front of the fire each "doin' our thang" on our laptops.   So happy that the collector gene has traveled to another generation and that she "gets me".  Love ya, sweetie!

Friday, December 13

More primitive Christmas

Only 13 more days until Christmas!!!  Yikes!  I need to get down to business here and finish shopping and wrap all the presents because as I looked at my tree earlier today it dawned on me that something was missing -- no wrapped gifts!  What's a tree without presents under it?  Our son-in-law told me the other day that one of his best Christmas memories is of the 1st time he came to our house for the holiday's and couldn't see any of the carpeting for the packages all over the place! Okay, I admit it, Christmas has always been a big deal for me.  It's how I was raised and I don't know any different.
Y'all have probably noticed that I have spent waaaaayyyyy tooooo much time stitchin' things!  Pillows, ornaments, pictures, wall hangings, stockings, even a quilt with red and green trees.  I never wanted to play Bridge or tennis or do laundry or clean the house -- but let me have the time to make something and I am a very happy camper.  They don't call me the "Stitch Bitch" for nuthin'!

We found this old pine cabinet at a local flea market/antique show years ago and it's had a lot of different uses.  It sits now in my entry hall and while the ironstone is always stored there, the other items change with the season and holiday.  I love the patina of the pine.
The small pine wall cabinet contains 2 little glass guns with screw tops that belonged to my dad -- he received them for Christmas when he was a little boy. The baskets are hand-woven and I really like their tiny size.  The tobacco dryer in the upper right corner hangs in my dining room and has something different hanging from it depending on the holiday -- vintage parade flags for the 4th of July, bittersweet for Halloween and hand painted eggs for Easter.  The old screen came from my husband's grandparents farm -- since I don't have a window in this kitchen, I decided to use it as a "faux" window and change out the decorations on it also for the seasons.  The old Mason jars were my mother-in-laws and I had them wired to use as task lighting -- they have a dimmer which makes them perfect for any time of the day or night.  The hand towel holder was my grandmother's meat grinder.
Last, but not least, are my extra little trees.  I have one in the dining room with white lights and white pip-berries.  My husband loved all the Christmas lights and to honor him, I keep this tree up year round.  Again, the trim and bow change with the seasons but it is always lit -- sort of my eternal flame for him.
The tree without lights is on my kitchen island and the small tree on the old water cooler is in a corner of the living room opposite the big tree.  

I have given you the tour of most of my home and it's primitive furnishings and hope that you have enjoyed it.  Have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends.  I am grateful for everyone in my life who has helped make this a good year for me -- my children and grandchildren, old friends and new, their presence gives me strength and is deeply appreciated and valued.

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Tuesday, December 10

A primitive country Christmas in the city

I love Christmas!  The lights, my Santa collection, handmade ornaments from our kids when they were in kindergarten and pre-school, the smell of pine and evergreens, cinnamon sticks, candles burning, pine cones thrown into the fire, looking for just the right gifts for the people I love and one of my favorite things -- playing Santa and filling the stockings!  Oh yeah, and the cookies and the fudge and anything chocolate that comes my way!  Every room gets a little "sumpn" -- a small decoration or maybe a large one -- and each year I change the look by doing the tree differently. The worst part, of course, is dragging out all the storage boxes that have been out of sight for the past 11 months.  Because I live in a condo and use the elevator to come and go, I have an artificial tree -- no way am I going to drag a live tree in and out of my place and have to clean all needles as they drop off in the hall!

I decided to do a very simple tree this year using only handmade ornaments -- most I made but some I have found at craft shows and small shops from VA, WV and NC.  I have some made out of old quilts pieces, some are needlepoint and counted cross stitch that I made over the years and some are vintage Linsey-woolsy stars that I found at a craft fair years ago.

Okay, so the tree is up and I think "Yeah, I'm done" until I stand back and decide it needs tweaking -- a little more here and something else there to add that extra special touch. It's never-ending!  A little more raffia, another rusty jingle bell, some red berries stuck between the branches, you know how it is.  There's always room for just one more thing!  And then suddenly it's "bada bing, bada boom" and it really is done! Now for the next big challenge -- the mantle.

As with the tree, it's all about the layers.  I start with fake greens because even though I have a gas fireplace, I don't want any chance of live dry greens going up in flames!  Once the basic greens are in place, I add some of the Santa's that I have collected over the years.  Then more natural things to make it all look fuller -- pine cones, berries and twigs all add to the effect I'm trying to achieve -- I want it to look like I went to the woods and gathered everything myself.  Me and Martha Stewart foraging in the woods.  Yeah, right!

The stockings are all counted cross stitch and made for our grandchildren the years they were born.  The Santa in the frame is needlepoint that I stitched about 20 years ago.

As my grandmother used to say . . . "Lawsy mercy, I'm plum tuckered out!" Enough for now -- there are still some things that I want to show you but not tonight. And it's only 2 weeks until the "big day" -- I still have shopping to do and cards to make!

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Sunday, December 1

"White Christmas" -- Rosemary Clooney

"I'm dreaming of a White Christmas, just like the ones I used to know . . ."   Everyone knows the lyrics to that song written by Irving Berlin in 1940 that was introduced in the movie "Holiday Inn" two years later.  Bing Crosby recorded it on Decca Records and it became the biggest selling single - ever!  In 1954, the movie "White Christmas" was released and starred Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen.  In December of that same year, my parents and I went to New York City by train.  It was the first time for all of us to go there and we did all the "tourist" things even though it was the coldest we had ever been!  Staten Island and the Statue of Liberty, Chinatown, the tree at Rockefeller Center, the Empire State building, the subway and lights, lights, lights everywhere!!!

One of my fondest memories of that trip was our visit to Radio City Music Hall and watching the Rockettes dancing across the stage dressed in red velvet outfits with hats made of red petals and green leaves so that they looked like poinsettias. The movie playing -- "White Christmas" of course.  It was magical.  The lights, the sounds, the music -- I was in awe of everything!  And as a young child I thought that Rosemary Clooney was so beautiful and I became a life-long fan of hers.

As a collector, it seemed only natural that I save and keep all kinds of pictures, articles from the old fan magazines, records, etc. and I placed them in scrapbooks. Many years later, I was able to meet Rosemary and we became good friends.  She was funny, honest, sensitive, a good judge of character, loyal to her family and friends and her career continued through the years and latest over 5 decades.  I was so fortunate to know her.  One night at dinner I told her of my extensive collection of her memorabilia -- she found out that I had some items that even she didn't have and was delighted when I gave them to her.  One thing in my collection was an original vintage movie poster from "White Christmas".

This framed poster now is one of the first items that I bring out for Christmas no matter where we have lived or what the decor style.  It is such a huge part f my childhood memories and my friendship with Rosemary.  She signed it "And may all your Christmases be white -- With Love, Rosemary"

Saturday, November 30

Santa of the Month -- December

It's been a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday weekend with my family -- everyone had more than enough turkey and all the trimin's,  a celebration of  my daughter's birthday (she was actually born on Thanksgiving day and it's the only year that I didn't have to cook a turkey!) and time left for lots of conversation and shared memories of past holidays.  Now, all are back in their own homes and it is time to drag out the Christmas decorations and begin the process of transferring my home into what I hope will be a primitive winter wonderland.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I would show you each of the monthly Santa pictures that I stitched in 1991.  This one, "December Santa", is one of my favorites. I love the colors but also the idea of the children waiting to receive their gifts and apparently give one - the little girl is holding a present behind her back so I have a feeling that it is for Santa.  

Now that "December Santa" is up and ready to ring in the season, I need to get busy and put up all the other decorations so this old guy doesn't look so lonely and out of place!  Remember, Christmas is rapidly approaching!  And I really enjoy creating something different from previous years -- last year I went for the more traditional look that I thought worked better with my condo but this year, I have changed all that by going back to my primitive roots and better incorporating my early mid-Atlantic furniture and all the necessary collections that go with it.  What better place to add some fresh greens than old salt glaze crocks and baskets full of pine cones.  Ho, Ho, Ho, y'all!

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Thursday, November 21

Vintage collections, Ottawa, IL

Today, a friend and I played "Thelma and Louise" (without the packin' heat part) and took a road trip to our farm. I consider myself an avid collector -- a collector in the first degree -- C1.  She, however, is 3 times better (or worse depending on your perspective) than I am so I would put her at the C3 level.  She "gets me" and my addiction and never questions my love of old primitive items or my desire to go look at "just one more thing".  Since C3 had never been to the farm, it seemed that a grey rainy day was the perfect time to go.  I don't think either of us stopped talking long enough to take a breath during the entire trip!  As I drove into the farm, the mailman pulled in behind me and told me that I had 2 years worth of mail that they had been holding for me.  What?  I sent a change of address notice when I moved 2 years ago but they swore they had never received it.  Now I ask you, how ironic is it that the post office lost the mail I sent to notify them of my move? After the house tour, we went to the post office and picked up the first class mail that had been saved -- Christmas cards from 2011, several bills that were past due (obviously!), 2 birthday cards from last year (apparently not close friends since they didn't know I had moved the year before!), and numerous other things that were out of date and long overdue.

Then the fun began.  I took C3 to a little sandwich place in Ottawa, IL called The Cheese Shop.  Someone stayed up all night thinking up that name because . . . it was actually a place that made cheese on the premises many years ago.  Duh! When we walked in the door, C3 went nuts!  We were both starving but she completely forgot about food when she saw all the collectibles in this place.  The owner was a huge collector and took the dining tables, covered them in green felt and placed his collections inside then built a frame and covered it with glass.  What a unique dining experience to sit there and see and discuss the memories these items invoked.  Nostalgia at its finest!

My husband was an avid fisherman so I was immediately drawn to the vintage reels and lures.  The orbs are from the overhead lights and I had trouble getting the shots without the reflection.  Sorry.

There were hundreds of milk bottles in all shapes and sizes.  We were interested in the cases that had been built specifically to hold the cream pitchers -- each marked with the name of a different creamery.  Most of these were from IL and neighboring states but others were from much further away.  I had not seen this type of labeled pitcher before and they were almost all in brown with a sponge ware affect.  You can be sure that I will look for these from now on!  I love the size and colors and the history -- wonder how many I have passed up because I didn't know what I was looking at?  And if you are in the area, the food was delicious and they had hundreds of unique spices and edible things for sale.  The fudge was tempting but we were good and left it for someone else to enjoy.   I had a great time and hope that she did too!

Sunday, November 17

Santa of the month

In 1991, I found a book of patterns for Santa's representing each month of the year. I have been collecting Santa's for years so I got the bright idea to make them and allow myself only a month to compete each one.  That way, when I finished one it would be hung for the coming month and I would always have one ready to replace it.  Sounded reasonable at the time!  As I worked practically non-stop to get each one done, I did little else -- laundry, cleaning, cooking -- no, no and no.  But the Santa's were cute!  And it didn't hurt that each picture had hearts incorporated in the design -- I love hearts!  Another collection yet to be shown.

Since Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, it seemed like the perfect time to share this with you.  Santa is giving thanks before his holiday dinner.  It is worked in counted cross-stitch done on ivory Aida cloth #14.  I completed this piece on 19 November 1991 -- being slightly anal retentive (or maybe it's just OCD), I signed and dated each one as I finished it!

I will post one at the beginning of each month until I have shown all of them.  The Christmas Santa will replace this one in my home on 1 December and is usually the first decoration I put up for the holidays.  Enjoy!  And have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

Wednesday, November 13

Victorian Christmas lights

Back in the day, Christmas trees were lit with glass candle holders officially called Victorian illumination lights.  Most of these were from England and made during the early 1880's.  Because of the fire hazard, they were only lit for Christmas Eve.

The lights were made in beautiful colors -- some out of milk glass and others clear.  My father collected these and I am now the happy owner of 11 of these lights.  Daddy used tree lights on a string and placed a few inside each glass which made the colors show up and cast shadows all over the room.  Mine hang year round and are displayed where the sunlight can reflect the colors.  I love the history of these "fairy lights", their age and the fact that my dad enjoyed them so much.  He put the wires on these and I have left them there as part of their history for my daughter who will own them one day.  As with some of the other glass items that I posted previously, these are not as primitive as many of my things but I really appreciate their beauty and artistry.

Fast forward 120 years and some genius has invented the small battery operated votive lights -- I place one inside each of these antique "fairy lights" and they glow for over 24 hours and are completely safe!

I look for these at every antique show, shop or flea market that I go to but rarely find them.  They were fragile and easily broken and perhaps were damaged trying to store them from year to year.  I can't imagine the number of homes that must have had fires from these candles hanging on the branches of dry trees.  Scary!

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Saturday, November 9

Grayslake Antique Market

I woke up today to beautiful sunshine and since we have snow comin' in a few days, decided this was the perfect time to go to the Grayslake Antique Market and see all the Christmas items that would be available.  After an hour to of playing "dodge-car" with idiot drivers who all seemed to be on the roads today and a lot of construction, I got there to find a very full parking lot and winds so strong and blustery that I had to be careful how I opened the car door so it wouldn't lose a leg! There were a few booths set up outside but the dealers were having trouble keeping their items from blowing over and/or away and damaging their wares.

Most dealers were inside the large armory-type building so it was much more pleasant for all of us.  There was really something for everyone.  I was sort of surprised by the lack of high end antiques but there were a few things -- very little furniture, nothing that appealed to my primitive taste but lots of jewelry, collectible glassware, dishes including several really nice turkey platters, used clothing that was supposedly vintage but just looked used to me, several booths that were selling specialty food items and many, many vintage Christmas things.

My son collects WWII memorabilia and I was able to find several things for him for Christmas and his birthday.  Can't show you because his girlfriend reads my blog and I don't want to spoil the surprise!  I also got a few things for her -- keepin' her guessing.

I love the old hardware -- wheels, bedsprings, hinges, doorknobs, ceiling tiles, fencing, gates and old barn wood.

The turkey platters and sets of dishes really caught my eye but I have limited space and more than enough to fill what I have without buying more!  I have lived my entire life without a special platter to serve turkey on once or twice a year so guess I can continue to do so.  My white ironstone collection works just fine for any and every holiday -- makes life much simpler.  Oh yeah, I did buy several of the really huge Ponderosa pine comes from norther California -- plan to use them on the mantle like trees.  Will have to see if that will actually work out like I have it pictured in my mind.  Time will tell.

Friday, November 8

Victorian glass

I mentioned earlier that I am the product of collectors -- my parents and grandparents collected a large variety of things from heavy hand carved Victorian furniture to fine china, some primitive furniture to B&O railroad dishes, baskets to crocks and on and on and on . . . they were also "savers" probably from necessity more than the idea of saving a treasure from a distant relative.  I am so fortunate to now be the "keeper" of these precious items and will one day pass them on to my own children and grandchildren.

Growing up, I spent every summer living with my maternal grandparents in SW Virginia.  Grandaddy had made brackets for glass shelves that ran the entire distance of their sun porch where they displayed the beautiful Victorian glassware that they collected.  They didn't have a lot of money so I know that some of these things came from a local 2nd hand store or maybe gifts from family members or friends.  This aqua blue glass epergne was my dad's favorite piece and when my grandparents home was sold after their deaths, daddy selected this to keep and pass on to me someday.  It is now in my home and I love it even though it is very different from the primitive items that my husband and I collected for so many years.  This epergne is from circa 1880 and was used as a centerpiece to hold fruit, flowers or sweets.

My other grandmother had a very thoughtful father who gave each of his daughters a special gift when they turned 16 years old.  He picked it out himself and it was just from him to his girls.  This bowl was my grandmothers presented to her in 1900 and was made by the New Martinsville Glass Company which opened that year.  The colors are beautiful and change in depth with the light.  I know that she treasured this for so many years and now I am able to do the same thing.  I have seen only one other one like this and it was in pink and yellow and featured at the West Virginia Glass Museum.

Another piece from the home of my Virginia grandparents -- a blue milk glass decanter with stopper than also dates from the 1880's.  The color is wonderful and it is in excellent condition for it's age (which I could say the same!).  I have all three of these beautiful pieces of glassware in my bedroom and I find comfort knowing that these were part of my childhood as well as that of my parents.  Thanks for letting me share these with you.

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Thursday, October 31

Trick or Treat!

Ghosts and Goblins and Witches, oh my!  Remember how excited you used to get at least a month or more before Halloween?  We spent more time deciding what our costume would be than we did doing homework!  I remember going as a hobo one year and my mom cooked spaghetti in old coffee and then put it in a used tin can so it looked like worms.  Now, of course, I wonder why a hobo would be carrying a can of worms but back then it made perfect sense.  And our costumes were made at home from all kinds of silly things -- daddy's old tie, his socks on our hands for puppets, lots of makeup on our lips and cheeks, long skirts that belonged to an older sister, short pants from a younger brother, shoes that were waaaayyy too big - anything that looked funny and made us laugh. We were so excited about the Halloween party at school where we would get lots of candy and treats from the mom's who would bake for days just so there was enough to go around.  And the costume parade!

We never worried about what we would get from the neighbors for treats -- no one ever thought about hurtin' a child by putting razor blades in an apple or adding drugs to the candy.  But things have changed so much -- even the containers used to collect candy.  I love the vintage paper-mache pumpkins that I once used.  Now they are so expensive in the shops but they have such appeal.  The ones shown here are reproductions but they certainly bring back great memories.  And if I am old enough to remember what is now "vintage" then I guess that makes me "vintage" too.  Better than being just plain old I guess!  The photo in the center is a sap bucket that has been made to look like a Jack-O-Lantern.  For years it has burned brightly on Halloween night to welcome the kids from the neighborhood. Be safe and enjoy the time with your children -- you are making memories with them that they (and you) will remember for many years to come. Trick or Treat!

Friday, October 25

Chair caning

When my father retired, he needed something to occupy his time so he decided to learn how to cane chairs.  He and my mother collected antiques for their entire married life (63 years) and would often find a chair or bench that needed to be repaired -- trying to find a craftsman who could do authentic caning was no easy task!  Daddy thought that since there seemed to be a need for this he would try to fill the void.  He rapidly learned this dying art form and soon the antique dealers in their area were calling him to repair things that they wanted to sell in their shops. His reputation soon grew and before long, he practically had a full time job caning and refinishing chairs.

This antique rocker is a real treasure for me -- not only did my dad do the caning, he did it in a very unique and unusual Star Cane pattern.  The photo in the supper right corner is the trial sample board he made to see how it would work out. When caning is done with individual reed spline, you have to consider the width of the spline as well as the number of holes that go around the edge of the area that you are caning.  Guess those math skills I thought were useless really do come in handy!

The picture on the left above shows the underside of the caning -- notice that there are no loose ends -- each is woven in tightly.  When you are looking at a chair that has caning, turn it over to see the back or underside -- that will show you if it is really caned with individual reeds or if it has been done with the sheet caning that you just place into a grooved area on the top of the chair.  When you look at the bottom you won't see the woven ends if it is the sheet type of caning. And that will definitely affect the price of the piece.

I am so grateful to have the many chairs that my dad did for me.  This is the only one with the Star pattern -- the others all have the traditional caning style.  He made some miniature chairs too for my mom's bear collection.  I have 5 of them and will show them in a later post.

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Thursday, October 24

Soybean harvest

It's harvest time!  Here in north central IL, the soybeans and corn have reached their maximum growing time and the weather has cooperated so farmers are busy bring in their crops.  Believe it or not, but the simple little soybean probably affects your life on a daily basis.  I thought it might be interesting and informative for you to see the product from beginning to end.  So much of a farmers life depends on the weather and they certainly have no control over that.  Crops can't be planted until the fields are dry enough so that their huge tractors don't become stuck in the field.  As happened this year, after the crops were planted, we had a large amount of rain and many acres needed to be replanted because of flooding. Once planted, usually there is a time during the growing period that fertilizer is added to the soil.  The typical growing period is about 5 months from planting to harvest and the average acre will produce 40-50 bushels of soybeans.

When I see crops growing I always zone in on the amount of weeds in the field.  Maybe it's my slightly obsessive-compulsive personality?  Have no clue but its what grabs my attention.  We have a man who farms our acreage who has super clean fields -- no weeds in sight!  Soybeans grow to be about 24-36" in height and are planted very close together.  The beans grow in pods and each pod contains 2, 3 or 4 beans.  The pod feels furry when you touch it and it seems to me that the deer don't bother to eat them.

As the beans grow, the leaves and seed pods turn from green to gold and then as the leaves dry and die, the pods are left on the stalk and are ready for harvest.  As the beans are picked, the seeds are extracted from the pod and then stored to dry until they are taken to be sold.

Soy is becoming more popular all the time and the uses are increasing rapidly because of the ease in growing this crop.  We are all familiar with soy sauce, soy milk, tofu and soy baby formula but now there are soy candles, biodiesel, crayons, hydraulic fluid to name a few.  They are also used for livestock feed.  Not to mention they are a great source of protein and cholesterol free.  Works for me!

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Thursday, October 17

Log cabin home

We were so fortunate to be able to build a wonderful home in the mountains of western North Carolina.   Because of our love for "all things prim", we decided early on that we would design it to showcase our collection of mid-Atlantic primitive antiques.  When we made up our minds to leave southwest Florida and make the move to the mountains, my husband bought me a re-claimed log cabin for my birthday.  And thus began our journey into design, re-purpose, recycle and reuse.

The cabin is circa 1820 from Alamance County, NC and made of hand hewn American Chestnut.  It was originally what was called a "story and a half cabin" and measured 16x20 feet.  There was a stairway that went to the loft but the stairs were missing when we found it.  No flooring -- it used to be dirt!  The fireplace was missing too but we didn't care about that.  We had the door open into the house with a dog-trot so that the wall of the cabin could be seen from inside the house.

We used reclaimed wood from a home in eastern Tennessee for the flooring in both the cabin and the dog-trot and for the cabin ceiling with beams from the same home.  The dry stack fireplace was done on site and the mantle was cut from one of the bottom logs of the cabin that had some dry-rot from sitting directly in the ground for so many years.  The chinking was done by a local man who grew up huntin' on the mountain and was thrilled to be part of this process.  In order for the cabin to pass code the logs were split and framing placed between with the wiring, HVAC, and 6" of insulation.  It sure gave me some nice wide window sills for display!  The end of the logs were left intact so you had no idea that any of those things were even there.

The picture next to the front door is of my great-great-great grandmother from southwestern Virginia.  The dog-trot and cabin connect to the main portion of the house as you can see.  Our flooring was wide plank heart pine reclaimed from an old bleach factory from the late 1800's that still had many of the screw holes and marks from the machinery which we thought added so much character to the feel of our home.

Our great room/dining room connected to the keeping kitchen.  The home was supposed to look as if the cabin had been there since pioneer times and as the family grew and prospered, the home had grown as well.  Therefore, I didn't want appliances to distract from that feeling so we had a cabinet maker build what I called the cook center (the blue cabinet on the left of the above photo).  The doors opened and inside was the range and microwave plus shelving for pots and pans and all the spices and oils needed for my limited cooking skills.  Our builder had a little fun with us and made the vent for the stove to look like an old stove pipe -- we loved it!  The frig was built into the red cabinet shown on the right corner of the picture and both gave me great display areas for all the collections.  The ladder hanging over the island that contained the sink, dishwasher and trash, was from my husband's family farm and he and his dad used to climb this to pick apples.  It was handmade and not sure if my father-in-law made it or if his father-in-law did but I love the history and the look.  We had 2 hanging lights coming through the ladder rungs that provided plenty of task lighting.  I filled the ladder with things I love -- baskets, gourds I grew, an old egg basket from a farm in Virginia, a corn dryer from my husband's farm, old wooden spoons and mashers, an enamel cream can, and many things that were changed out for different seasons and the holidays.  The ceiling and beams were wormy chestnut that is very hard to find but was exactly what my husband wanted.  The American Chestnut trees became extinct during the very beginning of the 1900's from disease.  We didn't use any traditional cabinets but instead used a great old pie safe, a pot-belly table, a school masters desk and a 3 shelf display piece that I used for jars that contained sugar, flour, coffee, etc.  There was a large pantry just next to the kitchen so I had lots of storage.  The top of the island and the farm sink were custom made of Vermont soapstone.

The hallway going from the keeping kitchen to the garage was finished with old reclaimed barn siding and we used a traditional barn door slide for the coat closet door.  The powder room was next to the garage door and contained a sink made out of my mother-in-laws metal pan that she used to wash dishes in.  We had the cabinet custom made to fit into the corner and be the right size for the sink.  I got the antique mirror from my dad and we used a single-tree from the farm to hang it from the ceiling.  I did the wall stenciling using 3 different shades of green stain.  The hand towels are hanging from a wooden cottage cheese rake that we found in Wisconsin years ago.  The old white enamel "slop bucket" for used hand-towels.  All of the paint colors are from buttermilk paint but I had them matched at a local paint shop to make a more durable paint that would better hold up to every day use, our golden retriever, visiting grandchildren and grand-dogs.  We also used only hardware that was suitable for a home in the 1850's and the all light switches were push-button just like the first ones were when homes became electrified.

This was and is a great house.  It is currently being rented out until I can find a buyer but I miss this home and my husband and the golden that I was so lucky to share it with.

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