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.

Sharing with Furniture Fridays, Tweak It Tuesday #62

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.

Sharing this with Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

Sunday, October 13

Sandwich time . . .

Another beautiful fall day in Illinois and it seemed the best way to spend it was to go to the Sandwich Antique Show -- the last of the year.  This is a long running show and we have bought some great pieces of furniture there in the past.  Over the last few years, word was that it had become more of a mediocre flea market than antique show and since we were living out of state, it had been 10 years since we last attended.  I am so glad that I went back today to give it another try because it was a very up-scale show with dealers from all over the mid-west -- many with primitive items -- my favorite!    While many of the prices were high, the quality was good and the selections were better than I can usually find in our local shops.  The show is under new management so things will continue to improve and the dealers that I spoke with seemed very happy about the changes.

I was on the hunt for another salt-glazed crock with the stinger design and I was lucky enough to find one!  I already have the 3 Gal. and 4 Gal. size so wanted something different and here is my find of the day.

This was made by the Minnesota Stoneware Company and was the forerunner of Red Wing Pottery.  I think this was made late 1880's early 1890's and was used as a field jug taking water to the farmers and their helpers working in the fields and bringing in the harvest.  I love that the number and bee with stinger are hand painted and have survived for over 120 years.

Wonder how many more sizes I can find to add to my collection?  I love the hunt!

Thursday, October 10

Tracin' the tree roots . . .

As some of y'all may have guessed, part of the title of my blog refers to my long time addiction to genealogy -- and believe me, it is an addiction!  I have been doing family research for over 30 years and if anyone had told me that I would still be doing this after all these years I would have figured they were crazy and should be committed to a home somewhere!  But I was wrong (not the first time I might add) and have come to understand that the more you know the more you want to find.  You begin to fill in the names, dates and places and before long, it is not acceptable to have any blank spaces.  You want to learn everything you can about these people -- how they lived, where they came from, who they were related to, could they read or write, and one of my favorites -- how in the heck did those poor women have 10, 12, even 15 kids with no epidurals!!!  I would have made a terrible pioneer woman -- I like all the creature comforts.  I have never been camping because where would I plug in my hairdryer or charge my phone?

When I was a very young child, my Granny would drive all over the southwestern part of Virginia and tell me about all the ancestors -- only problem was instead of just talking about them or pointing to their house, she would point the car in the direction of the house/farm/store/church and I was so scared of the rapidly approaching mailbox or fence post that I barely heard anything she said.  Much less remembered any of it!  She was the Regent of her DAR Chapter and very active in both the DAR and the UDC (United Daughters of the Confederacy).  On my 2nd birthday, she gave me a book about my ancestors -- now I ask you, who in their right mind would do that to a little kid?  However, I still have that book which has been out of print for many years and it is a treasure.  Many researchers have asked me to make copies of certain pages of their own research which I am happy to do.  Moral of that story -- listen to your elders.

When I began to seriously search for my family lines, I just wanted to know what countries they came from and when they arrived in the US.  Little did I know that I would go back to 1624 when my earliest ancestor on one line came here from England (my husband said "What, they missed the damn boat?").  Okay, so I can't get back to The Mayflower -- yet -- but I still may.  Never give up hope.  As with many other things in life, researching your family history is always a work in progress.  After all these years, I am still finding new things, new distant relatives, new photos, new connections.

I decided to follow in my grandmother's footsteps and join the DAR.  I assumed that I would be accepted under the same ancestor that she was, but I sent in another line at the same time and that one became my Patron for admission.  I woke up one night with the idea that I should do a needlepoint flag that would be a replica of the 1776 flag and stitch the names of my 4th, 5th and 6th great grandfathers who fought in the Revolutionary War.  I was amazed to find that there are currently 32 of them that I have proven.  You will notice that the bottom of the flag is not done because I am still finding out new data that takes me back another generation on some of my lines so I want to be able to add more names as I find and prove my decendency from them.  The close up photo is of my grandmothers Regent pin from the years she was head of her Chapter of the DAR.  It has her name on the back and the name of her Patron on the front.  I had to barter a pair of milk glass lamps with my cousin to get this but she had no interest in genealogy and I did so we made the trade.  I never liked those lamps anyway.

After working on the DAR flag, I felt that I needed to honor my Civil War ancestors as well so I designed this flag from that period.  The buttons on the tabs are actual Civil War buttons found in digs in Virginia at some of the battlefields there.  I have one great-grandfather and two great-great grandfathers who were in the Confederate Army.  The one pictured here with his pistol was a Chaplain and a POW for 11 months.

I am honored to say that I have had a 6th great grandfather who fought in the French and Indian War, at least 32 great-grandfathers who were in the Revolutionary war, about that same number who were in the War of 1812, the 3 from the Civil war, a grandfather who fought in the Spanish-American War, a great-uncle in WWI, my dad was in WWII and I was in the  service during the Viet Nam war.  Finding all this military history has been fascinating and rewarding and I am so grateful for my family "roots".

If you see a name that might connect to you -- contact me!  I am always looking for new information in hopes of finding that one missing piece of the puzzle that will give me answers to questions that sometimes I didn't even know had.

Wednesday, October 9

Boo everybody!

The inside of my home is all decorated for fall and waiting for my 2 little grandsons to come for a visit. When I moved to the condo from our home in NC (that included a 1820's log cabin), I decided to go for a more updated look and change things a little -- less primitive and more traditional.  My intentions were good but it only worked for a few months.  Soon I was missing my favorite prims and needed to change things back to what I really love.  I began collecting salt glazed crocks again, baskets and many other things that make my heart sing and here is the result so far.  I am still looking for some things (as with every collector, the hunt is the best part and never ends!) and will probably have my new chairs recovered to a more suitable fabric that blends better with my antique coverlets from my great-great grandmother and the muddy colors that I love.  Collecting is always a work in progress and my home is a perfect example of that.  I am always tweaking to change the look and enjoy seeing things in a new way.  Enjoy the tour of my fall home.

I have no idea what these little pumpkin plants are called but I found them at a local nursery and liked them instantly.  You have to keep them in water which I am doing so will be interested to see how long they will last.  Anyone know the name of these?

I love the crocks with the hand painted bee stinger and will be on the look-out for more of these on Sunday when I go to the Sandwich Antique Show.

Bittersweet has been really hard to come by this season.  The man who always comes up from Indiana and sells it by the side of the road has about 1/3 of what he normally has and said that his sources have been destroyed because so many feel it is a weed (which I guess it is) and a nuisance so they are spraying to kill it.  Don't they understand how much we need this for our fall decorations? It is soooo messy but that's just the price you pay for beauty.

If you read my earlier post of my finds at the flea market in Elkhorn, WI, I told you that I'd let y'all know what I decided to do with the rake head I found.  I added some bittersweet, a burlap bow and some twine then hung it off an old tobacco dryer in the dining room.  So much for the traditional look!
Hope you enjoyed the tour -- y'all come back now, ya hear?

Sharing with Wow It Wednesday

Friday, October 4

At the end of the rainbow . . .

Yesterday, while on my way to get my hair cut, it began to pour rain -- however the sun was shining to the west but the sky was dark to the east.  I had to stop the car to try and capture this beautiful double rainbow!  If I were superstitious I would have run as fast as possible to buy a lottery ticket!  Who knows, maybe there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Tuesday, October 1

It's all about the candy!

Where I come from, candy corn is a fall staple -- one of the 4 basic food groups.  However, we always had it mixed with Spanish peanuts so you had the "sweet and salty thing" goin' on.  No one in this area heard of that until I took it in to work one day last fall.  Now it is a huge hit!  Guess we had a different take on things -- just like we always had mayonnaise on our burgers and coleslaw on top of the pulled pork BBQ.  What's so strange about that?