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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