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"