Tuesday, December 30

Happy New Year!

To all my family and friends, old and new, I wish you a very healthy, safe and Happy New Year!  My dad collected antique Victorian greeting cards -- these are from the 1880's and this is the perfect time to share 'em with y'all.

Monday, December 22

Primitive country Christmas in the suburbs

Merry Christmas y'all!  It's been a long time since my last post but I figured better late than never with my holiday decorations this year.  I wanted to go all natural and decided to use only handmade ornaments (some by me, some purchased from local artisans) and highlight my collections of crocks, Santa's and ironstone.  Lots of raffia, twine, burlap and homespun ribbons.  My continuing love affair with all things primitive is alive and well as the photos will show.

Have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends and don't forget the cookies and milk for Santa!

Tweak-It-Tuesday #121

Friday, September 19

Natural fall mantle make-over

I don't know where the time goes but it's fall already!  So time to spice the place up with a little fall color and decor.  I always start with the mantle and spread out from there.  This year I thought I would stay with the white tones to enhance some of my ironstone collection using as many natural things as I could find.  We have a terrific pumpkin farm not too far away so as soon as they opened for the season, I was there!  White pumpkins and gourds, corn from our own farm, dry twigs from a dead fall in the woods, a few dried gourds that I grew years ago and some early bittersweet.  In full disclosure, the cotton stems are artificial.  I guess the Halloween decorations come next.  Enjoy!

Show and Tell Friday

Wednesday, September 3

September Santa

Another month -- another Santa!  This time he is the crossing guard for the children going back to school.  Great colors and so much fun to stitch.  As with all my others in this series, it is done on #14 Aida cloth in counted cross stitch.  One more to go next month and then you will have seen the entire collection.  Thanks for lookin'!

Wow Us Wednesday #185

Saturday, August 16

Golfing Santa -- August

Ok, it's the middle of the month and I completely forgot to take down my 4th of July Santa and hang the August Santa!  Where is my mind?  Trust me, it isn't on the golf course -- not my thing.  I would rather be stitching another counted cross stitch piece or a needlepoint ornament for Christmas or even completing the sweater I'm working on.  Hope y'all enjoy this -- only a few more to go and then you will have seen the entire collection of my calendar Santa's.

Monday, July 28

Ginger Beer

Today, I went to a friend's home to help her with a computer problem (a minor one because I am no expert!).  After we resolved the issue with her files, she asked me if I would like to see the large collection of ginger beer bottles that her husband had been gathering over a long period of time.  No way I was going to turn down that invitation!  I was absolutely blown away when I walked into the room that housed this huge assortment of crockery bottles most of them dating from the mid to late 1800's and mostly from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. They number 518 in total and are all catalogued, inventoried and displayed beautifully in custom made shelving units.  He told me that he had started looking for these out of boredom and it just kept growing.  You meet someone with the same interest and they connect you to someone else with that same obsession and so on and so on until before you realize it, you have amassed something spectacular!  Can you imagine the time, energy, miles of travel, dedication and money it took to reach this point?

I was told that there were times when they found these all over the British Isles and carried as many as 18 back in a duffel bag to get them home safely.  That is pure dedication.  Or obsession.  Or passion!

Ginger beer was a strong soft drink often consumed by workers at their lunch hour.  It was packaged in the brown stone crock bottles that originally had no markings but in the mid 1800's the bottles became lighter in color and they began marking them with the names of the company and often with the town where it was made.  Often times it was mixed with an alcoholic ale and was called "shandygaff".

The bottle on the left is the most expensive in the collection and cost $180 at the time of purchase.  The large jug on the right still contains its wooden spout -- the individual bottles could be refilled from this large bottle which probably held about 2 gallons.  The stone crocks helped to keep the liquid cool and when empty, many were just tossed aside.  Now they are found buried in the ground, cleaned and valued greatly by collectors.  My description and photos don't do this collection justice but I was so impressed with the shear number of bottles that I wanted to share it with you.  I was told that at some point in the near future, the owner will begin to sell these to others who share his love of something so simple and utilitarian.  I hate to think of this collection being split up but so many others will be able to enjoy a part of it and begin their own passion.

Thursday, July 3

4th of July Santa

Three cheers for the red, white and blue!  Santa and his helpers are raising the flag to celebrate the 4th of July and the birth of our nation.  This is just another in my series of monthly Santa counted cross stitch pictures that I made on #14 Aida cloth.  Thanks for lookin' and Happy Birthday America!

Sunday, June 29

On Turning 70!

I always knew that someday I was going to get old but it seemed so far away.  I'm still not sure where the time went but yesterday was the day I turned the Big 70.  Here's hopin' it's the new 50!  I don't feel any different.  I used to think that 70 was ancient -- after all my grandmother was 70 and she was really old!!!  At least I thought so when I was a kid.  Most days I feel about 32 which is a long way from 70 so this is going to be a new experience for sure.  I had a friend call last night to ask me how it feels to be so old (she's 4 months older than me so can get away with that).  She told me that when she turned 70 she bought a calculator to check the numbers because she just didn't believe it.  No matter how she manipulated the numbers her age was always 70 she threw the calculator away!

I have the best children -- thoughtful and caring and very generous.  They have been planning on a birthday "bash" since Christmas because to quote my daughter, "How often does a gal turn 70?"  She flew in from NC for the week-end, we went to a favorite Italian restaurant for lunch after I picked her up at the airport, then went to the family farm where her brother, his girlfriend and my 2 young grandsons were waiting for us.  The boys had blown up balloons, decorated the house with banners, made cards (the absolute best kind from a grandchild!) and had presents and a cake.  Dinner was delicious and the cake yummy.  The oldest grandson, age 7, has always called me MA as does his 5 year old brother.

Thoughtful and generous presents including a photo of the barn during the winter that was transferred to canvas and a quilt that my daughter made containing 70 squares.  They thought of everything!

If you are fortunate enough to celebrate your 70th birthday, don't dread it -- embrace it with enthusiasm and joy because you have reached a wonderful milestone.  You have seen your children grow into valued adults who are contributing to society in a positive way.  You have seen them marry and have children of their own and now you can watch your beautiful grandchildren grow and develop with such innocence and wonder in their eyes.  They love you unconditionally and make your heart swell with love and pride each time you are lucky enough to see 'em and give them a hug and kiss.  I can never thank my family enough for caring so much.  Family is the greatest gift of all!!!

Sunday, June 1


Ok, summer has finally arrived and Santa is taking a well-deserved break and heading to the beach!  Sounds like a plan.  This is another in my series of counted cross stitch monthly Santa's that I stitched on 14 Aida cloth.  How cute is the reindeer float he is wearing?  And I love the flip-flops.  I get to enjoy part of my Santa collection all year long.

Sunday Showcase #245

Tuesday, May 13

Knitting is a way of life

Southern girls learn to knit and sew at a very early age.  Mothers teach their daughters what their mothers taught them.  It was no different for me.  I was sewing by the age of 12 and learned to knit when I started high school.  My first sweater was a bright yellow cardigan with a leaf pattern going up both sides of the front by the banding for the buttons and buttonholes.  As I look back at it, that was a really complicated pattern for a beginner!  When I went away to school some of my classmates wanted me to teach them how to knit -- one was left-handed and I taught her by knitting in front of a mirror.  When she watched me in the mirror it was just as she needed it to look -- it was either that or I had to learn to do it in a way that seemed backward to me!  When my own daughter was in high school she asked me to teach her how to knit.  Honestly, I didn't think it was something she would ever do but boy, was I wrong!  She not only enjoyed it but has turned knitting into an art form!  She develops her own patterns, combines techniques and patterns to create beautiful and unique pieces.  She always has about half a dozen projects going and never leaves home without something to knit in her "bag of tricks".  I give you this background not to brag about my abilities -- far from it! I want you to understand that I now go to my child for help with my own projects.

The 3rd week-end of October each year, there is a fiber festival in western NC that has the most beautiful handmade items on display, yarns that are hand dyed and spun, sheep shearing so that you can see the process from start to finish, anything and everything related to knitting for sale and a plethora of yarns to buy. Therein lies the problem.  You see all this gorgeous yarn in every color and shade under the rainbow and want everything you see!  The dealers are there to help you with selections and answer questions about weight of wool or yarn for the item you are creating in your head as you walk through the building.  Several years ago I spotted a bin of wool yarn in a soft aqua (my favorite color) and of course stood there with my feet frozen to the floor.  Total inertia took over and I had to have that yarn!  No way I was leaving without it.  So, I bought 15 skeins because I wasn't sure what I wanted to make with it but knew that I didn't want to run out!  This was definitely a case where "less is more" was not the mantra of the day!

Okay, I found the pattern that I wanted to make with the wool I bought and began working on it with so much enthusiasm that I could barely contain myself!  But not long after I began, it all came to a crashing halt when I moved from western NC back to the Chicago area and I was having renovations done on my new home. For months, the frig was in the dining room, I had no kitchen at all to work out of and the bathrooms were being done one at a time so I didn't have to rent a "PortaPotty". Juggling what seemed to be too many balls in the air at one time, I realized that the extra yarn I needed was in a trunk under all the new kitchen cabinets, wood trims, and tool boxes.  Thus, no knitting.  Once I got my home back in order, the sweater project sat in a bag next to the sofa so I had to see it on a daily basis.  Guilt finally won out and I was back knitting again.  However, when I got to the sleeves, I was stumped at the decreases and had to pack up what I had finished and send it to my daughter back in NC so that she could try to figure it out for me.  And she did!!!  So here is the completed sweater with vintage buttons that I wanted but thought I would never find in the right color.  It was knit in the round so no seams to put together.  I used US7 and US5 circular needles to get the proper gauge.

Tweak It Tuesday #89

Sunday, May 11

Sandwich Antique Show -- Happy Mother's Day to me!!!

Yes, it's Mother's Day and I know most moms would rather be out for a nice dinner or a BBQ with their kids and grandbabies but for some of us, a few hours of antiquing is the way to our hearts!  So today, I was lucky enough to be accompanied by my son's girlfriend and we went to the first antique show of the season held in Sandwich, IL.  They do this one Sunday a month from May thru October and today was the day!

Because of my primitive sensibilities, I love the patina of wood, rust, crocks, farm implements, pantry boxes, firkins, tin, pewter - utilitarian pieces that have generations of use complete with all the scratches, burn marks and dents.

The sun was shining, the temperatures were warm and it was a great way to spend part of the day.  Plus I found out we have another collector in the family! How cool is that?   And my bargain of the day?  This "little brown jug" marked $38 that I walked away with for $10.

Sunday, May 4

Spring showers bring May SANTA!

It's finally spring and as the old saying' goes, "Spring showers bring spring flowers".  Well, in this case it is bringing a May Santa.  This is another in my monthly Santa's done in counted cross stitch on #14 Aida cloth in cream.  Santa is carrying a May Basket (remember those?) with a pot of flowers and small bunny at his feet.  Santa's and hearts -- 2 of my favorite things to collect!  Y'all enjoy.

Sunday Showcase Party #243

Friday, April 18

Happy Easter

Easter is finally here!  After a very long, cold and snowy winter, we are now looking forward to the awakening of spring bulbs and flowering trees.  In the Chicago area, the jonquils have broken through the frozen ground but not blooming yet.  Neither are the redbud or flowering crab.  Everything is later than normal.  Even Easter is late this year!  I love this time of the year and am looking forward to my son and his family coming for Easter dinner.  Because I have 2 little grandsons age 5 and 7,  I wanted to have things decorated to make the holiday as special for them as possible.  I have to tell ya that the one thing I got the most excited about this year -- Kool Aid dyed eggs!  Who knew?  One of our granddaughters told me about making hard boiled eggs in the oven using a muffin tin.  Now I have to admit that I thought she was a little nuts but decided to try it and it worked!  Place an egg in each muffin receptacle and cook at 325 degrees for 30 min.  They get some brown spots on them but when you place them in the dye those all disappear.  The colors are wonderful!  So, the table is decorated using my parents collection of Vintage Grape flatware, my grandfather's buttermilk glasses, a set of wine glasses from the 1880's that my dad purchased years ago, some of my white ironstone pieces and a ceramic rabbit that my mom made when I was a little kid.  Lots of memories for me and I hope new ones for my grandchildren.  One of my favorite memories of Easter was the year that my dad chewed up carrots and left a trail throughout the house for me to follow in order to find my basket!  I think I was 5 or 6 at the time.  Happy Easter everyone!
Show and Tell Fridays

Sunday, April 13

Springtime in the South

Just returned from a short trip to Asheville, NC area to check on my home that is for sale there.  I decided to drive this time because I thought the redbud and dogwood would be blooming which makes for a beautiful trip.  And I was right! Lots of things blooming and welcoming the long awaited spring.

Wednesday, April 2

Easter Santa

As a chid, I loved Easter!  The chocolate of course, the fun of dying the eggs and waiting for them to be hidden, and the new outfit to wear to church Easter morning.  Now, it's still the chocolate but I can appreciate the colors of Spring -- the many shades of green from new leaves starting to open, the flowering plants and bulbs that have broken through the ground after a long hard winter.  Oh yes, did I mention the chocolate?
Every month I have been showing you a Santa that I did in counted cross stitch on Aida cloth #14.  This one is so cute because Santa has on his bunny ears and is busy painting and decorating eggs.  A basket of completed eggs sits at his feet and a stuffed bunny watches from a shelf.  One of my favorite patterns in this 12 month set.  Happy Easter!

Thursday, March 20

Update -- NC rustic mountain-top home For SALE

I wanted to give the link to the listing on my home in case you or someone you know is interested.  Spring has arrived and the mountains are full of natural dogwood and there are wildflowers everywhere.  It is located in Fletcher, NC just 13 miles from downtown Asheville and 10 miles from the Biltmore Estate.


Monday, March 17

Miniature chairs

I mentioned a while ago, in an earlier post, that my dad had taken up chair caning when he retired.  He also decided to try and make miniature chairs so that he could experiment with different types of seats such as rush and woven.  My mom had a teddy bear collection so she used these for her bears.  I now have them sitting throughout my home and use them for holiday decorations as well as alone so that the craftsmanship can be seen and appreciated.

He used a lathe to make the backs, legs, arms and stringers and them chose different styles of weaving and reed materials for the seats.  Some were actually measured to fit the size of the bears!

I feel very fortunate to have had such a talented father and am delighted to have these small chairs as a reminder of his creativity.  These were all made about 30 years ago and look as good now as they when he made them!  Thanks, daddy.  I think of you every day when I see these.

Thursday, March 13


Anyone who has known me for more than 10 minutes knows that I am in love with all things chocolate.  I even made a needlepoint pillow about it!  My very favorite is Fannie May dark chocolate butter creams.  YUM!  But it doesn't have to be "good" chocolate -- I am perfectly happy with a Hershey bar, even chocolate chips used for baking eaten right out of the bag.  Godiva is sort of wasted on me because the texture really isn't as creamy as I like.  And I'm sort of a purist -- I am happier if there isn't anything in it especially nuts.  I don't like nuts in fudge or chocolate chip cookies -- why ruin something that is perfect all by it's self?  Easter is a true test for my will-power (or in my case, won't power) -- "I won't have another chocolate covered marshmallow egg" or "I won't have that solid chocolate bunny").  By the way, do you eat the ears first and work down or the tail first and work up?  Just askin'.  One year when our kids were small and about a month or more before Easter, I went to the Fannie May shop and bought all the cute specialty items -- the chocolate nest of green coconut with little jelly beans in the center, the white and milk chocolate solid rabbits, the small chocolate eggs that were cream filled and decorated with flowers -- everything they had so that the Easter baskets would look really pretty.  Several weeks later I realized that the "stash" was completely gone!  My husband didn't care for chocolate, the kids didn't know where I had hidden it and there were no ghosts in the house so it must have been me!  I ate all of their treats!  What kind of mom does that?  Oh right, I'm the kind of mom that does that.  So, I went back and bought more even though the selection wasn't as good.  The real problem reared it's ugly head when I was putting their baskets together the night before "Bunny" day and discovered that there wasn't enough to fill even 1 basket much less 2!  So off I went to Walgreen's and bought whatever they had left on the shelf!  I desperately need to exercise some restraint.  Guess some real exercise wouldn't hurt either!

Tweak It Tuesday

Thursday, March 6

March Santa

Better late than never.  I have been posting the Santa of the Month by the first of each month but this time I am a little late making the post.  Sorry.  But enjoy him anyway -- he is busy fighting the winds of spring.  And spring is coming -- isn't it?

Sunday, March 2

FOR SALE -- our mountain-top rustic home

My husband and I decided to leave SW Florida and move nearer to our children. We chose the Asheville, NC area where they call people like us "half-backs" -- those who want to be near their original homes but who don't want to go back to the frigid weather of winter.  We found a 10 acre piece of land on top of Burney Mountain, just 10 miles from the Biltmore Estate.  We wanted the privacy and beauty of the natural woods but with all the modern touches and the convenience of good shopping, medical care and an airport nearby.  Seemed like a tall order but we found it!

Starting with untouched wooded land, we designed our home to meet our needs and then found a builder willing to take on such an unusual project.  He was very receptive to our wants and desires and considered it a challenge since most new home owners want only the high-end finishes such as granite, stainless steel, very formal lighting fixtures, etc. -- all the things that we did not want!  We had been collecting primitive antiques for our entire married life and this was a great opportunity to showcase them.  My husband bought the re-claimed log cabin for my birthday -- was built circa 1820 in central NC of American Chestnut and we had it relocated to our lot and that was the beginning of our project.  Since I have done so much genealogy on my family and found many cabins of my own ancestors, this was a natural for us.
It took a long time to accomplish our goal but with a lot of research, patience and determination, we had exactly what we wanted.  We were fortunate to connect with a man who owned a sawmill and grew up hunting on our mountain.  He was able to find all the unique products we needed as well as reassemble the cabin and do the chinking.  The floors and beams in the cabin are from a home in eastern Tennessee that was over 125 years old.  The flooring continues into the dog-trot and makes a great transition into the main part of the house.  The stacked stone fireplace was made of stone local to the area and you can see the hooks above the stone where the ever-present rifle would have hung.  When we lived there, my husband had an antique Revolutionary War rifle that was placed there.  We wanted the house to look as if it had started with the original cabin and as the family matured and prospered, the home was extended to meet the needs of a growing family.  The garage was designed to look like the barn.
The floors in the main portion of the house are all reclaimed heart pine from a local bleachery that opened in 1882.  To maintain the integrity of the wood, we decided not to sand out or try to remove any stains or the small holes from machinery that had been screwed into the floors.  We felt it added to the character of our home and was a small tribute to all the people who had worked there for so many years to support their families.  The beams are from a corn crib built in 1844 less than 3 miles from us.  One beam that extends the length of the great room was over 48 feet long and cut to 44 feet to fit into the beams.  That's one tall tree!  The beams are all hand sawn with an adz which was the tool used at that time.   We had the walls textured to look as if they were made with horsehair in the plaster as was done long ago.  All the paint colors are original buttermilk paint colors but I took them to a paint store and had them matched to the paint of today that is washable and more durable.
The keeping kitchen is one of my favorite parts of the home -- I love the informality of it as well as the look of a vintage kitchen.  To hide the appliances, we designed a cook center that hid the stove and microwave and allowed room for all the spices and pots and pans;  the refrigerator has a cabinet built around it;  the dishwasher has a door that is hidden by the cabinetry.  We didn't use any traditional cabinets but rather antique pieces of furniture -- a pot-belly table that used to hold flour and meal but we used it for the aluminum foil, storage bags, waxed paper, etc.  There is a Hoosier-style cabinet and a tall cabinet made with an old screen door that both provided lots of storage.  The tall pie-safe type cabinet hid all of our food staples and there is a large pantry next to the kitchen so plenty of room for portable appliances, food, canned goods, paper supplies, etc.  A center island contains the sink, dishwasher and garbage cans.  There is also an area for 4 barstools so you can visit with family and friends while making dinner.  We chose Vermont soapstone for the counter-top on the island and also for the cook-center. It is a natural product suitable for the time period that we were trying to duplicate. Over the island hangs a old ladder made by either my husband's father or grandfather and was used to pick apples at the farm in Illinois when my husband was a child.  I filled it with gourds that I grew, old baskets and kitchen items from the past.  The ceiling and beams are very old wormy chestnut selected by my husband.
The main level has the cabin, dog-trot, great room, master bedroom and bath, keeping kitchen, pantry, laundry room and powder room with a wrap around porch that is 16-20 feet off the ground.
In addition to the stairway, there is an elevator to the lower walk-out level that contains a family room, a 2nd master bedroom and bath, 2 additional bedrooms, a bath, cedar closet and a large storage closet with shelving.  There is a patio that also wraps around the lower level of the house with a car-port like area that has a power outlet for a golf cart, ATV or 4-wheeler.  The home is wheel-chair accessible with wider doorways, no steps on the main level, 3 doors to the upper porch and a door directly outside on the lower level.  My husband was using an electric scooter while we lived there and he could navigate the entire house.  There are 2 HVAC units each with air filters and humidifiers, a large generator that will work for 5-6 days if the power goes off, a lighting arrester system on the roof, Hardy Plank siding (made with cement) and a tin roof for protection in the woods. All the exterior walls are 6 inches thick instead of the traditional 4 inches for extra insulation making this a very energy efficient home. And it's all about the view!
When my husband passed away, I stayed here for 2 years alone and decided that I needed to come back to the Chicago area to be near children, grandchildren and old friends -- my support system was here and I really needed that.  After having renters, I have decided that now is the time to sell our home and hope that someone else will enjoy it as much as we did and can appreciate all the energy and love that we put into it.  Winter is mild -- spring is long and beautiful -- summer is not humid and very few bugs -- fall is long and colorful.  The woods are full of rhododendron, wild dogwood, bittersweet and many wildflowers.  The birds are plentiful and we watched over 3 dozen different species on a daily basis.  there are deer and wild turkey that walk around as if they owned the place!  This is a great home and is only 13 miles from downtown Asheville, 12 miles from the airport and Mission Hospital and shopping in all directions.  It is located in Fletcher, NC and listed with Century21.  As soon as the link is available, I will post it so that you can see the entire listing.

Here is the listing for this home:  be sure to scroll to the bottom for the photos http://www.wncrmls.com/wnc/maildoc/hodgson_1395257016-Mar-19-2014-3_23_36pm.html

Wow Us Wednesday #159   Show and Tell Friday