Sunday, December 20, 2015

Old Christmas Postcards...

  Years ago , actually thirteen to be exact, I started collecting old Christmas postcards. I was in Pennsylvania, at my parents farm with my brothers and sisters, sitting with my dear mother, while she lay dying of cancer. To say it was a sad, painful time would be an understatement. My sister and I drove into town one day to buy decorations for my mother's room. We were trying to give her a bit of Christmas even though no one was in the mood. I walked into a little shop and saw some cards on a table. They were old and I thought really wonderful. My Mother loved antiques and anything from the past , so I picked out a few and bought them. She loved them. We decorated her mantle so she could see it with greens and I placed the cards on top. It made her happy. Four days after Christmas , she passed away. After, I took the cards and brought them home and placed them on my own mantle. They remind me of her and how much she enjoyed them. My Mother was the best person I know, and her love of old houses and ways of things was passed to me. I think of her everyday and when I am doing something in my house , like decorating for Christmas, I think about what she would have done.  Her influence is great!

The middle one is a favorite, and I think late 19th century.

  I continued collecting the postcards. The ones I especially love were made around the turn of the 20th century. Did I say that right? From 1900 to about 1910. The graphics are wonderful and bright. Some of the cards, I found in shops and others I got on ebay. They are fun to collect and very affordable. My favorites are the ones made in Germany. Some have writing on the back and it is interesting to see where the cards ended up . I've even researched a couple that had names and addresses on them.  I am hooked for sure and I bet once you start looking at them , you will be too.

                     Merry Christmas everyone !

Saturday, December 19, 2015

 ~Merry Christmas Everyone and a Happy New Year! ~



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sylvie makes friends!

Sandy's little wooden doll named Sylvie, made fast friends with Eugenia , Rupert and Elena.
They wanted to show her around and so they climbed to the highest place to survey the scene.

Mr. Clock was very accommodating.....

Special! Christmas cards for sale!

See our New Holiday Cards!

Limited Offer.  Buy Now on my blog.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sandy comes for a visit!

Sandy on the rocks

 Friday, my friend Sandy came for a visit. She lives in North Chatham, New York, which is a small town in upstate New York.  We spent the weekend doing things that both of us love to do. First thing we did was take a walk to the beach near my house. It was a beautiful day, so we took our lunch along and sat on the rocks looking out at the water and the lighthouse. So nice....

The lighthouse

 Saturday we went to my friend, Claudia Hopf's house, in Kennebunk Maine, for the annual Christmas open house. Claudia does beautiful Scherenschnitte , (paper cutting) and her son Perry , makes beautiful paint grained boxes and frames, ( Perry also makes incredible period frames). Kennebunk is a wonderful New England town, full of history and charm. There are wonderful houses from the 18th and 19th century. It is one of my favorite places.We spent a couple hours walking around looking at all the goods for sale. We both came out of the house carrying bags!

Claudia Hopf's house, circa 1830, Kennebunk, Maine

Our next stop was also in Kennebunk.  It is called Snug Harbor Farm, where they sell beautiful topiaries. Running around free were chickens of all kinds, happily pecking the ground. Snug Harbor also had some rare birds and a gorgeous peacock , that I tried to take a picture of but couldn't get a good shot of him.  The best part of course was looking into the greenhouses full of topiaries.  All shapes and sizes, and different types of plants.  Sandy came out of the greenhouse with a new canary! They also sell birds and had several canaries for sale. "Mr. Jefferson" was our campanion for the rest of the day. He was very well behaved.
Snug Harbor Farm, Kennebunk, Maine

The gift shop

Hen house? I love this building!

Greenhouse with topiaries....heavenly!

 After a nice lunch in Kittery, we went on through Portsmouth, New Hampshire , another of my very favorite places, to Newcastle, New Hampshire. Newcastle is just over a little causeway from Portsmouth and in the 18th and 19th centuries was a little fishing hamlet. Very charming, with little capes and windy streets. My friend Sharon has restored one of those little capes and is about to start on the interior restoration. We went to visit her. Sharon's house was originally built in the 18th century as a fish shack. Or so it seems. More research needs to be done but the history of the area suggests that her house was one of many dotting this coast and used as a cottage for fishing gear and also storage. Later it was sold and became a small house. Inside there are two fireplaces with ovens in the back. At one time this house, as small as it is , was owned by two different people. One on one side and another on the other side. Sharon and I plan on doing the deed work and researching more the history. Sharon spent a year carefully restoring the exterior. The exterior has hand skived clapboards and rosehead nails. She also had period windows with old glass made. The front door is an antique early door. I am excited to see what the inside will look like when she starts work on that.

Sharon's wonderful 18th century cape

The front of Sharon's house. Beautiful early doors!
Finally after a long day, we drove home with Mr. Jefferson, sitting on Sandy's lap. He is home with Sandy now in her house and getting used to his new home. Sandy wrote to tell me he is singing away and seems quite happy. Next post , I will tell more of the story......

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Folly Cove Designers, Peggy and Dorothy Norton.

The Studio

House with Barn studio in back
As a child , one of my favorite stories that my Mother read to me , was " The Little House". It is the story of a small house, in the countryside , which eventually ends up being surrounded by city high rises and falls into ruin. In the nick of time, it is saved from the wrecking ball, and moved out of the city and back into the countryside. I loved the little house with it's cute little curtained windows and red chimney. I never forgot it. When I got married in 1972, My husband and I moved to Cape Ann. What a surprise to find out that the author of my favorite storybook lived on Cape Ann. Her Name was Virginia Lee Burton. Not only did she write several children's books , which are classics but she was also an amazing artist. On top of that, she was married to one of this country's greatest sculptors, George Demetrios. They surrounded themselves with artists and writers, which on Cape Ann was not hard to do. Cape Ann has a long history of attracting famous painters and writers. One of Virginia's most interesting achievements was the creation of a group of Men and women textile artists, which they called The Folly Cove Designers. The name came from the area of Cape Ann , Called Folly Cove, where Virginia and her family lived. There is so much to say about this incredible group of people that I am suggesting that you click on the link to a wonderful Documentary called "Virginia Lee Burton, a sense of Place", directed by Rawn Fulton and Produced by Christine Lundberg in 2008. It was shown on PBS.  Here is the link,  The group started forming around 1940 and ended with the death of Virginia in 1969, from lung cancer. 
 My house was the home of two of the best Folly Cove Designers, Margaret ( Peggy) and Dorothy Norton and next door to another designer, Louise Kenyon.  For years I heard of Peggy Norton but never had the chance to meet her. She was born in 1905 and died in 2000. Her sister, Dorothy was born in 1900 and died in 1989. It was their parents, Charles L. and Frances Norton , who bought my house in the early 1920's. Peggy and Dorothy lived here for much of their lives. Both Dorothy and Peggy were very accomplished and intelligent women. Peggy worked as an interior decorator and designer and ran an Herb farm here on this property for years and Dorothy worked as an assistant for Clarence Birdseye at his laboratory in Gloucester.  Check out this link to the Cape Ann Museum site about the designers. You can click on the names and see what designs each one produced along with a short biography. .  When we bought this house, the barn , which is my husband's art studio, was filled with lots of things which had been left by the two sisters. Among the things left ,were several design prints and also some fabric which was already printed with their designs. A real treasure trove to say the least. What we realized was, this was also their studio. Christine Lundberg is a neighbor and a very nice person, so when she called to tell me that she was working on a sequel to the first documentary about Virginia Lee Burton and the Folly Cove designers and asked me if it would it be possible to interview Ann Mechem Ziergiebel, about her time growing up with her Aunts , Peggy and Dorothy Norton at my house, I was so excited! Wow, that was a long sentence! This film will focus on several of the designers and what they did . Ann Ziergiebel is a fountain of information and I had a great time listening to her stories about what it was like growing up in the 50's and 60's in this place. She experienced wonderful times at the Demetrios home where Virginia would throw summer parties and also art lessons in our barn with her aunts. I am hoping this film will be out and shown on PBS in a year or sooner. I hope you enjoy reading about this amazing group! By the way, when Virginia Lee died in 1969, the group decided to disband, since to go on without their leader seemed impossible. It was their way of honoring her. Below are some of the fabrics and also one of the paper mock up designs with the signature approval. I happened to look on Ebay and found quite a few Folly Cove Designer pieces for sale. They are not cheap! Enjoy!

The paper design with approval
Design on fabric!
Some of the many fabrics we found.

This one called Story and a half looks like my house. Tag is original .

Larger version of Story and a half. Love this one!

Sunday, August 23, 2015



 I have been baking for what seems like my entire life. Having grown up with a mother and two Grandmothers that were always baking something delicious, it would have been impossible for me not to want to jump in and do the same. I can remember the first time I tried to bake a cake without my Mother's help. As you can imagine, it was a disaster. I was about 8 years and my playmate, Claudia and I were playing with one of those toy bake ovens. Salt was the key ingredient....we thought it was sugar. It was of course inedible. I have progressed since then and have been baking the desserts for our restaurant for 33 years. Yup, a long time. Certain things I can practically do blindfolded. One of those is this Linzertorte recipe. It is one of the desserts most requested. It is easy to make and delicious. A couple of years ago, two women came into the restaurant to eat and after, ordered dessert. Linzertorte. They ate it and then told my husband it was the best they had eaten since leaving their home in Austria!!!! That made me happy since my Grandfather was from Vienna and my Grandmother was from Cologne, Germany. This recipe however, is from a cookbook that I bought in the late 70's, called "The Vegetarian Epicure", by Anna Thomas. Love this recipe.  It is much more chewy , less "cake" like, if that makes sense. A real Torte ! Well here is the recipe, along with photos to help . Visuals are always important , especially for visual learners like me .

Tart pan

First thing you will need besides the ingredients, is a tart pan with a removable bottom! The recipe says an 8 inch springform pan , but I have always done this in an 11 inch  tart pan, that is about an inch high. Do whichever suits you. I think it is more tart like in the 11 inch pan and I have been doing it this way for 33 years.


1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 Tbs. grated orange rind 

1 tsp. grated lemon rind 

2 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking power

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. cloves

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup ground blanched almonds ,( filberts , walnuts or a combination can be used)  I put in a small cusinart and grind away. You can also use ground almond  meal, but I tend to use a bit less then 1 cup. 

1 cup tart fruit preserves ( plum, raspberry, I have been using blackberry ) 

preheat oven at 350 degrees 

Cream butter and sugar, add grated peel and egg yolks. beat well. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture. Stir in nuts. mix well. Chill the dough. I do this when the weather is especially warm , otherwise I don't bother. This recipe says to butter the 8 inch springform pan . I have never bothered to do this since I have always used the tart pan. If you do choose to use the 8 inch springform pan , then you should probably butter it to be on the safe side.                                             

Take 2/3 of the dough and spread it in the bottom of the pan.  

Spread the jam on the top, leaving a one inch margin. 

with the remaining dough, roll out strips and place them diagonally across the top. I just pinch off bits and roll it on my floured stone counter. Keep going until you have gone across both directions. You can fill in the squares ( diamonds) with more preserves if you need to . Bake at 350-degrees until done, should be browned on top. 

One other thing I do before I put it in the oven is to sprinkle some sliced almonds on the top. This is totally optional. Cool and cut! 

1/3 of dough 

Spread dough

Spread Jam

Roll out strips and lay them diagonally across.

Sprinkle sliced almonds on top ( optional)

Baked and ready to eat!!!

A nice cup of coffee and a couple friends to help you eat it, is also a good idea..... 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Lavender, and more Lavender, and other Garden favorites!

Harvested Lavender drying

  Twelve years ago we bought this house and even though it was a falling down and needed tons of work, the first and most important thing I did was plant some gardens. I know what you are thinking. You are thinking , Oh the poor thing , her house is falling down and they are spending piles of money, so she needs to plant a vegetable garden so they can eat. Nope. Yes, we spent tons of money and yes we were about to start on a diet of bread and water but I was not planting vegetables. I was planting lot's of Lavender!!!! All varieties of it in my garden. I agree it isn't very tasty, at least for me anyway. I never quite got the hang of cooking with it, BUT , it sure does smell good!  After a few years, I discovered another plant! Love Lies Bleeding! It is fabulous! Tall, around 4 feet or so, with the most amazing long red flower. I think I read that it was a favorite in a Victorian garden . I have seen them in the garden of the Salem Town house in Old Sturbridge village. I first saw them At Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  It makes a real statement ! I started planting seeds right in the ground several years ago that I bought at OSV. Since then, they have re-seeded all over the place. I usually let them get to about 4 or 5 inches and then re plant them where I want them . Sometimes I have just let them stay put. My garden is done the same way I decorate! Mish Mash! I have tried to have an orderly, some what planned out garden, but it always seems to do its own thing. I tried to take some pictures of a couple of my gardens, which was not easy because I have so much sun on them ALL day. I hope you enjoy seeing them anyway.
Bundled lavender 

Lavender almost ready to bloom

Side garden with Love Lies Bleeding, Lambs ear, False Indigo, Baumgarten sage.

More Love Lies Bleeding!

Close up of Love Lies Bleeding flower

Lot's of everything in here!

Barn with stone trough and garden in front.
Left, False Indigo , right, Love Lies Bleeding.

Stone pillars from my friend Sandy.
Lavender in background.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

New for my Blog!

You may notice that I have just put a new page on my Blog. Items for sale. I am planning on having more items for people to look at soon. I am selling a doll I finished a while ago and now am ready to part with .  Her name is Carolina and I have pictured her below. Carolina comes with all her things, and is ready to travel!

Carolina and her Chest

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Visitor

                                                    THE VISITOR.....  

                                                  Rupert Von Hare is here

  One Spring day ,while Eugenia and Elena were busy, doing whatever little wooden dolls do during the day , a little visitor arrived.  He was a dapper little fellow, carrying a bouquet of violets, and wearing the only clothing he possessed . He slowly made his way up the crooked staircase, and peaked around the corner, into a little bedroom.  He crossed the room until he came to a very tidy spot with a tiny bed and chair. Just the right size for a rabbit like him. 
The bed looked exceptionally comfortable, with pillows piled high and a very cozy quilt. And the perfect chair!  

Glancing back at the bed, he thought, this is the place where I will rest, as he climbed into the little bed. 

                                          When his head hit the pillow, he fell fast asleep.......

  After playing with her doll, Louisa, all day , Elena was tired and wanted to take a little nap. When she came to her bed, She was surprised to see her bed was not empty!!

                                Oh, Eugenia!  Eugenia come quick!!!!

Hmnnnn, I see what you mean. I wonder who he is?

The rabbit stood up and immediately started apologizing. He explained that he
had travelled a very long way, and after seeing this very cozy bed , he couldn't help but climb in and go to sleep.
 " My name is Rupert Von Hare.  Rupert, to my friends.  
Please accept these flowers I picked," he said
Well, Elena and Eugenia were very impressed by Rupert's good manners and asked him how he came to be in this house. 

    Rupert told them he had come from a far off place called Germany . He had lived at first in a house with children. That was a happy time.  Lot's of fun and games.  After several years, he was placed in a box.  Then one day, he was taken out of the box and put into a  little shop. Rabbits do not like sitting on shelves, so Rupert decided it was time to do some traveling. He made his escape.
Elena was fascinated..... She wondered if he knew Sandy, their friend in New York.  That was also a far off place. She would have to ask him later.

                  The sisters wanted to show Rupert what good friends they could be.

                                                   First came a game of hide and seek.  Rupert's favorite.                        

Where, oh where, did he hide?  
If you look closely you can see .........

Then dress up!  A favorite of theirs!


                                Finally,  some food and drink.  Elena knew what Rabbits ate and found some delicious sprouts. Eugenia held the goblet with water and lemon. Rupert ate and drank .                                                        
                                            He was the happiest Hare in the land!

When the day ended,  Eugenia tucked Rupert into bed and Elena read him a bedtime story . 

Goodnight Eugenia. Goodnight Elena. Goodnight Rudy!

                      Early, the next morning, Rupert got up and looked out the window. He knew that it was time he went on his way. There were still many places and things he wanted to see and do. He left quietly....thinking that someday he would be back. This was a good place and he loved Elena and Eugenia.

 "Oh dear, oh dear! Where is our little friend! " cried Elena.

Eugenia spent most of the day consoling her and explaining that Rupert Von Hare was a rabbit full of adventure. He had spent too much time in a box. This was his chance to see the world and he was going to take it. Life is short, she explained. We have to make every moment count.
 Besides, she knew someday he would be back.

                      Dear little friend.....