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Christmas in an English Country House
Christmas in an English Country HouseTonight I finished packing the last of my Christmas decorations away.  It is always a little bittersweet as I change my theme each year.  2012's theme was "Christmas in an English Country House".  This past Christmas I was digging through the attic and came across an old cardboard box containing some rosettes from my horse-show days.  Although some of the colors had faded, they were still in pretty good condition considering they are 30+ years old!  I was planning a natural woodland theme for the tree and decided to add the ribbons.  I found a great copper English hunting horn at the antique mall that was my tree topper along with sprays of peacock and pheasant feathers.  The peacock feathers were a nod  to George, the resident peacock at the barn where we boarded our horses.  It wasn't unusual to see pheasants, deer,and even the occasional fox  when you were out for a ride.  19th century English Secretary with double desksA garland of acorns I "borrowed" from my Fall decorations as well as shades of copper, bronze and gold lent an English-country feel.  So the nostalgia bug bit me and I thought about growing up in the country and took my cue from there.  I picked ornaments from my collection that represented the country a fox, horses, a pheasant, feathers, pinecones, a pair of wellies, a foxhound, an antique bridal rosette, and the horse show ribbons.  I had found some great crystal garland at a yard sale this past summer for some added shimmer.The mantle featured a garland of natural greens, magnolia leaves, berries, pinecones,antler shed and pea hen feathers.  A carved white goose, an old reproduction Ipurchased from a flea market before I was married took center stageLots of natural greens both faux and real draped the tops of cabinets and spilled from baskets and tucked into shelves.  The spicy scent of clove-studded pomanders greeted you as you walked through the door.  We rearranged furniture to accommodate the tree.  I "borrowed" my silk plaid curtains from my upstairs guest room and moved the red and gold plaid curtains to the diningroom.  I found a great faux leather ottoman at a thrift shop with built-in storage and the pair of end tables at a yard sale .  The large engraving  of a blacksmith came from the antique mall for my birthday last summer.  The room is back to its English country roots,  when I had been moving toward a decidedly French feel.I am like a dog with a bone when I get an idea in my head.  I also pulled the vintage hunt print pillow from the office for the chair by the tree.  It was a lot of fun putting it together.  Well on to the next project.

Welcome Spring
Today is the first day of spring! However it has felt like spring for weeks with temps in the upper 60's and even 70's.  Hung my new spring wreath on the door.  Robins are in abundance. The cats are ready to jump through the window after them! Trees have burst into bloom, all the spring bulbs are at their peak.   The garden shops & farmer’s markets are full of spring bulbs, pansies and I even saw petunias. The mountains wear a blush of green and pink.  Bunnies and eggs are appearing everywhere-Easter is just weeks away.   I am busy working on my Easter decorations.   Here is just a little tease-I'll have more to come.  My theme this year is "Springtime In Paris".Welcome Spring-she has made her debut!Always find joy in your journey!Happy Spring!Kate[Image]

I had such a lovely drive on my way to work Saturday, I thought I'd share it with you.       The antique mall has a lovely courtyard.  It was beautiful frosted winter-white.Tigger-Feline in residence.

A Winter White Wednesday
It snowed today-the world looked like a snow globe.  There has been very little of this fluffy, white confection this winter - so it is a treat!  I said to my husband, "Now I want it to be Christmas!"   I dashed outside and snapped a couple of pix then came inside for a hot chocolate. Finally it looks like Christmas.  It doesn't seem so long ago.  Want to take a peek?Looking into the dining room.  Isn't the tree splendid?  It is decorated entirely in non-breakable ornaments.              The corner cabinet is an 18th century English piece.  It holds a collection of transferware.                            Cranberries add a splash of color to this basket weave candle holder.             The English dresser in the family room holds more candle holders filled with cranberries.  The fireplace mantle in the family room is topped with a swag and greens decorated with fruit pomanders.                                                The dining room in jewel tones and copper.The dining room center piece is an antique transferware bowl filled with bouquets of roses and faux greens. A huge, wooden dough bowl on the side board holds giant flocked pinecones, pomanders, greens and ornaments.The Living room.  Swags of greens with white, twinkling lights adorn the top of the Dutch bombe china closet.Crystal apothecary jars hold antique ornaments.  Ivory, silver beaded runners top each table.And the piece de resistance - the tree!Because of our newest family member, one little gray cat named Louis, all the ornaments on the tree are plastic.  We were almost afraid to put up a tree because of some of his past antics, but he behaved like a gentleman-much to our surprise.Hope you enjoyed my little reminiscence.

Tablescape Thursday-A Holiday Table
Holiday TablescapeThe dining room is festooned with feathers & ice-dusted pine. Topping the table is a silk arrangement of feathers & poinsettias in an earthy terra cotta shade. It sits atop a faux block of ice-(a glass block window) atop a skirt of peacock feathers surrounded by faux berries, pine & orange pomanders studded with cloves & coppery glass ornaments. The tablecloth is a burnished bronze with gold accents-(a gift from my husband the previous Christmas). Three gold & embroidered runners cross the table. The centerpiece is flaked by a pair of English barley twist candlesticks & a pair of woven baskets with glass inserts filled with cranberries & two pillar candles.The chargers are gilded melamine & the dinnerware Holly & Ivy by Portmeirion. These are my everyday dishes throughout the winter. I bought them all in bits & pieces on eBay throughout the years. The silver is my “company silver”. I call it that because it has to be washed by hand so I use it only for “special” occasions. The glassware is Bavarian etched crystal with deer, pheasants, grouse & ducks. They are lovely in the candle light & bring a bit of a “lodge” feel to the table. I bought them all at a yard sale this past summer for $1.00 each-(What a find). American Brilliant cut glass lends to the feel of sculpted ice. They all have some small imperfection but are beautiful none the less. Red plaid napkins complete each place setting. Sparkling votives twinkle in gold glass cups scattered around the table. The lighting is soft & intimate befitting a dinner of family & friends.Portmeirion Holly & Ivy china.Sideboard centerpiece lit with sparkling white lights.The Pomanders are a tradition in my family. When I was young, my mother & I made them every holiday. The spicy fragrance always reminds me of Christmas. These pomanders are faux. I used real cloves to stud them but the oranges are from Michael’s & the Dollar Store. I made a pattern using mini cookie cutters traced onto paper for the hearts & stars. For the bands encircling the orange, rubber bands did the trick to keep the rows even. I used a permanent marker to place dots on the areas I wanted to insert the cloves. Using a tool to start holes-(It came in a mini screwdriver set of my husbands) I poked a hole just deep enough to insert the clove. The oranges feel like plastic on the outside but have an interior made of Styrofoam so they were fairly easy to work with. Faux lemons or limes would work just as nicely. Everyone thought they were real & but these pomanders will still be lovely next year.Happy Tablescape Thursday to all. Be sure to Visit our hostess Between Naps on the Front Porch for more eye candy & fabulous ideas.

A Snowy Wednesday
Snow-Snow-Snow & More Snow!No snow in the forecast today-but last Wednesday-WOW-18 inches on top of the 20 inches from the weekend before. We no sooner dug out from the first storm-when we were gifted with a second BIG snow. The second storm had near blizzard conditions by mid-day Wednesday. All major highways were closed. I dug a path out to my fishpond to check on their heater & air stone. After that we hunkered down, lit the fireplace & watched it snow! I baked cookies for Valentine’s Day - my grandma’s Sand Tart recipe, which you can find in my Recipes on the right side tab. They are delicious & fast disappearing-unlike the snow!Our temps here in Central PA are only to be in the 30’s with teens and twenty’s at night-brrrrr! Time to snuggle up to a warm hubby & cozy cat. Mother Nature freshened up the scenery Tuesday afternoon & evening with a light dusting of about one inch. Thankfully-nothing to shovel.So I am out-and-about today! The roads are clear, even if the sidewalks & parking areas are not. So happy Outdoor Wednesday wherever you are! Be sure to visit Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for more Outdoor Wednesdays!Snowy lane beside our house.A snow garden.The patio from my bedroom window.The side yard from the attic window.It's a blizzard out there.Somewhere under there is my car!Trumpet vine arch in the side yard.

Add a dash of red-it will brighten your mood on even the greyest day. A toss pillow, a lampshade, a throw, a bouquet of red roses-perfect for a little romance.Just a pinch of pink-it’s girly and brings a smile to your lips. Pink roses in a china teacup: a barkcloth pillow with pink, cabbage roses; a potted amaryllis in candy-stripe pink & white; shortbread cookies iced with sugar; flutes of white zinfandel garnished with red raspberries; a fluttery scarf…I bring out my collection of Victorian valentines and scatter them though out the house. The most delicate peep out from beneath a clear bell cloche. I have been collecting them since I was young at flea markets, yard sales & antique shops.I love Tulips in the winter! They hint that spring is right around the corner.February has been our snowiest month. We’ve had to measure in feet instead of inches! Nothing like a steaming mug of hot chocolate topped off with caramel/chocolate covered marshmallows to ward off the chill followed by a nice, hot soak in the tub for those weary muscles. When the snow is blowing and outside looks like a freshly shaken snow globe, there’s nothing better than a snuggly quilt and a good book.My recommended reads: A Year In Provence & Chasing Cezanne by Peter Mayle. I love to bake in the winter. My grandmother always made her Sand Tart cookies for every holiday-even President’s Day-she made a little hatchet in honor of Washington chopping down the cherry tree. I made hearts for Valentine’s Day & gifted all my friends & family. Her little added sweet is a cinnamon candy heart.Make your own Sand Tarts in my recipes.

Winter - a whisper of whites & silver. After Christmas’ kaleidoscope of color, usher in the New Year with whites, ivories & touches of silver. Tulips add a glimpse of spring-pair them with white ironstone or silver vases. Give your rooms some winter warmth with glowing candles in clear or silver mercury glass holders. Place them in clusters on a mirror or silver tray. Faux ice bedecked branches in a tall crystal vase mirror the frosty weather outside. Winter...relax...reflect...enjoy! Bulbs are popping up at all the garden centers & shops- bring some home for an instant winter pick-me-up!Find a comfy chair… pour yourself a steaming cup of tea…wrap up in a snuggly blanket & get lost in a good book. Visit your local garden shop or arboretum to visit with spring, if just for a little while. Add a vintage white lace tablecloth... Crystal decanters look like sculpted ice... Host a mid-winter party with lots of comfort food-stews and soups and crusty breads. Get everyone involved and have them bring a favorite dish. It gives everyone something to look forward to after the holiday hustle-bustle. End the evening with some fragrant gingerbread & mulled cider. Wrap up in your warmest sweater and fur-lined boots, don’t forget the scarf & gloves, take along a thermos of hot cocoa and enjoy the splendor of winter with a walk through your favorite park.

Sharing Christmas
Where have the days gone? It’s hard to believe that the groundhog has seen his shadow, & we’re nibbling on fasnaughts & next thing you know it will be Easter! As there is still lots of snow on the ground, winter is still very much in the present, so I thought I’d share some Christmas with you as I take down the final piece from the nativity and carefully wrap it in lots of snow-white tissue till next year. Fragrant greens, spicy pomanders, polished apples and bright red berries-Christmas is here! We start the trimming right after thanksgiving and finish on Christmas Eve. Every room has some small token of this festive season. Bright shiny apples in red & green in the kitchen nestle in boughs of fresh evergreen & holly. The finishing touch sparkling votives in miniature copper molds. Spicy orange pomanders scent the air with fragrance.The tree is in the family room bedecked with antique ornaments and miles of ribbon. Live & faux greens trim the mantle & top the secretary and Irish dresser. Candles twinkle in glass vases with pomegranates & cranberries.The dining room is festooned with feathers & ice-dusted pine & coppery glass or velvet ornaments. The tablecloth is a burnished bronze with gold accents. The poinsettia arrangement which tops the table sits on a block of faux ice atop a skirt of peacock feathers. Ice dusted pine boughs with twinkling white lights top the French corner cabinet.The manger set is carefully unpacked and placed in the glass-fronted china cabinet in the living room. Every surface sparkles with jars of antique ornaments-(an idea I borrowed from my friend Patti).Everywhere there are flowers-poinsettias, orchids, & amaryllis. The packages are wrapped. A final touch of greens around the banister-we’re ready!

Let it Snow!
"The whole sky was blue,and the thick flakes floating at a pause,Were but frost knots on an airy gauze,With the sun shining through."Robert Frost "Heap on more wood! - the wind is chill;But let it whistle as it will,We'll keep our Christmas merry still."Sir Walter Scott

Landis Valley Herb Faire
I have been very busy the past three weeks preparing for the annual Herb Faire at the Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster, PA. The annual heirloom plant sale is the largest on the East Coast. Gardeners interested in heirloom plants, herbs, vegetables, & garden related wares may want to attend my personal favorite festival, the Herb & Garden Faire at Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster, Pa., on May 8 and 9. I have been a vendor there with my dip, spread, soup, bread & herbal sugar mixes for almost twenty years. There are over 65 vendors selling heirloom plants, vegetables, native plants, antique roses, garden art & crafts. The Faire is held on the historic grounds of the Landis Valley Museum. It is like taking a step back in time. The grounds are beautiful and it is a lovely place for a spring stroll and a gardener’s paradise.website for more information. Living in an old home, I enjoy buying plants that would have been popular when my home was built. The museum’s Heirloom Seed Project offers vegetable and ornamental seedlings historically grown by Pennsylvania Germans at the Heirloom Seed Project Marketplace. I also like to buy heirloom tomato plants. The fair runs from 9 to 5 Friday, May 8 and Saturday, May 9. Admission is $8.00. Proceeds benefit the Heirloom Seed Project. You can visit the museum's I’ll be in the yellow barn. You won’t be able to miss me-I’m the one with the buffet! I sample almost all of my dips, tapenade, herb sugars & soups.My booth is black & white toile. The barn is a magical place inside with thousands of tiny white lights wrapped in grapevine garlands that adorn the rafters and supports. Tin chandeliers provide a soft, romantic light. It is truly a fairyland!The show goes on rain or shine, and this year I’m afraid we’ll have to get out those wellies! It has been raining all week, but the garden die-hards that we are; it doesn’t dampen our spirits much! Besides I have packaged over 1,000 packages of dip mix, cheese spread, soups, and herb sugars. The lavender pound cake is worth the trip alone!Outdoor Wednesday this week is rainy & chilly. I know from dashing between the house and my workshop. Last week I had the air conditioner on and now I had to break down and turn on the heat! The rain is melting all the blossoms on the lilacs, azaleas, and flowering trees away. The peony blossoms look like wet crepe paper. My husband cut me a bunch of white lilacs and lavender azaleas to bring inside. Their fragrance greets me everytime I come in to the room.Everyone have a lovely Mother's Day!

A "Gifted Garden"
A “Gifted Garden”Many of the plants that now make their home in my garden started off in the gardens of family and friends. When we moved into our home, I was gifted with plants from my mother, grandmother, aunt, and neighbors. My cousin gave me a Lavender plant on my wedding day to plant by my front door. I was a complete novice and knew next to nothing about gardening. The previous owners of the house had left me peonies, roses, and unusual double day lilies. My garden has been a constant pleasure and subtle teacher. My friends and I often swap plants, thus expanding our gardens and friendship. My garden is a scrapbook of memories-the Hydrangeas from Donna-peonies from my grandmother-primroses from my former neighbor Bonnie-Iris from my Mom..Naturalized daffodils on the side bank.Spring is here, but those lovely spring temperatures still elude us. Some hardy blossoms are putting on a show anyway. The magnolia in my neighbor’s yard is stellar with big fist-sized blossoms. In a little while when the petals drop it will look like a carpet of pink snow. My old fashioned red primroses turn their little faces to the sun and a bunch of Forget Me Nots has seeded itself in my front bed. The Lenten Rose is a fascinating piece of art captured up close. The double daffodils were a gift from my mother’s garden as well as the old fashioned bleeding hearts. I have a white variety that has yet to bloom. Since we had company for the weekend, I needed some color for the back door so I planted a wire basket with magenta pansies. Since we use the backdoor more than the front, this would be the first sight to greet my guests upon their arrival. The PJM Rhododendron is just beginning its show. With all the rain showers things will really start to burst into bloom. I hope you enjoyed your visit to my early spring garden. Just a little show for Outdoor Wednesday. Have a lovely day!

Three or More
It wasn’t hard to decide the theme of my first “Three or More Tuesday” as one of the participants has made himself cozy on my bed while I am supposed to be working in my office just off the master bedroom. As he is so cute, I couldn’t say no, so he is happily purring away snug in the comforter while it continues to drizzle outside my window. Micky is one of our three cats. He is a very sweet orange tiger who was first a stray, then a shelter cat and now king of the roost-(or so he thinks). His little brother, Pee Wee, all twenty plus pounds of him, is happily snoring away with his head pillowed on my shoes-(If he had been a girl we would have called him Imelda or Carrie. He so-o-o loves shoes!) The Grande dame is Tasha. She is the queen-no mistake about it. She is fifteen this summer and has to put up with the five year olds. The house runs smoothly as long as neither of the boys upsets the hierarchy. So for now it is only three-(not more), but you never know!Join The Gypsy's Corner for more fun Three or More Tuesday!

An Easter Table-Pretty In Pink
A Happy "Pink" Easter to everyone!The theme for my Easter table started with this basket of little pink birds. Aren't they adorable!I decided they would become my napkin rings. I used my red toile napkins I bought at 75% off at Williams-Sonoma. I found the ruched fabric napkin rings at the Dollar store. I had some gorgeous French wired pink ribbon with gold trim I bought for $1.00 a roll at a Fabric outlet. I just wired the little birds to the napkin rings and tied them with a bow.I continued my theme with the lovely tulip floral transfer plates I found at the Salvation Army for $5.99.I have been polishing silver all week. I used my silverplate chargers I bought on eBay and tied the whole thing together with a fabulous candelabra I bought in an antique shop years ago. I bought a box of 100 prisms at the antique mall last week. I decided to dress up the candleabra with a few to give it some sparkle. I unpacked my Fitz & Floyd bunnies. I have received them as gifts over the years.For place cards, I scanned an antique postcard and added my dinner guests names in Photoshop. I had some little bows in pink -(of course!) with a tiny pearl I hot-glued to the card.The Victorian bride's basket was in pieces when I bought it. Before silver went sky-high, I had it repaired and replated at a local jeweler. I just loved the little bird in the center of the handle.The flowers I picked up out-of-season for $1.00 each. I just love tulips! The vase is a piece of American Brilliant cut glass. I bought a table full at an auction for $2.00. All of it was slightly damaged, but just beautiful. Only one other person bid against me-you had to pack it up right away. Guess no one else wanted to pack that much glass.I used my "good" silver, which is a 1940 pattern called Milburn Rose, by the Westmorland company. I had it on Lay Away years ago at a antique shop and paid a little on it each month till it was mine.Aren't these little bunnies sweet?Those "faux" silk burgundy placemats came from Target for 97 cents each!I used mirrors under the flowers and candelabra.The nest in the center of the candelabra will hold chocolate eggs. I tucked a glittery Easter egg in the fold of my napkin for a little surprise. I bought them at a yard sale on Saturday.The table by candlelight.Hop on over to see Susan for Tablescape Thursday. And everyone have a Happy Easter!

Thrifty Thursday-A Cache of Treasures
Thrifty Thursday -head on over to Bloggaritaville to check out the bargains!Being self-employed paychecks don’t arrive on a normal schedule. Sometimes it is “feast or famine), so I have learned to look for treasures in all avenues to fuel my shopping passion. My mom is my “junking” buddy. She is 84 years young and still can shop with the best of them.I just have to show off a few of my favorite junking buys! The first is this fabulous red & mustard tole cachepot. I bought it at a Salvation Army thinking it was a knock-off made in China, but it was pretty, so for $3.99 it was a deal. When I got it home and cleaned it up, I was pleased to find in neat black script on the bottom, Made in France. The Francophile in me was thrilled! It now graces the table in my family room. I filled it with pears, but will change it with the season. Maybe someday I will use it for an arrangement. The second is this Mason’s aqua jug. I bought it to sell, but it has not made it to the co-op just yet. I am still enjoying it. Thrift find, it also cost a whopping $3.99.On a $3.99 roll, my mom bought me this fabulous antique reproduction sheep at Goodwill.I also found a Crate & Barrel tablecloth and matching ten napkins for $10.00. It is a jacquard fruit print in my favorite shade of mustard.I am just crazy for mustard right now! I bought this clock-(originally from Target in original box) at a thrift store for $9.99. Sold “As Is”, I just had to tighten the hands, pop in some batteries and it works great. The first yard sale of the season is coming up Saturday. It will be a little chilly, but I’ll fill my thermos with some nice hot English Breakfast tea and be off at the crack of dawn. (I’ll probably make it home before my husband has his first cup of coffee), loot-(I hope!) in tow. Last year I found a huge, wicker peacock chair for $10.00. It has become my favorite place to read on my front porch.Happy thrifting everyone!

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