Thursday, July 28, 2011

getting ready for the weekend

What do I need in the store and what will fit in my car (since I do all my buying in New England)?

I need furniture, so I'll take this drop leaf table, probably poplar, late 18th/early 19th century with old stuff in the drawer.

 retro mid-centuryish postcards

vintage/antique European postcards

paintings and prints 

Also the lanterns I wrote about earlier in the week, some pottery and books and ....

Enjoy your weekend!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Harriet the Spy, haloumi, and reading at the table.

   The next morning Mrs. Welsch asked "Wouldn't you like to try a ham sandwich, or egg salad, or peanut butter?"
   "Tomato," said Harriet, not even looking up from the book she was reading at breakfast.
   "Stop reading at the table." Harriet put the book down. "Listen Harriet, you've taken a tomato sandwich to school every day for five years. Don't you get tired of them?"

Last weekend in the country I started reading an old favorite, Harriet the Spy. I thought about it because of the dreamy tomatoes we got at the farmer's market. I think Harriet's family had a better source for tomatoes than my childhood home. I didn't like tomatoes until I was 20. But once I had real fresh tomatoes, I understand her commitment. There are many reasons besides tomato sandwiches to love Harriet--her spy notebook for one. And she reads at the table.

My current favorite summer lunch is grilled haloumi and fresh tomatoes. I learned about haloumi, a traditional Cypriot cheese made from sheep and goat's milk, from my friend Lisa, whose husband Nick is from Cyprus.

Just slice it, pop it in a hot skillet until it's golden, chop a tomato and you are good to go.
Just like Harriet, I like to read at the table, though I limit it to breakfast or when I am dining solo. How about you?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

rugged and romantic

Friday's auction had a pre-auction of 140 lanterns from one man's collection. The crazy lantern collectors bought the best ones, but somehow I ended up with eight. Every other purchaser was a man.

Perhaps because they are sensible and utilitarian, with a certain rugged appeal. Their purpose was to aid the hard work of fire fighters; train, road and ship crews; builders of dams; farmers, etc. Of course they also have a bit of romantic appeal if you consider their purpose: bringing light.

My favorite is this Traffic Gard made for the City of Flint, Michigan--its design is relatively stylish and I love the specificity of its name, city and purpose. 

You may have seen my post on the orange Little Defiance

Now I have a Defiance. Defiance was the name of a lantern company that did not survive the stock market crash of 1929, and was bought out by a larger company. As with any manufactured product, the history of lanterns has its dark side, including labor unrest and factory fires. 

At a purely aesthetic level, I enjoy how they look together. Kind of ordinary when viewed solo, they gain visual appeal when grouped. I don't feel that way about many objects--I prefer to spread things around, mix types of objects and styles. I never thought of myself as a collector, but somehow I ended up with a lot of old pottery, mostly vases. I usually don't display them together (except in occasional small groupings) preferring to place them around the house, where they stand on their own beautifully. I also move them frequently, so they stay visually fresh. In the store I've gone both ways, tending to scatter. But then one weekend I put a lot of the vases together and I love how they look.

I would enjoy hearing any thoughts you care to share on collections and their display.


Thursday, July 21, 2011


Heat wave. My car was in the shop and I walked to pick it up, stopping at the bank and post office along the way. I decided to pretend I was walking to the beach--the air heavy and humid, the occasional breeze, pretending I could hear the gulls and smell the sea air. 

Extra water for the flowers today. Above are trumpet vines I planted along the side of our detached garage, which has a room above it (currently occupied by one of my college-age sons). It took them three years to bloom and they are marvelous.

This is the first time I've lived in an air-conditioned house. Today I was happy to have it, although I am always glad to step out into the fresh air. 

I spent a lot of time at my desk,

and nearby chair,

with things I like to look at close by. (The print on the chair is ladybugs.)

In the late evening I went out on the deck to read, and stayed until well after dark. That's one of my favorite summer rituals. The temperature dropped, the sounds and smells changed with the fading light, and the busyness of the day calmed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

rustic chic from the state champion moose caller

I'm staying in Massachusetts this weekend, and will go to an auction to pick up a few things for the store. I have a regular go-to auction down near Rhode Island, but occasionally I visit others. This weekend there is a tempting one in Maine--the estate of Norman H. and Edith E. Gray. Norman was a longtime forester, hunter, trapper, and fisherman. I am particularly interested in the fact that for three years he was the state champion moose caller, no minor achievement in Maine.

I like the rocker pictured above--it has a lift-up writing surface. Imagine the letters and poems (maybe even novels) that would flow from the pen while seated there (with a view of the lake of course) unless, like me you are left-handed.

And here is a folding chair that resembles a snow-shoe. 

In all my travels I have never seen a handmade wooden berry backpack.

Nor, I am embarrassed to admit, have I wondered about the origin of the word hackle, although I am certain I have used the phrase, it raised my hackles. 

I don't think my mechanical IQ is high enough to figure out how to use this White Mountain apple peeler. Perhaps it's a White Mountain secret.

There are also a large number of old traps--which are kind of cool in a metal sculpture way, but vegetarians may want to avoid this auction. All proceeds go to the National Trappers Association and the Maine State Trapper's Association.

I will probably stay closer to home and go to my usual auction--it's fun and familiar and I always find something interesting. Anyway, I have a feeling that the Maine State Champion Moose Caller's auction will attract fancy antique dealers who will drive the prices way out of my range. I mean who can resist such a genuinely rural northwoods provenance? A few months from now that rocker will probably be on a porch in Nantucket and the traps on the wall of a Tribeca loft. Not getting to see the berry backpack hurts a little though--it would be perfect for my store.

If you want more, you can see the auction listing here and pictures here. And if you do look, tell me what you like.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

a bit of whimsy

My friend Anne over at Bird/Like has been painting birds with hats. I smile every time I look at them. You can see more here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

cottage pine furniture & Little Women

I got this dresser at auction a while back and finally took it to the store. It was hand built, probably around 1830, and the paint is original.

I love the little mountain scenes. 

There's a bed too:

Last winter I visited Orchard House, the home of the Alcott Family (Louisa May being the most famous).  They were a fascinating family--transcendentalists, progressive educators, artists, writers, vegetarians, friends of Emerson and Thoreau... The youngest daughter, May (Amy in Little Women) was a talented and accomplished artist; she did some wonderful drawings right on the walls--that's the kind of parents she had. Anyway, May had a bedroom set of cottage pine furniture similar to this. I loved the whole house; it's simple and comfortable. I wasn't allowed to take pictures, but it's a house that sheltered a family who read and laughed and told stories and put on plays and drew on the walls. I hope this dresser and bed go to a family like that.

Friday, July 15, 2011

wading and winners

Seven people left comments for The Great Field Bag Giveaway, and they were all wonderful--creative, amusing, enthusiastic, heartfelt ... It made me ridiculously happy that you took the time to write something unique. I like them so much that I'm reproducing them here, unattributed for the pleasure of the words (but if you want attribution you can go to the comments on the original post). They are like little prose poems:

*.As these days the majority of our time is spent in a city, when we do venture into the countryside we aim, like the Boy Scouts and following in the path of their founder, Lord Baden Powell, to "Be Prepared".

So, for us, the Field Bag would be such a very smart way of carrying one or two absolute essentials. Briefly, these would include: W.E. Johns 'Flowers of the Field', mackintoshes, smoked salmon sandwiches, The Observer Book of Birds, kindling wood and matches, a kettle, a tartan travel rug, shooting sticks, sun hats, rain hats, Wellington boots, a Thermos flask, a First Aid kit, Kendal Mint Cake, a compass, and a bottle of fizz and two champagne flutes.

And, dear Jen, if the Field Bag could be in a bright colour [if we were so fortunate as to win], then we should be spared having to carry distress flares and rockets. Waving the bag in the air should be enough to attract Land, Sea and Air Rescue Services.  

I am a total farmgirl at heart. I love the outdoors and collecting various treasures that I find including stones, different kinds of leaves, flowers, etc. I would carry my found items in my field bag as well as a book to press flowers in, a notebook and pencil for sketching, and my latest crochet project. I would also carry snacks to accompany me on my explorations. I live in Colorado so a field bag like this would be ideal for me!

 *Oooh, I love the field bags!!! It would definitely hold my sketchbook and pencils, and a notebook and pen. And maybe my camera would fit, too! Everything I need for a nice hike.

 *yea! I want a field BAG!!! I would put my pad of paper and pencils and eraser and my bird book and my leaf/tree book and my mammal book that I just bought today! and go out to the quiet spot and draw.

Sign me up, girl! I will suture it to my arm so that I will never be lacking a bag to collect strange branches, grungy pinecones, dead beetles, illicitly taken seashells from state beaches, and other natural ephemera. And I will want the bug guide.

 I love your field bags! I would carry it on all my country road trips. It would contain my little note book and pen for writing down the names of all the cool junk stores I'd pass, my uncle's old binoculars,(sp?) so I could see the address's, a subway sandwich, turkey with everything,(lots of jalpenos) to keep up my strengh, a diet coke to give me a boost, (even though what I'd realy like is an ice cold frozen margarita but I don't think it would travel well and then there is that pesky thing about drinking and driving), a pair of flip flops so I could change out of my boots when my feet get tired of trudging up and down all the aisles in those grungy little shops, a floopy hat and umbrella in case it decides to rain on my parade, my phone to call my BF when I find that perfect "thing" that I'm so excited about I can't stand it, and last but not least, a pillow and a vintage army blanket to spread out under a tree by a sparkling stream to rest, eat and daydream about all the cool things I found and the things I'm still searching for!

I am so late and everyone has been so witty I can't even remember what I thought I would carry.
My mind? My camera for sure. My daily book of reflections. An eyeliner. A bottle of water. Clippers. My cell phone ( let's get real here) oh, and I know a stack of your business cards so when people ask me where i got the fantastic field bag I could casually hand one over and say, why right here!

So I wrote out the seven names on bits of paper and folded them and put them in my pocket and went wading, and I am in love with the word wading, and even more in love with the act of wading, which made me feel like I was four years old, and then I rummaged around in my pocket and pulled out one paper and it read "Hattatt". So the marvelous Jane and Lance Hattatt of Budapest and Bath are the grand prize winners. 

Is there any other kind of winner? Well, yes there is. If any of you other six nature loving comment-poets are still reading, email your address to because I have some nifty runner up gifts. (Can you tell I was the teacher who could never fail her students?) Seriously! I'm in a giving mood--and you are in danger of hurting my feelings if you don't.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

haiku for you

I made another mixed media collage. (Clicking on the picture once or twice will help you see it.)

There's a haiku at the top.

 And today I read an interview with Cathy Cullis who creates wonderful works of art. I especially liked this part:

"What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
Write a Poem Every Day would be my memoir. This is a phrase I have used in my work over the past several years. I have scratched it into collages, stitched the words on fabric, and continue to use it as my little saying or mantra. The phrase is completely open to interpretation, really, and that is why I like it —it can mean literally to write verse on a daily basis, or more deeply to live within the moment and make each day a little extraordinary. Of course, life is not about everything always being romantic and wonderful. There are rough times to be witnessed as well as glorious little wonders; a poem can hint at the different layers of life."

You can read the entire interview here

Back on earth:  Field Bag giveaway (details here) comments must be posted by Friday evening EST. I am really enjoying them. You are an interesting and witty crew, and all-around good company.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

help, please

I got this clutch purse at auction in a batch of vintage purses. I am listing a few of them in the Etsy shop, but don't have a clue about how to describe this print. It's really sweet--the little characters and design have folk art appeal and the colors are vibrant. But do they look Persian? Turkish?  ________? (You can click on the pictures to enhance.)

Also, I'd like to buy a book of textile history, so if you have one you can recommend please let me know.

I'm thrilled with the comments I'm getting on my field bag giveaway. Your creativity and imagination make me very happy! If you want a chance to win and haven't left a comment yet, please jump on over there and do so.


Monday, July 11, 2011

I'm giving away a field bag.

Since you like field bags, and I like you, I am going to give one away. All you have to do is leave a comment describing what you would put in the field bag.

Field bags do not discriminate--both men and women like them, and they come in a variety of colors and prints which I will disclose to the winner so they can choose. I will also include a new Field Notes notebook and a vintage field guide (choice of Birds, Insects or Trees).

This is a picture of my field bag and one of my Field Notes notebooks--I use them all the time. They fit nicely in my pocket which makes them great for auctions and for wandering around the house and garden making lists.

Feel free to tell your friends. Nobody has to become a follower (unless they want to).  Just leave an interesting comment about how you will use the field bag and what you might put in it. I don't know how I will choose a winner (I never see that part disclosed on giveaways--if you know please feel free to tell me) but I expect to either be completely fair and draw names from a hat or completely biased and choose the comment that interests me the most. However I decide, the winner will be chosen Monday, July 18. Changing that to Friday July 15, so the winner can give me their color/print choice over the weekend when I am in the Catskills where the field bags are. And yes this offer extends to my international friends too!