Go to my new blog www.inplace.com to see how to attract and help save pollinators pot-by-pot!
Rather than a material concern, Simple Grace is a state of being and perception.
Living at the Cottage for the past 15 years I've distilled my experiences into four lessons... Natural Abundance, Elective Frugality, Easy Elegance, and Simple Grace.
The first three lessons are about lifestyle and personal style. The last lesson, Simple Grace, is about one's mental/spiritual state of being and perception.
Simple Grace is harder to define than something of a tangible nature. Nonetheless, it is available to all regardless of income, lifestyle, or physical circumstances.
Thankfully there are some methods to help achieve it. Grace is about being in harmony with both the inner and outer energies of being and existence.
The concept of Grace is often connected with religion. However, while it can be connected with in religious and spiritual contexts, we can also connect with Grace as we expand our awareness and perception by consciously changing our thoughts from negative, critical, fearful, and judgmental outlooks to perceptions that are grateful, charitable, inclusive, and expansive. As we do so we will attune to something greater than ourselves.
The simple act of daily gratitude is another way to en-train the beatitude of Grace. Being grateful resonates with the frequencies of Grace. When we are grateful we open ourselves to the power of Simple Grace.
Being grateful for what you have and where you are right now in life is key. If there is trouble in your life (and who doesn't have some of this) focus more on what is right than wrong. Doing so causes perceptions to flow into more positive, life-affirming channels. We create our present and future by our thoughts. If we expect trouble it's likely we will find it or it will find us. Worry is a negative visualization.
Altering our perceptions from a negative to a more positive vibe places us in harmony with the forces of prosperity, joy, and love. Being in harmony with these positive polarities opens our life experience to good fortune and beneficence. Goals are easier to achieve as opportunities and helpful people naturally arise in our lives. If we are helpful to others we naturally attract people who will, in turn, aid us.
Having a grateful and charitable feeling towards others helps them warm to you. People will want to be in your presence and will feel safe in your sphere of influence. A positive outlook attracts positive people, things, and events into your life.
Journaling your "gratitudes" takes gratitude from the realm of the mental and into concrete reality via pen and paper or computer.
A beautiful handmade or purchased notebook makes "gratituding" pleasurable. Set time aside each day to relax with your journal (or computer). A few minutes is enough to make a life-changing, life-affirming difference in your experiences and outlook.
Each of us contains within our innermost being a part, or particle, of mystical consciousness that interacts with creation beyond the mundane, material existence we all experience on a daily basis.
Life's realities and circumstances are our reality. Our actuality is above and beyond the physical "facts" of our daily existence. We have a "quantum" life and that is where we connect with Simple Grace. So simple. So sublime. The music of the spheres. The whispers of angels. Communion with something greater than our day-to-day selves and concerns. It is within this mysterious quantum realm that through the power of our thought we can literally change our outer, material, and emotional circumstances. This is the power of Simple Grace!
Engage with Simple Grace by harmonizing with the natural world, as well. Abide for awhile in a park, garden, or by taking a walk . Interaction with nature opens one to the flow of energy that is in constant availability. Harmony with the world around us opens the gateway to Simple Grace.
Rest your awareness on a flower, the trickle of water, the wind in the trees. Allow your awareness to engage all of your senses with that which you are observing, feeling all of the varied sensations it provides for your enjoyment...your awareness.
There is grace in acknowledging something on every blessed level of awareness. Know that what you are encountering exists on greater levels than your sense of it.
One of the gifts of Simple Grace is happiness. Happy people display several attributes. They are slow to anger, charitable, forgiving, kind, helpful, generous, and grateful. They also draw to them people with similar attributes.
Unhappy people anger easily, tend to be demanding, self-centered, judgmental, stingy, abrasive and miserable...and they will draw to themselves similar people and experiences.
We have a choice as to the thoughts we cultivate. Both negative and positive thinking are habits that we nurture and manifest. Habits that negatively influence our lives can be broken with some worthwhile, well-spent effort.
Whom do each of us choose to be?
What "grace" will each of us manifest into our lives?
Elegance is not about spending a lot of money or following each year's decorating trends. A nice item (lamp) mixed with thrift store finds (plate and table), a canning jar filled with flowers from the garden create an inexpensive, relaxed elegance.
Easy Elegance is not expensive if you follow the practices of Elective Frugality (see previous post).
Easy Elegance is easy on the pocket book. It's fun. It's creative.
Simply deciding your own personal style - and not what magazines and TV shows tell you that you should want and/or spend - is your first step.
Go with what you like. You can mix and match styles. If you have things you love they will go together. A mix-and-match style is called "eclectic".
My decor is definitely eclectic. It mixes cottage, shabby-chic, rust-chic, a smattering of Egyptian with a bit of Prairie- and French-country styles.
The British, Dutch, and French once had many colonies and they decorated their homes using all these colony-imports such as, Indian, Egyptian, Asian, Indonesian...and it all worked together, and still does.
Think of Victorian-era homes and you'll see a blend of styles and cultures.
Magazines and TV shows can act as guides to finding your style but not as gospel because they have a vested interest in selling you what their advertisers are selling - granite counter tops, complete and costly renovations.
Now these things are fine if you really need them...and...if you have the cash to buy them (not on credit, please!).
Personally, I lean toward a little minimalism in my style because I don't like to spend a lot of time dusting "tchotkees" and "goo-gaws".
However minimalism is not everyone's cup of tea. Have what you like. Love what you love. Have only what you love and is needful. That should be your decorating style!
If you choose to have lots of stuff and love to flea market and yard sale shop, do arrange your items according to color and type. Create vignettes. By doing so you create order - mental and emotional - and your collections will be wonderful and harmonious.
Easy Elegance combines one or two nice, quality pieces with a lot of creativity and inexpensive "finds", such as flea markets, thrift shops, traded, and bartered things.
Remember, paint and fabric can transform your home into your own creative, cozy nest with a minimum of cost.
And, keep in mind that "finds" can be elevated to a quality look with paint and new fabric, even the application of new hardware and molding.
Lace and fabric scraps can elevate simple things like pillows, canning jars, hemlines, and more!
Canning jars have vast potential. Wrap them with lace, burlap, make them into candles. Use them as beverage glasses, vases, and more.
Some nice silverware inherited from my grandmother is shown to advantage using simple canning jars. A set of white dishes - any style - can mix and match with the lovely odds and ends of china inherited or found at thrift shops. New, used, or antique linens add a homey touch. The black and white checked cafe curtains were purchased on sale years ago at Kmart. I crocheted a decorative red border on them.
Will your home be your own vision or someone else's vision?
For example, a decorator that comes in and furnishes your home at high cost to your wallet?
Money well-spent - if you feel you must have advice - might be to hire a professional "stager" or borrow a friend whose style you'd like to adapt, adding your own touches to make it yours, of course.
A stager is someone who comes into your home and uses your existing stuff to create a great look. Realtors hire them all the time to increase the eye appeal of homes they're selling and...stagers cost less than decorators.
Great ideas come out of magazines that feature such styles as minimalism, flea market, yard sale, or thrift shop decorating styles, and prairie, French country, or shabby-chic decor.
You can get practical ideas for painting, recovering, and re-purposing things you already own from these sources, and on-line, as well.
And, you can polish up your DIY skills to create a fabulous look all your own for minimal expense.
For those who love color and variety and lots of stuff, "Bohemian" is a mix-it-up style that is much more than the simple Eclectic-only decor.
If your sewing skills are rusty or non-existent - like mine once were - you can learn from the Internet.
Does a knitting pattern call for a stitch you don't know?
A knitter friend can help but there are lots of how-to videos that will illustrate exactly how to work the stitch if "knitter-friend" is absent or unavailable. A video is worth a thousand words and these short "how-to's" show and tell exactly what to do.
Fabric stores have lots of how-to manuals for acquiring basic sewing skills, knitting, and crocheting. I taught myself to crochet from such a book. I'm not great at it but I have learned to crochet simple borders, toppers for canned goods, and place mats, learning as I go. With each new project that arises I get to learn a new skill.
Don't forget classes! Most fabric and yarn stores offer classes for minimal fees.
I taught myself to sew decades ago. I bought a used sewing machine and a how-to book on basic sewing. Over the years I've developed moderate sewing skills which are sufficient for creating my own style. The most difficult and scary project I ever took on was tailoring a too-large sofa slipcover to fit a small love seat.
Then, I used the matching curtain panels to make covers for the love seat cushions so I wouldn't have to tuck and re-arrange the slipcover each time I stood up.
I used a combination of snaps and Velcro to close the cushions at the back as I'm not very good at zipper installation. Nor could I find those really long zippers that upholsters use.
After my re-tailoring of the slipcover, and fashioning covers for the cushions, it fits and doesn't need re-tucking.
To see how I did this go to...
Or, see the April 9, 2012 post on this blog.
A minimum of sewing skills was needed to recover utilitarian office chairs into something a bit more elegant for my sewing area.
Simple, natural things add elegance. Flowers add instant elegance to any room. A pretty bowl or dish - empty or filled with pebbles, shells, or potpourri, a pitcher of dried flowers or branches personalize a room.
Lace and crocheted borders, strips of burlap, some bakers twine or ribbon applied or wrapped around vases, canning jars, hot-glued to frames and fabric edges brings instant style.
A bit of artwork on the walls adds interest. Think about framed photos, prints, baskets...
Paint is an instant transformer of walls and furniture. It is one of the least expensive means to accomplish a makeover. I try to use paint left over from other projects if possible.
On occasions I've mixed colors together to create the shade or hue I'm looking for...usually variations of off-white. I particularly favor ivory paint with a few drops of yellow for a warm-white look. For my cottage/shabby-chic style off white paint is a must.
If you don't have enough paint think about dry-brushing your project.
Dry brushing adds a venerable, distressed look to tables, chairs and other furniture, as well as wood floors.
For dry brushing use a dry paint brush lightly dipped into water-base house paint. Dab any excess paint off the brush onto paper towels or rags. Apply the brush to your project lightly adding more paint, if needed. A minimum of paint results in a look you'll love.
One technique to get a look you want is to take an expensive look from a magazine and shop for it in thrift, budget, and import stores for near replicas of the costlier looking items. This is a tried and true technique that gives the "look" without the "price".
With Easy Elegance the key is to find the look you like then to replicate it using your talent (and yes, you do have talent!), your wits, creativity, and very little money. You'll love the results because they are yours and no one else's. And, you didn't have to spend a lot of money!
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Next, we explore the fourth lesson in living simply, frugally, and elegantly...Simple Grace!
Nonnie always had a midnight-blue bottle of Evening In Paris perfume on a lovely, mirrored vanity table in her bedroom.
As a child I was enchanted by the elegance and mystery of my grandmother's vanity table. The feminine mystique of her womanly preparations for an evening out seemed so impenetrable to me.
An ornate silver, music box, a box of scented powder with puff, the silver-backed brush used nightly to groom her hair, the string of pearls that her husband (my beloved Pappy) gave her...always worn on her most elegant and prestigious of occasions. The red, red lipstick...
...and a small pot of rouge. Women's mysteries of allure and attraction to be admired, observed, and someday emulated.
Ahhhh...Evening In Paris perfume. My cousin, Cheryl, and I were allowed to sniff the atomizer, but never spritz any on ourselves.
An expensive indulgence, the perfume was too grownup - too womanly - for our prepubescent selves. It was a rite of passage that we would some day earn for ourselves.
Nonnie's bedroom always contained the faintest aroma of Evening In Paris. And she exulted in it on sultry, starlit nights when she went out to attend important, grown-up functions.
I remember this so-elegant-to-me bottle sitting on Nonnie's vanity table near her beloved strand of pearls given to her by Pappy and inherited by me. I recently had the pearls re-strung so I could wear them without fear of breakage of the fragile thread binding them together.
Recently I found a source for Evening In Paris perfume. In a mailing of the Vermont Country Store catalog www.vermontcountrystore.com I found a cobalt-blue bottle of Evening In Paris...
For the purposes of nostalgia I ordered a bottle for myself. What happened on opening the package and inhaling for the first time in over half a century its fragrance was a stunning, sensory trip back in time.
Suddenly, for the briefest of moments I was hurled back in time to Nonnie's house on Mentor Avenue in Pasadena, California...to her vanity table.
The impression was intense and surreal. In my mind's eye, and heart's experience, past and present collided visually and aromatically. For a moment I was really there, transported upon the ephemeral scent-sation of Evening In Paris's sylvan, perfumed wings.
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Ernest Beaux - of Bourjois - developed Evening In Paris in 1928.
Evening In Paris (Soir de Paris) was discontinued in 1969. In 1992 it was relaunched by Francois Demachy and Jacques Polge. It is described in its recent reincarnation as "a precious blend of tradition and modernity. The top note is the...bergamont with a refined and sweet middle note: a floral blend (Jasmin, Ylang-Ylang from the Comores islands, Turkish Rose and Violet-Iris notes) with a hint of Peach and a woody note of Cedar gives way to a sensual and powdery base of vanilla notes."
Morels In Shallot-Cream Sauce would be good served over grilled artisan bread.
I have something new to love! Morels!!! Every way I've prepared them has been delicious. These tasty Seasonal delights are just too good not to search out.
Spending a warm Spring afternoon looking for morels is at the top of my list as a wonderful way to enjoy time in the woods.
Preparing and eating the morels is the highly anticipated outcome of a few hour's gathering.
The first step in morel preparation is soaking them in salted water.
Place the morels into a bowl of water to cover them. Add two or three tablespoons of salt. Stir the mixture to wet the morels which have a tendency to float, and to disperse the salt. Let the morels soak for about two hours. Stir the mixture a couple of times.
The nooks and crannies and hollow stems of morels can host things like ants, gnats, and other "crawlies". The salted water kills the insects and loosens any dirt that might have lodged in the wrinkles of the morels.
After the salt water soak thoroughly rinse each morel under running water. Run water into the wrinkles and through the hollow stem. Allow the rinsed morels to drain on a clean towel.
Sliced morels and the ingredients for the Shallot-Cream Sauce.
Morels In Shallot-Cream Sauce is the perfect accompaniment for grilled steaks and Apple,Toasted-Walnut & Feta Salad which is just how we ate them.
Morels In Shallot-Cream Sauce
3 cups morels, sliced
1/3-cup diced shallots
5 TBS butter (3 TBS to saute the shallots and morels and 2 TBS for the sauce)
1/4-tsp Dijon mustard
scant pinch nutmeg
1/3-cup heavy whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt three TBS butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Saute the diced shallots until translucent for about one minute.
Add the morels and saute for three to five minutes until the morels begin to give up their moisture.
When the morels have given up their moisture remove them to a bowl with a slotted spoon leaving the juices behind. Don't worry about the shallots left behind in the pan.
Use the slotted spoon to gently press the morels in the bowl to release additional moisture, pouring it back into the skillet keeping the morels in the bowl. Simmer pan juices on medium heat until reduced by at least half.
Add one TBS of butter to the reduced pan juices and melt over medium-low heat.
Using a wire whisk, blend pan juices and melted butter together. Gradually whisk in about 1/3-cup of heavy whipping cream.
Whisk in 1/4-tsp Dijon mustard and the scant pinch of nutmeg. Heat the sauce to a low simmer and add one more TBS butter to the sauce to "silken" it and whisk in. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly, if needed. Add the cooked morels to the sauce. Heat through and serve.
Instead of Dijon mustard try a teaspoon of creamy horseradish.
For Creamy Sherry-Shallot Sauce reduce the pan juices until nearly gone. De-glaze the pan with a jigger of dry sherry omitting the mustard and nutmeg. Whisk in cream and butter. Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Add the cooked, drained morels and heat through before serving.
Morels may be frozen for future use. Place fresh, uncleaned morels loosely in a freezer bag. Freeze up to six months or up to one year in a deep freeze. Defrost and soak in salted water for a couple of hours, rinse well and use.
Soaked, rinsed, and well drained morels may be air dried or dehydrated. Store in a clean, dry, and well-sealed plastic bag or a plastic or glass jar in a dark cupboard or pantry.
The Cottage is now rented to the potential buyer and in the escrow process. I'm hoping for a successful close in July.
After all the sifting and sorting, packing, shipping, etc., I'm on an extended, several-months-long vacation of "R and R" and enjoying some new adventures...such as prospecting for morels with friends!
I've found a morel! Using my pocket knife I'm slicing it off at ground level. Never pull or dig them up because you must leave the roots to produce next Season's crop. Morels are sort of the "fungal flower" of the roots beneath.
Morel season is winding up but there are still some tasty specimens to be found. They taste like really great mushrooms with a lovely meaty texture. They're great in pasta dishes, omelets, quiches, in cream sauces, and alongside grilled meats...tasty too, as a main dish with a salad alongside.
Going for between $80.00 and $100.00 per pound it's simply a Natural Abundance kind of thing to find them for yourself. The fact that it's also fun and frugal - not to mention the freshness factor - makes hunting your own morels a great way to spend the day.
Be prepared to hike a bit in your quest. A hiking stick is nice, but good hiking boots or shoes, and a bottle of water are essential. Don't forget some collecting bags and a sharp knife. Furthermore, you must develop your "morel" eyes to find them. Once you do you'll be able to spot them easily.
Morels tend to occur in groupings so finding one is a clue that more are nearby. They can be hard to spot initially especially if concealed beneath a leaf.
A good afternoon's hunt can yield several pounds.
Where is the morel in this photo? Hint...look at the very tippy-top of the photo just left of center. You'll see a thick, white stem and above that is a dark, crinkly cap - barely visible - nearly concealed by leaves.
Just a few minutes seeking and gathering yielded these nice morels.
Prospecting for morels with friends adds more eyes to the hunt and is a fun social activity. It's also safer to hunt in a group in case of accident or injury. If you choose to hunt alone always tell someone where you're going and when you expect to be back. Take a cellphone and hope for enough bars to make a phone call.
The next post will feature my own recipe for Morels in Shallot-Cream Sauce, then in following posts I'll review more of the lessons learned while living at the Cottage.
To successfully embrace simplicity I've practiced what I like to call a four-prong approach consisting of Natural Abundance, Elective Frugality, Easy Elegance, and Simple Grace. I'll start with Natural Abundance.
For me Natural Abundance was always fresh, free-range eggs from my own backyard chickens.
Fresh eggs from my Chicken Girls!
Natural Abundance was also homegrown, organic fruit and veggies.
The Cottage's gardens produce apples, blackberries, raspberries, mulberries, elderberries, plums, Nanking cherries, gooseberries, rhubarb, and currants. Peach and pear trees were planted that will someday yield their own succulent fruits.
Cold-stored apples last nearly all Winter for fresh eating. I also canned applesauce, apple juice, and sliced apples for pies.
I experimented with homemade cider and apple wine. Dehydrated apple sliced seasoned with nutmeg and cinnamon made for healthy, tasty snacks.
Blackberry-Apple Cake became an anticipated Autumn dessert made from homegrown fruit.
Fresh herbs for culinary and medicinal use are grown in the Cottage's gardens.
Some of my favorites to flavor foods are sage, French sorrel, chives, thyme, tarragon, parsley, oregano, mints, lovage, lavender, and dill.
For medicinal purposes the gardens produced motherwort, horehound, St. John's wort, hyssop, nettle, comfrey, and yarrow.
A simple, but welcome hostess gift is a pint or quart canning jar filled with clear, fresh water containing an arrangement of herbs just plucked from the garden.
Chives and French sorrel are favored herbs for cooking.
A tisane, or tea, made from the herb garden refreshes. When dried, herbal blends make nice gifts.
Flowers for food, fragrance and to delight the senses filled the Summer gardens at the Cottage.
Much that the Cottage gardens produced in the way of food, herbs, and flowers make great gifts either fresh or dried.
The beginnings of a bouquet!
Flowers! The Cottage's gardens produced all types of lovely annual and perennial flowers. Flowers for beauty, scent, bouquets, and yes, even edible flowers, too.
This bouquet is made from garden and native plants growing at the Cottage.
A few of the edible flowers and blossoms from the Cottage's gardens are flax, nasturtiums, thyme, chives, sage, violas, and bachelor's buttons.
While one's own chickens, homegrown fruits and veggies, herbs, and flowers aren't necessities for living a life of Natural Abundance, they comprised things that I enjoyed while living at the Cottage.
A naturally abundant life is comprised of simple pleasures that nourish the five senses. Rarely, do these things need to be complex or expensive.
Wherever I find myself I plan to enjoy those things that feed my senses.
A picnic or backyard barbecue with friends; an afternoon's cup of herbal tea on the front porch; a good book enjoyed under a tree, a cat on one's lap; taking the dog for a walk; watching the sun set or rise; sliding into crisp, clean sheets after a bubble bath; a stroll through the garden or farmer's market; an evenings walk after dinner...these are natural, sense-nourishing things that make for a naturally abundant life and can be enjoyed whether one lives in the country, town, or city.
One's own gardens aren't necessary either. Public parks and gardens, arboretums, enjoying the yards and gardens, pots and window boxes of neighbors feed the yearning for natural beauty, too.
Now that the Cottage is up for sale, I'm finding new ways to practice Natural Abundance in my new home...sitting on the deck and listening to the chatter of squirrels, a walk along the lake, foraging for morels and potpourri materials, listening to the wind sough through the trees around the house, watching Spring's new growth emerge from the soil of the place in which I now find myself.
I'm experimenting with the simple pleasures and Natural Abundance in this new locale that is now my home.
Wherever one find's oneself, there are ways and means to enjoy simple, natural pleasures, to live a life of Natural Abundance and joy.
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Something as simple as late afternoon sunlight shimmering through leaves can nourish the senses in a joyful and satisfying manner.
Front Garden in Spring.
South Front Garden in Summer.
My goal - one of them - when living and growing myself at the Cottage was to experiment with raising most of my own food and herbal medicines.
The food I grew consisted of fruits, vegetables, and eggs from my own Chicken Girls. Herbs were both flavoring and pharmacy.
Canning is an enjoyable pastime that results in good things to eat all year long.
Un-waxed and organic, my homegrown apples were crisp and delicious and made the best canned juice ever!.
The Kitchen Garden was the main food production area. A large raised bed, asparagus bed, strawberry bed, herb garden, and two moderate soil plots were all I needed to grow 80 percent of my food needs.
Berry plants thrived around the Cottage.. I harvested elderberries, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, currants, Nanking cherries, and strawberries.
Four apple trees - three old enough to produce - plums, pear, mulberry, and a peach tree are also planted on the property.
Grape vines - both red and white types - provided juice for wine, juice, and jelly.
These girls are curious about the grape harvest.
Ahhh....the chickens! I came to love the sight and sound of the Girls as they pecked and scratched for bugs, and ate kitchen scraps and weeds. Their eggs, so fresh and tasty, were a welcome addition to meals.
One Spring I raised my chickens from wee, fluffy "peeps"!
These girls have untied my shoes and are very curious about the shoelaces.
The Girls cluster behind the gate hoping I'll let them into the Kitchen Garden for a snack.
The Back Garden was a lovely place to sit, think, journal, read, and watch the chickens.
The Orchard Garden is a nice spot to sit, gather apples, plums, rhubarb and dill. A small peach tree awaits maturity and fruit-bearing.
Welcome to the Kitchen Garden!
This raised bed in the Kitchen Garden has since been replaced by a sturdy cinder block raised bed.
All the raised beds in the Kitchen garden have been replaced with cinder blocks.
A basket of lavender and lemon balm, just a few of the herbs growing in the Cottage's gardens.
A Summer morning's harvest of herbs for food and medicine.
Purple dame's rocket in bloom in the Kitchen Garden.
The Cottage's gardens provided well for me. Beauty, scent, food, flowers, herbs.
I'm often asked, "Is it hard for you to leave your lovely Cottage and its gardens?"
To this I say that life is lived in phases and cycles. A wise person knows when it's time to move on...to close one cycle and step into another. For me, that time has come as I begin new adventures.
We never lose what we've learned. We carry our knowledge, memories, and loves in our hearts forever.
Each new cycle brings new learning, adventures, and passions. Nothing is lost. We are the containers of all we've done and there's room yet for all that we will do.
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My Folk Victorian, century-old Cottage, built sometime between 1895 and 1912 - and now for sale - has many interesting and unique architectural features. Some of these features have been restored. Others have been left for enjoyment of their vintage, weathered look.
Upstairs in the remolded attic are three original eyebrow windows. The wood above the windows is aromatic cedar which gently perfumes the attic on warm days.
The front door contains an oval, beveled glass pane with a working transom above.
Weathered acanthus leaf detail on the back door adds Old World grace.
The original claw foot tub proves fascinating to my cat karma. I like a "shabby chic" look so I've left the small shelf as is.
This old knob is on the original back door which now leads into an added on laundry room. I love the "rust-chic" patina of age and the slightly Art Deco look of the escutcheon.
Both the east and south gables are topped with tin and copper eave crestings.
All the Cottage's windows have been replaced with brand new Simonton white vinyl, double-hung (downstairs) and casement windows (upstairs) which have a lifetime guarantee for both the present owner (me), and whomever the next owner will be. The windows are double-paned with argon gas between for maximum heat and cold control.
A new energy-efficient furnace was installed in the cellar several years ago. The Cottage has also been rewired with all new electric, upstairs and downstairs. Porch lighting and outside electrical outlets have been added, as well.
Other interesting wood details are part of the Cottage.
Egg and dart molding details above doors and windows inside the Cottage.
This style knob is found on most of the inner and outer doors of the Cottage.
Last summer new cement steps were poured and handrails added.
The wrap-around front porch is a wonderful spot to sip a cup of tea on a cool summer morning or enjoy an iced beverage on a sultry afternoon.
There are other interesting details that are part of the Cottage, too. Some simply have to be discovered for oneself!
Birthdays, Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day - anytime a lovely bouquet is received - why not make it last fresher and longer with only a few timely interventions.
Every two or three days remove the flowers and foliage from their primary vase to a temporary holding vase or pitcher filled with clean, cold water.
With dish soap and hot water wash the primary vase and rinse well. To the primary vase, add about 1/2-cup hot water and one TBS honey mixing until the honey dissolves.
Honey will feed the flowers and foliage. It's also an anti-bacterial and will help prevent mold and slime from forming on the stems of your bouquet allowing your flowers to last longer.
Fill the primary vase the rest of the way with clean, cold water.
Wash and trim each stem an inch or so shorter than it was. Cut on an angle with sharp scissors or pruners. Replace and re-arrange your bouquet into the primary vase one cut stem at a time as soon as it is cut.
Just these few steps, requiring only minutes out of the day will keep your flowers beautiful. Repeat every two or three days for as long as your flowers look good.
Once the flowers can no longer be salvaged - you'll know because they begin to droop - cut the stems off just below the flowers or buds. You may salvage the petals by peeling them gently away from the blossom end.
In the case of roses, daffodils, bachelor's buttons, and many others, the flower or bud may be dried whole.
Place a length of waxed paper on a cookie sheet and spread the petals, buds, flowers and leaves onto the waxed paper. Put the cookie sheet in a warm, dry spot for about a week to dry the flowers/foliage.
These petals, buds, and leaves will dry in about a week's time.
After everything has dried you'll need a pretty dish or bowl. Arrange your dried petals, buds, and leaves in a pleasing manner.
Set the potpourri on a table or shelf to enjoy for months and years to come!
You may wish to further enhance your potpourri with a few drops of essential oils or favorite perfume.
You may wish to add the oils to chopped or powdered orris root, dried and chopped corn cobs, or whole corks from celebratory champagne or wine, then adding these "carriers" to the potpourri.
The carriers will absorb the oils and help "fix" the scent so that your potpourri is as aromatic as it is beautiful. If using beverage corks be sure they're the real thing and not synthetic or plastic.
A lovely potpourri that you make yourself from well-received bouquets will remind you visually and aromatically of a lovely, meaningful gift.
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The next post will highlight the meaning and lessons of Natural Abundance learned while living at the Cottage.