Tuesday, January 16, 2018

MERCANTILE GATHERINGS is now COUNTRY RUSTIC MAGAZINE: A New Name, A New Beginning, A New Writer--ME!


"I TOLD YOU SO, didn't I?" 
I could hear the smile in Cindy's (Old Time Farmhouse) voice over the phone. 

"Well. . .Yeah. . .but I didn't consider it."
I hadn't fully grasped the news myself.

"But, I just KNEW it. . .Remember I TOLD you? . . .I was right, wasn't I?"
I had to admit she WAS right. . .
but, I swear on my last dime that I never, ever thought I would be writing for a nationally published magazine of any kind, much less a magazine that was on the top of my list of favorites. . .Yes, Cindy did tell me a couple of years ago that I should write for a magazine. . .It was our first face-to-face visit with each other. . .Or was it the second? . .Well. . .anyway. . .That's what she told me. . .I thought she was just being nice. . .It was not on my list of goals. . .nor my bucket list. . .so, it was a real shock when DJ Williams, the editor of Mercantile Gatherings, called and asked me to be part of her team. . .


Sometimes LIFE surprises a person. . .and. . .sometimes we even like it. . .
And. . .There's more news. . .I know most of you are familiar with Mercantile Gatherings Magazine. . .Beginning this Spring, it will have a new name. . .COUNTRY RUSTIC MAGAZINE. . .

 Country Rustic Magazine Spring 2018

DJ Williams took over Mercantile Gatherings a couple of years ago. She was interested in making some changes but took time to listen to what the readers wanted and to develop her concept. . .The result is the new COUNTRY RUSTIC MAGAZINE . .On January 2, DJ made her announcement. . . .
. . .we have some Exciting News to share … A New Name, a New Beginning this year in 2018, the heart and soul of Mercantile Gatherings wrapped up in a *New* Package as Country Rustic Magazine, Coming this Spring!! To celebrate our *New* Look and the coming of our 1st Issue as Country Rustic Magazine, we will be having all sorts of FLASH Sales and Special Offers up to and through the release of the Spring Issue which is scheduled for March 1st, so stay tuned and be sure to subscribe to our Newsletter and Facebook so you won’t miss out on important news!
. . .For those of our loyal readers who have been with us for many years, perhaps even since our humble beginnings in 2004 as Mercantile Gatherings, or maybe you’ve just recently found and joined us, you’ll find that each of our Issues welcomes our readers through personal home tours of charming homes decorated with antiques, primitives and country home d├ęcor, providing inspiration and ideas, as well as DIY crafting, make-do’s and recipes. We also bring you interesting and informative articles on antiques, history and traditions of antiques and primitives, country and farmhouse-style home decorating, and more…
Mercantile Gatherings Announcement

DJ is a dream of an editor and has given me quite a bit of freedom with my articles and photos. . .She also didn't get upset when my first article couldn't be submitted on time. . .It's a story in itself about all the things that went wrong, as I hurriedly tried to meet the Jan 2 deadline. . .Let me just say, I broke three cameras and two computers. . .and that was on the good weeks. . .I didn't meet that deadline. . .but DJ extended the time for me. . .I was glad that my articles were to be fairly short with lots of photos. . .Once I bought a camera that actually worked, the rest was quick and easy. . .
I can already tell this will be a very good experience for me and fun to  boot. . .


I have one more surprise. . .There's more? . . .Yep. . .DJ and her photographer (and hopefully our friend Mercy, the Open Hearth Cook) will be traveling to our farm from Pennsylvania in October when the fields will be white with cotton. . .They'll be shooting photos of THE COUNTRY FARM HOME for a feature in 2019. . .We are so looking forward to that visit. . .DJ seems like 'family' already. . .and a visit with Momma Mercy is always a treat. . .


Isn't it all wonderful news? . .I hope you'll consider subscribing to COUNTRY RUSTIC MAGAZINE so that you don't miss out on the beginning of what promises to be an exceptional magazine. . .DJ has some wonderful writers and the photography is super. . .To subscribe. . .or to order products, go to:



I'm still learning how to operate my new camera but it won't be long until I'm in full swing and back to writing posts and sharing our life at THE COUNTRY FARM HOME again. . .We're experiencing a lot of ice and cold weather, but nothing like the rest of the country. . .I think that's another reason I'm looking forward to the first issue of Country Rustic Magazine. . .a sign that Spring is not far off. . .I'm more than ready. . .aren't you?





Organizing for Your Lifestyle



Through the living room window, I see 'frozen'. . .ice, sleet, and a little snow on top. . .Nothing is moving. . .Not even the animals. . .John's pacing the floor with cabin fever. . . He has a uncanny knack for being in the very spot where I need to go. . .What's a girl to do? . . .Will Winter ever be over?

Organizing Jane--Facebook

Then I spotted a book I had laid on a table beside the couch to read in detail once the weather got bad. . .No time like the present. . .and the title reminded me of my annual New Year's resolution. . .to SIMPLIFY. . .and. . .ORGANIZE. . .I felt sort of guilty that I had already forgotten my resolve. . .

'Organizing for Your Lifestyle is a fun, inspiring guide to organizing all aspects of your life, from socks to suitcases. 
Studies show that decluttering and being organized can not only reduce stress, but provides peace of mind and improves your mood. In Organizing for Your Lifestyle, you'll learn the science behind organization and not only how to get organized, but how to stay organized.
Whether you are single or part of a large family, live in an apartment or a mansion, incorporating organization into your life can help maximize your potential to accomplish more on a daily basis. This book is arranged (very meticulously, of course!) into common themes to help you organize your home. From the kitchen to the bathroom, Stoller shares ideas, advice and inspiration to help you lead a happier and healthier life. There's also a special chapter for travel. Packing properly for a once-in-a-lifetime trip means you'll stress less and be able to enjoy that trip even more!'  Amazon.com

Actually, I had read ORGANIZING FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE by Jane Stoller back in December. I received a complimentary copy. . .but with the holidays, I had read it rather quickly. . .I wanted to re-read it for the details. . .There was something very reminiscent to me but I had no idea what. . .The second time, it became clear. . .Because of that enlightenment, this review will probably be totally different from any others you might read. . .but here goes anyway.

Organizing Jane--Facebook

ORGANIZING FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE took me back to the skills I learned growing up. . .from my Mom, as well as  from those Home Ec courses in high school that every young lady--back then--was required to take . . .I have lamented more than once that soon after I graduated, most Home Ec courses were dropped from the school curriculum. . .or if it remained, it was an elective. . . It was said, even in my high school days, that Home Ec kept women in the home and offered them no hope of anything but being a slave to housekeeping. . .I, on the other hand, never looked at it in that way. . .I embraced and appreciated the courses as a way to have it all. . .Let's face it, we have to live somewhere. . .and wherever we live, dust and spiderwebs accumulate. . .We  have to eat. . .so why not eat well--and healthy? . .Can't afford the latest fashions? . .Get out the sewing machine. . .But, none of this ever hindered me from going to college, completing two degrees, working in medicine, owning my own fashion design business, working at Colonial Williamsburg, and now owning and operating our own historic district.  It only meant I could have it all--I could work all day long, return to a clean, well-organized home, fix a healthy dinner, spend 10-20 minutes putting the house in order and find time the rest of my evening to curl up with a book, visit with friends, or just rest. . .It was BECAUSE I'd had the 'science of home economics' that my house and home was NOT in chaos. . .and sometimes the only part of my life that wasn't. . .The world can be stressful. . .Home should never be. . .
So I applaud Jane that she not only wrote an informative and easy-to-read book. . . but maybe without her realizing it, she has helped fill a niche of home economics knowledge that I feel has been lost. . .Aside from that, let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed readying Jane's book both times. . .I expected a stiff and boring DIY with step-by-step 'best ways' and illustrations. . .Honestly, I've seen one too many of those. . .But Jane captivated my interest. . .Her writing is inviting and personable. . .She speaks enthusiastically of the impact that organization can have on  our LIFESTYLE in a non-irritating, non-judgemental manner. . .She makes it plain from the beginning that you aren't required to copy her organization skills. . .She simply wants to INSPIRE. .

Organizing Jane--Facebook


Organizing Jane--Facebook


The book isn't only about paring down. . .There are plenty of wonderful suggestions for organizing. . .clearly arranged for every room in the house. . .Those suggestions offer a solid base for tailoring to our own personalities and type of home that we live in. . .There is even a chapter on travel and how to organize your luggage. . .The entire book is refreshing and motivating.


Now that I'm off my soap box (about home ec), I have to tell you that the last few years, our home is often stacked up with projects started but not finished. . .paperwork and mail to the ceiling. . .clothes in piles for Goodwill. . .but that doesn't mean I'm not striving. . .no. . .longing for that less chaotic home of my past. . .Downsizing has been the big problem. . .so, when I read Jane's book, it brought me back to that place. . .the place of home as a comfort. . .a safe place. . .a place of simplicity. . .and much less chaos. . .ORGANIZING FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE makes the goal seem obtainable. . .again. . .So, while the north winds continue to blow these next few days. . .I think I'll clean out a closet. . .


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

It's a Wonderful Life



There is nothing like an old movie to teach a lesson. . .or several lessons. . .about LIFE. . .and to touch the heartstrings at the same time. . .The title alone of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE brings to mind the many BLESSINGS  we often forget. . .of the positives in our lives. . .


The story actually began as a CHRISTMAS CARD. . .Philip Von Doren Stern decided to write the HOLIDAY TALE as a gift to friends and family. . .Entitled THE GREATEST GIFT, Stern printed 200 copies of his short story, making it a rather thick 21-page card. . .One of the producers at RKO Pictures. . .Frank Capra. . .scurried to obtain the movie rights, paying $10,000 for the CHRISTMAS tale in 1943. He told Stern that it was a story he had spent a lifetime to find. . .In 1946, the movie was released. . .becoming an icon of all that is good even when things go wrong. . .








'Every time a BELL rings, an ANGEL gets his wings. . .'
That sentence is famous and so often quoted. . .Even as a child, I knew that when I heard a bell ring, there was another ANGEL in Heaven. . .I just about drove my Mom crazy one year. . .I took those words to heart, roaming around the house, ringing a SMALL BELL that Mom had placed on the mantle. . .I must have helped hundreds of ANGELS that year. . .before she hid the bell. . .


As much as I love Angels. . .I think the bigger story is all about a STAR. . .and that Star is You. . .and me. . .
One of the most precious gifts I received from my Dad was given to me one day. . .'just because'. . . It was a small card of handmade SILVER EARRINGS. . .a SMALL STAR at the top and a LARGER STAR dangling from it. . .Signed by the artist, Daddy bought  them on one of his trips West. . .The expense was minimal but what he wrote on the card was PRICELESS. . .It read: ' You are MY SHINING STAR.'. .with the last three words in big letters and underlined. . .Need I tell you how precious those five words were to me--and still are? . .That one little gesture of LOVE for me. . .and FAITH in me. . .has remained in my mind through many hard times. . .It wasn't some expensive tech item. . .It was something from his HEART. . .Just five little words. . .


 "Each man's life touches so many other lives, and when he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" says the angel Clarence to George Bailey.
The point is, we have no idea how significantly our lives affect others. . .and that no matter how menial our life might seem. . .we are still SHINING STARS. . .One of the obvious lessons of It's a Wonderful Life is that, without George around, so many things would have been different. . .It is the same truth 74 years later. 


And so my friends. . .for this Christmas, I'd like to thank your for being our STARS. . .for following THE COUNTRY FARM HOME, DUNCAN FARMSTEAD, and OUR OLD COUNTRY STORE. . . encouraging us to move onward. . .It's because of you that so many BLESSINGS and HONORS have come to us. . .You have shined so BRIGHTLY  in both our lives. . .


We're both wishing you a TRULY WONDERFUL and AMAZING CHRISTMAS. . .and that the NEW YEAR will bring ABUNDANT BLESSINGS your way.




Well folks. . .
'THAT'S A WRAP'. . .
(I've always wanted to say that). . .
We'll be visiting with you again in 2018. . .I have some EXCITING NEWS. . .and of course, we'll be sharing more of our own WONDERFUL LIFE here at THE FARM. . .


Don't miss it. . .at DUNCAN FARMSTEAD





Thursday, December 14, 2017

Angels-Reindeer-Candlelight: A Little Thrifty Christmas Inspiration



Do you tire of the same old Christmas decorations you've used over and over, year after year? . .I admit that I have. . .which has led me to be a bit unconventional this year with my Christmas colors. . .If you haven't noticed in previous posts, LIME GREEN and WHITE have set the THEME. . .It all came about when I visited our local Goodwill with Christmas in mind. . .I was tired of the traditional. . .tired of most of the decorations I've seen year after year. . .I wanted NATURAL elements. . .something SIMPLE but STRIKING. . .and most of all. . .things that I wouldn't have to pack up the first of the year. . .


Our white kitchen with it's wall of cast iron skillets, along with the black and white checkerboard floor in the keeping room are pretty easy to add any pops of COLOR. . .like icing on the cake. . .I had no idea what color I wanted, but quickly I found my INSPIRATION PIECE. . .Of all things. . .it was a LIME GREEN POLKA DOT dust ruffle. . .perfect for table runners. . .All I had to do was detach the outer fabric and hem one edge. . .


Once I saw the dust ruffle, I knew the direction I was going. . .LIME GREEN and WHITE. . .Down another aisle I found Hallmark All Occasion WRAPPING PAPER in the same colors. . .At Lowes I found EVERGREENS on clearance for $2-$3. . .I bought five. . .At a dollar store I picked up WHITE GLITTER TREE ORNAMENTS, SNOWFLAKES and several boxes of emergency CANDLES. . .



at Aldi's I bought an extra bag of Granny Smith APPLES. . .



At Dirt Cheap I found a beautiful smocked white VELVET PILLOW. . .

What FUN. . .






Back at home, I headed for our own EVERGREENS where I cut branches for the old ICE CREAM BUCKET, which I had spray white earlier in the year. . .Some HONEYSUCKLE VINE to surround the bucket. . .




My favorite brass REINDEER came out of storage. . .as did the ANGELS. . .White IRONSTONE and CHINA from my collection. . .mix and match. . .



It all came together quickly. . .from a Goodwill dust ruffle inspiration. 
It's SIMPLE. . .it's CHEERY. . .it's PLAYFUL. . .We LOVE it. . .




And. . .when Christmas is over. . .the EVERGREENS will be planted outdoors. . .the APPLES will be eaten (if not before). . .the WHITE IRONSTONE and CHINA will go back in the cupboard. . .the ICE CREAM BUCKET will go by the fireplace. . .the white PILLOW will remain for the winter. . .The ANGEL, REINDEER and ORNAMENTS will be the only items to store. . .LOVE IT. . .


Not bad on the pocketbook either. . . 

Dust Ruffle--$2
Hallmark Wrapping Paper--$.50
White Glitter Tree Ornaments--$2
Snowflake Ornaments--$1
Emergency Candles (2 boxes )--$2
Ribbon--$1
Evergreens (5)--$10
Granny Smith Apples--$1.99
Smocked White Velvet Pillow--$5

From around the house:
Brass Reindeer Candlesticks
Single Candlesticks
Angels
Ice Cream Bucket
String for Packages
Honeysuckle Vine
Evergreen Cuttings

Total Expense: $25.49

 

I hope I've inspired you just a little. . .I do greatly admire the homes that are all tinsel and lights. . .There are some absolutely gorgeous examples on the blogs and Pinterest. . .I enjoy and admire them all. . .I've had many years of decorating in the same way. . .But for the last couple of years, we've come to enjoy a more NATURAL, SIMPLE CHRISTMAS. . .and have realized that we have extra time--with less stress--for enjoying the HOLIDAYS and EACH OTHER. . .and that's a VERY GOOD THING. . .




Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Another Corner of the Christmas Farmhouse Kitchen



Black Friday is over and my FARMHOUSE KITCHEN is getting back to the lighter side of Plain and Simple. . .The days are so gray now that I enjoy being inspired by choices that reflect as much light as possible. . .but then. . .I do like the candlelight, too. . .


Christmas is coming way too fast, isn't it? . .I realized this morning that there is only nineteen more days left. . .All my planning and 'doing' ahead and I'm still behind in wrapping packages and mailing gifts. . .not to mention sending Christmas cards. . .And, John's fruit cake hasn't been baked. . .It will need time to soak up the bourbon from the cheesecloth wrapping. . .He refuses to celebrate Christmas without a fruit cake. . .


His Mom was a great cook. . .In fact, she baked for the private school that John attended as a child. . .He still misses her every year when Christmas rolls around. . .and her fruit cake. . .He says I've perfected it over the years, but I think he's just being nice. . .I do my best without her recipe. . .Each year he does get a little misty-eyed when I unveil my latest attempt for the perfect concoction of fruit, pecans, cinnamon and spices. . .

 
For me, I think I enjoy carrying on the tradition of baking for others and surprising them with the goodies. . .I'm totally happy puttering around the kitchen with Red Velvet Cake all over me. . .listening to Christmas songs on the radio. . .remembering all the women in my family spending a lot of time in their kitchens of the past. . .I remember Mom trying to make one special dessert for each of us. . .our favorites. . .For  me, it was Jam Cake. . .for my brother it was Pound Cake with Orange Sauce. . .For Daddy it was anything sweet but Aunt Mamie did please him each year with Lemon Ice Box pies. . .He loved those pies. . .


The women in my family didn't bake just for the family. . .They would send sweet homemade treats to neighbors and friends. . .and to those who worked on the farms. . .I remember Mom telling the story of  Ole Blucher, my Grandmother's gardener, who lived in a little shack out back of her house. . .He never wanted a gift of money. . .or of clothes. . .or of Russell Stover Candy. . .He only wanted Grandmother's Sweet Potato Pies (She would make him two). . .and maybe a bottle of her Muscadine Wine. . .purely medicinal, you know. . .


So many family traditions. . .so many years of gathering them. . .but, that's what memories are for. . .to relive in one's mind the traditions that time and life have changed. . .but to keep the ones that work for us and our families now. . .Can't keep them all. . .Yet, there are some that we never consider not including. . .like John's fruit cake. . .



Hmmm. . .Now that I'm thinking about it. . .where DID I put that bourbon last year?



CHECK OUT SOME OF THE FAMILY RECIPES 
UNDER 'SEASONED SOUTHERN STYLE'
IN THE RIGHT HAND COLUMN. . .





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