Friday, November 21, 2014

The perfect gift from Jane - - - - -

Do you have friends who seem to know exactly what to give you?
Friends who are the best gift shoppers and bowl you over with totally 
unexpected, awesome gifts. 
My blogger friend Jane always does this. It's as if she has a sixth sense when 
it comes to finding treasures which have me left speechless with joy on unwrapping!
Jane and the husband love to shop together - something Bob and I do a lot of also.
Apparently, just prior to visiting Asheville where we'd made plans to meet again a couple 
of weeks ago, they were perusing the old tomes in a used book shop in Chicago. 
Out of the blue, Jane reached up to a shelf and and pulled out a yellowed book with 
the word DEVON on the spine, and recalled that I am from that particular county down 
on the south coast of England. As they turned the pages they realized it was a book I 
would perhaps enjoy.

ENJOY! I am over the moon with happiness. This book, printed in 1908 but still in 
wonderful condition, is a Great Western Railway Company travel book on Devon, 
complete with beautiful vintage b/w photographs, and historic stories of all the places
I'm so familiar with, and love dearly.
A back section of the book has detailed train schedules to Devon with prices 
so inexpensive compared to today's train travel. Also coaching excursions to 
exciting tourist places such as 'Western Borderlands of Dartmoor', 'North Devon 
and the Exmoor Country' - this trip being just 11/-  return journey in the 
'old British money' before changing over to metric.
The last section contains many ads for hotels and B&B's
(many of which are still in business), restaurants and cafes, local shops, and old 
time products such as Symon's Devonshire Cyder" - "Has no Equal",
Paish & Co., Piano Merchants - where in the 1950's after I acquired my first 
record player, I visited often as they sold the first 78 rpm records and you could 
sit in little booths and listen to the latest American hits.
There's a page on Torquay my home town ------
TORQUAY - population 34,000 (now 66,000 in 2011 census)
Ideal Seaside Resort for Health and Pleasure
Magnificent Scenery - Owing to Unique Position
Summer - temperature cool
Warm in Winter

In the very back of the book is this wonderful fold-out map of the county of Devon 
where I've marked my home town TORQUAY (more info here).

The lovely, funny Jane from Blondie's Journals and her really charming husband.

It was here at the restaurant in Asheville that I was presented with this fabulous gift.
You just don't know how thrilled I am with such a wonderful book Jane and A.
It was really great to meet up with you yet again - here's to the next time.

Jane's husband, like me, enjoyed salmon, and Jane and my Bob fearlessly 
ventured into bowls of Cioppino after tying on those lobster bibs, for dinner at 
Asheville's Lobster Trap - a really fun evening in every way!

Well, needless to say I'm homesick just writing this post and sharing a little 
about my true home. I was truly blessed to grow up there.  In a simple house set 
midway between the blue water of the English Channel and the bucolic 
Devon countryside, life was especially good and childhood perfect.

You will find me curled up by the fire these winter evenings 
enjoying every page of this amazing book, thinking about and thankful
for our great Chicago friends who discovered it tucked away on that shelf.

If you've never visited southwest England, particularly Devon and Cornwall, 
I really hope you can some day - I promise you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Housework v. Decorating . . . . . . .

Thinking back over a lifetime of 'keeping house' while balancing on a step stool 
a few days back, I gave a long hard look about me and wondered about today's 
household cleaning chores, both my own and others. 
With one of the hubby's old white sport socks over my hand, and a spray bottle 
of Windex, I was up here cleaning the crystals and other parts of the kitchen chandelier,
 moving on to woodwork armed with Murphy's Oil Soap - cabinets and trim - then 
washing the floor with Bona and mop.
I used to almost enjoy housework, especially once completed. Looking about and 
seeing the furniture and woodwork sparkle, the lack of dust 'bunnies' in the corners,
 smelling that clean fragrance from the products used such as lemon oil, made it all worthwhile.
Now, I find it hard going. Bending, stretching, the difficulty of getting back up from the 
aging knees, and with the current hip problem, quite honestly, house 'work' has 
become a painful drag. 
So what do I do to make things easier on myself? Hubby helps and would do it all, 
bless his heart, but he wouldn't do it like I would! A maid service would be a last 
resort - I've never had anyone clean my home and don't know if I want that…..yet!
So I'll keep on best I can for the time being.

As for decorating?
That part of keeping house I love. Day to day, week to week, little tweaks and 
changes, redoing vignettes, arranging flowers, moving things around.
However, the big thrust now is decorating for Christmas. 
Thanksgiving is nothing more than moving the pumpkins around a bit - we will not be 
eating here, or having company, and we head to the coast the following day for the weekend.

Digging through the attic areas, on hands and knees, to pull out the storage boxes will 
be the hubby's job soon.
I will decorate as usual, although I don't do as much outdoors with lights any longer.
The faux tree will appear in the gazebo decorated with Nature's pretties I've collected.
I so enjoy seeing it outside the kitchen windows, lighting up the winter nights.
I may look for a small fresh tree for inside, taking pleasure in hanging cherished 
ornaments collected over the years.
The wooden snowflakes will dangle in the dining room window. The candles 
will glow once darkness cools the night, Christmas music will fill the air, and the fire 
will burn in the hearth.
Thankfully 'home for Christmas' will happen as always.

So, what are your feelings about house work and cleaning chores?
Do you enjoy them? Do you have help from a cleaning company, 
and if so, how did you find a competent, reliable one whose employees 
take care of your much-loved, precious things?
Does your spouse/partner give you a hand?

As for decorating, I just know you will soon be sharing your beautiful 
holiday items - this is always such a bright and beautiful time of year - and 
I enjoy seeing all your creative endeavors here on your blogs.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Painted curtains - extraordinaire!

I love the idea of taking a painter's canvas drop cloth and turning it into 
beautiful art.  I'm certain this is what was used to make these amazing wall 
hangings . . . . .seen at Asheville's fabulous ScreenDoor Antiques.
I could have, should have, would have bought the 'curtains', 
ifhad a place to hang them.

Monday, November 17, 2014

. . . . . eeeeek!!!!!! Tiny house guests soon?

How adorable are these mice!
I just found them in an Asheville shop - part of an early 
display of Christmas items.
The fact that there were girls and boys, dressed in
trousers and flirty skirts, with cute tails 
and perfect mouse ears, made a purchase of just 
two quite easy, and not expensive.

My biggest fear however is that with the cold weather now settling in, the 
real mice may be back before I can shake a stick set a humane mouse trap!
Sad as it may be to catch them this way, I cannot have those little nightly 
visitors running around the cottage. We've stuffed all access points, around pipes, 
back of stove etc. with copper mesh but, as the exterminator told us, a teeny mouse 
only requires a tiny 1/4" opening to get through!  The house is on a crawl space, 
apparently they come up from there, so traps are set down under.
We didn't spy a single mouse for the first twenty five years we lived in this house, 
now, for the past several years, they seem to enjoy sharing our home, especially
 during the winter.
Any tips for sending those tiny creatures on their merry way are welcomed, thanks.

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