Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Holiday Tradition

It's become a tradition...visiting the shops in the quaint town of Shepherdstown, WV right before Christmas. For the third year, Ann and I picked up Judy and made our way to town, critiquing homes along the way. The storefronts in Shepherdstown were all decked out in their holiday finery.

Shepherdstown was established in 1734 (the oldest town in West Virginia), is home to Shepherd University and has an old streetscape comprised of thriving businesses and restaurants.

I tried on these quirky rubber boots but they were a wee bit snug so had to pass on them. I could have kicked some serious butt with these!

We had a beautiful, but cold day but in the past two years, we've had a gentle snow which made it much more Christmassy. This is the old stately old court house.

Back at Judy's cabin, we warmed ourselves by the wood fire, drank coffee and had some tasty cookies. Her entrance is always so welcoming.

And her tree, ablaze in lights.

One year involved taking Judy to the urgent care unit to have her foot looked at since she had taken a spill and twisted her ankle. We settled her in at a cafe in Shepherdstown with a full pot of tea and her foot elevated while Ann and I scuttled up and down main street to do a little shopping.

We go up and down the streets of the town, even through the allies, taking in all the old homes and buildings.

These old barns are right in town, when horses and wagons were the only means of transportation.

Another year and another fine day celebrating the holiday season with friends. Here's hoping you are enjoying the season with friends and family. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happily Holidazing

The house is decorated, the cookies baked, the gifts wrapped and I'm enjoying a cup of tea. I love this time of year and tomorrow all my boys will be here and I'll have a big smile on my face.

This is our dining room table top so I don't know where the food is going to go!

The mantle this year is shabby rustic. I dragged an old iron gate into the house and placed it front and center on the mantle, placing vintage Christmas postcards in between the wire. Years ago I found this angel crafted from an old tin roof from a barn near Frederick. The person that sold it to me said that the old man that made it could not read nor write but had a way with his hands and could create most anything out of metal.

I've been shooting the tree and wiggling the camera. This one distorts the lights making it look like it has candy canes all over it.

And if you wiggle the camera back and forth really fast, you get this scratch-like effect.

This is my favorite ornament. It looks like our farm, with a plane flying overhead pulling a sign and the boys have made "Merry Christmas" in the snow. You plug it into one of the light sockets and the plane goes round and round.

Even Trapper is into the holiday spirit with his red bandana. That is not his tongue sticking out. He was a good boy when he went to the feed store with me so he got a pig's ear as a treat. Poor pig, lucky dog.

I couldn't help myself. I love funny monster things. These are the creations of an artist in Hagerstown. They are so well made and so very funny I catch myself smiling like them. I'm trying to give them as gifts but they'll probably end up living with me.

Have a great last day before Christmas. Happy cheer, merry be.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Party On!

Tis the season for parties. We had our 29th Annual Eat & Run the other night. Eat & Run is a progressive dinner party, beginning with appetizers and ending with dessert, traveling from house to house. Back in the day, we made four stops (appetizers, soup, salad, dessert) then it got down to to three because we got too big ( in numbers, not weight!). When we had 28 people one year, we had to split for dinner and continued that for a while. Last year we had a big snowfall so just 13 of us trudged up the Thompson's drive with our food and snow boots.

This year we played it a bit differently with all of us going to appetizers at one place then dessert at another. Since I do all the organizing, I like this arrangement much better because it's sooo much easier.

We gathered at Marsha's place which is like visiting a foreign country, or many foreign countries. Marsha has lived all over the world and her home reflects the collections she's accumulated. It's comfortable, cozy and interesting. All the rooms are small, which made it nice for gathering in intimate groups in different areas. One of the living rooms reminds me of an Ethiopian restaurant with low pillowy seating, candles all around and a certain ethnic flair.

Even her cat got in the holiday spirit.

The evening before I got to participate in the Langstaff's annual holiday sing a long at Shepherd's Hey Farm nearby. Me and 200 of their closest friends! The Langstaff's own a beautiful farm at the foothills of Sugarloaf Mountain just 3 miles from where I live. Over the last 2 years or so they had this magnificent stone house built, with this great room which held nearly 150 of us! Cindy and David Langstaff are involved in the Revels, a celebration of the solstices and the seasons that are part musical, play and drama. Many of the cast members were there, leading us on in joyful singing of holiday songs.

The house is sort of Shaker style, but on a very large scale. The detailing is impeccable and I wandered around marveling at the craftsmanship.

Shepherd's Hey is an old folk tune for Morris dancers. It is so fitting for this farm, with the family so musically inclined and sheep graze the pastures of their property. The evening was a fun-filled event and really put me in the holiday mood. The only thing missing was a light falling of snow.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Efficiency For Rent

Efficiency for Rent: small kitchenette, 1 bathroom, 1 bedroom, warm & cozy but a bit dark. Available immediately. Cheap!

Cheyenne answered the ad. He was getting a wee chilly outdoors, although he had a nice nest in the hay behind the barn. The sheep were nearby to keep him warm. But as the temperatures plummeted to the teens and the wind roared like my days in South Dakota, I felt sorry for my cat and fixed a nice spot for him in the basement.

Why the basement, you ask, when we have two extra bedrooms and plenty of space in the light of upstairs? Well because...besides cellulite, ignorant people, war, raw oysters, and cigars, I hate, hate, hate the smell of cat piss. And last winter Cheyenne lived on the main floor with us, basking in the lap of luxury on the couch right next to the warm fire. Yes, he had a litter box and would occasionally tiptoe outdoors but would sometimes go potty on my wool rug. Grrrrr!

So after living outdoors for eight months, I felt a twinge of compassion and set up a little apartment down in the basement for him.

He loves all my yarn. Who wouldn't like to lay in all that white goodness?!

He even has a little kitty bed, sooooo comfy. Being 16 years old, he spends 23 hours and 48 minutes a day sleeping and a few minutes eating and excreting.

I spend a bit of time in the basement as that's where my dye kitchen is. My felting tables are also set up down there and I've been felting lots lately. So he does get some human contact.

But I fear he may be turning into Gollum. If I hear him say "My Preciousssssssss" when I'm coming down the steps, I'll jump out of my pants!!! BTW, no photoshopping was done to above photo.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm in the Holiday Mood

Since I wasn't busy Sunday morning and the wonderful Natalie was watching the shop, I got to visit a couple of the artists that are on our Countryside Artsians' Tour. Ann and I stopped at Claire Howard's amazing homestead and studio. A turn of the century Victorian farmhouse greets you as you make your way up their tree-lined drive.

The unusually shaped structure was once a cistern but has since had a roof put on.

I want a cistern like this! Not only for it's inherent charm but also for water. Our droughts are becoming longer and drier and I have lost so many plants to lack of water.

We were lucky enough to get a tour of her house. Claire has a knack for using vintage pieces for purposes that they were not intended. Like those beautiful 10' double doors that used to be the entry to a general store. And on the floor is a very old green propane stove top that's used for dog food and dog water. Their dogs are old and need to have their bowls elevated. Clever that! Her wine rack is one of those old wooden shoe racks that stand about 4' tall and have 4 shelves. Perfect for wine.

Claire's studio is housed in what used to be a chicken house but does not even come close to resembling that now.

This window frames the view that Claire looks at while painting. Her burshes are set up on the table and when studio tour is over, she's back to painting at this table.

Claire paints with a pallet knife, scenes around our rural area.

Alden Farm is a favorite place of mine, especially in the spring when owner, David, chooses unusual perennials for his garden center. David also makes these amazing stone sculptures.

His gift shop/barn is filled with garden-y items and also great jewelry, cards and what nots.

On the way to Chartreuse, a once-in-awhile sale shabby chic filled barn, we passed my favorite old general store in Bear Branch. Not in service any longer, it still has the whimsy and charm of those old places. Someone has taken to decorating it for the seasons and I have to thank them for making me smile when I see it.

Bye Santa!

Chartreuse is housed in an old dairy barn, now sectioned off in 10' booth areas, each area run by a different owner. There is a cohesive theme though. I see it as upcycled, recycled, vintage fab, mid-century modern meets industrial chic. You can find old wooden drawers and wire baskets, old game boards, rusty display racks, bright, shiny crystal chandeliers, door knobs, and stars. Fur coats and fun boats, scented soaps and hand sewn totes. "These are a few of my favorite things!"

This is a must-see stop for me to propel me into the holiday spirit. Fanciful displays abound and I always get good ideas. Like take an old silver or pewter platter, paint the flat part with chalkboard paint and write "Happy Holly Daze!" in white chalk. Love that!

I'm a sucker for these old game thingies. Sometimes I wish I had a big loft space to fill with whimsical and totally unnecessary finds.

May your Christmas season be filled with sparkle and glitter and happiness. smile