Friday, February 27, 2009

Awaiting the Arrival of Spring, and a Visit To One of My Favorite Places.

I love OLD !
Old architecture, Old pets, Old timeless dinnerware, Old tried and tested lifestyles....
I've been studiously keeping an eye on the daffodils and iris's, their shoots have been steadily awaking and climbing upwards, out of the warm, moist soil.

Today I witnessed daffodils in bloom, the product of the warmer weather we've been experiencing, although according to the prediction of our local weather forecaster, they may yet be covered by a blanket of heavy frost or snow this weekend.
Makes no difference....

My spirit is stirring from it's Winter nesting place, I'm ready to rendezvous.
What's this to do with OLD you may ask ?
Spring is on the horizon.....and soon one of my most favorite places, will fling wide it's doors, after a long Winter's nap, and invite both pauper and king alike, to enter in, and experience life at a slower, more gentle pace.....It's an OLD friend..
Watermelon Moon Farm
Text Color
One of the first places I visit is the Watermelon Moon Farm.

Isn't that a delightful and magical name ?
The antebellum farm house, originally known as The William Washington Seay House, is listed on the National Historic Register, and was built between 1835-1845.
The historic homestead offers the ambiance of an earlier time, remarkable stone masonry, original faux-grain painting, and displays of artistic craftsmanship of a bygone era.

This grand house was built as an exact replica of a Louisiana plantation home, visited and admired by Seay on his frequent visits to New Orleans.
The trips were made to that area by riverboat, and necessitated to sell the tobacco grown on the plantation.

Nationally known artist and designer, Emily Steinberg-Cash, bought the house and surrounding 18 acres in 1991, and named it Watermelon Moon Farm.
Emily, set about making the farm into a thriving , cottage industry.
The summer kitchen was turned into a bed and breakfast, and was a favorite (especially amongst newlyweds).
The first floor houses the Gift Shop, where she sells her original art work, a specialty clothing line of aprons, and jackets, home-made candles, gourmet foods, and home decor items.
The first floor rooms may be reserved for luncheons, teas and showers, and are a favorite with all ages.
Emily and her husband Harold, are outstanding cooks.They seek out the freshest, locally-grown produce, using the local farmers market, and growing most all of the herbs used in their recipes, on the farm.
The second floor of the home, is where the personal living space is provided.

Emily hosts craft and art workshops at her White Barn Studio, which is located on the property.

As you enter the driveway, you are greeted by guineas, friendly roosters, chickens, cats, and especially the Great Pyrenees dogs.

Grazing goats can be seen behind the barn.

The quote, direct from the "Farm's" website....epitomizes the experience.
'The rolling hills and a winding country road along stone fences lead to an antebellum gem.
Leave your worries behind and follow your heart to a very special place in the country.
From the moment you walk onto the impressive veranda, you will feel the gracious southern hospitality'

Breathtakingly decorated, this house has it's own little place in my heart. What wonderful atmosphere it exudes, and who could be the more perfect host and hostess, but Emily and Harold....My trips are not near as frequent as I would wish, and if you love all things vintage, and excellent food, then this is a MUST on your list to visit. What a magical place.....

Luckily this gem in the countryside, is a little over 10 miles down the road from where I live. I'll be visiting real soon !

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The World of Beatrix Potter..

Home of Beatrix Potter: Hill Top Farm

The life of Beatrix Potter is a fascinating story in itself, one that has a lot to offer children particularly as an insight into the constraints and expectations of women in the Victorian Era.
Ahead of her time she defied convention to become not only one of the great storytellers and artists of her age but also a landowner, farmer and conservationist

Home of Beatrix Potter: Yew Tree Farm

"…as nearly perfect a little place as I ever lived in, and such nice old-fashioned people in the village." -Beatrix Potter

(Helen) Beatrix Potter (1866-1943)

Helen Beatrix Potter (28 July 1866 – 22 December 1943) was an English author, illustrator, mycologist and conservationist who was best known for her many best-selling children's books that featured animal characters, such as Peter Rabbit.

Born into a privileged household, Potter was educated by governesses and grew up isolated from other children. She had numerous pets and, through holidays spent in Scotland and the Lake District, developed a love of landscape, flora and fauna, all of which she closely observed and painted. As a young woman her parents discouraged her intellectual development, but her study and paintings of fungi led her to be widely respected in the field of mycology.

In her thirties Potter published the highly successful children's book The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and became secretly engaged to her publisher, Norman Warne, causing a breach with her parents, who disapproved of his social status. Warne died before the wedding could take place.

In 1905 she bought Hill Top, a little farm in Sawrey, and for the next 8 years she busied herself writing more books, and visiting her farm. In 1909 she bought another farm opposite Hill Top, Castle Farm, which became her main Lakeland base. Seven of her books are based in or around Hill Top. Tom Kitten and Samuel Whiskers lived there. Hill Top is still as it was then, and is now the most visited literary shrine in the Lake District.

Potter eventually published 23 children's books and, having become financially independent of her parents, was able to buy a farm in the Lake District, which she extended with other purchases over time. In her forties she married a local solicitor, William Heelis. She became a sheep breeder and farmer while continuing to write and illustrate children's books.

Potter died in 1943, and left almost all of her property to her husband who, after his death in 1945, left it to The National Trust in order to preserve the beauty of the Lake District as she had known it, protecting it from developers.

Potter's books continue to sell well throughout the world, in multiple languages. Her stories have been retold in various formats, including a ballet, films and in animation.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, 1902

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, 1902

The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, 1904

The Tale of Tom Kitten, 1907

The Tale of Pigling Bland, 1913

"'Stories don't always end where their authors intended. But there is joy in following them, wherever they take us." ~Beatrix Potter

In 1929, when Beatrix Potter was 64 years old, the Monk Coniston estate came up for sale. The estate consisted of 2500 acres of land around the head of Coniston Water. It consisted of the well-known beauty spot Tarn Hows, seven farms including Yew Tree, Boon Crag, High Arnside, High Tilberthwaite and High Yewdale, as well as cottages, quarries and open fell land. She sold the half containing Tarn Hows to the National Trust, and bequeathed the rest of the estate to the
Trust in her will.
Yew Tree Farm has been much photographed, drawn, and filmed. Its most picturesque feature is the spinning gallery along the front of the old barn. It was used for drying rather than spinning the wool of the Herdwick sheep. Such galleries were not uncommon until the early 1900's, but since then have become something of a rarity.

Yew Tree Farmhouse is partly of 17th Century date or earlier, with a new end added in 1743. This date, and the intials of the then owner, George Walker, are cut in the ironwork of the front door. The farm gets its name from the yew tree, some 700 years old when it blew down in 1896.

When she died in 1943, Beatrix Potter left 4000 acres of land to The National Trust,
including 15 farms, cottages and many local areas of beauty including Tarn Hows. Her gift back to the land she loved was to help preserve it for future generations.

Info: Wikipedia, Beatrix Potter Society,

Saturday, February 21, 2009

And They Loaded Up Their Trunks And They Moved To Tennessee...

Tennessee..... images of Elvis

Country Music

Great Smoky Mountains

Grand Ole Opry

Elephants ....????

Did you know, we have elephants here in Tennessee ?

The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, is the nation's largest natural-habitat refuge developed specifically to meet the needs of endangered elephants. It is a non-profit organization, licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, designed specifically for old, sick or needy elephants who have been retired from zoos and circuses. Utilizing more than 2700 acres, it provides three separate and protected, natural-habitat environments for Asian and African elephants. Our residents are not required to perform or entertain for the public; instead, they are encouraged to live like elephants.

As a true sanctuary, The Elephant Sanctuary is not intended to provide entertainment. Patron-level donors are invited to tour the facility through our VIP Pledge Program, but the Sanctuary is closed to the general public. Education, however, represents a key component of the Sanctuary's ongoing mission. Since its inception, the Sanctuary's outreach program has taught thousands of school children around the globe a respect for wildlife while learning about the endangered Asian elephant.

Learn more about the Howenwald Elephant Sanctuary :
The Elephant Sanctuary : Hohenwald Tennessee

The Animal Odd Couple : Tarra and Bella

The language of friendship is not words but meanings. ~Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Awaiting The Third Season....


King Henry VIII
Actor: Jonathan Rhys Meyers
(Oh, be still my heart )
ooooh is it hot in here ?

Thomas More
Actor: Jeremy Northam

Charles Brandon
Actor: Henry Cavill

Anne Boleyn
Actress: Natalie Dormer

Queen Katherine of Aragon
Actress: Maria Doyle Kennedy

Thomas Boleyn
Actor: Nick Dunning

Thomas Cromwell
Actor: James Frain

Showtime Television
03/09 09:00 PM
Episode 1
Showtime Too
03/10 09:00 PM
Episode 2
Showtime Too
03/11 09:00 PM
Episode 3
Showtime Too
03/12 09:00 PM
Episode 4
Showtime Too
03/13 09:00 PM
Episode 5
Showtime Too
03/16 09:00 PM
Episode 6
Showtime Too
03/17 09:00 PM
Episode 7
Showtime Too
03/18 09:00 PM
Episode 8
Showtime Too
03/19 09:00 PM
Episode 9
Showtime Too
03/20 09:00 PM
Episode 10
Showtime Too

Photo credits: Showtime

Friday, February 13, 2009

With Love on Valentine's Day....

May your Valentine's Day be special .

Of all my loves this is the first and last
That in the autumn of my years has grown,
A secret fern, a violet in the grass,
A final leaf where all the rest are gone.
Would that I could give all and more, my life,
My world, my thoughts, my arms, my breath, my future,
My love eternal, endless, infinite, yet brief,
As all loves are and hopes, though they endure.
You are my sun and stars, my night, my day,
My seasons, summer, winter, my sweet spring,
My autumn song, the church in which I pray,
My land and ocean, all that the earth can bring
Of glory and of sustenance, all that might be divine,
My alpha and my omega, and all that was ever mine.

William Shakespeare

Painting by William Dyce, Paolo and Francesca 1837

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Hundred Years Young...

I have a passion for collecting Blue Willow dishes.
Maybe not so much a passion, as an obsession.
There, I've admitted it.....
"My name is "J", and I am a Willow-holic."

One of my most prized pieces, is one hundred years young, this year !
A Buffalo Blue Willow Creamer.

I often find myself wondering what tales this little creamer could tell, if only it could talk.
Sitting around a Victorian Ladies Tea Table, listening to the latest fashion news from Europe.

Or quietly displayed in the cabinet of a fine Southern Antebellum home laying in wait to be used for a special dinner, in celebration of a loved one, returning home from some foreign war.

The legend of the Buffalo Pottery : A rather long read, but worth it........

Buffalo Pottery And The Larkin Company
Author: Brice Garrett
( Article orginally published February 1963 )

The genesis of the Buffalo Pottery lies in a cake of Larkin's Creme Oatmeal Soap. John Durrant Larkin (1845-1926) created the soap, and his brother-in-law and partner, Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915), created the merchandising schemes that led to the establishment of the pottery.

Larkin and Hubbard, both natives of Buffalo, New York, had worked for a Chicago soap factory, and in 1875 returned to Buffalo to manufacture soap there-prudently agreeing, in those days of free enterprise, not to market their products west of Detroit so long as their former employers did not invade the market east of that city. In 1878, Hubbard became a partner in the business, J. D. Larkin & Co., with a one-third interest. In 1892, the company was reorganized as the Larkin Soap Manufacturing Company, in which Hubbard held a halfinterest, and of which he was secretary.

Larkin was in charge of manufacturing, and Hubbard was responsible for merchandising. In 1885, he introduced the idea of by-passing the middleman, and began selling direct to the consumer. The price to the consumer was the same, but he received what represented the middleman's profit in the form of premiums. The idea caught on at once, and soon the Larkin company was buying huge stocks of premium merchandise.

Among the earliest premiums offered was a set of six "solid silver" teaspoons--solid, yes, but of German silver, with not a speck of silver metal in them. The teaspoons were given with a package selling for $6 and containing laundry and toilet soaps, washing compounds, and perfume. When a new premium was off ered-a "Chautauqua Lamp," a tall brass kerosene lamp with a silk shade--the price was raised to $10, for which the consumer received the same amount of soap. Next, a "Chautauqua Desk" was given (or sold) as a premium.

About 1890, Hubbard introduced what he called the Club Plan-a system of selling soap products to groups, usually women's clubs. Again the products were bought at retail prices, but premium merchandise was offered, and generous credit terms were extended to such groups. This new marketing idea was so successful that Hubbard was able to retire from the firm, on January 7, 1893.

After a trip abroad, where he fell under the spell of William Morris, the English exponent of the art-and-crafts movement, he set up a colony of craftsmen called the Roycrofters in his home in suburban East Aurora, and devoted the rest of his life (which ended on the Lusitania in 1915) to publicizing the doctrines of Morris.

Hubbard had an immense influence on popular taste in this country at the turn of the century. It is partly due to his activities that today's vocational and adult schools throughout the country teach weaving, caning, ceramics, and other crafts. And to the student of ceramics, it is not mere coincidence that the pottery founded by the Larkin company manufactured "art" pottery, nor is the fact that the general manager of the pottery lived in East Aurora without significance.

The Larkin Company expanded rapidly; by 1914 the main plant contained 64 acres of floor space, and as early as 1911 was employing 2,500 people. Of interest to students of architecture is the fact that the Larkins in 1904 commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design an office building. Completed in 1907, it was one of his earliest such commissions, and an important step in the development of his architectural style. The structure was demolished in 1950. At the same time he designed a home for Darwin D. Martin, who had succeeded Hubbard as secretary of the company in 1893.

The success of Hubbard's soap-merchandising schemes was so tremendous that the Larkin Company gradually began the manufacture of its own premium merchandise. One of the first factories established to produce such articles was the Buffalo Pottery which the Larkin Company built at Seneca and Hayes Streets, in Buffalo, in 1901-02. The pottery was wholly owned by the parent company.

It operated 9 kilns from the beginning, and by 1911 employed 250 people. John D. Larkin himself was president of the pottery company until his death, but the person actually in charge of production, with the title of manager, was Louis H. Bown.
It was Bown who in 1908 introduced Deldare ware, which will be covered in a subsequent article in Spinning Wheel. Bown remained with the Buffalo Pottery until the mid-1930s, eventually becoming vice-president. Robert E. Gould succeeded him as general manager and was, in 1960, president of the Buffalo Pottery Company. Control, however, remains in the hands of the Larkins; in 1960, Harry H. Larkin, son of the founder, was vice-president and treasurer, and two other Larkins were directors.

Today the pottery is still operating, at the same location, with the same number of employees, but production is limited to hotel china. The Buffalo Pottery's first production were semi-vitreous china. The ware was of such quality that it soon entered the regular wholesale trade channels, and by 1908 the pottery had selling agencies in New York, Chicago, and St. Louis.

By 1911, Buffalo pottery was being exported to 27 countries. During the 1914-18 war, the company turned to the manufacture of hotel china. After the war, semi-vitreous ware and Deldare made a brief come-back, but were abandoned in the 1920s.

One of the principal outlets for the products of the pottery continued to be the premium-based business of the parent company. The catalogs of the Larkin Company for 1911 and 1913-14, from which the illustrations here are taken, offered no less than a dozen different patterns in dinner sets of Buffalo pottery as premiums to be had with certificates of purchase of Larkin products.

In addition to patterns pictured, were a Gold Band pattern set, and one called Minerva, with sprays of pink roses. Most were decorated undergiaze, and all but Seneca and Blue Willow bore gilding.
The factory was very good at underglaze blue-printing, a decorating technique never common on American pottery, and a fine piece of Buffalo Willow pattern is equal in quality to most of that made in England, home of blue-printing. Other patterns based on this technique include a Dr. Syntax series, and various commemorative patterns-the 50th Anniversary of Wanamaker's, views of public buildings, etc.

Buffalo pottery was most often clearly marked, the usual device being the obvious-a buffalo, with the name BUFFALO POTTERY, printed. Frequently the year of manufacture is added; the writer has examined pieces of Willow pattern dated as early as 1907 and as late as 1917. On wares deco rated with overglaze or underglaze painting, the signature or initials of the decorator were frequently added.

Credits: Brice Garrett.

Tennessee and Tornados....

Uprooted tree from tornado. Editor's Choice Dec.2008.

On February 5th 2008 an F-4 tornado barreled it's way through the adjoining counties, and left behind in it's wrath, lost lives, lost homes, lost communities..

Today, we are under that dreaded "Tornado Warning" once again.

Straight-line winds gusting up to 74 miles per hour have toppled trees, power lines, and caused destruction and anxiousness once again.

It's almost De Ja Vue.

Be safe, adhere to the warnings, have an emergency plan in place.

Photo credit: Webshots : Lovejoy

Monday, February 9, 2009

Knights and Round Tables..

When we were first married, my soldier husband was transfered to a new army post, in Wales. I look back now, and think how fortunate I was to have experienced that move.

Living in Wales, was something I had always wished for. My hometown bordered Counties with Welsh Counties. As a young girl, it was always our holiday of choice, either staying in a holiday "caravan", or camping in a farmer's field (complete with sheep), in some hidden valley, far off the beaten track.

On any given weekend, my parents would load up the camping gear, and off to Wales, we'd go.
From the sunny seaside town of Rhyl, on the Irish sea, to the rock-fenced rolling hills and waterfalls of Betws-y-Coed, the views are spectacular.
I do believe there is not a place in Wales, that isn't warming to the soul.

One of the first places we lived, was in the town of Chepstow, a small quaint town on the River Wye, in Monmouthshire.
The view from our home was of the Chepstow Castle, at the bottom of a small hill.

If there is one castle that stands out in historical importance, that castle is surely Chepstow.
Chepstow is a Norman castle perched high above the banks of the river Wye in southeast Wales. Construction began at Chepstow in 1067, less than a year after William the Conqueror was crowned King of England.

While Edward had his master castle builder in the person of James of St. George, the Conqueror, some 200 years earlier, had his equal in the person of his loyal Norman lord William FitzOsbern. FitzOsbern's fortresses were the vehicles from which the new king consolidated control of his newly conquered lands. Chepstow Castle became the key launching point for expeditions into Wales, expeditions that eventually subdued the rebellious population.

What a magical time of life..

Credits: LearnFree2007

What a Wonderful World...

In Memory of my "Lily Cat"

Credits; Saks61

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Late Evening Treat.....

Monarchy The Royal Family at Work.

Our local Public Broadcasting affiliate station, came through once again, this evening, by airing "Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work "
If your interested in any aspect of the "Royals" or just wondering what happens inside Buckingham Palace on a day to day operation, you will love this fly on the wall documentary, as it follows the Royal family at home and abroad for an entire year.

The TV documentary series is available through the Public Broadcasting Service, in book form or two DVD set.

Check your local PBS program'll be in for a treat !

The synopsis reads as follows :
About the Series
Join Queen Elizabeth for a exclusive look at the royal family and the modern monarchy
In the year of her 80th birthday, Queen Elizabeth II granted the filmmakers of "Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work" an exclusive look inside the modern British monarchy. In this intimate series, viewers join Queen Elizabeth II and the rest of Britain's most famous family as they travel abroad, work at the palace, and meet people from all walks of life.

The program follows the Queen as she visits the first permanent British settlement in the U.S. and spends time with President Bush at the White House. The cameras also roll as she visits the newly democratic republic of Estonia — where no British monarch has set foot before.

Back in England, the series goes inside Buckingham Palace for exclusive interviews with members of the royal family, preparations for elaborate formal occasions, and a behind-the-scenes look at the royal kitchens, the royal wine cellar, the royal car fleet and the jobs of footmen, ladies in waiting, the Yeoman of the Guard and the crown jeweler. "Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work" offers a glimpse behind the velvet curtain to reveal what life is really like as a member of the family firm.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Anwar Hussein Collection

Sunday, February 1, 2009

An Old Friend Remembered...

Our hometown was once the site of a very notable and prestigious Military Preparatory Academy.
Castle Heights Military Academy.
The town was always bustling with Cadets, in uniform, and looked as sharp as tacks.
On weekends the local restaurants and places of entertainment were their choice, since most of the students were living on campus and miles apart from their own homes and families.
Many local families were "hosts" to the cadets, knowing they were living in barracks, and mostly strangers in a new town.
It was a welcoming sight, one I grew to value.

After the Campus closure in 1986 the buildings were sadly left to deteriorate, their only residents, being the pigeons.

After several years, it's buildings have now been restored and serve as the local City Hall, Museum, and History Center. Cracker Barrel Corporate Headquarters, among other small businesses have now made the Campus their home.

The Campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Castle Heights Military Academy Campus 1902-1986

Castle Heights Military Academy, Lebanon, TN Castle Heights School was founded in 1902 by David E. Mitchell and I. W. P. Buchanan. Early Headmasters were Buchanan, L. L. Rice and O. N. Smith. In 1914 the school became a military academy.
Acquired by the McFadden Foundation in 1928, it has been a ROTC unit and an honor military ever since. - (from historical marker) Castle Heights ceased operation in 1986 due to financial difficulties.

Originally the academy was a non-military school, but the entrance of the United States into World War I prompted a conversion, and the school no longer accepted female students. By 1954, Castle Heights Military Academy had nearly 500 students and occupied more than 150 acres.
The school included a Junior School and a hospital, and also conducted a boys’ summer camp.In the 1970s, female students were permitted to attend, but low enrollment, due in part to the Vietnam War’s lasting effects, along with the high costs of operating a boarding school forced the school to close in 1986. A restaurant and offices for Cracker Barrel now occupy some of the school buildings.

Castle heights Cadets Taking a Break from Studies.

Castle Heights Military Cadet with Colors
Prominent Alumni

Wesley Clark, former United States Presidential aspirant in 2004
Peter Rademacher, heavyweight boxing contender (Olympic gold medalist, Melbourne, 1956), Ohio civic leader, philanthropist.
Greg Allman and Duane Allman, founders and members of the Southern Rock and Roll Band, Allman Brothers