October 15, 2014

A 17thc. 'guest bedchamber'~

A box we made from period wood to hide the laptop! See more about this below~

We have finally been able to get around to DIY (of course!) re-making one upstairs room in our 18thc. cape into a most snug and welcoming "guest bedchamber"---(aka computer room, sewing room, etc.)  This room was the pits when I was alone and bought the 1700's house 16 years ago, but so was the entire house. There was a seemingly endless list of priority 'to do's' before I could ever consider working on it.

Because early capes are a story and a half, the 2 upstairs rooms have short knee-walls and charming sloped ceilings. The larger, which I always knew would be the 'guest chamber' went up in a peak, following the roofline. The original hewn beams added a lot of character and warmth. Unfortunately, someone in the 50's or 60's had covered the entire room with that nasty 1 inch thick, 8 inch wide board knotty pine paneling that seems to have been the rage back then, and a 'country look' to some well-meaning but warped minds. The boards glowed with the golden light of the hideous shiny varnish slathered all over them, calling attention to each and every knot. There was also awful, dirty, once-cream wall to wall carpeting on the floor. That was ripped up early on when all 3 of my fireplaces had to be rebuilt from underground to new chimney.
I had hoped to just have the original old floorboards, and although they were there, as is so often the case in early houses in New England they were pretty wonky and uneven, and worse, there were big patches here and there of funky pieces of 'modern' wood. Yankees used pieces of whatever was around---ugly old painted doors, etc.
---A new pine floor would have to be laid, and left unfinished to age .
I painted the knotty pine paneling off-white, and had to content myself for that for many years. (So virulent was the varnish, that even with 4 or so coats of KILZ primer and multiple coats of a good paint, the knots still 'bled' through.)

In the sloped ceiling, on the back of the house in this room was a fairly recently installed skylight, adding lovely light to a room that had only one window, at the gable end. It was nice enough and did not leak, so I kept that. 

Fast forward many years. Something HAD to be done with that "upstairs room". Adam and I painstakingly tore down every board of that knotty pine paneling a couple years ago, then hauling every one to the dump. This was a grueling job. The boards were over-nailed, as if someone expected a typhoon to blow through. Mouse poop would fall on our heads from the nether  regions between insulation and the boards. It was a miserable job.

I won't go into every remodeling detail here. We envisioned a period room, done in the 17thc. style we both love, and our efforts of the past couple of months have exceeded our expectations!
As usual, we had our stash of free salvaged/garbage picked materials.
It has been a lot of hard work. We've removed and rebuilt a window casing, installing a dream leaded glass casement window in that gable wall. I have hand plastered the entire room, and all boards and beautiful beams are exposed.
I have just now finished 'aging' the walls, and they look mellow and authentic. We love them so much, I am now doing it in our own bedroom.

We came up with an ingenious way to hang rods for bed curtains on a sloped ceiling, and I made the hangings from bittersweet-orange wool.
A lucky 'find' was the headboard for a 17thc. bed. Someone gave us 2 thick 18thc. boards, and even though we had never done anything like it before, we made the bed rails and bottom posts from it ourselves, even managing to match the finish on the ancient headboard!

We were able to get new, 12 inch wide pine boards for a bargain, and we laid the floor ourselves, face-nailing each board with reproduction rosehead nails, and then beating it with antique iron chains to distress it. (It will 'wear' and age over time and look like those we put in our kitchen a couple years ago.)

There were many other things we did to create the upstairs dream room.
We'll be revealing the completely finished room on the TOUR page of our website at the end of October, but in the meantime, you can see some of our progress HERE.
We wove a wattle shutter for the skylight ourselves, even cutting down every sapling to do it! The shutter is hinged at the top of the skylight with period iron hinges and swings up and out as a cage bar would, hooking onto the ceiling just opposite when not in use!
This is one of our favorite things, and looks "so medieval, I love it!", as Adam says.

A sneak peek an some of the actual 17thc. furnishings we moved from other spots in the house to their new home in the 'guest bedchamber'
The 2 of us even made this bottomless custom box from a wide 18th century board we had to hide the laptop computer.
Adam hand carved our initials on it in 17thc. script.

 We have several of these early huge 'summer beams' we were able to salvage for free from an old house that burned down just down from our home. We love the one we added to our 'main room' so much, we've just put up another spanning the existing beams in our own bedroom. 
 It's nice to re-purpose a little piece of local history.

October 6, 2014

Why we can't stand Pinterest---And love our annual 'fix' of homemade concord grape pie!

My first homemade concord grape pie of the season~

Inane, stupid, silly---and a lot more unflattering adjectives I could say but won't waste my time.
(I admit I am not a fan of social media, period, and we don't participate in any of it.)

Now, I am sure there are a lot of Pinterest 'fans' out there who will not like what I have to say, and they can stop reading now if they choose to. They are entitled to their own opinions, but so am I.
And this is my blog.
And I have good reasons for mine.

I am not a member of Pinterest, but I would have to be living under a rock not to be aware that literally hundreds of photos of our house and of us have been "pinned" onto countless Pinterest member's "boards".
I guess we are supposed to be flattered. We don't need that for validation.
No way.

How they can do this is still a mystery to me. Our website was designed by us. Every photo was taken by us and each one is of US/OUR HOME.
Still, until now I didn't spend my time thinking about it much.

Imagine our suprise recently when we happened across many photos of our home on several Pinterest boards, EVERY SINGLE ONE BEARING THE CAPTION:
---(whose owner, one Steven Jebo supposedly of Delaware, evidently thinks it's o.k. to try and make a buck anyway he can, without letting a pesky concept like fraud trouble him to any degree.)
Here is just one example of literally dozens and dozens of photos of ours he has 'purloined':

~Not one single photo mentioned that this was taken from our site, www.thecountryladyantiques.com, or mentioned us in any way.
We were gob-smacked. 
We were furious.
We were disgusted.

I don't have a car. I work from home. I am an antiques dealer. I have spent 25 years building my little business, started with nothing, and not a dime from anyone. We struggle because of a job loss several years ago, and a current job that we thought would be a blessing but ended up breaking contractual agreements, and paying such an insultingly low salary that it doesn't cover both food and heat.
I have to sell to help my family survive.

Not only that, but I am quite proud of my home---an 18thc. cape in New Hampshire. Those of you who have cared to follow my blog know that I was the widow of a suicide when I moved from the midwest to New England alone 16 years ago. I bought my little house, which was the pits---a real mess. I had no money to speak of. I worked for almost 8 years alone to DIY restore it before meeting and marrying Adam.  We have both worked together for another 8 years making it what it is today.

I had never even heard of them before seeing that they had 'appropriated' photos of MY home, splashing them all over the internet, and leading everyone to believe that they were of THEIR BUSINESS/HOME.
This must not be legal. At best, it certainly is completely unethical, not to mention sleazy, sneaky, self-serving...I could go on.

Everything I have, everything we've done here, we did the hard way, ourselves, on a tight budget and with countless hours of hardwork, ingenuity, creativity, love, and a commitment to history, to the past, to preserving old ways.

Are we now supposed to sit here and passively accept some losers out there taking credit for OUR WORK?---For efforts that took 16 years of MY LIFE, and let them get away with implying that our antiques were purchased from THEM, while also taking business from me by allowing people to think our photos represent their merchandise or buiness?

No way.


I hope there is karma out there. I think there is. I have to believe that people such as "Bayshore Antiques Store on Ebay" will get their comeuppance in due time and will eventually pay for their complete lack of integrity.

As for Pinterest, UGH! The fact that they allow this kind of stuff to go on makes us sick. I don't want anything to do with them, and we have no desire or need to see any of OUR PHOTOS splashed all over a myriad of their user's "boards".
*(We have contacted Pinterest about these people and hope they will do the right thing and put a stop to it. Sadly, even if this person removes their 'pins', the same photos with their erroneous caption are still all over Pinterest on hundreds of other people's boards. The damage is done.)

 Our home, "the old brown cape" in New Hampshire is our long-time labor of love. 
All ideas our OURS. All antiques are OURS. All our efforts and creativity are OURS. 
We are grateful for the lovely and kind emails we have received over the years from people all over, who have loved our website---Our photos of our house and of us, the antiques we sell, and of our adventures. 
Everyone is always invited to visit us HERE~

 On a happier note, it's that time of year again---Time to bake homemade concord grape pies while the grapes have their short season! Although they take a little time, these pies are just delicious and so different from all others. I have to say, I think they are my favorite of all.
It starts with my own secret shortbread piecrust recipe. The grapes are peeled. This takes a little time but is not as awful as it sounds---You pinch each one and the innards quickly slip out of their skins, later to be heated through and strained to remove all seeds. When combined with their skins and other delectable but simple ingredients, you have the most heavenly of pies!
Early this morning I baked my first one of the season, dreaming of a cup of tea and a slice later tonight after dinner.
It's sitting just outside the door cooling now~

Decorated with pastry fall leaves and grapes, my pie is cooling out on the porch.


July 17, 2014

'The great 17thc. outdoor beehive bakeoven-building experience'---A summertime adventure to remember~


We decided to build our own period-correct (17thc. style) cob bake oven in our back garden similar to one at Plimoth Plantation~
This project was not about money; it was about keeping the 'old ways' alive by making something with your own 2 hands, and investing hours and days or weeks in something worthwhile to enjoy and to remember, and to recreate a little bit of the past of our ancestors.
The biggest allure of the project was not only anticipation of wonderful homemade food we'll make in it, but the fact that we did every bit of it ourselves, and with materials we already had, had salvaged, or dug up ourselves,---Just like the first-comers at Plimoth. 
We have used our own resources, as well as all of our own best efforts.
We're pretty proud of what we have done, especially since we had never done anything like this before.
It was great to learn new skills but most of all it was like taking a trip back in time to recreate something our pilgrim ancestors made. 


We've had a blast building our oven~ 

*(The step-by-step photos from our
have been taken down now
but see us bake pizza in our oven! Photos are now up on our website~
***( Our galleries are up for a limited time. They change periodically to reflect our 17th/18thc. life and adventures).

April 17, 2014

Who doesn't love a cute dog?

A very early spring day. The sun is shining, but it's cold and everything is still...brown, ugh. Miraculously though, all the mountains of snow that half-covered our windows this winter are gone, and I have spied green shoots popping through the dirt here and there.
I have no car.
Among other things, our two yorkies have a "pet stroller"---Yeah, a pet stroller. It is quite marvelous, really.
I had to walk up the hill to the town hall and the post office on this early spring day. The yorkies go with us most places in a front-pack, on leash, or bike carrier.
This is just a little too far for tiny little legs to hoof it there and back, and when Adam is not here, I can't squeeze both of them into one front-pack.
Adam has always called our girls "the ambassadors of peace and goodwill" because of the smiling attention they draw from everyone, wherever we go.
This cold spring day was no exception, and people came out from behind the counter at both stops to pet and coo at them.
It's a tiny town. Everyone knows them and loves them.
They really do make everyone feel a little bit happier.
I had the camera with me and snapped a few photos while on our errand.
Is there anything more cheering than a pet that loves you?

Who doesn't love a cute dog?

 We love you, guys---You're the best~

January 12, 2014

The annual Colonial Twelfth Night Ball Gallery~

Come attend the ball with us~ The ball photo gallery is now up HERE on our WEBSITE~
*(Please note~Our galleries are only up for a short time. We change them periodically to reflect our "17th and 18thc. life and adventures".)


January 7, 2014

"Adam's tea party"

 My Lavender Cookies with Rosewater Icing---An old fashioned teatime sweet~(I have given this recipe in a past post on this blog).
When Adam first started at his new job, a few of the ladies in his department saw photos of us at tea in our 18thc. duds on the walls of his cubicle. This started a discussion about the British, tea, the royals, reenacting and Downton Abbey, among other 'period' shows. It turned out that a handful of these ladies were positively addicted to royal-watching, and tea parties, and all things Brit.
One mentioned that rosewater seemed to be an ingredient much used in tea treats of the past, and how no one cooked like that now.  Adam chimed in with "Oh, yes, my wife does! You should taste her Lavender Cookies with Rosewater Icing, that she makes for our 18thc. English tea picnics!" He then volunteered me to make some, which he offered to bring into work, saying they could all have some with tea one day on their breaks. One thing lead to another and soon someone else suggested a short, "Downton Abbey Tea Party" during lunch one day after the holidays.
That day was yesterday. The handful of ladies and Adam decided to wear something just a little reminiscent or worthy of an old-time Tea, and each would bring something---little sandwiches or a plate of treats. On Sunday, Adam and I had fun making a batch of the lavender cookies and frosting them with my rosewater icing. I put them on a pewter platter with a few dried flowers as decoration on the side. Yesterday morning Adam put on his older, 3 button tweed jacket and wore a tie and a pocket handkerchief.  (This jacket looked most like a tweed Scottish or English one.)
For half an hour yesterday, this small group had a ball brightening a cold winter day at their own 'Times past Tea'. A piece of fabric from the company's collection served as a tablecloth on a conference table. Someone brought a teapot, someone else fancy cups and saucers. There were several kinds of tea sandwiches. Adam said my old fashioned cookies were the hit of the party---Even the maintenance man happened by, and Adam offered him one. He loved them so much, he took a few, and asked for a few to take home to his wife. Adam said it was funny to then see this guy hinting for the recipe!
People from other departments were evidently peeking into the room, eyeing the goings on and food enviously.
Here are a few photos Adam took so I could share a bit of the party~
Adam wore his old tweed jacket for the group's impromptu "Downton Abbey" tea party at work
A lovely time was had by all---at a conference table they decorated.

Everyone who has been reading my blog knows all about how we love our old favorite, the Brit historical series 'Tales From The Green Valley', and how lately we have seen all 6 episodes and the Christmas Special of a new BBC series about life on a Tudor farm in 1500, and that I gave us the companion book, 'Tudor Monastery Farm' for Christmas.
Most of you also know that I am an antique dealer, and have collected antiques all my life. Adam and I love the very early English and American antiques of the 16th and 17th centuries most of all, and we like to think our little old house is time traveler's delight, most of our furnishings dating to that far-away time.
Our things were lovingly collected over years and years with patience, sacrifice, diligent searching, and a little luck---I didn't want a house full of "repros", or an almost "instant Pilgrim look" that I see so often now out there. 
As a widow for many years, I had little money, and most of my best "finds" went to the homes of my customers.
Adam and I have always had a limited and tight budget, and have relied on our knowledge of history, of the period antiques we love, and on our persistence and commitment to finding 'bargains'---wonderful things priced far, far below their actual value.  Often it meant selling 4 of my things to buy one better one.
We also pride ourselves that we had the patience to wait for pieces we wanted, sometimes for years, until we could afford them, rather than fill up our home with mediocre things or 'fakes' in an effort to have an instant home, or to create a "look". Too many people can't stand a 'hole' in their house, and must fill up every corner as quickly as possible, rather than make do and wait for a piece that is an investment, and something they will love for years.
I remember once when I owned a rare set of 18thc. country bannister back chairs, but no early table. Rather than buy some cheap copy or something else to fill up the void, I carefully placed my prized pair of pewter candlesticks on the floor with the chairs around them, as they would be if the proper size table was there. I apologized to no one. I lived with it, anticipating the table of my dreams, which I knew I would find, and for a bargain, in time.
One thing I have seen lately over and over among a few collectors who seem to relatively recently have been bitten by the seductive "Pilgrim" era bug, is that they all seem to fill their homes with an abundance of 'fake' foods, too many baskets, and just way too much 'stuff', 'artfully' displayed on seemingly every surface, (not to mention almost every available foot of floor space as well) resulting in a look that is just that'---a 'look.'  It is neither authentic or real, but tends to turn their homes into insipid showroom vignettes you'd see at a shop selling reproduction antique furniture,  or a hodgepodge mess of how they think people then lived. They also don't seem to take some of the unique physical features of their own particular home into consideration when collecting and decorating. Now, I have even heard some say "Well I saw things like that done at Plimoth Plantation, Jamestown, etc.". Those places are museums---They are stage sets to give visitors a little taste of the lives of our ancestors. Your homes are NOT museums, and that is the big difference.
We LIVE in our home. We are comfortable, and most of all we want our friends to feel comfortable coming to see us, and to actually have a place to sit, and a table surface on which to enjoy some real, homemade food! The most beautiful homes done in a 17thc. style are those that are done with taste, authenticity, and restraint, and where the owners have had the patience and creativity to furnish with the actual antiques of the period. These homes do honor to a time long past and people long gone. 
(See this FORMER POST~)

We watched this fantastic series years ago as well, and I thought you might enjoy this episode of the hilarious 'Supersizers Go..."

Visit our period home and take a tour or our house and gardens HERE~

January 4, 2014

Friday night in the deep freeze

It is "wicked cold heah", as some locals would say.
It is and has been well below zero. Heating fuel is astronomical, and so we are not warm.  I have never seen it so bad---We normally do not get long periods of weather this cold at a stretch.
We are cold all the time---You spend money for the fuel you expect to last for a couple months at least, and you are not even warm---You simply can't afford to crank up the heat to a comfy 65 or 66, and even so the fuel is gone in a month. Everyone I have talked to in New England and the midwest is complaining of the same thing.

Sparkling snow is a couple feet deep around the houses in the neighborhood with piles up to, or covering a bit of the windows of some. Intricate designs in frost and ice decorate the old panes of our window glass. Deep winter is here and we are in the midst of a rare and bitter deep freeze.

We are wearing layers of fleece and heavy wool socks as always. I can't enjoy the sun, if shining, because I have closed the interior wood shutters in the rooms that have them, in an effort to conserve every drop of fuel. Morale was pretty low yesterday, and I decided I would suprise Adam with a lovely roast chicken dinner cooked in the fireplace. I used the bedroom hearth as we would eat in there, keeping only that room really warm, and be able to watch the TV as well later. I went up to the attic and brought down my 'tin kitchen', or reflector oven, as they are called---designed and made for hearth cooking, this one was made especially for me over 25 years ago by a craftsman in Michigan when I still lived in the midwest.
I have always cooked Thanksgiving turkey in the fireplace, not having done one in the oven in over 25 years as well. I love hearth cooking, and have done it for many years.
I built a "ripping fire" in the fireplace about 2:30 in the afternoon. By 3:30, a good bed of coals lay under the 18thc. andirons, and I kept adding split logs of oak, maintaining a nice even fire.
Ahhhhh......It was so cozy and warm, and so elemental---I was transported back to other long-gone days of our ancestors who had no such creature comforts such as indoor plumbing or any central heat at all, against the chill of a New England winter.

I made roast chicken seasoned on the outside with my own special herb mixture, and stuffed with onion chunks. With the divine smoky drippings, I made a yummy homemade chicken gravy. I made mashed potatoes and homemade fresh cranberry orange relish.
The day before I had made a homemade French apple cream cake, and last evening while the little bird was roasting, I whipped up the most wonderful and easy caramel sauce. For dessert we had the apple cake with the warm caramel sauce drizzled over it.

The bedroom was lit only with a few candles, and the glow from the fireplace. The dinner was fantastic. We shut out the cold and dark, and spent Friday night in our 1686 bed with it's heavy  tapestry curtains, the dogs at the foot, but eyeing the chicken hopefully, and enjoying our hearth-cooked feast.

I served my French Apple Cake with homemade warm caramel sauce~

We laughed until we cried watching old Tim Sample videos on Youtube for the rest of the evening.

*(Update-Jan. 2014~ Sadly, the new job is not what we had hoped, and the only way we were able to have this Christmas was because Adam was able to work a lot of temporary overtime. It has turned out to be a nightmare with not paying even close to a bare living wage. The new owners broke contracts, and now though they must work overtime, no one is paid for it. With the outrageous amount for insurance taken out of every paycheck, things are as bad or worse now than before, and are now not able to afford both fuel and food. This is an inexcusable travesty---We are both devastated. The hunt for a job paying a living wage goes on...)