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Monday, June 20, 2016

Little pieces of the past....

When my Grandparents bought the house in Zionsville I loved spending the weekends there. The creek babbled right outside the door....there were woods and fields....lots and lots to do! We had many family gatherings there...holidays and sledding parties!

But....when we moved down that dirt road in the middle of fields and woods, it was a different story!

The place we were moving from was a small neighborhood in a small town. While there were only a few houses, all of them had kids....and we were all pretty close in age. We did everything together. The small town was close enough (well....not by today's standards but....) that we could walk or ride our bikes. We lived along a really busy road so we had to go "get" the mail at a private school that was, relatively, nearby. I still remember the post office box number and our combination to open it!!

When we moved "up here" (Bucks County is still "down home"!!) it was a whole new ball game! There were neighbors...sort of! One family lived about a mile in one direction....and the rest of them (with kids) were...well...antisocial! All of a sudden I found myself in the position of having to entertain...me!!

One summer...with the help and encouragement of my MomMom...I decided to make a quilt. Yes....a quilt. I have never believed in limitations. Hahaha! Luckily, not only was she "on board" with helping me....so was our elderly but "totally capable of doing "mans work" neighbor", Mrs Snyder! She could work...physically....you know, mowing, stacking wood, riding the tractor...WORK....all day long. But, up in their little attic, she had a quilt frame that was, pretty much, always holding a quilt. Her stitches were so tiny and perfect!! It was amazing!!

Once a quilt is in the frame...you, basically, work on it here and there....when you have a little time! MomMom and I spent quite a bit of time, up in that attic, but....I think Mrs. Snyder logged way more hours than we did! She, actually, logged the hours when she made one! She could tell you...that one
 took 203 hours, that one took 198. And, yes, that's how much work goes into one of these pieces of art!!

I fell in love with quilts that Summer (and well into that Winter....again...that IS how long it takes!!) and I still love them!! That's one of the reasons it was SO hard for me to cut into the one I used to redo my rocking chair (see last week's blog!!!) and brings me to my next subject!!

I have been working on pillows!! I, recently, completed all of the ones in this picture. They are all made from old, beautiful quilt pieces....that someone ELSE cut!! It has been really special to work with pieces of the past...pieces that someone else put so much love into creating!! I feel like I have given them a new life and I am super excited to get to do that!! I still have some pieces left from the quilt I used for my chair...so I am going to make some small pillows and sell them at the shop!! I would love for YOU to love them, too!

I will let you know as soon as they are done!!

Have a great Monday...and Happy Summer!!

Monday, June 13, 2016

The chair......

I thought we would take a little detour from my stories....to tell you another story!!

Actually....I wanted to show you my rocking chair!!! Hahaha....and it, too, comes with a story!!

I have had this chair most of my life! When we were living in my MomMom's "weekend" house....and getting closer to the completion of the one we were building....the yard sale hunting began!! This chair was a yard sale find!

It was "made over" all of those years ago to match my new bedroom...and has been with me ever since!

Not only has it been with me....it has been made over time after time after time....and now....it has been made over again!!

I, unfortunately, was SO excited to get this project started....I totally forgot to take any before pictures!!  I will do my best to paint a mental picture for you....

The wicker is in perfect condition. That is saying something....because it usually is not!! The seat
 "cushion" comes out....but it is no "regular" seat cushion. It has springs and metal inside and it weighs a TON!! The back is, also, full of springs and stuff to make it more comfortable. But...from years of wear and tear...both of those cushions needed a bit of TLC. This last time...it was a very dark green with a khaki colored check patterned material on the seat and back. But....it has been yellow...and white...and has had many different materials on the cushions. You would think....because I have made it over so many times....that it is an easy job!! Well....it's NOT!!! All of the sewing, on the seat cushion, has to be done by hand....and that beast of a cushion has to be in my lap the whole time!!

I got the idea into my head that I wanted to recover it with an old quilt. Now....this, alone, was a HUGE "thing"!!! I am a quilt lover....LOVER!! I know all about the time and work that goes into them...(more about all of that in another "story"!!) and I just love to look at them!! The creativity and artistry is just amazing!! Now....knowing this....and knowing ME....would I be able to bring myself to "cut" (ahhhhhhh!!!) a quilt apart??? But....I couldn't get the idea out of my head. It's what I wanted!! SO....I spent hours and hours on Etsy and EBay looking for "cutter" quilts. Cutter quilts are quilts with issues...damage that exists (that I had nothing to do with!) that makes it "okay" (????) to cut it apart!! But...at the same time...I needed enough "good" parts to cover the chair!! I finally found "the one" and ordered it!! I loved the colors and the idea that the star burst would be right in the middle of the back.

And then....it arrived! Oh....the hours and hours and hours of work! All of those tiny little pieces of fabric...cut and sewn together...by hand! Those tiny, tiny stitches!!! It was, already, cut. Someone had taken a pretty good strip off of both sides. I can only assume there was damage. My head was saying...it's okay...it's going to be given new life and a place of honor!! My heart, on the other hand, said....just fold it up and love it the way it is!!!

I stripped all of the old fabric off....and painted the wicker this amazing red. And then...the moment of truth. I grabbed my wonderful, made for fabric and fabric alone, scissors....and made my mind focus on the job....and NOT the quilt....and started to cut!! I am SO glad that I did!!!!

I added new padding to the seat....and new filling and webbing to the back. There is new fabric (old-fashioned looking red and white ticking) on the underside of the seat cushion...and the backside of the  "back"....because I didn't want to "waste" any of the quilt on parts that you couldn't see. I have enough left to make something....or maybe even several somethings...I will keep you posted!

I am so excited and happy about this make over....and about preserving so many pieces of the past....mine and whoever made this beautiful quilt!

Sweet Memories....for sure!!


Monday, June 6, 2016

And the story continues....

Although they moved....a lot....every house, my Grandparents lived in, was home.

Actually, both of my Grandmothers had a real talent for making you feel comfortable, happy, well fed....and at home!! Lessons that would, later, help me establish our business!

There were two houses that had the most influence on me. One was in Ivyland, Bucks County....the other in Zionsville.

The house in Ivyland was a split level on a nice chunk of property. There was a barn...and a horse named "Snowball" that I fell off of...(my cousins fault...and no....I am not a big horse person!!) an in ground swimming pool (which they used...but, eventually filled in!!!?????) a fountain out front and a big screened in "3 season porch" with a barbecue (it shared the chimney with the living room fireplace on the other side of the wall!) and three walls of windows! Many, many, many family gatherings in that room!! I watched her make lemon meringue pie and stew rhubarb in the kitchen....and tried mackerel on toast (which I liked??!!) and pretzels in chocolate ice cream! I spent many a night in the George Washington bedroom (there were pictures, above the bed, of George and Martha) and lots of time in the house!

The house in Zionsville was a "weekend" home. I am not sure it started out that way....but MomMom loved that house!! There were more "improvements" done to that house than they usually did, when they planned to re-sell. A new furnace, a new bathroom, the steps were rebuilt and they built an upstairs porch. There were 18 acres that went along with that house....and a row of peach trees at the top of the hill. It had a small barn...an outhouse, a big bell on a post and the creek ran right along the front of the property. The whole front of the house was an enclosed porch...and this little piece of Pennsylvania Dutch "wisdom" was hanging to the right of the door....so you could see it as you left!!

That house was an even bigger influence on me...and the me that I would become....than the house in Ivyland. I learned to love birds, gardening, antiques, history, quilts....even cats....in Zionsville. (We, actually, lived in that house while our new house was being built.) I watched her make peach jam, bake Christmas cookies and learned that I really liked mustard on ham sandwiches and birch beer!

We had many, many family gatherings in that house, too....and I watched the preparations and work involved in entertaining large groups.....in, relatively, small spaces! Again....some training for the future!! Are you starting to see where Sweet Memories was born!!???

That little piece of Pennsylvania Dutch wisdom is hanging on our walk-in fireplace, in our kitchen.....and it's just the beginning of what I want to share with you! Just like this story is just beginning!!

"come again...if you're here sometime" and stay tuned for the next installment!!




Monday, May 30, 2016

Let's start at the beginning.......

I thought it would be a good idea to start this story at the beginning....well....MY beginning anyway!

Everyone has someone in their lives that influences them more than anyone else. That person, for me, was my Grandmother. "MomMom" to me...that's her on the left! If you are among our most faithful....and have been coming in to Sweet Memories for any length of time....you will remember her sitting and adding her art work to the bags!!

Just about everything I do...and every interest I have...is because of my MomMom. But more about that in another post.

My Grandparents (that's my PopPop on the right....and they are in front of a train. He LOVED trains!! Even though they never met...I am pretty sure that is where my oldest Grandson got HIS love of trains!!! I think we "pass along" much, much more than our facial features!!!) anyway....my Grandparents "flipped" houses long before anyone knew what that meant! They would go to estate
sales...auctions where the house contents and then, ultimately, the house itself were sold. I found
myself at many of these sales. I was too young to really understand what was happening....but I
would be on a blanket, under a tree with something to occupy myself (coloring books....not electronic devices...no one knew about those either!!) until all of the "box lots", household goods, tools and furniture were sold to the highest bidder. Because of all of that time under the tree I am pretty good at understanding auctioneers. And...yes....one time I "accidentally" (had my hand in the air at the wrong time!!) bought something!!

Once that was all done...they would sell the property. More often than not....my Grandfather would buy it. Now....these "flips" were not like the ones you watch on HGTV!! There was no "gutting", no "demo", no wall removal!! He would inspect the properties beforehand...and only bought them if it just needed a little TLC. They would go in and paint (still the BEST way to change any house!) work on the outside....pull weeds, prune, plant flowers. Do some minor repairs...fix broken windows, oil hinges etc. Periodically call in a plumber or electrician....but nothing major. Then....they would sell the house and buy another! Now and again...he would buy rental properties, too.

Now....the result of all of this?? Houses were "business". There wasn't any sentimental attachment to the places that they "flipped"....or the houses that they lived in, either!! I remember 5 different houses just in MY history....and stories of even more than that! I know that my Grandfather considered the properties....and, often, the contents....to be potential profits to be re-invested elsewhere. But I have a sneaky suspicion that my Grandmother didn't always see it that way!

I know that at least two of the five houses held a special place in her heart. I also know that at least some of the "contents" did, too. I know that because....I have most of it!! I have things that she collected, I have things that were family mementos, I have things that were given to her and things that she made, I have books and pictures.....and pictures, and pictures!!

I feel really honored that she gave all of these important things to me and I am taking this responsibility seriously. I have always taken really good care of all of it....but now, with all of the transformations we are doing in our home, I am incorporating it and finding it all a "home"!!

I think she would be very happy!!

There is a lot more to this story.... I'll be back soon!!!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Slowly....slowly....getting there!!

Projects....projects....projects!!

We are....slowly....getting things accomplished. The key word here is slowly!!

We are getting a new shed. The shed is my husband's domain. Just like the inside of the house is mine!! It is where he makes...well....magic!!

I come up with all kinds of ideas....and he builds them...makes them happen!!

But....he needed a new, better, bigger, happier place to work! So....we are getting a new shed. However....there have been problems! It came on a huge truck...and went right into place without a hitch....until he saw the roof trusses. They were the wrong shape!! Luckily...after a few "unhappy" conversations....the shed company said they would "fix" it. Unfortunately....it is not an easy...or quick...fix!!

Now...all of that is stressful enough. But, during the "transformation", all of the contents of the old shed have been scattered all over the place!! We have all kinds of things under huge very, very blue tarps, in our basement, the basement at the shop....our daughter's shed...and my "she shed" pool house. Needless to say...It is hindering everything. But today is the day! They are coming to build the roof...the right roof...and THEN we will be able to get things back to normal!!

I am super excited about that for all of the obvious reasons....but also because then we can start to tick off the many, many projects on our to-do list!! I am planning on showing you all of those projects....including all of the ones I have been working on inside the house! I, also, want to share some stories with you...the memories that I have been working so hard to incorporate in my decor.

I don't think we are the next Chip and Joanna....but I am proud of our home! All of the stories and pictures will give some insight into our shop, too! Why we do what we do...the way we do it!

Hopefully you will come back for story time!!!

I am going to go outside and take a "before" picture of the shed....(as my Grandson said...."it's beautiful...well except for the roof"!!! Hahaha).....then I will show all the stages of "after" that we are planning! After all...we have to customize it....make it more "us"!!!

Soon....YEAH!!!!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Finding a place for memories....

Hello....and Happy May!

Under normal circumstances all I can think about, this time of year, is my gardens....but normal circumstances do not apply, this year!!

While I AM thinking about my gardens....I am, also, obsessed with a multitude of projects IN the house!

It's an odd combination of needing to be organized, finding purpose for the various spaces in the house, wanting every nook and cranny to be pretty....and taking care of the past!

I know, for a lot of parents, the whole "empty nest" thing can be traumatic. But....all of my kids are settled and happy....and that's all that really matters. They can't live with you forever....they need to find their own "nests"...and that's a good thing!

However....sometimes they leave quite a few belongings behind....after all....Mom and Dad have a big attic....so there is a "sorting" process that takes a little time. And...when you own a small business and don't HAVE that much time...it takes even longer!

From the very first time we set foot in our home....in spite of all that it DIDN'T have going for it....I knew what I wanted it to be. I knew what it COULD be! I have, always, concentrated on the first floor when it came to decorating....the "public" floor. The upstairs was full of toys and books....clothes and shoes....jewelry and collections....music and electronic equipment! The kids had their spaces...even if it was short term. But, eventually, their "lease" was up....and those spaces became mine...(well....except for the room devoted to my grandson's toys and trains!)

I have started from scratch....with the paint colors....exactly where I started with the downstairs! Bit by bit....and we still have painting to do....we are finding the "groove"...color pallets that are making me happy! And....bit by bit....I am finding that decorating upstairs (even if no one EVER sees anything I do!!!) is just as exciting as decorating downstairs!

When I decorate...I tell a story. I have pieces that I have collected over the years....as well as many, many pieces that I have been trusted to take care of....and I put them all together in little displays that make you want to really study each object. Many of my favorite decorations have history. Some of the history is someone else's story.....and some of it is mine! I have many, many treasured collections and pieces of the past....my past....that were entrusted to me.

Just about everything I hold near and dear was given to me by my MomMom. Antiques and family heirlooms as well as hobbies and interests. In the process of re-claiming the upstairs portion of our home....I am finding a permanent place for memories!

I am going to try to find a few minutes....in between painting and sewing and gardening....to show you some of my projects....and tell a few stories, too! After all of this hard work....I want someone to see the results!!

Stay tuned....

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Spring fever...or just plain crazy???

I think it's safe to say that Spring has arrived! And I am pretty excited about that!

I know this Winter could have been worse (if you can, somehow, forget about that blizzard!!) but it seemed to drag on longer than usual!

This time of year my OUTSIDE to-do list is always very long...but I have managed to get myself in a real pickle, this year. Not only are all of my outside chores and projects calling me....but I have started about 15 INSIDE projects that all need to be finished, too!

I got this bright idea to re-paint our kitchen cabinets. And, right around the same time, I was inspired to do a little makeover in our upstairs bathroom. Well....that turned into a little more than a LITTLE makeover....I painted furniture in addition to all of the walls and woodwork. And then....I was so excited with how well the kitchen cabinets turned out....I decided that the kitchen needed a new paint job, too! And....I was so excited with how well the furniture in the bathroom turned out that I thought I would paint a few more pieces!!

Now....just about every room in the house is upside down...waiting for one, two....or seven...projects to get done....and my garden is wondering where I am!! Luckily....for my "guilt-o-mometer" it has been cold, wet and/or very windy every Monday since "Spring" arrived....but, I think that is about to come to an end!

This, probably, wouldn't be any big deal if I weren't SO type A....and if our home weren't such a sanctuary. I NEED it to be clean and organized....and pretty.....and warm and welcoming....at all
times! It is what keeps me sane in this crazy, fast paced, pressure filled life that I have created.

So....how about you? Do you have a few (hundred????) Spring projects on your to-do list? If so....what are you planning??

I will try to post some pictures as we accomplish things....I'm sure there are plenty of other people, out there, who love to look at fun before and after DIY projects....maybe there are even a few other people who have over extended themselves!! Seriously....please tell me I am not the only one!!