Home: Our United States of America







Keeping the shop filled with inventory, upkeep on the building and working in the village gardens keeps me busy in June. The freezer is filling up with black raspberries. There are still plenty to share with my neighbors.

I took a friend to the hospital today for a test and saw many people fighting age and illness. A nurse walked by with a tomato plant in a wheelchair. I called out, “I hope your tomato plant gets better.” and she laughed.

I finished watching the Ken Burns and Stephen Ives DVD called The West. Once you pick yourself up from the floor, the history of settling the western part of the United States has much to teach us now.


This is the criteria of Cheyenne people when choosing a chief for the tribe:

  • He must be a father to all members of the tribe.
  • He must be good, generous, brave, courageous and must have concern for the welfare of the people.
  • He does not acquire wealth for himself; but to give to the people who are less fortunate.
  • He has led a morally up-right life and is respected.
  • This is how the people choose a spiritual father, a true servant of the people.


Four of the last seven governors of Illinois went to prison. They were very bad chiefs.


Stay strong America. We must have courage and not become apathetic. We must close our ears to the self-serving people who tell us good people are weak. That is a lie.


Good leaders know how to compromise for the well-being of the people, all of the people. Democrats and Republicans, throughout history, have used tactics to block the meaningful decisions of good leaders. That is wrong. We should not allow this.


We are Americans first. This is our America, all of ours. We must act and think like chiefs.




Apartment Therapy Complete + Happy Home Book Review


Designing a cohesive, put-together shop with inventory ranging between the time periods of 1850 to 1950 has baffled me since I opened my shop. I’ve read dozens of design books and studied how other shops do this successfully on Pinterest, but short of renting a storage unit where I can accumulate things that go together, I haven’t learned a thing to make it easier.

Then I saw an article about a publisher looking for people to review  Apartment Therapy’s new book Complete + Happy Home. The ultra-bog, Apartment Therapy, features apartments designed by thousands of creative renters and home owners using flea market, antique shop furniture and furnishings mixed with new or newer furniture.

I could hardly put this book down. All of the principles can be applied to a shop just as easily as one would apply them to an apartment, split-level, ranch or six-bedroom house. I finally grasped something that has previously eluded me. The approach is to throw out all ideas of what Pottery Barn is selling, what is currently trending and what you know about design. Decorate to make yourself happy. Learn how to use what you have, what is comfortable, easy to clean, maintain and is affordable to you. In other words, don’t choose a painting because it matches the color of your couch. Choose one that you enjoy.

Read every page; don’t just look at the pictures and you will have a new eye and the knowledge to create a comfortable home for yourself, family and friends.

There is too much between the covers of the Complete + Happy Home to mention in a review, but the editors aren’t pulling your leg when they put the word Complete in the title. The sections on creating flow, energy, balance and mood helped me tremendously with arranging the shop.

Apartment Therapy contributors essentially live in rentals so they don’t take out walls and install new windows. That is what I love about this book. The point of the book is to train people how to look at their homes in a new way.


Say you just bought a first home with an old board and batten paneled dining room. The new owner envisions a sleek modern design. Bringing in a vintage 1950s red-painted table with steel hairpin legs and adding black modern upholstered chairs turns the room in a new direction. By changing the overhead light fixture to a pendant style with a pierced metal drum shade the room is transformed from hunting cabin to cozy modern in an afternoon.


For the shop, I learned how to unite multiple patterns by adding one color that unites the room. Do you see how the coral lap robe and a vase of coral-colored flowers unifies the bold mix of patterns? It is all about decorating with things that make you feel good and making the room congenial for anyone who visits. I could easily use this technique in the shop. For example, by adding five green linen pillows to the room, the entire shop looks united with the use of color.  Of course, this is easy to do in a small shop like mine, but the idea works for any size room.

The book shines because it is realistic and it trains the reader to really see, just like an artist learns to see. Forget about what the neighbors have, what some marketing department wants you to buy, and get happy with your home.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  Blogging for Books encourages reviewers to write honest reviews.  This book was published in 2015 by Crown Publishing Group.

The Old Home Place


I have walked past this old farm for 12 years and today was the first time I walked up the driveway. No one has lived here for years and it now belongs to the conservation society. They don’t have the money to turn this into the living museum they have planned. Come with me and we will look at it together for the first time.


There are two front doors off the front porch. One was for guests and led to the parlor. The second door was for everyone who came and went daily. Most old houses of this era had two front doors, but it is becoming rare to see a house now that still has both doors.


Look at the beautiful workmanship of these gorgeous eaves.


Don’t you love these old storm cellar doors?


There are large mounds of bee balm growing near the back door of the house.


Swallowtail Butterflies like the bee balm.


A lucky horseshoe is nailed above the back door, open side up to catch the luck.


A bower of lilac bushes separate the kitchen back door from the chicken coop.


This was a very big chicken coop. See the doors that rise to let the chickens out? The windows all face south to give the hens the most light.


How do you think this building was used? It rests upon large rocks.


I wondered if it was for drying something. It is the only building resting on rocks.


This shed with the spaced siding and holes in the roof, I believe, is a corn crib.


Another Interesting Shed


And this one was possibly for carriages….

come on, let’s look inside. The door is open.



I thought this must be the main barn until I turned and saw …


this big dairy barn.


This little building right at the rear entrance may have been for storing milk, like a spring house. My sister, Cindy, worked on a large farm during college, maybe she’ll tell us what this building was.


Prairie Land Reflected in a Barn Window


 Northern Illinois Wildflowers/Herbs Seen near the Buildings

The Daisy Fleabane – Swallows line their nests with these flowers and leaves for the obvious reason. That is the same reason people used to mix this dried plant in with the straw used for mattresses.







There are bird nests everywhere I look.


And Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace or Wild Carrot is known as a good companion plant for tomatoes. This fascinating plant has been found to change the temperature when planted near lettuce plants. And lettuce, as some of you know, likes cool weather. The carrots we eat are a cultivar of this plant.


Long after the children are gone, the old tree still holds rungs to help climb up.


Old Fashioned Perfumed Phlox


This place really speaks of home to me. I wonder if there was ever a picnic table under these shady trees. Don’t you think this would be the perfect spot for a summer supper?

I enjoyed this walk so much, but on my way home, I saw this scene near the cemetery:



Some men had cut down three big, beautiful trees and they were grinding out the stumps. I counted over two hundred rings on this stump. A man said the trees had insects of some type that would spread to other trees. I had to wonder if a tree could stand up to all the storms and insects for over 200 years, why would it need cutting down now? Why couldn’t it be treated to kill the insects? Wouldn’t the insects just move to another tree?  Did a tree cutting company go to the village and tell them these trees must be cut down? The morning ended with a lot of questions that marred my perfect walk today.

Upstairs Vintage

Living above my shop is all pros and no cons. I don’t have to drive to work and I can bake oatmeal raisin cookies and offer them while still warm to people who come in on a winter day.

The downtown buildings in Richmond were built between the 1850’s and  1920. Some of the old buildings in town have loading ramps and even freight elevators, but this building was a bank. My kitchen was probably an office. The building isn’t conductive to bringing in furniture and there is no storage on the ground floor. I carry cartons and cartons and cartons upstairs or to the basement and I work on furniture in the kitchen or in the shop on the days when the shop is closed.

While living in a bank might sound like fun to the adventurous, the building was never meant to be a home. I love it though and I think of it as home – though it took awhile, I’ll admit.

Some things spend time upstairs until I can use them in the shop.


Until I got used to them, mannequins would scare me in the dark.

Things I love:


I think light is the most important feature in a room. I’ve never met a vintage paper lampshade that didn’t come home with me.

IMG_0852If I find a piece of furniture where a mouse has gnawed a hole at the bottom, I’m in love. I always think that it must have taken them such a very long time.


Traveling was so exciting during the Edwardian age. These suitcases were used by a someone who would be been traveling for a short period of time. I like to think about where they have been. Where they taken on a train ride out to the country to visit relatives back on the farm or taken on a honeymoon?

IMG_0849This reminds me of my long-ago Cocker Spaniel, Dickens. The caption reads Needlepoint but it is actually worked-wool done in a very fine hand.


Sometimes, little dolls stay on the shelf upstairs for a long time. But, they always end up being sold. The little indigo and saffron miniature doll quilt belonged to a little girl during the Civil War era.



Tiny bisque dolls were manufactured in Germany and, later, Japan. Some people call them penny dolls. Some of these represent newspaper comic characters, popular in the 1930’s.


                  Silk thread embroidery on natural flax linen is hard to find. This round tablecloth has lovely hanging crochet work. I was lucky enough to find a box of needlework like this, all made by the same woman. All but three were sold on eBay. I think people may not have realized what these are when I put them in the shop. I wouldn’t have know until I learned how to tell handmade lace from factory-made. Telling whether something was sewn by a skilled needlewoman or a new sewer is easy. Learning about antiques is just like learning about art. It is just a matter of learning to see.

IMG_0850I like anything that has to do with traveling.


And anything to do with art.

IMG_0844The Christmas music box with the bottle brush trees and the fireplace that lights up didn’t sell and is back upstairs on a dresser.  I don’t know if I will subject it to another trip downstairs. Its little feelings are hurt.


~Thank you for stopping by today.~