How time flies. This month, I’m celebrating the T-Cozy’s 10th blogiversary! From whimsical craft projects to charming antiques, from storage hints to seasonal decorating ideas, my hope is that this blog has provided you with innovative ideas to make your home a fun, cheerful place. I’ve loved sharing my flea market finds and treasured collections with you over the years.
Speaking of vintage treasures, this altered art world globe, decoupaged with charming illustrations from a 1940s primer, is up for grabs. Made by yours truly, the paper ephemera features images of friendly children, houses, picket fences and all the activity that goes on in a neighborhood.
For a chance to win my upcycled globe, on Instagram, “like” this photo, then post a picture of your all-time favorite vintage find on your IG feed and make sure to tag @tpartyantiques. If you’re not on Instagram, you can leave a comment on this post about your favorite find instead. The lucky winner will be notified Monday evening, April 3.
Thank you to those who have come along on my blogging journey over the last decade!
Over the years, I have enjoyed sharing numerous family vacations with you as we traveled across the U.S., Canada and Europe. You may have noticed that we return to one place in particular every year without fail — our beloved Martha’s Vineyard.
The first time I visited MV was almost 32 years ago in the early days of dating John. He had a long history with this idyllic spot, the proof being the 8mm home movies his parents took of him as a baby there. It didn’t take long before I fell in love with both John and the island, and we soon started talking about how wonderful it would be to have a place of our own there someday. We married, had kids, and continued our annual pilgrimage. For fun, we’d peruse real estate listings and wonder if we would ever be able to afford anything. With two children to raise, house prices were always out of our reach. However, once our youngest graduated college in 2015, we became determined to finally make that vacation home a reality.
And now, I am thrilled to announce that after a long search, our dream of owning a house on Martha’s Vineyard has finally come true! We closed on this lovely little cottage two weeks ago and are so very happy and excited. We look forward to spending time there with family and friends this summer. But first, lots of work ahead to furnish it from top to bottom. I will surely relish every moment of it...
In case you didn't know . . . I adore photography. Always have, always will. How nice that I get to share my favorite pics with you right here on The T-Cozy. Lucky me!
Here are some new shots for your viewing pleasure.
Our cottage looks extra cozy when covered in a blanket of snow.
Step inside. Want a cup of tea?
Our kitchen is bright and sunny. And just beyond it is my sweet little studio, also known as My Happy Place.
I can’t help but smile when I’m in here.
It has space for all of my crazy collections.
Needless to say, I have a weakness for things made from wood that are shaped like teapots.
My desk is chock full of vintage eye candy. This is where I work on listings for my Etsy shop.
I’ve spent this week listing valentines from the 1930s. Adorable.
My latest acquisition — three metal trays in the perfect shade of aqua. One is already in use as a message board in my kitchen. The other two are in my shop and come with four handmade button magnets.
It’s hard to believe that my 10-year blogiversary is this March. Wow! How did that happen? Whether you are a new reader, or one that has been with me for the long haul, my hope is that The T-Cozy has been a respite for you, a place to relax during your busy day and enjoy my quirky brand of home decor with a vintage twist.
I am ever grateful to you for being here. It has been an honor to provide you with decorating inspiration and to share my love of photography with you. Have you enjoyed what you’ve seen and read here? I do hope so.
I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. Ours was chock full of fun with family and friends. One more day to chill, and then it’s back to business as usual...
May your 2017 be filled with peace, good health, and much happiness!
I have been an artistic person for as long as I can remember. Art was always my favorite subject in grade school and I proceeded to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in college. After graduation, I put my creative talent to work as a graphic designer for 24 years.
In 2003, I longed for a change, so I laid my design business to rest and opened an antiques shop and tea room. When it closed in 2008, Etsy became the perfect place for me to share my love of vintage items as well as the things I like to make, shown below...
Vintage button magnets
Mixed media primer pictures
Vintage book cover journals and handmade note cards
Pennant banners sewn from vintage textiles
And altered art world globes.
Recently, I had the good fortune to be one of the local artists featured at West Elm Pop Up Shops around the country. I did one in Westport, CT in mid-November and they asked me back for another. So I happily popped up again last Saturday where I brought along this array of handmade goods with a vintage vibe...
And here they are on display at West Elm...
I so enjoyed popping up and meeting West Elm’s friendly sales staff and super nice customers. Many thanks, West Elm!
In the mood for a little vintage eye candy? If so, here's a look back at some of my favorite things from my Etsy shop that have found new homes over the years. Enjoy!
As the total number of items sold in my Etsy shop approaches 1,800, I'd like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for your loyal patronage. Many thanks to each and every one of you!
Hi there! Since you are reading these words right now, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for being here, on this, my 9-year blogging anniversary. Nine years. Wow, that went by quickly.
When I began writing The T-Cozy on March 6, 2007, there was a lot less chatter online. Now, with Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and more, some folks have become quick fix social media junkies with short attention spans. The result: good blogs are biting the dust daily. You see, blogging takes time and that commitment is not something every blog author and blog reader can sustain. These days, some prefer to write or read a brief tweet or text message.
And yet... here you are. And for that, I am truly grateful.
My studio was featured in Issue #22 of Love Sewing, the UK’s number one sewing magazine. This popular publication offers free monthly patterns, easy-to-follow step-by-step guides and instructions in using the latest fabrics to create contemporary accessories for your home, family and wardrobe, even with basic sewing skills. Each issue also has a Sewing Room Swoon article and I am thrilled to have my studio, and all of its vintage goodness, featured.
What an honor! Many thanks to Love Sewing editor Amy Thomas for including me in her lovely magazine.
About a month ago, I received an email from a gentleman named Bill who lives in Des Moines. He had come across my blog post from August 2011 called Trash Day Treasure about a fabulous display case with a slanted glass front that I found discarded by the side of the road while on my morning walk. Bill contacted me to see if there was any chance I'd ever consider giving the case a new home. Unfortunately, all I could give him was the bad news that I'd already sold the piece when we moved to our cozy cottage in 2013.
At the end of his email correspondence, Bill attached a photo of colorful glass marbles and mentioned that when he retired, he taught himself how to make them. A marble collector for almost 30 years, Bill now fulfills his hunt addition by creating his own.
For your viewing pleasure, I present to you Bill's handmade marbles, each more beautiful than the next. Enjoy!
Aren't they stunning? Thank you, Bill, for allowing me to share these tiny works of art.
To celebrate my one-year anniversary on Instagram, I’m having a giveaway!
For an opportunity to win this fun vintage soap powder holder…
1. Follow me and like this photo on my Instagram feed.
2. For a second chance to win, leave a comment on this post on my Instagram feed and tag a friend.
The lucky winner will be announced on my Instagram feed on Sunday evening 1/17.
Many thanks for all the IG 💚 this past year!
A new Museum is opening in my town this weekend! Part of the Norwalk Historical Society, it celebrates Norwalk's history and diversity and is sure to be an asset to the city. Located in a stately brick building behind City Hall, it offers innovative and educational exhibits and will be used as a gathering place for exciting events.
The Museum's curators have been hard at work on the exhibits. I, too, have been a curator of sorts, as I was asked to create a Museum gift shop from the ground up. For the past nine months, I’ve been meeting with local artists, going to the gift show in NYC, searching for display pieces, and finally, setting up and styling the shop in a bright, spacious room on the Museum’s first floor.
My goal is to have the store be a shopping destination featuring gifts for all occasions, filled with interesting and unusual items that you can't find just anywhere. I have used it as an opportunity to feature 25 local artists’ work and their affordable paintings, mixed media, photography, home goods, greeting cards, jewelry, ornaments, housewares, toys, books, accessories and more.
You’ll also find custom tote bags, aprons, dish towels, soaps, hats, tee shirts and hoodies, all with the Norwalk Historical Society’s lovely new logo.
And for the holidays, a very special Norwalk globe ornament has been created just for us. So pretty!
I had such fun putting the shop together and I’m very pleased with how it turned out.
If you are in the area this weekend, shop local and stop in. The Holiday Open House (and ribbon cutting) is on Saturday, December 5 from noon until 4 pm. Hope to see you there!
If you can’t make it this Saturday, please note that regular Museum hours are Wednesdays through Saturdays, noon to 4 pm with extended Holiday shopping hours on Friday, December 11, noon to 7 pm and Saturday, December 12, 10 am to 4 pm. The Museum is located behind Norwalk City Hall at 125 East Avenue, Norwalk CT.
On a cold fall day, there is nothing better for lunch or dinner than a steaming bowl of homemade soup. Today, John whipped up one of our favorites that I'd like to share with you: Lemony Lentil and Rice Soup.
The recipe is from 1,000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson. This cookbook is filled with wonderfully healthy recipes that anyone will enjoy, vegan or not. As the soup sat simmering this morning, the whole house smelled amazing. I couldn't wait to eat it!
Please note that John has made a couple of adjustments to the recipe. He prefers to use vegetable broth instead of water and he replaces the uncooked beans with organic canned lentils that are already cooked.
Lemony Lentil and Rice Soup... hearty and oh so delicious. Enjoy!
Recently, I spent a long weekend away in southern Vermont. On a sunny fall morning, two friends and I made the 3-1/2 hour drive north from Connecticut through some of the prettiest countryside I have ever seen. We traveled along the Green Mountains and Adirondack foothills to our destination: Arlington, Vermont. Meleen Dupre and her good friend Charlotte Lyons have been hosting craft-based getaway weekends since 2012. For four days and three nights, a group of creative women from across the country gather together to stay in Meleen’s side-by-side vintage farmhouses, eat her home-cooked meals, do a few crafty projects, and experience whatever else lovely Vermont has to offer.
We arrived late Thursday afternoon and were warmly greeted by Charlotte and Meleen. After getting a tour of both homes and settling into our respective bedrooms, comfy wicker chairs beckoned us on the porch. More introductions were made and we chatted while snacking on grapes, Vermont cheese and crackers. Later, we headed inside to the great room to enjoy a scrumptious dinner at communal tables among the array of distinctive antiques that Meleen and her husband collect.
After dinner, it was off to the craft room for our first project: handmade journals. Meleen repurposed vintage books as the covers and it was our task to decorate and fill them with blank pages. Before arriving, we had a little homework assignment to make tags with our contact information. Now that we were together, we exchanged those tags with one another and placed them in our journals.
The next morning, we enjoyed a hearty country breakfast and lounged for a bit in our PJ’s. Then we got ready for the next project: a workshop led by talented guest artist Jenn McGlon of Noodle and Lou. Jenn showed us how to paint little wooden boxes in her distinctive style. So sweet, just like Jenn!
That afternoon, we went on a field trip to Wing and a Prayer Farm. We met fiber farmer and baker extraordinaire Tammy White, her beautiful sheep and alpacas, crazy turkeys, and three very energetic dogs. Tammy showed us how she creates a variety of fabric dyes from plants and other natural elements. She also graciously gathered an array of fresh herbs from the garden and instructed us in a fragrant project: lovely little herbal wreaths for us to take home.
The next day, the always inspiring Charlotte Lyons led us in our most challenging project: a shadowbox fashioned from a cigar box and filled with personal trinkets we brought from home. Classes took place in a well-appointed craft room that took up the entire first floor of one of the houses. Chock full of every sort of art supply, it was the perfect place to get to know everyone while crafting. My four-seasons-themed shadowbox, featuring fun vintage pics of me and my sister, turned out better than I expected!
Late that afternoon, we took a shadowboxing break to visit and shop at Battenkill Pottery, the studio of ceramic artist Jessica Putnam-Phillips.
Although our days were full, we still had time to explore on our own. We hit up a few Saturday morning tag sales and antique shops and visited Bennington Potters. We enjoyed Manchester, Vermont, with its outlet stores and one of the best independent book shops around, Northshire Bookstore. We also stopped at Manchester Woodcraft, a family-owned business filled to the brim with affordable wooden gifts, toys and household items.
On the way back to Arlington, we stopped at Hildeen, the spectacular estate of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln’s son.
Hats off to Meleen and Charlotte for creating such a fun-filled and inspiring weekend! Where else can you stay in vintage farmhouses, eat wonderful meals, explore the picturesque New England countryside and craft to your heart’s delight?
Even though I am not a crafter by nature and the projects were challenging for me, I truly enjoyed working on them. It was nice to learn something new in a beautiful setting surrounded by friendly and talented people. What a pleasure it was to meet and spend time with Charlotte, Meleen, Jenn, Kana, Tammy and all of the women who ventured from near and far to attend this very special fall getaway.
On this day two years ago, we took ownership of our new home. Little by little, we have brought this neglected once-rental property back to life. Although it had its challenges, I found the renovation process fun, fascinating and so rewarding. I adore old houses. And now that I have had the chance to live in and transform one myself, I know just how thoroughly satisfying it can be.
Our biggest project began the moment we arrived: removing walls to create an open concept kitchen and family room. The original rooms, shown below, were long and narrow and shared a common wall.
It was exciting to open up the kitchen wall to reveal the family room's rustic stone fireplace. We relocated the kitchen along the back of the house and vaulted the ceiling to follow the existing roofline. Another wall was removed between the kitchen and dining room.
The finished rooms are exactly what I envisioned — a bright, open space where family and friends can enjoy cooking, eating and relaxing together.
We also carved out my studio from the closet-sized office and full bath/laundry room below. Combining these small spaces and vaulting the ceiling created a surprisingly roomy work space.
Chock full of my favorite things, this light-filled room is everything I hoped for in a studio, and more.
If you follow my blog, you know that these projects were just a few of what we did to revive our good-boned 1925 cottage. We renovated two bathrooms, replaced the roof, paved the driveway, refreshed the landscaping, installed new garage doors, refinished floors, removed menacing trees, tweaked the AC, heat and irrigation system and painted the deck, woodwork and every single wall.
Sounds crazy, right? Perhaps, and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.
Do you remember my vintage lunch box challenge? A few years ago, I was asked to procure 59 of them within three months… and I did it! Then I sent them off to Oregon where they were re-purposed into guest room lamps for a hotel in Portland.
Recently, I wondered what ever became of those lamps. So I googled the Governor Hotel and was surprised to learn that it's now called the Sentinel Hotel. I was also surprised to see one of my lunch boxes right on their home page.
When I explored their rooms link, several more pics of the lamps turned up.
I shared these photos on Instagram and was pleased to hear back from the hotel. They kindly thanked me and told me how their guests love the lamps. I'm so glad. That was one fun project!
I just got back from an early morning bike ride. Often, I head toward the water and pedal around our old neighborhood. Today, I spotted this...
Yes, that's our old home, the one we owned for over two decades. It has been almost two years since we moved into our cozy cottage, but I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for this house.
We ran into a former neighbor recently who mentioned that the house was slated for demolition — but not because it is inhabitable. On the contrary, we heard that the people who bought it from us opened up walls inside and made all sorts of improvements.
But did they have to rip out the entire garden? Years and years of dividing perennials... Here's peek at the front garden when we lived there. I don't see anything offensive, do you? To each his own, I guess.
Anyway, they moved to California. We were told that the newest owners want to raise up the house, like so many have done in our area after Hurricane Sandy. Apparently, the cost to do that is almost as much as building a new one, so down it comes. I understand that these folks want to make improvements, like we all do when moving to a new place. And many would find this mid-century colonial boring and basic. I liked it just the way it was.
When we moved there back in 1990, it was one of the largest homes on the street. Now, it is in the shadow of new "look at me" houses that are big and bulky with minimal green space. John and I joke that they look more like conference centers than family homes. There is nothing cozy about them. Above shows the view from my former studio before and after a giant McMansion was erected. Monster houses are taking over that neighborhood. We got out just in time!
Luckily, we have tons of photos to help us remember what a lovely spot this was to raise our family. It was a happy, happy, happy place and the memories live on, even though the actual structure will be heading to a landfill soon.
Have you noticed that almost every business has a blog these days? When I come across a website that has one, I like to click on the link to see what they have to say. Unfortunately, I am often greeted with stale, outdated posts. News flash! A blog shouldn’t simply be a static page on a website. It should be current and fresh, not stale and outdated.
Have blogs run their course? Well, it has been quieter on the blogging-front for me lately. Maybe I should chalk it up to this being a very busy time of year. But maybe blog readers have moved on. Instagram (my new love) and Tumblr both provide a quick visual fix, so perhaps people just don’t need or want to read blogs as much.
Why do I still blog? For me, it's a form of creative self expression that lets me dabble in my love of photography and share a personal view of my world. And I love how it allows for the presentation of a story or an idea in great detail. So I ask myself: Should I continue? Or is it time to call it a day? Over the years, I have truly enjoyed sharing what I am passionate about with you — my home, family, creative pursuits, vintage finds, and more. However, I feel that I am now at a crossroads.
There have been quiet times while blogging when I think to myself, "Is anybody out there?" But then I'll receive a heartfelt comment or an enthusiastic email and I'm reassured that I must be doing something right. The stats reassure me, as well. The T-Cozy has had almost 800,000 lifetime views, has been left 6,948 lovely comments, and has an average of 265 page views per day. With just over 8 years of blogging under my belt, I have written 1,207 posts. That is a boatload of words, photographs and time!
Currently, with house renovations, a consulting project, and a need to focus on my Etsy shop, health and family, I have had to post less frequently, usually 1-2 times a week. Even so, blogging still feels right and I plan to keep on posting — for now.
I do hope you'll keep on reading….
Our dear son Jacob received his diploma yesterday! Four years of college have flown by and it is time for Jacob to embark on a career in elementary education.
Jacob will be (and already is) an awesome teacher. I am certain that he will have a positive impact on the lives of each and every one of his young students. John and I are beaming with pride.
It's been almost four months since I started posting on Instagram. My, how time flies when you're having fun. And I do mean fun. Filled with visual splendor, Instagram is truly a feast for the eyes. I love it!
Are you following T-Party Antiques on Instagram? I do hope so. But if you haven't discovered me there yet, here is a quick peek at just some of the 255 pictures I have posted so far...
What do you think? Fun, right? If you like what you see, I hope you will consider following me on Instagram.
Thanks a bunch!
I have been a busy bee — finding, crafting, photographing, listing! Here's a peek at what is destined for my Etsy shop . . .
I made three fabric swatch portraits using vintage bark cloth with a woodsy scene.
Some recent finds: a classic King-Seeley thermos, a tabletop corner shelf with birds, a pair of Sears roller skates, a set of three teapot-shaped tea bag rests with mushrooms, a green depression glass dish, an Androck sifter with a checkerboard pattern and a teapot-shaped shelf with hooks for potholders or keys.
I had the good fortune to acquire more soap powder holders. They can be very hard to find. However, these five found me! Someone read about my collection here on The T-Cozy and offered them to me. Yay!
More finds: an aqua Pyrex mixing bowl, another copy of Susie's New Stove, a vintage carrying case, flower-shaped curtain tie-back pins, a 1950s picnic tin, a pair of toy dump trucks, a blue Shawnee Pottery vase and a pretty pressed glass dish.
I have been contemplating selling off my large collection of vintage Sta-Brite flatware with red Bakelite handles. What do you think I should do? Keep or sell?
Plus — there is one more very special vintage find that I plan to share with you in my very next post. So please stop back soon!
Wow, that was quite the winter. Thank goodness spring is finally here! I so look forward to getting out in the garden. I also can't wait to open all the windows and let the warm spring breezes in.
But not today . . . We are supposed to get a bit of snow! I guess a little more of the white stuff will only make the warm weather to come all the more enjoyable.
Bluebird image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy.
Please stay tuned for my next post, when I share what's new around here — both in my Etsy shop and in my home, where our two bathroom renos are coming along nicely.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend!
Early this morning, I used a handy online random number generator to pick the winner of my 8 years of blogging giveaway. The number that was selected was 3, so I reviewed your sweet comments and found the third one that came in.
(Drum roll, please.) The winner is... Drew Lamm! And here is her lovely comment...
Congratulations Drew! I will be in touch as to how to get you your giveaway goodies.
My sincere gratitude to those who took the time to leave a comment and enter my giveaway. It was so nice to hear from you!
And to all of you out there, thank you!!! Please know that I truly appreciate your readership, comments, and kind support.
My sweet little blog is eight years old today. From my tea room days, to downsizing and finding the cottage of my dreams, we've been through a lot together. I am so happy and honored that you have come along for the journey.
To express my gratitude to all of my loyal T-Cozy friends and T-Party patrons, I'm having a giveaway. Here's what you could win . . .
The cutest vintage apron: made from white organza and embellished with red trim and clusters of cherries.
A sunny yellow bud vase: featuring hand painted leaves and a large maroon flower on the front.
The 1947 Good Housekeeping Housekeeping Book: chock full of handy tips and wonderful mid-century photos.
A darling set of four yellow butterfly buttons: made by Le Chic and still attached to their original card.
If you'd like a chance to win these items, please leave a thoughtful comment on this post by Sunday, March 14. I'll announce the winner on Monday, March 15. For those of you who are shy about leaving a comment, please don't be. I'd love to hear from you. (Please note that if you read my blog via a reader, your comment will not appear in the thread on the actual blog. So be sure to leave your comment on the blog, not through your reader.)
Even if you choose not to enter this giveaway, please know that I appreciate your readership, comments and kind support over these last 8 years and 1,192 posts.
Vintage relic seekers love the thrill of the hunt. When there is something they have a hankering for, they will diligently search far and wide until they find it.
Are you that way? I can be from time to time. And I must admit, looking for something very specific can be fun but daunting also. (Sites like Chairish.com can make it easier.) Know what I enjoy even more? The thrill of the find, when I discover something marvelous that I wasn't even looking for.
While scouring flea markets, thrift shops, estate sales, and more, I try to keep an open mind and a discerning eye to make sure I notice things that aren't typically on my radar. If I'm lucky, I sometimes find a special piece that speaks to me and says "Take me home." That is precisely what happened when I came across my studio's work table.
I found the table at my dealer friend Kim's inspiring booth at the Stratford Antique Center. She specializes in vintage kitchenware and her stall is always chock full of fabulous finds. When I spotted this teapot-embellished table in her booth, I knew Kim had really outdone herself. And although I wasn't looking for a table of any kind, I knew it had to be mine.
I purchased the $200 table right around the time we moved into our sweet little cottage. Without any notion of where it would go, I stored it down in the basement until we completed our kitchen/dining room/family room/office reno last winter. Then when the time was right, I gave the table a good scrub, tightened various screws and bolts, and decided to place it center stage in my brand new studio.
Isn't it the cutest? And absolutely perfect for a former tea room proprietor! I bet the table was once part of a 1950s dinette set with matching chairs and an extension leaf. Now it serves as a useful work surface. And it looks great with my vintage office chair.
My new table's shapely top wears its original red and cream Formica with a crackled ice pattern. This laminate top features a scalloped design and two cheery red teapots.
The table also sports a banded aluminum apron and chrome splayed legs brimming with mid-century appeal.
My whimsical and thoroughly wonderful work table provides an ample surface for sewing and other crafty endeavors. And best of all, it never fails to make me smile. :)
I am pleased to report that I've hit a major milestone in my Etsy shop — 1,500 sales!
To celebrate, I am offering 15% off starting today through Sunday, February 8. To get the discount, be sure to use the coupon code SAVE15 at checkout.
Many thanks to each and every one of my wonderful past, present and future patrons!
Ugh! Today brings bitter cold and even more snow. And although I'm a trouper when it comes to winter, it doesn't mean that I like it. However, I do like sipping a hot cup of tea as I work in my snug studio. Makes this nasty weather so much more tolerable.
Wishing you a warm and cozy weekend,
Did you make any New Year's resolutions? I did, one of which I'll share with you today . . . T-Party Antiques is now on Instagram! And although I may have arrived a little late to the Instagram party, it is something I have wanted to do for some time. Thankfully, my darling daughter is a social media whiz. With her prodding, I finally have a T-Party Instagram feed. This free online photo sharing and social network platform is a fun, quick and easy way to view and share visually inspiring images. You might be asking: Isn't that what Pinterest provides? In a way. However, Instagram has a format that organizes photographs and videos in sequential order, so it functions like a mini-blog of sorts, allowing you to experience moments in your friends' lives through pictures as they happen. You can "favorite" and comment on the photos, too.
Yesterday's Instagram photo shows me in the midst of an altered art globe project. The one I had listed in my Etsy shop sold, so I have my work cut out for me, so to speak. ;)
Although my Instagram is only one week old, I plan to post frequently and load it up with lots of eye candy brimming with vintage appeal. I hope you will consider following me, at this link. Thanks a bunch!
I hope you've enjoyed The T-Cozy's 85+ posts this past year and I invite you to stop by throughout 2015. Please know that I am forever grateful for your loyal readership and support.
My very best wishes to you and yours for a new year filled with happiness, good health, and most of all, peace on this planet we call Earth.
On this day 30 years ago, I met the love of my life on a commuter train. We have been together and blissfully happy ever since.
I feel incredibly fortunate and so grateful to have John in my life. Was meeting him fate? Who knows? But what I do know is that time flies when you're in love. It feels like the last 30 years went by in 30 seconds.
To my dear husband John, Happy "Meeting" Anniversary!
Lately, my brew of choice (beside Susan's Blend) is green tea. So when The Republic of Tea recently contacted me asking if I'd sample a few of their premium teas, I chose to try an array of their organic green teas.
How lovely to find a package with these three varieties on my doorstep: Spice of Life Green Tea combines green tea with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and pure honey flavor. Their Organic Dancing Leaves variety is a full-leaf loose green tea. And Double Green Matcha Tea combines organic green tea powder (matcha) with organic green leaf tea.
I really like The Republic of Tea's round, unbleached tea bags. They stack neatly in those well-designed cylindrical tins and nestle comfortably inside the teacup. For the loose tea, I used a mesh stainless steel tea ball which is perfect for brewing one cup.
I fired up my tea kettle and when it whistled its tune, the brewing began. Using a timer left over from my tea room days, I steeped each for a full three minutes. Then it was time to sip...
When brewed, each variety had a distinctive color and taste. The Spice of Life blend was complex and a bit sweet. I definitely could taste the cinnamon, turmeric and ginger. The Dancing Leaves loose tea was hardy and rich with smoky tones. And the Double Green Matcha was simpler and quite smooth.
All three teas were yummy, but I had a clear favorite: Double Green Matcha. Many thanks to The Republic of Tea for sharing!
That is the question. You see, even though I no longer have my tea room, I still get requests for tea. Every so often, someone calls my cell phone asking to book a private party or make a reservation for afternoon tea. I hate to hear the disappointment in their voices when I tell them my tea room closed six years ago.
Other times, I am contacted by someone wanting to try one of the teas offered at my former establishment. Just last week, one of my lovely Etsy shop patrons from New Hampshire was curious about my former tea room, so I suggested she peruse the Once Upon a Tea Room category on this blog to see the posts I wrote while the shop was still open.
A week later, I heard back from her. She said, “Thanks for the link to your blog. It's easy to get lost in there! I've enjoyed seeing the pictures and reading the stories of your tea room, and regret that I did not get to experience it in person. Do you sell your loose tea blends? Your Susan's Blend is one I would like to try.”
I called my tea purveyor to see if they could create a fresh batch of my namesake tea, a delicious Rooibos mixed with ginseng, blackberry leaves, orange peel, rosehips, chicory, ginger root and a hint of cinnamon. Luckily, they kept the Susan's Blend recipe on file all these years and kindly made some for me to send off to my customer in New Hampshire.
Since then, I've been pondering whether I should offer some of these loose leaf teas for purchase in my Etsy shop.
Hmmm, to tea or not to tea? Not sure what I'll do . . . But in the meantime, I would be happy to take order requests for the varieties shown in the list above. Feel free to contact me via my website's email form to discuss your tea needs.
365 days ago, we became the proud owners of a house brimming with potential. From the very first time I set eyes on it, I knew this humble abode had everything I wanted. All it needed was a little TLC. Well, maybe more than a little...
Over the past year, I've shared our vintage home's top to bottom improvement projects with you — its new roof, garden, paint, floors, kitchen, dining room, family room, living room — and let's not forget my new studio. Yes, it has been a lot of work. But I would do it again in a heartbeat. I hope you've enjoyed seeing the progress as we brought this 1925 charmer back to life. Thank you for coming along.
Is this finally the cottage of my dreams? You betcha!
What a magical night! I will be forever grateful to my sweet son Jacob for letting me tag along on his spur of the moment getaway to Martha's Vineyard.
BTW: the morning after this glorious event, I rode my bike to a gym in town for a work out. Afterward, I strolled through the MVCMA for one more look and to my surprise, there wasn't one lantern in sight. Everything was back to normal and I found myself thinking — Was that a dream?
Grand Illumination Night is the annual summer event that is most emblematic of the magical Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association. This historic community in Oak Bluffs, MA, has over 300 charming homes embellished with gingerbread trim and painted in every color of the rainbow. One August day each year since 1868, cottage owners retreat to dusty attics and unpack Asian lanterns and umbrellas, many as old as the homes themselves, to embellish their picture-perfect cottages even more. Come nightfall, these lanterns will be lit en masse to the oohs and ahhs of thousands of appreciative onlookers.
I spent the afternoon before Grand Illumination last week riding my bicycle around this area so that I could watch as the cottage owners prepared for their showiest night of the year. The result is the photos, below.
Aren't they wonderful? Just wait until you see them all lit up — in my next post!
Enjoy the holiday weekend,
Last week's unexpected visit to Martha's Vineyard was such a treat. Here's how I was able to go back a second time this summer to my most favorite place on the planet...
Before returning to college, my son and his girlfriend were planning a last minute trip away. MV was where they really wanted to go, but it can be very tricky finding a place to stay and getting a spot on the ferry with such short notice. Luckily, there was space at a camp site and I helped them secure a ferry ticket. (The only boat available was at 7am!) I then checked an online calendar to see what was happening during the three days they would be on the island. When I saw that they'd be there for Grand Illumination Night, I was beyond jealous. I have always wanted to witness that lovely spectacle. So, Jacob kindly invited me along! Now I just needed to find a place to stay.
I'm not one for camping, nor did I want to horn in on Jacob's trip, so I was bound and determined to find a room for two nights near the action in Oak Bluffs. Plus, to further stay out of Jacob's hair, I was going to use my bike to get around. I searched every inn and hotel to no avail. They were all booked and had long waiting lists. I was just about to give up when I came upon a listing for a room at a tiny place in O.B. named Seashell Cottage. To my delight, it was available!
In order to get to Wood's Hole and catch the 7am ferry, we began our journey by the light of the moon at 1:30am. I offered to drive and with almost no other cars on the road, we arrived at the ferry landing in record time — so early, in fact, that we were put on the 6am ferry. How lovely to watch the sun rise as we made our way to our beloved island.
By 6:45am, we docked in Vineyard Haven and headed to our favorite place for breakfast, The Art Cliff Diner. Eating there generally involves a 45-minute (or more) wait for a table but it's always worth it. This time however, we arrived just as they opened and didn't have to wait at all. (I guess 7am is the time to go. By 7:20, every table was occupied!)
After a delicious Art Cliff breakfast, we drove over to Seashell Cottage and met Carol who graciously rents out one of the bedrooms in her darling house. We also met Birdie, her adorable blue-eyed Cocker Spaniel rescue.
Seashell Cottage sits high above Lagoon Pond and is adjacent to a path that leads to a small neighborhood beach. With a white washed beadboard interior, this little cottage oozes with charm. Have a look inside.
Isn't it sweet? And best of all, it's walking and biking distance to Oak Bluffs. Bicycles are a popular and perfect mode of transportaion on Martha's Vineyard because there are miles of paved bike paths that are safe and separate from the road.
Please check back for more about last week's blissful MV trip. Next time, I'll share pics of the Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association cottages as they prepare for their showiest night of the year.
Talk about spur of the moment... I have just taken an unexpected trip to Martha's Vineyard. Again? Yes!!! And it was all because of an opportunity that arose that allowed me to be there during an event that has been on my bucket list for decades: Grand Illumination Night.
I returned home late last night, so once I have a chance to catch my breath, I'll be sharing more about my three days of bliss on MV.
A funny thing happened to me. Recently I was told that my collections are not large enough. Apparently I don't have enough 1950s picnic tins . . .
Or enough hand-tinted antique photographs . . .
Or enough colorful 1940s tablecloths . . .
. . . or even enough vintage art pottery.
Let me explain. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a wonderful magazine in the UK. Every month, they write about a collector and feature twelve photos of their collection. The magazine's editor kindly requested a sampling of my stash and I sent them the above photos. Upon reviewing my submissions, I was told that I don't have enough stuff. That was a first!
Oh, well. But how lovely to be considered. :)
When we first moved into our cozy cottage last October, our living room did triple-duty. During the home's four-month-long renovation, it served as our family room, kitchen/dining room and studio. Then, once the construction was complete, the living room went back to looking like this . . .
Last summer, we sold virtually all of our living room furniture (e.g. the 1990s busy floral tapestry sofa and loveseat) at our former house's estate sale and I was excited to start fresh. I longed for classic neutral pieces that would be more timeless and go with everything.
We opted for Bassett Furniture in Westport, CT, where Robin, one of their designers, kindly came to our home and measured the space. She helped us select fabrics and order the appropriate size sofa, occasional chairs, pillows and two upholstered benches. Each was custom-made and delivered within 30 days. We even found the rug there. Robin, thanks for your help. Truly great service!
Once we had those basics in place, I began to look for a chest of some sort that would provide us with much needed storage. I found a pine one, below, at Knock on Wood in Norwalk, CT. We placed it against the long wall across from the sofa and chairs. Perfect! Then it was time to hang something special on the wall above it.
I chose to create a gallery wall using my collection of hand-tinted landscape photos from the early 1900s. Many of them were shot by Wallace Nutting and a few are by his contemporaries. I adore these old pictures. They have just the right vibe for our 1925 home.
Finding a coffee table became my next task. I wanted one with a glass top so that the lovely medallion in the center of the rug would be visible. After much searching, I finally found one I liked at Wayfair.com. The small, white table between the chairs came from there, too. Even though I had to put both of them together myself, they were so reasonably priced, it was worth it.
Next, I focused on smaller home decor pieces. For the coffee table, I found a rustic wooden tray on Etsy from a seller called Cupola Vintage.
Homegoods provided the glass bell jar that sits on a galvanized tray from Terrain. This cloche displays rocks and shells found on our recent trip to Martha's Vineyard. An old photo of Edgartown Lighthouse serves as a backdrop.
More MV beachy finds reside in a green glass bowl from Spain that was discovered at Marshalls.
This oak secretary was one of the few things we kept from our old living room. Filled with white pottery and old books, a chair from Goodwill completes the vignette.
Of course, I had to find a spot for our beautiful dollhouse . . .
And our collection of heart-shaped rocks . . .
The very last piece of the living room puzzle was finding lamps. I envisioned a matching pair of floor lamps for either side of the pine chest. I am so darn picky — it took me forever to find them.
After an extensive search (thank you, John, for your patience), I found two very affordable ones at Wayfair's Joss and Main. They just arrived, so I took a quick pic of them for you.
And there you have it . . . our finally furnished living room! We love it. What do you think?
My vintage toy sewing machines are featured in the July 2014 issue of Homespun, an Australian publication filled with beautiful handmade textile projects, clever craft ideas and articles on all things crafty. Homespun magazine is a place of inspiration created by a team of leading craftspeople throughout Australia and the world. Each issue features step-by-step project ideas and accompanying patterns sheets for a variety of crafts like quilts, bags and more, photographs of fantastic finished products plus interesting reads to engage and entertain. My original photographs of the many tiny sewing machines that have sold in T-Party's Etsy shop are part of Homespun's Pin Interest, a sourcing section of the magazine that offers a feast of fabulous ideas from the best creative minds.
(Image credit: Homespun)
I am so pleased that business was brisk in my Etsy shop while I was away on Martha's Vineyard. Here are some of the things that are traveling to new homes across the U.S. — and also to Japan!
I'm such a slowpoke. It took me all morning yesterday to pack everything for shipment.
I make extra sure everything is wrapped with care and I always include a handwritten thank you note.
Thank goodness Jacob was here to help me get everything to the post office!