so I made a wreath…


It’s December! Christmas decorations can make their 2013 Christmas season debut!

I made a wreath yesterday.

Including the wreath form it cost me $6.51.


Gently used and vintage Christmas decorations is how.

Yesterday I made a stop at Resellers Consignment Gallery on Route 30 in Frazer. In the front of the store as you walk in there is a jumble of gently and not so gently used Christmas decorations . These decorations include ornaments, ribbon, pinecones, wreath fixings, you name it. You have to dig through, and I hope you’ll dig gently if you go, so you don’t break things for the next person.

Hanging up throughout the store you will notice, much as is the case at places like the Smithfield Barn in Downingtown, there are also artificial Christmas wreaths galore. The wreath I found (plain and unadorned) was 25% off, and if you’re in the market for an artificial tree, they are loaded with them at Resellers – big trees, not the table-top variety.

Everything that went on my wreath except for the florist wire, came from Resellers yesterday. And yes, everything cost me $6.51. I also believe that I could make a wreath for just about the same amount if not less from fixings at the Smithfield Barn.

My point is simple: you can decorate for Christmas on a budget. There are enough people in this world that jettison Christmas decorations on a regular basis, that if you look at places like Resellers, Smithfield barn, thrift shops, church sales, and so on you can find pretty much everything you need.

The only thing I do not buy it any of these places are used or vintage lights. I am not an electrician, so I have no clue what is in good condition or not.

Decorating for Christmas just puts you in the mood to get a little holiday spirit. And yes, I have inside wreaths and outside wreaths and I don’t do it all every year, I tend to rotate my ornaments and decorations.

If you put your Christmas decorations away carefully, they can and do last. I put artificial and pinecone wreaths on hangers in my attic covered with big clear trash bags. If it is a year where I am making a natural wreath out of fresh greenery, I removed the ribbons and decorations that can be salvaged at the end of Christmas and put them away as well.

I am a fumble fingers with a hot glue gun, so the only thing that go on my wreaths are things that I can wire on with florist wire.

I don’t want to put specialty stores or craft stores out of business, but there are a lot of Christmas decorations that you can source quite reasonably and a gently used or vintage condition.

I like to do what I consider tasteful decorating for Christmas. I don’t do a million lights and inflatable things on the front lawn. I mean no disrespect to those who chose to do this Griswold Family Christmas style of decorating, but truly I do not need my decorations to be able to be seen from space!

Fun fact: I had an uncle that when I was a child that used to go to little overboard with Christmas decorations, including music being piped from the roof. Loudly. And this was before National Lampoon and Chevy Chase made overboard Christmas decorating so infamous.

You won’t find anything adorned in my home before December. Some years I get things up early in December, other years it’s a couple weeks into the month before I begin.

I also really try hard not to overwhelm my rooms. I look at it the way Coco Chanel looked at jewelry: she had a famous quote about taking one piece of jewelry off after you are dressed and about to walk out the door.

Have any of you begun decorating? What is your favorite thing to do?

Also if any of you know of any church sales or fleamarkets or Christmas festivals coming up with a gently used Christmas ornaments and other holiday things for sale, feel free to leave a comment.


gardening tip du jour!


The fall gardening season is upon us. Many of you out there, like myself, are digging in new bulbs, roots, tubers, and plants. So I thought I would share a little gardening tip with you.

I had a whole box of copper plant tags that someone gave me as a gift years ago from Williams-Sonoma. They are somewhere in my house hiding in plain sight, but I needed to mark new plants and bulbs. And I came up with something easy, inexpensive, and unobtrusive.

Popsicle sticks.

if you have a child or two, you undoubtedly have a supply of plain popsicle sticks somewhere. They are a kid friendly crafting backbone. If you don’t have children, you can buy them in places like Michael’s or any local craft store.

I don’t need these plant tags to last for years and years, I pretty much just need them to get me through the winter so I don’t accidentally dig things up in the spring.

So I found one of my Sharpies, yes pink, and have started making tags. They will go in immediately after I plant.

Maybe this isn’t fancy enough for some people, but for me it is about getting the job done as unobtrusively as possible.

What are your favorite fall gardening tips that you might want to share? Tell me!

in the garden

DSC_0035Where would I rather be even on a hot and humid day? My garden.   l love my garden and I love the open space which exists around me.  I love that I don’t live in some Pulte Homes or Toll Brothers development where I would open a window and be able to spit into my neighbor’s kitchen.

Gardening is indeed communing with nature and I swear that connection with Mother Earth  puts you closer to God.  I revel in each new plant discovery and love finding things that sprouted up from a seed that a breeze or bird dropped along the way – like the Japanese Lantern plants I just found in the middle of some day lilies a few days ago. I also recently discovered some baby hostas that sprang up where I didn’t ever plant any and then there was the toad lily that appeared in the spring where one was never planted.  I even discovered a couple of Trillium plants which are among the most beautiful of spring flowers.

I love going to my favorite local nurseries and choosing my plants myself.  I love working with my mail order growers on other plants.  I love digging in the dirt and planting up a DSC_0054storm and tending everything and watching it grow. I get through the winter pouring through gardening catalogs and gardening books.

I realized recently that I have been re-creating for the past couple of years the gardens of my childhood and aspects of the gardens of others I have always loved.  Ironically the woman who would have been my mother in law if she was still alive was an incredible gardener, a true master gardener.  When I go through gardening books that belonged to her I love reading the little notes she left in the margins. And yes, I do have a lot of vintage gardening books, I love them just like my cookbooks.

I am not Martha Stewart, or Gertrude Jekyll or C.Z. Guest or Rosemary Verey, I am just me, an average backyard gardener.  But I have to tell you it is so glorious to garden that I feel sorry for people who can only manage to dial a phone and hire someone to garden for them (getting “shrubbed” is not gardening!).  These people are missing out on so much.  So are the people who think gardening is like HGTV and DIY shows along the lines of Yardcore, Going Yard, I Hate My Yard and so on. It’s not. DSC_0032

Trust me, there is life beyond the hardscape with giant fire pit. You want a “bodacious backyard”? Oh my gosh then create one! Yourself. You can do it!

Getting lost in the garden tending to plants and watching to see what kind of birds you have and butterflies is one of the greatest simple pleasures of life.

Go ahead, dig in the dirt. Get your hands dirty. It is s worth it season after season.




the art of custom cabinetry, woodworking, and furniture

custom-kitchen-lg-aCabinet makers, custom furniture builders, and artisan wood workers are a dying breed.  It takes real artistic talent combined with years of work. Some people call themselves cabinet makers and so on, but they really aren’t. Seriously, it is an art form.

I love custom woodwork and cabinetry.  It’s luscious and beautiful.  baker

I do not often promote businesses and if I do I must have personal experience with them.  I am going to introduce you to one.

Sherman & Gosweiler Fine Cabinetry and Woodworking. They have been in business  since 1976 and I LOVE their work! If you can dream it, Dick Gosweiler can build it.  Whether it is an urban space like a chic Manhattan apartment or townhouse; a penthouse on Rittenhouse Square; a second home in Bay Head or the Hamptons; or even a simple mahogany-bookcasesfarmhouse in Chester County this is who you want.

In addition to making your dreams for your home come to life this company also can olengdo period reproductions.  One of my particular favorites are the mantelpieces and mantelpiece surrounds they have done over the years.  I mean don’t you just hate to see people put gobs of money into either a new house or an extensive renovation only to cheap out on a stock mantelpiece and/or mantelpiece surround for a den or living room or great room?

On my wish list for my home someday I would love one of their mantelpieces.smuckler

Anyway, just was thinking about house stuff and thought I would throw this up here.

Sherman & Gosweiler have a website and a Facebook fan page. If you need their services they can be reached at (610) 270-0825.  They are located at  401 East 4th Street in Bridgeport – that is their physical shop, but they travel pretty much anywhere for installations and whatnot.

What they say about themselves is as follows and utterly true:cherry-dining-table

Since our inception in 1976 we have always had the same philosophy: To craft beautiful and functional cabinetry delivered on budget and on time.  We are committed to making the entire experience easy and pleasurable for our clients. From creating a great design to a trouble-free installation, we are available to answer your questions and coordinate with other tradespeople on the job. Let us show you why scores of interior designers, architects, builders and hundreds of homeowners have put their trust in us.

garden moments

This morning, early and in the rain, I planted.  There is something so amazingly wonderful about planting in a gentle rain – LOL, I can hear what you are thinking, and no, I do not plant in thunderstorms and driving rain.  But light showers like we had this morning?  Why not? As much as everything else, it saves on watering.  You should try it as it is very relaxing.

So I planted the two day lilies and the fun Echinacea I found at the West Chester Grower’s Market on Saturday.  The name of the Echinacea cultivar is “Aloha”, by the way.

I then re-mulched most of the bed I planted in, and stepped back to look.  I felt satisfied.  These three plants complete the look I am going for.  Mine isn’t a formal garden.  It is developing into a garden of moments and even nooks.  I am trying to do a continuity in plants and colors, but because I don’t have a lot of sun everywhere, I am taking advantage of pops of color where I can.

I also mix my kitchen herbs in with my flowers.  Chives pop up next to snap dragons, sage next to Impatiens, hostas and nasturtiums.

I also love wind chimes in the garden.  I found a most delightful fair trade and hand-made strand of bells recently.  They came from Past*Present*Future in Ardmore, PA. They were  fairly inexpensive, and the store has some fun garden accents mixed in with the crafts and jewelry.  The owner hunts for artisans near and far, and this is a real craft goods store.  Not a place to find crocheted tissue box covers, but really cool things.

Gardening doesn’t need to be formal or fussy.   Try it if you don’t.  And remember, you can indeed put almost anything in a pot as long as you have the proper sized pot.  I will put not only herbs and annuals in pots, but Sedum, hostas, and ferns.  I think it is fun to put perennials in pots.  I did a lot of container gardening the past ten years because prior to the Chester County of it all, I was much more confined on space.

I have been getting little texts and Facebook messages from a few of my old neighbors telling me what is blooming in my old garden.  I think that is so nice, and I am glad I left something behind they can also take pleasure in.

Come on now, go outside and get your hands dirty.  Create some garden moments for yourself.

Now if I could only find the garden furniture I want. I don’t need much, but I can’t stand what I have seen new, and don’t want wicker.  If anyone has any leads on vintage or gently used, let me know.

And oh yes!  One more thing – the yarrow I found growing wild is white!

(Remember, if you love chestercountyramblings, please consider nominating this blog for a Blue Ribbon Blogger Award with Country Living Magazine.)