Monday, November 25, 2013

Small Towns to Visit #2: SunRise Corner, Standish, Maine

We were out for a ride yesterday and decided to pull over to photograph this old school house in Standish, Maine. It turns out that the school house, which closed in the 1930's, is now a shop, as are the original fire house and historic home adjacent to it on the two-acre property.  

Our unplanned stop was such a treat...we not only enjoyed the shop and beautiful holiday displays but we met Ann, the owner, who has made bringing SunRise Corner back to life her life's work.

This is the side of the old fire house. It's open as a "sweet shop" in the summer months, complete with vintage ice cream shop tables and chairs.

I liked the look of the burlap twisted in and out of the garland on the school house stair railing.
 I seem to be attracted to burlap lately.
 Inside the school house door, a formal portrait hangs incongruously over a foyer full of greens and berries. I wonder if this stern gentleman was the school's principal or, maybe, a beloved former teacher?
The old slate blackboards are still there, as are the oak coat racks. Both are now adorned with wreathes. Ann and her helpers explained that they are busy preparing for their Open House on Thanksgiving weekend.

Inflation has hit penny candy as it has everything else, but it's still fun to see all the old favorites. Remember the little wax soda pop bottles? You had to bite through the wax to get to about a half teaspoon of sugary goo? They're here, are Mary Jane's, squirrels, candy lipstick, wax lips, and hot balls. (And, yes, I'm old enough to remember when they were a penny each!)

 Next to the school house is the antique shop, which is located in a historic three-story Georgian home built in 1810. This is the side entrance...

And this is the front. Isn't it beautiful?
I absolutely love old houses and would probably start a collection of them too if I could afford it. (But how would I display them???)
For more history of the house and outbuildings, click here.
 One of the front rooms in the house still displays the original wallpaper.

Ann uses each room to display antiques, crafts, holiday decorations, floral creations, and gifts. It's fun to be able to explore the whole house. Here is the pantry...

With its original counter tops and drawers. 

In the old kitchen at the back of the house are oranges, spices, linens, pottery... 

And dried herbs and fruits, displayed in antique kitchenware.
 I love the color that's left on these old scales.

 There was a Christmas tree in every room, each decorated in a different color palette. This "green" tree was embellished with ornaments, grapes and ferns. 
We were starved when we finished touring Ann's shop/museum/school off we went to Cornish for a big bowl of lobster stew...perfect on a cool November day in Maine. Over lunch, DH and I talked about how lucky we are...we seem to meet fascinating people wherever we go.
I love to hear the stories of people like Ann from SunRise Corner

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mothers & Daughters

As a woman in my 60's, I feel fortunate to still have my Mom.
But she can also make me crazy.  
What is it about the mother/daughter relationship that makes it so full of both love and landmines?

I think there is some kind of secret non-verbal language between mothers and daughters. Sometimes that's a loving language; other times it can be hurtful. I'm finding that now that my Mom is very elderly and I find myself in a caretaker role, the two are beginning to blur.


I wonder if there is some kind of a mother-daughter bell curve at work...maybe in old age the mother-daughter relationship reverts to the way it was when we were teenagers, with all the friction and angst between mother and daughter reappearing after the relative calmness of middle age.

Some days are more are difficult for my Mom than others. Yesterday was unexpectedly difficult so I guess I just needed to vent. I'm working on being more patient and understanding so that Mom and I can enjoy the holidays together without killing each other.
 Have you cared for an elderly parent?
What have you learned?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Berries, Bins...and the Beach

It was Open House last weekend at Skillins, a favorite local nursery and gift shop. It was fun shopping for ideas while enjoying the holiday lights, hot coffee, and scent of pine.

I love this simple place setting idea...just balsam and berries tied with kitchen twine.

And this one...with a pine cone as a place card holder.
I think either could be adapted for the Thanksgiving table.
Hundreds of wreathes and planters were being crafted in the back room, which was heavy with the scent of Maine balsam.
Having downsized and promised ourselves not to fill Applegate Lane with more "stuff",  I enjoyed the day through the lens of my camera.
Last week, we got all of the Christmas bins out of the attic. Determined to keep only what we actually use at the holidays, we gave away about half of our "Christmas stuff" to nieces and nephews just starting out. It felt good.
After a year at Applegate, we'll have celebrated each holiday here once and should finally have our collections of skeletons, turkeys, Santa's, and Easter eggs under control.
It's so easy to get caught up in the shopping frenzy at the holidays. I'm working hard to resist it.  
In this season of excess, I'm determined to simplify.
I want to spend less time in stores and more time with family and friends...

 Less time buying and more time creating.


  I did break down and but just one ornament at the Open House...couldn't resist this little vintage camper. When I look at it on the tree, I'm already anticipating next year's adventures in the Casita.

Which reminds me (going off topic a bit here)...I found a fascinating new blog last night...rv sue and her canine crew...about yet another 60-ish woman who has retired to her Casita, full-time, with just her two dogs. She is currently boondogging through the American West. These women are so brave; I love following their adventures.

With Thanksgiving and Hanukkah overlapping this year and Christmas less than a month away, I think we're all a little confused about how and when to celebrate..

Some of our neighbors appear to have compromised and put everything out at once...wreathes and pumpkins seem to be happily coexisting at many a front door.


 After all this thinking about how to decorate for the holidays and downsize at the same time,  uploading this last photo from the Open House gives me an idea...I think I'll just forget about the holidays for awhile and take a quiet walk on the beach.
Nothing more simple than that!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dinner Party: Burlap & Bling

It was our turn to host dinner on Saturday evening for our infamous "Gourmet Group"...good friends who have been having dinner together at each other's homes for over 30 years. Needless to say, coming up with dinner party ideas that haven't been done before is getting harder and harder.

This time, my inspiration for the table d├ęcor came from...Walmart. I ran in to grab some sewing supplies and saw this chevron burlap. I knew instantly that I had "found" my tablecloth for Gourmet. Three yards of burlap at $3.97 a yard, some fraying along the edges, and done. My kind of project.

While I was searching online for burlap ideas, I came across this post from one of my favorite blogs,  Fabric Paper Thread.  I think I might try this with some of the solid colored burlap I had left over from the dinner party. Lorrie's blog is full of creative ideas like this...check it out!

Photo by Lorrie of  Fabric Paper Thread
Last year my turn to host came up in October and I set a more typical fall table...oranges and golds with fall leaves and little apple baskets for place cards.

This year...I wanted something a little unexpected. The burlap inspired the rest of the decor; I used black napkins and set the table with sterling and crystal for a little bling.

And the inspiration for the menu?  A magazine I picked up at the hairdresser's while getting the gray covered my hair highlighted. I knew immediately that the dish on the cover of the October issue of Bon Appetit would be perfect for Gourmet. Best of all, it was billed as a "make ahead feast" favorite kind.

At this point, I'm open to inspiration wherever I can find it!
We started the evening with hot mulled wine. It was delicious. Here is the recipe I used...from Food After heating the mulled wine, I used my crock pot to keep it warm for the evening so that guests could help themselves.

 The smell of cinnamon and fall spices filled the added plus.

The recipe called for "three star anise". I had to go to Whole Foods for these...but aren't they beautiful? And you can purchase exactly three.

Here are the roast and vegetables all ready to go in the oven. Brining the roast a day before cooking, in apple cider and spices, added lots of flavor and made the cooked pork very moist. Here is a link to the recipe we used from Bon Apetit online.

My DH did all the prep on the roast and veggies...he enjoys doing most of the cooking for Gourmet while I concentrate on the theme, table, favors, etc.. He still had "his" apron on when the first guests arrived and I couldn't resist grabbling this photo. Love the lace trim, Hank!
(The apron was actually hand made by Claudia, one of the "Gourmands".)
Dessert was a delicious pumpkin cheesecake, made by our friend, JoAnne. I loved how light it was and the crust was made with crushed pecans. When I get her to give up the recipe, I'll share it here.
For favors, I filled little amber glass acorns I found at Michael's for $1.99 each with my homemade  embellished acorns and put one at each of the "ladies'" places. Since I wasn't sure the guys would appreciated felted acorns, they each got a foil box filled with chocolates and penny candy...

including wax mustaches...
which the ladies promptly "borrowed".

A little burlap, a little bling, mulled wine, roast pork, acorns, laughter and old friends...what could be better? I'm blessed.

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