Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cooperstown w/o baseball? Who does that?

We do. The HH* and I took a few days away on Otsego Lake, near Cooperstown, NY, and never set foot in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The weather was perfect and the lake was lovely. This photo is from Lakefront Park , a couple of blocks off the main street in Cooperstown.

The surrounding upstate New York countryside looked lush, the quiet country roads providing views of rolling wooded hills and farmland, much still in use. One field was full of ripening sunflowers, an amazing sight. I thought about trying to take a picture but the blossoms were all facing away from the road!

We tried some good area restaurants. I liked my everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salmon dish at Alex & Ika . Normally, I prefer simpler dishes, but this was very nice.

We checked out the Fenimore Art Museum which also had lovely grounds bordering the lake. I liked the American and folk art collections. This painting was one that made me smile, but then, old as I am, I've never outgrown that I-wish-I-had-a-pony stage.

As a teacher, this painting also caught my eye. I wanted to know more about it. You can read the museum's notes here.

On our last night, we saw The Marriage of Figaro at Glimmerglass Opera.

Pretty town. Pretty countryside. Lots to do. Didn't mind skipping the baseball stuff this time around.

*HH = Handsome Husband


Monday, July 26, 2010


Weeding, weeding, weeding.

Take a break.

Reflect and plan.

To do list:
  • Order more mulch next year.
  • Plant more flowering shrubs.
  • Pachysandra is my friend.
  • Que sera, sera.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Brown Swiss and Vintage Linen

I went to the Saratoga County Fair yesterday, largely because my Handsome Husband was volunteering at the Rotary booth there. It's been many years since I've gone to a fair without small children or antsy teens, anxious to be off to the rides and games. I enjoyed a leisurely pace, chatting with farming youngsters about their Brown Swiss ("They're the best kind!") and admiring the good-looking and iconic Holsteins, below.

My mother came from central New York State dairy farming folk and when I was a child, we occasionally visited her cousins who still farmed near West Winfield. I always envied their children, but I note, none of them farm any more. It's a hard, economically uncertain way of life. Still, the youngsters caring for these cattle were slim, fit, tanned, friendly, happier- and healthier-looking specimens than the average teen one sees these days.

On the way home from the fair, I stopped briefly at a garage sale which had been well picked over. I spied this box and opened it...

and inside was an old linen tea towel and two cut work pillow cases.

How much? I asked.

There was a long pause. Will you use them, the owner asked, I mean really use them?

Sure, I said.

Then she explained. These had been part of her wedding trousseau, carefully assembled by her grandmother many years ago. And the owner had never used them.

They always seemed too good to use, she said, so I never did.

So if I promised to use them, she said I could have them for a dollar.

I brought them home and got out my copy of Antiques at Home to see what author Barbara Milo Ohrbach had to say about...

cleaning vintage linen. Gently, is her basic advice. So I am off to buy some Ivory detergent.

If I can make these pillow cases look clean and white again, then they will go on the guest room bed. If they don't come out so well, I will use them myself. After all, I did promise to use them.

Thank you, unknown Buffalo, NY, grandmother. It took a few decades, but your carefully chosen wedding linens are finally going to make it out of their box.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Adirondack Chairs

As I wrote about here earlier, I had two neglected Adirondack chairs that were overdue for new paint.
I found some bargain OOPS paint, a gallon for $5.00 at the big box store, and got to work. I was soon reminded that there are a lot of surfaces on two Adirondack chairs, which is probably why it's been so long since I last painted them.
Since the chairs are to be left out on the lawn, I remembered to soak their feet in good primer to help prevent the wood from rotting.

I scraped and primed the rest of the surfaces...

... and finally they were finished.

I like the "found" color just fine. Under a large shade tree on our front lawn, I think they look welcoming. And they give me a cool place to sit when I need to take a break from weeding the flower garden near the edge of the road.
One summer project completed, nine gazillion left to go.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Operation Paperback for deployed troops

Here's a special request from the good folks at Operation Paperback: Please help to spread the word. I will let them tell you in their own words, below. Thanks for any help you can give them.

Operation Paperback collects gently used books and sends them to American troops deployed overseas. Since 1999, we have shipped over 1.1 million books to locations around the globe. See more info at .

We need some special help. We have found that not all deployed personnel are aware of our program. We would like your help in getting the word out to all of our military communities.

We are specifically looking for ACTIVE-DUTY, NATIONAL GUARD, RESERVISTS AND THEIR SPOUSES to help us figure out how to reach everyone in the military community. We'd like to advertise in militarypublications, put announcements in on-base publications and bulletin/message boards, websites, email newsletters, contact individual FRG and ACS programs, etc etc. (I'm sure that folks in our military communities will have more (and better) ideas too.) We'd like to know your ideas, and also we'd like to hear from folks who have some time to help us make those ideas a reality.

Our goal is to have EVERY deployed troop know about Operation
Paperback. Please contact us if you can help!

General inquiries by email:

Chrissy Honeywell -

To request books for deployed troops -

Contact Us via Online Chat:
On Yahoo IM - OperationPaperback1999
On AOL IM - OpPaperback
Skype ID - OperationPaperback

Leave us a Voicemail:
Tel: 214-602-1726
Operation Paperback
PO Box 347
Dunstable, MA 0182

Chrissy Honeywell
Andrea Hoshmand
Recycled Reading For The Troops

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer bargains

I have a couple of Adirondack chairs that are badly overdue for new paint. So yesterday, off to the big box store I went to pick up a gallon of exterior paint. As I was about to leave the paint department with a $26.00 can of white paint, I spied this mistinted can of the same product for five bucks. Hmmm, white chairs for $26.00 or lovely turquoise chairs for $5.00? Yeah, I went with the turquoise.

Back at home, I began this morning by sanding and scrubbing my sad-looking chairs. While I worked, I was treated to some lovely background music, compliments of Mother Nature.

From the little wooded ravine behind our house, a couple of wood thrushes were singing back and forth to each other. Echoing up the ravine, it is one of my favorite sounds. Hauntingly beautiful, really. If you've never heard a thrush, click on this link to take a listen.
Ah, discount paint and free music to work by. Good summer bargains, I think.
Now click on over to Southern Hospitality and Apron Thrift Girl to see more great finds.
"...after all, it is the thrifty people who are generous." ~Lord Rosebery

Wood thrush photo credit: naturecrusaders

Mug shots

Question: If the entire world stopped making coffee mugs today, how many years would it be before anyone noticed?

I love to browse through garage sales, thrift shops, and rummage sales. When ever I do, there is always a box (or ten) of unwanted coffee mugs.

My advice: never buy another coffee mug and certainly never give one as a gift. Trust me, your child's teacher (or your hairdresser or your assistant or your brother-in-law) already has a box just like this one in his or her basement.

And as for trade shows/conventions/annual meetings, the presence of the Ericsson and Dakin Farm Quality Foods mugs in the box above are proof that coffee mugs as give-aways will not necessarily be treasured forever.

Here's what I would do instead: Give each conference attendee a small business card that says, "In lieu of giving out coffee mugs this year, our company has made a donation in honor of this gathering to the local food pantry." And then make a generous donation. It's a win-win solution.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

This photo was taken of an ancestral family gathering on the 4th of July, 1902, in West Winfield, New York. My grandmother, Millie Stebbins (later, Holmes) is the young girl seated in a chair near the center. (See closeup, below.) Her sister Reba is to the right, seated on the ground. Her young cousin, Will Ruth, is the small boy seated on the ground to the left.

There are twenty-four people in the top photo and I can tell you the names of all but one of them. My grandmother and Aunt Jane were good chroniclers of family history and I am lucky to have several of their carefully labeled old family photos.

As you gather with family and friends this holiday, take lots of photos. And please label them and keep them safe. One hundred and eight years from now, someone will enjoy looking at them and knowing who everyone was.

Happy July 4th, to my own dear children, far and near, from Afghanistan to Oregon, and places in between. Let's all try to be in one place together some 4th of July soon. I'd really like that.

For now, please keep safe and be well. I love you all, Mom

Note: The people in the photo above, listed roughly left to right by my late Aunt Jane Holmes Kinsley, are Uncle Park Bardin, Blanche Bardin, Rena Bardin (wife of Earl), Irma Ruth, Laura Brigham Townsend, Grandma Stebbins, Aunt Clara Brigham, Mother (Millie Stebbins Holmes), Will Ruth, Aunt Fanny Bardin, Vin Ruth, Uncle Edwin Ruth, Great Grandma Brigham, Aunt Reba, Aunt Ellen Ruth, (then the mystery person), Uncle Orey Brigham, Edwin Ruth, Hal Ruth, Grandpa Stebbins (Bapa), Ward Bardin, Earl Bardin, Ward Brigham, Clarence Brigham.

Click once or twice on the top photo for a closer view.