So first, what I made. These are called Friendship Bags. Along with them you get a little card attached explaining the bag’s contents to you. This is what it says.
Lifesaver – to remind you of the many times others need your help and you need theirs.
Cottonball – cushioned support of friends for the rough roads ahead
Rubberband – a reminder to stay flexible
Candy Kiss – we all need kisses and hugs
Paper Clip – to help hold it all together
Candle – a reminder to let your light shine
Marble – to help keep you rolling or in case you lose one!
Sweet and Sour Candy – to remind you to accept and appreciate the differences in others
Happy Face – smiling not only increases your face value, it’s contagious
Band-Aid – for healing hurt feelings; yours or someone else’s
Eraser – to remind you that every day you can start over with a clean slate
And here is what they look like. Terrible picture, I know, but you get the idea.
Now for what God made… a beautiful sunset which lit up our trees in orange glory! Enjoy these and see you again soon!
The hubby and I had a wonderful time this weekend. We went on the Country Roads Christmas Tour for the second year in a row. Last year was our first time and we had so much fun we had the dates for this year marked on the calendar months in advance. 17 stores took part this year.
The idea is to go to each of the 17 stores, visit, relax, maybe do a little shopping, and get a card stamped at each place. Each store has some kind of little treats and drinks set out to welcome visitors and they’re all decked out in their holiday finery.
This year we had snow in the morning and it snowed most of the day. It was colder than last year as well, although Sunday it warmed up nicely and most of the snow was gone by late afternoon. I liked the snow though. It really added to the ambiance of the entire event.
I decided to take pictures of the places we went to share out trip. Unfortunately I only have pictures of the first day, in which we hit 12 shops. The last 5 I have no photos for due to technical difficulties. ((Ok, if you need to go there.. it was due to operator error. Happy? lol ))
I may not get these in the right order, but it doesn’t matter.
We started out at Red Apple Farm. We love going here and its a favorite stop on many of the bus tours during the holidays and leaf-peeping tours. They do their own baking, cider making, and fudge making. All of which are terrible for your waistline but SOOO good in your belly. We just had to start there and get some homemade cider donuts to fortify us for our days adventure. —>
Down to Earth Nursery is a fun place to go. First thing you notice is how good it smells. It’s a small store, but packed with lovely items made with all kinds of pine trees, berries and various greenery. <—
Whiting Farm is adorable. It’s a small cabin with all the personality of a large house. Inside its packed to the loft with rustic and primitive items. They have a great selection of the “grunge” candles, also known as grubbies. They look much better than they sound and yet the name suits them perfectly. lol. It was warm and cozy and you can’t help but feel welcome. —>
King Phillip Restaurant is a staple in the area. They run a lot of specials during the year and there are always cars in the lot. We haven’t eaten there yet, but I’ve heard all good things about the food. Its on our “todo” list still. <—
Krafter’s Krossing is one of those lovely surprises you find when you’re just out riding around on a nice day. That’s how we found it and we loved the discovery. The shop is entrancing. There isn’t a spare bit of space that doesn’t have something adorable, beautiful or vintage sitting on it, hanging from it, or propped against other wonderful items. Its also much larger than it looks from the outside. From vintage jewelry to handcrafted furniture, from retro kitchen gadgets to primitive crafts, they have it all. If you go there, be prepared to spend some time finding all the little wonders tucked in every corner. —>
<– Nouveaux Riches is one of the coolest little shops you’ll go into. The store is filled with truly vintage items of every kind. From kitchen gadgets you’ll remember from your grandmother or mother’s kitchen, to wedding gowns and clothing from years gone by, to advertising and brand art. There are even items for the newer at heart folks looking for odd little gadgets and doodads from not so long ago. If the main floor doesn’t keep you busy enough looking around, they have even more downstairs. This store is definitely worth finding. If you’re like me, you’ll find all the “antiques” from my mom that I use every day in my kitchen today. lol.
Country Folk Gift Shop has beautiful folk art items. The store is part of Templeton Furniture, a family run furniture store. The furniture is gorgeous and the store has a welcoming feeling. Go through the main showroom and you’ll be in the gift shop. They have really nice handmade rustic furniture that I wanted to just load in my van, set up in front of my woodstove and sit and knit in. —>
<— Heather Croft Quilt Shack is a treasure trove of all things material. The store is packed full with bolts of material in any color and pattern you can think of. They also carry wools of all sorts. The main store is where all the materials and supplies and cutting happens and they also have another small gift shop of already completed items. Ever want to learn to make rag rugs or braided rugs? They give lessons! Need small pieces of material for your quilts? They have tons of them! I also was lucky enough to get the last of one of their treats and it was soooo good I asked if there was a recipe for it. The owner found some paper and proceeded to write it down for me. I was thrilled. I’ll be posting that recipe on the site shortly. I know you’ll all love it. The hubby and I sure did.
Country Mischief. Ok, I’m going to tell you right now. Make this a day trip! There are two locations. One is also a restaurant which I’ve been wanting to try since forever. ( We’ve tried twice but they were closed. Note to everyone…always call ahead to be sure they’re open! lol. Still, it IS on our todo list. We’ve heard nothing but good things about the food. BUT…that said…the real reason to visit is to look around. The building with the restaurant has 18 (I believe this is the correct count) rooms packed to the gills with every kind of antiques, quirky item, doodad and handcrafted items that you could possible ever want. I’m not exaggerating either. If you love to rummage around rooms of goodies, this is the place for you. After you wander around, go have lunch and then head down the road a short ways and you find….wait for it….location number 2! This building, the one shown in the picture, doesn’t share its space with a restaurant and if you thought the 18 rooms of the other building had a lot to look at, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I totally recommend this place as a day trip all its own, including lunch. You’re sure to find something you can’t imagine how you lived without. —>
Whatever you do, save room in your stomach for the visit to The Kitchen Garden. This is a Scandinavian bakery in the heart of New England. As soon as you enter your nose will want to run away from your face and just live in this bakery. Unless you are allergic to almonds, you WILL want to try their Scandinavian Almond Cake. It’s incredible. Truly. The store also has all kinds of fun items to look through including, be still my heart, knitting books! Yes, I love knitting and scandinavian knitting is really beautiful. Just don’t leave without some treats. And if you are really lucky, look for a fella who looks like he might be up to mischief and ask him to do a magic trick for you. <—
If you want a lot of pop from a little space, head on over to Country Antiques. Primitives and handmade items live in perfect harmony with the country decorations. Lights were twinkling all around us and you are always made to feel welcome. An elf, in full elfish regalia, had a smile for everyone and added a touch of whimsy to a fun visit. This was our last stop on Saturday and the temperature was dropping fast, making the roads start to be slippery, but it was a great place to end the days travels. Bolstered by a cup of thick and rich eggnog, and lots of ideas on what I could do in my own house, we headed home. This little shop is a real gem in a small package. —>
Now, unfortunately this is where my photos leave off, but I’m not going to leave out the rest of our tour because of that. So I hope they will forgive me for being a photo noob.
There are two alpaca farms on the tour. First one we hit was Colonial Hill Alpaca Farm and B&B. This is a fun place to visit. The animals are usually out where you can see them and one look at their adorable faces will make you wish you had a couple yourself. The shop is a knitter/crocheter’s dream shop. They have yarns in the natural colors of the animal they came from as well as hand dyed yarn that will get your creative juices flowing just looking at them. And if you want premade items, there are absolutely gorgeous hats, gloves, socks, jackets, shawls and purses galore. They also have alpaca finger puppets which it has become a little tradition for us to get whenever we go there. We couldn’t let our visit go by without adding to my little collection.
The second farm is Popple Camp Alpacas. They don’t have a shop per se, but they do a lot of the local fairs and craft shows. They have beautiful yarns and gloves, hats and socks that will keep you roasty. toasty warm in the coldest weather. Their herd of pretties are also there to be seen at the farm itself. Whats also fun is that when you buy the yarn or knitted/crocheted item, the owner can tell you the name of the alpaca the fur came from just from the colors. I think that’s pretty cool.
Hartman’s Herb Farm and B&B is a delight to the senses when you enter the shop. Herbs hang in bunches from the wooden beams overhead, mortar and pestles stand ready to make custom mixes and bags of fresh herbs wait to be bought and taken to your own kitchen. It’s fun and fascinating to see all the herbs there are and how they look when they were on the plant and also after harvesting. If you’re looking for something special or greater amounts you can call and talk to the owner about getting what you need. And all this started from a small pot of herbs that were found on the property and started in a little pot. Good lesson for us all there, eh?
White Picket Studio was new to the tour this year. This husband and wife artistic team has opened a small gallery of their paintings. I wanted to bring home half the store. The wife works mostly in watercolor while her husband does mostly acrylics. The shop is located on their farm and their horses watch you drive up the driveway. The paintings are truly gorgeous. Most are of life on a farm and the country life. Her husband does quite a few of old pickup trucks half taken over by the flora and fauna and I loved looking at those. The paintings of the horses, though, are truly wonderful. It’s not just a picture of a horse, they capture the moment and heart of the horses as well. They may be new to the tour, but if you’re looking for local artwork for your country home, you will want to see these before looking anywhere else.
Down the street from Popple Alpaca Farm is Petersham Leathers. You enter the workshop of the business and all around you are pattern pieces, old sewing machines and the smell of leather. If you’re like me, the smell of leather is a welcoming aroma. We also like going there because not only do they have treats and cider and eggnog, but they have warming “additives” for them. <wink wink> I also had my first taste of Tabouleh there today and I liked it! I’ll be looking for that next shopping trip. Through a door is the showroom of finished items. It smells even better in there and you have to almost forcibly keep yourself from running your hands over the soft, supple leather purses, bags, belts, wallets, etc. The leathers are lovely colors and the items beautifully crafted. The owner, Sylvia, also does custom leather work. Before you go looking for that something special and unique in a big store, go here and talk to the owner and buy something custom made for that special someone.
A tour of this area is not complete without a stop at Smith’s Country Cheese, Inc. This is another favorite stop for the bus tours that come through the region. There are all kinds of samples to try and if you’re a cheese lover like the hubby and I, you won’t be able to leave without buying your favorites. This year they had homemade macaroni and cheese made with their sharp cheddar and smoked gouda cheeses. Let me tell you….it was awesome! We came home with smoked gouda, cheddar and the recipe for that mac and cheese. lol. They also have a full gift shop of fun and unique items. I got a small statue from there last December and wanted to go back and get another but never got around to it. I went back this year and they had more by that artist! I got another one and those two are going to be featured on my next blog banner. Your kids will also love this store and a lot of the toys and knick knacks for kids are a throwback to when they really made toys to last. From primitives, to “educational” toys, to collectibles and all kinds of kitchen gadgets, this store has it all.
I know this post was long, but I just had to let you know what we did all weekend. The sweetie and I had a wonderful time together. It’s a fun and relaxed event that does more to put us in the spirit of Christmas than all the flashy ads and commercials could ever do. We smiled all weekend, snuggled at night and talked about the places we saw and the things we ate during the day. These are the things that you really remember. The things you do with those you love, when everyone just has a good time.
For more information on this event, go to http://countryroadschristmas.com/ . Plan to make this a part of your Christmas season next year. I highly recommend it.
It’s been a while since I added to this thread of posts. With the heat and drought many things did not hold up well. Other things seemed to thrive. We’ve finally had some rain and it’s amazing that some things, which I thought were through for the year, are giving me a second show. I thought I would grab a few pictures today and show you what is most notably going on at my little blue cottage.
My Butterfly Bush is HUGE. It’s well over 15′ tall and has been blooming like mad for the 3-4 weeks. You will remember that I did a post about the Milkweed plant earlier this summer. Well they are beside the butterfly bush and it’s swarming with Monarch butterflies right now. I’m assuming these are young Monarchs because their coloring is not quite filled out and they are fairly small still. They were really hard to get a decent picture of though. This was the only one that turned out. lol.
Hmm as I look at him again… is that a Monarch? Well, it should be since the milkweed is their food source and that’s right beside this bush. Anyway, its fun standing there and being swarmed with butterflies.
I planted some herbs in my rock garden because I thought they would be pretty as well as functional. Admittedly I don’t cook with thyme much, but they are a nice low growth that smells pretty. The other is a Globe Basil. I’ll trim that and start drying it soon. I don’t have a picture of it but I have oregano that is taking over beside my garage. It’s all mixed in with a fairy rose gone crazy. I think I have multiple types of oregano over there, but it’s probably all mixed together. I have mint over there too somewhere. LOL.I might find it when I cut back the rose bush for the year. I hope so at least.
This is a clematis vine. Now here is the amazing part. I planted these last year. There are actually two kinds planted here. The purple one you have seen earlier and this one which is a white fall blooming flower. It did almost nothing last year. I wasn’t even sure it lived over the winter. As you can see it has gone crazy this year. I’m not sure if I should prune it back when its done blooming or not, but its full of buds right now and I can’t wait to see what it looks like in full bloom.
These are my honeysuckles. I know they are past blooming, but I had to show you how massive these are. I’m 5’3″ and these go up at least 3′ taller than I am. We didn’t get the gate done yet (sweetie getting a lot of OT right now) so I’m going to prune it back hard because the wooden ladders holding them up are not going to make it through the winter with weight on them. The red raspberries are growing like mad with them and we had tons of berries this year. I still may have to keep the honeysuckle pruned back a bit during the summer so that next year I can reach ALL my berries.
I have no clue what these things are. That’s a leaf, but what are the round things? They flake off and are thin. They are maybe the size of a man’s thumbnail in diameter. The only place I’ve seen them are in this one spot. Anyone have any clues? Are they good or eeeeeevil?
***UPDATE!*** ok these are the seeds from inside the dead Hollyhock pod. I’m going to harvest a bunch of them and try them other places and give some away to friends.
Thanks for roaming my yard with me!
It’s been a very busy weekend and a hot one, too. This Sunday was the official Parade of the 250th Birthday Celebration of the town of Athol. It was also a busy weekend for sweetie and I as far as running around doing a million errands. I took lots of pictures at the parade so here they are. These are just a few highlights. There were the requisite H.S. Marching Bands and local businesses as well. The parade was 2 hours long, but we had very long delays between some of the divisions. Probably would have been an hour and a half without those. Celebrate with us!
This evening, the second day of them being here, the drivers harness up all the horses and are going around the town to all the bars and restaurants who sell beer and giving them all a case of beer. It’s a lot of fun and a good photo op for folks to see the horses in team. Sunday will be a big parade for the 250th anniversary of the town and they will be there for the parade as well, but if you couldn’t get to the parade you got to see them this evening.
Soon as I figure out how to do videos, I’ll put it up on this page Here are some still images from this evening though. And yes, the handsome guy in the last picture is “Sweetie” that you always hear me talk about. <grins>
Saturday they are doing what they call an official Photo Op from 10am -1pm. They have one horse all spruced up and decked out and you can get up close and take pictures. They also take one horse around town and visit places like Nursing Homes and such. There was a picture of an elderly lady in a wheelchair getting whuffed at by the horse who had his head down by hers. His head was the size of her head, neck and torso put together. The gentleness and calm behavior of these huge horses is amazing and speaks volumes of being treated with great love and kindness themselves. The little lady was laughing and reaching up to his nose, thoroughly delighted.
Sweetie and I don’t drink beer, but for the company, drivers and handlers to do these types of visits to people who would not be able to see the horses any other way, impressed the heck out of me. Yes, I know, it’s advertisement and marketing, but it also speaks well of them to consider those who are unable to come to them and who are not their “target buying demographic”. This is truly a labor of love for those who work with these horses as well. You can see it in how the horses respond to their handlers who are all around them when they are in team and going down the street. There is trust and true caring between them. The shut-ins, the elderly, the folks who wouldn’t be able to see them otherwise are not going to make this company great profits. This was about sharing and caring. I’m truly impressed with this kind of dedication, to both the animals and to others.
Sunday is the parade and I’ll have more photos from both days. I can’t wait! I feel like a little kid I’m so excited about seeing these horses. I’ve always wanted to!