Drama, Romance, Intrigue...

Love. Early American Style.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Have you checked out Etsy yet?

I recently joined the online site Etsy, which is similar to Ebay, but is a Buy It Now format and only for listing handmade items.

Ebay is becoming harder and harder to sell on. As many of my customers know, I have not sold much on ebay in the past year, so this move was an easy one for me. It may have been in the media, but ebay is claiming that they have lowered their listing prices. That part is true, however, they do not tell you that they have raised other fees AND made some other policy changes that are turning sellers off from selling their wonderful products on the online auction site.

Here are the items I am currently offering on Etsy.com

I encourage anyone who loves prims, either buying them or selling them, to check Etsy.com out. It's reasonable to sell on, making it a great venue for you to try! I just wanted to share the information.......

Mary Jo

We have fish!

I just wanted to share with everyone the newest and exciting thing in our house. My sisters, Terri and Wendy, surprised us all with a fish tank and accessories for Seth and Sam, my boys, for Christmas this year. Seth is five years old, and Sam will soon be four, so they were just so excited and have been begging for fish ever since.

We decided, today was the day! Daddy (a.k.a. Russ) set up the tank and all that goes with it, and off we went to our local WalMart to see what they had. We were hoping beyond hope that they had fish, since many times they are empty when we stop by to "talk to the fish" during our shopping trips.

Luck was with us today, and we came home with seven new pets. Sam and Seth just couldn't wait to name them. They put a lot of thought into it, and debated greatly, and decided that some would be named "Sammy" and some "Seth". Original, wouldn't you say?

So the fish are in the tank, and they are having so much fun! Tonight, we had to turn the lights off in the room to get a better look at them. Then, we had to drag their small chairs into the room and place them directly in front of the tank. It started out being "Fish TV", but Seth, the brilliant child that he is (I am NOT biased! LOL!) says that instead of us having Dish Network, that it was "Fish Network" and that (for some reason) it is channel 532.

So there you have it, two happy little boys sitting in front of a fish tank chatting cheerfully to their new friends. There's been a lot of laughing going on, and I'd love to know what the inside joke is, but I think it's between the boys and the fish, and who am I to impose?

Just another happy day in paradise!

Mary Jo

Monday, January 28, 2008

Colonial Style in Country Sampler Magazine!

I finally got to sit down for a few minutes with my new Spring issue of Country Sampler magazine. I was tickled pink to see some Colonial style furnishings in a newer home on page 10. Well, I am assuming it is a newer home by looking at the structural pieces such as stair railings and a modern kitchen....but anyway, this is what I tell customers all the time....you do NOT need a very old house to have a primitive style home with an old soul!

Melody, the owner of the home, has mixed antique cupboards and dry sinks with reproduction windsor chairs and home decor. On page 14, I just love the look of the collection of firkins painted in several shades of milk paint beside her white kitchen island. Oh, and those dough bowls in the dry sink are to die for! Michele from Holly Tree Primitives will just flip when she sees this issue! (she collects old primitive bowls, and loves those painted ones!).

I love the fact that everyday needfuls in Early American life such as candle molds, firkins, butter stamps, dry sinks, crocks, jugs, bowls, rolling pins (and the list goes on!) make wonderful accents for our homes today!

Also, did you notice the coverlet on the kitchen table placed at an angle? I would love to see some of my customers that purchased our Lover's Knot Coverlets (item #614 $19.99) from our website use them on their tables for a unique tablescape idea!

Okay, now turn to page 16. Do you see that navy blue and mustard yellow coverlet on her bed? Okay, I'm on the hunt for one of those right now! LOL!

Turn your attention to page 23. Here is a new idea that I never thought of for our braided table runners/rugs! (one of them is item #763, $15.99...we have several colors) What a great pad for a farmhouse bench! I never would have thought of this myself, so see, we all learn something new everyday! And those barnstars on the walls....don't think of them for just inside, be sure to bring those into the house and display them proudly! We have them available exclusively in our retail shoppe, so local customers, come on in!

Be sure to checkout another Early American style home beginning on page 36. This happens to be a Quaker farmhouse in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and they have kept with the charm and beauty of this Early American home just perfectly. I'm pretty jealous in fact, isn't it just beautiful? *sigh* On page 40 you will see hanging in their window, a very VERY large Paul Revere style lantern. We will be carrying a very similar lanterna exclusively in our retail shoppe that is approximately 2 feet tall and is made of punched tin.....perfect for a unique accent light for the floor next to a cupboard or on a table or sideboard! They will be arriving in the next month or so, and I can't wait!

Well, I was so happy to see some Colonial and Early style primitives highlighted this issue! Early American, Colonial, and of course Primitive, style of decorating is such a passion of mine, and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do!

Mary Jo

Sunday, January 27, 2008

New products, new trend!

I just wanted to share a new product with you that I brought back from the suppliers on my latest trip to Lancaster. These are everlasting candles and they do as they say....they last forever! They are made completely of wax except for the little secret on top!

These particular candles are handmade by pouring wax into a mold. The top of the pillar is hollow, or indented, and just the right size to fit a tea light battery operated candle inside that has a slight flicker making it look so very real! The girl that made these candles dipped the tea light into the same colored wax so that it blends in perfectly! The candles were made in various styles.....some have designs embedded into the pillar candle's wax such as the American flag or parchment paper that has script style lettering, and wrapped with rusty wire....but all were dusted with cinnamon dust to give them a dusty, time-worn appearance. These come with the batteries, so all you do is lift out the little tea light, turn the switch to on, and enjoy the look of a real Colonial style candle without the danger of fire and flame!

I purchased all that the supplier had to offer, and they are selling quick in both my retail shoppe and online, so please stop in quickly at www.finecountrylivingprimitives.com if you would like to purchase one for your own home. At the price of $19.99, and the fact that they will last forever (except for a battery change every so often), I think that it is an exceptional value!


Blessings to all,
Mary Jo

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I've been tagged...what is that?

Oh my dear friend Michele, you tagged me....and I must admit, I had to go searching to see what the heck you were talking about! LOL! Apparently, I must come up with FIVE things to reveal about myself and then tag five more people that have not previously been tagged. Five things....hmmm....

1. I consider myself an artist. Okay, no big deal to you prim lovers out there...but do you ever get sick of being called a "crafter"? It's not bad, not by any means, please, I love to craft too! But I also paint (when I get the time to sit down, then I usually paint standing up anyway (with my tongue hanging out....okay, TMI!) and I also love to design my own dolls and I consider it art even when using a pattern. To me it's an art form. Anyhow, this year, I just may ask my "people" at the tax place to put me down as an artist instead of a retailer. LOL!

2. I hate to talk on the phone. Girls, do NOT throw something at me...but I am a woman that hates to talk on the phone. The only ones that I speak to on the telephone are my Mom and my sister Terri. That's it. And that's all I have to say about that.

3. I still love the 80's. Yep, big Bon Jovi hair is what I dream of every day.....will it come back in style? Will Aqua Net begin to overtake the hair product isle at WalMart? I miss my stirrup pants, slouch socks and Reebok ankle sneakers. Oh, and my favorite....the short earrings in one ear....and long ones in the other. Oh, the Madonna days... **sigh** I wonder if Madonna has gray roots like I do? And the music! Oh my...I could go on forever! Everything from Twisted Sister, the Police (love Sting!), the Cure, Duran Duran, Ozzy Osbourne, Van Halen, Huey Lewis and the News, Thompson Twins, Motley Crue, and of course, Bon Jovi (like, the bestest ever, like, ya know!) Oh, and the valley girl accent...okay, I better stop.

4. Hello, my name is Mary Jo, and I am an Amish groupie. Yes, I am addicted to the Amish, and everyone knows it. I just can't help it. I love their culture, we have extremely similar spiritual and religous beliefs, the food is AMAZING, and they are just the nicest people you'd ever care to meet. If you want to know more about my love of Lancaster County and the Plain People, just read more of my blog! LOL!

5. My two favorite quotes are examples of how my husband, sons, and I live our lives each and every day. "Let your life speak" by George Fox and "Let us be silent so we may hear the whisper of God" by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Simplicity, Equality, Integrity, Community and Peace are at the very core of hearts and our home. Each day I am thankful that my work with folk art and primitives and my family life naturally go hand in hand. God gives us so many opportunities, and I am blessed that He has shown me the way to bring my faith into my work.

Now, off to find five friends that haven't been tagged yet.......

Peace and blessings (and thanks a bunch Michele!)
Mary Jo

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My latest trip to Lancaster....

The weather finally gave me a break and I was able to get one day without snow on a day that my husband was also at home from work to watch the boys....talk about all the stars and the moon and the entire universe having to line up just right to make it happen! LOL!

Anyway, I had a hard time getting out of my toasty warm bed to face the biting cold January morning air, but I was on the road at 5:45 a.m. and watched the sun come up. What a beautiful day it turned out to be!

It was much warmer in Lancaster County than up here in Susquehanna County, so much so that I was regretting wearing all those extra layers of clothing by 10:00 a.m. But trust me, I was NOT going to complain! There was tiny traces of chunks of snow here and there at the edges of driveways from what was apparently the last snow storm that required plowing, but other than that, there were no other traces of snow on the ground and after a few inquiries, I found out that it has been pretty much snow free this Winter in Lancaster, except for just a few days of course.

Not much was happening on the Amish farms, but I had timed it right and was able to see many children riding their scooters and bikes to school. My favorite sight of the day was three children, obviously siblings. The two boys were sharing one scooter, one was pushing with is right foot, the other with the left and big sister was behind them on her bicycle. What a joy it is to see such happiness in going to school!

The farms were stark, but obviously, it is well after the harvest and too soon to begin to till the fields to prepare the soil for planting. Thinking about it now, I can't pick my favorite time to visit Lancaster. In the Spring you have the Amish preparing the fields as I just said, and the planting begins much earlier than our farms here....it's wonderful to see the teams of horses working in complete harmony of the person behind the reigns, either male or female. Don't forget, many young wives assist their husbands in the fields before the children come along and many times daughters help out if they don't have brothers to do it instead.

In the Summer, you have the glorious crops growing and some early fruits and vegetables to enjoy at the roadside stands. The children are out of school and it is fun to watch them play as you drive by. They are always friendly, which would surprise most people, and do not shy away as you drive by...many wave at you well before you can even raise your hand to greet them!

Fall of course is the harvest season, and many fruits and veggies are still waiting for you at the stands, along with gourds and pumpkins and squash! Have you ever had a home grown cantalope? It's the best you have EVER tasted, and at only $.50 for a melon, that's even better!

Late Fall is also a wonderful time to watch them harvest the tobacco crop. I think I've mentioned it before in this blog, but I was amazed at how quickly the Amish can harvest the large leaves and pile them into a cone shape. I think that this truly is my most favorite time of year to visit because they open the slats of the big barns to dry the hanging tobacco leaves, and it is the most beautiful sight on a farm that I have ever seen....and someday, I will paint a lovely picture of it to always cherish!

And of course Winter.....It's so lovely with fresh snow and to see the women donning their heavy wool shawls and black bonnets that are distinctively Pennsylvania Dutch. These bonnets have the narrow brim, are pleated at the top and have a black satin tie and bow around the back. They have separate ties that are knotted under their chins, and come to think of it, I think that satin bow in the back just may be the only "ornamentation" that I can think of that they wear....something purely just to look at and without function. I also love watching the horse and buggies in the wintertime with the steam rising from the horses nostrils, and to see the families bundled under their woolen blankets and the children cuddling close.....each glimpse inside the buggies is just an intimate look into their lives, how close families always remain both physically and emotionally.

I filled my van at the suppliers and tried to grab a bite to eat at my favorite restaurant, Dienner's, but sadly, they were closed for their winter break that they always take from mid January through to the day after Valentine's Day. *sigh* I sure do miss their chicken, chow-chow and egg custard for desert! I guess I better come up with an excuse to go back at the end of February to visit again! :-)

I will be listing new products on my website over the next week. I'm a bit behind because my oldest boy, Seth, has an awful cough and cold, so some things may just have to wait. Did I mention that we named Seth and Sam (Samuel) after traditional Amish boys names? Yes, we love their culture that much!

Be sure to stop in to www.finecountrylivingprimitives.com over the next few days to see what's new, and don't forget, we will be open this weekend at the shoppe and have new items for you local customers as well! We are even spilling out onto our front porch, so be sure to stop on in!

Peace and blessings to you all!

Mary Jo

Shoppe Hours for this weekend...

We are going to be open this Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. We may also be open on Monday for a time, and you can always call ahead to find out the details at 965-0985.

I just returned from a trip from Lancaster where I stocked up on some great items for Spring and Easter decorating and also am bringing in some new items as well, so stop in and see what we have in store for you!

Mary Jo

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What is Sweet Annie?

All throughout the primitive community you will see Sweet Annie used as a prim accent. Many people do not know what it is, and neither did I, until I stumbled across it myself and fell in love with the herb.

Sweet Annie is a fragrant herb that dries and preserves beautifully. Another name for it is Sweet Wormword, but my preference is Sweet Annie....it sounds much nicer, doesn't it?

Sweet Annie is easy to grow (although I haven't had much luck with it, but I have a brown thumb) and needs to be kept in check because it is known to overtake flower and herb gardens. They say the secret is not to let it go to seed.

Sweet Annie is easily dried as is many other herbs, but is better known in the primitive community to be best used when preserved. Preserving Sweet Annie retains it's beautiful green and mustard yellow colors, it's lovely fragrance, and is less brittle making it much easier to create wreaths and gatherings with it. I purchase my Sweet Annie already preserved and snip off the amount needed to add to my prim dolls and pouches.

One of my favorite dolls to make right now is my faceless prairie doll using a pattern by Primfolks. I make this doll holding a bag made from a cutter quilt and it is filled with Sweet Annie. Another favorite way I use my Sweet Annie is to tuck it into the raffia I tie around my Colonial Sawdust Pillows.


You can also hang a bunch of preserved Sweet Annie from a pegboard, from exposed beams in your prim home, or off the side of a cupboard. I've also seen prim lovers fill old dough bowls and trenchers with Sweet Annie and tuck sprigs of the herb in with their bundled candles....the possibilities are endless!

I hope this little bit of information peaks your interest in the aromatic and beautifully decorative herb! Ebay is a great place to purchase some, so be sure to check it out!

Peace and blessings,
Mary Jo

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Shoppe is unveiled!

As you all know, my husband and I decided to expand my online business by opening a real "brick and mortar" store here on our property in Springville, Pennsylvania. Russ worked each and every day off he had on this project, and turned our smaller two story barn into a retail shoppe in order to share our love of primitives and Folk Art with our community!

We have just completed the first floor and are ready to reveal it to everyone and open our doors! Here is your sneak peek of what you can expect when you stop in to visit us!

We do not have set hours at this time, but will be open as many days as we can, and by appointment of course! If you would like to come and shop with us in person, just call us at 570-965-0985 and we will gladly open our doors for you!

Now in the first paragraph you may have noticed I said we converted our smaller "two story barn"....that's right, we will eventually have two full floors! That is coming soon, but we thought that we could, and should, open the first floor up while finishing the second floor! Actually, I just couldn't wait any longer! Russ is still working almost every day off to get the second floor done, and it will be done this Spring for sure and for certain, so you will have even more to see when you stop by for a visit!

I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be doing this. Of course, I have my wonderful husband to thank for all of his hard work, and many of my friends here in Springville and all over the world for their continued support and well wishes....you were all my greatest cheerleaders!

And one more thing.....always remember, that dreams DO come true! No matter how big or small, no matter how many obstacles, if you put your mind to it and listen to your heart, you can bring any dream to reality!

Peace and blessings to you all, and please be sure to visit soon!

Mary Jo and Russ

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Customer Picture!!!

I am so thrilled that I met a wonderful new friend this past week. Her name is Linda and she lives in Ohio. Linda purchased my folk art doll set, George and Martha Washington. Well, I hated to see them go, but off they went to Ohio. I did ask Linda to send me a picture of the dolls in her beautiful antique shoo fly. Linda kept her word and here is the picture, don't they look happy?

Thank you Linda for sharing the picture with me and our fellow primitive and folk art lovers.

I enjoy what I do so much, especially when I have a chance to actually speak to my customers. Many of us become friends either over the telephone or through regular emails, and I truly cherish the stories we share and the "prim talk" about all the goodies we found and where we got them from. Linda and I had quite a talk last week, and like so many of my friends through my website, we have so much in common! I only wish that all of us lived closer together, wouldn't we all have such a fun time antiquing and hunting through yard sales and flea markets!

If any of you have pictures of products that you would like to share just as Linda and Laura have done, just contact me, we all would love to see how you display your goodies!

Peace and blessings,
Mary Jo

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Baking Dolls?

So many customers have asked "What do you mean when you say in your item descriptions that you baked your dolls?" Sometimes when I describe my dolls, I'll say something like "baked to prim perfection" or "primmed to perfection".

Yes, I do bake my dolls in the oven at times! LOL! Seriously, I do! Depending on what finish I want on my dolls, I use a combination of methods to create certain effects. My dolls are made of muslin and many times I paint them. After they are dry, I may use my special (and secret) prim mixture to paint them with and then I bake them on a cookie sheet on a low oven setting until it is baked into the fabric and they are then "baked to prim perfection!"

Also, by baking dolls in the oven on a metal cookie sheet, I can get a scorched look which makes them look so old, time worn and well loved!

I have several secret primming recipes and methods that I use. My favorite secret weapon though........my food dehydrator! I know I've talked about this before on Prim Talk Radio, but I just have to mention it again because I LOVE it soooo much!

My Aunt RoseMarie from Tupper Lake, New York (by Lake Placid) gave me her food dehydrator. This isn't your ordinary food dehydrator folks, oh no, this is the MEGA size! I bet this was one of the first ones sold on the market, no lie! It is a big box with about 10 trays that I can move into any position. The secret weapon is the mega fan in it! It sounds like a jet engine in my craft room/office and throws off some heat (which I love during the winter!) and it works great! I can fit a full size doll in there since I've found the way to bend them just right to get them in there! Mostly, I do body parts! LOL! Doll body parts, that is! And it is great for primming and drying my doll dresses and bonnets and aprons too! It also works great in the summer when I don't want my oven heating up my kitchen.

My neighbors borrowed it this summer to actually dry food with it, and they offered to buy it from me because THEY loved it so much too! But no way, no how, am I selling this thing, it is invaluable to me as my secret primming tool!

So yes, I do bake my dolls in both my oven and my food dehydrator, and I love every minute of it! My house, and my dolls, smell good right afterwords too!

Mary Jo