Drama, Romance, Intrigue...

Love. Early American Style.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A new challenge....cyber school....

We're taking a big step in our house and have enrolled our oldest son, 7 year old Seth who is in first grade, in cyber school.

This is something that we've considered long before he, or our youngest son, Sam, started preschool. The research was complete, I liked what I saw, but wanted to try public school first.

Even though Seth was excelling in his academics in school (and Sam as well), it just wasn't the right fit for him. We were so very fortunate to have two wonderful teachers at his school for his first two years in public school and they worked so well with us. Even so, the decision had to be made....Seth just wasn't happy there and in the next years, we may not have the guidance and understanding of teachers as special as his Kindergarten and First Grade teachers were.

This is also a life lesson for our son. We are in control of our own happiness, our own destiny. It is not up to teachers, schools, family members, society or anyone or anything else. It is up to us. His guidance counselor at school gave him a very good piece of advice last year...."You are the boss of you". This is an important lesson for us all.

We have the power, and we should execute our power. In our everyday lives, we have control over what makes us happy. My favorite quote is a sign in our sitting room, "Be the change you wish to see in the world". We are doing just that. We want to change the world (well, some aspects of it) and why not start with ourselves.

Seth has affectionately called his new cyber school the Springville School District and grinned from ear to ear showing off what his Kindertarten teacher, Mrs. Cooley, used to call his "talking marks", or what we know as his dimples. This made him happy, this change that began within our own selves, our own family, under our control.

It may not be easy, but it may not be hard either. I'm looking forward to having a direct part in his education, and if all goes well, Sam's as well starting next year. See, Sam was also fortunate in having a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Cooley, the same Kindergarten teacher Seth had last year and he's not quite ready to leave her just yet. But next year he said he'll be ready to start at home and looks forward to having school right next to his brother Seth.

This is a challenge for us, but a challenge we are ready to accept. A few have mentioned about me missing out on the free time while the boys are at public school, but I don't think of it that way. I want my boys to get an education, not have a baby sitter. And besides, if the boys aren't happy, Mama ain't happy either, and we all know how it is if Mama ain't happy..... Anyhow, I'll gladly sacrifice a few short hours of quiet time each day to devote to my children. It's my job, it's my life, and it's what I love to do.

Say a prayer for us...for patience, for guidance along the way, and for us to all have some great fun and make great memories together!

Many Blessings,
Mary Jo

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Recommended Reading....

Amish Peace, Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World by Suzanne Woods Fisher.

If you love the Amish, love their lifestyle, their values, their beliefs, this is a must read.

Each chapter is short and easy to read, yet long enough to enjoy and also not overly "wordy"...it doesn't go on and on. In my opinion, less is more! My favorite aspect is at the beginning of each chapter, Ms. Fisher provides you with an Amish Proverb that is relevent to the chapter and at the end of each chapter, reflections on the chapter are provided to ask yourself questions on how you feel about their beliefs and values, and how you can integrate them into your own lives.

The Amish are very generous with their stories on their lives outside of "the world" and their honesty and sincerity are commendable. They aren't judgemental of us fancy folk, but of course, that's also the Amish way.

I just finished it this evening, recommended it to my husband (Quakers and Amish share many of the same values) and plan on reading it again soon.

A brilliant book indeed, brilliant!

Many Blessings,
Mary Jo

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Amish Proverb....

"The most beautiful attire is a smile."

Since I dress what many Quakers have dubbed "The New Plain", and which I affectionately call modern plain, this simple Amish proverb means a lot to me.

At first my family (I know they still secretly think this way) thought I was a bit nuts. Not my husband, not my sons, but you know....sisters, parents, etc. After all, to slowly begin to transform into this new style of dress is a change for folks around here. Not that we're all high fashion models in Susquehanna County, PA, but you know, you gotta look "good".

I've spent much time, and too much money, on trying to look great. The worst part was when I started watching "What not to wear" on TLC and HELLO!!!!! ..... I thought I had to use all those style tips and makeup tips and get my hair done and, and, and....

*SIGH*

I don't even remember when it started happening. A small voice inside me began whispering simple things. I began thinking, "What a waste of time" when I was dying my hair. "What a waste of time" when I couldn't decide what top to wear with these jeans, and suddenly had clothes laid out all over and just couldn't decide. I had tons of shoes with boots to go with that skirt, slip-ons to go with those shorts, and boots to go with that one pair of pants. If I saw something on sale, I may not need it, but hey, it's a bargain, right? Wrong. That little voice started asking.... "Why".

Why indeed, and that's how I began answering. Why.

On a whim, I bought an Amish cape dress on ebay that I saw. Why? I don't know, but when I tried it on, I enjoyed it. I put in in the closet and wore it to my son's preschool one year for Halloween and it was fun, and I hated to take it off. I bought a few more....more Mennonite style which, without the cape style, could pass for a simple dress. I was hooked.

But then I felt like I was doing it again...spending time finding the right cape dress that didn't look Amish, fit just right, etc.... and I was doing it again. What a waste.

I had a denim skirt that I bought on sale and never wore (the one that I bought the boots for and never wore them either). I put it on and, thankfully, it still fit (hahaha). I paired it with a simple long sleeved tee and it felt good. It was practical. I already had it, and it felt right. My new form of dress is long denim skirts and simple tops. Easy, cheap, comfy.

I still had the desire to wear simple dresses and found Taylors Scarlet Thread online. It's a family of fabulous seamstresses that will make dresses, blouses, skirts, nightgowns, etc. Just simply choose your style and send your measurements. Sarah will send fabric choices in an email and voila, a few weeks later you have a lovely dress. I love their aprons too! I cherish my handmade dresses of fine quality from The Scarlet Thread, they still look like brand new two years later, and you can't beat handmade clothing.

I started feeling the need to stop wearing makeup. I hear you all gasping....and it's okay. LOL! Yes, I stopped wearing makeup. I think my mother still has nightmares about it, but that's another subject all together. It is simply freeing and I'm happy, enough said.

I also stopped dying my hair. I began seeing my first grays when I was about 17 I think and began dying my hair at 19. It's been a vicious cycle ever since. I am now off the dying bandwagon and am salt and pepper and natural. It was the best decision made thus far and I get more compliments on my hair now then ever before. I think mom's still having nightmare's about not dying my hair as well.

In Gehman's Country Fabrics and More in Lebanon, PA, I purchase my knee high socks (great quality, made in the USA and lovely). As Mrs. Gehman and I were conversing about dressing plain in a modern world, she did ask me why I decided to begin dressing more plain, more modest. I told her the honest truth. I wasn't sure exactly why, but I listened to that inner voice and it felt right. She said something that I think about often. I can't remember her exact words, but she remarked how pretty our plain girls look when you can focus on their lovely faces and smiles instead of their clothes.

That's how I feel. Focus on what I have to say, see the good I try to do each day, not on what I wear. And also know that my favorite attire is my smile.

Many Blessings,
Mary Jo

Friday, January 22, 2010

New Shipping Services

We've completed our new Ordering Information and policies and effective immediately, we will be offering USPS Priority Mail, UPS and FedEx. Which carrier we ship your order through will be determined by Fine Country Living Primitives at the time of shipment.

We've always only shipped USPS Priority Mail, but with their new price increases, many times it's more reasonable to ship a large package across the United States with FedEx than it is Priority Mail. In some recent cases, it would have meant as much as a 30-50% savings in shipping customers orders! All carriers are now charging "dimensional weight" for packages. They are not only calculating the weight of the package, but also the size and combining these two figures for dimensional weight charges which has increased dramatically in the last two years.

These new shipping options has led us to revamp our shipping charges. Shipping charges will now be a flat rate charge depending on the amount of your order. Each package will also be sent to you insured. Full details can be found at our website www.FineCountryLivingPrimitives.com and by visiting our Ordering Information page on the left side.

These new shipping rates are for the lower 48 states only. Hawaii, Alaska and all International orders will be charged EXACT shipping charges and adjustments will be made after the sale and exact charges are calculated.

We hope that these new changes in our shipping policy will benefit everyone. It simplifies the calculation of shipping for everyone and offers many a savings by adding more shipping options available.

Many Blessings,
Mary Jo

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Country Sampler Spring issue is out and about!

The new Spring issue of Country Sampler magazine is out to subscribers this week and will be in stores shortly.

Once again, we are thrilled to advertise one of my favorite products in this issue.

Photobucket

This reproduction treenware tealight holder looks like real wood and is in the shape of a sugar mold. It holds five tealights, and the ones shown blow on and off like real candles! You can purchase the tealight and holders together as a set or separately, whichever you prefer. Just click on the picture above and you will be taken directly to the product page on our website for more details.

We stocked up on this product due to the great response with our last product ad, but as always, I recommend that if this is something you really will enjoy, grab it while you can....you never know, it may not be there the next time you check and we'd hate to have you miss out.

Many Blessings,
Mary Jo

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Shipping Services Soon?

Well everyone, USPS rates have gone through the roof with this latest increase for shipping packages. We ship from Pennsylvania, and the rates for shipping here on the East coast have only increased slightly, but with shipping to the other zones it's pretty high.

I've began researching other options and have set up a new account with one service and verified that my account with another is still open.

We will soon be revamping our shipping policies and offering you more options with some savings at the same time. We're constantly changing, adapting and moving forward to provide you with great products, service and fair prices!

Many Blessings,
Mary Jo

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Want something new?

In my last post I mentioned how I was heading to Lancaster the next morning for a shopping trip for our online shoppe. I went and had a great time!

What a sunny day it was, and warm by my standards....a balmy 32 degrees! It made for an enjoyable driving trip and the time to and from heaven on Earth seemed shorter than usual.

I expected to stock up for our online shoppe, and my goodness, I certainly did! I've lost track of how many new products are on our New Arrivals category, but I still have boxes to unpack!

I just couldn't resist the great new offerings they had available. New Colonial wares and Early Lighting including (not added yet) a working oil lamp with an aged copper finish. Stay tuned for that one....what a wonderful, useful piece! Perfect for emergency power outages, but I plan on using one regularly out on my porch when we sit out and enjoy the summer evenings (yes, I'm dreaming of summer already) and even in the house when I get that craving for simpler times.

I've added many new Spring and Easter offerings including Easter eggs in antique mason jars and new bunnies. I'm warning you though, many are already selling out, along with our new Spring greeneries and florals, so please be sure to stop in soon for the best selection.

I've also restocked many old favorites, so be sure to browse around our site if you have been waiting for your favorite wares to come back in.

I shopped for our product ad item for the Summer issue of Country Sampler magazine and I found a super Colonial piece. I'm not revealing what it is, but just want to say that it's Early American, yet primitive. It's an Early Lighting piece and handcrafted right here in the USA....stay tuned!

We're also expecting a shipment in of new textiles in the coming weeks. I'm hoping that they are weaving them as we speak, and there's some new styles coming in and I cannot wait.

Again, thank you for your continued support of our online shoppe. We have been very busy and certainly appreciate your business and friendships as well! With our family moving forward with our plans to homeschool our children through cyber school, our online shoppe enables me to work from home and offer our boys a happy, safe and nurturing environment. I thank all of you for helping make that possible!

Many Blessings,
Mary Jo

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Seems like ages.....

since I've posted either here on our blog or on Twitter. I'm here and all is well, just very busy. Our online business has been just as busy these last two weeks as they were during the rush before Christmas, and with a new Country Sampler ad coming out next week, I don't think it will slow down.

We've also been busy with our boys. It was wonderful having them home from school and it was a hard adjustment for everyone to get them back to the schedule of school.

We've been looking into it for a few years now, but more seriously the last few months regarding cyber charter school for the boys. It's something I was passionate about before Seth started Kindergarten, and now that he's in first grade and Sam's in kindergarten, we put it on the backburner. We really wanted to give public school a try, and it's been okay. I know that they will both thrive with cyber school, and we're moving forward with it for next year. It may even be a possibility for Seth this year since they have open enrollment for class through March, so we may have him finish the first grade at home while Sam finishes kindergarten at Elk Lake. All of this has taken up a lot of my time, but time well spent and definitely worth the effort in the future. Afterall, Faith and Family come first, and I'll gladly sacrifice a few hours alone during a school day to have them home and help them learn more than they could ever imagine.

I'm hoping to head to Lancaster for a shopping trip in the morning. I'll leave bright and early by 5:30 a.m. and will be shopping by 8:30. I'm planning on stocking up on some great Colonial wares for the website and restock some old favorites that we've been sold out of. As always, I will have my eyes peeled for new and exciting products and with the new year, some new product lines should be out and about. Be sure to check back next week to see the New New Arrivals!

Did I say New NEW Arrivals? That wasn't a typo! We've been busy having new items shipped in since Christmas! We already have about 30 new products on our website...New Arrivals, and yes, plan on bringing in even MORE New NEW Arrivals! I told you we were expanding our online business.....you asked for more, and we'll be happy to oblige!

On a side note (just to make you jealous), I'll also be stocking up on Whoopee pies for the boys, Amish made butter for cooking, cabbage stuffed peppers for my hubby Russ, and whatever yummy and delicious treat for myself! It's simply sinful!

Many Blessings,
Mary Jo

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Year End Clearance Event!

Wow, where have the holidays gone? We have been enjoying our two boys this Christmas break from school. They are enjoying their toys, and we are enjoying them! Time home with family, that's what it's all about! I dread Monday when they return to school.

We've been very busy here at Fine Country Living Primitives as well. We are expanding our online business, so I've re-0rganized our inventory area. I affectionately call it the "warehouse", and we are making room for new shipments that have been coming in and for the others that will be on their way shortly.

In my organizing frenzy, I've placed many items on Clearance. Our regular online customers look forward to our Year End Clearance Event which I hold after the holidays, and this year has been a success! Many of you are scooping up bargains and stocking up for next year, and we are able to make room for more.

Not only are Clearance items heading out the door, but many of you have been pleased with our New Arrivals as well. We quickly sold out of our Mason Jar Taper Candle holders (twice!) and we have a few left of our third order and have more on the way. We also quickly sold out of our new Grid Pattern Coverlet/Blanket in Black/Linen. Again, I've ordered more due to high demand and hopefully we will have more again soon. I've also ordered new coverlets and pillowcases to carry in stock, and all coordinate together....what a great way to start the New Year with redecorating your bedroom in Early American charm! Stay tuned for those!

With our high volume of sales this past year (thank you), we also have the need for expanding our shipping center. We are working on that this coming month which will enable us to ship your orders more efficiently enabling me to also get some more quality time with my family which is always a plus!

This past year has been a trying time for many businesses, and ours has certainly gone through some changes. Thanks to my incredible online customers, these were changes for the good, and we thank you! Our business is growing beyond my wildest dreams, and best of all, I enjoy every minute of it. I truly love what I do, and I will continue to strive to bring you the highest quality, most unique primitive items at the most affordable price that I can. That's what we do here at Fine Country Living Primitives.....always quality items at fair prices. We never raise our prices before we have a sale, and if we get a good deal or hit a sale, we pass that savings on to you and you get that good deal as well. This is something my husband and I discussed on day one, and it is something that we hold true to this day. Many of you notice, we receive emails and phone calls all the time from our customers, and we appreciate your continued support!

On one last note, may this next year, along with the next decade and beyond be not only prosperous, but peaceful as well. Peace in our individual lives, peace within our communities, peace within our country, and peace across the world. Our family's greatest hope is Peace, for our children's future and always with the hope that we leave them a better place.

Many Blessings,
Mary Jo