Monday, December 10, 2012


How often are we actually  moved to tears?  Well I am a lot these days, but I blame that on hormones:) LOL
A simple kindness makes me teary eyed!  I had that wonderful experience just yesterday!!! 
SOOO here I am sick with a really bad cold, trying to get some decorating done.  I worked awhile, sat awhile, felt better, worked some more, but still didn't get that much done!!! All that time, I am listening to the Army Navy game, where my husband was and I was supposed to be but felt too bad to go!  In the distance I can hear cannon fire from the re-enactment of the Battle of Fredericksburg.  Those two sounds were so strange together.  I put the TV on mute and listened to the sounds of the civil war.  I was thinking that this is how it felt for the people in town that stayed in their homes during the war.  That must have been so scary to them especially since it is the beginning of the Christmas Season when they probably expected to hear Christmas Carols instead.  Since I was basically feeling sorry for myself, I kept saying to myself  "Self just think how lucky you are that you have never had to face such a horrible challenge such as a war practically in your own backyard.  You have NO RIGHT to be sad at all!!!  While I know that is true, I still felt a little sad, probably because I felt a lot sick too:)  It was late afternoon and I can hear the mailman coming, I looked outside and he was binging a box and the mail to the door.  Now I am thinking what in the world did I order that I forgot about.  I opened the door and we talked for a bit, then I went inside to go through the mail.  First I looked at the box, the return address was Pat Gaddy!!!  I was a little confused thinking that I KNOW if I had ordered from Pat and Don that there is NO WAY I would forget that!!!  SOOOOO I opened that box and in there was a beautiful painting!!  NOTHING could have better!!!
This is a very bad picture of me, but it shows the wonderful painting from Pat!!!
I am sure some of you have been to Pat and Don's site, Olde Bittersweet Farm on picturetrail, if you haven't you need to go right now:)
Pat and I love the works of Rufus Porter, a New England Artist from the 1800's.  Some of you might know his work too. This is a painting she did and sent it to me!  I just couldn't believe my eyes, especially since I had tears streaming down my poor wrinkled face :)  This is a true act of kindness!
I instantly felt better! and immediately looked around for the perfect place to hang it so that I can see it everyday!!!
This is where it ended up:
This is just above a pie safe in the tavern room and I can clearly see it!!  I will look at it every day and smile a big smile!!!

I hope that someday I will be able to make someone else have a happy day like mine was.  I will think on it!
I will think of this as my own "Christmas Story" one of kindness and caring.
What is your story?  I hope it is wonderful!


Thursday, November 8, 2012


SOOOOO......  Even though I am a little late,   OK a LOT late  I am still very happy for Fall to finally arrive here in our little spot in VA.
I have been away in GA with my family!  It was soooo great!!  My Mom turned 80, I look closer to 80 than she does,  so we went to Baton Rouge to visit my mom's oldest friend Ella.  They are so cute, it was just as if they just had coffee under Ella's huge tree next door to my parents in Atlanta just yesterday!!!   We ate our brains out!! Ella is the BEST cajun cook in the world! :)  Also her wonderful son and daughters came with wonderful food, we hardly left the table.  I loved every minute of it!  
When we got back to my Mom's, it was time to work on my niece's wedding.  She worked on it for a whole year and it was sooo beautiful!! I got to help with the little final arrangements, tying bows on things and stuffing popcorn in bags and  little loose end things.  We had our nails done and laughed for at least 3 weeks worth! Shoo I had to come back to VA to get some rest.  I miss them so much, I tried to get all of them to move to VA with me, but no way that's happening LOL   I also had the chance to have lunch with about 16 of my high school friends, I haven't seen them in 43 years!  I enjoyed it so much!  I was never able to come to any class reunions. 
OH I DO GO ON!!!  
BUT seriously, friends are so important in our lives.  I don't have a friend like my Mom's Ella, but I do have lots of wonderful friends.  Some of them are "Cyber Friends",  like y'all !  Even though we live in a town with lots of history,  it seems there are just a few of us prim decorators left. Maybe Prim and History don't really go together. We do have lots of great antique stores so there are a few kindred spirits around.   I find myself shopping on ebay a lot, mostly to get a feel for prices and whats selling.  It is one way to do that without driving all over the place just looking :) Now I don't know about y'all, but when it comes to antiques I have ZERO self control!!  I bought a few things from an ebay seller, Lyn Kay Shoppe, that I loved!  She is the one that told be about picturetrail, check her site out at  I fell in love with it!  I was so excited to see so many wonderful houses!  I started mine, www.picturetrail/tansyanniestudio, but my house is nothing compared to some of my "friends" houses!  Anyway to finally get to my point,  I have "met" sooooo many wonderful friends! People that I actually have things in common with and understand that wonderful feel of something very primitive and not perfect.   I look forward to checking on them almost everyday:)  The blogs are fun too.  It is if they are my next door neighbors!  Go to my "friends" album to see all of the wonderful homes!
I seem to have missed fall decorating, so I plan to jump right on over to Christmas! :0)
Here are a few pictures of my fast fall decorating:)  I LOVE real things from nature, especially things I can stick cloves into!  Look for the pear with cloves:)

 This adorable little treen plate is from Olde Bittersweet Farm.  It was made my Pat and Don Gaddy! Check them out on picturetrail!  They design and make wonderful things!!!      

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


The Picture above was taken from the financial district in NYC near the site of where the towers once stood.
I have had a hard time with blogger lately!  Also finding the time to settle down enough to write
 Here I am, a whole day late!  
I thought I would share my "9-11" story.  I know that we all remember exactly where we were on that sad, sad day.

So my 9-11 story actually started the weekend before.  You see, I went to an antique store that weekend!  It is located about an hour and  a half from home.  There was an adorable print that I really wanted, but I was trying to be oh so practical!  SOOOOO I decided that I really didn't need it.  I went home and that print just kept nagging me! Does that ever happen to you?   I decided that I would just HAVE to go get it!!!  So on Tuesday it was a beautiful clear and cool day!  The first cool day in a long time!  I said to myself..... Self go on down and get that print!:)
I started out early that day, about 8:15.  I was rolling down the road, windows open, enjoying the wonderful cool weather, in the anticipation about whether the print was still there or not, singing to my favorite country music station.  There was an interruption by the DJ that said a plane had just hit one of the towers.  As a flight attendant, I flew through there a lot.  I thought  OH NO!! It is a wonder that hasn't happened before, thinking that it was probably a small plane with a disoriented pilot.   I  listened to hear more.  I was about 15 minutes from the Antique Store when the DJ said that another plane hit the other tower!!!!  I was stunned!!   My first thought was WE are at WAR!!!!   When I got to the store it was just opening and mostly empty.  I heard their radio say that a plane hit the Pentagon! All I could think was to get home as fast and I could!  I did decide to run find the print that I came so far to get!  (was that wrong? I felt guilty for doing something fun at such a horrible time) Anyway I left the store and  my fear turned to anger!!!  I walked into the house and immediately put out every American Flag we had!!!  I know that others felt the same because soon almost all the houses in the neighborhood had their flags flying!!
I came back into the house just as the phone rang, it was my Husband in Hawaii.  He was still an active duty Marine at that time.   He didn't know what had happened, I told him and he turned on his TV and said "I gotta go!! Love you!
As it turned out, originally he was to be at the Pentagon that day but the trip to Hawaii came up so he sent a staff  from his office, some civilians and some military to attend the meeting that was  planned.  Now Husband George decided to go to GA to visit his Mom and fly out to Hawaii from Atlanta!  If he had flown out of DC he would have been on the flight that hit the pentagon!  He flew on that flight often.
His staff at the Pentagon were all safe as the meeting was at the opposite end from the crash, thank goodness!  I have never experienced such a feeling.  The trains that we usually hear were quite.  My Husband was stuck in Hawaii and our daughter was at school under a lock down (she teaches music).
  Everything was eerily quite, even the phone didn't ring, no one could get through.  That night thankfully our daughter got home and I was able to get in touch with the other kids.  All we could hear was the sound of helicopters flying to DC from nearby Military Bases!  It sounded like the soundtrack for an episode of MASH!!
 Such a sad scary time.
When I finally unwrapped the print a few days later it said "Innocence" on the bottom!  I wondered if there would ever be innocence in the world again.  I look at that print every day and remember.

This is the print.
As I write this today I am watching CNN hearing about the horrible attack on our Embassy in Libya.  I am more interested than ever since our son left yesterday for the middle east with a 50 man unit, on their way to a Navy base.  They are a team of Marines that are "first responders" to help secure areas such as that Embassy.  We don't know if he will be sent there or not.
Please pray for all of our service members and for our country!

Monday, July 9, 2012


Last week we had "History Camp" at our  Preservation Virginia Properties.  We played a game with the kids during down times.  It was..... If you had to choose between NO electricity and NO plumbing and water which one would you choose?  Most chose to keep plumbing and water!

 Over the weekend I had the chance to ask myself that same question!  We had terrible storms that knocked out our electricity for 3 days!!!  Storms were predicted so I decided to power up all of my favorite electronics, cell phone, computer and kindle fire!  I really didn't expect to lose power since we hardly ever do, our power lines are all underground, but if a tree falls on a connecting power line we go dark.  I am glad I "powered up"!! Because we lost power Fri night!  I was lucky that our house held the cool air most of the time.  It was really hot, about 103, heat index, I don't remember, but it was HIGH:)  I sat on the screened porch and drank gallons of water!!  I had lots time to contemplate the Colonial era, it was just me and the dogs and they were not talking!  

What did those people really do with alllll of that time!!!  NO computer!! or tv?  I found myself doing things that I  loved to do, but never take the time for!  I brought out my water colors and painted, then I brought out the oils and painted!  Then I walked through the yard and picked lots of flowers!!

SOOOOOOO I guess I would say "I CHOOSE PLUMBING AND WATER" especially if it is not well water, since you can't get water when the power is off :)  I grew up with well water and loved the taste, but when there were power outages we couldn't flush !! To this day if we are in an outage, I still think twice before flushing!

Everything is back to normal now with minimal damage to our Historic Properties and almost all of the houses in the neighborhood.  Sadly that is not the case in some areas.  Hopefully the affected folks will be back to normal soon.

I hope your summer is great! 
Take time to do things that you love, even if the power is not off!

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Did Y'all think I was going to talk about the really large population of fleas this year? 
              WELLLLL......... I am talking about another type of "Flea Bite".  
 I have no idea when or where this term came about, but I have seen it often.  It refers to a chip on a piece of antique stoneware, or anything with a chip I guess.
This is a picture of a bunch of stone fruit grapes.  I purchased these recently from one of my favorite Picture trail Friends, Pat from Olde Bittersweet Farm.   When I looked at the picture, I noticed that both of those plates are discolored or have a "flea bite" or two!  THEN I started to look around and found that I have quite a few "flea bitten" plates and platters.  I started to wonder why it is that I always buy something that is a little damaged!!!  IF there were two plates the same price and one was perfect and one was damaged, I would probably take the damaged one!  What is up with that, I ask myself.  Myself says    "I have NO idea"   except that, besides the fact that those are usually cheaper, it just looks older and well used.   I especially like the white stoneware plates that have the brown discoloring.  Those are so beautiful to me.   I have instructions on how to bleach out that brown color, but have never used them!  I guess I just like the feeling that these "flea bites" were caused by someone who loved AND used that item enough to try to either fix it, like the large platter above, or just live with it.
It bothers me a lot that we just throw away something that is not perfect or a little damaged.  It becomes that way from use.  Platters and plates are meant to use, not just look at.  If something is still useable, I keep it.....Now THAT drives my husband crazy!!!  I have 2 old blue willow plates that have a broken section out of one side.  The other side looks fine, I wouldn't use it for serving food, but it is a great plate under a plant!  You only see the side that is NOT broken:)  To my fractured brain it looks just great:)
The plates above on the mantle are stuck down with museum wax, just in case we have another earthquake!  Yep I am a goner!!  I just love "orphaned" sheep, plates and platters!

To go to Pat's PT site go to   It is a feast for your eyes!! Her house is so wonderful and inspiring!!!  AND she has great antiques for sale too!!!

Well I am off to spend some time with Mr Swiffer and Mr Dyson!!  dusting and vacuuming!
I hope your day is great!!  And check out, go to the friends album and you will find an unlimited amount of sites to visit including Olde Bittersweet Farm!!!

Monday, May 28, 2012


Memorial Day is celebrated in different ways by our nation.  To this family it is remembering those who came before us and those who are serving now.
Here is a Memorial Day Album of the Fenton Service Members!
This is the "Wall of Heroes" in my Husband's office.  Of course there MUST be a cute colonial sconce on that wall as well!!

This is a photo of my Husband, George's Grandfathers.  Both were Marines. George's Mother and Father basically grew up knowing each other from various duty stations.
This is a photo of George's Dad during the Korean War.

This is Col George Fenton with our son Lt. Patrick Fenton.  Patrick was still at VA Tech in this photo. This was at a formal dinner with Patrick's ROTC class.
1st Lt Patrick Fenton just before leaving for Afghanistan.

All the Fenton kids at a ceremony when Patrick received his 1LT bars.

 Our oldest daughter and her husband own a music arranging and copying business.  They also teach elementary music.  Our oldest son is a Graphic Designer.  Our youngest daughter is in Human Resources and a musician.  And "Baby Pat" is a Marine Captain.

All of the military genes are on the Fenton side of the family.   My uncle and my step Father are both retired Army Colonels!  They actually served together! How funny that my Mom would meet her Husband, both lost their spouses, and then find that my Uncle and Her Husband were friends!!  Small world, as they say, or should I say small military.

Soooooo I hope y'all have a wonderful day and please say a prayer for all of our brave service members that keep us safe and free!!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012


AAA HAAAAA...............
I bet you thought I was going to say Chocolate!!!
I don't now why but those adorable little German sheep just touch my heart!  I especially like those with broken legs and faces that no one else would want! :)  They are so sweet!
Here are some of the flock...

The sizes vary from 5" on down.  As I understand it these little guys were created for children to play with.  Some of them came in sets along with a sheep dog and Shepard.  
I started collecting these in the 80's when I got one in an antique shop in Los Aptos CA.  I think that is the name of the place, it is Near Monterey.  We were there for 2 GREAT years!!  ANYWAY  the first little one that I bought was just $4.00!  It could barely stand up and it looked as if it was used as a Christmas Tree ornament.  After that I was hooked and have been ever since.  For years I didn't see them and then E-Bay came along.  That is where I have gotten a lot of them.  That's a great place to look if you are looking for some for your flock!

I do have to admit that Chocolate and what Southern Girl would not love Coka Cola and Sweet Tea are  some of my other guilty pleasures!!  

What are your guilty pleasures?  What ever they are I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Have a Great Happy Spring!

Saturday, April 14, 2012


We are back from a very fast moving trip to GA, while we were gone all the leaves came out on the trees and I realized how dark it is in the house!!  Plants on the mantle are out of the question.  SOOOO I decided to break down and use "faux" plants!  Normally I don't like ANYTHING fake!  BUT I have to say that the newer fake or faux plants are not too bad.  I remember going through a silk flower stage in the late 70's making loads of grapevine wreaths with silk flowers on them.  Then there were the straw hats with the silk flowers around the brim and hung on the front door!  Wow that was a long time ago!  Now I might keep the faux plants on the mantle inside, just to get some green in there!
Here are some pictures:

 There are also the dried pineapples!  I just love those! I have NO idea why!  When we lived in the desert there was a grocery store in Palm Springs that sold tiny pineapples!  I never saw the little ones before and so I decided to dry them in the sun!  Well in the desert that only took a couple hours!  I have since dried one or two every year.  Now I don't see them anymore, but I still use the dried ones I have!
Bringing the outdoors in has always been one of my favorite things! This house, however, is not so good for it other than pots and cement animals!
If you are looking for some "greens" in your home, check out the newer faux plants!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


It is egg dying time again!!  It came sooooo soon!!!  Anyway I thought I would like share my favorite dyed eggs with y'all!

These are just a few, I have loads of them! It was so fun to do!!
I saw these in Country Living Magazine in '93 or '94, can't remember exactly, BUT  I tried them and it was so fun! 
These were done with lots of onion skins and some with cinnamon, cloves, tumeric.  The designs are little weeds from the yard.  I moistened the weeds to get them to stay on the eggs, then took old panty hose and cut them up, put them around the egg and held it in place with a rubberband, pulling the hose tightly.  Then I left them in the water where I boiled the onion skins or spices.  At one point I had three or four pots of hot water full of spices, and onion skins!  I like the natural colors, but you can get lots of colors using different vegetables, such as red cabbage, beets...  The longer you leave them in the water the darker they get.  
That same year I also made some "Pysanke"( probably spelled wrong) eggs.  This is an ancient art where a design is drawn onto an egg with beeswax then dipped into a dye. You do this layer after layer using different color dyes.  Then when you are happy with the design you just rub off the wax and what is left is a very detailed  design. I looks like you are a great artist! :0) As I was researching this art, I read that the eggs were not blown out, but left in tact.  Sounds gross, but when you think about it, eggs are porous so the inside yolk and white eventually dry out.  Some of mine actually rattle!  I also think that not blowing them make them stronger so that they last longer.  Once in a while one will get cracked and the smell is not so good, so I just throw that one away.  
I have had these eggs for a long time, I store them in an old wooden egg crate.  It is best to keep them in a way that air can get to them, I am guessing that if they are kept air tight the smell would increase.  Sometimes when I first take them out there is a little odor, but once they are out in the air it is a lot better!  If you would like, though, you could blow them out!
This is fun to do with children as a lesson in natural dyes.
OK!!!  Get out there and dye some eggs!!

Friday, March 9, 2012


Deception!  What does that really mean?  Well according to Mr Webster it means to mislead, elude or cause to err.  We think of it as a negative thing.
In my case I call deceit "the cheap way out"!  Let me explain!  My use of deceit is in decorating as in faux finishes, tromp'loi, or Fool The Eye".  An example is when one makes a wall look like plaster when it is really sheet rock.
You probably know about the faux finishes, these are techniques used to add texture to a wall or furniture, even fabric.  There is sponging, ragging, color wash, and on and on.  There are also an infinite number of finishes because they can be anything you want to try, let your imagination go wild and try any tool, brush, rag, sponges, dirt, get the picture!  These are ways that can be used to make a different look.
I like the colonial uses of "fool the eye".  They are combing, marbeling, graining, just to name a few.

This is our front door.

          This door is metal.  It was dented by soccer balls, baseballs, you name it!  I didn't want to buy a new door so I used a combination of graining and combing.  It has worked pretty well over the years. 

 I have also used it in the kitchen.  Our cabinets are pretty old, not cute old just OLD.  We contemplated putting in new cabinets until we saw the cost.  I decided to try to disguise the wear and tear with some faux finishes.  I decided on this graining, but there are lots of other ways this could have been done.

These are the doors to the pantry.

 These are the kitchen cabinets.
These have held up pretty well for a while!

Just to give you an idea of others ways graining and combing can be used to transform an object to look like something else!!
This is a graining project that I did at an office building.

This is a metal door that was red.  It was primed in this picture

 Here it is with the base coat.

This is the finished door, made to look like a wooden door.
This picture was taken before it was completely dry so it has a sort of film look.  That goes away when it it dry.

So if you are thinking about replacing doors or kitchen cabinets this could be an alternative.  It is cheaper to paint the old doors than to buy new ones:)
Even a coat of paint and no graining can transform kitchen cabinets.
I did ours a few years ago, so now the actual cabinet doors are falling apart.  I guess it is time to look for new doors if not all new cabinets:)

Take a look around at nature, as in bark on the trees or leaves, and imagine that design on something in the house!

Here's hoping y'all have a happy "deceitful" day and take some time to play with paint!!!!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


As y'all may have read on this blog before, I work as a guide in the Mary Washington House.  The house belonged to the Mother of George Washington.
Well sometimes I just sit in there and wonder what it was like in 1772 when Mary moved to town from her farm a few miles away.  I was also thinking how peaceful it is without the sound of the heat kicking on or the refrigerator ice falling down.
Today is is a cold rainy day!  I love these rainy days, but today I turned off all of the lights just to see how it would be without electricity!  It was so dark that the camera would not take the picture with the flash off! I didn't get very good pictures but here are the ones I took.

I couldn't get a good representation of how dark and rainy it is.

Even with candles and some flash on the camera it is still pretty dark but not as dark as it really was.
I suppose the next time I complain about the electric bill I will remember what it might be like without electricity!   AND THE PLUMBING of that time!!!  We all know about privies but did you know that in that time, at least here in VA, the only months they bathed were June, July, and August!!!  That includes their hair as well!!  They were very afraid of catching the consumption (bad cold) that they felt it was only safe to immerse yourself into a bath tub in those hot months!  I may have mentioned this before, but I have to say it again:)
SOOOOOOO as I sit here and wait for my left over pizza to heat up, the one that was delivered to our door last night, I have decided that I was meant to LIVE in an old home WITH electricity, plumbing, internet, cable...... well you get the picture:)
I will go now and turn on a few lights and get out the electric vacuum cleaner and get to work!
I hope you have a great day today!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I thought that I would share some of my favorite things.  I love to walk around the house and just look at my favorite things!  Then I realized that most of them remind me of friends.  Here are some pictures!
I love a warm cozy fireplace also the dog toys:)

I love pie safes!! This was from one of my favorite antique stores owned by Becky!!

The lamp I bought from my friend Bobbi and the little chest of drawers from Sandra.  Every time I see these I think of them and all of the fun times we spent together!

I love wooden bowls and Arnold Cats!

I love Gaudy Welsh!! My friend Barbara introduced me to that!!  Some of these I have purchased from her! She has  great antiques!!

I love dried hydrangeas !!!

I love shiny pewter!

love old baskets!

My favorite ironstone has a little or a lot of that great brownish color of age!!

I have had this papier mache reindeer since high school!! 

Love the ironstone and staffordshire dogs!

Cute baby dogs!

AHHHH..... TIN!!

These are real blue birds eggs that we found in our blue bird box, the mother was killed and the father cried and cried!!!  When he didn't come back I took them!  They are so sweet and sad at the same time!!  I love them so much!

Easter bunnies are soooo fun!!!

I love cows!! I probably won't ever get to have my own so these have to do!!

 I miss my friends, but I am so blessed with these things to remind me of them every day!!

Take time to go "shopping" in your home, you may be surprised what you find!!:)