Old Sweetwater

Old Sweetwater

Monday, August 31, 2009

Grandparent's Cottage

My mom's parents never had much in way of money and possessions. They were truly rich in love, laughter and appreciating simple things.
My grandpa cobbled onto this tiny cottage. It was heated with a wood stove.
Grandma cooked on a large wood cook stove until the last few years. The pies that came from that oven.....wow.
The little enclosed porch on the front held a bed topped with hand-made quilts. It had a tin roof so you could hear the rain. The old wooden screen doors slapped when closed. It was a place where any of their nine children, along with oodles of grands and great-grands could gather for good food and fun.
Maybe this little cottage is why I'm so enchanted with the idea of living in one - going back to simpler times?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Study in White

Since all the items are white, I made the photos black and white to appreciate the details.
I purchased the bowls and covered baking crock from Pottery Barn years ago.
The custard cups (I have 12) and milk bottle came from a local store, Cockrell Mercantile.
The platter is very old Italian-made and very generous in size.
The shell dish is a thrift store find.
Most of the pieces set out on my baker's rack and are used daily.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fried Green Tomatoes

Last year we put out a few tomato plants, but they didn't do so well.
In autumn, we plopped the disappointments into the compost pile.
This year, we decided not to bother with them because so many friends had tomatoes to give away.
Very early Spring we transplanted two rose bushes. They were "wilty," but we hoped for the best.
After being gone for nearly two weeks, we returned to find volunteer tomato plants growing over our roses! Four of them.
What in the world...?
The tomato plants we put in the compost pile sprouted new plants (because we didn't microwave the compost dirt to kill off junk). The tomato plants shaded the roses and both survived. Yay.
So late in August we had fried green tomatoes. Talk about unexpected blessings...
I use Southern Living Magazine's recipe. Yum.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Summer Greens

These are the greens of summer that too soon will be gone.
Our fern has certainly flourished. It started off from Lowes on sale for $7.00. It is HUGE now.
The plant in the lower right is something we thought was annual, but returned this Spring, much to our delight, because it lazily hangs over the French black planter and sways in the summer breezes.
In a few weeks these glorious greens will be replaced with gold, brown and oranges.
For now though I'm going to relax and enjoy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Our Zinnias

On a whim, we decided to plant these zinnias in a flower box with a few impatiens.
The selection wasn't great at the time we were purchasing, so we weren't sure if they'd do well.
Theses beauties have really shown off!
And they're so accommodating. My husband took a couple of dried flower heads and just stuck the seeds in the dirt that's in the box, and they sprung up almost immediately.
I'm keeping the seeds and having their "daughters" grow next year because they're good stock.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Library Card File Cabinet

Remember I said I'd like to have an old library index card file cabinet? I found one, but my wallet says it will have to wait. *sigh*  Even as a child I liked the way the drawers felt when you pulled them out to find your book. It had a "library" smell. It was quiet -- shhhhhh.
Progress is good.  Computers in the libraries are fine, but I miss these wonderful pieces of furniture. What could a person store in all those drawers??? I'm off to think about that.....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Knitting Organized

I got the most emails, I believe, from women who wanted to know if I gave lessons on folding sheets and organizing linen closets.
It got me noticing my knit "stash." Everything is lined up according to color, facing the same way.
I just enjoy order, like the stitches on my summer socks.
Each tiny knit stitch is perfect and lined up in a row. (Uh, when you say PER-fect, you have to say it like Martha Stewart).
When we try a challenge, it's a "tall order."
When a meeting begins, it's "called to order."
When things are topsy-turvy, it's "out of order."
I like things systematized, like the old library card files....
Oh, now there's a subject dear to my heart.
I'd SO like to have one of those blonde-colored oak library files. Remember those?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Knitted Summer Sock

I'm taking my time with these summer knitted socks and truly enjoying every stitch because I like the silk blend of the yarn.
I can knit English and Continental style, but these I'm sticking with English so the stitches will be tight and perfect.
The sound of the stainless double-pointed needles clicking and gliding have soothed my spirit.
Something about this summer has been deeply relaxing, unlike any summer I can remember, so when I slip these socks onto my feet as the weather cools down to "chilly," I'll remember the calm and joy of Summer '09 and will be glad I made these summer socks.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


My grandma (on my Dad's side) always had canaries.
When I'd walk into her home, the sound of these little yellow birds was so cheerful to me.
Grandma told me the chirping and whistling sounds were their "song." I was in love with birds that would sing to you.
To this day, I will stop what I'm doing to hear the song of the birds outside.
The birds had such an affection for Grandma & I wonder if one reason was because she would often stop her housework; walk over to the cage and sit down for the sole purpose of listening to their music?
This birdcage (though bird-less), is one of my favorite things at the Cottage. Maybe one day will it house a couple of canaries?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Gigi's Apron

Today I found Gigi's apron - the one she made for me about ten years ago.
I had forgotten how detailed it is.
It must have taken the "late seventy-something" saint quite a while to finish.
Gigi (remember pronounced with hard 'g's) was from Norway and though she had lived in America for more than 50 years, her accent was still strong and beautiful.
She had this habit of everyone once in a while, quickly sucking in her breath and making a "tsk" sound at the same time. At first, it startled me until I realized this was just Gigi's Norwegian way.
And though wrinkles had taken over her face and her fine hair was white, she still had a very girlish look and way about her. She was charming!
Today I remember a dear friend who no longer lives on earth, except in the hearts of her friends and family.
Thank you, Gigi, for the beautiful apron. I will pass it on to my granddaughter, along with her great, great, great grandmother's apron.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Aprons Again

My grandmothers wore aprons every single day of their lives like the one pictured here from Angry Chicken's "Tie One On."
Each morning they would put on a clean dress and a "fresh" apron.
The aprons were always pressed, starched and coordinated with their dress.
I never saw a stained apron, nor one that was tattered. When they got to that pitiful state, they became household rags...or maybe pieces for a quilt.
Every single time I put an apron on, I smile and think of my grandmothers.
It's comforting.
What will my granddaughter put on that will forever remind her of me, I wonder? I'm off to think about that for a while....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Apron

Don't you like going to Barnes and Noble or Borders book store?
We get a "cup of java" and begin the hunt of the book that will inspire or bring a smile.
Last week I made a bee-line to the hobbies section. There were several books dedicated to the humble apron. Huh? The apron that in 1971, some women felt was a the proverbial choke collar?
The apron that symbolized female oppression back then?
The apron that liberated women burned, along with their bras? THAT apron? Yep, the very same. Most had great flair and were proud to be labeled "retro."
I've always liked aprons. I've got a half-apron that belonged to my great grandma. It's a sheer white dotted Swiss with RED dots and red ric-rak!
A dear friend from Norway, Gigi (pronounced with "hard gs"), made me a red checked half-apron with beautiful smocking.
I've got the matching aprons my mom (who's now with the Lord) made for my granddaughter (who was 3 at the time) and me. We faithfully wore them even if we made delicious goodies in her Easy Bake Oven.
Which kind do you like? The half apron? The chef or butcher's apron?
My grandma always wore those full aprons that went over her head & covered the whole front.
Do you have any wonderful memories of the humble apron. I'm glad "the old girl" is back.
You can see the pattern to the apron above and others at The Angry Chicken's "Tie One On."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Smaller? Really?

I've been on the "downsize" soapbox for quite a while. My husband is starting to embrace it.
Last night he went to our basement to straighten it up. When he called me down to take a look I nearly fainted. "What in the world are we going to do with all this?" I asked.
He shrugged and said, "Make a lot of decisions on what to keep & what not to."
I'm usually good at tossing (a little too good sometimes), but through the years I've accumulated some....make that a LOT of beautiful treasures.
I read two sayings somewhere "Keep only the essentials, so the essential can speak" (French idiom) and "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." by William Morris. I will use these wise words as guidelines. Or eeny...meeny...
Photo: House Beautiful

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

White - It Calms Me

This is not my cottage, though I use this photo for inspiration.
Having a creative, constantly "on" mind, I find that white always has calmed me.
It's pure, clean and restful.
I like white from its brilliant, pristine shade to the warm, earthy creams.
What color calms you?

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Old Barn

On our property at the Old Sweetwater Cottage, there is a barn that's over 135-140 years old. It isn't one of those HUGE barns. It's only 18 X 20 (with two stories) -- we'll call it "quaint."
My husband grew up with this barn next to his home (the old cottage).
It's our favorite thing.
We like its "pebble" foundation, even though it needs a little TLC.
We like its dimensions.
We like its history.
For years we've half-joked that we'd like to live in a barn, but since we never measured this one, we thought it'd be way too small.
Now we're really considering adding onto it to make a new-Old Sweetwater Cottage....something around 900 square feet, plus a garage?
When we believe we're ready to proceed, I'll take photos & keep you posted on the progress if you'd like.
Let me know.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kitchen - Make Mine Simple

Maybe it just me, but I want simple.
We spent over $1,000 for our extra-quiet, "hoity-toity" stainless dishwasher that requires the best dishwasher detergent & rinse agent (cha-ching). I still hand-wash things like German paring knives, Teflon skillets & cheese stuck casserole dishes! lol.
At the old cottage, I stand at the window and wash dishes in the sink.
The huge, ancient Sycamore tree casts shadows through the window that mesmerizes me. I enjoy the feel and smell of the silky, soapy water.
It's quiet.
I let the dishes dry in the drainer and notice the crystal glasses shoot bursts of color on the walls when the sun catches them just right.
It allows me time to reflect and think about the day and appreciate every spoon, dish and bowl.
Is there anyone else who feels this way?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Lake

We just got back from walking down to the lake.
It was near sunset. The color was spectacular reflecting on the water.
The warm breeze was so refreshing.
We watched the ducks swim and fish jump.
It was a perfect end to a good day.
What's a "perfect" end to your day?

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Path to Love....

Ah romance!
I saw this photo and I thought. "Wouldn't it be wonderful to light candles in lemons that would lead your love to you?"
I could imagine leaving the candlelit trail in a predetermined wooded area.
I could imagine the anticipation when you hear the footsteps of your love approach.
Maybe you could be standing under a mosquito net that was attached to a tree branch just above your head? Set up a canopy with candles and wait...taking in the scents and sounds of the woodland.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I'm not a breakfast eater until I've been awake at least 3-4 hours.
However, these ricotta pancakes by Donna Hay could coax me to "nibble a little something" a little before then.
You'll find the recipe on her dot com along with other tasty treats.
Here's the recipe:
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup super-fine sugar
4 eggs (separated)
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7 ounces ricotta cheese
Whisk egg whites & set aside.
Mix flour, sugar, egg yolks, milk, extract. Gently fold in egg whites and the ricotta. Cook 2 Tablespoons of mixture on non-stick skillet on low heat 3-4 minutes or until puffed and golden. Top with maple syrup. Garnish with lemon wedges.
To make optional maple butter, mix 5-6 Tablespoons of softened butter (or margarine) with 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup.
Let me know if you make these & how they turn out!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Satin Sheets

While I was blogging about a snuggly bedroom with 800 count sheets, I remembered one time when we visited my parents for a week.
My mom proudly announced, "I bought red SATIN sheets for you to sleep on!"
That night I slid into bed. Literally.
In fact, I slid, slopped, scooted and sloshed around in that bed all night. It was like trying to sleep in a bed of jello on a cold day.
The next morning it was "thanks, but no thanks" on the satin. Could we just have her old cotton sheets back? I noticed she appeared pleased. hummmm.
A day later she chirped, "I washed and then put those satin sheets on my bed and LOVED them!"
That's when I noticed something. Most of her clothes & furnishings were satin-shiny-slick. *light bulb moment*
Give me cotton, flannel, wool or silk, but not satin sheets to lie on. Sounds like a country song, huh?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

All You Need

We're wanting to downsize....well, me more than my honey. It's a stretch for him to think about living in "snuggly" rooms versus our currently generous-sized rooms. *sigh*
I saw this photo taken by James Merrell from This Is Glamorous, and thought to myself, "Isn't this is all you need for a bedroom? A bed with 800 thread-count sheets and light down comforter; a large window; books - on the sill and on the floor; a breakfast tray; a vase for fresh flowers and your laptop."
Does anyone else share my desire for "cozy" or "snuggly" instead of "spacious?" I don't think I even really like that word anymore. lol.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Have you ever been in on a highway where three or four lanes are reduced to one, due to road construction or an accident?
As soon as you see the "left lane ends" sign or flag man, you pull into the right line and wait. And wait. And wait. And wait.
While everyone is crawling along at a snail's pace, there's always those people who fly past, bypassing you and the ridiculously long backed-up line of vehicles.
They squeeze into the right lane at the last minute and then go merrily on their way.
In the meantime, you're still waiting and fuming because they added to your waiting time.
Because I'm a "play by the rules" sorta gal, it always got on my last good nerve when someone did this. Then one day one of the brightest, sweetest, most talented, kindest young men I've ever known admitted he did this all of the time.
Shocked, I said, "Stephen, I cannot BELIEVE you'd do that. Why?"
He shrugged and smiled in his boyish way and answered, "I don't know. But you can do the same thing if you want to."
Just like that.
He probably doesn't remember this conversation from several years past, but it has helped me countless times.
Now when I'm waiting and some car or truck flies past and squeezes in, I think of Stephen and muse, "I could do the same thing if I want to."
Maybe next time.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Blogging about lilies made me wonder why would someone be referred to as "lily-livered." It means the person is a coward, gutless or afraid.
I heard the term most often in Western movies and TV programs when the sheriff would call out to an outlaw hiding in a barn, "Come outta thar, you lily-livered coward!"
Every one of us have been lily-livered at one time or another.
Years ago our German Shepherd had gotten injured. The piece of metal was stuck in his neck and he needed treatment. Understand that our vet had refused to treat him b/c he was "too mean." Sheesh, what a lily-livered veterinarian!
Anyway, so we had to take out the metal from an "excited" dog.
We took a deep breath; summoned our courage; said a quick prayer and yanked the metal out quickly. Our shepherd licked our hands and allowed us to treat the wound without a whimper.
Are you facing a scary thing, my lily-livered reader? Breathe deeply; summon your courage; say a quick prayer and do it quickly.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


In the last couple of years I've developed a real appreciation for daylilies.
Old Sweetwater Cottage came with the common orange and yellow ones. I don't know how long the plant can live, but most have been there at least 30 years and some much longer. Anyone know the answer to that Q?
Don't you like the beautiful colors and form?
Whether they get doted on in a prestigious garden, or get a Coke can thrown on them in a dusty ditch on the side of a country road, they produce a new, beautiful bloom each day. It's their characteristic. It's what they do.
Jesus appreciated that fact. In Luke 12:27 He's quoted, "Consider how the lilies grow; they don't work or make clothes for themselves. But, I tell you that even Solomon with his riches, was not dressed as beautifully as one of these flowers." Consider the "daylilies" in your life.

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Sock

I starting a new pair of knitted summer socks on US #2 Double Pointed Needles. The yarn's from Italy. The colors look like a field of wild flowers.
The fiber: 40% cotton, 40% merino wool & 20% nylon. Yum.
It always amazes me how perfect those little knitted stitches are. They're very uniform. That's my goal. *sigh of content*
As I studied each stitch it made me wonder...
If stitches could talk, would a bunch of them whine because they weren't "special?" Would one stitch snarl at the stitches on either side, "You're just a bunch of conformists and you should think for yourselves?"
Would there be stitch yelling that everyone else was copying? Would the heather blue stitches envy the golden stitches? Would there be a stitch screaming at another to grow a spine and not be so stinking flexible?
Would the stitch that may have a tiny more cotton feel plain? Would the more woolen stitch look at the stitch with a bit more nylon in its strand as artificial?
If my stitches knit they way they should, and the way I want, I'll be very pleased with my socks.
If not, I rip stitches out and start over....from the beginning if I have to. It would be a little frustrating, but I want socks that fit and socks that don't have a gaping hole or sloppy stitches.
How many times has our Heavenly Father had to "start over" with us until we finally yield to His skilled hands?
Don't you think He's pleased when we accept His decisions for our life?
Psalm 139:14 says, "Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous - and how well I know it."

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I read about a little child who was walking down a pathway toward home at sunset...not just walking, but weaving, skipping and occasionally, whirling in a circle.
The child was noticing everything from the tree branches above to the crunchy pebbles under feet.
The child crested the hill and in a moment's time, disappeared from site with the descent.
The child didn't just MERELY walk the path. The child MERRILY walked the path. I wondered to myself, "Am I just merely walking my life's path or merrily walking along it?"
The difference is attitude.
Jesus said after bringing a child in the midst of adults, "Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
How are you walking your life's path? Merely or merrily?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

linen closet

Okay, confession. I don't just enjoy doing laundry, I also enjoy folding laundry.
In 1970 I began folding our sheets and blankets into neat, compact squares. My best friend asked me for a sheet folding lesson b/c she felt badly about literally throwing her linens into her closet.
For years I didn't tell a lot of people about my slight obsession with having all the smooth towel folds facing outward and folded ends lined up [this went for sheets too]. The larger towels needed to be on the bottom. White towels only.
To be fair, our colored clothes got the same attention.
One day my mom opened my linen closet, shook her head and said, "Your great-aunt Esther had a linen closet like yours. She even took photos of it."
"It's genetic!" I said in awe.
It explained why I enjoyed looking at my organized linen closet. It also may explain why Martha Stewart became an icon. *wink*

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I enjoy doing laundry.
A couple of years ago my dad called and asked, "How do you get your white towels so WHITE...and fluffy?"
I thought he was kidding and before I could form a sentence, he continued, "Your mom wanted me to ask. I've been doing the laundry the last couple of years and I've tried different detergents, but...."
After I told him what I did and what products I used, he said, "We've nicknamed you "Towella" because your towels are so great." lol.
Towella sounded like a SUPER-HERO to me. I liked it! Towella to the laundry rescue!
Bring me all your dingy, dirty, smelly towels...well, maybe not.
Move over Batman and Superman.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Laundromat Memories

Until I was ten my parents used laundromats.
We lived one place that had a wringer washing machine and we hung our clothes on the line until cold temperatures came. Then we trudged back to the dependable Coin-O-Matic.
One night we loaded our freshly cleaned, dry, folded clothes into the back seat where my little brother and I sat. In a few minutes something started stinking. The usual questions were asked and denied. It was a very weird smell.
"Mom," I said, "I think there's smoke coming out of our clothes."
"Smoke?" she turned around. "Oh Wayne, stop the car! There's SMOKE coming out of our clothes!" my mom echoed in a panic.
Dad pulled our old car off to the side of the street and quickly jumped out. When he reached inside, he dug down into the basket (brave man) and pulled out a smouldering bathroom rug. The rubber backing was burning! We learned not to put anything rubber in those big ol' HOT commercial driers again.
When I look at a bathroom rug, I still think of that evening when we were smokin'!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ironing Boards

Ironing just seemed to be the next logical place to visit after all the blogging about laundry.
I don't hate ironing, do you? Sometimes it's actually enjoyable. I think its the instant gratification of seeing wrinkles disappear before my eyes.
Summer is a challenging time to iron though. Heat should be tempered with cold, not more heat and steam.
When I was a child, women in my family ironed one day a week, even in July and August. They sprinkled the clothes in the morning or the day before. Anyone remember the sprinkler bottles? One clever second cousin kept the wet clothes in the refrigerator.
Then ironing day, they'd drag out the ironing board, iron, clothes basket and a box fan. The TV would be tuned to "As The World Turns," and they'd begin ironing.
Somehow it seemed relaxing and right. They knew their family would look crisp - at least for a few minutes. It didn't seem to upset them that they'd have to repeat this process the following week and the week after that.
Those women, in their aprons, were Proverbial women whose hands found work to do.
I can almost hear them hum, "This is the way we iron our clothes, iron our clothes, iron our clothes..."
p.s. The Purl Bee has a tutorial on making an ironing board cover on her site. Plus, City Chic Country Mouse has the cover above & more. Check them out!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Clothes Line

While on the laundry & soap "kick," it got me thinking about clotheslines. Until I was about ten, I helped my mom hang laundry on a line in warm weather.
It was so neat to feel the hot wind cool as it blew past the billowing, wet sheets and towels.
My grandmother used a clothesline nearly her entire life. She took great pride in color-coordinating her clothes and putting all the towels together; jeans together; shirts, etc.
Last year I bought a clothesline to use at the cottage to help the environment and the fun of it.
It's a little more work than I remembered, and you have to PLAN. You don't want your neighbors commenting on your bras and panties, so you have to leave enough towels or pillow cases to hide your (as Granny called them) "unmentionables," that I just mentioned. It's funny how old things return. Were you fortunate enough to have a clothesline at your house?