Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My favorite Ice Cream

You know how particular items, images, scents, or tastes take you back to a certain time and place? And it is usually instantaneous?
This is one of mine - peppermint ice cream. It it usually only available in winter and Baskin Robbins was the first place I tasted it. I was hooked. 
Later in the evening - after putting in some tough hours studying, some of the girls on my floor (9th Kelly Hall, Drexel University), and some of the guys from the 10th floor would get bundled up for the trek west to the Baskin Robbins ice cream store up on Penn's campus. Many times during this trek, it was snowing. The cold flakes would fall on our faces, the quiet street was devoid of cars and our raucousness sounded louder than normal in the soft and snowy quiet. We would slide on the slick snow that was laying lightly on the sidewalks or streets, throw snowballs at each other, and generally blow off steam. Because of the cold, the walk was usually brisk. It was always great to 'escape' outside for a bit and have a much needed break from the latest design project.
Since my freshman year at Drexel - I don't believe I have gone one winter without having at least a serving of peppermint ice cream. OK - there may have been one or two missed years in there - but definitely more years of peppermint than not. 
Peppermint ice cream will always remind me of my busy, but happy years in school at Drexel, friends come and gone, and snowfall. Magical, wonderful snowfall...

What were some of yours?
tell me, Liz

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pay the people that work for you

When I had the 'opportunity' to work as an Interior Designer at an unpaid internship in NYC for my second Co-op program at Drexel University - I declined. How was I to live? Were they nuts? 
There were a few of us that turned down large NYC design firms that year and by doing so created a bit of a 'stink' in the Co-op Department.
Where do these companies get off? They want young blood working for them - flexible, creative minds to mine for ideas. Why shouldn't they pay them? They pay everyone else don't they?

I run a small, sole proprietor business. I have had young people working for me for 21 years and I always pay them. I say I - my husband is self employed as well and pays his 'kids' too. We consider them 'family', and many of them come back year after year until they have graduated from college and embark on their new career. 
So what prompted this 'rant'? 
I saw this post on UpWorthy , agreed 100% and wanted to spread the word. People deserve to get paid for their work. Even if they have no experience. Why don't these selfish employers turn their greediness around? Teach a young person some skills, while paying them, rather than stealing their 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week.
On the other end - if you do want to work somewhere - talk to other interns, make sure the company you want to work for is truly ethical. You deserve to get paid for your time, and when you do - learn something and give it your all!
So what did I end up doing after turning down a high powered Interior Design Firm in NYC? I got hired by an architectural firm just outside Philadelphia in Bala Cynwyd - Hamilton, Murphy, Garrison Architects. I worked there for my entire 6 month co-op and continued there part time through my senior year at Drexel. I thought I was worth something and they did too. Believe it or not - I got paid!

Have you had a similar experience? Share it with me in the comments below - I'd love to hear from you! Liz

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Giving Back - making the communities we live in, better - a few hours at a time

As I drove down Clarkes Gap Road (Rt. 662) today, I heard the satisfying *pop* of a black walnut under my tires. It is October now and the leaves have started to fall. My trip through Waterford, VA down the road to where I live in Paeonian Springs is a pretty short jaunt. The first time I ever saw Waterford was when I traveled there from WVU with my graduate school adviser, Emory Kemp, in 1987. He is an eminent Civil Engineer and Historian of Technology. 
I was working under him with the goal of getting a Master's in History/Historic Preservation. At the time, Emory was a consultant working with specialty contractor Rod Dias to restore the Hague Huff House that lies to the north of Bond Street (see top/center of map below) and I got to come along for the ride! 

History Map of Waterford Virginia

This is a map drawn by Eugene Scheel, a Waterford historian and mapmaker.
history map of Waterford VA
Map Copyright © Eugene Scheel
*Map taken from www.waterfordvillage.org*
  For me - there is nothing like the thrill of seeing a house restoration in the works. To see the organic growth of an old house with it's rooms cobbled together, the studs and lath under the plaster,  to read the history of a room in the shape of a stove that was painted around - it is all a puzzle to me just waiting to be solved. 
Yes I did get that degree - thanks to Emory and the Public History Department at WVU. I had an almost custom made graduate program to follow during my years there.

And as fate would have it - a few years later my first husband and I purchased a sweet 1909 house just down the road from Waterford in the little Victorian village of Paeonian Springs. 
The grass outside was 6 feet tall, the house had 2, 15 amp fuses, and 'supposed' cold water to the kitchen sink. There was no source of heat, however it boasted a two seater outhouse. My friend Gary Geiselman said that if I restored it, the place would look like a doll house - and in fact, it does! 
Years passed, I started Bittersweet Design Studio as an all encompassing umbrella to my Interior Design work, Historic Preservation consultation, hand made goods and vintage wares. I applied to and was juried in to the venerable Waterford Fair for 5 years in the mid 1990s. 
Now, as life seems to do, it has come back around and I will be at Waterford again. This time as volunteer docent for the James Moore Steer house - now know as Old Acre. This house is on tour this Friday October 4th. You can read more about it below.  Proceeds from the fair, benefit various preservation programs throughout the town of Waterford.
"Old Acre


James Moore, Jr., probably constructed this house between 1815 and 1838, when he sold it to his nephew James Moore Steer (1810-1874). Steer and his brother-in-law Reuben Schooley operated a series of agricultural manufacturing shops behind the house along Factory Street, giving that street its name. Exterior brickwork indicates that the northern block of Old Acre was built before the southern end, originally a single story."
*Info taken from the website www.waterfordfoundation.org*
I am currently scheduled to be in the kitchen at Old Acre. Come and see me if you get a chance.
Where do you volunteer? Do you have a favorite cause? Tell me about it in the comment section below! Regards, Liz

Friday, August 16, 2013

Remember last summer?

Remember last summer - if not - you can read about it here and here: - wow that was rough. But I am here and I survived.
Selfies on Mother's Day

She got a huge kick out taking these pictures

and loves pranking for the camera.

I call my mom every couple of days - but she rarely answers. So I had to come up with another solution to staying in touch. Now, I get Nancy (her caregiver extraordinaire), to call me when they are having lunch. Problem solved!

I got a call the other day - and it made me smile all day long - ok, I admit, I am still smiling.
Mom's appointment to get her aranesp shot was cancelled!
This means that her Hgb was above 12 - which means maybe, just maybe, all that she has been through the past year is finally paying off.
But the best news I had that day was that she felt strong enough to go upstairs on her own, shower and dress without help, do all of her ironing, and look for buttons to put on some scarves she had knitted.
All. Before. Lunch.

My heart is happy. I know it won't last; she will have more doctor's appointments, need more transfusions, and be tired once again. But for now - she has been more like MY mom - the mom I use to know. And that is just the best!

I hope you have had news this week that made you smile, if not I hope this bit of news will do it for you.
xo, Liz

Friday, August 2, 2013

Shipping Counter and other thoughts **revealed**

It's been a few years coming... I have been selling online since March of 2008. I was determined to keep doing what I was doing, but I could no longer count on the the steady income from my *once a month* open houses. So then what? 

I had already put my time in re: shows. Shoot, the year Ginna was 1 1/2 and I was pregnant with Callie, I did 35 shows. 

I loved my shop and the gardens surrounding it. There is a lot of great history in this little building. It was built in 1928 and as far as I can tell it was used to repair cars and motorcycles. I was pretty excited the weekend that I came home to find my neighbor, Francis Peacock, pushing gravel inside with his tractor. It had been hard packed dirt up until then.
When I decided to expand into the bigger room for my shop I hired a dear friend, Irvan Groff, to put a plywood floor down. He managed with little to no room to move around. The man was a marvel. His sought after whirligigs were exhibited in the Baltimore Museum of Folk Art. Both of these men, farmers, are now gone. 
I opened shop here when I was pregnant with Ginna, she grew up here, and went into business with me here.  My husband Bob helped me put the second wood floor down, then helped me tear it up years later. We replaced that with colored concrete - the four of us, me, my bonus son Nate, Bob and Ginna stood knee deep in concrete as it poured in from the concrete truck, all the time raking it into place. I marked the date and all of our initials by the back door.
I loved opening the doors on Open House days, candles burning, scenting the air and greeting my customers. Depending on what time of year it was:
Winter - I was serving hot coffee/tea, homemade mini muffins, and rosemary cream cheese.  
Summer - it was lemonade, sugar cookies, scones.
Wanna talk about - cozy? happy? fireflies? welcoming? snow?fun? Well let me tell you - this was the place! 

It has taken me 4 years to wrap my head around the fact that eventually my shop doors (in their current form) would have to close. This saddened me to no end. And I suppose it continued to sadden me. I couldn't seem to get out of the "I want to run this as a retail shop" trap. I kept thinking that maybe, just maybe I would open the doors again. In the ensuing years I tried to organize the space better - but I suppose my backward thinking was holding me down. 

This summer, I was ready. I have now had over 800 sales online, in my handmade shop and my vintage shop and I had finally gotten fed up with marginalizing my working, storage and shipping space. I love this building and all that it has allowed me to do. Now we are going through another transition and I realize everything will be alright.

Now that the 'hard' work of getting the shop reorganized is done, it's time for some extra fun organizing. 
Organizing that will pay off instantly - the minute I make that next sale. I will need a place to wrap it, write the note that goes inside, a box that it gets sent off in, a return address label, etc...
 The counter doesn't usually look like this - honest (okay maybe sometimes it has...) During our organizing, anything we came across that was shipping related got piled here. Now it's time to get it assimilated!!
It's getting closer - but it is still a mess...

Here is the pile of stuff to get 'worked' in. Kristin was here to help me with this. I was supposed to be inside repairing jewelry. However, anybody that knows me - knows I have a tough time sitting still.

Here is the left side of the display case - no longer prettily displayed with lovelies - it now stores bubble wrap and tissue paper.

The right side is filled with small boxes, padded envelopes, and bags.

 A bird's eye view, and yes - sometimes when I have the doors open - I do get a bird inside!
Here it is - fully functional, and pretty too - which makes me immensely happy! Pretty is important. If your work space is inviting, your work will be more pleasant to do. In the past two days I have shipped three items off of this counter. It was a breeze. 
A place for everything and everything in it's place.

Next on the agenda - my box storage room, and my online storage room.

Stay tuned! Liz

Monday, July 29, 2013

We closed the doors at 12:01 Saturday WOW do I feel great!

More help! Going to the barn on Thursday - we had more than a couple of arm loads of vintage clothing to hang, and a few assorted boxes of items.
 Ginna and Kristin were troopers again. Because it was supposed to get hot we started at 7 a.m. and then planned on finishing on the earlier side.
We tried out the dart board, and made piles. 
A pile for the barn, a pile for It's Bazaar,

a pile for St. Mary's Attic Treasures tables, a pile for the Town Wide Tag Sale, a pile to donate.

 And boxes to sort inside. We cleared off 6 or so shelves on this side of the room - those goodies went into the 'adoption' room. Now we had shelves to unpack boxes on to!

These shelves also got cleared off - and redone. The shelf on the left is filled with garden items to be listed, the glass front cupboard is filled with an assortment - all to be listed.

Because we know what is going to happen in the 'adoption' room, we just shoved anything in there that was listed. This room I can handle by myself - and I will revel in putting each piece in it's place. We did not finish on Thursday as we had hoped - but we did get an assortment of smalls up to It's Bazaar. We didn't get done on Friday (it was just two of us). But we felt confident with all of our progress, that we could be done on Saturday.

The shipping counter is also my baby - anything shipping related just got piled here - I will need to tackle this in the upcoming week.

This is what was left under the canopy at 11:35 a.m. on Saturday. What was remaining went back into the shop in a very organized fashion. Then we tackled the shipping boxes that had their own pile at the back door of the shop. 

Time to bring the truck around, load it with what was left to go to the barn, the cardboard and boxes to go to recycling, and the load of items to be donated. 

12:01 - we closed the doors and took the canopy down, hopped in the truck to do our three drop offs - and a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Now I feel as though I have control over my active inventory versus my latent inventory, as well as my tools and equipment to work on things. 

Yes I still have the adoption room (active online inventory) to finish up, and the shipping counter to clear off, and the shipping room (where all the boxes are kept) to organize once more - but WOW! this is a huge step and such a great transition from active, displayed shop space to a very organized 'warehouse' like space. 

A huge thanks to Ginna and Kristin for their perseverance and opinions/insights as we were trying to make sense of this new space.

I felt so relaxed on Sunday I didn't know what to do with myself!

When I finish up my remaining three spaces - I'll give you another peek at all of it.

for now, good night, Liz 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A little help and always ready to take a dare

For the most part - I work by myself. Sometimes, OK more than sometimes - you need some help.

Because I sold a sofa table at the barn this past week (very nice of the couple to buy it - you could hardly see it for all of the vintage shoes on it...) Anyway - I had to replace that with something - so I hauled the steamer trunk out of the little room of the shop to use for display. Cali came with me to the barn for company. She loves a car ride!

 One of my favorite fields - the view from the end of the Loyalty Red Barn Sales drive. Isn't it lovely?

One thing leading to another...getting that steamer trunk out of the way in the 'little' room meant that maybe I could get the rest out of the way. Then one of my helpers Kristen texted me and said she could work today and tomorrow. BINGO!!!

I have needed a better way to control my online listed items for quite some time. My thinking was to put all of the listed items in the smaller of the two rooms of the shop. Then I wouldn't have to wade through other stuff - like new purchases, painting supplies, etc... to find them. 

 The listings were all neatly organized on shelves - but when the shelves got full - then what? Items would get stacked in boxes - and then they would get mixed in - well you know. It was just an adrenaline mess when I would go out there to look for something - and I didn't have a clear picture in my mind of other items I had listed it with. So we moved everything out of the smaller room, cleaned it, emptied 4 shelving units in the bigger room, cleaned them, and put them in the smaller room.

Then all of my online listed items found a new, happy home in the little room. YAY! Here are some of my pretties in the new room. Did I sell a piece of milk glass or china? No problem - it's all right here! How about a hand knit scarf - those are in the bottom cupboard.
As you can see - we still have a pile of stuff under the tent. Hopefully we will finish this up tomorrow. We got SO much done today!

Ok now for the dare... The girls (yes I had help!), were commenting on how huge this suitcase was and that you could probably fit a small child inside. I said I could fit and my daughter said "No way, I'll give you 50 cents if you can fit in there".

 The gauntlet was thrown. So here I am trying to be my smallest and win that 50 cents.

 Kristen says it's close - but not quite.

My smarty pants daughter decides to see if she can help by sitting on the suitcase lid.
Oh well, always eager to accept a challenge, but I don't always succeed.
Come back tomorrow and see what we have accomplished. I am so excited!

Until then, xo, Liz

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's getting closer!!

Loyalty Red Barn Tag Sale is over for the month. For several days last week we scrubbed and cleaned and polished and buffed - yes we were there at 7 a.m. to try and beat the heat before the heat beat us.

 2 beautiful piano fronts came my way, courtesy of my talented and musical friend Bobbie Carmitchell (World Domination Bobbi - oh, sorry, private joke...). The one above is a Sterling from 1898.
This one is much heavier - and possibly a Mason/Hamlin.
 Also from Bobbi, a mahogany pie crust table.
A very exciting yard sale find while in Lancaster County - a milking frame from Carl Diller. What I saw was another great industrial rack to hang more vintage clothing!
One of my best recent finds... I got this set of seats from a local contractor that was moving away. These beauties came out of the balcony (which was the 'colored' section) of our local movie theatre the Tally Ho when the unsafe balcony was demolished in the 1980s. In all vintage seller's dreams this is how it works: you buy something and sell it right away. That is what happened to these beauties. 

 This is Bob and one of his summer workers, Sydney. We had the honor of being invited to church to hear her give a talk prior to leaving on an 18 month mission trip to Brazil. Her words were wise beyond her years and I will remember them always. 
The gist being: imagine the people around you not as they are; but how they could be - moving towards 'perfection', moving towards their fullest potential. You could love them then, why not find the good in them, and love them now?

 Now that the busy weekend is over, I am using the time to slow down and get caught up on other projects.
My back log of jewelry repairs for one, and getting my website closer to a selling site, another.

Here's hoping we can keep it low key this week...

Talk to you soon! Liz

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Work will Teach you How to Do it

 is an old Estonian proverb. And so very true. These are just a few pics of of the work we have done on house in the woods.

 Our nephews' Kenny and Rusty, replaced the wood board walk from the drive to the steps, with flagstone. The sloped wood walk was too slippery for a house in the woods.
These two talented young men also put in this rustic flagstone path from the boardwalk to the shed so the owner would not be walking through dirt.

The boardwalk connects the side and front porch with the deck.

Bob, Kenny and Rusty replaced the front door.

A closet - exciting, I know!! Ginna and I spent some quiet time in here on July 4th. We were the only two working at the house this day. Amazing what a fresh coat of paint will do isn't it?

Friday the 5th was really crazy. We had people everywhere.

Sydney and Bob in the kitchen/dining room. I was there too - painting quarter round.
The plumber and his helper were here.

Bob and Kenny replacing a piece of plywood with heartwood pine. 

Bob teaching Sydney how to use the nail gun.

Saturday the 6th was quiet again. It was just Sydney, me and Ginna working at the house today. Look who was here to greet us!

Ginna stained the new flooring to match the existing. Once we clean all the joint compound dust off of the old floor it will look great!

And matched it by the steps as well. Where's Sydney? Outside hosing down and washing all of the first floor windows.

Putting the finish down in the laundry area, kitchen and dining room. I fail to remember the exercise in isometrics this is - I always find muscles I had forgotten about. The kitchen area had stick down tiles that we peeled up to reveal the very same floor that is in the dining room. We used a pad sander to take up the leftover glue and some crud. 

Amazing what a day makes. Hectic and crazy busy the day before, stuff everywhere. Today - quiet and an empty room with a pretty floor. A tenant will be moving in shortly. He will truly enjoy living in a rustic house in the woods.

It has been a long couple of months getting this place ready. There are a few details that still have to be taken care of - but that will come.

Time for bed, 
I am one tired girl! Until later, Liz

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