My first Christmas without my parents ….

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Its 4am and I’m pulling an “all nighter” just like i do many nights. While  my husband and dogs are snoring away, I sneak out of the room and head down to the couch to either read magazines , get sucked into ordering something from those “suck me in” infomercials, or sometimes just sit with a cup of hot tea and think.  Lately I’ve had this very strange pit in my stomach..a feeling i just haven’t ever felt before..its a sad empty weird feeling so i’ve wondered what this feeling inside me is lately.  Then tonite, it hit me like a brick. This is the first year without at least ONE of my parents for the holidays….and its breaking my heart.

A year ago immediately after my huge December sale, I locked up the door after the final customer left, (didn’t even tally up tickets or anything, not even cleaning up the place) and drove to my hometown because my mom got very ill. I will never forget pulling into my hometown and deep down when I saw the small town lit up with the same lights that were used when I was a child, I had a heart wrenching feeling this was going to be the last Christmas with my mom, the remaining “part” of my parents.

imageimage my hometown street decorations…..in photos above..taken last year when i drove into town

 

I remember walking into her bedroom and she was lying there on her side…she could hardly move. She had been sick for a while and the dr.’s in that community and a community close by could never give her any answers. I was determined to get answers. After much begging and doing research we brought her to Oklahoma City and the process began. She was tired but her mind was sharp as a tack. My daughter and my husband were my lifesavers. I rearranged my work schedule and took her to as many doctors as I could. My sweet friend Julie helped us find the appropriate doctors. Kidney failure had taken its toll.

Moms birthday is on Christmas day. While she was at dialysis I went shopping and as I was buying her lots of gifts, I knew she wouldn’t live long enough to enjoy them. My daughter and I decorated the house Christmas eve while mom was in dialysis and when we brought her home, we had a birthday party for her. We videotaped the party and I think I still watch it twice a week, and look at the photos almost everyday.

image the cake we had for moms christmas birthday

 

After a few weeks of mom having to hold on to furniture to walk, she then had to use a cane..then be pushed in a wheelchair, then she wasn’t able to walk at all on her own. We had to lift her in and out of bed, then feed her, all while she was mentally perfect. She was watching her loose her body while her mind was still perfect. My daughter came to our house every day for lunch and spent every night with me on the other couch while we watched her sleep. Then the news came. The dr.’s told her dialysis was killing her…she could continue taking it and die, or she could find someplace comfortable and die peacefully. Kidney failure is a peaceful death they explained. Something I did not understand. She felt no pain during the entire illness.

imageimage the last tree mom saw…we packed it with things for her birthday and christmas.

 

The words were heart wrenching, but I wanted the dr.’s to be upfront at all times. It was hospice time. We turned our tv room into “her room”. I brought things from her bedroom, photos of my dad and her, and still laugh at one photo when she stared at it and said..”i sure was a pretty girl”.  I smiled and said “you still are mom”. We kept fresh flowers by her bed, kept the tv on QVC (and yes I’m now addicted )  My daughter and I kept her wrinkle cream applied, her lipstick, her moisturizer, and her hair done everyday. Its what she would have wanted.  Her favorite nephew and his wife drove up to see her from Kentucky 3 days before she passed. My brother was here when they were visiting so it was a great family time.image

The day came we were warned about…the sleep coma. Its a memory I can’t get out of my mind. My daughter was engaged and so wedding plans were taking place but we were trying to not discuss it much knowing mom wouldn’t be there. Mom talked constantly about her dad and my dad…she couldn’t wait to see them she kept saying.

She had a great christmas and we talked about when I was a little girl at Christmas. I was very onry around the holidays. I would open gifts and wrap them back…I wore a ring once an entire week to school that I was “getting for Christmas”..and put it back in the box .I would get a sharpie and mark in every catalog that arrived what all I wanted…(okay i still do that) I would check the closets, under beds for gifts…(okay I still do that too..I’m seriously bad). Mom and I laughed so much about things. We had the best Christmas with her. At 1am one morning my daughter was talking to my mom while she lay in the hospital bed in our house and she asked my mom “grandma, what was momma like when she was  a little girl”..I pretended to be asleep and I was afraid what my mom would say and she said “she was a sweet girl…and she still is”. That made me cry silently as I sat and heard the grandmother and granddaughter have quality time together. They were so close and I”m grateful for that. My mom was the best grandmother in the entire world.

image christmas 2010,,mom and my daughter

That morning at 5:25 am, I was sitting in the chair watching my mom breathe/sleep (she had come in and out of the sleep coma ) and she opened her eyes and looked over at me with the biggest smile and opened her mouth like she was so excited and then looked upwards like she was seeing someone she knew..she then looked at me again and smiled…then she was gone. I know she saw both her dad and my dad. That was the best gift my mom had ever gotten and its what she had been wanting for years since she lost my dad. She was finally with the two men who loved her so much.

Leaving behind her two girls in the room (and my sister in law was with us that evening/morning too…grateful she was here )…we said our goodbyes to the woman who had the best birthday party and Christmas ever.

So as I sit here tonite wondering why I’ve been so sad lately when I have so much to be grateful for, I’m reminded that I”m human. I’ve lost both my parents and I feel very alone this holiday for the first time in my 51 years. My daughter is now married, my parents are gone, and the new generation/chapter begins. Hearing the Christmas songs this year takes on different meanings. I feel like I”ve been abandoned in some ways and lost in others.

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I only wish I had enjoyed my younger years more and not wasted so many nights worrying….like I’ve been doing tonite…but at least tonite I know what the worry is about…its about heartbreak, change and life.

image  i’m feeding my baby i got for christmas in this picture….notice the bottle.

 

Mom and dad get to celebrate her birthday and Christmas for the first time together in 13 years, so I have to be happy for them and not selfish for us.

Treasure your family, embrace their good, forgive for their bad, and be grateful for one more day.

Merry Christmas mom and dad…and Happy Birthday mom.

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Happy Holidays to you all

 

love,

lee

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Mom, I’m going to your hometown for thanksgiving

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We decided to go back to my moms family roots for Thanksgiving.  My mom passed away in January and her favorite nephew,Bill and his wife Tommie drove up from Kentucky to  say their final ” goodbye ” to her a few days before she passed away. My husband and I decided /planned to take a road trip with my daughter and her husband to go down memory lane for and pay my respects to my mothers life .

As a child we would load up in the early dark marking hours . Mom would pack sandwiches and daddy would fill two milk cartons cut in half with frozen water and bring the ice pick.  That was our ice for the road trip that we were about to embark upon. I can remember driving thru Afton Oklahoma and we would stop at Buffalo Ranch. It was only fitting that we started that direction on this road trip.  We found out that Buffalo Ranch is not the same as it was in years past ..its now a convenient store. Broke my heart. Buffalo still there, but just not the same.

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It use to be an old fun trading post. Sure the buffalo are still there, but not like it use to be so I was disappointed.  On my childhood trips we would stop at a place in Missouri called Hillbilly Junction. This is when my mother would get very angry at me. I would run inside and get into the toys and place a corn cob pipe in my mouth and start talking differently trying to have an accent. Yes I got into trouble and rightfully so..but it was good memories. We would buy our Daniel Boone skin hats. So on this trip I was excited to show everyone. We arrived and it was out of business.Another  disappointment. Things change…all things.

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We took Norman…he goes with us everywhere we go in the United States. He is such a great little travel guy!

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I started having the memories of  my brother and I and how we would start the process of ” stay on your side”  ” momma he hit me” and the long trip began . After a few hours I was driving my daughter crazy in the back seat just like I did my brother!

My mom would make my dad stop at every antique store along the way.Sometimes he would stay outside but I would always go inside with my mother   There was one shop I always remember because it was an elderly man who lived next door and we had to always knock on his door to have him open his shop next door.  So off we go…” Mom I’m going home for thanksgiving “.

image Antique stores along the way.

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On this trip, We found a quaint old cafe along the way and we stopped since we were starving. We stepped inside and it was like walking back in time. I spoke with the owner, she worked at this cafe when she was younger and later decided to purchase it and turn it back into how it “use to be”.I had breakfast for lunch…due to breakfast is served all day. The boys had burgers and enjoyed them. Pie looked  amazing, but we were too stuffed for pie.

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Another fun stop was Patty’s 1880 settlement…it was like a mini Dollywood…it made me laugh. It had the gift shop of a cracker barrel, and the food of an amazing restaurant. Bread was served in clay flower pots, their famous pork chop was 2 inches high with their famous sauce and their pie, well, lets just say it was amazing. So much for my rules on me eating only organic…that went right down the drain.

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We stopped at Elizabeth town for coffee. A charming coffee shop was along the way. My husband didn’t get to enjoy it because he “thought” he had lost his credit card so he totally freaked out and was outside on the phone the entire time…it was in his wallet.

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Our favorite town along the way was Bardstown. The boys found a few bourbon places to spend time and my daughter and I found some darling little shops. We also visited My Old Kentucky Home…it was not busy due to the holiday approaching, so the workers were getting all of the lights ready for the next day. I can say we will return to this charming town indeed.

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image The guys  sampling the bourbon

image No wonder the guys loved this place.

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We made it to my mothers home town. Stanford Kentucky. I spent many summers here as a child.

image I love this home. Kentucky architecture is beautiful.

My mother was raised on a tobacco farm. I have some of my grandfathers tools from the place today. Its changed a lot, so it was sad to see its not the way it use to be. We went into the small quaint town. I had found a photo of my mom from the 50’s and my daughter and I found the exact spot where it was taken and had our photo taken there too.

imagemy mom in the 50’s…and my daughter and I today in front of the same building!!!!!

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We also found the old building where the department store was located that my mother sold my dad a “belt” and it was love at first sight from that day forward.

image The old storefront that my mom worked and met daddy.

Stanford is a cute little town…not many shops there, but a darling restaurant, a cute soda fountain with original pharmacy, and a lovely shop where they make soap in the basement. Charming, quaint, and to know my mom walked the same steps as my daughter and I were walking made us feel like she would be proud we were there in her “shoes”. The Stanford courthouse is beautiful. I remember climbing the steps as a child.

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We met a lot of my moms family in front of the courthouse and then walked across the street to the original soda fountain for lunch!

Here is the creek that my cousin Tammy and I use to play in when we were little..we would spend hours in this creek. I would take Barbie dolls and pretend that the “moss” was their carpet!

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Here is the small church my mother attended growing up.  My mothers family name is Berry…its where we got the name for her gift shop that she owned for so many years was called..”The Berry Patch.”

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We then headed off to Williamsburg Kentucky to see my mothers favorite nephew and his wife. We ate a lovely thanksgiving dinner with him and his family. His home is beautiful right in the hills of the Cumberland Falls area, which we of course stopped and hiked but it got too dark…thats another story for another day!  His house is one that my mother was always proud to say was her nephews and it is filled with love and joy in the hills of Kentucky. His new barn is a lovely addition that makes it seem like something in a Norman Rockwell Painting.

image My mothers nephews land/barnimageimage Cumberland Falls.

 

image My cousin Tammy that I haven’t seen in years!

image My cousin Tonya that I haven’t seen in years!

It was a great trip with my daughter and her new husband, our new son in law and many laughs were had by us all in the “road trip”. Sitting in the back seat with my daughter made me feel like a child again…except it was laughing with my daughter and not my brother like I did as a child.

 

Momma, we went back home….just for you..

Hoping all of you had a great Thanksgiving just like we did in our family.

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What’s on your shelf?


“A room without books is like a body without a soul”. I love this quote. I love books.


  I sell many books in my business. I sell them for all kinds of reasons. I have teachers that are always hunting for their favorite writers books, students that are looking for “London” books, many just wanting “pretty” spines to make their bookshelves look better.

   
 
  
  
  

 One day as I was dusting my house, I began to realize that the books surrounding my home truly explains a lot about me, my personality, and my loves in my life. I think you can tell a lot about a person by seeing what is lying on their shelves, what sits by their nightstand, what is lying on their coffee tables.


 Look around your home…you’ll be amazed how you can re-introduce yourself to yourself by seeing what books are surrounding you. Some of mine are old and tattered with frail edges, just like things that have happened to me in my life, some are clean and crisp and haven’t been opened because they were either gifts that someone thought would look good on my shelf, or I thought they would make great “coffee” table books, and others are so worn from being opened so many times…its a reflection of me.




  
I encourage all of you to take a moment to look upon your own shelves at your own home, or even your office…and get to know what others may already know about you, but what you may have forgotten about yourself…”whats on your shelf?”.


 The End.

Why I Love Living In A Historic District

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I grew up in a very old home that was owned by an attorney, Mr. Hamilton. When my parents bought the house, it was full of his old law books. I have these books today, and I’m married to a lawyer so its fitting to be on our bookshelves. But the strange thing is I loved the old books even when i was a little girl. I loved old houses back then. I guess I was a strange little girl back then because I loved the old leather books, the moldings, wood floors, and paid attention to details even when I was small. We moved to “the city” when I was 3…and when I say city, I mean from the country to a town of about 5k at that time. Now my hometown may have 2500…times have changed.

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My husband and I live in Oklahoma City. He lived in an older historic district in the city, but it didn’t have the larger lots with the homes standing on the lots. Don’t get me wrong, he lived in a charming area, they were bungalows and I was just trying to find something larger and I didn’t like sharing a driveway with the neighbors at his old location.
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We lived in his home for 6 months, I put a for sale by owner sign in the yard and sold the house 2 weeks later. It was then off to find “THE HOME”. Well, we couldn’t find “THE HOME” but we had to get out of our current home due to the new owners so we…”settled”…we ended up living in the home we “settled” for at that time for 12 years! That’s when we fell in love with Heritage Hills. I loved our home, and it was featured in one of the Oklahoma City magazines one month, so it was indeed beautiful and we made it home.

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One day while running in the neighborhood for a few months, I spotted it…THE HOUSE..it was a carbon copy of one I had seen and admired in England and I knew someday I HAD TO HAVE THIS HOUSE…I had admired this home for literally 12 years…rumors were flying about this house that had been empty for so long would soon come on the market…we put ours on the market so we could prepare to purchase THE YELLOW house (yes it was a bright yellow so we called it the yellow house)…we had 3 offers, really good ones on our home but we didn’t take them because the YELLOW house wasn’t for sale yet…rumors galore on when the house would be for sale even from Realtors, but when in fact all of these were not true..nobody knew…..then the day came…the sign went up FOR SALE! I called the Realtor and said..I WANT TO BUY THE YELLOW HOUSE…she told me she didn’t even have the key yet..I told her it didn’t matter, and we would take it…I’m not kidding. It was her lucky day.

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My husband knew this day would come. He was so tired of hearing me talk about the house, drive by the house..he just wanted me to shut up so if it took buying the house, so be it..the chatter would be over.

We met the Realtor the next morning, we signed the contract, it was indeed her lucky day. She had several others lined up to show the home so she had to show it..but most walked away..they couldn’t even walk thru the door due to its condition. …it had been neglected for years…floors were rotten, the dining room ceiling had fallen in one area due to a leaky roof, the kitchen was SO tiny..it was a sad sight and the staircase railing was scratched to death by cats…but I didn’t care..I wanted it…I knew what it had been and what it could be again. I loved its “bones”. I had done research on this house for months learning about the 2 previous owners and especially about the person that built the house. You can view the photos on my website under the “design services” area.

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You see, there’s something about a neighborhood that’s historic….there’s a sense of family, a sense of unity that is different than new neighborhoods, and we have SIDEWALKS WITH TREES…its a REAL NEIGHBORHOOD! Its not a batch of land that someone has purchased to make money off lots to make houses look alike…its history..each home here was built by pioneers in Oklahoma History.

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Our neighborhood has historical preservation rules and guidelines. This means a house can’t be torn down and a new one built..you can’t just “add on” to your home..you can’t have cars parked and piled on the street, you can’t have metal storage buildings in the back…if it wasn’t the way it was in years past, its not allowed to be that way now…its a protection to preserved the beauty of our city. There’s a historic preservation board…its full of elected neighbors placed on the board to make sure the area is bound to all details regarding the Historic Preservation of Oklahoma City rules. Other neighborhoods in our city allow older homes to be destroyed and new ones rebuilt..I dislike this. Simply because many of the homes are older in the areas. I’m not saying they all should stay, trust me I see lots out there that need to be torn down, but many today that are being demolished are truly lovely homes that just need some face-lifts!

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We aren’t done with our renovation, we are taking a break, but after 1.5 years, we’ve come a long way of preserving this home. Its history and heritage is what I love about this home. I love taking walks every morning in our tree lined neighborhood, riding my bike in the evenings, walking to friends homes and sitting on their FRONT porch for a cocktail. Front porches were the source of entertainment in years gone past…its preserved in my neighborhood. Our neighborhood knows each other. We are an extended family. Everyone knows everyone, and we are there for each other. Good times and bad. We can take a walk and end up sitting on someones front steps visiting. We love our neighborhood.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love new houses, but you can’t build history now like it was built long ago..no matter how hard one tries. Even the wood used today isn’t as good as the wood from years past. Construction isn’t the same. Nothing is “handmade”. Older homes have character, history and a warmth that nobody can explain unless they understand what true history is in our area. These homes were standing during the dust bowl. The history of what surrounds them is the history of our state. Suburbs are great for those who want that lifestyle, but I’m an antique dealer, a traveler of England, and love all things authentic and this is where my heart is…its in HERITAGE HILLS.

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Visit our annual home tour …every year our neighborhood opens up its doors to the public by featuring a few homes for the public to understand what our neighborhood is all about. The Overholser mansion is a great place to visit (and its across from my home). The homes on this years tour are lovely examples of the historic preservation that indeed makes our city and neighborhood beautiful. We must never forget the past and those of us living in historic homes live in the past everyday.
Visit www.heritagehills.org for more information. Its September 26 and 27th.

Come enjoy the tour….you’ll be glad you did and you’ll have a sense of understanding why we live where we live…and you’ll see why we love it so much.

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The Queen

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I dislike it when people call me “Queen Lee”..for some that call me this, its just from my old high school and being homecoming queen..for others that call me this, its because my husband (they think) treats me like a queen and that my dad treated me like a princess. Okay, he did. And okay, my husband does!  Some like calling me Queen Lee due to my love for England..and others that have called me that, well, thats just plain old “mean girls” which that could be an entire other blog of its own.

IMG_3761 The only crown I’ve ever worn!  Be nice..it was the 80’s!  I should get an award for bravery for posting this one!

The word Queen to me is Queen Victoria. I collect books about this woman. I think she changed England. I can’t imagine living during her time…the way she wore black after her soulmate passed away, the things in England named after her..it goes on and on….speaking of going on and on, theres a new record thats being made in history today…and that is Queen Elizabeth now holds the longest reigning monarchy in the history of England. The Queen will have reigned 63 years and 7 months . She is 89 years old.

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Many of you may read this and say “big deal”, “so what”..then my question is “why are you even taking your time ready a post that is about the love of England and its Moncarchy..just get offline now!

I love the Queen. I adore the Queen. I respect the Queen. I believe the Queen is one of the most fascinating women in the world.

Here is a little insight to some things you may not know about the Queen.

Her nickname was Lilibet…she couldn’t pronounce Elizabeth as a child.
She was a mechanic during World War 11..not kidding…she owns old vehicles and loves working on the old rovers.

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She does impressions…truly.
She’s a pro at playing solitaire “patience” as they call it in England
She can do a Rubics cube in 55 seconds
She drinks Ovaltine every night before she goes to bed.
Her favorite song is “give me all your loving’ by ZZTOP
She is related to her husband…don’t choke..or gasp..yes its true..they both share Queen Victoria as Great Great Grandmothers…seriously..google it for yourself!
She has helped us all by breaking the old rule of “never apply lipstick in public”..I personally thank her for this one. Truly grateful !

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Her grandchildren call her “Granny” and say she has such a great sense of humor.

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She texts all the time.
She is computer savvy.
She got married at a very hard time in England and used coupons to purchase her dress.

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The queen loves animals especially dogs and horses..both of which she owns many of both dogs and horses!

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We tend to forget this woman is human. She was handed over her future without any planning on her own. She is known to be kind, considerate, always giving to charities, supporting her country and supporting her family…(yes the prince charles/camilla saga..thats support!!).

As of today, she’s earned the longest reigning Queen over Queen Victoria’s reign..She has carried herself with grace, dignity, and unlike many politicians in our country, she’s never “tweeted” something bad, used foul language in public (although Prince Phillip was caught once) . Her mornings start with tons of correspondence, meetings, etc. and her days are full of her duties. The haters will always be haters, but the lovers make up for those by masses…I love the Queen, I love the history, I love the formality, I love her when she dresses in her suits and gowns…IMG_3747 I love her dressed down in her more casual attire..IMG_3755IMG_3742 I love knowing she’s a grandmother, I love knowing she loves her children unconditionally, and I love saying GOD BLESS THE QUEEN. England wouldn’t be what it is without the Queens in history, and for those who talk badly about the royals, they sure like to visit England and have their photos taken next to historic monuments!

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GOD SAVE THE QUEEN….love her, admire her, respect her. I curtsy to you your Majesty. Now,please invite me to tea.

Thank you…

  
Thank you notes. I found 2 old thank you notes last week under my seat in my car..My heart sank…2 people don’t think I”m grateful now. I hate that feeling…but I also hate the feeling of not getting thank you notes.

Did that bride get her gift?? Did that couple appreciate the party we threw for them? Did that family get the flowers we sent them after the loss of their loved one? Some will never know because they were never sent a thank you note.

Emily post was a real living person in my household…I seriously thought she was a relative that lived far away for so long that I had just never met. My mother stressed manners to me so much that I would sometimes cry. Today I”m grateful she did. I had to refer to Etiquette books all during my childhood to make sure I was doing everything appropriate..this today is what has helped me to love to entertain, chair events, give parties for events, etc..its fun and always appreciated due to knowing the etiquette manner on how to do things properly. Thank you notes are my number one pet peeve when people don’t respond to something.

I’ve stressed this to my daughter and she writes thank you notes EVEN to me when I give her things…just reassures me I’ve done a good job in that area!

Many people don’t realize what people go thru to get a gift to you…the time it takes..the patience to wait for something to be wrapped..the cost…and so on and so on.

In todays crazy world, some think that an email saying thank you is okay…well its NOT…an email is something easy..that doesn’t take the place of a card in the mail.

Proper thank you notes mean you really are grateful for the person for taking the time to think of you, taking the time to do something for you, for your family, etc. and its written in YOUR handwriting, not a computers..its personal. Its called gratitude, being gracious, appreciative, thankful…so advice…get out the writing pen, look up someones address, get a stamp and SAY THANK YOU THE PROPER WAY!

  

“TO CC or NOT TO CC”….

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For those of you that know me, you know I am an avid fan of Chanel items…yes I know…I know..she was FRENCH!

IMG_1293My chanel collection..just a little peek. I need to replace some missing stones 

   
 Coco Chanel opened her very first boutique in England in the fancy smancy area of Mayfair in the 1920’s…and there was a “man” behind her opening up that boutique. Many aren’t aware she got her start making hats. The man that admired her fell in love fast.  

   
 “He” bought her a home in the Mayfair area. His name was Hugh Grosvenor (yes, he owned the land that the Grosvenor hotel is  located) Grosvenor was also the 2nd Duke of Westminster….and so the legend goes.

Grosvenor met “Coco” at a party in Monte Carlo and was smitten. He fell fast…and the rest…well theres lots of “mystery” and speculation. He built her a massive villa in France on land that he bought just for her. He opened her boutique in his “area” of London which was Mayfair. During her involvement with Grosvenor, she began her design of her now famous tweeds which originate from the English influence. 

Legend has it that the city light poles in the Westminster area of London have the “W” logo for Westminster, along with the double C…which as we all know is the chanel logo. Many deny this saying that the poles weren’t put up until the 1950’s…but do we know if they were actually MADE earlier than that??? I thought this the other evening..just because something is INSTALLED on a certain date  doesn’t mean it wasn’t made earlier…years earlier…it sure would save them money to put up poles that were made years ago rather than pay to have new ones made.

They LOOK OLD…THEY ARE OLD…so thats my theory…a mystery with a hidden meaning of love behind the CC logo and the Westminster logo. Only Coco and Hugh know.

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What does the city of Westminster say about this legend??  They claim the CC logo stands for CITY COUNCIL…hummm….okay…I get that…but it is the classic trademark of chanel…isn’t there a trademark law against that??? And I can’t find ANYTHING with the double c logo on the city council of Westminster! EVER! 

To think Mr Grosvenor was in love with Coco and had the poles made as a symbol of his devotion to her is more the story I want to believe and one that I “choose” to believe….you be the judge…TO CC or not to CC….only Mr. Grosvenor knows for sure…and probably Coco…and I have a feeling the city council does too, maybe those from years ago on the council……Love..it makes the world go around…and around…and around even on a pole!

  

Beatrix Potters House

IMG_0924 I  have to admit..i wasn’t a big Beatrix Potter fan at all…I think because I’ve seen those rabbits and such all over every department store and I am not one to like having what everyone else has…although I know when my daughter was small, someone did buy her the set of books…which we never read! I judged a book by its cover ….I LOVE THIS WOMAN NOW!  And it all stems from visiting her home, her village, walking the road she walked and seeing the land she donated to….THE LAKE DISTRICT!!  The lake district in England exists because of this woman! We stumbled upon a lovely looking tudor hotel. IMG_0021Her mothers home where we stayed IMG_0017 IMG_0019 IMG_0024  Come to find out it was the home that Beatrix Potter had bought for her mother..the charming man told us the entire story of her mother living there and we then soaked in the history! Helen Beatrix Potter was born into a very wealthy Family in Kensington..(this is the area we stay when we are in London..MY FAV). Her father was a barrister, and was an avid photographer on the side. She was taught by private governesses until the age of 18. This woman was a mere genius. She loved drawing, favouring watercoulors, but spent numerous hours studying fossils, insects, and archaeological artifacts…she was intrigued by these things. Her family spent their “holiday”time in the summers visiting Scotland and the private lake district in England. She had numerous pets. Mice, rabbits, hedgehogs , bats and butterflies…her one rabbits, “Peter” would accompany her on the train to take trips..she led him by a “leash”…I’m not kidding! She was engaged once but called it off due to her family did not approve of the man…he was her “editor” ..she then married later in life at age 47 (!!!)  to a respected solicitor.  They were married for 30 years. She used the proceeds from her books and an inheritance from an aunt to purchase  a farm called “Hill Top” and didn’t want to give up this small cottage once she was married…so instead she and her husband bought a larger home down the road and she “kept” the small cottage to be her “getaway office” IMG_0936 IMG_0925 IMG_0928 IMG_0931 IMG_0967 Many of her “writings” took place here.If you visit Hilltop, (It just within the past few years became open to the public) upon entering you’re given a lecture on not to take photos…take it from me..don’t take photos..i just couldn’t resist and I got caught…embarrassed yes, regretful, no. IMG_0138 Photo I wasn’t suppose to take!   Beatrix left her entire cottage to the National Trust with instructions to not move or change a thing inside…this is why I wanted the pictures!  Its a very small dark cottage..yet charming..creaky and real to its authenticity. Beside each window lies one of her authentic books…we were told she would look out the window and whatever she would see would inspire her to write a story…thus the story of her animals. She was a lover of sheep and raised them. She became the first woman president of the Herdwick Sheep Association but passed away before she could serve. IMG_0938IMG_0939 Her family would rent Wray Castle near Ambleside in the Lake District when she was young…we went there too!  I fell in love…it wasn’t your “normal” castle..it was “normal”…you could touch anything you wanted because its almost empty..there was a huge room that children can play dress up and color on the tables and make crowns..theres a small deli downstairs to grab some crisps…its large, but not stuffy..it overlooks the most beautiful setting with all the sheep BAHHHHHING in the background. IMG_0844IMG_0902IMG_0821IMG_0822IMG_0906 IMG_0896 Wray CastleIMG_0864IMG_0869 the castle was lovely, not stuffy!IMG_0870IMG_0863IMG_0871IMG_0868IMG_0894IMG_0884children making paper crownsIMG_0855 i’ve sold TONS like this!IMG_0889IMG_0854IMG_0899we have furniture like this all the time! IMG_0872 grand staircase We hiked the trails…lovely..hiked past the lake…breathtaking. IMG_0908IMG_0911IMG_0907 Wray is very comfortable and family friendly unlike most castles that are open to the public…its like a “small town castle”!! In 1895 Beatrix developed her own theory regarding fungus spores and their germination…nobody would give her the time of day….in those days, women played no role in that type of position and research..think what she could have done in todays world!  in 1997 she received  an apology from a professional science group in England (yes after she had passed away) saying how they were deeply sorry for the sexism displayed in her research….a little late people!  But they had found out all her research was indeed correct! Beatrix was a very interesting woman, kept to herself and her animals much of the time, wrote, did research and loved the English countryside. She passed away in 1943 on a very cold snowy day in December from pneumonia and heart complications due to the village doctor couldn’t get to her in time because of the weather.  Her legacy lives on even today with her books and all the memorabilia. She left over 4k acres to the National Trust and it preserved what is called the Lake District today. More women need to be like this woman and what a wonderful world of passion, art, and legacy left to others would be felt in the world today. Below are photos of the Wray Castle “in the time period” that Beatrice would visit with her family. IMG_0874IMG_0880IMG_0882IMG_0888IMG_0893IMG_0887IMG_0881 Cheers to Helen Beatrix Potter…now go out and buy your child/grandchild a Peter Cottontail stuffed animal tomorrow!

My advice to you is buy from us…we only sell AUTHENTIC..ITS THE REAL THING..don’t buy fake…..:STAFFORDSHIRE

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Many of you that know me and have been to my home know I love staffordshire. I’ve been collecting for years. My grandmother had a staffordshire dog sitting in her dining room and nobody knew anything about it….except me…i knew its worth…today its one of my prized possessions..(that sounds awful to have a prized possession, but its a sentimental one so that makes it “okay”!!).

The history of staffordshire is a long one and theres no way to write it all down unless I wrote a book, so I suggest you getting on amazon and finding one to read..you’ll enjoy not only the history but the “facts”. I’ve found the best ones are written by Adele Kenny and Veronica Moriarty. Many of  you don’t realize that the Staffordshire Potteries are also the home of many famous “makers” …you will recognize the names such as Wedgwood, Poole, Ridgway, Pratt, Kent, and several more. But I”m going to focus on the “figurines” that we normally have in the store. Yes we have Wedgwood, etc. but those are more of the “transferware items and the figurines that are now very expensive and over 1k per item…lets get “real” with what we sell all the time.

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Above is a photo featuring one of the last remaining “bottle kiln used in North Staffordshire…we visited here in 2013 and I took these photos of the trip. There were approx. over 2000 of these kilns in the area that rose from the landscape in all directions throughout the area. Amazing…open today for the public to view..

IMG_5036 Making of the moulds.IMG_5037 IMG_5042 IMG_5045   IMG_0679 IMG_0681 IMG_0682

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Above are items on display at the museum, and to the upper right is an authentic pocket watch holder that we recently sold.

IMG_8129 Gold lusterware dogs.

Many antique stores sell staffordshire. Many sell fake ones. They are made in China. The bad thing about this is ….they don’t tell you they are fake. You may ask why would you think you were purchasing a fake made in China piece when you are surrounded by antique expensive furniture???  Thats a mystery to me too…it amazes me that any antique store would EVER sell a fake staffordshire…its just unethical in my book!

How can you tell the difference between the real and the fake?? I can tell in a split second…just because I’ve been collecting so long. But there is a difference. If you put a pair of staffordshire dogs (authentic) next to a fake pair, the paint colors are much different, the strokes, the glazing is so fake, and the bottoms are just not old, although they try to make a crackle glaze and they even make the bottoms look dirty and worn..but trust me…once you get the REAL thing, you will see and know the difference.

If you are a true collector and love antiques, you should NOT have made in china ANYTHING in your home!  Thats my rule. My advice to you:  buy from us, we only sell AUTHENTIC…its the real thing..don’t buy fake!

Here are some interesting facts regarding authentic staffordshire.

1. During the 18th and 19th centuries the growth of Britain’s working class , merchant and trading developed a lot of “spending” money and with it consumer need and desire for ornamental wares that could rival the expensive porcelains became very popular. Staffordshire  is indeed  made in Staffordshire England. The original potteries still stand today and are open as museums…yes they still make pottery but its nothing like the old things. The new ones are marked, so remember the old ones aren’t as far as the dogs, etc.

2. Figurines such as  “dummy” clocks for those who couldn’t afford real clocks, , quill holders, inkwells, spill vases, watch holders, etc. were made. Production was so steady that to help with drainage, roads in the  Staffordshire area were built up “wasters” so the area was built on pottery clay!

3. Every piece of staffordshire was made to represent a figure, story, tales, religious aspects , politicians, and even royalty!

4. 18th century all figures were made in the round 3 dimensional with fully modeled and decorated fronts and back but when Queen Victoria took reign, a new type known as “flat”back was made. There was then press molding, slip molding/casting , hand molding, and then the glazes with salt, lead colored , overglaze and underglaze. The staffordshire dogs were made to honour the queen since her king charles spaniels were always under her dress to keep her warm. These staffordshire dogs were then a STAPLE in every english home and on every mantle…it was said in a tale long ago that many women  married to a man at sea, put them in their windows and if they had their backs facing the window away from the outside world it meant that the seaman is at home, and if they looked outward, their husband/seaman was at sea.

5. Many of the figurines were painted by children. Yes children. The potteries were very poor factories with dirt floors and even wide open to “go to the bathroom”, much disease was formed during this time period, no child labor laws were in England and each and every piece you see today was hand painted by an individual, therefore no 2 pieces  you find will EVER be the same, not even a pair of dogs…EVER.

6. The most rare staffordshire figurines are : religious, royalty, black dogs, politicians and royalty WITH dog figures beside them.

7. Staffordshire only goes UP in value…they are getting harder to find, thus harder to bring to offer to you…my advice: if you want the real thing, buy it from us, don’t buy fake!

If you own a pair of dogs in your home , my advice to you is to bring them into my store. I can tell you in a second if they are real. I’ve disappointed a few customers by breaking them the bad news that “they aren’t real”…and their reply many times is this: but i bought them at the —— (another antique store)…my advice on that one is: buy from us…we only sell AUTHENTIC…ITS THE REAL THING…don’t buy fake.

Below is a photo of a spill vase we recently sold featuring Burns and Mary in a tryst, accompanies by a verse from Burn’s poem “Highland Mary”. Value is 500 circa 1860..we sold it for 185!  Buy from us…we only sell AUTHENTIC..ITS THE REAL THING..don’t buy fake!

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Below are some of the Staffordshire items we still have available at the store: Email me at nottinghillokc@aol.com if you are interested. Their value is about 3 times what we are asking, so my advice to you is: buy from us..we only sell AUTHENTIC…ITS THE REAL THING…don’t buy fake! we will ship anything below free…please note the lions do have a small chip on the ear, one can hardly tell, and t does NOT hurt the value of these due to their price..I have seen these lions sell for 750 and up in larger cities across the states.

IMG_7971    lions: 375.00 for pair              IMG_8252 couple with jealous male looking: 175.00IMG_0543 Princess on a horse: 150.00IMG_0795dog: single…150.00

Happy collecting, and  please don’t buy the made in China ones if you truly are a real collector and lover of ALL THING ENGLISH!

CHEERS!