Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Gift of Simple

Not too long about, I had written a blog post about Fall leaves. Several years ago, there was an elderly woman that lived in my neighborhood. Her care giver would take her on walks each and every day. I especially remember her during the Fall because her care giver would carry a little bag for her. This woman would stop at different points during her walks and carefully bend over a pick up a leaf. She would look at it closely, examining it and I’m guessing the ones that appealed to her most were the ones that she found to be unusual. Those were the special leaf’s that she would give her caretaker to put in her little bag. I haven’t seen this woman in several years, and I’m guessing she has sadly passed away. What this woman will never know is that she gave me, “the gift of simple”! Each morning in the Fall and Winter when I go outside to get my newspaper, I notice all the leaves. Some are of brilliant color, others may be shaped oddly, and I love when it rains and the leaf is gone, but the pattern of it is on the wet cement. I always hope that this very special woman, somehow knows that she graciously gave me the “gift of simple”!

Why do I bring this up now? It’s holiday season, and our economy is in such dandy shape, I know that it causes so many of us to freak out, wonder how we are going to afford all the gifts that are hearts want to give, but our wallets may be telling us a different story. I watch my four year old granddaughter, Riley; scrutinize the toy catalogs that come in the mail choosing what she wants for Christmas. My business is retail, so you have to know I understand why these catalogs are sent, why the commercials air daily and all that goes with this time of year. It puts a great deal of pressure on many to find the perfect gifts for those we love. As you probably know, I love antiques and vintage stuff. I have an old stepback cupboard that is filled with children’s antiques. Kind of funny how much life as changed for kids now with technology. But what draws me to these vintage toys is that they are “simple”, many handmade. I too will purchase a few toys for my little ones that I know they just have to have! But I also want to find the three of them vintage gifts that are simple and have meaning. Actually, I recently bought Bodhi’s vintage gift. It is an old, well loved, stuffed little dog, probably from the 1930’s. It’s missing its ribbon around its neck, but that can be replaced along with a heartfelt handwritten note to my grandson on his first Christmas!

I guess I just want to remind us all, that the gift of “simple” doesn’t have to be expensive and can also make a wonderful holiday gift. I remember last year putting together all our family photos from that year, and having them put together in a book. I added little sayings, poems and such. Not too long ago, I had a customer share a wonderful story with me about gift giving. This is the part I love about my job. He was buying an old vintage Stingray bike. Then he began telling me “why” he was buying it. His boss, as a child had a paper route. He saved all his money from delivering newspapers to buy a new Stingray bike. When the time came to buy the bike with the money he had saved, the cost of the bike had gone up in price so he couldn’t afford to get it and he was never able ever to buy the bike. My customer was buying the vintage stingray bike as a gift for his boss. He wanted to him to have the bike he wanted so badly as a child.

This holiday season, I hope you can de-stress yourself a little bit by staying away from the crazy malls. There are so many ways of buying meaningful gifts for those you love. We have so many old books at Country Roads, for example, that may have special meaning to someone you want to shop for. Vintage shopping is not only a unique way to purchase gifts but also a great way to recycle. I hope this holiday season you find peace and remember the importance of things in your life. And hey, there is nothing wrong with the gift of “simple”! Happy Holidays.

It’s Christmas, 365 Days a Year, Really, It Could Be!

Wouldn’t be awesome, wouldn’t it be wonderful, wouldn’t it be a dream come true if it was Christmas every day of the year for 365 days a year? Yes, I’m crazy, we all know that, but let me explain to you what I mean. Prior to December 25th, what happens? Everyone starts to decorate or buy decorations. Then by Thanksgiving (which often is overlooked), everyone is in a frenzy to start their gift buying. The Salvation Army bells are ringing in front of stores, volunteer groups are out everywhere soliciting donations for those in need. Family dinners are planned for the big holiday and everyone makes “nice” because its Christmas. People send out Christmas cards to their friends and family, often with holiday letters and family photos. They tell their friends they miss them, and promise to get together soon. And the next thing you know, it is another year later and it all starts over again.

The above things are the things that most people do. But what about the “other” people? Maybe dad lost his job this year, or someone is all alone, or others are on the streets, in shelters, Iraq, incarcerated, or in hospitals. My sister use to be a therapist. And I can’t even begin to tell how many calls she would get on Christmas day from her clients that were depressed because of all the above or they felt that one day, the day that is supposed to be baby Jesus’ birthday, didn’t live up to their expectations. I love Christmas, please don’t misunderstand my words. But often times than not, by the time the big day gets here, everyone is tired, burned out and glad for the day to be over, and Christmas loses its meaning along the way.

If we took the “reason for the season” theory and applied it daily to our lives and others lives, each and everyday, if we made it Christmas 365 days a year, wouldn’t the world be a little kinder? It would be great to get cards from friends throughout the year just to let us know they were thinking of us. It would be so special to receive a gift because someone just because they wanted to “give” one. There wouldn’t be that pressure that Christmas shopping sometimes brings on. And the best part, if we could all just continue to GIVE to the charties that do make it Christmas 365 Days a year, I personally believe the world would be a kinder more gentle place to live.

Last Christmas my daughter, Brande, gave me a goat! Yes, she gave me a goat, or I should say bought a goat in my name. There is a group called “World Vision. . . Building a Better World for Our Children” ( The goat is bought for a village in Africa where kids will learn to care for it, the milk will help feed them, and more. This is a gift that will keep on giving! I bring this up because so many times, so many of us never know what the perfect give is. Or how many times do you hear, “I don’t know what to get them, they have everything”. I just feel that sometimes we need to think outside of the box, the Christmas box, when it comes to giving!

I do wish all of you the merriest of Christmas’ and I’m hoping you all find the joy, peace and happiness you deserve. But my wish is not only for Christmas day, it is for the next 365 days of Christmas. Please remember as we begin 2007, that there are those around us that may need a helping hand. And if we are in the position to extend a hand, what a better place our world would be. “Practice Random Acts of Kindness”, give the homeless guy a couple of bucks even if he does look scarey, bring some shoes to our store to donate to Soul Purpose, or donate to one of our Animal Shelters we help, or My Sister’s Joanie’s Purse Project. Whatever it is, just remember to give of yourself and pay if forward.
Happy Holidays.

When a House is a Home

With the holidays around the corner, I know there is a lot of planning for out of town company, holiday parties and family dinners. Frantically, people are running around looking for the perfect crystal and table centerpieces. Unfortunately, I think many people believe that they have to have everything in their “houses” magazine perfect! But, if your house is truly a “home”, I think you find a different type of attitude. Just the other day while working at Country Roads, a customer spent almost an hour trying to decide if she wanted to buy two matching lamps. The price wasn’t her concern, but she was worried if she should have lamps that match on each of her nightstands, or should she have two different ones. She asked me, “do people do that now”. I looked at her and told her that I personally believe decorating with stuff that makes you happy is what’s important. I reminded her that in my opinion, only, there is no right or wrong when it comes to decorating if it makes you happy.

Many of us live in “houses”, but how many of us really live in “homes”? I remember when my husband and I were first married and bought our first house. As we began to paint it, as we began to fix it up and when we eventually had kids, it truly was our home. I was only able to buy antiques when I could afford them, but those antique pieces of furniture still fill my home today and are filled with such warm memories I wouldn’t trade for anything! Eventually my husband and I decided we wanted our kids in a better school district and wanted a bigger house. So, we moved and to this day that is one decision in my life I regret. We had a beautiful 4500 square foot home in a fancy neighborhood. But something was wrong, and at the time I couldn’t put my finger on it but that house was never a home, it was just house. Like a lot of us, I ended up getting a divorce and wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box when it came to divorce! The house went up for sale and it was now time for me, after almost twenty five years of marriage, to start over on my own. It really was a difficult time, but somehow, someway, I managed to pull together just enough funds for a down to buy a house of my own! And that house is my home today and I will always be grateful for my good friend and realtor at the time, Lisa Blanc, for helping me get what I wanted, a “home”!

By all means I’m not implying that you have to “own” a house for it to be your “home”.
Our homes are what we make them regards of size, location or anything else. A home is where your heart is! A home is where you create memories, it is where you surround yourself with not only your family but your friends as well. In my home we’ve all sat together and grieved over 9/11 as my friend Darcy brought a kitten over that day that has become a part of my home. I’ve had six Christmas dinners here, I’ve had a wedding reception, birthday parties, baby showers and this past year we celebrated my grandbaby Riley’s first birthday by having a pool party! For me it was the “full circle” of life. The pool party for Riley reminded me off all the pool parties I had for my own three kids as they grew-up. And just like when I had my kid’s parties, those antiques withstood the test of not only time but little hands as well!

My home now has its own memories. It’s still filled with the same antiques I’ve had over all these years. I still have that same harvest table I had in my first home. During the holidays we still have our holiday dinners on that table. The only difference is some of the people at the table are different. It’s the progression of life. My parents no longer are here to join us, but Riley now joins us. We also have an old Mission china cabinet that my parents had in their home that now sits next to my old harvest table. It keeps those holiday memories of the past with us. And so begins a holiday season which will be filled with yet more new memories as we remember the old. This is also the time of year to remember to give back, to pay it forward. When you see someone on the street corner holding a sign that says, “Homeless, Need Help”, help them, even if it is just by giving them a dollar! Reach into your heart and create a holiday memory for someone that desperately needs it. I always took my kids out Christmas Eve when they were small to “give back”. It was our part of our celebration of Christmas! Make your “house” a “home” this year. Remember it’s not about “what” you have or don’t have, or the perfect place settings or decor, it’s about the “people” you surround yourself with that make a “house” a “home”. Happy Holidays!

The Seasons of Life

As we celebrate the arrival of Fall, it reminds me how our lives have “seasons” as well. I’ve always been a big fan of summer. You know, our lifestyles are more causal, we bring out the flip flops and things seem to just move at a slower pace. But with Fall, it brings new beginnings. The days slowly begin to get shorter, the leaves change color, and the kids start back to school, and the holidays are just around the corner. I’ve always thought of Fall as the beginning of the “real” year, not the calendar year. There are so many things that change when Fall arrives.

Life is just like the seasons of the year. We experience change, growth, and if we are lucky we pass the time and witness the calendar months flying by, with those we love; friends and family. Recently I went to a baby shower. While we all do these things, this one was special to me. It was the daughter, and granddaughter of two of my dealers who are also my friends, Leslie and Margaret. They have been at the store since day one (16 years ago), and we have definitely gone through those seasons of life together. As my granddaughter Riley ran around the baby shower like the crazy little toddler she is, and I watched pregnant Emily open her baby gifts, it took me back. I remembered the days when Emily and her siblings and my three kids would spend afternoons in our swimming pool on those hot Fall days after elementary school let out for the day. I felt very grateful to be at the baby shower, and also to have been a part of this family for so long.

Speaking of crazy toddlers running around, my little Riley just turned two at the end of August. I wondered how she got to be two so quickly. I thought of everything that had happened in my own seasons of life over those past two years. I lost my mom, Riley’s great-gramma, four days after she was born. I lost my dad, little Riley’s great-grandpa, five months after that. But instead of mourning the sadness of the loss, I remind myself that is what life is about. I look to the good things, that my mom was able to hang on long enough until Riley was born and then was able to finally “let go”. And my dad was the lucky one that got to hold Riley in his arms, and as he said on our last Christmas together that year, “your mom would have loved this baby so much”.

We celebrated Riley’s second birthday at Disneyland. All of us: myself, Riley, Katie, Vinnie, Brande, Bryce and Justine, ALL my kids were there to make her birthday special. I sat at lunch that day, looking around the table and felt so very, very grateful to have what I did that day, my family, the life I’ve been blessed with. There have been seasons of my life in the past when we weren’t all able to be together like this. So we rode all the rides, watched Riley’s big blue eyes sparkle at the magic of Disneyland, and most of all, we just laughed. As corny as it sounds, you have to celebrate those moments, the simple things, the day, and remind yourself how fortunate and grateful we should be to have days like this.

Country Roads has truly been a gift to me. It’s so much more than “just” a store! I’ve been given so many unique opportunities to experience the seasons of life with family, friends, and strangers. I always look at each day as a story waiting to be told. I believe in finding the positive in my days, even the worst of days. As the holiday season approaches, keep positive and be grateful for those you have in your lives. Just as some family and friends may go, never forget to celebrate those that are still with you. Be grateful for those seasons of life! Happy Holidays

“The Kitchen Stove Warms More Than Just the Kitchen”

In a time when the kitchen stove was always working hard cooking something for breakfast, lunch, and supper, it didn’t just keep those old kitchens warm! It warmed the hearts of families all across our country as mealtimes were a time to bond, share, and spend time with family. Those traditions are our history and culture. Maybe that is why there is such an appeal for those old kitchen collectibles. It reminds us of simpler times, family, and memories that we carry with us from our childhood days.

People who have never really “collected” antique and vintage items because they thought it was too expensive, might be surprised. You may be interesting in getting started with kitchen collectibles. The prices can start from $3.00, for example, to start say a syrup pitcher collection or even kitchen utensils. You can start out learning and as your collection grows, you can expand on the more unusual syrup pitchers or utensils. I started my own collection of syrup pitchers years ago. When my kids were small, there wasn’t a lot left over for extras so I couldn’t really collect the antiques I desired. I started, though, with the syrup pitchers not only because of the affordability but because of the memories. I always remember my grandma making me pancakes and having what I thought as a kid, syrup in these “fancy glasses with handles”. I still have my syrup collection today but have been able to add nicer pitchers to the collection, some with bakelite handles, others with sterling silver tops.

Another one of my favorite kitchen collections was started because I’ve always loved country primitive furniture. The early butter churns, which were usually three gallon in size and made in the mid 1800’s, remind me daily how hard our families had to work in those days to make something as simple as butter! Maybe that’s why when we see the vintage dresses from the 1800’s they are in such tiny sizes. Those women had to work hard back then! In the early 1900’s, you found butter churns made out of stoneware, some stamped with the Red Wing mark. The same principal was used here, churning these three gallons crocks with a wood handle with both hands. From the early wooden churns, things got a little better when the churns were made from glass and you only had to crank a handle with one hand instead of both hands with a little hip action thrown in! Today those old wooden butter churns and crocks will cost you a bit of change. It is said back in the 1800’s you could purchase these for a couple of dollars according to the old Sears & Roebuck catalogs. Today, you are probably looking more like a couple of hundred dollars depending on the type and condition of the churn. The glass jar churns though, can be purchased from around $80 to $150 depending on the churn, whether the beaters are wood or metal.

Yelloware bowls are another good collection to invest in and fun to collect because there are so many varieties and differing prices to choose from. Between the 1830’s and 1940’s, yelloware was found in most kitchens across America. It was a ceramic made by firing yellow clay that was found in riverbeds in Ohio and the Northeast. The yellow colors vary because of the clay. These bowls were used a lot because back then they didn’t cost much, were pretty sturdy and at the time could even be used on the old kitchen stove, although I wouldn’t advise that today. I use my old yelloware bowls all the time, especially holiday dinners and special occasions. I love the way they look on my harvest table. I don’t advise putting them in the dishwasher though. The price of these bowls can range from a $20 bowl that may be chipped, to $1500 for stacking sets or earlier collections of these bowls.

The thing about collecting, especially kitchen collectibles, is to choose things you like.
You know, collecting is like decorating in my opinion, there are no rules. Surround yourself with what you like, or what brings back memories. Collecting is about what makes us happy, what warms our heart just like the old kitchen stoves that warmed the kitchens, this warmth helps keep our busy daily lives just a little more cozy.

The Gift of a Rose

Several years ago I gave my dear friend Ruthie Schmidt a bare root rose. I thought it was a great gift, something that would continue to grow and bloom just like our friendship that I so deeply cherished has grown and blossomed! Last year, Ruthie moved back to Florida and left her home and garden behind here in Old Towne Orange. The house belongs to her daughter, but Ruthie was the gardener. Her gardens were absolutely beautiful! She would bring us roses, fruit from her trees, and some of the vegetables she had grown to Country Roads. Her daughter has decided to sell her house and asked one of my dealers at Country Roads to hold an estate sale. Because Ruthie was so involved in Country Roads for so many years, Steve and Robin, who are doing the estate sale, wanted to do a preview night for just the Country Roads dealers. They wanted me to help be in charge of the event and I tried to explain to them “why” I couldn’t do it.

The house is no longer a “home” in my mind. And the “things” for sale have no meaning for me. I think I would be too heartbroken to step inside of the house. Over the past years, I have so many fond memories of Ruthie in that house. She use to host, what she called, “Operation Sell” once a month. She would invite a few people over from Country Roads that she felt would be good at contributing marketing ideas. Often Mike Escobedo attended a few meetings as well. Ruthie would sit at her desk, and the former school teacher that Ruthie once was, held our attention as we shared marketing ideas. Ruthie would have an agenda prepared for us and her daughter Susan would take notes. It was the best of times for me. Ruthie would cut out articles she found in trade publications about marketing that she felt were worthwhile and share them with us all.

After I had spoken to Steve and Robin about the estate sale and the Country Roads preview night I went home and emailed Ruthie. I told her there was no way I could go over to what was once her home, but now is just a house to me. The thought of people going through all of the things in the house and wanting better prices on them, well, that image just broke my heart. So, I sadly explained to Ruthie “why” I just couldn’t do it. I asked her for one big favor that would mean so very, very much to me. I asked her if I could have one of her rosebushes. I would have my son Bryce go over and dig it out, assuming it was okay with Susan since it is her house, and replace it with another one I would buy at a nursery. I so badly wanted my memory of Ruthie and the happy times in her garden to continue to be a reminder to me each time I saw her rosebush in my garden.

Ruthie’s reply was wonderful. She told me she knew the exact rose she wanted me to have. It is called the “Tuscan Sun”, it was the bare root rose I had given her years ago and forgotten about. That was the rose she wanted me to have and I immediately knew the exact place in my garden that I would plant it. I was very touched by the words from such a special person that Ruthie is. There aren’t many “Ruthie’s” in our world today unfortunately. We need more of them. And because of Ruthie’s gesture, each day I walk out my front door, I will see “our” rose and be reminded of the true meaning of love and friendship.

Thanksgiving. . .The Forgotten Holiday or What?

There are many reasons I wonder if Thanksgiving is truly the forgotten holiday, or maybe it is just the real meaning of Thanksgiving that seems to be overlooked. And to take that a step further, what actually is the “real” meaning of Thanksgiving? If you look up Thanksgiving Day in the dictionary, it gives you a few sentences about its history. “Thanksgiving originated in the autumn of 1621 when Plymouth governor William Bradford invited neighboring Indians to join the Pilgrims for a three-day festival of recreation and feasting in gratitude for the bounty of the season, which had been partly enabled by the Indian’s advice”. When you look at what Thanksgiving originally was, a simple festival, with no mention of turkey, pumpkin pie, football, after Thanksgiving day sales and more; what happened? And let’s not even mention what our grateful settlers and pioneers later ended up doing to the Indians.

In retail, as I watch the seasons change along with the store displays, somehow Thanksgiving slips through the cracks. By summers end, you see fall and Halloween merchandise everywhere, and even the beginnings of Christmas displays. But what about the turkeys? The poor turkeys, and I’m a vegetarian so I “really” feel sorry for the turkeys! Country Roads sells a few antique turkey candy containers, an occasional vintage turkey salt and pepper shaker, but that is about it. Could it be, not to be judgmental, that turkeys are not very attractive, and that the little Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim figurine set just doesn’t cut it as a centerpiece for your holiday dinner table? It is interesting to me personally that we, as a Nation, have created an entire holiday week-end around dead birds, too much food, football and Christmas shopping. Especially when billions of people in “our” world live in poverty, and a huge percentage of that number live on less than a dollar a day!

Okay, I hope all of you know me well enough by now to know that I think there is much more to Thanksgiving than above. But, I also wish the Thanksgivings of the future could change their priorities of our Nation a little bit as well. I personally am thankful for that fourth Thursday every November. Country Roads is closed for the day, so Thanksgiving is a day of rest and reflective thoughts on what I’m truly thankful for! I am personally grateful for how blessed I am to live the life I have. I make Thanksgiving a day of spending time with my family, but not sweating over a stove, or stressing out to make sure I have the “perfect” stuffing or roasted turkey on the dinner table. Actually, my family usually goes out to dinner instead to a restaurant that has other main courses available than the poor, big ugly bird! It is nice to relax and laugh and be able to “afford” to go out to dinner. Even though I can “afford” to go out for a holiday dinner, I also make sure that I can “afford” to give back to life as much as I can!

I am definitely not trying to make anyone feel guilty for eating poor, dead ugly birds. Nor am I trying to make you feel guilty about starting your Christmas shopping. Hey, I own a retail business! And please, don’t think for a second, that I’m trying to imply anyone should feel guilty for living a comfortable life. That is not my point. I just want to bring awareness of what a difference we can all make if we re-direct a small percentage of our energies and priorities, not just at the holidays, but daily. I want to remind myself and my customers, once again, about the importance of simply giving back to life and to those that need a helping hand. The holidays are the pits for those in need! And I believe in my heart, if we just take some time, even on Thanksgiving, to decide how we can make a difference in others lives this holiday season, next year and the years after that, things in the world will slowly start to change for those that need help the most! If we take the time to talk to our kids at our Thanksgiving dinners about the importance of helping others that have so little, maybe we can start to remember that Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be the forgotten holiday. Maybe we can create a new Thanksgiving “tradition” for years to come. Thanksgiving can become a holiday of giving, especially with our hearts.

Summer, Little Friends, Gardening & Lots of Memories

It’s been almost two years now since my mom passed away. She was Johnnye Merle, as in Johnnye Merle Gardens and Nursery! After she died I wrote an article about her, mentioning that I wish she would have had a chance to have known or just held her great-granddaughter. Unfortunately, Riley was born four days before my mom died, and my mom never got to hold her, but she did get to see a picture. I knew in my heart though, that my mom would always be looking down at Johnnye Merle Gardens, which was named after her, and watching as Riley, Josalyn, Arianna, and now Adrian grew and learned about plants, gardening, and just the meaning of friendship, love and family. They would learn about putting back in the earth what you take. And now, two years later, I know my mom is pretty happy watching our “youngin’s” running around out back. They can all walk now, even Adrian is beginning to. I know that would make her smile.

There is just something magical about little kids during the summer months. They get to be just “kids” and I believe this is the time when their creativity is at its peak. Endless hours to play, use their imaginations or just hang out with their friends. Life is calmer, more fun and there is much more time for and gardening, playing, and enjoying the sunshine and water. The other day, Josalyn’s mom, Yesi, was out in JM gardens watering. It was just one of those beautiful SoCal summer days. Josalyn just happen to have her swimsuit with her, and Country Roads just happened to have a big, old washtub! And when you are a little kid that means having your own private swimming pool! That is my favorite part about little kids. It doesn’t take much to make them happy or to improvise. They use their imaginations in ways that we as adults have many times simply have forgotten we even have imaginations!

Someone once asked me if I thought it was “professional” to have little kids at the store, meaning Country Roads. I guess it would depend how you define professional. Country Roads is a family business. And being a family business, means there are kids involved. My own kids were about 7, 9, and 11 when I opened Country Roads. They’ve grown up in the store and learned to work, just as I imagine our new generation of little kids will. Sure, when one of them is screaming, it’s annoying, but rare. And after all, our little ones aren’t here all the time, just on special occasions or a babysitting crisis. I love how the little ones have learned to become friends and play together. Actually, the three little girls; Riley, Josalyn, and Arianna, will be flower girls this fall in Pam Richardson’s wedding. I’ve known Pam since she was five years old. These are the memories, the stories, the friendships and love that make Country Roads the store it is. We’ve got great stuff, good prices and an awesome garden out back named after my mom, Johnnye Merle! I know my mom is watching it all and knowing I did “good” with the little ones, just as she use to do herself. She taught my kids when they were little about gardening. It always made her smile. Little kids are great if you take the time to enjoy them. I hope summer gives you that extra time this year. One of my favorite quotes is: “While we try to teach our children all about life, Our children teach us what life is all about”. Angela Schwindt

Have a happy, relaxing summer, and just make some time to do nothing with your youngins!

Ruthie’s Chair Story

This story was written by my dear friend, my Ruthie!

This is the story of my chair.
The year was 1995.
The place was the annual July handmade craft show at Piecemakers-Costa Mesa, Ca.
While strolling by the many booths of wonderful things, I spied this marvelous vintage chair that had been lovingly recovered with an old, soft pastel floral chenille bedspread. It was love at first sight. It was, indeed, a must have for my bedroom. In order to make room for my new love, I discovered I would have to part with something else, which I decided would have to be an old desk.
I believe that for most things you can find an answer if you look for it. After pondering this for a time, I came up with the idea that maybe, just maybe, a local antique store where I had shopped many times could be the answer. I had never had a space in an antique store but the idea appealed to me. I gathered up my nerve and off I went to Country Roads Antiques and Gardens in Old Towne Orange to inquire about my idea of selling my old desk. All I would need would be just a tiny space. Of course, Country Roads is not just any antique store--it is simply the best and in my mind the only place worthy of my desk. Please remember, I loved my new chair but I needed to give my old desk the respect it deserved so I was willing to risk rejection at Country Roads.
I was cordially greeted by the owner, Sue Jackson, and began pleading my case about my new chair and I needed a small space to sell my desk. I realize now that I must have sounded like some wacko, but she was so kind and inquired what else I had to sell. OOPS, I had not thought of that! I assured her I had a few other small things that I could add-although, truth be known, I had no idea what that would be.
She showed me a very tiny spot at the top of the stairs that I could rent. I was thrilled beyond words--never mind the roof was slanted and you almost had to bend over to get in. What a happy day -yup, there I was--a proud "dealer" at Country Roads. I was ecstatic as I made the short trip home to get my desk! I had about 30 square feet of the more than 15,000 square feet at Country Roads. But to me, it was gigantic. Little did I know that on that day I was embarking on a 12 year love affair with CR-an experience that I have concluded was and is a hallmark of my life--all because I fell in love with
a chair!
If, by chance, you were looking for me you only needed to look 3 places--my garden, CR or my chair. Yup, I sat in my chair reading by the hour, writing, making hundreds of tickets for pricing merchandise, catalog shopping for new product, planning the stores budget and sometimes just reflecting . The beautiful chenille bedspread finally wore out, the seat was sagging, and I reluctantly had it replaced with a slipcover which she was proud to wear. You take care of things you love.
For me, I have found it best as I travel the road of life, to look out of the windshield. Sometimes things occur that cause you to take a glimpse in the rearview mirror wither you want to or not. That happened to me yesterday.
My chair is now living with Susan in her new home and she looks beautiful there--just like she belongs. Why she is living there is another story. But the fleeting glance I had in the rearview mirror,as I looked at a recent photo of her, caused me to pause and reminded me of all the times we shared. I wonder what she would say-- if chairs could talk?
Just like an old friend that is gone--for one reason or another, I miss her and all that she represents to me. Do I have other chairs? Of course I do and for this I am grateful because I am aware that some people have none. None the less, she is special to me because of all the positive gifts that she has given to me in ways that changed my life.


I sit at the red light, and I see her again. I had just left the bank to make a deposit before going to work. The bank is in a little shopping center near my house, the “Los Altos” area of Long Beach. I’ve seen this woman many times over the past few years. As I watch her cross the street in front of me, I wonder how she became homeless. She holds her head up high. Her appearance is immaculate! You would never suspect she was homeless except for the wagon she pulls. In it she has, what I’m guessing is her life. It’s packed neatly in a nice suitcase with a few other odds and ends. She has a little sheltie dog that is with her and wearing a little pink doggie jacket to keep her warm. She use to have two dogs, and I always feel bad knowing that something happened to the other one, meaning these dogs are her only family. There is a small local library in this neighborhood where the woman often goes and gets books to read in a small area, similar to a park by Bristol Farms. I see her at different times sitting outside of Bristol Farms with her dog, drinking coffee and reading. She is a proud woman, you can tell. Brande and I always would like to give her money, but are afraid as we wouldn’t want to offend her or make her feel less a person. Where does she sleep at night? Where does she bathe to look so neat and proud each day? This world of ours has put a different face on the people that have become homeless in today’s world. Why am I writing about this woman? She is always a reminder to me of “positivity” as she proudly walks down the street with her head held high. You can just tell that she takes life a day at a time with a positive attitude.

I've written about my mom before, and how her life wasn't always easy. She was born in Lubbock, Texas and lived there as a young child. Her life was simple, filled with challenges, and her family didn't have much. But she never looked back at her childhood negatively. As a young teenager, her family moved to Temple, Texas. Things were a little bit better for awhile. Her mom worked as a waitress and her dad drove and oil truck. But, like many things in life, stuff happens. Her dad committed suicide when my mom was fifteen and her mom died of breast cancer a few years later. My mom ended up moving to CA and marrying my dad. My life growing up was pretty simple. My dad worked for Edison, my mom worked part time for awhile when my sister and I were teenagers. But the one thing I always, always remember about my mom was that she was such a positive person! Living through everything she did, including the Depression, she was a positive person. As a child she would sing all the time, stupid little songs. She always sang the song, "High Hopes", think Frank Sinatra recorded it. Never did a day go by while growing up that she wasn't singing happy, positive little songs. My mom stayed positive her entire life, even right up to the time she died. Never complaining about her pain, she just accepted life. Her love of music was passed on to me, and I try to pass that on to Riley & Morgan as well. Music and those that perform and write it is the very best dose of positivity I could ever ask for. I'm a big fan of American Idol. There, I admitted it. I like it obviously because of the music. But also love to watch it because it is about young people working as “positively” as they can to make their dreams come true! As I watched ldol the other night, I was really thrilled to see Danny Gokey come back and perform his new song. For us "Idol" fans, I think you remember how Danny had lost his wife at a young age. But instead of choosing to let life pass him by, he turned it all around. His positivity took him on a new path in life. And his new song, “My Best Days Are Ahead”, is so uplifting and positive!

There is no doubt that life is tough right now. But if you get up each morning and swallow a good sized dose of positivity, you just might feel a whole lot better. And I think I will muster up some courage and positively walk over to the woman and her little dog and just smile and hand her an envelope with some money and say, “this is for you”. Sometimes just knowing that people care about you can make the biggest difference in others lives. Maybe I’ll now go see if I can download “High Hopes” on to my computer.

Making It Easy To “Give” Back

A few years ago, and I don’t remember the exact circumstances, I came across this awesome, little project that the Orange YWCA had been doing for several years. It was called, “My Sister Joanie’s Purse Project”. It was originally started by my favorite Councilwoman, Tita Smith’s mom, Joan Hoefs Smith. Basically, the concept is to collect purses that are “gently used” and fill them with stuff like personal hygiene products, or maybe a hankie or nail polish. These purses were and are distributed throughout the shelters in Orange County throughout the year, focusing mainly on Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas. Since Christmas, this project has collected over 500 purses and put smiles on many grateful women’s faces!

As I started to write this article, I realized I didn’t know as much about My Sister Joanie’s Purse Project as I thought I did, and I wanted to learn more. So, as I seem to do a lot lately when I need help, I once again turned to Councilwoman Tita for more background on this wonderful project. Joan Hoefs Smith came to Orange in the 1920’s, went to West Orange School and then to Orange Union High School. That is when she learned not only about our Native Americans history, but also sadly learned about the poverty and deplorable conditions they lived in. Deeply concerned about this, Joan took it upon herself to make it her own personal charity to “give back”, to make a difference in the little Indian kids lives that were subjected to living in such poverty on these reservations. Joanie decided she would start collecting dolls at garage sales, wash ‘em up, refurbish them, re-do their hair and outfit each one of these gently loved dolls and box them up with a blanket and send them to the Indian reservations for Christmas gifts.

About fifty years ago, there a fellow named Danny Davey. And like Joanie, he too had the desire to make a difference in others lives. Danny was a UPS driver, but he had a heartfelt desire and passion to provide goods and gifts to our Native Americans. Thus, the Thunderbird Foundation was established. It all began that very first Christmas, when Danny decided to play Santa to all these little kids on the reservation. He loaded up a UPS truck with the dolls, gifts one Christmas and drove it to Arizona. The rest is pretty much history as his efforts grew and grew until there were many, many trucks following him to many of the Indian families every Christmas!

As this project grew and grew, somewhere along the way, Danny’s mom died. She left behind a number of handbags, personal belongings and more. Danny, being a giving man, filled those handbags with his mom’s things and trucked them right on over to the Indian women. These women were thrilled, and can you just imagine the smiles on their faces? Just the act of “giving” these specially packed purses not only made a difference in others lives, but as you can see, this is where it, being “My Sister Joanie’s Purse Project” began. Of course the Native American Indian women loved this SO much that they grew to expect these purses. Not wanting to let them down, and Danny knowing that Joanie Smith of Orange, Ca, had provided hundreds of dolls for the little Indian children all these years, Danny knew that Joanie could help him out. If she could get the purses filled, he could get them delivered

So, Joanie enlisted everyone she knew to help her out: friends, daughters, granddaughters and all of their friends as well. Purses began to pour in by the dozens! The purses had to reach Joanie by Halloween, purses that were new or gently used and filled with toiletries, hankies, pens, note cards and much more. And because these purses were going to the Native American women in Arizona where is cold, they also started collecting warm socks, scarves, gloves and other clothing items to keep the women warm. Over all those years, Joanie produced literally thousands of dolls and purses and Danny Davey and the Thunderbird Foundation, without ever hesitating, delivered these presents, gifts and more to all the delighted Native American women and children.

It’s “That” Time of Year Again

Whether you are a fan of the holidays or not, they’re unavoidable! For me, when I start to see the Salvation Army folks crazily ringing their bells for donations, I know we’re knee deep into the holiday season. When I see the cartons of eggnog popping up in the refrigerator section in the grocery store, I know we’re “loosening belt buckles” for the approaching holiday season! And lastly, and I really hate to admit this, when I start playing my Christmas CD’s in the car while driving, it’s over, the holidays are definitely here!! And I also see people slowly starting to go crazy. I’ve already seen it in some of the eyes of my customers! Scary.

Have fun this year. Yes, “you”, have fun this year! Forget the perfect gifts, forget the perfect dinners, forget the perfect parties and all the perfect stuff in general. After all, we all know life itself isn’t perfect! Why not take some time to celebrate the holidays with friends and family. Make things easy on yourself this year so you don’t walk around with those crazy eyes I mentioned above. When you look in the mirror, you may not see crazy eyes, but I guarantee others do, especially those of us that work retail! This idea of “perfection” never seizes to amaze me. During the week of the horrible wild fires here in SoCal, we had a customer obsessed with purchasing the perfect pillow! I’m serious. She was obsessed with a pillow while hundreds lost their homes in Southern California. I don’t get it, I just don’t get it.

This year make a difference in your life and others. Simplify and enjoy the company of others. After all, love and friendship is a gift itself. Go out to lunch or dinner with a friend or relative and pick up the tab. Let that be your gift to them. Just think how much less stressful that could be and how much more fun. You get to enjoy someone’s company while someone else cooks and serves you food. You get to engage in conversation in a relaxed environment and there are no dirty dishes to clean, no wrapping paper or boxes to recycle. It can be that easy if you think about it. And may I suggest, a shopping trip to Country Roads before that lunch or dinner would really make your celebration all that much more special! Celebrate the New Year by simply remembering there’s another 365 days ahead filled with endless opportunity to make a difference in the world.

I know the holidays are hard for some of you, and there are many people that get depressed over the holidays. Find that positive in your life. Remember what warms your heart and makes you smile. The holidays are much like life. . . we can focus on the negative, depressing things or we can look for the positive things that are good in our lives. You know, last Christmas I had just lost my mom a few months prior and my dad had come over for Christmas dinner. He was a mess. My dad missed my mom and his Alzheimer’s was really taking his mind over. When he left, he almost completely fell off my front porch but thankfully we caught him. He passed away less than two months after that. If I only think about “that” Christmas last year, I would be sad. But instead, I think of others things. For example, one Christmas when I was in college my family went over to some friends of my dad’s, to their house for Christmas dinner. My dad wasn’t much of a drinker, a few beers here and there. That particular Christmas, his friend, who was much younger, started pouring Irish Whiskey for him and my dad. Well, you can imagine the outcome. As my dad walked towards this family’s beautifully decorated Christmas tree in their living room that sat in front of a huge glass window in front of their house, my dad tripped. The tree, the lights, the ornaments AND my dad ended up on his friend’s front lawn! My dad got up, with Christmas lights and tinsel dangling from his body and simply said, “did I do that”? I still laugh when I think about that Christmas. So my wish to all of you is celebrate the love and joy of the holiday season with those that mean the most to you. Life is a continuous journey and there will be some bumps along the way. But that’s why we have helmets, right?
Happy Holidays to You All!

It’s “Not” About Need, It’s About Want

I don’t need to remind any of you that times are kind of tough right now. And being self-employed in retail, especially the antique business where many consider this type of shopping a non necessity, the economy can be frightening. After all, it has gotten so expensive to buy groceries and gas these days, so how do we justify buying something we may not necessarily “need” but we really “want”? And also, how do we justify buying the “extras” right now when so many people are losing homes and jobs? Those things are overwhelming to me at times.

The way I feel these days is, first, if you have any extra funds or resources to spare, please think about the people that really need help right now. Even if you give a homeless guy a few bucks and a smile, or contribute to a food bank, or even bring us (Country Roads) a gently used purse filled with personal hygiene items and some extras, you will have made a difference someone else’s life by such a simple gesture. Our purses are collected, as many of you know, for the Orange YWCA’s program called, “My Sister Joanie’s Purse Project”. They distribute these purses throughout the year to women in shelters in Orange County. And I know how much this means to these women and I also hope you will help us help the “Y” by donating some purses filled with goodies. It’s that simple to give back when we can.

It is, at times, difficult to buy for ourselves when we are aware of the things that are going on in the world around us. But the one thing about antiques is if you buy right, you have an investment in the future. If you need money to pay a bill, or you lose your job, you can always sell those treasures that are so dear to many of us. Those treasures hold their value even in the worst of times. Antiques are one of a kind, and as I said above, it’s usually not about “needing” them, but “wanting” them as you know if you don’t buy it when you see it, chances are it won’t still be there when you finally do decide to make your purchase.

The other awesome thing about antiques and vintage items is that we are reusing and recycling! No trees have been cut down, no furniture factories are polluting our air to mass produce new furniture, along with many, many other reasons to make antique and vintage merchandise a part of your daily lives. Not only do you have a piece of history, but you are using your antique dresser to hold your clothes, it has a necessary function in your life. Or if you into vintage clothing, that is probably cool and cheaper than a new stuff, you have your own sense of style. Try putting your books in an old shipping crate rather than buying a new book shelf, save some trees. Plus, by reusing and recycling, your own homes will show some decorating style that isn’t like everyone else’s. Be an individual, be unique and stand out in the crowd with your own style while at the same time helping save our world by recycling.

So, next time you out shopping for antiques & vintage stuff, don’t beat yourself up when you think you don’t really “need” that totally awesome chandelier but you really, really “want” it. Do what I do. You know, every time I soak in my old rescued, clawfoot bathtub, with my shelf above it that was made from the old Laguna Beach boardwalk we have in the store and held up by some vintage architectural pieces, I feel good. I’m happy to be able to look at my old pottery on that shelf, and my recycled vintage ceiling tins above my head on my bathroom ceiling. I’m thankful I made the decision to buy that old chippy white painted chandelier that hangs above my bathtub. I know that it will light up my little grandchild Riley’s life as much as it warms my own life. As Riley’s generation, I hope, will be the most aware of the importance of our earth, life and giving back to the world.

I'm Havin' A Dandy Time Re-Modeling

We’ve all been through it one time or another. It’s called re-modeling when a better description would be “my life in hell”. I’ve been in my house for about seven years now. This house means a lot to me. I bought it after my divorce and barely had enough money for the down payment since the other person involved in this divorce managed to come out much better financially than I did! But none the less, the house was mine, and mine alone! It’s just a track house in Long Beach (where I grew up) built in the 1950’s. I wanted a house that would still be a family house even though my kids were older. I wanted room for all of them to come back home if they needed to in the future. I also needed a house big enough for my stuff and a pool was important to me as well. When I found this house, the previous owners had put on some awesome additions and it was the size I needed, it had a pool and a few other extras. But it needed work.

So, for the past seven years myself and my son, son-in-law, and daughters have helped me with various projects. We took up all the nasty carpet, we painted, we had half the front yard taken out to make room for a garden, we ripped out ugly oak kitchen cabinets, and much more. I remember the time my son and I were building a “tiki bar” in the backyard. He was in the process of breaking up with a long time girlfriend and that bar became a daily head butting session. But now, actually, it looks pretty cool. I also had been saving money to have some “professionals” come in a do some things around the house that I wasn’t sure my family could help me with. So, I hired a contractor!

Okay, before I continue, this guy and “his guys” are awesome and if any of you are looking for a company that can do any and everything, get hold of me and I’ll give you their number. I had been saving some antique windows with old stained glass and chippy white paint, along with a couple of really old doors with the same look. I wanted to have two openings in the wall cut open for the windows an I have a huge great room in the back of the house with a darker, wood open beam ceiling. The room was always dark and needed some light. This was one of the rooms I wanted the professionals to do for me. The thing with country antiques is that not everyone gets “the look”. I was making a pile for the dumpster outside and very specifically had to tell these guys which pile was which since it all looked like trash to them!

Construction began, my cats were locked up in a room where they couldn’t escape as was the dog. Me and Riley (my baby granddaughter) hung out in my office. The dust and demo began as did the questions. I would scoop up Riley in my arms and join the crew to answer their questions. One of the guys told me that my house reminded him of his folks house in the poorer part of Mexico. I wasn’t quite sure how to take that comment but since he was so nice I just said “thanks” as I tried to explain to him what country primitive antiques were. When it came time to hang my awesome old doors, I wasn’t about to tell them how much I paid for the doors. I just watched hoping with all my heart that the original glass wouldn’t break. In the end, they did an awesome job and actually I had the same crew put siding on the outside of my house and paint it as well. We did have one moment when they were on my patio with the spray gun and started to paint my old, chippy white iron trellis’ that had palm trees on them and was shipped from Florida from an old house back there. They only freshly painted one tree, which I still need to sand, but everything else went well.

Remodeling is always a challenge, as we all know. I’ve learned to live with it since my house is always a work in progress. I like doing most of it myself, it is cheaper and rewarding. I’m always walking around with bruises from one project or another I’m doing around my house. No matter how tired or sore I am, when the projects are done it feels good and I “really” am having a dandy time remodeling!!

What A Wonderful World

One of my favorite songs of all times is by Louis Armstrong, “What a Wonderful World”. If you haven’t heard it before, you are missing out on hearing an awesome song. Even though the lyrics were written years ago, when I listen to the words, it reminds me today how fortunate I am to be doing what I do to make a living. Being able to have an antique business like Country Roads, work with people of all walks of life daily, and also work with different charities of my choice, reminds me each day how good life is to me! I really do live in a “wonderful world” in spite of everything that goes on in our world today.

I’ve always made it a point to leave my own personal political opinions out of my daily store operations. But I don’t think I’m over stepping any boundries when I say that our world is a big mess right now! The violence, the racial intolerance of others, the poverty is all very overwhelming and sad. You can’t turn on the news or pick up a newspaper without hearing or reading about the daily tragedies in life. I worry what kind of world my future grandchildren will live in. Will it all change, or will they too have to struggle to survive in a world that is filled with intolerance of others? Will it still be a world where a person can being shot by just making a bad lane change on a freeway, or simply by the color of their skin, or their choice of lifestyle? I can only hope things will change.

When people shop at Country Roads, they are my customers, some are my friends, and in my eyes they are ALL the same. I don’t see a gay man buying plants in our garden, or a black woman buying a rose painting, or a tattooed young girl buying a vintage dress, or a Latino little boy buying a vintage story book. They are just like me, people, families, that like to shop for antiques, vintage merchandise, plants for their gardens and more. We talk about what they buy, we talk about their kids, we talk about plants, music and more. They enjoy the atmosphere that Country Roads has provided, along with our great merchandise. I’m pretty sure that our customers enjoy being greeted with a smile and know how very much we appreciate them shopping with us. And the best part about selling antiques and vintage stuff is no one ever asks about what “kind” of person previously may have owned the antique they are buying. When it comes to antiques, they come in all colors, styles and sizes and no one cares.

With summer here, we hope you will stop by the store and spend some time. Country Roads front door is always open to everyone! One thing our customers often ask us is, “can you do any better”, which refers to the price of an antique they are interested in. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could ask the world the same thing, “can you do a little better? I know we can if we strive to make it the world that Louis Armstrong saw. Yes, I too “hear babies cry, I watch them grow, they’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know” and I too think to myself “What a Wonderful World”.

In The Blink of An Eye

The other day, I was sitting at my farm table in the dining room with my granddaughter Riley that is now almost three years old. I glanced over my shoulder and saw the old antique cabinet with leaded glass that use to sit in my parent’s home. I have it filled with some of my own vintage cake stands, but mostly it’s filled with their vintage stuff. For some reason, it reminded me about the people that have sat down to eat at my farm table over all these years. That table was one of my first really big antique purchases, right after I opened Country Roads. It was cheap, but it was a big change for my home. I’d always loved antiques, but when you are young and first starting out you can’t always afford the bigger pieces. I remember my now ex-husband hated that table. How could he hate something so awesome, something I loved so much? I guess that is why he an “ex” husband now! He was worried my kids would get lead poisoning from the old paint. Needless to say, they are still well and alive today, and never took to chewing on a table leg!
I think my farm table represents my real love of antiques. What I love about antiques is the stories behind them, the history. I wonder about the families in the past that owned this table, how many holiday dinners and memories were created at this very same table? I bought this table back in the mid 1990’s, and it moved with my family when we moved to a larger house. It stayed with me after I got a divorce while living in that house, and it moved with me again to “the house in the regular neighborhood” that my buddy Lisa Blanc helped me move into. I will never, ever forget what a great friend she was during some really tough times and I remember the countless times we sat at my table reviewing my options to purchase my new home. There have been so many I love seated at my farm table over all these years, memories I will always cherish.
Over the years, friends and family have come and gone that use to sit at this table. There have been countless holiday meals eaten off this table, as well as birthday celebrations, baby showers, wedding showers and more. As I write about this table, in my mind is a slideshow of the many faces I so enjoyed over the years sitting at this table. It warms my heart, and although my parents are now gone, there are now my grandchildren to take their place during these special occasions, to take their “seats” at the table. That’s what I love about antiques, you not only own a piece of history, you own something that will continue to have a history of its own. There was a reason farm or harvest tables were made so large. They were made for families and memoires!

“I’ll Trade You”

There has always been something very special and appealing about antiques and vintage “stuff”. The reason I call it “stuff” is because antiques are not just fancy pieces of furniture, or something you might think you would buy like you would a piece of art, purely for the pleasure of enjoying its beauty. Antiques and vintage items include just about everything. I’m not really sure how old something has to be to be referred to as an antique, maybe 75 years old? I hear different numbers on this all the time, but the point being, even “if” something is 100 years old, it doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be functional in our homes!
My kids are all grown, in their twenties, and they have spent their lives surrounded by vintage and antique stuff. I’ve always used the majority of my antiques and vintage finds as part of our household, part of our daily lives. They’ve held a functional part in my home. And in my kids homes today, you find the same thing. The cool part about these great treasures is that they are “one of a kind.” It’s not like you can go out and order a vintage pie safe, or a primitive harvest table. Actually, you could do that but it would be what is called a “reproduction.” And hopefully the seller would identify it as such.
So, when any of us in my family are re-arranging a room, or if we purchase something we can’t live without, that means something usually has to go. In other words there is no room to squeeze in another piece. Here are the options that the Jackson family uses. First, we consider selling the piece at “the store” (our name for Country Roads”). Then someone will speak up and say, “that is just too cool to sell, you never find something like that anymore”, which is actually true. Pictured is an old cabinet, that lost its back at some point, and someone back in time just patched it up with an old metal sign. I had this cabinet in my home prior to “the divorce”, then it went to my short lived Long Beach store, and after that sat in my storage for while. After Katie finished remodeling their home, the cabinet then traveled to her house. And now, the piece is in Brande’s apartment. See, that is the beauty of vintage stuff. They can be used in a variety of ways, in a variety of places.
When it comes time to “trade” a piece, the conversation starts like this, “what if I trade you this antique for that awesome harvest table”? In our family that means they are trading you something smaller for the bigger piece, which is alright because it is still in our family. This system usually works out pretty well, unless a family member breaks the most important rule of all! You happen to be walking around “the store”, and then you spot something that you traded one of your kids for something else. You look closer, and what do you see? A Country Roads price tag with THEIR own number on it! This is the unwritten rule of “I’ll trade you”, that you never, ever violate! You never sell something you’ve traded for, ever. If one of us had something that is very special, that you never see anymore, it usually goes upstairs at “the store” until one of us has a use for it somewhere. But you never, ever sell something; otherwise no one in your family would ever trade you again!
Antiques and vintage stuff is the best way to recycle, to re-use, giving something old a new function in our lives today. The idea of “I’ll trade you”, not only practices recycling, but it also puts sentimental value on certain antiques that we all love so much and have been part of our families for years. I guess that’s why I love what I do so much. I’m surrounded not only by great pieces of history, vintage stuff everywhere, but also by my Country Roads family. It’s fun to go to “the store” and call it work. And while we are working, we are always searching for the next, “I’ll trade you” treasure.

I Have a Cement Floor

I have a cement floor. Yes, my family room, which is a good sized room, has a cement floor! My house was built in the early 50’s, so it just one of those “regular” track homes over by Cal State Long Beach. The previous owner had put on some additions, thankfully, to increase the square footage of the house. Most of you know that houses back then were small because why would anyone need a house any bigger than 800 or 900 square feet? I remember (not actually, since I wasn’t born yet) my parents bought their first house, their only house, in 1950 in Long Beach and paid a total of $8800 for it and the included appliances! It was a two bedroom, one bath, small living room/dining room combo, kitchen (where the washer and dryer also went) and a single car garage. The house next to them was on a corner lot with a double garage and an extra bedroom and bath. It was less than $2000 more, but they just felt why would anyone need that much room? That was pretty much like the house I own now was back in the 50’s when it was originally built. You know, those crazy fifties!

Anyway, back to my cement floor. There was so much I wanted to do to my house when I first moved in. I had to figure out where to start and how to do it without a lot of cash. The house was pretty outdated with dark paneling on the walls, white shag carpet, some of the rooms had “cottage cheese” on the ceilings, and there was linoleum flooring in the kitchen (along with dark, modern cabinets) and the same flooring was in the dining room and family room as well. I couldn’t afford to have someone come in and re-do everything, so I started it myself. I’ve always said when it comes to decorating there are no rules in my opinion. Do what you love, do what makes you happy, do what makes your house become your home. So, I started. My son and I ripped out a bunch of the ugly kitchen cabinets that went to the ceiling. We replaced most of the cabinets with antique cupboards I had acquired over the years and painted the remainder of the cabinets a dark red. Since we ripped out so many cabinets, there were now holes in the kitchen ceiling. After thinking about how to fix that problem, we decided to put antique ceiling tins on the kitchen ceiling. Bryce, my son, wasn’t real happy with that job! I think out of all the jobs he has helped me with that was the one he hated the most! Next, I tackled the ugly, dark paneling. It ran through part of the kitchen, to the dining room and into my huge family room. Actually, that was a pretty easy fix. I primed all the paneling first, then painted the dining room and kitchen paneling a bright yellow, and the family room was now a bright orange. What was a dark house soon became much more light and sunny by a few inexpensive projects. I wanted to put down nice wood flooring in the kitchen and dining room but it was too expensive at the time. Bryce and I went to Lowe’s and picked out tongue and groove planks that usually go on the walls. Once he laid them down, hammered them into place and I sealed them with Thompson Water Sealer, the transformation was amazing and I found my rooms looking so much larger.

It was now time to tackle the family room. When we bought the house, half of
the family room floor was covered in old, white shag carpet and the other half in worse looking linoleum than the other rooms had. Neither Bryce nor I anticipated what a project this would be. I mean after all, it looked relatively easy. When the carpet came out, we were shocked to find more linoleum which must have originally covered the entire family room floor underneath. So, that meant we had to take up two layers of linoleum in the family room. It was like that flooring was cemented down with the strongest glue and adhesive in the world. It took days to scrape it off. Bryce’s hands were blistered from the job. I’ll spare you the details of what we went through, but thankfully the end result was that I finally had my cement floor that I wanted! After I sealed it, I stood back in amazement that we had finally finished one of the worse projects in the house but I loved the way the floor now looked.

Shortly after that, I had my daughter, Katie’s, wedding reception at the house. Some people looked at me with sympathy as in, “can’t she afford carpet”, others just didn’t get it. I would see them staring and bending down and trying to understand why anyone would want a floor like that. The down side to a cement floor is that its cold in the winter, sometimes the dog slips when she runs too fast, and when you come in from the pool you need to make sure you don’t have wet feet! But the upshot, it doesn’t matter what you spill on it as clean up is easy, it’s cool in the summer and pretty soon by granddaughter Riley will be able to ride her tricycle around inside the house without ruining the floor!

Remember, when you want to decorate or re-model, do what you love, do what you like. It’s your house, your home. There are no rules in decorating except to make yourself happy. And remember big changes can be accomplished very inexpensively with just a little elbow grease. That’s why I have a cement floor!

How Have You Changed?

I don’t believe that there is anyone left that hasn’t been affected by the way of the world these days. Not exactly a picnic in the park, is it? You know, I’m like everyone else; there are days I think, as my good friend said to me the other day, “if someone would just say all this will be over by a certain date, then I think I could know what I had to plan for”. Unfortunately, life keeps us on our toes. I can’t even say the “e” word anymore without wanting to throw up. If any word in the English language has been over used this past year, it is the economy word! As hard as it’s been for some, for many, or for none of you, I believe it has been a good lesson for many of us about life. I use to not know what a gallon of milk cost. Why? Because I needed it and wasn’t’ worried about it. Now like many people, you make adjustments in your life. I know my family doesn’t go out to eat together as much as we use to. Now we get together still, but may just order pizza than go out for an expensive dinner.

I guess my biggest concern when I ask, “how have you changed”, is this. I’ve always tried to give back or pay it forward, and I still do. There are so, so many people out there these days hurting. A couple of months ago, I was getting off the freeway to go buy dog food at Petsmart. Usually at this off ramp there are people standing with signs asking for money and such. It was raining that day, and overcast and gloomy. The light turned red and I was about four cars back. There was this elderly black man standing in the rain with a simple sign that said, “please help”. There was just something about him that was different, I can’t explain it. I dug in my purse and I had a five dollar bill. As the light changed, before I even rolled the window down in my car, he began walking towards me. I stuck my hand out the window to give him the five dollar bill. He clutched my hand for a moment, that seemed much longer, and looked into my eyes and said, “bless you child”. His eyes were old, but wise and caring. As I drove off, tears began to stream down my face. I was so touched and moved by our short encounter and what it meant to be. I’ve always believed that people are brought into our lives for a reason, for however long or maybe just a brief encounter. Even now, several months later, I’m writing about this experience.

So when I ask, “how have you changed” what is different in your lives today? Are you like me that now knows the cost of milk but still knows you’ve got to help people when you can. Or have you changed for the best, beginning to know more now than ever how important it is to reach out to people! You hear it on the news all the time that the food banks are down, and other charitable groups aren’t getting the help they use to. But if we try, if we look into our hearts we can all make a difference. Just by having an extra dollar to give to someone that may be hungry, can make a huge impact on someone’s life. There is this quote I like by Eckhart Tolle that goes like this: “Forget about your life situation and pay attention to your life. Your life situation exists in time. Your life is now. Your life situation is mind stuff, your life is real”.

Grandpa, Valentine’s Day, and Barbra Streisand

“A Love Story”

My dad, better known as Grandpa, was the one that really perked my interest in antiques. He retired from Edison early, and began to pick up pieces of antique furniture and he would refinish them and my mom would do the re-upholstering on them if needed. They sold their furniture at Vet’s in Long Beach years ago, in the early days of that swap meet. It gave them some extra money to supplement their retirement and kept them busy. But like all things in life, they began to age and lost interest in the business. My dad use to have an old VW bus that he used for his antique business. My kids use to play in it, as if it were their own special playhouse on wheels. The day my dad sold the bus, I knew that part of their lives was over. And as they both were diagnosed with dementia/Alzheimer they pretty much kept to themselves the past five years, losing interest in so many things they use to love. It is a story we all know too well.

My mom died at the end of August last year, a few days after my granddaughter Riley was born. Back then we all thought she hung on until Riley was born. She had been in poor health for years. Grandpa was never quite the same after he lost my mom. I would teasingly refer to him as “the bad boy of assisted living”. He would do everything he wasn’t supposed to! I would get calls about his bad behavior but had to admire his spunk! At the end of January he escaped from assisted living. Grandpa went out to buy a can of cat food and a snickers bar at 4 in the morning! He was so angry at himself because he believed that is WHY he had to be put on the dreaded second floor, the Alzheimer unit. I’d go up and have lunch with him, and in full form as Grandpa was most of his life he would tell me he hated everyone there and they better not mess with him or he would beat the hell out of them. I got a little concerned when the guy sitting behind him started to smirk, because I really thought Grandpa “would” beat the hell out of him. That was just the way my dad was, obnoxious.

As his memory began failing, we would talk about who he remembered. Grandpa would always tell me he remembered “that baby”, Riley, his great granddaughter. He wouldn’t always remember exactly “who” her parents were but he remembered the baby nonetheless! Like all Alzheimer stories, the ending is never happy and the process reaching the end is even worse. But my dad, Grandpa, fought it the entire way, that was just him. And thankfully my sister and I were able to rescue him out of the hospital he hated, courtesy of hospice, which took him back to his room in assisted living.

As my oldest daughter Brande says, “random things always happen in our family”. It’s true, that is just the way life works for us. There is always “something” going on! Grandpa died early Valentine’s morning. Less than 24 hours after hospice brought him “home”. I think it was his Valentine gift to my mom. He just didn’t want to live anymore without her. I couldn’t image being married as long as they were, and less than six months after my mom died, I think Grandpa left to say Happy Valentine’s Day to the love of his life. He couldn’t bear a life without her anymore.

Katie, my younger daughter, was working at Country Roads that day. Country Roads is our family business in Old Towne Orange. It was Valentine’s Day, and a little sadness in the air since Grandpa had died. All the staff at the store loved hearing “Grandpa stories” as my dad was always up to something. As the day drew to an end, Barbra Streisand came into the store. Yes, she just randomly walked in the door. She briefly looked around and left. After the store closed, there was a knock on the door, Barbra was back. As she brought her purchases up to the counter and walked away for a few minutes, Katie asked Sarah, who she was working with, “should I ask her for an autograph”. We never do that at the store since we feel it is kind of tacky, and Katie hadn’t really planned on doing it. So, Sarah told Katie, “go for it”. As Barbra came back up to the counter to pay for her purchases, Katie began her request saying, “I feel like a total idiot for asking this, and you can say no, but my mom, she owns the store, absolutely LOVES you, and she is having a really crappy day. Her dad, my grandpa, died this morning”. Barbara looked at Katie and began to ask questions, “how old was your Grandpa, what did he die from?” She shared with Katie that her mom had died from the same thing, but she was 96. She was interested in what had happened. Barbra could have just scribbled her name on a piece of paper, but took the time to write, “So Sorry, Best Wishes, Barbra Streisand”. Katie gave Bab’s a Valentine’s cupcake that one of our dealers had made that day. And off Barbra went with her purchases, a cupcake and husband, James Brolin, who thanked Katie for carrying out a chair his wife had bought. Barbra was gone but the memory of her kindness will always be remembered.

Like Brande says, random stuff always happens to our family. My dad, just an ordinary guy, dies and Barbra Streisand cares, go figure. We’ll all miss Grandpa, but find peace in knowing he spent this Valentine’s Day in a better place, with his wife, and is much happier now. I love Country Roads and not because it is “my” store but because so much random stuff does really happen there!

Family Businesses. . . Becoming Antiques?

I own a family business called Country Roads Antiques and Gardens. And the one thing I love about advertising in the Plaza Review is that most of its advertisers are like me, owners of their own businesses, family businesses so to speak. As time passes, and we see more and more of the “big box” stores and businesses moving into our neighborhoods, the family business is slowly becoming a thing of the past, like the antiques I sell and love. I’ve watched some of my favorite little book stores disappear to the Borders and Barnes and Nobles. And I can’t tell you how sad it was to see Dietrich’s be sold to Starbucks in Old Towne Orange. Especially when there already was a Starbucks across the “circle” on the other side of the street! The big corporations, at times, make it tough to compete. Let me tell you why those of us that have family businesses do what we do.

It is a unique opportunity to work with family. You will notice I used the word “unique” to describe this experience because working with your family is like a ride on a roller coaster. You scream, you get scared, you laugh and at the end you leave with a good feeling of accomplishment that you survived! It isn’t always easy. When I first starting building out Country Roads in November of 1992, Brande was 12, Katie was 10, and Bryce was 8. I had a customer a few weeks back that was looking at pictures of Katie’s baby, Riley, and commenting on how she remembered when Katie’s brother was chasing her through the store with a lizard years ago! These are memories that you don’t get from the big box businesses. I love Country Roads and would pretty much do anything to keep it going. In one way or another, I work my business seven days a week. It is my life, it is my family, and it is my passion.

When you do something you love, it isn’t work. That store has carried me through some of the toughest times in my life, like a best friend would. I remember back in the late 90’s when I was going through my divorce. It was Country Roads, and my passion for it and my work that helped me through it even when I had to hand over a big chunk of change to keep it. I remember when the second Country Roads store I opened in Long Beach went upside down after 9/11. It was the original Country Roads that was there for me again. The times that my son has struggled, or my parents died, or other hardships, I have always had Country Roads to turn to. It is the constant in my life, my passion and my work that kept me going!

As you know, my kids have grown up at Country Roads. At one time or another, they also have all been fired. It’s just the way it works in a family business. I will never forget one Saturday when Katie was around sixteen. She decided she would drive us to work. And looking back, I don’t even remember what she did or said, but it was enough to fire her. I was so angry and to say the words, “you’re fired” felt good for at least a couple of minutes. Katie came to a screeching halt in the store driveway barely giving me time to get out of the car. At that moment I was proud, I thought to myself, “fine, now she has no job”. And as she sped back down the street leaving me standing in the driveway I started to thinking, “yep I really let her know who’s the boss”. And then I starting thinking to myself, “look who is driving home and look who is standing alone in the driveway with no car to get home, and now will have to work harder because she just fired her own kid”. And don’t think because my kids are older now that they still don’t have their moments. A few years back when Brande was building out Johnnye Merle Gardens, named after her grandma, she had Bryce help her. It was quite the day. Brande and Bryce had an argument in the garden and he came up to the counter, not in the best mood, to get something. The next thing I knew he and Katie were arguing. And of course this is in the middle of the day with customers everywhere. Bryce stomped off to go back in the garden and I should have just let it go. But no, I went after him and I started yelling at him outside. But, an hour later we were all fine. I just remember thinking at the time that I really hoped our customers KNEW we were family, not random strangers arguing in the middle of the garden! That’s what a family business is, very full of life!

I’ve been blessed to work with the same group of people for years, my extended family. Sue Kruse has been a part of our family since the day the store opened. And her daughters Sarah and Holly are such a big part of my family. Watching Sarah and Holly grow-up has been a pleasure. They don’t yell like the Jackson’s do! Carol Castillo started working with us over ten years ago, and her sister, Yesi, started working when she was around thirteen. Pam Richardson started coming into Country Roads when she was five while her mom worked at the store, and now Pam too is a part of our Country Roads family! And Carol, Yesi, and Pam don’t yell either! These are the things, the memories, my family, that give me the passion for this business. They encourage me, they support me and they too love Country Roads like I do. That’s one of the pluses in owning a family retail business. Your staff and many of your customers are always there for you. They celebrate all the new babies we have (Riley, Arianna, and Josalyn) and know all to well that they will be the next generation at Country Roads!

I never in my wildest dreams thought I could fall so much in love with something. But I did. Country Roads is so much more than just a store. And I know that all of you that own your own family businesses must feel the same way I do. Or at least I hope you do. Even when you are having a customer flip out, or cringe when you have to deal with the City, or some other disaster has happened during the day, you still go home at night and are glad you have tomorrow to look forward to working with the family you’ve been working with for years! I hope we can all remember to continue to shop family owned businesses when we can. This is the only way we can all compete with the big box stores. My family appreciates all your support over the years and hey, at least Bryce isn’t chasing his sisters or Carol through the store anymore with lizards or spiders. I think he is waiting for Riley to start walking! Life is good.

Disneyland Through the Eyes of a Child

I have to admit, I haven't been to Disneyland in years. Its been so long, the last time I was there was probably in the mid 90's! California Adventure and Downtown Disney weren't even built yet. On my last visit, I went to see the props that Disney had purchased from my store, Country Roads. Back then, I remember Disney buying my friends large watering trough that use to be in his backyard. They set it in Frontierland. Over those years they bought countless antiques from us, and I remember how exciting it was for me back then to see a lot of our stuff in the Indiana Jones ride, mixed in store displays, the train station and more. If you love decorating, Disneyland is an awesome place to visit. I'm not really sure why I never went back to Disneyland sooner. I guess I just got busy with work, with life and never went back all these years even if Disneyland was in my "own backyard".

So, what brought me back to Disneyland after all these years? It was this little kid, with big blue eyes named Riley, that happens to be my only grandchild. My return to Disneyland was right before Christmas and I was anxious to see the decorations and “just” Disneyland, it had been so long. It was Christmas, and I wanted to see Disneyland with Riley like I had done years ago with my own kids when they were small. I left work early that day and met my daughter Katie, her husband, my son Bryce, and his wife, and my little girl Riley at Disneyland. They all had purchased passes a few weeks back, and I wanted to be included, so I got my pass on that day as well. If you would have told me a year ago that I would have purchased a season pass, I would have laughed. I wouldn't have seen a reason to have one back in those days.

We wanted to see the Christmas parade this particular day. None of us had ever seen it before. We staked out our "real estate" right on the curb way before the parade was to begin! It was a cold winter day with the skies threatening to rain. As many of you know, more and more people just kept arriving and trying to find their own “spots” to claim for parade viewing. Tensions mounted, a large lady sat on Katie and there were words exchanged. Other people were annoyed by being stepped on, and babies were crying, kids were screaming, and it was pretty unpleasant all and all. I have NEVER sat anywhere curbside for a parade, ever! I use to take my own kids to Disneyland often when they were small, but I never had the patience or determination to stake out "real estate" to any parade ever. But when it comes to Riley, there isn't much I wouldn't do for her!

As it got closer to parade time, and people were about at their breaking points, we heard the announcement that the parade was about to begin. I have to tell you, when Disney does something, they do it right. I was in complete awe watching the parade. The music, the costumes, the decorations. . . I loved it all. Then I looked into my granddaughters big blue eyes and I swear they sparkled as she smiled and waved and danced as the parade passed her by. It was magical! Then I looked next to me at little kids and babies, and across the street at more little kids. And it was the same, ALL of their eyes sparkled and gleamed as the parade went by. They waved at their favorite characters and they danced and sang with the music. When Santa finally arrived there was no way you could even begin to describe the pure joy all these little kids had! I know I will never forget it. And as I said, Disney really knows how to put together a parade!

Since then I've been back to Disneyland and Downtown Disney as well. I was so excited at seeing Disney through Riley and other kid’s eyes that I now eagerly await my next visit. Actually, for a Christmas gift I got my sister and her partner season passes. Katie got her sister, Brande, a season pass for her gift. Last year was kind of a particularly tough year for my family. All families have those kinds of years once in awhile. And now, to visit Disneyland with all my family present and look for some of Country Roads antiques in the displays, is all pretty incredible to me. And each and every time I go, I never forget to see and enjoy Disneyland through the eyes of, not only Riley, but all the little kids as well. It's magical!!

Creating Those Special Holiday Memories!

Years ago I wrote a little Christmas story about my dad. I was a teenager and we had gone over to one of his friend’s house for Christmas dinner that year. They were a younger couple with two little boys and their extended family lived back East. The wife cooked this huge holiday meal, and while she was busy tending to her holiday meal for all of us, my dad went upstairs with his friend Joe, to play some pool. And what we didn’t know, he also had some holiday cheer in the form of whiskey while he played pool with Joe. My dad, not much of a drinker outside of some beer here and there, stumbled down the stairs to partake in the huge holiday meal Joe’s wife had worked on all day long. On his way to the dining room, something caught his eye on their Christmas tree. It was a big, beautiful Christmas tree, full of lovely ornaments that had gently and precisely been put on the tree, then placed in front of their living room bay window. As my dad leaned towards the tree to admire a beautiful ornament, something happened. I’m guessing it had to do with the pool game and whiskey upstairs. In a matter of seconds, the Christmas tree in all its glory with its beautiful ornaments and lights was now lying in the front yard after it went through the bay window. My dad had apparently leaned a tad too hard on the Christmas tree and it had broken the window, landing outside. As my dad sat on the living room floor, where he landed with some of the Christmas lights wrapped around his head, I will never forget the image of him nor forget him saying, “bleep” did I do THAT”? My mom was horrified, especially after my dad then went home, and brought back his old poodle dog to join us all at the Christmas dinner table!

I guess the point of my story is not that everyone should be like my dad and make a scene during the holidays, but that I remember that Christmas fondly and it still makes me laugh. There was a Christmas, two years ago, that we went to get my dad from Assisted Living to join us for Christmas dinner. My mom had just died four months prior, and my dad’s Alzheimer’s was pretty bad. He didn’t eat much, was a little confused, but he did get to spend time with Riley on her first Christmas. As he left my house, he almost fell off the front porch, but my daughter caught him. Then, less than two months later, my dad passed away in February of 2007. In the crazy world we live in, and especially after what all has happened this past year in our world and economy, I try to remember the good times I spent with my dad and others I love. I’d rather laugh about my dad falling into a Christmas tree, than cry about how close to dying he was on the last Christmas I spent with him. We have to “choose” those holiday memories that make us happy and grateful for spending them with our loved ones.

Don’t forget to create those special holiday memories this season. It’s easy, enjoy those you love and get to spend time with. Don’t worry about the perfect gifts or the elegant table settings. Be grateful you have a table to set and put food on this year. Not everyone does! I know there isn’t one family out there that doesn’t have a moment or two they want to strangle someone across the dinner table during the holidays. But find some humor in that this year, lighten up, and just be thankful you are together creating those special holiday memories you will always remember. And a word of advice, never play pool and drink whiskey upstairs prior to a lovely Christmas dinner. Happy Holidays!

A Tribute to Her Grandma

I often wonder if many of our customers know the story behind our gardens; Johnnye Merle’s Gardens and Nursery, which is located at Country Roads. My mom was from Texas, and her name was Johnnye Merle Durham. She was proud of her Texas roots, and loved the Texas bluebonnets so very much. She also loved to garden. When I was a child she use to tell me stories of her love for the Texas bluebonnets. And when I had kids of my own she would repeatedly tell them the story. My mom use to always tell the kids this; “you take those bluebonnet seeds and throw ‘em the hard Texas soil, stomp on ‘em, and pretty soon those seeds would become beautiful bluebonnet flowers”. I’ve always loved to garden, and my kids were always surrounded with flowers. And to be honest, it is a rare occasion you don’t stop by my house and there are fresh cut flowers sitting in some antique container!

Brande took her high school GED test in, I believe, at the end of 10th grade, and went to junior college and finished it pretty quickly. Later she was accepted to USC, and there was a small window of time before she began. I think it was then that she really began taking gardening more seriously. When Country Roads first opened, Norm and Jeannie Yoder began the garden. Many of you may remember “Friday House Gardens”. As with many things in life, the time they had to devote to the garden became shorter and shorter. That is about the time Brande began dreaming of “Johnnye Merle Gardens and Nursery”. She wanted to name it after her Grandma. And thankfully my mom was still alive to see pictures and know about the garden. Her health wasn’t the best, so she was never actually able to visit, but did proudly wear her “Johnny Merle Gardens” t-shirt as did my dad!

Johnnye Merle’s strives to carry different types of plants that you may not find at some of our other local nurseries. Not only do we carry Annie Annual’s, but we have a big selection of the drought tolerant plants and succulents with many other unusual plants as well. And the displays at Johnnye Merle’s, as many of you know, are very different than any other nursery around! We believe in recycling so you will see many props that some may have tossed aside while here in the gardens, we re-use these things! There are days when I’m working and I just need a break from the public. It is nice to be able to step outside for some fresh air, and also be reminded of my mom. I guess this is what makes not only Johnny Merle’s so special, but Country Roads as well. If you would like to see a tribute I did to my mom, with pictures and slideshow, you can visit my blog at Take a few minutes, go to the May 9th, 2010 blog post, and you will soon find out while that little garden built out back on asphalt means so very much to myself and my family! Happy Summer Gardening!!

A Harvest Table Full of Memories

When I first totally fell in love with early country primitives, one of my first acquisitions was an old harvest table. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the term “harvest table” it simply means a large dining room table. Many of these tables date back to the mid-1700’s and were often made from either oak, pine or poplar. Sometimes you can date these tables are by the size of the planks used to construct them. It is said that boards (planks) that were over sixteen inches wide date back to at least the mid 1800’s if not older. You can also date harvest tables by the “rings” on the wood, or the grain in the planks, which is another indicator. Many of these tables were constructed from two or three planks, a simple apron and legs. They are not only sturdy, as you can imagine, but hearty as well! I actually own two harvest tables. One I use in a traditional way, in my dining room. The other one, which is older, I use as my desk in my office and I absolutely love them both!

One of my fascinations and one of the reasons I absolutely love antiques, especially country primitive pieces, is because of their history. It is more than above, about how they were made and when they originated. With me, it is about the memories these tables hold. I wonder where they came from, what kind of home were they a part of. As I was eating dinner the other night with my oldest daughter, Brande, we were talking about different things and sharing thoughts. After dinner when I was sitting there alone, I started thinking about all the different people, my family and friends, and even some people I didn’t know very well, have gathered around that table and shared out thoughts, our joys, our sadness and just every day conversation. Wow, I wish I had more the just my memory to record those conversations! Most recently, my harvest table was the “buffet table”, so to speak, for my daughter Katie and her husband’s wedding reception. Talk about unforgettable memories! There have been so many fond memories for me when I think about what I’ve shared at a simple, plain, constructed table with eight mismatched chairs! And I can only dream about what memories were made in past history before the table became mine.

Antiques are something, that many of us say in this business, “I don’t NEED it, but I WANT it”, because you just fall in love with certain antique items. You know it is a one of a kind thing you just have to have! It is like they call your name, you keep thinking about them and one way or another, you find a way to take them home! The best part of the obsession is that most of the time, because you are buying a piece of history filled with memories, it will never lose its value. And after all, is it really the monetary value that is important, or is it the memories of the past that fill our hearts today? I’m a big believer in the memories and that is what it’s all about. Stop by and visit us at Country Roads when you have chance. All of us totally understand your wants and obsessions and we love to see our antiques go to homes that will create memories for the future!