Friday, April 20, 2018

A Proper Garden, Delaware, Ohio

This lovely garden center/gift shop is in my daughter's town of Delaware, Ohio....

....driving by you might not be aware of the hidden treasures found inside...

Baby Callan and I ventured out to this shop to get my MacKenzie-Childs "fix"....

...they have a wonderful selection of enamel...

...and ceramics...

....I was drooling a bit...

...and Callan slept thru most of the visit!!

This clay stoneware bread plate and salt cellar caught my eye - They were so unique!.  
I wanted to re-set the table properly and place the bread plate on the left side, and rearrange the mugs, but I refrained!!  
Remember the rule "drink to the right, eat to the left".  
It's a pet peeve of mine and I just cringe when I see a table set improperly!

But, back to this is the description:

I am not sure I would use this, but I can certainly imagine it in an old New England home!

Here are more pieces....

...I want this guy in my garden - - oh that's right, I don't garden!! i left him behind...

....a beautiful and unique chandelier...

...romantic display of flowers and pots...

...beautiful Vietri dishware...

This table setting caught my eye....can you guess why:

Look at the tines on the fork - they curve upward!!  I wanted so badly to see how this felt in the mouth - the workers said it felt normal!  These are so unique! 

Look at this selection of ribbon:

There was a lovely grouping of Montes Dogget Peruvian dishware that is stunning!:

As always, it was a fun visit!

They also have great wall art.....and no one said it better than Audrey:

 To read about A Proper Garden when I first discovered it, go HERE

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Wine, wine, wine.....

Our area in NY has many, many wineries within an hour drive.  Every year we try to get to the Finger Lakes or Thousand Islands area to partake in some "wine tasting" and to restock the wine rack. 

A local winery, about a 5 minute drive from our home, is the Greenwood Winery, with great food and an outdoor party every Friday evening - - That is if spring and summer ever arrive to Central NY!!

This is a great Dali quote on the wall of their restaurant:

This year, while in Ohio, my daughter introduced me to Stella Rosa Peach Wine, from Italy:

This will be my summer "go to" wine, it is light and refreshing, somewhat like a wine cooler!

If you'd like to read a few past posts on some of our trips to wineries:
Anyela VineyardsSaratoga WineryFinger Lakes

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Who is Mackenzie-Childs?.....

Who is MacKenzie-Childs?

Victoria and Richard MacKenzie-Childs 

I have often heard people refer to the company as "she"...."She" is so creative, "her" work is so whimsical, I wonder if "she" lives in Aurora.....and so on.....well....

It's not precisely who IS Mackenzie-Childs, but rather who ARE MacKenzie-Childs?

Victoria MacKenzie and Richard Childs created the company MacKenzie-Childs, a combination of their last names. They are known for their eccentric, crazy, and creative style that just makes people say “Wow!"

"I was sitting in my little studio and was making what you call a chowder bowl. I had never made one, or seen that shape before. A whole rush of ideas burst forth out of control. All kinds of patterns and decorations just kept building and falling completely, almost like jazz."

- Victoria MacKenzie

Victoria was born in San Francisco and Richard was born in Massachusetts, but their life mainly began in college, where they met. They both attended Alfred University in the mid-1970s, where they became disillusioned with the fine-arts world. They were both working on their graduate degrees in ceramic sculpture. Victoria said, “It was not quite as altruistic as we’d imagined in our idealistic world. It was much more politically oriented than artistically oriented.”

Once they graduated, the couple moved to United Kingdom, where they worked at pottery for a couple of years until moving back to New York. Richard took a part-time teaching job at Wells College in Aurora. In 1980, Wells College offered artist Richard MacKenzie-Childs a job teaching sculpture. He accepted, and returned to the U.S. from southern England.
After arriving in Aurora, Richard searched for housing for himself, Victoria and their 9-year-old daughter, Heather. The only property that interested him was an abandoned colonial at 1671 State Route 90 in King Ferry.
Unable to find out who owned the property, he gave up, and when Victoria arrived from England three months later he broke the news that he hadn't found a house.
She described an intriguing home she had passed in King Ferry. The couple realized they were both enchanted by the same raggedy house.
Victoria tracked down Willard and Betty Brown, the home's elusive owners, who hadn't lived in the house for several decades. They declined to sell, but offered to let the family tour the home.
To say it was a wreck would be generous. The home's only bathroom didn't work, the outside walls were pocked with holes and the windows had all been smashed, allowing all manner of wildlife to set up housekeeping indoors.
As they picked their way through the second floor, Heather stopped short and called to Victoria. Wide-eyed, Heather pointed to a large spider web, complete with attached mummified flies. A shaft of sunlight poking through the wall illuminated the web in the dark hallway. "Look, mummy," Heather said. "Lace!"

Heather's description was an epiphany of sorts for Victoria - one that opened her eyes to the house's potential and to the boundaries informing and defining her artwork.
Two days later, the Browns acquiesced, selling the property to Victoria and Richard, and holding the mortgage for the cash-strapped couple.
The family moved in, making do with an outhouse and no heat. The first winter, they had to shovel snow out of the living room and Victoria's parents called daily to be sure they hadn't frozen to death overnight. (At the time, Heather was keeping warm in a boarding school in England.)
Victoria and Richard survived and prospered, eventually starting a home decor company that still carries their last name.  The MacKenzie-Childs company was born thanks to their daughter, Heather Chaplet. She wanted to go to ballet school overseas, but Victoria and Richard could not financially accommodate her. Heather said she sold raspberries until she raised enough money for the trip to England. But she only raised enough money for the trip there, not the trip back. Determined to bring Heather home, Victoria and Richard decided to sell their pottery and other artwork.

The couple used recycled and repurposed items to rebuild the house.
They found thousands of rectangular ballast stones from a ship that sailed to the U.S. from India, and used them to pave the long, tree-shaded driveway and the parking area between the house, the studio and the carriage house.
They fashioned thresholds from boulders found in their fields.They paved the library with slate found in the basement, and the solarium and terrace with brick from two fireplaces that collapsed in a storm. The dining room fireplace front was a gift from a neighbor. The kitchen began as a remnant of a condemned house, transported to the site and attached to their home.

Victoria's mother, also an artist, painted a mural on the living room and solarium walls that depicts Victoria and Richard as well as Cayuga Lake -- visible from the home -- and other highlights of the surrounding countryside.
The couple decorated the home with colorful patterns, designs and accents that later became popular with their customers. They designed and built their own furniture and made their own pottery and tiles, precursors of designs and pieces that would ultimately attract followers such as Bill Cosby, Garrison Keillor and former President George H.W. and Barbara Bush.

They embellished the home with fun but functional details such as a small greenhouse installed above steps that lead to the basement. Richard and a friend, both handy with a chainsaw, cut locust branches and built an arbor off the back terrace, now draped with grapevine and wisteria.

A secret passageway links a downstairs bedroom to what was once the sunny master bedroom, which has a fireplace and a clawfoot tub and sink tucked in the corner. At one time, the whimsically painted armoire doubled as a water closet. The new master bedroom on the third floor, which evokes visions of a ship's stateroom, hides another secret passageway. Open the mirrored door of a massive armoire and literally step through the looking glass to discover a full bath and a combination walk-in closet and dressing room.(source)

This was one of my favorite parts of their home!  Such a fun surprise, so
 whimsical, secretive and remarkable - who wouldn't love a secret passageway in their home?

Not only was their initial company inspired by Heather, but the works Richard and Victoria MacKenzie-Childs produced was also inspired by their daughter. Heather helped inspire Victoria’s day-to-day outlook. Victoria says, “When she was a little girl, it didn’t matter what Heather was doing or what day of the week it was. She wasn’t conscious of any kind of formula, yet she was very organized in her progression forward,” Victoria said. “I started thinking like her. I didn’t care if I was plaiting her hair, baking a cake, making a pot or hoeing the garden; I’m going to be playing as my work and my work will be my play. It changed my consciousness, my whole way of being.” 

One of the reasons why Heather inspired Richard and Victoria so much, was that she was raised to express herself without walls. Her parents were amazed at how comfortable Heather was with herself and the people around her. They wanted to find a way to incorporate that into their works. How could their pottery incorporate a sense of comfort, yet still be fun, interesting, and a conversational starter?

As the Mackenzie Childs line grows, those initial ideas continue to be the foundation for their products, and it will continue to be the foundation for years to come.  Source

Probably the most well know pattern is the Courtly Check, Rebecca Proctor, Creative Director, shares the story behind Courtly Check, HERE

The company entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2000, and in 2001 Pleasant Rowland, founder of American Girl, purchased the bankrupt MacKenzie-Childs. Rowland, a Wells College alumna, made millions with her company American Girl Dolls. She bought MacKenzie-Childs in 2001 when the company was in bankruptcy. Richard and Victoria MacKenzie-Childs had debt of $15.3 million. Rowland sunk millions of dollars into buildings and grounds and product designs at MacKenzie-Childs. She opened the New York City and Palm Beach, Fla., stores.   

In 2005, the company laid off several workers, including founders, Victoria and Richard MacKenzie-Childs.  After Rowland restructured her management team in 2006 MacKenzie-Childs became profitable. In June 2007, she read a statement to employees noting she was "in the exploratory phases of a sale," confirming something that had been rumored for several years. In 2008 Rowland sold MacKenzie-Childs to Lee Feldman and Howard Cohen, part owners of Twin Lakes Capital.  

When Rowland came to Aurora in 2001 she also bought many commercial buildings in Aurora.  This caused friction with some Aurora and Ledyard residents. To read about Pleasant Rowland and how she built up the company after her purchase, go HERE

Victoria and Richard's home in King Ferry was as interesting as their art.  I was fortunate to have toured their home and grounds and I was in awe of the sunroom, with all different patterned, hand painted tiles on the floor!  I could happily live in this room:

Then in 2003, they purchased the Yankee Ferry, the oldest existing Ellis Island Ferry, built in 1907, selling their estate years later.

To tour the Ferry, go HERE

Their present company, VandR Emprise, has a website and I have seen their products for sale in King Ferry and Aurora.  They continue their work in home decor and more, also calling their new company Victoria & Richard Emprise.
 Victoria's cousin, Taylor,  also has a website where you can purchase some older pieces HERE.

These are just a few tidbits I wanted to share about this creative couple, whose vision, talent and determination started it all!  If you ever get the chance to meet them, you will enjoy their artistic brilliance, extraordinary personalities and whimsical dress! 

I have always enjoyed meeting them:

Hope to see some of you at the Warehouse Sale on Friday!!

Leave me your thoughts in the comment section!!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Ten on the 10th ~ Gardening Containers

This makes me run for the hills:

Oh, Boy......The theme this month for the "Ten on the Tenth" was "Gardening Containers"

The joke was on me!

As many of you know: 

I hate gardening.
I hate dirt.
I hate bugs, snakes, slugs, etc.

So, this was a stretch, but I love a challenge!  

It is still COLD here in Central NY, so I looked back at some BRILLIANT ideas I had in the past:

Once, I planted an herb garden in a small aluminum pail that I bought at a garage sale for a few dollars....

and it took off and began to flourish!  I forgot to drill drainage holes, I over watered it, then everything wilted, then I let it dry out, they perked right up.....THEN I forget to water it, and they died and got all crispy......

It was a good plan!


Once I got the brilliant idea to buy rubber boots at a garage sale for a dollar....

...Yep, forgot to water the plants, the boots retained the heat from the rock and know the rest of the story.


This was a pretty good deal...$1 garage sale chair:

I planted assorted flowers in a plastic pot and dropped it into the seat.

The flowers lasted thru July 4th and guess what?  
Same thing happened.... the hose didn't reach this far!
And the chair fell apart!

This was a great idea:

It was a shell I found in the Caribbean - a freebie...and succulents really don't need much water, right?

Well, they shriveled up....and died.


And who doesn't like wine:

I tried this with a wooden wine box, and then the box fell apart because it got TOO WET, go figure!

 So those are my brilliant ideas for garden containers.

I don't suggest trying any of them.

I am sure the other bloggers listed below have some fabulous ideas, so let's hop!

From now on I am going to stick to buying flowers - but don't try this clever idea either, the tin leaked!!

Now it's time to read about some great ideas and success stories:

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Tales of the Traveling Tote Swap - The Taste of Alabama...

Last month some of the Tales of the Traveling Tote bloggers participated in a swap called "The Taste Of....." where we exchanged gifts that included "flavors of our area".  My swap partner was Emily, of The French Hutch.

Emily is from Alabama and sent a fabulous gift box from Dreamland in Tuscaloosa.

 Dreamland Bar-B-Que is a barbecue restaurant chain based in Alabama. It was founded by "Big Daddy" John Bishop in the Jerusalem Heights neighborhood of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1958, but has since franchised, opening Alabama restaurants in Birmingham, Montgomery, Huntsville, Mobile, and Northport.

Spring still hasn't arrived in central NY, so we haven't started grilling, but we were anxious to try the BBQ sauce, so we tried it on chicken strips the other night.  It is a light, delicious, tangy sauce!  Later this week I am making oven baked french fries and plan on trying the "Dipping Sauce"!

I am so anxious to try this on some large chicken breasts and ribs on the grill, as well as the other products in the generous gift pack!!!

If I ever get to Alabama, Dreamland will be on my list of places to visit!!

Thanks, Emily, for sending the "Taste of Alabama" up to Central NY!

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