A Rare Day

Yesterday was a rare day for Todd and I – we took the whole day off and had fun! No work involved at all! We left at 5:00 am and made a five hour drive over to Williamsburg, VA to visit Colonial Williamsburg. This was Todd’s first time and I was excited for him to see it. It was a very chilly day, but just right with sunny skies. Very few people were about and it was almost like having the place to ourselves. Colonial Williamsburg is almost beyond comprehension really. The size, the grandeur, the enormity of the undertaking. I think about how many people must be employed there and the work that goes into making each day a success! With 88 original structures from the Revolutionary Era, you get such a good sense of what life was like in 1775.

We started at the plantation, and had a nice visit with the resident farmer about this year’s tobacco crop.

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Walking from the farm to the city, it gives you a true sense of what that would have felt like for the Colonists. They would go to get the news of the day and do their buying and trading.

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Here is the Governor’s Palace, showing the wealth of the British.

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We enjoyed a tour of the Capitol with a wonderful interpreter who explained how  Virginians ultimately came to vote for independence from the King.

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It’s a busy time at Colonial Garden – where wreaths and swags were being made in abundance for the upcoming Christmastide.

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These young men were on their way to get a cart full of straw for the young seedlings in the garden.

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Lunch at Josiah Chowning’s tavern also included a chat with an historian on Christmastide, a lovely violin serenade and of course chocolate cake!

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After a fine meal we visited with may of the tradesmen, including the tinsmith:

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And just generally enjoyed the activities of the towns people.

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Notice the trade sign: “A-Cure for the REFRACTORY.”

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Many coachmen and horseman were about …

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And this kind Englishman came looking for us later in the day for a visit! Earlier in the morning we had approached him but he was in a hurry to deliver a directive, but he caught up with us near the Capitol to tell us all about his breeding program to revitalize the “Cleveland Bay” breed which is currently near distinction. Like us, he has been in Virginia about a year and hailed here from Texas by way of England.

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It was a wonderful day going back in time and a much needed diversion from the 21st Century! Tomorrow I will be leaving for a ten day “modern times” trip to photograph many wonderful homes for Christmas that you will enjoy seeing in the winter issue 2017!

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A link to help the animals directly

So many folks have reached out to me to see how they can join us in our mission to help the animals in Sevier County and surrounding areas of Tennessee after the horrific wildfires. We have a campaign to donate 100% of proceeds from sales from our music CD’S (see the post from Dec. 3rd)    but a lot of folks just want to give money directly – THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH. This article tells all about the two agencies we are helping – the Sevier County Humane Society and the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine – they are treating the worst burn cases there. You can choose to help small animals or large animals. THE LINKS FOR ALL FUNDS ARE LISTED IN THIS ARTICLE WHERE MONEY CAN BE SENT DIRECTLY !!! I am overwhelmed with gratitude by all the love and concern you all have sent!! From the very depth of my heart … THANK YOU !!! And thank you for caring about the animals!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tennessee-fires-animals-pets_us_58430ff7e4b0c68e048116b5?ncid=engmodushpmg00000003

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East Tennessee Wildfire Relief Program

I have been devastated by the news of the recent wildfires in my beloved East Tennessee area of Sevier County – the lives lost, damage done to Gatlinburg and the surrounding area, and to our amazing Smoky Mountains.

In an effort to aid the pets who are injured, or lost from their owners – along with the shelters that were damaged by the fires and the ongoing work to rebuild that vital need in East Tennessee, 100% of all proceeds from the sale of our “Out Of These Mountains” CD and our newest “Little Ole Log Cabin Down The Lane” CD on Monday Dec. 5th will go to pet rescue needs in Sevier County, TN. As you know all the musicians on both of our CD’s are from Tennessee and we love our Appalachian kith and kin.

To purchase your CD, use this direct link to go to our catalog and search “CD”:

www.store-bs0ljs.mybigcommerce.com

Or you can call us at 806-748-0700 or email us at: asimplelifemagazine@gmail.com.
Every penny from the sale of each CD will go to our friends in East Tennessee who need our help.

To listen to some of the tracks on these CD’s, use these Youtube links:
http://youtu.be/zNnECI8yaII
https://youtu.be/kDmC26Y2wlY
https://youtu.be/v14drWuzmoU

Please join me in this important effort – your kindness means the world to me!

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The Journey Home

The season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a time for home, whether that be physically, mentally or just in spirit. At no other time of year do we feel as connected to our families, friends and past as in late November and December. I think we all have a longing to go back to our childhood, to  previous places where we felt loved and comfortable, and hopefully for most – we are creating that each year where we are on the road of life currently.  We remember loved ones now gone and rejoice in the future.

For me, moving to Virginia felt like I finally came home. I’ve always been a wanderer. I was truly born with a gypsy spirit and the minute I obtained wheels at 16 I was on the journey of life.  I have always done some type of show across the country, selling some type of wares. And Todd and I were in the race horse business and that by definition is the epitome of a gypsy lifestyle. Every three months we would move to where the next race meet was. We also moved our homeplace at least every eight months too. We like it that way. After leaving the racetrack and working the horse business from a farm, we have moved many, many times. We like to experience new things and different regions and cultures. But when we came to Virginia I knew that this is where all the roads in my life were leading me. It’s very hard to explain but I have been called to Appalachia for a very long time. It is in me, it is in my spirit and soul. Once I finally got aligned with God’s plan for my life everything came together so easily. KC, Cheryl’s husband says, “It’s like dominoes falling – once you are in God’s perfect plan everything just starts to fall together.”

Yesterday, for a few short minutes I visited with our neighbor whose house is across the road from our farm. They don’t live there, but come to take care of their homeplace a few times a year and hope to return there after retirement. But our farm is her grandparents homeplace and where her mother grew up, so she has very strong roots to our soil. Yesterday she gave me the beautiful gift of telling me how happy she is that Todd and I have her family farm and how happy her grandparents, parents and uncles would be that we are raising horses and cattle here and taking good care of the soil.  She will never know how much that means to me, and it is yet more proof that we are where we are supposed to be.

I apologize for this very long and wordy post this morning, but it is the right season to tell you the story of Aunt Cory’s Log House.  I will try to be somewhat brief because it is a long story but you already know I can get pretty wordy!  But I want to do justice to a beautiful thing. I met Cheryl Jones about 20 some odd years ago, maybe more now, doing an antique show in Colorado. My lifetime mentor in the antique business, Charlotte, introduced us. Probably within just knowing Cheryl less than a day she told me her family roots were in Virginia and that she spent all her growing up summers at her grandmother’s farm there. Her grandmother’s best friend lived across the road in a log house – and they called her Aunt Cory.

Cory and Harrison Cox raised their family on Moore Creek Road (Cheryl’s maiden name) down in the holler in Meadowview, Virginia in that wonderful log house and lived a very simple life there, tending cattle, gardens, farming. I will share all the wonderful details of the old house when the time is right.

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So when Todd and I finally got out of God’s way and came to Virginia I told Cheryl that we had looked at a couple of farms around Abingdon. She nearly flipped and said that is right near her grandmother’s old farm. Now is where I could get bogged down in details but let me suffice it to say that literally by the end of that week Cheryl had found Cory’s daughter who still lived in the area and found out Cory’s farm was for sale. A few weeks later we all met up in Virginia and went to the old mountain farm that had gotten really grown up over the years and the grand log house was showing her age too. Aunt Cory had left the farm in the 1970’s and no one had been there since.  Long story short, the farm was just not the farm for us. But the next day we found “our” farm. On the drive to see “our” farm for the first time, Cheryl planted the seed that even though we weren’t going to buy Cory’s farm, maybe we could buy the cabin.  The dream was born and God birthed it.

So here we are putting up Aunt Cory’s Log Cabin (and barn) here on Walkers Knob Road, with Cory’s beautiful families blessing – the same log house I heard Cheryl talk about and reminisce about all these years. I know it is a bittersweet thing for Cory’s family – we have become very close to them through this process. They have seen their homeplace taken from the land it sat on for almost two hundred years. But thankfully for us, they see that Todd and I are saving the grand old girl and that we will build it back with respect, grace and so much love.

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So with the blessing from the past – both land owners and log house owners, we will carry on here and I pray that Aunt Cory’s Log House and the little farm on Walkers Knob Road will bring our family and friends countless blessings during the holidays that will be spent here in the future. And I hope that one day when the Lord calls us home, we will pass the torch to the next set of caregivers with the same grace that has been given to us.

 

Autumn on Walkers Knob

November is my favorite month – I like the last hurrah of fall color along with the beginning of bare branches on the trees, the crispness in the air, a hint of possible snow but not quite full winter yet. There is a true peace in this season for me.

Last year was our first autumn in Virginia and while coming from Texas, the fall color was a nice change. But this year Mother Nature exploded with a vibrant yield!  About two weeks ago I thought the color was awesome …

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But in the waning days of the season, today’s color literally takes your breath away …

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I don’t like to rush autumn by thinking of Christmas. Lots of folks put away their pumpkins the day after Halloween, but I like to leave them out as long as possible. And after they begin to get soft they make a wonderful treat for our cattle and deer. Apparently raccoons like them too because I found one of the big ones near our front door all hallowed out this morning! I could just see them using their little hand like paws to scoop out all of the orange meat!  There is plenty for everyone at our farm!

Lots of folks have been asking about our building progress here on Walkers Knob. Todd and I are trying hard to enjoy the process and not stress out in a fury of “getting it done!” We have a wonderful, cozy little cabin to live in for the time being so it will all happen in God’s perfect timing! But Todd’s barn is all finished –

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The logs on the right side came from the same farm our log house did. Cheryl’s grandfather helped fell the logs for it many moons ago. The left side of the barn came from Michigan and is built of huge hand-hewn timbers.

We have been doing  a lot of fencing and have miles and miles to go. Todd has many small pastures and pens for cattle and horses.

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The logs are stacked on the house and we are preparing to put the roof on …

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I have to tell you a story though.  The day the last row of logs went up I left for Alabama. A few hours after I was gone it started raining. That was during the recent hurricane and it rained for nearly 50 hours straight, but a nice slow rain that we really needed. The next morning when Todd went out to do barn chores, this is what he found:

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Yes, that huge tree fell and landed less than two feet from our freshly stacked logs! God was awake that night while Todd and Ezra slept through it all.

Soon the winter winds will howl and snow will fall and Aunt Cory’s log house will patiently wait for our return in the spring! But until then Todd and his helpers will continue to labor in love.

As for me, I’m headed to O-HI-O in the morning for the 10th annual Simple Goods show! How in the world it got to be 10 years I can’t imagine. I will be with my friend Ginny Curry at her open house on Friday morning too, so I hope those of you headed there will stop and say hi!

I’ll be listening to the Be Good Tanyas along the journey!

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Hart Square

Fun times this weekend at Dr. Bob and Becky Hart’s – Hart Square festival in Hickory, N.C.  One day a year Hart Square comes alive with hundreds of interpreters among  100 log structures. Certainly a day we look forward to all year long and it never disappoints! A gorgeous fall day laid out before us and the leaf color was beautiful.

Getting some delicious pumpkin soup made over the fire  was one of our first stops.

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And here is the recipe for you to try!

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Probably my favorite demonstration this year was making straw bales in the apple orchard. This gentleman and his rare baler hail from Denton, NC.

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Interesting people at every turn …

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And log cabins, smokehouses, spring houses, barns, corn cribs, churches, and everything else you could possibly imagine abound.

Out of so many incredible log structures, I always find myself falling in love with this pig barn each visit. It truly is my favorite at Hart Square and I hope to recreate it here on Walkers Knob.

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And at the end of the day – who doesn’t need a hornbeam drinking fountain?

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Christmas Time’s A Comin’ !

Lands, as fast as time flies by, Christmas really will be here before we know it! And “A Simple Life” is ready! Our Winter issue will be shipping approximately November 1st! I got my bulk copies yesterday and I’m so excited to share it!

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We visited three wonderful homes for this issue and I want to thank our awesome homeowners! Nancy and Don Hellweg hail from Lawrenceburg, Indiana and built a beautiful saltbox home. Then Nancy filled it with wonderful primitive antiques. It is even homier at Christmastime!

Tom and Candy Looker live in the farmhouse that Candy grew up in in Fredericktown, Ohio.  Candy is an amazing artist and also a wonderful decorator so her house is always filled with awe inspiring primitive vignettes and room settings.

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Welcome to the Cape! Mike and Jerrilyn Mayhew make their home in Sandwich Village, Massachusetts – the quintessential setting for a charming Christmastide!

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This issue is filled with holiday inspiration! Begin planning your menu with one of Cheryl’s delicious recipes!

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                         And then join us for inspiration on how to set your holiday tables!

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If Santa is wondering what to get the antique lover on his list – how about Anniversary Tin!

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And if you’re looking for some holiday decorating ideas, Amy Schoonover has lots of inspiring things for you to try in your own homes!

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You won’t want to miss this warm and cozy Christmas filled issue! It will be coming to a mailbox or shop near you in just a couple of weeks!