Merle Fest and More!

It’s been an event filled week since arriving home from Simple Goods! Lots of fun music jams and concerts in around the area. But the highlight was the 29th anniversary of Merle Fest in Wilkesboro, NC. It was founded in 1988 by “Doc” Watson, in memory of his son – Eddy Merle Watson. Filling 13 stages across a college campus and bringing in 75,000 people this year – it’s quite an experience!

There is also a tent filled to the brim with anything a musician could ever want, a tent filled with hundreds and hundreds of CD’s and soft goods from all your favorite acts playing this year ( and some other favorites too,) a dance tent, tons of food vendors and so much more!

This was one stage – where the Avett Brothers were playing – and this is only a teeny fraction of those 75,000 people!

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The first stop was to see my favorites – The Earls of Leicester. By now you guys are well acquainted with them! We had front row seats and they did not disappoint!

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Later that afternoon several musicians that have been attending since the beginning played a reunion tribute to “Doc” Watson. This was simply – A M A Z I N G !!  Sam Bush on mandolin, Jerry Douglas on dobro, Johnny Warren on fiddle, Bela Fleck on banjo, Bryan Sutton on guitar, and Mark Schatz on bass.

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This is a huge stage so they have these great big screens on either side. In my video I tried to show both the stage and a close up on the screen so you can really see how incredible these guys are!

Bela Fleck doesn’t typically sing, so this moment in time is priceless! Add in some good ole musician fun and it doesn’t get any better than this clip! There is no doubt the guys have just as much fun as the audience at Merle Fest!

While folks wait for the performers on the big stage, they have other performers off to the side playing on the front porch in this amazing, early log cabin.

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After lots more stops, good shopping in the music and merchandise tents, plus lots of good food – the final act of the day was an almost private concert for just a handful of us by Charlie Cushman and Johnny Warren at the IBMA tent.

I’m already counting the days until next year !

As for news from around the farm, some of you know from my FaceBook post that a new colt was born on Easter! These are the photos from his first few hours:

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This young calf was memorized by the little fella – she stood outside the barn and watched him for nearly an hour.   blog foal 2

These pics were taken of him today. He is growing up! Sorry for the bad photography! It’s hard to get a good photo in the log barn with the sun streaming in between the logs. (Or that’s my excuse anyway!)

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He’s very friendly and super curious!

I wanted to share a photo of our youngest reader with ya’ll! A lot of you know our girl Sherrie Hinson – she helps out in our booth at the Days of the Pioneer Antique show and this is her precious granddaughter – Lauren!

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Let’s see … what else has been happenin’ ?  We had some good help on the log cabin this past week – Lynn and Ruth Surbrook came down from Michigan and they got all the floor joists up – twice! Well, only twice in the kitchen! ha! Yes, I changed my mind after the first set went in! We found some bigger posts that would fit beautifully so after a few more hours of work – we have some pretty awesome beams in the kitchen!  They put in lots of hours and also got all the wiring pulled! Yipppee for progress! I was sad to see them go – but they’ll be back to help again later in the summer.

That’s about it for the news out of the holler this week! Drop me a line and let me know what’s going on in your neck of the woods! Can you believe tomorrow is May 1st already?


Summer 2017 Issue

I got great news from our printer today – the Summer issue is ahead of schedule and will be mailing out the end of next week! But remember, it can take up to three weeks to arrive in your mailbox. This issue is packed with 132 pages and 5 HOMES! You won’t want to miss this issue!

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On the cover, and our first home tour is Jerrilee Cain and Ted Claydon’s 17th Century Gambrel in Worthington, Massachusetts. This amazing early home has a museum quality collection and gardens fitting a period house.

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Rob and Jayne Reed live in Coldwater, Michigan in an 1852 Farmhouse. It is warm, cozy and inviting and rests on a little piece of country heaven where Jayne tends many gardens and has several country outbuildings.

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From Ontario, Canada – this wonderful 1867 stone farmhouse belongs to Jeff and Donna Kish. Donna is an artist and has decorated this amazing home with an artist’s eye.

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Jeffrey Morgan rescued this amazing 1710 cape from destruction back in 1999. He moved it to his sprawling property in Kent, Connecticut and painstakingly restored it, and then filled it with the best of the very best period-appropriate antiques.

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Larry and Sheila Terrell live in North Vernon, Indiana in the cutest 80 year-old-house that you would guess was much earlier once inside. Sheila has an incredible eye for decorating and filling their home with 18th and 19th Century treasures.

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These five amazing homes and wonderful homeowners – plus SO MUCH MORE coming in our Summer issue! Stay tuned later in the week for more sneak peeks from this great issue! Get your subscription started or renewed on our website at,  Or visit a store near you!



Looking back on the “Settlement” book

On this beautiful Sunday afternoon that feels like spring, I invite you to join me in looking back over the wonderful homes of Carolyn and Rich Green, Lizzie Arakelian, Mary and Phil de Buhr, and Marion and Chuck Atten – all of which appeared in the Settlement book.

Each home is distinctly different than the others, each one unique in its own way. But all four showing a wonderful early American country spirit. I always marvel at the different decorating styles using wonderful early antiques from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Carolyn and Rich live in an early stone house in Missouri, and she and her partner, Amanda Canter, operate a wonderful shop – “Friends Together Antiques” in Rocheport.

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Lizzie Araklian – author of “Lizzie’s Diary” in A Simple Life Magazine, lived in Ohio when we featured her home for the Settlement book. Lizzie has a love for make-dos and  frontier style decorating. She now resides in Missouri.

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Mary de Buhr has been a leading dealer in the antiques business for  many years. Also an incredible stylist and decorator – her home has a wonderful calming sense about it. She has added on a log cabin addition that we will revisit in another “looking back” segment.

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Marion Atten, a dealer of 17th C. antiques, lived in Pecatonica, Illinois at the time of this photo shoot. Her and her husband Chuck have since moved to DeWitt, Illinois to be closer to their family and you can look forward to seeing that home in an issue of A Simple Life later this year.

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I’ll tell you a funny story from the day I spent with Marion in Pecatonica. She lit a fire in one of the back rooms of her home so that we could get a good photo. But before long the room was totally engulfed in smoke. I don’t mean just a little smoky, I mean can’t see anything “smoky!” And we both were thinking along the same lines – “Awesome! Hurry! Get some good shots because it makes the room look really early!” So we are both dying, with tears running down our faces making sure we got a good photo! And it worked! To this day when I’m with other homeowners who have trouble with their fireplace, I think back on that day with Marion and I’m so grateful we didn’t burn her house down! ha! But we did get some wonderful photos!

Music City – Nashville, TN

What a wonderful visit I had in Nashville last week! My cousins came out to the farm here in Virginia for a few days and then we rented a big house in Nashville. My cousin Greg and I are very close – and have been since our growing up years. His beautiful bride, Carolyn, is like a sister and his two girls – Amanda and Kaylee are like my own. I’m so proud of the beautiful women they’ve grown into. And they even still like to hang out with us old folks! ha!

After going to Colonial Williamsburg, Carter Fold, Floyd, Asheville and the Grayson Highlands National Park, we hit the road to Music City.  We crammed a lot of fun into a few days and experienced many places. I had some great photos on my phone but many of them won’t “save” once I get them to Photoshop. I have this problem a lot with photos from my phone – anyone out there have a cure for that?

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We visited the Ryman:

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Where we saw lots of memorabilia (above is Bill Monroe’s hat) and got a backstage tour. I learned that George Strait is not a member of the Grand Old Opry – WHAT?! Get this – it’s due to lack of showing interest on his part! And Johnny Cash and Hank Williams are the only two members who have gotten kicked out of the Opry!

We spent a long time at the Country Music Hall of Fame – a place you could spend two days! I saw my hero, Ralph Stanley’s banjo, Webb Pierce’s awesome car, and Hank William’s boots.

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One of my favorite stops was the Johnny Cash Museum.

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And no doubt we ate a LOT of GOOD FOOD! Nashville has become famous for their “HOT” Chicken and one of the best for that is Hattie B’s.  You have to stand in line outside for quite awhile but we all agreed, “It was worth the wait!”

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Guess what? I actually saw a DONATOS PIZZA in Nashville! What?! They must be branching out. I want to give my dear friend Jake Coy a big thank you for my Donatos gift card I got in the mail! You can bet I’ll be using that when I’m in Ohio for Simple Goods in two weeks!


Lots more great memories were made and I’m already thinking of my next visit to Music City!

As promised from before – here are a few more photos from my first book, “Homestead.”

The wonderful log home of Ralph and Linda Miller:

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A visit to the Lone Star State to see Pat Evans. I’m going to call Pat this week and see if we can arrange another visit to her home for the magazine!

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And another photo from a reader favorite – the home of Carolyn Thompson!

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The summer issue is going to print TOMORROW! And I’ll be back this weekend with another trip down memory lane – looking back over some of your favorite homes! Stay tuned!

P.S for my readers in the upstate New York area – be sure and visit my friends John and Barb O’Brien at Good Old Days Country Shop in Pultneyville.  After many wonderful years they have decided to retire and everything in the shop must go! They’re having a great sale. I will miss John and Barb – they have always been a wonderful, loyal supporter of my publishing business. All the best in your retirement guys!