Monday, April 25, 2011

in clover: staddle stones

a trio of staddle stones in the garden of my favorite English inn

So, in the comment section of Sacred Circles, my friend Jan asked, “What is a staddle stone?”   Good question!  On my first antique buying trip to England, a friend asked me to find her one of those “stone mushrooms.”  Having never been to the Cotswolds, I had no idea what she talking about.  But once we had arrived in the lush green rolling countryside, it didn’t take long to spot one.  Or two.  Or three. 
Despite having a very large container to fill with inventory and only a few days to do, I did not buy a staddle stone that trip.  We experienced a bit of sticker shock.   A nice staddle stone selling in the US at that time would run between $800 and $1200 retail.
Staddle stones do look like mushrooms.  Proper ones are made of stone (although there is a growing market for newish concrete varieties.)  Many are around a century old.  The loveliest examples usually are mossy.  Staddle stones were originally used as a base for granaries.   The height of the stones kept the grain from getting damp and their shape was difficult for rodents to navigate.  The staddle stones ensured the stored grain was kept dry and critter free.
Now they are prized as garden ornaments both in the UK and the US.  I have three staddle stones in my garden.  I have a large “proper one” made of Cotswold limestone.  I have a small concrete one and I have a miniature one.  They are all very different and, like my children, I cannot choose a favorite.
 I sourced quite a few of them in the Cotswolds for my mother, friends and clients.  They are not difficult to find.  They ARE difficult to find at an affordable price.  I once sold a very unusual matched pair of staddle stones to a woman who lived in the heart of Washington, D.C.  She traveled all the way to Benton, Ky to visit my shop.  That was the only matched pair of staddle stones I ever saw.  I could tell that the dealer I bought them from instantly regretted selling them. 
If you have a staddle stone in your garden, send me a photo and I will post it! Here are some of my images of staddle stones....

This is in the garden of "my" English inn.  The staddle stone bases are supporting stone feed troughs for a most charming (and heavy!) planter

A nice mossy staddle stone on the sales floor of the former Lexington Antique Exchange

This short and squatty staddle stone is perfectly at home in the serene shade garden of my client and friend.  I love it when I can visit the things I sold! 

This image was used for a Lexington Antique Exchange ad

Thursday, April 21, 2011

in clover: sacred circles

my grandfather's wheelbarrow

Ok, Higher Self, Higher Power, Universe, GOD…whatever you prefer we call you,
I get it. 

I hear you talking.

Here’s what I’m hearing:

Just give it up.  Ain’t gonna happen.  GIVE IT UP. 

It is NOT POSSIBLE to be pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough, creative enough, successful enough, rich enough, spiritual enough….whatever enough…it’s just not possible to ward off tragedy, heart break and disappointment by being anything enough or even some rocking combination of lots of things,  enough. 

Spouses leave.  Dreams get shattered.  Jobs get downsized.  Parents die.  Kids get addicted.  Friends bail.  Siblings disappoint.  Illness takes over bodies.  Money runs out.  Times get hard. 

Well, Higher Power, Universe, GOD….

I think it sucks.   

But at age 47, I think I am beginning to get it.  Times get hard for each of us.  No life is immune.  And there is NOTHING we can do to avoid it. 

So, God, I am wondering what we should do about that?  Because clearly you don’t intend on tweaking things any time soon and so far no one has figured out a hack.  

So the only thing I can come up with is that we had darn well stick together.  We better start feeling each other’s pain like it is our own.  We’d better circle up, grab hands and pray like hell. 

My friend reminded me today that really, that’s what it’s all about.  Not so much, “HI!  How ARE you?  Cute shoes!!  Congrats on being….pretty enough….smart enough….thin enough….successful enough…..” 

No, that isn’t what it should be about. 

It should be about holding a circle for one another, a sacred, holy circle…a vessel into which we can pour our deepest hurts and our most crippling anxieties, the details of our darkest soul nights…our tears, our angry screams, our faintest whimpers.

We need to show up as witnesses to each other’s pain.

We need to stand at the foot of the cross

in sacred circles. 


rusty vintage hose nozzles

roses from vintage watering cans

the pull on my garden gate

 top of an English staddle stone

peace, lisa

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

in clover: coloring farm fresh easter eggs


When I was in college, my mom sent me care packages.  Now she sends me care envelopes...clippings, articles, pictures, whatever reminds her of me, I guess.  I love getting them.

Yesterday's envelope contained a little slip of paper from the local, farm fresh eggs my mother buys.  Each carton of eggs comes with a short newsletter.  This was such a great issue I thought I would share it with you.  It's called The Country Hen Farm News.  (Visit their website by clicking here.)

Dear Egg Buyer,

WE ASK...WHY SHOULD THE WHITE EGGS HAVE ALL THE EASTER FUN?  You would not dream of making your favorite breakfast or baked good without the benefit of The Country Hen eggs.  We want you to rest assured that they will be the perfect Easter egg choice as well.  Their strong, brown shells actually make a great coloring option.  If you are not looking for pastel colored Easter eggs, brown eggs will actually dye to a richer, more complex tone than white eggs. It does require a different type of dye than the typical Easter egg coloring kit, but we have listed two very simple methods.  One utilizes food coloring and the other is a natural dye method.  (Warning:  Adult supervision is recommended for both)


1 cup hot water
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp food coloring (adjust to reach desired shade)

Mix the 3 ingredients for each food coloring you want (red, blue, green).  Don't forget about using your base colors to create other colors.  For example, mix red and yellow for orange, or red and blue for purple or blue and green for teal, etc.  Dip cool, hard boiled eggs into the food coloring dyes until desired color is achieved.  Let eggs dry on a rack or in an egg carton.

Natural Egg Dyes

Blue - Red Cabbage Leaves
Orange - Paprika
Red - Lots of Red Onion Skins
Pink - Beets
Purple - Small amount of Red Onion Skins
Yellow- Saffron

Bring 1 cup of water and dye ingredients to a boil and then reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes to 1 hour until desired color is obtained.  Strain dye liquid and add 2 TB of white vinegar.  Dip cool, hard boiled eggs into hot liquid and let it sit until desired color is achieved.  Take eggs out of the dye and put on a rack or in an egg carton to dry.  (Careful:  color can easily be removed until egg is dry.)  Eggs colored this way have a dull finish but when they are dry, use cooking oil to add a gloss to them.

All eggs colored with food coloring came out spectacular! Although all the egss with the natural dyes did color, the most vibrant colors were created with the beets, saffron and red cabbage. 

My thanks to the folks at The Country Hen for sharing such good information.  I must admit, I have only dyed white eggs and usually with one of those little kits.  But I am going to try brown eggs this year.  My hens aren't old enough to lay yet so I will have to pick some up from Good Foods Co-op

If you need some inspiration, here are some of my images from Easter egg hunts...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

in clover: violas are a girl's best friend

Violas are my favorite spring flower.   I planted these in a vintage English terracotta pot and put them by the aviary that is my chicken run.  I added a 1966 french agriculture award to the vignette.

This pot of violas is by my back door.  I tucked it under a rusty birdcage I bought at an outdoor flea market for $15.  I love finding new ways to use it in my garden every year.

I added violas to my window boxes too.  They are happy to live with rosemary.

This is the gate to my chickens fenced free range pen.  I bought the wooden gate and terracotta wall pocket in the cotswolds.  The violas add a bit of color and charm to the gate.

Did I mention I love spring?

Peace,  Lisa

Saturday, April 16, 2011

in clover: getting the dirt

Michael brought home a small truck load of "organic blend" (a mixture of topsoil and organic compost) for our new raised beds.  I had planned on picking up  bags of topsoil from Home Depot but we calculated that would cost around $300.  Pretty pricey.

I googled topsoil and compost and found what I thought was a great deal...a truckload of an organic topsoil and compost blend delivered and installed for $200.  A few clicks later, I discovered that if we picked it up, the same load would cost $10.  Michael DID have to shovel it out of the truck but the landscape place used a front loader to put it IN the truck.  Mike said he was more than happy to pick up the dirt and keep his money so that's what he did.

In the end, we saved some money and supported a local business. 

We had just enough to fill our beds and share with our neighbor who loaned us his truck.  Perfect.  Can't wait to plant tomatoes and peppers and squash.

While Michael was shoveling I checked out the downspouts.  We have trouble when rains are heavy and water pools close to the house.  We had those rubber tubes that directed water from the house but honestly they didn't fit in my garden design.  My friend suggested we use old brick to lay troughs.  They work great and look even better.  The old solution (rubber tubes) took away from the garden....the new solution is a garden feature! Visitors always comment on them.   

Last week I had a bucket of river pebbles without a home so I did this:

I think it looks pretty, kind of like a mini dry river bed.  I wondered if the hard rains would wash my rocks away last night but they were still in place this morning. I need to touch up the paint on the metal gutters.  Add that to the "to do" list.

My basil seedlings are sprouting nicely.

I have to work at keeping the vintage French terracotta pots wet but they are so cute it's worth it. 

I love spring. 

Peace,  Lisa

Friday, April 15, 2011

in clover: an accidental fun day

I had an accidental fun day

Due to a re-schedule, I had an 8 am hair appointment.  I love being in the salon that one else is there and I have my hair guy all to myself.  His phone doesn't ring, he makes a whole pot of coffee just for me, he takes my music requests and it's quite peaceful. 

I ran home just long enough to straighten up the house and check on the chickens before I met my friend at Joseph-Beth for lunch.  That must be heaven on, BOOKS, cute gift items and time with an amazing friend. 

I'm a (very) thrifty shopper except when it comes to books which both my mother and my father taught me early on are TOTALLY WORTH IT but I have a hard time resisting a really cute tote bag....

at $10, I think this one was a steal. 

It's in my go to and green (and the perfect shades of them too).  It's just big enough to be the right proportions for a tall girl like me but it's not too big.  The handles will definitely stay on my shoulder, it's lightweight and it can be easily cleaned just by wiping it off. 

I really like to tote things around and I didn't think twice about laying out my tenner for this bag.  Oh, and I bought three books....more on those later. 

Peace,  Lisa

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

in clover: Re-Store

junket: A trip ostensibly taken for business purposes, which is primarily for pleasure.

A Junk-et.  Ostensibly I needed to mail a letter to France.  

"I just need to make ONE stop, well....maybe two.....but it won't take very long." 

That's what I told Big C when I picked him up from school.  There is a satellite post office around the corner from the high school AND a few doors down from that is resale shop called Restore.  First, I love that name.  Second, proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity.  Third, sometimes there is really cool stuff there.   What's not to love?

Ostensibly I needed to mail a letter to France but in all honesty, I wanted to run through Restore.  

We were not disappointed!  I had to use my camera phone so the quality of my images is lacking, sorry.  But look at all the cool stuff we found.

Right inside the door we found these sections (four seats each) of cool aqua blue plastic chairs...retro waiting room chic for sure!  They were tagged $95 per section.

 Across the aisle was this sweet, sweet vintage chair!  No stains, no rips, perfectly faded upholstery..and comfortable.  It was priced sweet too. I wish I was sitting in this chair right now. 

Big C found an air hockey table...he and his dad are considering purchasing it.  It's in really good shape and priced either $75 or $750, we aren't quite sure which.  Hope they don't fiddle and fool around and miss the deal!

This mirror seemed like a steal at $'s really big. And gold.

But the deal of the day was this metal glass top table and four chairs (very sturdy and substantial) for a mere....

This set would be very cute indoors or out.  There is a biggish chip on the edge of the beveled glass top but it wasn't a dangerous sort of chip.  Glass is expensive to replace so I would paint it, get new cushions and call it a day!  You could replace the glass though or perhaps stay on the lookout for some horrible looking table with a good glass top and swap. 

This is one sign you do NOT want to see when on a junk-et:

When we (finally) left Restore and went to mail the letter, we found this sign posted on the window of the satellite post office:

Well, we tried. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

in clover: a good egg

I buy fresh eggs from a friend I met at Sycamore Spirituality Center. She's the cutest young farmer you ever did see.

Yesterday for lunch Michael fixed himself an egg sandwich. I was bending his ear about this blog, of all things. In the midst of my rant, I stopped dead in my tracks to stare at the pretty, pretty eggshell he was ready to crumble into the compost pail. "Is the INSIDE of that egg shell BLUE?" I asked. I took the shell from him before he could answer. "It IS blue! And look at the outside!!!" The outer shell was a pale mocha covered in tiny dark brown speckles. This was indeed a GOOD EGG. And a beautiful one. It was way too pretty to throw away so I propped the two halves on the kitchen windowsill. Thank you for the lovely egg, R.

I hope one of my chickens will lay speckled eggs. I've read that it is a possibility but only time will tell. My hens are quite young, about 8 weeks old, and they will not start laying until around 20 weeks. This morning I was reading a favorite blog, Urban Gardens, and I saw a photo of a gardener with a young Dominique hen and I thought to myself, "How about that? I know what kind of chicken that is!" She looked just like my Dominique hen named Patsy Cline.

fancy socks

Easter is a few weeks away…time to buy little c a pair of new socks. Must be white and trimmed with ruffles.

I spent quite a bit of time pining over ruffles and bows when shopping for my first born, my wonderful boy. It was hard passing by stacks of ruffled panties and racks of lacey socks (and the gloves and the hats and the patent leather shoes). He DID have a pair of saddle oxfords one year. I loved those. Maybe I can find them in the attic.

Aren’t the new socks pretty? Can’t say I love shopping but I do love to buy fancy socks just in time for Easter Sunday. In fact, it was so much fun I doubled up and got her two pair. It’s a darn good thing I did because she found them, put a pair on and took off for the park.
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