Thursday, August 29, 2013


FYI: I have joined Face Book and Pinterest. Can't say that I know what I'm doing on either one! I am pinning some lovely ideas, which doesn't leave me very much time to do any thing else! I am addicted. Now, Face Book is another story. I am going to try to enter this blog post. If you see it, I hope you will 'like' it. If you don't see it then it only means I was right - I don't know what I'm doing - and I need to do more homework!!

Teapot, sugar and creamer
Grace Tea Ware
Home Goods

Autumn is in the air and a soft rain has fallen.

What better time could there be for tea on the porch?

We have really enjoyed some of the best times in the Secret Garden this summer.

Whether it was coffee in the mornings, a good book on the porch, or dinner under the gazebo, we have put it to good use.

One of the reasons may be that we have finally finished that last part of the garden.

Well, almost finished.

We moved the iron bench arbor that was being buried by overgrown bushes in the front garden to the lower part of the Secret Garden.

When we first placed the arbor in this spot in the garden it was just perfect. It filled in the corner and added a point of interest.

 We love autumn but, unfortunately, the maple tree that you see to the right of the bench, only turns brown with no extra added fall color. All the color that you see is coming from our neighbor's yard. It is really beautiful and vibrant and makes our garden look so pretty in the fall.  However, it has become a jungle of overgrowth and the arbor was swallowed up and could no longer be seen.

The potting bench has spent a few summers outside and is weathering nicely. It was a gift from the Captain a few years ago.  It was just the right size for this spot against the wood shed.


We hung the old screen door on the front of the wood shed and it designates what the garden is all about.

Now the Secret Garden can be viewed from all angles and once we get some more ideas in place back here it will be a welcome change.

We have something a little different in mind for the fence and will bring more color in and then I think we will have a small area that is pleasing to the eye but will not require a lot of work...

...and at this time in our lives we certainly don't want more work.


"I wouldn't want to make it look like a gardener's garden, all clipped an' spic an' span, would you?  It's nicer like this with things runnin' wild, an' swingin' an catchin' hold of each other."


"Don't let us make it tidy.  It wouldn't seem like a secret garden if it was tidy."

Conversations between Dickon and Mary Lennox 
 "The Secret Garden"
 Frances Hodgson Burnett

I'm sharing today with:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Update:   This is what the sky looked like this morning from the front porch.

Fire still raging - has burned nearly 14,800 acres and is 49% contained.

The smoke is still filtering into the foothills every morning and lasting most of the day.


The Captain and I are avid television viewers.  We enjoy nothing better than to sit down, with a good treat,
(we probably enjoy the treat just as well)
and watch a movie or one of the many TV shows that we follow.

I can't abide sitting through a commercial anymore since the advent of the DVR.  We have two DVR's recording at the same time so we have quite a selection for our viewing pleasure.

One of the popular shows that we watch is Mountain Men.  The series follows the lives of 3 or 4 men, some with a family, that live off the land in different parts of the US in the deep wilderness areas.

As we watched last evening, Eustace, in the wild of the Blue Ridge Mountains, was replacing his tool shed that had taken a hit from a falling tree during a storm.  He works with his hands with minimal tools and old-fashioned ingenuity.

My grandfather around 80 years of age

My dad around the age of 19

My grandfather and my dad also worked with their hands.  My grandfather owned and operated a shook mill in his early days and my dad followed suite with his own saw mill, both of which were located on the ranch property.  They both built their homes and worked the land as well, harvesting and falling and milling their own trees for lumber.

These are pictures of remnants of my grandfather's shook mill.

In this particular picture we climbed up the ladder and across the platform we jumped into a large pile of sawdust that always piled up from sawing the lumber. If I remember correctly, the thin tree truck that you see in the foreground was a wild cherry tree. The ripe fruit was very bitter but my mom used to make some killer cherry pies from it.

As you know from my last post, my family didn't always have the most modern conveniences at their disposal.  Looking back, I have to come to the conclusion that maybe this wasn't always due to necessity.  I think my grandfather and consequently, my father, enjoyed living close to the land and, to be honest, think they considered themselves somewhat Mountain Men.

My great-grandfather's blacksmith shop

My great-grandparents came over from England.  They settled on land situated in the Santa Cruz mountains in the time of Abraham Lincoln.  My great-grandfather was a smithy and carried out his craft in a shop that he built on the property.  I never knew my great-grandfather but I do remember my great-grandmother although she passed away when I was quite young.

From left to right:
My maternal grandmother
My paternal grandmother
standing in front of my grandparent's log home

My grandfather was raised on the ranch and when he married my grandmother, he built their first home, a log house, on the property.  My dad was born and raised in that home and, sadly, it burned down sometime in the 1940's.  I was just a little girl but I can still remember, to this day, how that smelled right after it happened.  My grandfather then built another house for them to live in on the ranch.

This is the second bridge built on this site. You can barely make my Dad out, on the right side, in the shadow of the trees.

My grandfather and my dad built the original  bridge that spanned the Soquel Creek.  It was the only access to the ranch after you turned off of the county road.

  In 1955 the Soquel Creek over ran it's banks and debris from above stream, washed down and took out the original bridge.

We lived about a mile up the county road at the time and came down to be with my grandparents during the storm.
My dad and grandfather rigged up a seat on a pulley across the creek so we could have access to the county road.  They had moved the car to the other side before the bridge was swept away.  All of Santa Cruz county was greatly impacted by that storm that year.

A small grove of redwood trees at the ranch.

What looks like a small grove of redwoods was really my "house" from the age of 12 to the age of 17.

It started out as a 'fun summer experience'.  My parents were remodeling the house that my dad had built when I was a tiny baby.  It was going to be so exciting to live down at the ranch for the whole summer!

He strung canvas around the trees, 'divided' up rooms; a kitchen/living area with a wood burning stove, a small refrigerator (oh, we did have power) and a picnic table with attached benches.  A bedroom for my parents, a bedroom for the three of us kids, and a closet for storage, supplies and clothes, rounded out the well-stocked habitat.

Outside the canvas was a bench that held a large tub for fresh water that we took turns carrying, by the bucket full, from the main water tank that was situated across the field from the 'camp', as it was affectionately called!  We heated water on the wood stove for doing dishes and baths, which were taken in private, in the closet.

Oh, right! You can laugh at it now!
My dad and myself. What was I pointing at?

Remember when I was a little girl and had to use the 'facilities' at my grandparents?  I considered that fun!  When you are a teenager and using those same type of 'facilities' for a little more than just 'one fun summer' - NOT SO MUCH!!

This same road that took us down to the 'washroom' was also the road on which I learned to drive.  We had a 1949 Studebaker, the ones with the pointy nose in the front.  I was able to drive by myself up and down this road but there was really no place to turn around and I couldn't back out between the trees.  By the time I learned to drive that poor little car didn't have much of a pointy nose left!

I can't remember if I was pointing to the front of the tree I always hit, or the back of the tree where the outhouse sat!

My Grandpa, Grandma and their dog, Cindy. Taken in front of the old barn where Grandpa milked Old Bossy and let us squirt fresh milk into the mouths of the barn cats.

My grandfather passed away and my grandmother moved into a retirement home until her death.

The ranch was sold around the early 1980's and this is what that big open field, where we picked apricots from a few trees and loquats from a huge tree and watched deer graze, looks like now.  Another family lives there and they operate a family nursery.

The beginning of the driveway to the ranch.

It was around this corner where we used to ride our bicycles, climb cherry trees, swim in the creek, squirt fresh milk in the barn cat's mouths, and had the most wonderful childhood imaginable...

All those years that the ranch was in my family's possession, it never had a name.  It was just known as the Allred place by everyone in the community or by the ranch when any family member mentioned it.

Most of the old timers in the community are gone now and anyone new passing by on the county road is not aware of the history that was made down this country lane.  

Because of the generosity of the present family that live on the ranch now, a glimpse into the past is offered as you turn off of the county road and make your way down towards the sweet cherry orchard and the old swimming hole.


I'm sharing this bit of history with:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Photo: "The Victorian Home", Ellen M. Plante
Chapter 5 - The Victorian bathroom

Photo: "Gold Country Cottage"
The master bath

The comfort and convenience we enjoy in the modern bathroom is due to Victorian ingenuity and ambitious nineteenth-century industrial growth.

Baths were spacious in the early Victorian period, with room-like furnishings and appointments.

They evolved into models of efficiency in the late 1800's and we have reverted today to making bathrooms roomy and elegant in typical Victorian fashion.

The Victorians were proud of this new indoor facility and not adverse to showing it off.

"Cleanliness is the outward sign of inward purity.  Cleanliness of the person is health, and health is beauty.  The bath is consequently a very important means of preserving the health and enhancing the beauty.  It is not to be supposed that we bathe simply to become clean, but because we wish to remain clean.  Cold water refreshes and invigorates, but does not cleanse, and persons who daily use a sponge bath in the morning, should frequently use a warm one...for cleansing purposes.  When a plunge bath is taken...soap should be plentifully used, and the flesh-brush applied vigorously, drying with a coarse Turkish towel."

John H. Young, A.M.
"Our Deportment", 1882

This is me, in my little tub, in my grandmother's garden, probably around 1 1/2 years old.

"In most of our houses in the city there is a separate bathroom with hot and cold water, but country homes are not always so arranged.  A substitute for the bathroom is a large piece of oilcloth which can be laid upon the floor of the ordinary dressing-room.  Upon this may be placed the bathtub or basin."

Richard A. Wells, A.M.
"Manners, Culture and Dress of the Best American Society", 1891

"Bathrooms are no longer a novelty in small towns and farm houses.  But, it must be understood that to enjoy these in winter, requires almost of necessity a range or furnace...When possible, cover the floor of the bathroom with tile...Hang the walls with waterproof papers...or hang India matting three feet (0.9 m) high around the wall above the wainscot boards, and finish top and bottom with a small piece of molding...The best plumbing and porcelain are none too good for the bathroom."

Sidney Morse
"Household Discoveries", 1908

"The washstand should be furnished with a large bowl and pitcher, small pitcher and tumbler; soap tray, sponges and basin, holding two sponges (large and small), china tray containing two toothbrushes and nail brushes, and a bottle of ammonia.  On the right of the washstand should be the towel rack, which should contain one fine and two coarse towels and two more very coarse...Turkish towels.  The foot-bath should be placed beneath the washstand."

Richard A. Wells, A.M.
"Manners, Culture and Dress of the Best American Society", 1891


The early bathroom experience would not be complete if I didn't share this with you...Although my parent's home had all the modern conveniences available at the time, as far as the bathroom went, my grandparents were not so lucky...

Yes, this is where I sat my little girl tushie down when I went to visit my grandparents.

They lived about one mile from where our comfortable home was located, at "the ranch", where my dad grew up.  My sister, brother and I used to walk there quite often as we loved that we would pass through a very juicy and delightful cherry orchard, swim in the creek behind the house and my grandfather's mill, and eat crispy cereal, that was kept in a little cubby in the side of the wood stove, drenched in sweet cream that we helped Grandpa coax out of Old Bossy and garnished with fresh picked strawberries from Grandma's garden.

Those were wonderful times and, looking back, we didn't even think what hardships might be involved, except when we had a sleep-over and needed to use the facilities in the middle of the quiet, dark night -- but that's another story for another day.



I would like to thank Kris for the beautiful issue of Artful Blogging magazine in which her charming cottage is featured.  She sent it along with a special card that contained a pouch for a sweet little tea bag.

If you haven't met Kris, go right over to her Junk Chic Cottage.  She has the most lovely blog and is always such a wonderful hostess when she invites you into her sweet and beautiful home.  If you have never been there before, you will thank me after one visit.

I must add that the tea was so good.
  Harney and Sons, Raspberry Herbal.

Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness, Kris, and I spent the most delightful afternoon on the front porch...


Smoke in the sky    

This is what we woke up to this morning...

There is a fire burning in Placer country.  Just a few miles from us as the crow flies.  Last report was that it has burned 1200 acres and is 0% contained.  Hope they will get control of it soon and that no one's homes or animals are in danger.


I am sharing with these lovely parties today: