Monday, December 8, 2008

One of my fondest memories around Christmas was baking in the kitchen with my Mom. While growing up my mom would bake all of her favorite cookie recipes to give away as gifts. My mother accumulated many amazing recipes over the years from old cookbooks and magazines, by asking her friends for their cookie recipes, and of course, from my grandmother. Another great way to find fabulous recipes is through a cookie exchange party. It's a great excuse to get together with friends and family, enjoy new cookie recipes and catch up over a glass of milk.

Here are some ideas for a Cookie Exchange Party “Antique Living” style.


Well in advance, set a date for the cookie exchange and send invitations to as many people as you can comfortably accommodate.

Guests will get a hint of the theme for the party.


Have everyone bring 3 dozen cookies.

Keep a master list of cookies so everyone doesn't bring the same thing. There's no point in holding a Cookie exchange if you all bake sugar cookies.

Recycle vintage cookie tins lined with wax paper for your guests to take home their cookies.


Keep it simple. Serve coffee, milk and a sampling of the guest’s cookies.

Set up a buffet table with retro kitchen ware.

I set up this table with items from the store.


Have everyone send in their cookie recipe in advance. Print all the cookie recipes on photo copied blank vintage recipe cards. At the end of the party give out a Cookie Recipe Book with all of them bound together with holiday ribbon attached to an old cookie cutter.

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Bittersweet Love Affair

Gardeners in North America either love bittersweet vines or hate them. Bittersweet plants can kill trees and are difficult to eradicate from your landscape. But during the fall season bittersweet vines put on a display few other plants can rival, as the deep yellow skin of their berries bursts to reveal an orange jewel within. And not to be outdone by the berry, bittersweet plant's fall foliage blankets its victims in yellow splendor. To grow bittersweet vines or not to grow bittersweet vines: truly a bittersweet decision for gardeners.

With Thanksgiving just two weeks away I thought I'd share some simple ideas for using bittersweet for your Thanksgiving holiday. These were all made with antiques I have in the shop. No need to use the same old vase. The idea here is to be creative with what you use for your container. The centerpieces were all created with the same bittersweet and pussy willow bouquet.

A charming brown and white transferware pitcher.

A Thanksgiving Table set with the brown and white transferware pattern " Charlotte " by Royal Staffordshire, amber candlewick glasses and using the same pitcher and bowl centerpiece.

A nice old corn planter . This would look wonderful in a fall display on your front porch next to a bounty of pumpkins, gourds, cornstalks and hay bales.

An unusual large fishing creel, one of my favorite "containers" to use for centerpieces.

An American Toleware canister with stunning fall colors.

A primitive Rug Beater with our bouquet of bittersweet attached with ribbon.This would be a great alternative to the typical wreath on the front door.

A fun vintage Indian planter

A minnow bucket filled with bittersweet will sure to please the fisherman in the family.

Monday, October 6, 2008


The Origin of Halloween
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make
predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.
During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.
The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.
By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.

Halloween Comes to America

As European immigrants came to America, they brought their varied Halloween customs with them. Because of the rigid Protestant belief systems that characterized early New England, celebration of Halloween in colonial times was extremely limited there.
It was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups, as well as the American Indians, meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included "play parties," public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other's fortunes, dance, and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland's potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today's "trick-or-treat" tradition. Young women believed that, on Halloween, they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings, or mirrors.
In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers, than about ghosts, pranks, and witchcraft.
At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season, and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything "frightening" or "grotesque" out of Halloween celebrations. Because of their efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.
By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6.9 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country's second largest commercial holiday.

Halloween data from

Here are a few pictures from the Shop

Silhouettes have an eerie shadowy quality to them reminding me of Halloween

Silhouette cutting hearkens back to early 17th century France, when silhouette artists were hired to entertain royalty with their free-hand cuttings of lords and ladies in all of their elaborate finery and hair-pieces. Silhouettes are, in fact, named after the French Minister of Finance in 1759, Etienne de Silhouette. He spent much of his time perfecting his favorite new pastime, the art of cutting silhouettes. Thus was born the name "Silhouette."
Silhouettes migrated into the rest of Europe and eventually became exceedingly popular in 18th century America, where they were employed as a way of capturing dignified portraits of American aristocrats, politicians, and common folk alike.
Silhouettes are still popular today, although the number of silhouette artists has since decreased to about 15 in the entire country. Even though the actual silhouettes remain greatly sought-after as wonderful and lasting encapsulations of people and events, artists are still rare.


I remember playing the Ouija Board when I would have sleepovers with my girlfriends.

An Ouija board is any flat board printed with letters, numbers, and other symbols, to which a planchette or movable indicator points, supposedly answering questions from people at a séance . The fingers of the participants are placed on the planchette that moves about the board to spell out messages

The modern board was invented around 1892 by Elija J. Bond and William Fuld in Baltimore. All rights to the Ouija Board were purchased by Parker Brothers
in 1966. The Ouija Board sales are second only to Monopoly.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Antiques Roadshow

Back in March I discovered the Antiques Roadshow was coming to Grand Rapids, Michigan. You needed to apply online for tickets before April 25th and they would let you know by the end of May if you won tickets. The day after I applied online, I was working at the Antique store and was happy to share my excitement of the chance of winning tickets to the Antiques Roadshow with my friend and fellow antique dealer Bill. He of course went home that night and also eagerly applied online for the chance to win tickets to the Antiques Roadshow. Over ten thousand people applied for the chance to win two tickets to the Antiques Roadshow. May came and went and I did not win tickets to the Antiques Roadshow. But can you guess who did? BILL
After several months of taunting me he finally asked if I would like to go. Going to the Antiques Roadshow was a great experience. I really enjoyed seeing the "behind the scences" part of the show and how it all works.

You are allowed to take two items to the Antiques Roadshow
for a free apprasial.
We waited in line with our 2 items for apprasial for
3 hours before we even moved on to the live set area.

My first item was an original oil painting.

My second item was 14 original water color drawings of B-26 Bomber nose cone art done by the artist ( airplane mechanic )who also drew the art on the airplanes. These drawings created quite the buzz and I was able to talk with several different top appraisers from the show. The nose cone art was appraised at $300.00 each .

See a photo of this nose cone art drawing on the B-26 Bomber at

Friday, May 2, 2008

Welcome to the Antique Living Blog

Every year I look forward to the new Spring season after
another long Northern Michigan winter. Spring has always
symbolized to me new growth and beginnings. The birds
start to return, the flowering bulbs break ground
and the cherry trees start to flower. I could not think
of a better time to create a new " beginning " of my own.
I took on the task this winter to establish a new website
for the shop and to launch my own Blog site. Spring is here
and I am pleased to officially start blogging. I am looking
forward to sharing my " Antique Living " with you.

Angelic Esser