Patriotic Summer Decor

Patriotic Summer Decor

Red, white, and blue can carry you Memorial Day through Labor Day.

One of the reasons I love decorating for the summer is I know that once I have my home all decorated I can leave it up for a long time. If you break out all of your red, white, and blue patriotic decor in May for Memorial Day, you can have your home decorated for flag day in June, Fourth of July, and all the way until Labor Day in September.
I have one storage bin with some Fourth of July and patriotic decorations. I will also “shop” my home for some other red, white, or blue items. I also like to include seashells, because they remind me of summer. I like to think of seashells as a neutral color. I even use them to check off the “white” if I am missing that in a red, white, and blue vignette.
Layer china patterns for a patriotic look. How cute are these Allerton’s Blue Willow individual butter pat dishes?
I like to use red Coca-Cola crates, vintage Pyrex bowls, books, and napkins for “red”. Blue canning jars, picture frames, and Blue Willow china are perfect for “blue”. White seashells, milk glass dishes, and anything silver will make your “white”.
Use seashells you picked up on the beach for filler.

Another tip I have is one that I use for every holiday. Shop the after-holiday clearance sale. I’ve had this bunting and these “fans” for a couple of years in my storage bin. I found them on clearance at Target a few years back.
Everyday items grouped together in red, white, and blue combinations suddenly turn into patriotic decor. I used a Blue Willow teapot, a red transferware platter, and some red & white flowers to make this grouping.
Summer makes me so happy! I hope you find joy in this season as well.

A History of Country Easter Egg Decorating: a Pennsylvania Dutch Tradition


An introduction:

Today most families decorate their Easter eggs with store bought kits. I know we certainly do! The more advantageous egg decorators may even use natural dyes they discovered on Pinterest. I would like to share with you the history of how my grandparents and great-grandparents decorated Easter eggs with their kids, my dad included, while they lived in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. Their ancestors were Pennsylvania Dutch and these methods for Easter egg dying most likely came with them from Pennsylvania to Virginia over a century ago. I post this here in the hope that this history will not be lost. Thank you to my aunts Gail and Martha who humored me a couple of years ago with my questions, and my apologies for taking so long to publish it here.

Easter was an important part of growing up in the country — not only did we see Easter Sunday as the most important Sunday in the life of the church, it was a time when we kids could take part in coloring Easter Eggs, and at the same time we heard stories of an even older time!  Here is the sequence of how we did our eggs:

First, on Good Friday Mama (Grandmother Polly Will Lytton) would boil several dozen eggs — sometimes 3 or 4 dozen depending on how many were at hand.  Once the eggs were boiled they were placed in colanders or pans — nestled into old cotton of some sort (old dish towels, clean rags of every kind) and ALWAYS with very clean hands — Mama did not want any oil or grease to spoil what would be the final product.  The pans of eggs were then put on the back screened porch to cool overnight — never into the icebox (or later the refrigerator) where if cooling too fast they would “sweat”.

On the Saturday before Easter, after supper, Mama would gather all the things needed to “spot eggs” — vinegar, suet, dyes, old woolen shirts or sweaters — she would have everything ready before she brought the eggs in from the porch.


 With all us kids hovering around and Grandma Edna and Granddad Carson near by we would start (I can’t remember your Granddad Ty Cobb Lytton being involved at all — maybe he was doing final outside chores …or taking time to just sit aside and read the paper!)

This is how it would go:   Grandma had boiled some onion skins to make brown dye; Granddaddy would be standing by to mix the toxic black dye (kids not allowed to touch – it was cloth dye and it was toxic!); Mama would set old cups or those stained from previous Easter dye sessions around the table and carefully put the dye tablet, some vinegar, some hot water in each cup and each of us would take up a space around the table and try to stir and melt the tablet without spilling a drop (not always successful at that).  With that accomplished Mama would carefully put an egg in each cup and we would try to made sure that each egg was evenly colored.  Each colored egg was laid again in clean cotton cloth to completely dry and wait for “spotting.”  We kids of course would try to outdo each other in whose eggs came most perfectly out of the dye — not a quiet discussion.
When we were very young we would be sent off to bed to wait for Easter morning where we would find baskets of the decorated eggs — as we grew older and stopped believing in the Easter Bunny WE were allowed to help and this is how it went:

Once the eggs were cool and colored, Mama would melt the suet in a pan on the stove — this really was beef tallow that she saved from year to year —  from Easter to Easter — with very clean hands we would each take an egg and using our fingers — or for more intricate designs a straw from a REAL broom — and dip into the tallow and make spots of tallow all over the egg — or dip each end of the egg in tallow and put a design in tallow around the middle –or use a straw to make a design;  Mama ALWAYS took the green eggs and made a  wheat design [shafts of wheat, little tadpoles, crosses, bunny tracks, spiders] up and down the egg w/tallow using a broom straw   — Granddaddy used the black dye to make “baldies” by dipping each end of the egg in the tallow — then he would take a black egg and with a straw draw spiders all over the egg — somehow I cannot remember if we decorated Grandma’s onion skin dyed eggs –maybe we just admired them as brown — I’ll have to ask one of the “Lytton girls” about that …anyway  we could make any design we could manage — as you can imagine some of us had much more artistic talent then others!!

After the tallow hardened on the egg — and it hardened quickly on the porch-cooled eggs — and the older the tallow the more quickly it hardened — Mama would place the eggs in a bowl of water and apple vinegar where they would sit for a few minutes — then out she would take them and rub with the woolens she also kept from year to year — all the color would come off EXCEPT for that under the tallow — can you picture that?  Of course the tallow came off too but the color underneath did not and formed the design.

Preparing/decorating Easter Eggs in this way was always attributed to our Pennsylvania Dutch/German ancestors — I like to think of them as folk art — while those of the Ukraine are/were much more complex and sophisticated — I do not know of anyone who decorates eggs “our” way now — Some of us have tried  over the years — but the eggs are treated/coated when they come from the store – so you need straight from the hen — the dyes are much too harmless nowadays so the color won’t stick – and the tallow must be heated again and again to render it to the point when it will harden quickly –“
The eggs were a simpler version of traditional Dutch decorated eggs such as these.


This process must’ve produced the most beautiful and unique eggs. I don’t think that I will ever actually be able to take these steps. The tallow and fresh eggs aren’t realistic ingredients for me to come by. But I do think it is important for this history to be written down and remembered. There is a lot of art lost in convenience, don’t you agree?

Don’t hide your crazy! History, that is.

Do you ever browse through the history section of Pinterest? I do. All I have to say is, there have always been crazy things going on in this world, there just hasn’t always been as many of us in it. When you find something that has survived through a lot of that crazy history, it deserves a little respect, doesn’t it?

You would probably assume since I like antiques, that I would also be interested in history. It’s true. I am interested in history and I have an appreciation for it. It’s so fascinating to me what particular antiques have actually survived and made it through to modern times.

I currently have a gorgeous vanity dresser available. This drop-center dresser was made circa 1850. It’s an early Victorian, pre-Civil War piece. Can you imagine what this dresser has “lived” through??

Solid marble is used for the surfaces in this drop-center vanity.

This dresser has been around through 32 presidents. When it was made there were only 31 states in the United States of America. The phone and the television were not invented. It made it through the Civil War, both World Wars, and Vietnam. This dresser was around during the time of Emancipation, Prohibition, Segregation, Women’s Suffrage, and human kind entering outer space. And it survived. Amazing, isn’t it?!

Talk about “made to last!” Check out those dovetail joints and the wooden locks on the drawers. I wonder what would have been locked up in them?

Ooooh! A secret drawer on the bottom!

A final reminder of just how long ago 1850 was: these shelves for a candleholder were necessary since electricity was not in homes yet.


***UPDATE*** Thank you for all of the interest in this piece. However, it has sold and is no longer available.
Dresser’s Victorian Ornamentat (Google Affiliate Ad)

Can’t I have ANYTHING nice?

I’m surprised that after having four children, that my mom had anything nice and special to show for it. I remember playing with balls in the house (and being told to go outside). I remember roller skating in the house. I remember throwing spaghetti noodles on the kitchen ceiling while on KP duty. And alas, my mother somehow kept safe some beautiful treasures.

That can’t be said for everything, though. There were casualties. There were cries of “Can’t I have ANYTHING nice?” There were blank stares loaded with “why did I even bother?” when we came hanging our heads that something special had been broken.

My kids and I were doing some holiday baking with my mom yesterday. And, God love her, I think Christmas threw up in her house. I mean, the Spirit of Christmas Present had some bad egg nog and hurled Christmas. Everywhere.In.The.House. I’m surprised there is no Christmas toilet paper. But it really is a magical place for the kids to visit during the holidays. And my mother adores showing them all of her moving and electric Christmas decorations. You can literally see the memories being made in their minds as they awe in wonder at the tiny dancing Nutcracker ballerinas.

Three generations of cookie bakers: Me, my sweet S, and my Momma.

 Mixed in with the borderline coo-coo wonderful Christmas decor are things from my childhood. There are ornaments on the tree that I remember staring at as a child. Not valuable in monetary terms, just invaluable in nostalgia. There’s the nativity set with the most gentle expressions on Mary and Joseph’s faces. And there’s the retro, golden, angel playing the accordion. …..What?!?!

Yep: retro, golden, angel playing the accordion. She began as a set of three, and, you guessed it. Two fell victim to tragic deaths at the hands of four rambunctious children. I can’t pinpoint which of us children, exactly. But after so many years have passed, can’t we just lump it up to all four of us together? (Says the one who most likely broke it.)

I was commenting to my mom how sad it was that only one survived, and she is battered and chipped at that. Suddenly a light bulb! Um, hello! Why have I not researched these?! My mom purchased the set from a church tag sale and there was no marking on the bottom of the remaining angel. So into my search engine went: 1960s gold angel playing the accordion. And what to my wondering eyes should appear? A Christmas miracle.

A complete set of THREE retro golden angels playing their instruments. This lovely set of ladies is on their way to my house. I won’t get them in time for Christmas this year, but they will probably be the first things I put up next year. Again, not necessarily valuable in monetary terms, but the memories they bring for me….priceless.


P.S. LOVE YOU MOMMA, and your Christmas decorations!!//

UPDATE: These vintage Christmas angels were made by Hapco Japan in the 1960s. They are made of paper mache (papier mache). My collection has grown over the past couple of years. Here are more pictures:

Insu-Laters, Baby

Hi there! Did you miss me? Sorry I’m posting later today, but I’ve had you on my mind. I couldn’t wait to show y’all what you can do with these great glass insulators. These are as utilitarian as they come. Glass insulators were used for years on telephone poles to keep the wire connections dry from the outdoor elements. Water conducts electricity, and that’s not good!

Glass insulators come in all kinds of colors. Different colors do not have any meaning or purpose. They simply made insulators at the end of the day with whatever glass color they had been using earlier in the day. I love that! Something so utilitarian, that it wasn’t even given a dedicated color, has now become something that people seek out to find and save.

You might also find ceramic ones. I prefer the glass, but that’s just me. If you like the ceramic ones, then love them for all you’re worth. Unfortunately, the ceramic ones won’t be much use for what I’m showing you today, though.

So today your supplies are: glass insulators and electric flicker tea light candles.

Glass Insulators

 Y’all, glass insulators as a whole are not rare. Certain colors are hard to find. However, if you aren’t looking for a specific color, you should be able to find these very easily anywhere vintage and antique items are sold.

Battery Operated Tea Light Candles

I found my tea light candles at Sam’s Club. They have a great set around Christmas time for a very good price, and it even includes extra batteries. But you can get yours anywhere. CVS, Walmart, Publix. Any.where. I saw a set of 3 at Walmart today for 99 cents.

Okay, now here’s the hard ridiculously easy part. Turn on the light and put it under the insulator. That’s it. You’re done. You don’t have to have any special talent for this project. Anyone can do it.

Instant Ambiance

I love using these outside on a patio table. The flickering lights make everything sparkle. They’re also great on a fireplace mantle. You don’t have to worry about having to blow the candle out.

Here’s another idea that is just as simple and easy to pull off:

The insulators fit perfectly into the openings of a vintage Coca-Cola crate. Instant vases for flowers from your yard!

What I love about both of these projects is that neither is permanent. You can use them for candlelight one day, and then for vases the next.

Be sure to come back tomorrow. I’ll be giving a sneak peak of what I’ll be selling at the fair on Saturday. (Tiny Hint: I will have these insulators with candles available there.) Let me know what you think of the insulators.

Finds of the day!

Lucky you! Two posts in one day. 🙂
Here are a few of my favorite finds from today:

First up are some vintage Pyrex “cinderella” bowls in the “Early American” pattern. Haven’t caught the Pyrex itch yet? These are one of the hottest items right now in the vintage and antique market. America is going crazy for these! Made in America, used in America, American tradition….we are longing for it.

Pyrex cinderella mixing bowls in the “Early American” pattern

Want to learn more about Pyrex, Fire King, and other glassware?

Follow Me on PinterestThere are whole websites dedicated to vintage Pyrex. Check out If you do a search on Pinterest for vintage Pyrex, glorious things will happen. Soon, you’ll find yourself appreciating Pyrex for what it is: Americana at its best.
Next up are some fantastic jars. I adore blue Ball “Perfect Mason” jars. But today I have some other special ones that I want to share with you instead.
Starting in the middle is an antique Ball freezer jar, with its original zinc lid. LOVE this guy. The other two I’m not 100% sure if I’m right about. (Please correct me below in the comments if I’m wrong.) The guy on the left is what I believe to be a vintage Parmesan cheese grater. You can’t tell from this picture, but his cap has measuring marks on it. The metal handle on the left turns and it rotates inside. The guy on the right is a Mason jar that I believe to be a pitting jar used for olives and cherries.
All of these finds today make me wonder…what everyday objects do we use now that will turn out to be collectibles in the future?
Come back tomorrow. I’ll be showing you how to re-purpose some antique Americana objects that I adore. You won’t believe how EASY this one is.