The farmhouse in which I grew up was built in the 19th century. In it were things not of monetary value, but precious to us nonetheless. Family things with history. The somewhat crudely wrought table, made by a man who lived at the “county home” where my great-grandfather was superintendent, as a wedding gift to my parents; my Mother’s beautiful sewing cabinet with the little stenciled drawers that swing out like arms, a gift from my Father in the early years of their marriage; the round oak pedestal table my parents bought when they set up housekeeping, and the beautiful rocking chair belonging to great-grandma Louisa Merkel von Ohlen. “It came from Leland,” we were told about many items from my Father’s boyhood home, the farm where his father and grandfather had been born. Everything “belonged.”

I loved that house and the things in it. I loved being able to open a door in my sister Sue’s room and enter the attic, with it’s pressed tin walls and slanted ceiling, wide plank floors and a tiny window overlooking the farm’s outbuildings. Years later, when my parents had to move, that window would hold a chute down which many of the memories would slide, into a truck to sadly be carried away.

Growing up in a world of cared for things, old books, hand-made clothes (Mother was a wonderful seamstress who made everything from our snowsuits to our prom formals) and the occasional treasure box of hand-me-down clothes from the Chicago relatives of our Danish neighbor Agnes, led to a lifelong love of “things old.”

I still prefer old to new, a choice that led to a small antiques business I ran for years. When I stopped vending every other weekend years ago, my inventory came to live with us here.
Most of my collected things are vintage textiles. I’ll have many in my booth at the upcoming Charlotte Quilters’ Guild Show, appropriately named Down Memory Lane, March 10 and 11. Location details under “See My Work Here” and in the previous post.


Posted February 26th, 2017 by Ellen and filed in Exhibitions, For Sale, My collections, My Work, Personal, Quilt Events, Vintage

Our 2017 Charlotte Quilters’ Guild Quilt Show

“A Walk Down Memory Lane”
will be held on
March 10 – 11, 2017
at the 

Union County Agricultural Center
3230 Presson Rd
Monroe NC 

I will be vending here.  Hope you’ll stop by to see me in my booth, OCCASIONAL THREADS.  Look for the Mylar balloon!

Out There, Still

Posted February 6th, 2015 by Ellen and filed in Exhibitions, Family, For Sale, My collections, My Work, Personal, Teaching, Travels

My drafts folder is full of out-of-date, half-written blog posts.  The last 13 months have been busy, busy, busy with kitchen remodeling and home repairs.  What began as a 90-day project (which went seamlessly) turned into us realizing what others have known:  You make one room in your house really nice, and everything else looks like kaka.  We ended up painting most of our lower level’s rooms,  up the stairway and  the upper hallway.  Roofs of our house and garage were replaced, garage doors rebuilt, and many minor repairs completed.  Two days before Christmas, just as we thought things were settling, our furnace died.  After two weeks without heat, a new, energy efficient natural gas unit was in place.  The main AC unit is also new, as the refrigerant for the old one is no longer made.   We are, in a word, exhausted.  But we love our new kitchen and are happy to have so many overdue items taken care of.

After 33 years of travel teaching, I retired at the end of the year.  I’ll miss that part of my life, but want to concentrate on my own work and ideas.  I also want to spend more time with our two adorable grandchildren!  They are already 2 and 3, and I don’t want to miss a moment of it.

Lev Ira Rotate2Our grandbabies in their Grammy Jammies!

I have big plans for this year which include downsizing my “collections” and getting super organized, writing decent blog posts, making more quilts and most importantly, spending more time with friends.

Wishing all of you a belated happy Groundhog Day and an even later Happy New Year!


Amish Art

Posted August 31st, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Birds, Family, Garden, My collections, Travels

Bird House, Det.

Bird House, Gourd

This beautiful, hand-painted gourd birdhouse was a gift from my baby sister, Patty Cramer.  It was purchased in Pennsylvania Amish Country (in the oddly named Intercourse, Blue Ball and Climax area).  We think it’s perfect in our new kitchen.  Patty has excellent taste, and has sent us several bluebird themed items over the years.  Don’t you just love the pretty  gourd shape with it’s jaunty stem and perky handle?

Thank you, Patty!

Hiding in Plain Sight

Posted March 18th, 2013 by Ellen and filed in My collections, Thrifting Mondays, Uncategorized, Vintage

Several years ago, one of our neighbors died at the ripe old age of 106.  A native Charlottean, the woman grew up with film star Randolph Scott, also a hometowner.

Mrs. M, as I shall call her, had lived in her home for at least 75 years.   And the place was stuffed to the gills.  I’d been in the home just once, shortly after we moved to the street as newlyweds.  Mrs. M. had invited several of her new neighbors in for tea.  I remember being fascinated by the tiny green stove on legs in the miniscule kitchen.

After Mrs. M. died, the family went through the home’s contents.  What they didn’t want was to be sold at an estate sale.  How thrilling – an estate sale right down the street!   I wanted to buy the contents of the garage, filled to the rafters, until I learned it had to be emptied and taken away the day of the sale.

My biggest purchase that day was a beautiful old rope bed (what was I thinking)?  To this day, it sits in our garage.  I missed out on a fabulous vintage typewriter – curved and in its original carrying case.  In pristine condition, I don’t think it had ever been used.  I’ve never seen another like it.

I ended up buying three or four old mirrors and samplers wrought on punched paper.  All have been leaning against the west end of our upright piano ever since.  Finally deciding to let them go, I recently got them out to dust.  All must have been stored in an attic at one time, as the paper on the backs was crumbly and disintegrating.   I removed what was left, only to find the cardboard graphics used as liners.  What fun!  I’m sure the advertisement for Ward’s Fine Bread  (circa 1920?) is worth more that the mirror on the other side.  Another  vintage piece was backed with a small portion of an old ad. The biggest clue to its origin is the image of a woman’s skirt and high heeled pumps on the upper right hand side.  Portions of several words are also visible.

For years I’ve collected vintage kitchen containers and advertising.  I can’t wait to peek inside the frames of my other purchases to view what’s been hiding in plain sight!