On Living in Delaware…

I live in a small state.

It takes about 45 minutes to drive from the Atlantic
Ocean to the western edge of our state…
…Unless it is Summer and
“beach traffic” is involved.

It takes a little over two hours to drive from the
transpeninsular line that separates us from
Maryland, to the tip of the “Arc” that defines
our boundary against the state of Pennsylvania.

On our state seal, our official motto is
Liberty and Independence…


Delaware is called  The First State
because we were the very first state to
ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787.

We’re also called The Small Wonderand that nickname is one of my favorites.
Except for some travel courtesy of the Navy, Hubby and I have lived
our whole lives in Delaware,and have experienced the
wonder of growing up in a very small, very connected state.

A state where…
…You can travel two hours and bump into someone you know.
…You are related to just about everyone in some way or another.
…You know your state senators and representatives by their first names.
…You begin making new connections by comparing old connections.

A state where friendships that you make can
open doors later in life that you never expected.


Yesterday, thanks to the encouragement of an old and dear friend,
our family was blessed to be able to spend some time with Governor Markell.

And, because The Diamond State not only shines as a “jewel among states,”
according to Thomas Jefferson, but also as a friend to other nations,
papercuttings made in a Sussex County farmhouse with a red tin roof
made it all the way to some very special people in Israel.


Special thanks to my friend Kathy
and to Governor Markell and his staff
for this very special opportunity!

Holiday Directory 2011

A very special “Thank you!” to Early American Life magazine for once again including us in their Holiday Directory! EAL has been my favorite magazine since I was a young girl… my Mom subscribed to it, and it was the one “grown-up” magazine that had Things To Do in it!  I can remember trying to make things from the craft patterns it included way back when…

How very exciting it is, many moons later, to see
something we made nestled within its pages.

And keeping company with the likes of Presidents! Huzzah!

Moms and Dads, you never know what things you do with them now will influence what they do later in life… family trips, craft projects, books and movies, hobbies, and sometimes just the magazines lying on the coffee table. Share your interests with them, even if they don’t seem interested. (This Early American Vintage Farmhouse girl went through a phase as a teen, when I decorated my room with clowns and metallic blue Art Deco furniture. My poor mother.) Someday, something from their childhood will show up in how they make their house a home, or maybe in a career path they choose. And you’ll be thrilled to pieces!

Anyway… stepping down from the soapbox…

We the People and United We Stand
are two new designs in our shop!

What a difference a day makes.

I can remember my parents and grandparents telling me they could remember in detail the exact moment they heard that Kennedy was shot. Each felt almost bound in duty to honor that moment, and to keep it tucked away in their minds, to tell to future generations.

This morning, as I began a new journal, I wrote the date at the top right hand corner, and then froze for a moment. I tried to remember which year it was that “September 11th” took on a special meaning. When it joined the ranks of other dates, like “the 4th of July,” and “D-Day.” Oh yes, it was 2001. It’s been nine years.

We had just returned from a great family vacation to Washington D.C. and the Shenandoah Vally, where we had explored museums, caverns, and Civil War sites. It was the second day of school for us. Jordan was in ninth grade, and we had grand plans of studying the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Kate was in 7th grade, and had asked to devote that year to studying Laura Ingalls and the Westward Movement. I was making plans for an Ancient Art class of an ever increasing class homeschooled teens, most of whom I did not know.

It was a beautiful morning. One of those September days that make you just be glad to be alive. We had gotten our day started, and the girls were beginning their math lessons, which would give me just enough time to head across the field to have a cup of coffee with Nana Anne and my Mom. We ladies were enjoying the time together, when the phone rang. An uncle called to tell us to turn on the TV because something was happening. Nana’s tiny little black & white TV was in the back shed. So we quickly dug it out, plugged it in, and arranged the antennae just in time to watch another plane crash into the World Trade Center. And then the Pentagon. And then somewhere in Pennsylvania.

Sitting there in disbelief, I commented that I was glad the girls were safe at home and knew nothing about this. Then the phone rang, and they were calling because they were scared… our home phone had started ringing of the hook with news of the attacks. So we all headed over to Mom & Dad’s, where there was cable TV, so we could see what was going on. The rest of our perfect day of school was spent watching re-plays of the explosions, the reactions of bystanders, and stories of heroism.

I can remember not trusting beautiful days for a while.

I can remember a girl buying red, white, and blue candles in the store, and after me tallying them up, hearing her say that they were for a memorial service for a friend that was killed in the Trade Center… and us telling her to just take them. No charge.

I can remember standing on the porch of Shirley Plantation a month later, when we girls finally felt safe enough to take a short trip with Mom. We were in a tour group of about 30 people, and an airplane flew over. Every single person caught their breath and watched it fly over in total silence. We hadn’t heard airplanes for quite a while.

And I can remember wanting to protect my girls from everything evil in this world.

Which is impossible.

Since then, I’ve learned  that even though I can’t protect them from every bump in life, God can. And that He knows everything that will touch their lives… and mine… and that in His plan for our lives, there is a reason for everything. And that it will all work together for good, according to His purpose.

See that none render evil for evil unto any man;
but ever follow that which is good,
both among yourselves, and to all men.

Rejoice evermore.

Pray without ceasing.

In every thing give thanks;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus
concerning you.

I Thessalonians 5:15-18

Liberty Enlightening the World

I learned something new today! By simply Googling “Statue of Liberty,” I found out that the grand lady’s official name is Liberty Enlightening the World. She was a gift from the country of France, who saw America as the Republican ideal. This beautiful gift was to commemorate the centennial of our Declaration of Independence. In her pedestal, is a plaque inscribed with The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus…

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

My great-grandmother emigrated to American from Scotland when she was 16 years old. She didn’t get to see the Statue of Liberty for two reasons. The first is that she was blind. The second is that because of her blindness, the family was afraid to enter America through Ellis Island, and came down through Canada instead, with William Phillips, a Pennsylvania farmer, as their sponsor. Because it was difficult to find work as a blind girl, Margie went to work for Mr. Phillips, to take care of his two small sons. Eventually she and Bill married, and had twelve children of their own! And here she is, five generations later! (The baby is my Jordan, her first great-great-grandchild!)

And in honor of the 234th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, we’ve made our own Liberty Enlightening the World! Much smaller, of course, than the original. She is quite the challenge to paint, since she’s monochromatic, so each cutting varies slightly!

Liberty… enlightening the world … celebrating one of the most historically profound statements about human rights…

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Join, or Die.

Hubby and I laughed while setting up our table at Mount Vernon… I told him it looked like “War and Peace.” Half of the pictures were peaceful… Lions & Lambs in peaceful kingdoms, Distelfinks standing on hearts that say “Peace,” and lots of gentle quotes and Bible verses. The other half was a stark contrast… a Patriot on horseback brandishing a sword, tea being tossed of a ship in the Boston Harbor, and Patrick Henry raising his clenched fist at tryanny. After a good chuckle at our attempts to make these themes fit on the same table, we decided Thistle Dew Mercantile is definitely well-rounded.


One of our newest silhouettes was inspired by the “war” side of our well-roundedness. Friday morning, as we were packing to leave, I had an idea. The kind that’s not always the best thing to have as you’re packing to leave, as ideas can often mean that we don’t leave quite on time. This idea was inspired by a political cartoon created by Ben Franklin and published in the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1754. Hubby was a good sport and gathered up framing supplies to take with us, as I worked feverishly on the pattern. I was just finishing cutting the first one as we went over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It’s a little different from most of our cuttings, since it’s in pieces, instead of all one piece. I think that’s the point of the cartoon. I had to be really careful not to lose the snake pieces with the AC blowing in the van!

And it was the first thing to sell on Saturday morning.


A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.
~Thomas Jefferson~

A new old treasure.

On one of our recent antiquing excursions I found a new old book. Nothing terribly surprising about that, because books are what I usually have in my hand when leaving antiques shops. Only now that I’m older, no longer a homeschooling mom, and have overflowing bookshelves, I’m a little more discerning about buying books in antiques shops. They have to really catch my eye or tug at my heartstrings. Or be deeply profound. This one was all three.


It was a little scruffy looking on the outside, but the name “Eric Sloane” told me there was good stuff inside. I used to buy Eric Sloane’s books for the pictures and historical reference. They would sit on the shelf until I needed to know what a plow or a spinning wheel really looked like. And then one day I read one of his books. Let me tell you, they are historically interesting… but they are also very profound. Mr. Sloan had great insight to what we used to have as Americans and what we’ve lost somewhere along the way. We weren’t in the car five minutes before I started reading aloud quotes from the introduction to Hubby and Daughter Dear. (They’re used to it by now.) This was one of my favorites…

The truth is that 1776 belongs to 1776. We cannot hope to recapture the old ways easily, partly because we have so destroyed our past but also because we ourselves have become different. The godly, frugal, content, thankful, work-loving man of yesterday has now become the money-oriented, extravagant, discontented, thankless, work-shunning man of today. The original spirits of America past have become worn out, obsolete, and not very adaptable to modern living.

What’s amazing to me is that quote was written over thirty years ago. It sure fits for today. Sloane then goes on to quote Abraham Lincoln, written over a hundred years earlier… and I’m sure this quote seemed just as amazing to him. Matter of fact, Eric Sloane called this quote profound…

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

Thought you’d like those quotes. July is a Red, White, and Blue month for me… but it’s more than flag waving and firecrackers. It’s honoring the principles our forefathers honored. Common sense and an old-fashioned work ethic. Liberty  and justice and loving God with your heart, mind, and soul. I hope to always have the spirit of 1776, even though it’s 2009.

Itty Bitty. And Not So Itty Bitty.

Mini’s are back!!!

We’ve sold mini papercuttings for many years, but we bought the miniature frames unfinished and grain-painted them. They were so tiny that Chris wasn’t sure he wanted to make them. (He’s become quite attached to his fingers, and two inches is just a little too close to tablesaw blades for his liking!) However, the inevitable happened, and our supplier stopped making them a couple of years ago. So we bought all we could and used them sparingly. Last spring, we ran out. It was a sad day.

In a burst of creative energy this summer, Hubby Dear decided he would try making them, and figured out a way to do it safely. Our first batch of mini scherenschnitte, in our very own Itty Bitty frames made right here on the farm is  ready to go…


And a close-up, since they’re hard to see…


They’re slightly smaller than 3″ x 3″ and 3″ x 4″, and are $24 and $26, respectively. The frames are Hills & Valleys or Tiger Stripe, in either Cranberry or Umber. Colors vary slightly… sometimes the reds & blues are switched (except on the flag of course, because that would be not right.) and the larger eagles say America! or Liberty! or Freedom! Three of our favorite words. I think they deserve exclamation points. Especially when written very small.

Something else we did today was to list a couple of early limited edition pieces on Ebay… we re-painted the living room a while back, and some of the things that used to hang on the walls never made it back onto the walls. Actually, very little has been re-hung… I’m really liking the white space. Must be middle age? In the midst of the folk art that didn’t get re-hung were two limited edition pieces from a while back…If you click on their titles, you’ll find the link…


Blessed is the Nation



God Grants Liberty

They need a good home!

And before I sign out, you’ve got to go take a peek at some Itty Bitty things that aren’t so Itty Bitty anymore… our sweet little Grand Boys! Jordan just put up the cutest pictures, and Nana’s are allowed to brag a bit, aren’t they? And while you’re there, check out Jo’s new photography site! It’s fabulous!


Well, today was framing day! Whew! We didn’t quite get everything finished because Hubby took a break to cut the grass and I took a break to take a nap. (I thought that was a fair deal.) Kate attempted to go yard saling with her Nana this morning, but they couldn’t find any, so she came home, did piles of dishes, and balanced her checkbook, which provided hours of entertainment for us. She does some very interesting things with numbers! It went sort of like this…

“New Math”

Well, not quite, but you get the idea!


One of our Lady Liberty’s made it into a frame! I accidentally reversed her when cutting her out, but those following her will be facing the same direction as the watercolor. I liked how she turned out…


Long may our land be bright,
with freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King! 
~ My Country ‘Tis of Thee ~