Grammy's House is a term affectionately used by our grandchildren, and it has become a haven for them. Our youngest grandchild, Sophia, resides here with us, along with Scout, the 2 lb Yorkie, and Lucy Maud, the kitty cat. We named our 100 year old Victorian home Rose Water Cottage when we moved here, in June of 2011. It is quite a haven for grownups who are weary of being grownups. So, welcome to our storybook world...where magic happens every day.

Friday, October 24, 2014

While we wait for the drawing…(with more photos included)

..why don't I show you a few photos from our trip to New England?

You've been so patient! My goodness…have you ever!!

On October 2nd, we awoke at dark:thirty…not my most favorite time of day, mind you, but this was the day we would make our way to New England for a long awaited trip of a lifetime. We would be taking a tour of Tasha Tudor's Corgi Cottage and Cottage Gardens!

We traveled by plane to Baltimore, changed aircrafts and continued our journey to Albany, New York. Once there, we rented a car…with a GPS system...
and made our way to Vermont.

It was October, the weather was glorious! After all, it was New England in October…

There were winding roads that led us into a magical place…a bit reminiscent of our familiar East Tennessee, but more.. More trees…More mountains….More roundabouts (we weren't quite sure what a roundabout was until we had traveled through several)

And there were tiny antique shops along the way…and I would squeal and point…

What a dilemma…should we stop or keep going…
Oh lets stop…at just one…

Treasures found:)

On to the Inn…the White House Inn in Wilmington, Vermont.  It was beautiful!

We were lead up to our room, opened the curtains, and this was our view…

Gorgeous! Absolutely gorgeous! Never had I seen so many Maple trees…of every shade…

We drove up into town, found supper, did a bit of shopping, and headed back in for a good night's rest, for the next day would be a very big day.

Of course I couldn't sleep….

so I journaled and painted and made sure Eliza's new lavender shawl fit just right. I had just finished it on the flight….

Two new pens found at Bartelby's Bookstore (in Wilmington)

sleep came….eventually….

and then it was morning...

This hydrangea took my breath! I had never seen one as tall as a tree!

We enjoyed our breakfast.

Eliza was a bit fixated on the Concord Jelly…

Concord…Massachussetts …New England…get it? 
 Grape..purplish…lavender…the shade of my shawl…get it? 

That silly mouse…I can read her like a book;))

 We then made our way back upstairs to prepare for the visit to Tasha Tudor's.

Dear kindred, Linnie Nolan (of The Butt'ry and Book'ry blog) and I
had messaged back and forth for several weeks…planning what to wear for this most special occasion.
She helped me find a treasure on-line. Vintage Laura Ashley prairie dresses would be the most fitting attire, and she already owned one, so with my purchase, we would be twins:) ((Yes, we were sickingly giddy. Don't judge...We couldn't help it.)) 
We would also be meeting for the very first time…in person, that is…

I ironed the miles of ruffles on my lovely pink frock...

donned my soft new socks and new clogs… (Just so you know…I DID bring my purple "Iris" wellies, just in case it was raining:)

…and slid into the front seat of our "carriage"…with my journal and satchel and Hitty Rachel Rose and Eliza Mousie and a pretty handkersniff….and our tickets (don't forget the tickets, Tim said:)

We didn't have to drive very far…just a ways over the river and through the woods…
 and we were turning onto a little road..

...commenced squealing.

This was her driveway…the driveway she walked up and down with her Corgi doggies..

"Go, Tim…no wait..stop! okay…go…oh my gosh…" 

It went something like that until we spotted the sign….

The Rookery houses the office and gift shop, and this is where we would congregate…where I would meet, not only Linnie…but a new friend..made back in 2013…a twitter, blog, instagram, fb friend.
Karen and I would meet…finally!

The first chokehold went to Linnie…yes, we had quite a grip on each other!
This photo was taken after we had hugged 10 times already. She was exactly how I had imagined. ..and she was just darling in her flowing LA prairie dress and pinafore…
Mine didn't flow…at all…but I sure felt at home in my old-fashioned dress;)

I made my way inside the gift shop to sign in and find Karen.  I spotted her right away and round two of hugging-mania commenced.  Much squealing, etc.

(between my ecstatic emotions and an issue with my phone battery staying charged, I did not get a photo of the two of us. However…there were cameras clicking and Linnie has promised to share photos when her computer comes back to life;)

This is one of Linnie and Winslow Tudor…a fine young man…the grandson of Tasha...

Linnie and I left Eliza and the Mousiekins to get acquainted and hang out in the satchel (with Hitty in charge, of course) while we began the tour of the cottage and gardens.

3 1/2 years ago…Eliza sent Mildred Mousiekin a knitted shawl with a hydrangea blue ribbon (just like hers) Mildred, then sent the sweetest little thank you note Eliza had ever ever seen.

(I will be knitting these for the Etsy shop, in varying colors. Shhhh…don't want to ruin the surprises:)

These were a few photos I took before leaving the gift shop/office.

This is a photo of a replica of the tin kitchen (reflector oven) Tasha used for cooking turkeys on her hearth…especially on holidays...

 …and Eliza was just beside herself when she saw the black cookstove. It is so very much like hers...

And we recognized the paste ware…the dishes Tasha illustrated, that you'll find on her tin of Welsh Breakfast Tea

Before leaving the Rookery, I did a bit of shopping…

I found this book and a bundle of the fabric with the same theme…
along with Corgiville Fair (Sophia has gone off for the day with her stuffed Corgi Puppy she's named Buddy, and she loves this book:)

A Time to Keep is the sweetest treasure of a book.
Here is the month of October..

Do you spy the dried Hollyhock in this photo…

It was a volunteer..growing right out in front of the barn! Yellow…just like in the illustration above.
(It happened to get bent in all the activity of the photo session, and Winslow, being the dear that he was, saw me doting over it and asked if I'd like to have it. Oh, my heart!)

This is the photo I took of my favorite cottage garden bloom, when we had returned to the Inn…

A Settle for Eliza the Mouse, came home with us, and now she and Hitty Rachel Rose have a perfectly perfect view of Grammy's make shift studio in the sunroom and enjoy long conversations of their travels…

And a hand-carved chair (a replica of Tasha's art chair) by Seth Tudor, is such a sweet addition to my sewing table….


As we gathered in front of the barn for a photo…the culminating activity of the tour… we found our places. Some of us stood..some of us lounged on the grass, chatting and hugging …and as Winslow snapped several photos, the images he would not be able to capture were those in my mind.  
There are too many to recall, but I suppose the image that struck me the most was the one of her kitchen.  I had poured over every photo and every illustration of that room..and now, to see it in person, I could hardly take it in.  

Noting the dried flowers and herbs and baskets and tiny treasures hanging there, forming a wreath, of sorts... I was filled with the wonder and realization that her art matched her life in this way, as well… her paintings and illustrations are wreathed in the intricate and delicate beauties, surrounding the images that depict her old-fashioned way of life.

I had found comfort, knowing this woman was one after my own heart.  She had a passion to create..to grow..to experience life…to make every day count…that life became even more exciting as she grew older… 
I had met the kindred spirit, still alive and well in every thing she left behind.
It's because of her beautiful knitted shawls that I had to learn to knit… and seeing her beautiful spinning wheels, I've had to learn how to spin…

It will now be up to you, dear friends and admirers of our beloved Tasha, to make your way to this magical place ..to capture images in your own minds.

Tours are scheduled for Spring and Fall.
Next year will be a celebration of her 100th birthday. 

Following the tour, we were welcomed under the tents and treated to an array of sandwiches and tiny treats…

…and of course, a cup of Stillwater Iced Tea, as can be found in her beautifully written/illustrated cookbook.

"Would you like to hear a Chicken Story," she asks with such a modest, confident tone.
Having the bluest eyes and most endearing demeanor, we were compelled to sit in front of her little rocker…in the grass…next to a chicken crate.  There was a tiny table beside her tiny chair with a tiny sign that read…"Chicken Stories 5 cents" …alongside a tiny cup…

and she began….

She led us through the tale of one forlorn little chick named Injy. 
I'm sorry, but I cannot divulge any more of the story, for it was quite worth the money we spent to find out how he/she came to have such a name…and how he/she came to be her very own little chicken.
I will say this. She used the term "foraging" which is an awfully big word for a little girl celebrating her 5th birthday…that very day!
(Thank you, Ellie, for sharing your day with us:)

Her grandmother, Marjorie Tudor had made her darling little dress and apron, and she was quite proud of it…and her very sweet little pink sweater.  She noted that "we matched!"

She allowed me to hold her chicken (which was a first for me) so I asked if she would like to hold my Hitty Rachel Rose….

…and my little Eliza Mouse….

 Look at that face! Is she not the prettiest little thing? We were fast friends. 
She and Hitty and Eliza and I.

I know this, for as the festivities were winding down, she whispered to me, 
"Would you like a feather?"

Friendship sealed.

 I will continue our journey through New England in the next post.

If you have not left a comment on the previous post, for the giveaway celebrating the upcoming launch of my Etsy shoppe, please scroll back and say hello:)

The giveaway…my handmade ornament inspired by Tasha Tudor's beautiful little book…
(book not included)



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How about a giveaway...

Dear readers…

I have decided it is time…..actually, way past time, for a giveaway.

I am deep in the throws of crafting. I can't seem to get enough…nor enough time.
There is soooo very much out there! So many clever blogs…so many creative gals…

So Much FUN!

My daughter-in-law (daughter-in-love seems to describe her much better;)  has offered to help me
establish my first ever Etsy shoppe…tomorrow. YaY!
Kinda nervous…

I can't tell you exactly what will be offered there …most likely a hodge podge of
sweet "Christie-fied" things….according to the "craft of the day/week"

Now on to the giveaway details…

My dear friend Sharon saw the photos of some of my first silk ribbon embroidery projects and
mentioned what a great idea it would be if I offered one for a blog giveaway. Well, she is just
the sweetest most clever gal, hailing from Alabama, and she never has a bad idea…they're all

Now, I put a lot of thought into this…HA! Actually it hit me as I began a little project this morning.

After a dream of a trip to New England at the beginning of October, which included a tour of Tasha
Tudor's cottage and gardens…I haven't been able to shake the "Tasha Affect" (Effect/Affect..hmmm
my sister is much better at these things:)

As I began to stitch those pretty pink roses (referred to as Dog Roses in the tutorial) I was
immediately reminded of the sweet pink book cover…A is for Annabelle.  Then I thought of
Tasha's secret garden…imagining it filled with her beloved forget-me-nots.

*****Have you seen them in the video Take Joy? My goodness they're beautiful****

My mind was racing, then…

While at the Rookery, I did a bit of shopping…how could I not! And I acquired a bundle of
the fabric from A Child's Garden of Verses.  The Green Gingham matched the silk leaves on
the piece, and I cut a square to serve as the backing.

I will post photos here as soon as my technological support returns from the store….

He is truly a computer/technology genius:)
Here we go…

Roses and Forget-me-Nots

Tiny vintage buttons...

DMC floss embroidered "wreath"

Signed and dated by Yours Truly…

I love these hanging on pretty cabinet knobs or even on a Christmas tree…
(Year Round Sweetness)

All you need to do to enter the drawing for the giveaway, is to leave me a friendly comment, introduce yourself, if you'd like, for I really have no idea who stops by for a visit, if they don't leave a nice little note.

I must confess my posts are often few and far between.
Lots of life going on in this tiny little cottage.
I'm sure you all can relate.
You can find my presence, more consistently, on Facebook, as it is
quick and easy to upload photos and comment via my smart phone.

If you are new here, feel free to peruse the archives and get to know me a bit better.

Now it's your turn…..

(Only one comment per person will be added to the drawing)

Blessings, Friends!

Christie Jones Ray

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Eliza...The Mouse at Grammy's House

To those of you who don't know the story of the little mouse named Eliza, I am sharing this video filmed by my sweet daughter in law Jenny Dew Blankenship.  Here, I read the book Eliza, the first in the series of tales of one beloved toy mouse.
Tasha Tudor was the inspiration behind this journey to write and illustrate children's books. This first book tells the true tale of how Eliza came to be.

There is another video, as well, that you might enjoy..."Eliza will not be Afraid" (You might see it pop up when the first video ends.)

My eleven books are available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and many other online bookstores....or you may ask your local bookstore to order:)

My Youtube channel is Rose Water Cottage Press, and we will continue to add films of me reading the books and will also include a tutorial on how to make your very own mouse! Stay tuned, dear friends.

Happy Birthday to our beloved Tasha Tudor,

And as always,


Monday, August 25, 2014

Once upon a time...

Every good story begins with the phrase  "Once upon a time...."
And even though the story's beginning may seem fairly bleak, there is always a happily ever after in story-telling land.
That just so happens to be where I reside... and suffer with a most persistent case of Storybookitis! They say this condition can linger for years and years and years!  I certainly hope so!

I believe all of you friends out there might be a little curious how this whole "mouse" story came to be. As I began to search my memory...of my childhood and on into adulthood...the things that stood out became the pieces that would fit together, laying the foundation for the tale of Eliza ...the Mouse at Grammy's House.  (I only regret there are no photos to share of the early days.)

Once upon a time....

...I was in 5th grade, in the 4th classroom that year. I had been moved from the 1st classroom to the 2nd classroom, most likely because of my reading level.  I always struggled with reading comprehension. My family then made a move to Georgia, from Florida, in the middle of winter. I was enrolled in the school, there, and spent two months in that 3rd classroom.  When we bought a home, in another school district, I entered the 4th classroom,  3rd school. (Are you still with me?)  It was hard being a Christie, then. Ten years old, skinny, long hair, fairly shy, and very naive.  It was 1972, and I had turned ten in the fall of 1971.

When I was at home, I was happy as a bird...flitting from one adventure to another, always creating a wonderland wherever I landed. Treehouses and the creek and the woods were the best places to play... building tiny log houses from sticks, with fresh green moss as carpeting... climbing trees to the top, until they swayed just a bit in the breeze... tucking away in a treehouse after crossing the creek and filling a canteen with water....dressing our puppy in doll clothes and wagging her around as my baby... days were never long enough.

School was another story, entirely.  I dreaded every single day, and I couldn't wait for the bell to ring, signaling its end.  I did not fit in with the other girls, especially the ones who were developing at a much faster rate.  The boys were using words and terms I had never heard before. My ears were burning and I didn't even know what those things meant! They just sounded bad...I knew that much!

A certain boy became my nemesis straight away...Mike Whitlock. I have remembered his name all these years.  The memories of that school year were not happy ones.  This boy..in the 4th classroom of the 3rd school... made sure, every single day, to spread the word that he was going to beat me up after school.  Of course, he never did, but I remained sick to my stomach..every.single.day.

One day, on the playground  (we were now in 6th grade...me and this Mike Whitlock fella) he approached me with something in his hand.  He said, "I found this and it made me think of you."  Oh...I was speechless!  He was actually being thoughtful!  He opened his hand, and there was a lapel pin...a tiny golden mouse with a tiny green eye. I was already grinning, so completely taken by his kindness, looking at the sweet little thing in my hand, when he exclaimed, "It reminded me of you because you squeak like a mouse when you talk, 'Squeaky!' That's what we'll call you...'Squeaky'...like a mouse!"

If he had punched me right in the stomach, I could not have felt worse.  I walked away, clutching that
tiny pin in my hand..."Squeaky" ringing in my ears.

Fast Forward....20 years or so...

It is 1994, and I have just received my B.S. degree (at 32 years of age).  I walk into a classroom full of 5th graders...as their teacher....determined to be the champion of those who feel awkward, shy, timid, naive.

I stood in front of the sea of faces and held up that lapel pin...that tiny golden mouse with the green eye.  It had remained hidden away in a jewelry box, all those twenty years, until now, on this first day of school...this first day that I was a teacher of children in the 5th grade..

I shared my story.  I shared my heart.  I offered the little pin as a badge of courage, to any student having a difficult day, to any student feeling sick with anxiety, to any student feeling picked on.
Every day, it seemed, a forlorn little face would show itself at my desk.  Sometimes a tear or two ...
They needed the mouse.... Quietly, my desk drawer was opened, and gingerly the pin was placed in their hand (more often than not, they'd allow me the honor of attaching the pin to their collar)  They wore it proudly...with renewed confidence... and returned the shiny creature at the end of the school day.

I don't recall when the mouse disappeared...but suddenly it was gone.  Maybe it had traveled home on a little dress or a shirt or a sweater ... Maybe it went through the laundry and was lost... Maybe it went missing on the playground...  I will never know.

Fast Forward...another 20 years..

I receive a mouse making kit and guide from a dear sister-in-law....
You know that story, don't you?

Fast Forward...Spring 2014 ...20 years has passed since I began teaching, with a tiny mouse pin in my hand..40 years has passed since I received the tiny mouse...

and I have shared the mouse pin story with a dear dear friend....who happens to have been the mother of one of my students in that first class of mine, in 1994.

I arrive at her home, with my clothes and pillow and books and Eliza Mouse....prepared to spend the weekend back and forth from her home to a barnsale in a neighboring town.

She has been to a thrift/yard sale.  She has found a tiny lapel pin.  It isn't golden, even though she has searched diligently for one matching the description, but it is a darling thing.  It is a silvery mouse, with tiny glasses upon her nose, and she sparkles.  She is for me, my friend says, as we hug, and I squeal...not so much like a little squeaky mouse..but as a grown up, who is full of joy!

I wear glasses upon my nose, and I've grown to embrace the sparkly inside of me...You know...that bubbly smiling happiness that rises to the top and spills out all over friends and family and strangers (who are just new friends in waiting:)
I'm not quite ready to embrace the silvery hairs, but there will be plenty of time for that!

Here is where the story has a happily ever after...

I want to thank you, Mike Whitlock...wherever you are....for gifting me with that tiny golden mouse with the green eye.  You played a significant role in who I am today.  I am thankful that I can look back on that incident and choose to illuminate the good that was in you...instead of retaining what I thought was all bad....the part of you that decided to give... instead of throw aside.

In that awkward stage of life, you had not yet acquired the skills to know how to be a friend to me...a skinny awkward naive little girl from another state..another school...another accent...
Through that experience I became aware of how to encourage the awkward boys in my first class of 5th graders, how to understand their difficulty expressing feelings and relay that to the traumatized little girls, who had no idea how to express their feelings ..and relay that back to the traumatized little boys....to realize there is no getting around being 10 years old.  It's just hard, whether you're a skinny long-legged little girl or a boy with rosey cheeks and a terribly stubborn cowlick.

I realized that my story came to be very similar to the little mouse I created and named Eliza..I can tell you're not so surprised;)

I thought you friends needed to know the story behind the story...behind the story...

My passion has grown, through these last few years of writing and illustrating storybooks.  My hope continues... to ease the awkwardness, the unfairness, the anguish that comes with childhood, and to encourage joy, discovery, creating, imaginative play... These little ones of ours can't get too much!

Now, go outside and play...or twirl through the kitchen...or eat a freezer pop...open up a new box of crayons and color...
...and most of all, illuminate the good in the "Mike Whitlocks" of the world.


My little Mac Book is up and running now, and as soon as I can figure out how to upload photos without great difficulty,  I will catch up on my posting, for I do have photos of the new sparkly pin:)
Thank you my dear friend, Bonnie Cecil, for searching and finding such a treasure. I love you!

Please find me on Facebook (Christie Jones Ray), Instagram (morning_gloree), Pinterest,
YouTube (channel: Rose Water Cottage Press) videos of me reading my books, with more to come...including a mouse-making tutorial.

Look for my latest book, Eliza Visits Martha's Vineyard,  released Spring 2014.  Contact me if you'd like a personalized autographed copy at:



Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Making Chai in a Happy Cottage Kitchen

I love our happy kitchen.
 Even when it's cold or dreary or rainy or dismal outside...
it is happy in here....

I am happy that we finally have our dream kitchen..

..that we modeled after the charming display we saw a few years ago in
 Penzey Spices, Winter Park, Florida..

I'm especially happy when I see this happy Santa looking back at me....

Thank you dear Susan Branch for creating a new Christmas dishtowel...

...and for a pretty Christmas Recipe book to remind us that our kitchen truly is the heart of the home...

...especially in the midst of this season.... 
And a huge thank you to fellow girlfriend, Janie, for the snowflake garland! 
Phia and I love the pretty shimmery flakes:)

So when I saw what Alicia Paulson had whipped up in her kitchen
at www.rosylittlethings.com
and decided it would be just the right thing to whip up for those on my Christmas list,
I commenced planning and ordering.
(and thanked her for the perfectly perfect idea;)

Once everything arrived, via express mail,  (for time was of the essence) I was quite excited.
Penzey spices ...mini-weck jars ....disposable paper tea bags....
recipe printed...

cute little stickers on the spice jars...

intoxicating fragrance..

(I'm now in love with fresh Cardamom pods)



Everything into a pan and into the oven for 5 minutes...
and when your entire Happy Kitchen is filled with the fragrance of cloves,  cinnamon sticks, and the blending of the remaining spices...
...be prepared..
for when you open the door of your oven...

You will want your home to always smell just like this.

Allow the spices to cool and then distribute evenly on a cutting board.
Using your rolling pin...crunch carefully over the spices, in order to release even more fragrance..
as if it can possibly get any better.
In a bowl, mix the spices with PG Tips loose tea.
(I went for the big bag, as this tea is fabulous with the mix, but equally as delicious by itself)

After filling all my little mini-weck jars, there was just enough left over to fix a batch for taste-testing....

I brewed the Chai tea mix, according to instructions...steep ....add milk...
and used my Emma Bridgewater tea pot and mug...and a cute little strainer....
(I didn't use the fillable tea bags or infusers for this batch)

I'm just going to tell you right now...have honey handy...
it is THE perfect sweetener...trust me...

I also loved having a good reason to use my special honey spoon....
a treasure, crafted by Julie Whitmore. 
 (Google her...she creates the MOSt darling pottery)

...and since I mentioned Julie...I have to show you the first spoon I purchased from her...

Really! ...is there anything sweeter than a bunny bun sniffing hollyhocks?
I just don't know that there is!

Okay...back to the preparing... 
I guess I could have copied a set of instructions for everyone, 
but you know me... 
....It had to be cute...pretty...pleasing to the eye...

The little jars were tucked into gift bags, along with enough fillable teabags, and the Instruction card.

I had so much fun with this gift preparation. 
I am sure it's because it was a combination of baking and crafting.
...my two favorite things... 
...especially because I was in my happy cottage kitchen...
The Heart of our Home

Hoping your Christmas was wonderful ...
that you were blessed with the comforting fragrances of home

Blessings for a Happy New Year