There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.

May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

My Love Affair With Blue and White

Growing up in the 1970's, like most people, I lived in a world of gold, avocado green, tan, brown, and more gold--or 'goldenrod' is what I think my mom called it back then. Our house was a haze of autumnal colours and blue was never anywhere to be seen.

My introduction to blue and white was through my mom's best friend, and her farmhouse in South Dakota.  It was everything I loved.  It was old farmhouse with wooden floors, no shag carpet anywhere, and she decorated her windows with clean, white curtains and the windowsashes with blue and white dishes. It was a revelation, even at the tender age of 7 or 8.  She was also the person who started me on the road to my own blue and white collection, giving me a beautiful Royal Copenhagen plate as a gift. Even though I was only 18, I was thrilled.

My first blue and white plate, on the bottom
shelf, is still in my kitchen and has
travelled many, many miles with me.

My next introduction to blue and white came as a young bride, in what seems now like another life, who married a Dutchman--and with that came Delft. Glorious blue and white delft, straight from Holland.  I didn't care much about the fondue pots, the crock pots, or the Corningware casserole dishes, it was the blue and white Delft I most proudly displayed in our little apartment.  And I was by then, at the age of 20, completely in love with blue and white.

As I raised children and lived on a budget, there wasn't much money left over for collecting anything, much less blue and white china. Antiquing with girlfriends was a favourite past-time though and I soon found something I could collect and the "budget" would never be the wiser--antique crescent spice cans.  They were only a dollar or two each, but each one was brought home as a treasure.

And then I came to England.  My very first trip was in 1994, and I still have the blue and white treasures I brought home with me.  I'll never forget walking into the Crabtree and Evelyn shop on Cornmarket Street, here in Oxford, and seeing the blue and white transferware, which they don't even make anymore. I think I nearly fainted, or at least stopped breathing for a few seconds. A perfectly proportioned Crabtree and Evelyn teapot came home with me, carefully wrapped in my suitcase--and it's still in our breakfast room today.

Through the years I collected blue and white china, pottery, transferware, whatever--I just bought what I loved.  I added to my Crabtree and Evelyn transferware collection each trip I made to England, along with treasures I found back home.  Then one day I discovered a dusty cardboard box full of Denmark dishes--enough place settings for 10 people, and even better, it was only $25.  Stuart wondered aloud if we'd ever use them, but being the kind man he is, he's happy if I'm happy, he didn't question me beyond that.  I just knew I had to have them, even though I had no idea where I'd put them in our little cottage home.

My kitchen sideboard.
And then we moved to England. And bought a bed and breakfast. The Denmark dishes I found in that dusty cardboard box are now the breakfast dishes we use every morning for our guests.  And all of the blue and white treasures I carefully packed in my suitcases over the years, came right back over the Atlantic Ocean in a container, most of it now living happily in the breakfast room.  I guess you never know what treasures lie in dusty boxes or where one little plate can take you, but looking back I know my blue and white plates and teacups, teapots and jugs, along with me, are right where they're supposed to be.

"Unless you leave room for Serendipity,
how can the Divine enter?"
~Joseph Campbell

It isn't a South Dakota farmhouse,
but I love my blue and white window
in Oxford. 


  1. Charming! I love blue and white, too, and have a set of blue willow I use every day, that has traveled with me since College! Some are my grandmother's pieces who also collected it, and from whom I caught the "fever"! I have a few pieces of Delft and other flea market finds! I just love it. So nice to see your collection. It all looks lovely together!! Jane xo P.S. I'm curious! Do other's comment here? I heard of you through Mozart's Girl (Rachel Lucas).

    1. Hi Jane ~ Thank you again for your lovely comments. I actually don't get many comments here--most people comment on Facebook where I share my blogs or when they've emailed asking for a room--or even when they come to stay. But wherever they come from, they're very much appreciated. I also enjoyed looking through your beautiful website and love you and your husband's work--it's very special.
      Thanks again for stopping by. Carrie