Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Visit With the Real Hitty in Stockbridge!

On a recent trip to the town of Stockbridge, MA, a special visit had been planned to visit the *real* Hitty doll where she is currently being displayed. You see, this visit was special because Bethany Tudor was accompanying us and she had waited 65 years to see Hitty! How about that-65 years!  Normally, Hitty resides at the Stockbridge Library, but they are undergoing renovations presently, so her temporary home is the historic Merwin House.

 The above picture was taken by my daughter Lydia with her iPod, so it is not very clear.  Photography is not allowed in the Merwin House, but we did not know this. Lydia snapped the picture and I had my camera in my hand ready and one of the docents told us no pictures. However, Lydia fessed up and was going to delete her photo, but the kind lady turned a blind eye. So we have one photo to share.

 The exhibit is sparse. They may bring more of Hitty's belongings out, but most are packed away at the library. The curator said to call and she will be glad to give that information. It may be best to wait until renovations are complete at the library to see her, if you want to see all her accessories. But, I was just glad to see her, and so was Bethany. We both remarked that she has a very sweet expression.

Have you read "Hitty, Her First Hundred Years", by Rachel Field? If not, you must! It is the delightful story of a hand carved wooden doll who has exciting adventures with many different characters. As a child I read the story. I, in turn read them to my daughters.  Back in 2006 a friend whom I refer to as Dr. Dolly introduced our Take Peace group to the Hitty doll that was being offered by Gail Wilson. Kristen, aka Dr. Dolly was one of the first students to test Gail Wilson's Hitty out. We have been discussing Hitty on Take Peace since 2005! There are some serious Hitty collectors amongst us.

The lovely Merwin House. There are many historical houses in Stockbridge, MA. It's really a very quaint town. Lydia asked if we could please move here because she said she could ride her bike everywhere! It really is the quintessential New England town. If your a true New Englander, who has actually lived in one of these towns you will know what I mean.

The house had a lovely back porch for sitting and relaxing. The gardens were speckled with sweet vignettes and plantings that attracted so many drangonflys.

After viewing Hitty and the Merwin House we attended the annual library sale. So many books! Bethany did find a copy of "The Great Corgiville Kidnapping" by her Mum, Tasha Tudor. 

We were all famished so my husband took us all to the historic Red Lion Inn.  A delicious menu! Lydia was the only young lady in the dining area she noticed. Shyly she did ask for the kids menu. What no chicken fingers! Oh dear, she had to settle for homemade fish sticks with hand cut fries. They were scrumptious, I took a bite when she wasn't looking.

Hand squeezed lemonade, definitely sour! 

Inside the Red Lion Inn a game of chess is a relaxing way to pass the time.

An old carousel type horse. Not for riding, but many children have a seat and dream of it we were told. I think Lydia wanted to sit on it, but felt she was a bit too old for that.

We had such a lovely day in Stockbridge and enjoyed spending time with Bethany. To hear all her childhood stories of playing with dolls and building cardboard dollhouses was wonderful.

If your a lover of miniatures then you must attend the Sturbridge Festival of Dollhouse Miniatures. It is held each year in May. Many talented and famous artisians in the doll world attend. Roy Bubbenmoyer who makes wonderful furniture was there as well as the talented Judy Brown, who carves Hitty's , Ima's , Becassine's, Gramma's, and Aunty's. Then there is this vendor who will return to Sturbridge next
year--check out these incredible Hitty scaled dollhouses!

All the Hitty's try to attend this event. It's quite spectacular and they all look forward to it I am told. 

The above Hitty's all had their registrations and name tags visible so to be able to come and go as they please. There is lots for a Hitty to see you know! The line of Hitty's and friends was quite impressive even an hour before the doors to the festival opened.

Then there are the luncheon and dinner engagements to attend with all their friends. It's no small feat to make reservations for such a large assembly of Hitty's!

This is Hitty Jean , isn't she sweet. She lives with Martha who is also a member of Take Peace. Martha chronicles all the goings on of her dolls at her delightful blog A Visit With Hitty.  Her dolls have some fantastic vacations and adventures! Be sure to pay her a visit soon.

The above photos with the signature A Visit With Hitty , were used with permission and were taken by Martha of A Visit With Hitty Blog.

Lydia and I have a surprise in the works that we can't wait to share. Hopefully soon!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!

To all who stop by Blueberry Cottage may I wish you a delightful 4th of July with family
and friends. May we all remember the sacrifice made by others, which enables us to 
hold our freedoms dear.  God bless~Suzanne & Family

"Let us then live in peace and friendship together, 
doing good to each other all the good we can."
~Thomas Jefferson~

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Welcome to New Family Members at Blueberry Cottage!

We have a couple of new babies at Blueberry Cottage. Meet goat kiddies Spike and Chloe.  They are a Lamancha and Sanaan cross.  Spike is the dashing male with the brown and white markings.
 These are my daughter Lydia's goats. We did have Nubian's prior to this, just like Tasha Tudor's favorite breed. This mix is known for producing a higher butterfat content in their milk 
and for better milk production. We shall see!

Right now the kiddies are still on the bottle with a bit of hay at each feeding. They are taken out three 
times a day for a run and a bit of grazing, but they can't have too much of that right now. They need
to be a wee bit older.

They seem to have taken to "Mama Lydia" quite well.  They recognize her as head of the herd.  
Chloe is particularly sweet with her and really loves her nose rubbed. Spike is a bit more active, he is like
the energizer bunny! But he is pretty sweet too, often jumping up for a kiss.

George is one of our barn cats. He checks out the kiddies every chance he gets and seems to like them.
George's sister Gracie is not so keen on them, but she is a bit shy anyway. Perhaps she'll come
around soon. I think George is wondering if they are new friends for him.

Goats love to climb on things.

Spike still needs to get his sea legs!  He jumps and hops a bit too eagerly at times and his
little legs just bow out on him. Quite distressing!

Spike seems to be smiling in this picture. 
 Perhaps he is thinking how content with his accomodations he is. Why a nice
cool barn that is safe and secure to retire in, plenty of toys to play with, like an old wheelbarrow, a 
a few cinder blocks, wood beams and old basketballs.  Yes, these quarters will
do nicely I think. Well, that is what I surmise he is thinking;-)

With all this goat love happening around here, Lydia and I have been re-reading Corgiville Fair
by Tasha Tudor. We just love the telling of the goat races during the fair. Tasha really
made them sound like a lot of fun. Lydia said to me, "wouldn't it be wonderful if you could
jump into the book and actually go to the fair?" Oh, yes, I tell her, it certainly would!

*My pictures are my own. With all the Pinterest "pinning" going on, I would appreciate it if you pin a picture to please note proper credit-Blueberrycottage.org.  I don't want to watermark my photos or put my blog name and copyright directly across my pictures as I think that makes photos look rather ugly. Thanks for your understanding!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Playing dolls with Bethany Tudor!

At the recent Kindred Spirits Gathering I attended , a highlight of the trip was a date to play dolls with 
Tasha Tudor's daughter Bethany. The book, Drawn from New England, was written by Bethany Tudor and 
is her memoir of growing up with her famous Mother and tells of all the magic her childhood held.  
Below is the doll Tasha made for Bethany over 50 years ago! Isn't she beautiful. The little green mittens were
handknit by Tasha herself. There was a beautiful cape and all the frilly underthings a dolly of style needs. All
were sewn by Tasha. A few other knitted items were commissioned by others Bethany told us as Tasha 
found tiny needles needed to knit the items tiresome.
What fun to have actually played with a doll crafted from Tasha's own hands!

Bethany's first "selfie" with us. She was a great sport about it. We were trying to fit us all in and use the 
camera on the phone. Poor Bethany, we kept telling her to scoot in, now look here, look there, we managed
a fairly good shot, but Bethany was looking down. Next time will be better. In the picture is also talented artist Cathy Santarsiero or "The Christmas Corgi". She paints the most beautiful corgi art!  Cathy also
owns and breeds champion corgis. She is a key member of the Mayflower Corgi Club, of which Tasha
Tudor was a well respected and loved member for years.

We enjoyed our doll talk. Bethany is also a great lover of Hitty, as was her mother. But that will be a post 
for another time.  Have you seen the new Doll News magazine? It is fantastic! Devoted to Tasha Tudor and her dolls-it tells, in its many pages the history of Tasha's Melissa and Thaddeus Crane, the Shakespeare family, and many other stories devoted to Tasha's love of dolls and doll play.  
The Tudor Family has them available on their website

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Kindred Spirit Gathering ~ Memories to Cherish! Part I

As many of you long time readers of Blueberry Cottage know, I host a group called Take Peace on Yahoo.com. (We are now using Facebook to connect also and loving it! ) We are all devoted friends of Tasha Tudor and her art and lifestyle. Seven years ago I organized a private gathering of our group to tour Tasha's gardens. We also, briefly, got to meet and speak with Tasha herself. A lovely photograph commemorating the event was taken with us all in front of her barn. Friendships amongst us were forged that day and it is a day I will never forget.

Fast forward seven years to May 14, 2014. Another trip was brainstormed by member and friend LaVonne. She enlisted the help of the ever sweet and lovely Linda, who has a knack for organizing the most wonderful tea parties!  LaVonne set up a private tour of Tasha's home and gardens for our group.  I will be ever so grateful for her doing this.

We all met at the Rookery, the location of the Tudor Family's business. Formerly this was Bethany Tudor's home, built by Seth Tudor. It's a charming little home perfect for the family business.  The day was a bit overcast, with the sun poking its head out here and there, not too warm, yet not too chilly, a perfect New England day. We made the longish trek to Tasha's by dirt road, peeking into the tall pine trees to spot mushrooms-aptly identified by LaVonne.

{photo credit Rookery Ramblings Blog}

Arriving at the gate, we all just took a breath and paused. The gate, so many times photographed in different seasons, the entry to the world we all loved and wanted to see more of.  At this point we all broke off into groups with Seth and Marjorie Tudor, our tour guides.  I was to be with Marjorie's group. Our name tags had an illustration of Tasha's-either a boy or girl, to tell us who we were to tour with, how clever.

{photo credit Rookery Ramblings Blog}

Marjorie started us with a visit to the marionette theatre--how excited I was! You see, there were two rooms I wanted to see most and this was one of them. Entering from the barn you walked down a tiny corridor Seth built into the theatre.  Straight ahead was the staging, with well worn red curtains haning a bit askew. Marjorie told us the theatre would be getting a makeover in the future. I thought it charming as ever. We were allowed to go behind the curtains up to where the marionettes would have been manipulated. Oh how I wish some of the marionettes were still in residence-especially the corgi orchestra. Sadly, many of these treasures were sold off when Harry Davis started his trouble. If any fans bought these treasures, how wonderful if they would consider donating them back to the family! There were antique wool baskets the size I have never seen! Marjorie gave one and it is just beautiful. There were also spinning wheels to look at. Tasha's flax wheel, so often spoke about was housed there. Just to see it was surreal!
The wooden benches seen in Tasha's illustrations one could imagine filled with eager guests, ready for the show to go on.  My imagination wandered and I pictured Tasha manipulating the marionettes and myself as a
 child, enjoying a show.

We walked back into the barn where we saw barrels and baskets galore. A peek into the goats quarters and the milking stanchion brought smiles to my face. How I love goats too. Tasha's canoe, made by artist and designer Henri Vallencourt still waited patiently in the rafters for another glide across her pond. Mr. Vallencourt I believe, is related to me on my father's side of the family. I am going to research this more.

Past the original outhouse that was in house we walked. My eyes couldn't take in all that there was. The crocks, firkins, yelloware, tole painted pieces, candles--there was so much to take in. All the little places we've seen Tasha create in. As I walked into the kitchen, the large, black woodstove commandeered the room. Next to it was the rocking chair, looking small in comparison, the worn chair pad evidence of an owner well acquainted with this comfortable spot. Marjorie told us Tasha would sit here with her tea in her lap and feet propped up on the stove to absorb the warmth on chilly days and eves. Across from the stove was a beautiful shelf filled with pink lustre ware china. I took in all the tiny details of these beautiful pieces. They looked lovingly used, not show pieces in a case. Tasha's small table with her brass candle sticks and beeswax candles looked poised to be lit, and fill the room with a soft glow and lovely scent.

As we meandered about I realized Tasha's house was just as she described, snug like a chipmunk's nest. The rooms were small and cluttered, but not in a bad way. Everything had a place and was used. We saw the tin kitchen she used, of which there was two in the room, her table, where she would illustrate and draw, left as if she were expected to return soon. The fireplace with settle, where so many of her nights must have been spent. Her formal parlour with the overstuffed blue sofa. All the pictures were becoming a reality.

The dollhouse is in a little alcove just before you enter Tasha's bedroom. Marjorie told us she and a friend had spent three days putting it together. There were so many little things to take in. I was so glad it was back where it should be. Thaddeus and his dear Emma with all their belongings, collected over a lifetime. I don't think any other dollhouse could compare. I loved the little sparrow post letters displayed.

As we entered Tasha's room I just drew in a breath. A small room, overlooking the front garden . Tasha would have a beautiful view of her plants while being able to hear her beloved doves cooing in the dovecote. An old birdcage was in front of the window, a witness to the life once held there in that room. There were many books and I was anxious to see what Tasha would have chosen to help her sleep. I was happy to see Jane Austen on the shelf and many other authors of old I admire. An antique white coverlet graced the four poster bed.

The next room we were escorted into was the second room I most wanted to see. The bathroom. Does that sound silly?I know, I know, why would I wish to see Tasha's bath!  But that is the truth-I really wanted to see her copper tub! And it didn't disappoint, it was stunning. A wooden enclosure was built around it, the wood soft with age. The tub needed a good polish-as copper often does, but it was a majestic antique piece.  Tasha's sink area held her hair brush and comb, old and new perfume bottles. Another stunning marble piece. The old fashioned toilet with pull chain still had the little sign on it about yanking the chain too hard.  Yet the most interesting thing about that bathroom was what I thought was a sink resting in the tub.  I looked closely and thought maybe they were replacing the sink, however, on closer inspection I noticed the drain was quite large. My suspicions were peaked and I asked Seth who confirmed it was indeed the inside to Tasha's commode. A blue canton toilet bowl that was just stunning! I think I gasped-then had a good laugh. Of course this should come as no surprise our beloved Tasha was a bit eccentric after all.  The next day I was speaking with Bethany Tudor and she told me they referred to it as "the royal crapper". Me and the girls had a grand laugh over that!

{a similiar pic of the bowl but this is a sink}

The upstairs bedrooms were next and once again you were struck by the sheer number of books in the halls, in the rooms and tucked here and there. Many gardening books, cookbooks, herbal books, so many. The four poster bed in the upstairs room overlooking the garden was a beauty and covered in another antique white coverlet. This room had a beautiful old, very worn red chest.

The garden, pond and grounds came next. Winslow took over this part of the tour and shared how he is restoring the "pinks garden". I will try to come back and see it. Winslow is doing a lot of the repairs and he is doing a wonderful job! The peony garden is also being updated as well as the vegetable patch. The pond still holds it magic for me and I can just picture Tasha's corgyn taking a dip on a hot summer day. Seth accompanied us and pointed out many of the native trees to us.

We ended the tour with lemonade and cookies with fresh fruit provided by the Tudor's. They were so gracious and welcoming! It really felt like we were at a family gathering. Amy and Marjorie even commented how relaxed they were with us.  Amy brought her and Winslow's two darling children along and that was such a treat. Ellie was shy but still talkative, with a whisper of a sweet voice. She enjoyed seeing all our dolls we brought along. The Tudor's let us photograph all our dolls on the Rookery steps. Their first official tea party at Tasha's!

 There were many more dolls. Some of us own Hitty's, French dolls, handmade dolls. Quite the lovely collection!

* There is much more to tell as we all gathered for a grand tea and crafting. That and more ( a member and I had a chance to visit with Bethany Tudor) will come in my next post -A Kindred Spirit Gathering ~ Memories to Cherish, Part II. 

Want to connect with us? Join us here:  Take Peace FaceBook page.

Want to read other tour members memoires of the trip? Visit these lovely ladies:

Lady Linda
Audrey Eclectic