Pennsylvania~ Walker Homestead on the Road

On the RoadFriday morning dawned early for these girls with a 3:00 a.m. start, Doreen was here by 4:00 and we were off!

The first part of our journey was uneventful, getting used to the trailer and driving in the dark, but as daylight dawned, we we able to enjoy the scenery passing by.  We noticed that Connecticut received as much snow as we had back in Massachusetts!  Only as we passed through New York into Pennsylvania did the snow amounts lessen and we actually saw patches of ground!  Yes, to all those folks back home… there is soil and grass under all that snow!

We arrived at our hotel, the Scanticon in King of Prussia, PA late morning, checked in and dropped our trailer for our next excursion… a visit to Diane Windle’s home and shop, Windle’s Log Cabin Antiques which was only a half hour away.  Nothing can truly prepare you for this treat.  Diane’s shop is her 11 room home tucked away at the end of a dirt road in an 18th century stone house and attached log cabin.  The drive was icy this visit, the scenery just amazing!  Not as much snow in PA, but snow just the same.

Diane is a warm and welcoming hostess, giving us free rein of her gorgeous home and the antiques it beholds!

Every time we come here we plan on an hour or two, but with so many choice pieces, it’s often difficult to make up your mind!  Our plans always go awry and we stay longer than expected!  Friday’s visit resulted in an awesome 18th century Dutch cupboard and early dry sink in old red paint.

We left Diane’s, stopped for a healthy lunch/dinner at Panera Bread and went back to the hotel.  We hooked the trailer back up and unloaded for the show – The Gallery of American Handcrafters and Antiques… a new wholesale show hosted by Mark & Chastity of Magpie Primitives which was held at Valley Forge Convention Center in King of Prussia, PA.  Among our friends doing the show were Connie and Harry Gleed of Hands of Time Antiques from Palmyra, PA and Cecilia Taylor from Henhouse Primitives of PA.  What a great group of vendors and customers!  The show opened Saturday night and our hand made items were sold out within the first hour!  Quite a few of our reproductions and antiques sold as well.

Sunday was a quieter day and we headed over to the Oaks for the Market Square wholesale show to pick up more items for the shop.  A special thanks to Connie & Harry who watched our booth while we were gone!  We ran into many friends, shop owners and hand crafters at the show and purchased lots of new merchandise.

Sunday evening we decided to head out for dinner with our roommates, Donna Russell of Haley’s Gathering from East Chatham, New York and her friend, Darlene.  Donna suggested Maggiano’s in King of Prussia and we were not disappointed!  Food, food and more food!  We did their family style option which included 2 appetizers, 2 salads, 2 entrees and 2 desserts… each course is all you can eat… a truly amazing restaurant with fantastic food!

Monday morning dawned and we packed up to leave with a quick stop back at Market Square to pick up a forgotten package and low and behold, we ran into our dear friend Dirk Dishop of The Early Homestead Woodshop from Napoleon, Ohio… bought some new cement bee skeps from him while we were at it!  Then we were off to pick up our purchases at Diane Windle’s and take Donna and Dar antiquing.  As usual, Windle’s took longer than expected, and quite a few purchases later we were off again, this time bound for Christina Hummel’s Primitive America in Pennsdale, Pennsylvania.

Our GPS was a little out of sorts this past weekend and took us the round-a-bout way across the mountains and avoiding all major routes… lucky us!  Unfortunately, our ETA changed and changed again, but Christina was most accommodating and welcomed us at 5:30 p.m.!  We really wish we had the advantage of daylight, but Christina’s shop is fantastic!  These northern girls were beside ourselves, like vultures, pouncing on wonderful wooden ware, red ware and more!

We shopped to our hearts’ content, then for the treat of a lifetime – a tour of Christina’s lovely home, which is featured in the spring issue of A Simple Life Magazine.  It’s every bit as gorgeous as Jill Peterson represented with Christina’s incredible summer kitchen cupboard on the cover!

We left Christina’s around 7:30 p.m. heading east out of the mountains and homeward bound.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas and after a harrowing journey with truck and fully loaded trailer and over an hour of driving 20 mph to cover 27 miles through wild snow in the mountains, we decided to call it a night at the first hotel we found.  A day late, but safe and sound, we arrived home on Tuesday to yet another 5 inches of snow!  We unpacked all of our wonderful treasures, returned the trailer and tried to catch our breath!

Our many thanks to both Diane & Christina for being such wonderful hostesses, to our wonderful customers for making this trip a success and to Donna & Dar for lots of laughs!  We can’t wait to return to Pennsylvania for another buying and selling trip… what fun!



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The Herbal

Today was a perfectly normal day.

I moved along my usual course of business throughout the day, stopped at the office, put out a couple of fires, ran some errands and finally arrived back home.

Absolutely nothing prepared me for what was to come next.  I should have had an idea that something was up, my DH had a hint of a grin hovering about his mouth from the moment I walked in the door.

A Package!A package was sitting quietly on one of the tavern tables, just waiting for me.








Slowly, I started to open it, savoring the moment.

The anticipation rose, each item more enticing than the last~


A sweet note from the past, properly sealed…

No words can express my excitement as I opened this delicious package… from quill to sealing wax, proper wrapping and accoutrement… just PERFECT.








BUT, it gets better.







and B E T T E R ! ! !





A true work of art, in every way…

I’m feeling very stingy right at this moment, but I’ll share a few glimpses with you…





and a few more…











I leave you tonight to go spend time with my new treasure, made by a master at his trade.  I thank you, Master McClintock, for your fine work!  This Herbal will be treasured

~F O R E V E R~


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A Snowy Day ~ The Bake Oven

The Day dawned with almost a foot of snow on the ground

The Tavern Doorand a forecast of much more to come.

We decided it would be a good day to try out our bake oven… something we’ve been thinking about doing for almost 3 decades!

DH cleaned out the oven

The Bake Oven






and lit the fire

While I started making bread in the kitchen.






Three loaves of bread and a pizza!

One loaf of dill bread, one loaf of lemon basil bread and one loaf of plain…

and a pizza!

The Pizza!The oven heated up





and heated up

The dogs waited, soaking up the heat… just waiting…

Finally, it was time!






and the pizza was done!


I have a feeling that this old oven is going to get a lot of use now!

Next, we decided to bake the bread… the first 2 loaves cooked too fast on the outside, I guess we’ll wait it out for the oven to cool down a bit before baking the last loaf.

What a way to spend a snowy day…


back to my seed catalogs!

A Snow Day


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From the Farmhouse Primitive Show!

Well, we have returned from a glorious fall From the Farmhouse show of country antiques & primitives hosted by Cecilia Taylor of Henhouse Primitives in Elkton, MD!  We left Massachusetts in a balmy state at 4:00 a.m. and arrived to a windy, cold Elkton just after 10:00 a.m. to set up for the show.  The show was held at the Cecil County/Fair Hill fairgrounds on Telegraph Road, which was a fantastic place to hold an event.  Loading and unloading was a breeze for vendors and there is plenty of parking for all who attended.

Over 30 vendors were set up around the grounds and inside the building and was truly a site to behold!  We ran into our old friends: Rick Fuller (Richard Fuller Antiques of South Royalton, VT); Christina Hummel (Primitive America, Pennsdale, PA); Connie Gleed (Hands of Time Antiques, Palmyra, PA); Dirk Dishop (The Early Homestead Woodshop, Napoleon, OH); Chastity & Mark Stephenson (Magpie Primitives, Canaan, NY); and of course our host, Cecilia Taylor (Henhouse Primitives, Oxford, PA)!  We also met some of our wonderful Facebook and website fans as well!

After setting up on Friday, Celia provided a wonderful dinner for the vendors and invited us all back to her house for snacks and mingling.  We dragged Connie Gleed and her friend Judy another half hour away to our new friend, Diane Windle’s home for the experience of a lifetime!  Windle’s Log Cabin Antiques is a must-do, if you are in the area, filled with primitive antiques and other treasures!  I think our eyes popped out of our heads when we saw how beautiful Diane’s home/shop is.

Sooooooo, it is our recommendation that you put aside the date of Saturday, April 30, 2011 for Cecilia Taylor’s next From the Farmhouse antique show!  You will not be disappointed.

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The Dooryard Garden

The kitchen window.

The kitchen window.

A comment from one of our Facebook fans the other day led me to consider my dooryard garden, which I usually take for granted.  It’s always there… I walk through it at least 50 times a day.  Every now and then, we need to stop and enjoy… to savor the wonderful beauty of nature around us; the sights, smells and sounds which bring us such pleasure.

The Keeping Room door.

The Keeping Room door.

My dooryard garden evolved over the last 26 years, first as a border along the house, then as a border on both sides of the walkway, then as a completely fenced garden with walkways… planned on paper first, then laid out with slate and stones, each plant chosen for scent, color and seasonal beauty.

Along the house, outside the kitchen door is my culinary herb garden, perfectly situated so we can run out while cooking and snip an herb or two at a moment’s notice with thyme and pennyroyal at it’s edges so you catch a whiff each time you walk through, then the mint garden (it used to be all hollyhocks, but the mint overtook it, it smells nice and is useful, so it stayed).  Outside the keeping room door I planted some of my favorites, so that when you walk out the door you get subtle scents of salvias (Indigo Spires, guaranitica and Maraschino), scented geraniums (Apple Blossom Rosebud, rose, peppermint), stocks and pennyroyal.

Dooryard garden, June delphinium

The Dooryard Garden in June with delphinium.

During the various seasons the garden evolves with fine displays of baptisia australis (false indigo), Seven Sisters and heirloom roses, delphinium, monarda citriodora (a less-cultivated, lemony bee balm), foxglove, hollyhocks, dame’s rocket and so on.  The hot summer weather brings on the spectacular color of annuals including State Fair zinnias, Bright Lights cosmos, Violet Queen cleome and multiple varieties of nasturtiums.  My garden would not be complete without southernwood, sweet annie, petrovskia (russian sage), annual poppies and sunflowers!

Salvia Indigo Spires

Salvia Indigo Spires outside the keeping room door.

I am so grateful for the wonderful bounty nature has bestowed upon us, the beautiful flowers, scents and that warm sweet feeling of the garden.  Take a break from your busy life and stop and smell the flowers, savor and listen.  You’ll be glad you did!

Peanut in kitchen doorway

Peanut in kitchen doorway.


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Simple Treasures from the Past – Antiques & Primitive Goods Show

Simple Treasures September 2010 showWe are almost there!  Our next Simple Treasures from the Past – Antiques & Primitive Goods will be held at Walker Homestead on Saturday, September 25, 2010 from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Over 35 of the Country’s best dealers of early American country antiques and primitive goods from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont will be set up on our lawns and in the back fields.  The Homestead Tavern will be offering a sit down lunch in our historic 1698 saltbox, the Chuck Wagon will be open for hot dogs & hamburgers, the Podunk Ramblers will be entertaining us with bluegrass music throughout the day!  Our vendor list includes:

American Country Rugs of East Rupert, VT; Angel House Designs of Brookfield, MA; Blackstone Antiques – Primitives & Candles of Douglas, MA; Blue Dog Antiques of Stafford Springs, CT; Bowl Barn Antiques of Douglas, MA; Carol Wojtkun Antiques of Preston, CT; The Country Crock of Oneonta, NY; The Early Homestead Woodshop of Napoleon, OH; Haley’s Gatherings of East Chatham, NY; Hands of Time Antiques of Palmyra, PA; Hearts & Homespun of Leydon, MA; Henhouse Primitives of Oxford, PA; Hometown Antiques of West Brookfield, MA; Jane Desjardins Antiques of Ware, MA; Log Cabin Country Primitives of Colchester, CT; Magpie Primitives of Canaan, NY; Mary Elliott of Pepperell, MA; Mill River Primitives of Springfield, MA; Newgate Designs of East Granby, CT; Orphan Annie’s Antiques of Barre, MA; Painted Duck Antiques of Niantic, CT; Pine Patch Primitives of Spencer, MA; The Pleasure of “Yore” Company of West Brookfield, MA; Primitive America Antiques of Pennsdale, PA; A Primitive Place Magazine; Primitives by Maria of Brookline, NH; Primitive Crafts of West Springfield, MA; Primitives in Pine of Hollis, ME; Richard Fuller Antiques of South Royalton, VT; Richmond House Antiques of Ashford, CT; Rocking Chair  Stitches of Harrisville, RI; Sasha’s Antiques of Orange, CT; Sassafras Hill Primitives of Enfield, CT; Sawing, Sewing ‘n Such Primitives of Ware, MA; Susan H. Wirth of Union, CT; Tinkertown Antiques of Douglas, MA; Turnpike Antiques of Madison, NY

The LineAdmission for this event is $5 per person, parking is free.  We can’t wait to see you!

Walker Homestead, 19 Martin Road, Brookfield, MA  01506

For additional information call (508) 867-4466   or find us on the web


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My Little Friend

Fidel & FrancoNot so many months ago, my son discovered he was no longer allergic to cats after 21 years of absolute misery in a cat loving family.  A trip to the local feed and grain store resulted in him bringing home two sweet little kittens, brothers… much to my dismay.  We already had 5 cats, a stray had recently arrived on our doorstep and we certainly didn’t need any extra mouths to feed!  He named them Fidel  and Franco (a bit of humor on his part) and promised to care for them, pay for their expenses and moved out shortly thereafter, leaving the kittens in my care… what a surprise.

I had forgotten how funny kittens are, hopping about, chasing anything in their Fidelpaths, even attacking the dogs who are 10 times their size!  They quickly won my heart… Franco is the purr-ball, sweet and lovable and Fidel is the quiet one, more of a challenge and now my little charmer… a Momma’s boy!

If I am home and working about the gardens or in the Garden Shop, the boys are usually underfoot.  If I’m picking raspberries, all of a sudden I feel someone Fidelclimbing up my legs!  Today I was working in the shop, up on a ladder, hanging herbs from the rafters… the next thing I knew, little Fidel was in my face, had climbed various pieces of furniture and jumped up on top of the ladder to get closer to his mom.  Of course, a cuddling break was in order which totally pooped him out… and I left him sprawled out on the doorstep as I went on to other garden chores.

I guess, the lesson here is appreciate what you have, you never know when life is going to give you little gifts… a sweet moment, an overwhelming sense of love and well-being.  Stop and smell the roses, enjoy life and those little special moments.


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It’s Brimfield Antiques Week Again!

Well, it’s upon us again… Brimfield Antiques Week… September 7th-12th.  Three times a year, the little Brimfieldtown of Brimfield, Massachusetts turns into an international antique mecca as host of a giant “flea market” for antiques with fields of vendors and thousands of shoppers from all over!

A true experience for anyone, it’s a “must-do” for all antique lovers!  You can find antiques of all sorts from early American to primitive to Victorian to vintage to 80’s from all over the country!  True quality antiques are there as well as oddities, parts from machines, barns, cars, old buildings, you name it!

Brimfield Antiques ShowAs one of the owners of Walker Homestead, together with my partner, Doreen Piechota, we head out to Brimfield religiously each week day of the show.  We are always looking for new merchandise for our shops as well as building relationships with dealers of early country antiques and primitive goods.  We host the Simple Treasures from the Past – Antiques & Primitive Goods Show at Walker Homestead in June and September and hand pick each of our vendors, many of whom are acquaintances from our Brimfield forages!

We are lucky that we live close by and are able to run over each day, however thereBrimfield are a variety of hotels and bed & breakfasts in the area willing to host you if you come from afar!  Each field has a different opening day and time, so it is best to check their schedule.  Some of our favorites are Quaker Acres (Tuesday at daybreak), New England Motel (Wednesday at 6 a.m.), Hertan’s (Wednesday at noon), May’s (Thursday at 9:00 a.m.) and J&J Promotions (Friday at 8:00 a.m.)… we will be trying out Dealers’ Choice (Tuesday at 11:00 a.m.) for something new.  Parking is plentiful in fields behind the vendors, church lawns and residential yards, ranging from $5 – $10.  It is best to plan on which fields you are going to and the parking areas near those particular areas as it is a very long walk from one end of the mart to the other!  Food is available at various locations along Route 20, or you can bring your own picnic.  No matter what you choose, get there early, wear good walking shoes, water & sunscreen (or rain gear) and get ready for the experience of a lifetime!  Hope to see you there!



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Gardening Tells a Story

I was watering the garden this morning and it came to me how our garden tells a story.  I remember where each plant came from, the story behind it from the giver or the shop where it was purchased, the name and the reason behind taking it into my care.

My favorite mint came from a long-time friend, Edna, who harvested it for tea.  A visit at Edna’s always involved peppermint tea, fresh leaves placed in a tea strainer, hot water poured over it.  Simple, plain and the best I’ve ever had!  I think of Edna every time I harvest this mint, every time someone purchases the plant or a dried bunch… we call it “Edna’s Mint” at our shop.

The hollyhocks came from a visit to Plimoth Plantation 15 or more years ago… the summer of Hurricane Bob on Cape Cod.  We took the younger children and low and behold, this gorgeous single hollyhock in shades of pale yellow and peach, was growing in the gardens of the village.  I snatched a seed pod, took it home and the rest is history!  Still blooming strong… a different place each year, always a surprise and a delight!  It invokes memories of when my now grown children were young, traipsing through the gardens themselves.

A few of my plants remind me of escapades with friends of similar interests… raiding the compose heap near the ball field for dame’s rocket with Brenda, digging up wisteria on the side of the Mass Pike with Edna, cutting wild artemisia on the side of I-84 with Jean, hoping we didn’t get killed!  I often spent hours driving up and down the country roads with clippers in hand and 3 kids in the truck, looking for tansy, loosestrife, joe pye weed and wild artemisia for wreath making… the kids would yell “over there, Mom!” or “when are we going home?”

Peony Flowered Poppy

Peony-flowered poppies are probably the most noticed flower in the garden.  The prettiest ballet-pink, like little girls in their tu-tus… sweet and fresh!  A visit to Pickity Place many years ago resulted in a seed pod finding it’s way home with me and into my garden.  One of the most delightful poppies ever and always bringing back memories of the beautiful gardens it came from.

Seven Sisters Rose

The Seven Sisters rose draped over my arbor is one of the most successful gifts I have received.  This prolific rose came from my children’s third grade teacher, Mrs. Chagnon and she brought it here from her mom’s house in the midwest somewhere.  I can’t imagine a prettier plant over the arbor.  The tale she told was that it is called Seven Sisters because each cluster of roses has seven flowers and is in seven shades of pink… a true delight to behold!

Herbs remind me of my friend Robin, who raised herbs on a wholesale basis for years, supplying the now defunct, Spag’s in Shrewsbury with their herbs.  Rue, rosemary, basil, thyme, catnip, chives, marjoram… I could go on and on… all remind me of Robin and the first time I met her.  After moving to Walker Homestead in 1984, we decided that we could venture into farm animals.  An ad for nubian goats caught our eye and off to Charlton we headed… ready for a new experience!  We got out of the car, I must confess to waddling up the driveway being 8 months pregnant at the time… we get to the edge of the pavement and Robin is waddling down the lawn to meet us just about ready to give birth to her 5th daughter!  The site of the two of us brought laughter all around and formed a long-lasting friendship.  Robin’s guidance brought us through breeding, milking, cheese-making… any goat question went right to Robin!  She supplied our local garden club with plants for their annual plant sale, helped us in creating Walker Homestead Gardens, offering advice, left-over supplies and wonderful conversations on gardening, farm animals and life in general.  Our most recent acquisition from this old friend is our newest additions to the farm, Blossom & Thistle, Jacob sheep together with a couple of peachicks (they become peacocks or peahens, for those who have never heard of them) and all of our bantam chickens.  Each time I touch an herb, harvest it, cook with it, or use it, I think of this wonderful friend.

Lilies bring about another different kind of story.  I still remember vividly sitting in my living room and hearing this swish, swish, swish noise outside the windows.  The kids were outside playing… I’m thinking what is that noise???  I looked out the window and freaked!  My son, Nate, was outside with a bamboo stake playing Zorro with all of my lilies, which had just come into full bloom along the entire front side of the house.  Every one was cut down… every single one!  Ah, the joys of motherhood.

Comfrey brings the memory of healing my husband’s fractured ankle.  He took a fall under a horse last year, ruined his shoulder and fractured his ankle.  In a lot of pain, we were looking for something to help.  A friend suggested using comfrey compresses, taking fresh leaves and wilting them in olive oil… taking the wilted leaves and wrapping them around his ankle surrounded with plastic wrap not only helped it heal quickly, but also took away the pain!  I will never forget this wonderful herb and it’s healing qualities… the comfrey I used to dig out of the garden cursing has now become one of it’s most valuable plants.  I harvest it with great pleasure now and use the infused oil in my soaps.

Bee balm, compass plant, santolina, salvia… I can go on and on… each plant brings back a memory, a wonderful excursion with friends or just the simple experience of learning about a new plant.  How I love my garden and the fantastic stories it tells.

Enjoy your gardens, and remember the little stories… they are there, you just have to remember to look for them!


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Strewing Herbs

LavenderA friend mentioned strewing herbs to me recently and sparked an interest in this wonderful old tradition.  After researching the subject a bit, and taking cuttings of the various herbs from the garden, it seems to me a wonderful tradition has become almost extinct.  The sweet scent of these lovely plants and their reason for being here, their powers of soothing and protecting us is so strong…

Strewing Herbs were commonly used in early homes to keep down the odors of everyday life.  People and animals often shared the same space and cleanliness was not the item of the day.  Floors were not swept on a regular basis and washed??? Most likely not.

Strewing Herbs served the purpose of masking unpleasant odors, repelling insects and insulation from the cold.  Floors were swept a couple of times a year, most likely it would be similar to mucking out a stall.  Once the floor is bare, reeds, rushes, straw and/or sweet flag would be scattered about for basic bedding and then the herbs would be added.

Basil – sweet scent

Lemon Balm – sweet lemon scent, seems to inhibit bacteria and viruses

Chamomile – aromatic, sweet apple-like scent and insect repellent

Costmary (Bible Leaf) – lovely, soothing, wintergreen-like scent, folklore has it with slight caffeine-like benefits it was used in church to help keep a person awake during lengthy sermons

Cowsleps – magical plant

Sweet Fennel – sweet scent, folklore is that it prevented witches from entering a house

Germander – antiseptic, sweet scent

Hyssop – helps prevent the spread of infection, fragrant, used for its biblical Hyssopreference to cleanliness (“Purge me with Hyssop and I shall be clean.” Psalm 51)

Lady’s Bedstraw – kills fleas and was used to stuff mattresses

Lavender – sweet scent, also used in mattresses and pillows, moth and fly repellent as well as having antibacterial and antiseptic properties

Lavender Cotton (Santolina) – insect repellent, sweet scent

Marjoram – sweet scent

Meadowsweet – aromatic, a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I and King James II

Mint – antibacterial and antiseptic properties as well as an insect repellent, folklore is that it prevented people from the evil eye

Pennyroyal – kills fleas and mosquitoes, sometimes called fleabane

Roses – sweet scent, antibacterial and antiseptic properties, a favorite strewing herb of Cleopatra

Rosemary – helps repell moths and insects, antibacterial, pleasant scent, folklore is that it prevented faeries from stealing infants

FennelRue – believed to help prevent the plague or jail fever, often used in public places to repel pests, folklore that it repelled evil spirits

Sage – rodent repellent, antiseptic properties, scented, folklore is that it had the power to cure all diseases

Southernwood – sweet scent, used to ward off “jail fever”, sometimes called “guard robe” as its insect repellent powers are so effective

Sweet Woodruff – sweet scent, also used in mattresses

Tansy – flea repellent, sweet scent

Winter Savory – insect repellent, sweet scent

Wormwood – insect repellent, sweet scent

It seems to me that this old tradition has been dormant for too long.  My great old floor boards would welcome the scents of these delightful herbs.  Their powers certainly would be a blessing, too!  So, don’t be surprised the next time you stop by to find a sprinkling of herbs on the floor… they are there for a reason!


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