All posts by tj2riot

Beware the Ides of March!

Here at the Cottage we are smack in between the Ides of March and St. Patricks Day. What are the Ides you ask? To briefly explain, 2,060 years ago the Roman dictator Julius Caesar was assassinated by senators at the Curia of Pompey. A little over 500 years ago the phrase, “Beware the Ides of March” was immortalized by William Shakespeare in the tragic masterpiece ‘Julius Caesar’. Of late, it is equated with doomsday, bad luck, or not heeding a woeful warning that later causes you sorrow or misery. There definitely might be something to this of late here at our cozy corner in Nashville. Let me indulge you in some retrospect…..

Nashville experienced one perfect spring day last week with temps upwards of 70 degrees! The tulips and grape hyacinths were a buzz with bumblebees in blissful pollination. It was a perfect hammock afternoon.

What a difference a day makes!!

     Temperatures have plummeted and blooms are struggling to make it through the freeze. Not a bumblebee to be found.

There were two tragedies at the cottage as well. The puppy got loose and one of the hens got loose and escaped the coop, both came together in a dramatic way. The puppy bit the tail off of Poke and I brought her into the house to convalesce. Lily, another girl, was not so lucky and perished.

Poke took well to my protein mash and still laid me an egg even though she lost most of her tail and her leg was sprained. She is back with her sisters in the coop, but now walks with a limp.

President Jackson

If you didn’t know, it was also the seventh president’s 250th birthday. This event was commemorated by the current 45th president. He came to Nashville and virtually shut it down completely. The whole day was disrupted by airport delays, motorcade backups,  and thousands of people taking to the streets in protest and support equally.

If you know your middle school history, you may be vaguely aware that Jackson gained popularity as a military man. In the war of 1812 he has a major victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans that made him a hero which he rode into a successful political life. He built the Hermitage Plantation that is now a huge tourist destination right up the street from our lovely Capulet Cottage.

Where am I going with this you may ask? My awesome ancestor, Gr. Gr. Gr. Gr. Grandpa Solomon Sharp, fought in that war and was taken as a P.O.W. in April 1814. He was released a month later in March! He returned home to Massachuttes to eventually have a son, Eubulus, that makes it possible for me to be here today. I digress because our neighbor, Jackson, being of Scot-Irish descent would be ready and willing to celebrate St. Patricks Day tomorrow. Here at home there has been a huge debate amongst our family that we are Irish somewhere in our heritage, but we are not. St-Patricks-Day

We have taken the stance that everybody is Irish on St. Patricks Day, but I dare say we are celebrating like we are direct descendants! To make it through this (hopefully the last) frigid day we went all out with our meal today.

Corned beef and cabbage with potatoes accompanied with authentic Irish soda bread and some sweet pumpkin nut loaf for dessert!

You gotta do what you gotta do to survive and get through the Ides of March and into the St. Patricks holiday.  Today, a good gaelic meal, the fireplace on, and the start of Easter decor planning. Tomorrow, a green beer and a prayer for warmer weather!!

“Sin Sin, nil aon scéal eile agam! “

Gaelic for, “That’s all, I don’t have any other story!”


Good Genes

I was so incredibly lucky to know my grandmother Evelyn, and even luckier to be able to say she was my best friend. We told each other everything and wrote letters to each other when she was in Wisconsin and I in California. When she passed it was devastating and extremely hard to move on. I found some solace in researching our ancestory and finding out where we came from. I took all I knew from her and from her mother Amanda, my great grandma and began the journey.

It was extraordinary that I also had an amazing relationship with Great Grandma Amanda as well. She came to my dance recitals often and I loved to watch her cooking in her kitchen. One thing I didn’t realize growing up was that they stood up for my mother when she married a black man and added a brown baby into the family. I later found out it was not popular with the whole family. Amanda was the matriarch and Evelyn the first born, so their opinion was rule and law. Never in my childhood did I feel anything but acceptance in my immediate family.

My great grandfather had died in January of 1950, even before my mother was born. I never knew much about him at all. I collected many photos of him and searched for more information with He had only been referred to as “Grandpa Ben” so it was surprising to find out that his real name was Ulysses. Both Ben and Amanda had been born and raised in Wisconsin; she by immigrants from Germany and he from farmers in Northern Wi.

Ben and Amanda married and raised their two girls and three boys in Peshtigo, a small town in Northern Wisconsin.

Amanda’s parents were German Lutherans, Gustav Feske & Margeret Engel. Their genealogy search took us to Mecklenberg, Germany and I learned of our German roots and heritage. It was surprising how much of the culture continued for centuries down to the holiday traditions and family meals I grew up with. It made it seem more familiar. I even have Gustav’s tobacco pouch and Margaret’s purse hanging in my room.

I started researching Ulysses’ (Ben) family and came upon two very important pictures that sent me on to the biggest family revelation I ever could have imagined. One pic was of Ben’s father Solomon Amasa Sharpe (right), and his grandfather’s photo (left) from serving in the Civil War. His name was Eubulus Walter Sharpe.

Now I was on a roll! Civil War records started rolling in and I found a ton of information on Eubulus’s wife and his birthplace; I even found out how he had died at the battle of St. Petersburg from a sniper’s bullet while he was making his breakfast. Finding all this information on my Gr.Gr. Gr. Grandfather was amazing already, and then I saw a census record and an enlistment card listing him as ‘mulatto’. To say my interest peaked is an understatement. Searching through records I saw his father’s name was Solomon and that census records listed them all as mulattos in Massachusetts.

Like a puzzle it all started to fall into place and has led me to Caleb Sharp. He is my 5th Gr. Grandfather and he is mentioned many times in the settlement history of Conway, Ma. as a rigorous man that is half negro half native Indian. He was a good hunter judging from the amount of game and fur he exchanged for sundries. Caleb was born in 1729 and his death records state he was a “black man succumbed to consumption age 70”.

This is as far as I have been able to go so far in that line of genealogy. I continue my search wondering if my grandmothers really knew the truth. Most people hope that they find out they are from a long line of royalty. I have loved finding out that I have ancestors that have participated in almost all major wars fought on Colonial and American soil. I feel such deep pride and redemption in the fact that I’m not the black sheep of the family, unique in my brown skin. Turns out, I look more like our ancestral family than them all. img_2464 Celebrating Black History Month has been really special this February for me and my son. I encourage everyone to go out and find out who you really are and where you really come from, it is very empowering and humbling. If you have searched your past I would love to hear your stories!

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We here at the cottage are hopeless romantics. Can’t be a true Capulet without acknowledging the Montagues! May all of the Juliet Capulets out there find their Romeo Montague, just without the terrible tragedy of course.

Valentines Day

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at the cottage. We are feeling festive here and have made all our cards and gifts by hand. Valentines is a holiday that is fun to celebrate because of the fun decorations, awesome crafts to try, and an outstanding opportunity to bake cupcakes and cookies!  Here at the cottage we celebrate all holidays mainly because of these three facts. I am really into crafting with my son. We did beading and quilling, origami and more.

My wonderful Grandmother taught me to bake, that is where I like to show off. I love to give it to family, friends, neighbors, and my son takes it to school for the classroom party. We enjoy doing it and everyone appreciates it, and now even anticipate it.

All the credit for all the festivities must go to my mother. She is an amazing designer and decorator that all started in floral artistry while she was a teenager. Every holiday gives her a chance to strut her stuff. I always say, “If she wasn’t my mother I could never afford her!” Her gift is that she can take next to nothing and make it extraordinary. She also has an amazing great eye for detail (major Virgo!).img_3924-1

May all your Valentines Days be festive and full of love!

The Liebster Award

Having so much support from the blogging community has been such a blessed bonus! I am honored to have been nominated, Thank you.

Feminine Vestige


I have been nominated for the Liebster Blogger Award – an award for new blogs which have less than 200 followers. I was nominated by Megssaskia, a blog for “anything to do with fashion, music and travel.” Megssaskia is full of enthusiasm and is truly a joy to read. Thank you for your nomination.

Liebster Award ListEleven Questions asked by Megssaskia

  1. If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
    I would go to Greece or Alaska. Both have such breathtaking beauty that I would desperately want to see them and experience the culture, history, and beauty of nature there.
  2. What are your goals in life?
    My goals are to have my own nonprofit and to have a family with the man I love. Ultimately though, I want to be content and happy with the love I have.
  3. What are you most passionate about?

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Capulet Cottage Critters

We here at the cottage are serious animal lovers! Some could say almost to our detriment. Many times have I heard people comment that when they leave the earth they wish to come back as one of our pets. My whole life I have had dogs and other pets, it started with my Grandfather and trickled down to my mother. I now have passed it on to my 7yr old son. It is always devastatingly heartbreaking when they pass on, but I have found surrounding myself with them and experiencing their love far surpasses the hurt.

At purchase last year of Capulet Cottage, we arrived with Vanderbilt the 10yr old Basset Hound and a new little furry girl Evangeline that we had driven all the way to Pensacola to save from being put into a shelter.  We immediately noticed a white cat that had apparently taken up residence and refused to leave. I had never had a cat before, and with the dog’s I thought it had to go. It refused and won me over with kindness, so I conceded; it lived outdoors anyways. Then it limped up to me in the carport one day with a gaping injury. I brought her in that day and healed her, she now runs this place! We call her “Mouse”.

It wasn’t too long before we added fish, “Cupid” the rabbit, and our flock of beautiful hens. Sasha, Malia, Peck, Poke, Lily, & Chloe now supply us with wonderful fresh eggs!


Then there was Nashville’s free adoption weekend in August last summer, Free! How can you pass up that offer? Enter BellaDonna our sweet little girl.

After adopting Bella we added a few more fish and settled in with our Capulet Critters. I soon came across a wonderful local Great Dane rescue and started to follow them on Facebook. Southern Style Great Dane Rescue was posting the most beautiful pictures of all these Danes in need of adoption or foster care. I filled out an application on Christmas day and didn’t think about it again. Then there was a post that had a picture of a brindle boy who was labeled as a Dane mix. It was a dire emergency for a foster immediately because he was to be euthanized in a few days. It described him as unadoptable because he was so emotionally handicapped, terrified of everything and everyone. I had never fostered an animal before, but I have a lot of Great Dane experience as well as adoption. All I know is, I didn’t want it destroyed, the least I could do was offer space at here at the cottage to buy some time for him. Southern Style moved quickly to interview us and gave us a home visit to approve of the placement and “Prancer” arrived from Georgia by a volunteer transporter to our door, and the little guy was a real hot mess. We name him Hugo and introduced him to the family.IMG_3918.jpgIMG_3925.JPG

Turns out, I am a terrible foster mom! I have completely failed as a temporary home for Hugo. He has come such a long way, really opened up, and found his personality and position in the pack. I can admit failure when it is so blatantly obvious I am no good as a foster.  Although, I rock and excel at being Hugo’s forever mommy!! He is going nowhere! This baby boy belongs here and it is unanimous across the family. We still have to go through the legalities with the rescue, but its a done deal. Hugo is here to stay!!


Meet Montague

Just like the ribbon cutting on a grand opening, the first post on this brand new blog has made me feel like the hardest part is over and let the fun begin. If by fun you mean get people to actually read what you write! I am learning by doing in every aspect of my new endeavors I’m tackling:

  1. First time house owner
  2. Organic gardener
  3. blogger
  4. business owner
  5. Great Dane Foster mom
  6. backyard chicken farmer 

So much going on here, how could I not share it with the world by blogging!

I took picking a theme very seriously, I mean, its the face and identity of this whole project. My beautiful Shine On owl theme is very significant to us here at Capulet Cottage. Our Shakespeare references are obvious. We live in a historic neighborhood here in Nashville called Montague, which led us to naming our lovely home Capulet Cottage. We had not been here long at all when we experienced a wonderful happening. While standing out in the front yard admiring my landscape, I was startled by a flutter and whoosh right next to me. Low and behold, a baby barred owl fell out of a nest beside me. I had been hearing hoots at night for quite a while, but had not seen them. I named the owl Monty and picked it up and put it on a high branch and monitored its eating and flight practice.

Baby Monty

It was like magic, a sign that what was possible at our new place could be extraordinary just like this baby barred owl that literally fell into our home. Monty continued our Shakespearian theme and became our everlasting mascot.

“The clamorous owl, that nightly hoots and wonders at out quaint spirits.”

~A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Monty grew and flew away, but left a lasting impression. I keep a feather of Monty’s at my desk where I write to remind me of the magic and inspire me in my work, and life. Perhaps Monty will return this year and visit us again, if he/she does I’ll be sure to post the experience here on the blog. I hope I will have plenty of readers to share it with!

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Currently at the cottage….

The cottage is a buzz with plans for spring! Today, being Ground Hog Day, I have chosen to ignore the rodent forecast of 6 more weeks of winter and focus on my yard. The yard is a blank canvas for landscaping and my dream veggie garden. Our backyard is completely undeveloped with so much potential. To hit the ground running and make the most of Spring planting, a lot of planning needs to happen immediately.

Now in February, we need set goals, prioritize and budget. We have more rescued pets added to the existing pack & flock, a 7 year old in Boy Scouts, and this single moms new Blog and online business presence might get overwhelming. Lets not forget “me” time that ideally consists of a great book, blogging, fostering Great Danes, a new obsession of sewing on Great Grandmas Singer 99, and following through with weight loss goals.

My first priority is digging my new veggie garden and Youtube has been my go to for all things gardening. I have set a goal to organically grow $100 worth of food with $3 worth of seeds. To accomplish this, I enlisted the teachings of John Jeavons and his expertise in Biointensive growing. Another great resource for me is Curtis Stone the Urban Farmer for Profit. I have had successful gardens before, but this will be the first time breaking ground here at the cottage. I have joined a local seed company, Mauro seeds, here in Nashville. Buy local, grow local, sell local! Their website is so simple and elegant with a great sense of humor. Better yet, ever thing you purchase from them they give seeds to those in need.

My tools are ready for me to start digging and my seed list is done and ready to order. I know where my garden bed will be mapped out with a water resource and total sunshine. So suck it ground hog, I’m ready for Spring already!

Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility  into flames of achievement

-Golda Meir