Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Feed sacks from the old country store...

There is something about this time of year that brings out my love of family, home and...the country. Maybe it comes from living in Washington DC and Atlanta after growing up here and moving away. Whatever it is, the mountains of North Carolina are home and always will be.

My grandparents owned a country store. In fact, my great grandfather first operated the store in the early 1900s. He came from Virginia after hearing about how beautiful the area was.

Balfour and Betsy Edwards Farwell

David T. Knight was an educated man and had married one of the finest ladies in Danville VA, Miss Emma Evelyn Edwards, a first cousin to the Langhorne sisters, one of whom became Lady Nancy Astor.  They settled in here in Balsam, NC.

The store was a source of income for my great grandmother when her husband passed away at a young age. She was a school teacher, so her sister and brother-in-law ran the store for her.

George Knight

It eventually passed to my grandfather, then to my uncle. It has been closed for years and stands untouched.

In the 1990s my grandmother made a little sachet of Balsam pine needles for me fashioned after a feed sack. I kept it all these years because she made it and it still smells so good...

Naturally the fascination people have for feed sacks would rub off on me eventually, but I wanted to use them in a more personal way. Luckily, my grandfather was very fastidious. He took his feed sacks and folded them very carefully and stored them in a large can in the old smokehouse. My father pulled them out some time ago, and I knew I had to do something with them. I just wasn't sure what! I was finally inspired to make a table runner out of a couple of them and set a table that reminds me of the old store. Now, my grandmothers would roll over in their graves if they thought a feed sack was on the table, but I love how they turned out. I think my grandmother would smile too because she was always taking something others would throw away and making something beautiful out of it.

I put two feed sacks running in the opposite direction so the print would go toward each end. I added some yardage on each end with a ruffle to give it a feminine touch.

I used Mikasa "Italian Countryside" dinner plates, Hull "Brown Drip" vintage luncheon plates, and a red salad plate. I used vintage "Old Williamsburg" Imperial Glass goblets in amber along with my "Italian Countryside" flatware. 

The napkins are the same ones I used last week that I made from the check fabric. They are so durable for everyday and I love the country look!

I love the colors in these sacks and there were several matching ones. I soaked them in vinegar before washing to keep the colors from fading as they are meant to be bleached white.

My mother let me borrow this enamel coffee pot when our power was out so much. I love it and I hope she forgets I have it. 

If you have visited me much, you know I have an affection for...weeds. This time of year they are just abundant with vibrant color, and I couldn't pass these up! Love them in the vintage brown and cream pitcher.

I also discovered this old coffee can in the smokehouse. Naturally, I asked my dad for it. My mother does not know I have it yet.

What actually inspired all this country flavor was the corner cabinet my husband is making for me. We have been working on it for two years, and we have gotten it this far. It still needs doors, though. In the meantime I am using it for much needed storage. I really wanted that country store feel so I got out my brown and cream pottery, some old photos and some things that might have been used in an old store.

The photo below is of my great grandmother when she was a "May Queen" at Trinity College, which is now Duke University.

I love this rooster cookie jar...

The trim on the cabinet was in my grandparent's house. We are using several pieces of it to finish this cabinet as I love recycling and repurposing old things.

I hope you enjoyed my country store table with the feed sack runner! What a fun way to remember the past but bring it into the present. Are there things in your house that remind you of loved ones and family members? I encourage you to get them out and use them. There is nothing so comforting as using something that you know generations of your family has used. I know it makes me feel like I'm safe at home.

I will be joining "Tablescape Thursday" at BNOTP


Vintage Inspiration Friday at Common Ground
 so be sure to go by there. 

Thank you so much for visiting!! I have enjoyed so much the wonderful comments from my outdoor post yesterday, and I cannot wait to get around and visit everyone! 



  1. You have such creativity. This tablescape is so warm and inviting and cozy, and the corner cabinet! I wish I had a corner to put one in! I always get inspired when I come here. I always enjoy learning about your family's past. I was on the post with burlap but your runner, pulled me in! xo,

  2. What a wonderful story of the famly store. I love the table runner you made and it really sets off the table setting with the fall colours. I love using old vintage things and furniture. I have LOTS of it!! LOL My great uncle also had a grocery store in a small village and we loved going there. It even had an old stove where the locals would sit and visit. Great memories. I like your corner cabinet display too. It all looks very cozy. Blessings, Pamela

  3. Anita, these photos are just wonderful!! Everything looks so warm and cozy. I am so glad I found you! Looking forward to all of your posts! God bless you!

  4. What a great way to use those old feed sacks. I think your grandparents would be proud of your frugality and ingenuity in creating something you can enjoy from something they cherished. I love the corner cabinet too. My father-in-law made me one years ago. I could really kick myself for selling it. He swares he will never make me another one. That was 20 years ago so I guess he is sticking to his word.

  5. Oh I love it Anita. This is one of my favs. What a neat story and so much history too.

  6. What a fantastic post! I love the pictures and the story about your Grandparents store. How wonderful that you were able to use those feed sacks in such a creative way.

  7. I love a great story!
    And wow, what a great story you have preserved in writing!
    I love how you are reusing, repurposing, recycling such amazing treasures from generations before you.
    That table runner is stunning!
    Love old coffee cans!
    You are blessed to be able to fill your home with memories from days gone by!

  8. First let me say your new header looks fabulous Anita, I love it! What a great story and beautiful tablescape too! Martina

  9. That is just about the most creative and cute thing I have seen in a while! Love that table runner and the ruffles. All your tableware fits right in too. You did a fantastic job.

  10. I think you did modern country proud with that stylish feed sack table runner...your grandparents would smile! Great choice of dishes, too.

  11. OMG! I am soooo happy I came by today and got to read this post and see those pics and feel fallish and homey and cozy! Thank you. Loved it all!

  12. Hi, I am so happy I stopped by this very day to read that darling story, see those beautiful photos, and just feel all fallish and cozy while doing all that! Thanks!

  13. I just love this table! The old feed sacks are really nice and look fabulous as a runner on your table. Even nicer is the history behind them and your family store. Your place setting is great; I also like the napkins you created. The total look is fabulous!

  14. What a beautiful story anita your tablescape looks fabulous your home it so cuzy,
    God bless you and yours

  15. I just love posts like this with family history. I love that enamel coffee pot!

  16. I enjoyed your great-grand's wonderful story of struggle and success, it reminded me of my greatgrands also who had a store that had everything, from ladies and gentlemen materials for clothing, furniture, chandys, rugs, china from Europe, etc. I love the runner you made, it's great, specially what it means to you! I also love your tablescape, it's beautiful! Hugs, FABBY

  17. I really enjoyed that, Anita. You did a great job on the runner. How lucky that your grandpa kept them in mint condition. Beautiful tablescape! It looks so nice on your table..Christine

  18. Your table and the story of the feed sack runner are both fabulous. Thank you for sharing your family history with those of us visiting from Tablescape Thursday.

    All best wishes!


  19. Such a great story and a pretty table.


  20. What a fabulous story. I think the feedsacks are a wonderful tribute to your family. Your table is so warm and inviting.. hugs ~lynne~

  21. Anita,
    This is so beautiful to me. I love the history of your family and the photos to go with it. What a beautiful post!What a great idea with the feed sacks and I love your use of old and new. The earthenware and the vintage pitcher are great touches for fall. oh and the trim on your corner cabinet...Love!

  22. I don't know if I've ever mentioned it, but yours is one of the homes in blogland that I would most like to visit. There's just something so warm about it.

    The new runner fits right in with that. I love your creativity and the way it all turned out. It's perfect with the place setting and checked napkins, and the centerpiece is perfect.

    And I really loved the back story. I'm all about the back story...

  23. I enjoyed reading about the history of the items you incorporated into your tablescape. I loved how you made a table runner out of the feedsacks that your grandfather had saved. The coffee can, the brown jug, etc. all contibuted to making your table warm and inviting.

  24. You know how much I love caring for our family history. This is a marvelous post that I'll explore more than once. The feed sack table runner is truly a jewel. The tablescape is spectacular...something that I've come to expect each time that I visit. Thank you for sharing your story and your design with us. Cherry Kay

  25. walking here with a smile. take care.. have a nice day ~ =D

    Regards, (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..

  26. You! You have such ingenious ideas! The Lord has certainly blessed you with this gift! I LOVE this table setting. I enjoy your blog so much.
    Have a blessed day!

  27. Hi, Anita!!! You have NO IDEA how much I love those photos from "the old days" of your great-grandparents!!! That old country store reminds me of when we would go "up to the farm" in Sabetha, KS near the Nebraska border to visit my grandparents and other relatives on my Dad's side. What a great idea to use those feedsacks that are a fun and sentimental reminder of those gentler times. Your centerpiece looks fabulous, too!

  28. Anita this has got to be my favorite post,I love,love,love this tablescape,your handmade runner,and the history lesson about your family,AWESOME!
    Have a blessed weekend my friend.
    I'm still enjoying the song on my sidebar.

  29. Your pictures are priceless! Thank you so much for sharing them with us. And I am in love with your table. From the feed sack runner to the coffee pot - you are a rich lady with may treasures!

  30. Hi darling, thank you for swinging in.. You asked about the wall color. It's called Furry Ottertail. Realized after you asked the whole house is taking on an animal theme in one room or another.. lol.. hugs ~lynne~

  31. ohmygosh, I'm doing back flips over this runner it's amazing!!!! Would you link this up to VIF, also, I'd love to feature it next week?!! xoxo Debra

  32. Loved your table setting the colars are so warf just suitable for autumn.

    My mom also the same coffee pot, I loved it to unfortunaetly we dont have it anymore but I went all the way back to my childhood.

    Karin Şen Cankan

  33. wow! what a great Idea! I have an old feed sack from PA that I have been wanting to do something with!

    I also have a question--- how do you format your pictures? you fit so many on your blog and they load so quickly!

    Can you e-mail me a reply or visit my blog and comment to answer?


  34. My husband and I have a vacation home in Waynesville, NC and recently went to the Old Balsam Inn for dinner. As we were leaving, we saw, what I think, was your Grandfather's country store. We stopped and looked at it for a while and speculated on what might be in the store and all the things that had been sold there. How fun it was for us to read your blog and hear the history behind this great old building. I never knew balsam needles smelled good either. I will have to check that out.
    Also, your fall table is beautiful.

  35. Oh what a treasure! Love your feedsack runner -- so filled with family history. A beautiful fall table you've set.

  36. Very clever runner and what a nice story! Your "weeds" look beautiful in that jug. You definitely achieved that county store look!

    Robin Flies South

  37. Stunning table! Just my style - I have some Hull dripware and the Italian Countryside as well! My uncle and aunt retired to Balsam, and I believed we passed your grandfather's country store on the way to Balsam Inn when we were their for my uncle & aunt's 50th anniversary. It's a beautiful part of our country. Most of my ancestors are from that area - where NC, SC, GA meet. It must be in my blood!

    Thanks for sharing,

  38. Oh your story was sooo heart-warming! I love how you re-purposed the feed sacks from the store and made them into that darling runner! I'm sure your grandmother would smile at that! I had to laugh when I read that you hoped your mother would forget she left her enamel pot with you!! I love your 'weed' centerpiece, so perfect for this time of year. Your table is so beautiful, your post makes me smile, I do so love family history!! We just had a family reunion--my father's side, and all of his maternal ancestors are from NC!! Thanks for sharing!!

  39. Hi Anita, Your stories always touch home with me so deeply. My grandparents in Charleston SC owned the corner grocery store. Many Greek families did so to make a living. Your photos and descriptions bring so many wonderful memories back. My grandmother prior to marriage grew up with a Filling Station on the edge of an historical (now) cemetery....were they are resting. I love , love, love, the runner and pine sachets and the prized coffee white and red enamel pot.Priceless. Thank you for this heartfelt post. God Bless.

  40. Anita,

    Thanks so much for your visit. Wow!!! I just love your runner, and the brown pitcher is identical to 2 that I have that were my Mother's. She kept sweet tea in them. Since they didn't have a cover, she would wrap a clean cloth over the top and tie it.

    Your table and home is so beautiful.

    Hope your weekend is full of God's blessings,


  41. I love your table runner...what a great idea! You are a very creative woman. I love your table. It feels like I could just sit down and chat awhile with you all.
    I think it is so wonderful that we share our memories of our loved ones! It keeps them alive and the stories cherished! Thank you.
    Blessings My Friend,

  42. Thank you for the inspiration! I have several feed sacks that belonged to my husband's mother and the only "creative" thing I could figure out to do with them was to cover floor pillows for our den (grandsons, you know). Your table runner is a look I'm going to copy. And I was so happy to see that I'm not the only one who uses "weeds" for arrangements--goldenrod and iron weed are some of my favorites for fall decorating. Everything is beautiful, Anita...simply beautiful!

  43. Oh I see them! Your drop cloth drapes that is. They turned out great! I'm so glad that you were inspired by mine to make them for yourself. I was inspired by other peoples blogs too. That's one reason I love reading blogs. They're better than the magazines most of the time! I really love your runner on your table. So cute!

  44. What an incredible story, thank you for sharing! Your tablescape is just lovely, each detail is awesome and unique!

  45. Your story is as warm as your home. I love the vintage sacks and how you sewed them. My heart would be so full of memories everytime I looked at it.

  46. Love the use of the feed sacks as the table runner.
    I really love the flowers in the pot. I love to bring nature inside!!
    Thanks for stopping by my 32 planted pots blog post.
    Have a wonderful week.

  47. Woohooo! I finally got my daughter to help me buy your song. She "made" me sit there and learn how to do it myself next time.

    I hate it when she acts like me...

    And she agrees that it is beautiful, too!

  48. Hi Anita! What a wonderful post. I love the pics and memories you describe. Love your runner and the tablescape. Hope all is well in the Smokies!

  49. Hello Anita!!
    I absolutely love, love this post filled to the brim with family history!!! I love how you made a beautiful table runner with your family feed sack!! now you have a beautiful family heirloom to pass down to your family :)
    Love the old pic's so special and beautiful!!
    thanks for sharing, now I'm off to catch up on your blog :)
    My mothers maiden name is


  50. Hi there Anita. I am your newest follower. Love your blog. This post is full of history. I admire how you created the feed sack table runner. I need to spend some time here looking at these wonderful tablescapes.

  51. I loved your post. I will follow your advice and seek
    some things home.



  53. Hi Anita, I'm so late commenting on your post :(. Anyway, this looks so inviting and I totally love your grain sack runner. I wish I had one!

  54. I really love this room! It's beautiful! chic, shabby, cozy and just a little bit of everything! the feed sacks are an awesome country touch! We'd love it if you'd share this at our Home is Where the Heart is!