As I think back on 2017 and realize what a great year it was, I look forward to 2018 and wonder what I want to accomplish in my life, my house, my relationships.  Do you do that – reflect and look forward?

I’m not a big New Year resolution maker but certainly want to be a better person, a better wife, mom, neighbor, etc., but this year I’m adding to the list.  I want to be a better blogger!  Blogging is for you as much as it is for me so I want to ask YOU what YOU’D like to see more of or less of from County Road 407.

Don’t worry about hurting my feelings, you won’t.  I’m ready!  I have on my thick skin whatever-you-say-bounces-off-me-and-on-to-you suit.  😉   So get started and take my 2018 Reader Survey!

1) What would you like to see more of on County Road 407? (Click all that apply)

2) What do you struggle with in decorating?
3) What areas/rooms in your home do you feel you need help?
4) When I decorate a new space, do you prefer to see the entire process from start to finish or only the end in all its glory?
5) How do you find out about NEW posts from County Road 407?
6) Do you follow me on Social Media?  If so, which one(s)?

8) How often do you visit County Road 407?
9) What other suggestions or comments would make County Road 407 better or the best blog ever?

Name (Optional)

## It’s called Doozie’s Corner

Last weekend The Mister and I went to McKinney TX.  They have the best town square of any town I’ve visited.  Great shopping, great music, great restaurants and great people watching if that’s what you prefer.   I was in search of Christmas decor (early, I know) when I came across a fabulous new (to me) store!  It’s called Doozie’s Corner and it’s a collection of boutiques.

I noticed it from the corner.  The buildings architecture is enough to make you stop but when you look inside the windows, you HAVE to go in.

Look at those old floors and that ceiling and those fun chandeliers.  There are stairs on both ends with booths up top.  If you need farmhouse decor, they’ve got it.  How about unique clothes or floor mats or vintage gift tags?  They’ve got that too.

I found several things for my wish list.  Like the fabulous pendant light and metal reindeer in the picture above.  Aren’t they wonderful?!  I’d like to get those reindeer and display them with ribbon and sprigs of greenery around their necks.

I didn’t get a chance to ask about the white mantel in the window. Usually when I find something I’ve been looking for it always has a Not For Sale tag on it.  I’ll make sure and ask/beg/grovel next time I’m there though!  And did you notice the white mesh curtain?  Check out the price. 🙂

Besides the pretty churches, I thought this tree shaped Christmas Countdown Calendar was adorable and huge!  Looking for a tobacco basket?  There it is.  And check out the  layered wreath on top.  Pairing it with the beaded wreath can carry your decor all they way through winter.  I picked up 3 of those giant pinecones.  I’ll use them on my front porch light fixture this season.  You’ll see that next month in a Christmas home tour.

Speaking of light fixtures… this one is a small version of the one I made for Navasota.  You can see it here in this post.  I’ve not thought of adding twigs and branches but that would certainly add to the fall decor.

Y’all if I had a place for this bench, I would have called the Mister and said back up the truck!  I LOVE IT!  Do you remember the antique iron fence panels I mentioned in the last post?  This is what I was talking about!

I’m adding a couple of those pillows to my wish list as well.  Great quotes and great prices.  Want to make a cute Texas impression this gift giving holiday?  How about a Hey Y’all tea towel?!  Yesum, I’ll take two please.

I also purchased a white table leg for $5.00! It’s chippy and perfect and already has a purpose. I’m making something super cute and festive with it and will show that off in a future post. Friends, this is just one fabulous store in McKinney TX. I strolled into so many and came out with so much. If you go, let me know – I want to go again. We could enjoy the music and have lunch or dinner or linner! 😉 #### Doozie’s Corner * 208 E. Louisiana, McKinney, TX 75069, 214-491-6191, www.dooziescorner.com No this isn’t a paid post… I just loved this store! Save Save ## Melrose Mansion Part 2 Back in 1848 when the Melrose Mansion opened, I’m positive the property didn’t look like it does now. The out buildings have been well preserved, many trees planted and grasses grown but as we toured the grounds and I was in awe of my surroundings, I felt a sadness. ### Melrose Mansion Part 2 The picture above is the back of the main house. The building on the left was the dairy and laundry building. The first floor was the working area and the second floor housed slaves. There is a matching building on the opposite side of the lawn that was the kitchen and again rooms for the staff on the second floor. These slaves worked for the family and took care of the main house. They were also called “dependencies”. If the slaves were called that because they were so needed, you think the family were called “the lazy’s” behind their back? Hmm, something to think about. The tour guide/Ranger (how cool is that) said it was mostly dirt and small trees back in the late 1800’s. Now the trees are gorgeous and master of their domain. They tower over everything and definitely demand respect. Just look at them! Subscribe below to receive new blog post notifications by email ### The Slave Housing and a Little Insight: There are two cabins about 70 yards from the main house with one shared cistern in between them. The staff that were responsible for the property, the carriages and animals lived inside. Each cabin has two rooms; one for dining and the other for sleeping. We read each one held up to 17 slaves. It seems awfully small for 17 people and it certainly couldn’t hold that many beds. In the exhibit, one cabin is furnished and has interactive slavery exhibits. The exhibits aren’t just about slaves as a whole but give insight to the people that lived and worked at the Melrose Mansion. One of the exhibits has this sheet below from Charlie Davenport. He was one of the children born and raised as a slave at the Melrose Mansion. ### The Barn, Carriage House and Garden: These areas are on the self-guided tour so we didn’t hear much about them. The barn was a bit of a surprise to me. I believe the large groove in the floor was for easier cleaning of the stalls. It slopes to the back which makes sense if they are washing away the yuck-genius! It’s fun to see carriages I’ve seen in old movies. I began to wonder what it was like to ride in one behind a smelly horse; hearing the clippity clop of the horseshoes. Then of the conversations the chauffeur may have heard while taking them places in the big black covered carriage. It was probably reserved for the more exciting excursions and the other less fancy carriages for the more mundane trips. You start to think you understand how they lived back then but the reality is we will never understand what the slaves really went through or how they felt. Never. Why do you think the gardens were so far away from the house? Was it their excuse to get out and walk? I would have thought they had had enough of that in the 15 thousand square foot house. Maybe they wanted everyone to see the fabulousness of the estate? Maybe it was cooler under the trees or being out there had more of a breeze? Who knows. Either way you slice it, the entire place is remarkable. Next time y’all are out and about in Natchez Mississippi drive by, take the tour and take cash. They don’t take credit cards but it’s only$10.00 per adult.  Oh bonus!  The house is now air-conditioned.  So even if it’s 100 degrees with 90% humidity, you’ll enjoy it.

If you’d like to learn a teeny bit more about the McMurrans, click on this link.  If you’d like to read more details about the Melrose Mansion, here’s another link. Or if you missed Part 1 – you can read about it here.

Hope you liked the Melrose Mansion Part 2 – the stop is seriously worth it. 😉

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## Melrose Mansion in Natchez Mississippi

Some of you know I was at Haven a couple of weekends ago in Atlanta GA.  That’s the Blogger Convention of all Blogger Conventions and even though I learned so much and brought home so much swag it filled up the back of the car, I won’t bore you with the details.  What I will bore you with (just kidding) is our stop over at the Melrose Mansion in Natchez Mississippi.

There was so much to see I’m going to separate it out into two different posts.  Part 1 is on the main house.

### Melrose Mansion in Natchez Mississippi

This place was magnificent.  Declared a historic landmark in 1974, it was well preserved and taken care of and had a family living in it up until 1988.  Melrose sits on 80 acres and the homes is 15,000 square feet of beauty and sad stories.  Doesn’t every mansion have a sad story though?  Someone dying, something burning down, slaves – something?  You can read about that here.

We were told John T. and Mary Louisa McMurran spared no expense constructing the mansion.  The doors, windows, cornice moldings, stairways and floors were all the best you could get back then.  The wallpaper was hand painted and the canvas floors were the same.  They ended up selling it because of financial problems due to the Civil War and because they were grieving over the deaths of their daughter and two grandchildren.

The picture above is the lavish living room.  Check out the gold!  The picture below is the formal dining room.  They must have had every meal in here because they certainly weren’t going to eat in the kitchen with the slaves.  The tour guide mentioned the family wanted everyone to think the house just ran itself without slaves.  I don’t actually understand that one because who was the person pulling on the rope over there in the corner to fan the family and keep flies off of the food?  He or she wasn’t invisible.  Different times back then – sad and different times.

Now this staircase is more to my liking.  Simple and detailed at the same time.  The picture below is the handrail with an ivory button for an added touch.  The floor is the hand painted canvas I mentioned earlier.

Upstairs housed all of the bedrooms.  This is the master bedroom.  I thought the little bed may have been for a child who maybe had a bad dream or something, but nope.  It’s in case you wanted to take an afternoon nap.  Once they got up for the day and a slave made the bed, you weren’t supposed to mess it up – goodness gracious.  Below are a couple more bedrooms and play rooms for the children.

The house actually had an indoor bathroom and even though it had a chandelier and a pretty fireplace, the rest was yucky so I’m sparing you of that grossness.   I’ll say this, touring this mansion certainly makes me appreciate being born in the 1960 somethings with showers, flushing toilets, and air-conditioning.  Even now I must have a little fan blowing on me when I get out of the shower.  That could be because of my age (insert rolling eyes) or just the humid hot summers here in Texas.  Either way, what in the world did the lady of the house do back then?  I’m sorry but that poor child standing in the corner pulling a rope to fan me wouldn’t have done it.  No way, no how.

There were a couple different sets of stairs used only by the slaves.  All of the dark green shutters weren’t used to keep the sun out, they were used to hide the slaves from coming and going.  Remember, out of sight out of mind and the house ran itself?

The picture above is one of the bells that were hung along the back of the house.  If someone wanted something, they pulled the string and depending on which bell rang, the slaves could tell from where in the house they were being beckoned.

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## One of the most gentle souls in all the land

For those of you who don’t know, my father-in-law has Alzheimer’s and lost his wife of 55 years about two years ago.   Even though he is still one of the sweetest, kindest, most gentle souls in all the land, the disease is taking away bits and pieces of his mind.  He still loves the Lord, still gives great advice, still holds the door open for everyone, wants to listen and laugh and still remembers most of his family – for now.

He’d been mentioning that he might not ever see his brother again so my sister-in-law and the Mister decided to get them together again.  To make a long story short, we all met in Avon, Colorado since the brother lives in Thermopolis, Wyoming.

The brother brought his wife, his only child/daughter and her husband.  It’s really nice when you have cousins, uncles and aunts that get along well.  Even those of us who married into the family (aka The Outlaws) get along.  I joke about how lucky my husband is by marrying me but I’m the lucky one.  Being with them made me laugh harder than I had laughed in a very very long time.

We canoed and paddle boarded on a gorgeous lake up in the mountains, watched two up close and personal fantabulous fireworks shows, played games, went ice skating with a nice 65 degrees, checked out the local fare and laughed so hard tears ran down my legs.

The week came to an end and the Wyoming side of the family left this morning.  The others wanted to ride bikes down the mountain side so I volunteered to watch Bob.  No one had to twist my arm – I was looking forward to it.

We dropped the adventurers off and took the scenic route to have lunch.  He told me stories that I’ve heard many times before but this time I was overjoyed in hearing them again.  Maybe it was because I had him all to myself or maybe because I wasn’t listening to 9 other people competing for Who Could Be The Loudest Show?  Either way, today I was overjoyed.  We talked about how his Grandfather was a veterinarian who pulled the loose teeth from him and his brother with vet tools and also gave them school immunizations.  The way he described it made me laugh. With the teeth story, he said “Okay, I’m ready.  No no wait, I’m not ready!  Okay, let’s try again – no wait!” all with his hands held high waving in the air.   We both chuckled so loud that heads turned to look at us.

We talked about his wife and how he still misses her.  How he wondered why the Lord put them together and then separated them.  I had the joy of listening to him talk about his cat and his new female friend.  He said he can’t remember her name but can remember her face.  I nearly died laughing.  I said I hope he doesn’t lose his eyesight before he has to remember her name!

We talked about Heaven, a new earth, weird family members and childhood.  Oh my.  When he said it was okay for a man to have a new friend, go to church together, have dinner together and maybe watch a movie but not want to get married, my ears wanted to shut close.  But it was actually a new tender moment with Bob.  Something I never get to have.

He even said thank you for the talk, he appreciated me and was grateful to talk about it.  We both got teary eyed and shared a hug.  This four hours is worth more than any bike ride or shopping day.  He truly is one of the most gentle souls in all the land.  If I ever get the chance to do it again, I’m all in.

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