Archive for June, 2007



As many of you know, recently I have been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the cyberworld.  I am terrified of computers.  Inside the walls of American Harvest, there is not a computer to be seen.  We still write receipts by hand, because I enjoy the extra time it takes to get to know my customers.  We don’t even have a cash register or a calculator!  (OK – we have a calculator and a credit card machine.)  Due to the urging of my friends, Donna and Lauren, I have become interested in blogging.  I love people and this new form of communication intrigued me.  When I mentioned this to my daughter-in-law, Sarah, her eyes lit up.  We can get a "cute" computer she answered me.  I have been so resistant to anything having to do with computers that she knew that a "cute one" might be the way to seduce me.  Maybe they come in aqua and brown toille I thought.  This does have possibilities!

Let me explain that the reason I need my own computer is that my accountant husband, Rodger, is very protective when it comes to his computer.  He is a very meticulous accountant.  I’m sure he was positive I would erase all of his clients’ information that he had e-filed for the 2006 tax year! 

So after plying me with margaritas one night, we were off to the Apple store at the mall…."just to look…"  As I glanced around the brightly lit sterile environment, it reminded me of the scene in Willy Wonka where the Oompa Loompas were all running around in their little white outfits against a field of white.  Ohhhh – this is nothing like my American Harvest world of pink tulle, tarnished silver and chippy white paint.  Panic set in!  I would rather re-decorate an entire house on a budget of $500.00 or accept the challenge of creating a purple and pink Christmas display than to enter this world.  As I looked for a means of escape, I noticed four little children cheerfully playing on computers that the store had placed on a table at their level.  They couldn’t have been more than 2 1/2 to 3 years old.  I’m not kidding!  They’re being seduced by the dark side of the force at such an early age, I thought.  Still… maybe if a two year old can learn it, there might be a glimmer of hope for me.

One computer, a printer and an i-Pod Nano later (what’s an i-Pod anyway?) I am beginning my adventure into the world that all of you have been a part of for so long.  I didn’t get my aqua and brown toille computer, but it is a "cute one".  Little, white, light weight and portable.  Something called a laptop?

So please be patient with me ladies, as I learn to blog and share with you.  As I maneuver my way through your lovely sites, I have discovered I am "home again".  Places filled with glittery crowns, old millinery, vintage lace, ephemera, altered art and all things French.  Thanks for letting me into your world.

Pictured above is my computer with my Initial Crown by Donna O’Brien, vintage lace,  and vintage millinery spilling out of a tarnished silver compote, all set on American Harvest’s aqua and brown toille bags!

P.S. Do any of you know if computer cases come in aqua and brown toille?


Nicol Sayre recently brought in a few of her wonderful patriotic dolls.  Here are some pictures for your enjoyment. 







Yesterday, our small town of Pleasanton kicked off the opening of the County Fair with one of our famous parades.  American Harvest joined in the celebration of America with a patriotic window display. 


This is one of our Americana displays.  Please note items made by Donna O’Brien, Debbee Thibault, Nicol Sayre, Victoria Correa, Susan Arnot and Debi Ortega.







Pleasanton has a small town ambience.


Flags, flags, flags!


Birthday Party Hat Float


A little Buckaroo!


Donna – this one is for you!


Hats off to America!


Every day in Paris was great.  The day that we went to Montmartre was superb.  We began our day by taking the metro to Montmartre, using the Abbesses stop.  I insisted that the flight of stairs would be faster than waiting for the elevator to get up to ground level.  Several flights of stairs later, Sharon questioned my decision.  We were about half way up.  At the top we found ourselves in front of a beautiful Metro entrance.  Sharon asked me to take a picture.  She then said, "Wouldn’t it be great if a couple kissed as you take the picture?"  Yeah right, like that ever happens in Paris!


Our first stop was Sacre-Coeur Basilica.  To get to the top of this steep hill, you take the Funicular!  Oops, it was not running that day.  There was a long line of people waiting for a shuttle bus (Matterns don’t do lines… not in Disneyland…  not in Paris).  "We’ll just use the stairs!"  (Sharon was NOT pleased.)  There are two sets of stairs, I chose the steeper ones under shade trees!  There were only 25 steps in each of the 8 levels.  (That’s right, do the math.)   The walk up was terrific with wonderful views of Paris.  At the top stands the beautiful Sacre-Coeur Basilica (Sacred Heart).  It was worth the climb!


After visiting the church and gasping at the breath-taking views of the city, we proceeded UP the street to Place du Tertre, Bohemian Montmartre.  Lined with cafes and shade trees, Place du Tertre has been the town square of Montmartre since Medieval times.  Artists fill the square hoping to be the next Renoir, van Gogh, or Monet.


In this area, you can leave the tourists behind and wander back streets to find one of Renoir’s homes, Picasso’s Studio, Toulouse-Lautrec’s house, and finally going down hill see van Gogh’s home (actually his brother’s home, but Vincent lived there for two years).  You can imagine these great Impressionist painters while you are in Montmatre.  My favorite painting is by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, it is called "Bal du Moulin de la Galette".  It depicts Montmartre on a sunny afternoon in the shade tree garden, people are laughing, dancing, drinking and eating…basically having a good time.


The last stop on our walking tour of Montmartre was the famous Moulin Rouge (Red Windmill).  According to Rick Steves’ Paris 2007 book, amateur night was the highlight for the nightclub.  The "CanCan" was first danced here.  Toulouse-Lautrec sketched the various acts including Jane Avril.



As an after thought, I convinced Sharon that a short two or three block walk on boulevard de Clichy to the Pigalle Metro station would be fun.  The Pigalle Metro station is known for its Art Nouveau style.   Oops!  I forgot that Pigalle was also nicknamed "Pig Alley" by American GI’s in WWII, because of all of the sex shops, peep shows, etc that line boulevard de Clichy.  She was not amused! 

(OK, so I took some liberties in writing this blog….Sharon never complained about all of the stairs in the metro station, never batted an eye about the steps going uphill to the Sacre-Coeur, and actually thought that all of the sex shops were very, very French!  OOH LA LA!!!)


American Harvest was one of the first stores to carry Debbee Thibault’s American Collectibles (we were #3).  We have developed a relationship with Debbee that goes far beyond a business relationship.  She has become one of our dearest friends.  We are proud to carry Debbee’s entire line of whimsical creations and also her glass ornaments.

Over ten years ago, Debbee was beginning her adventure in designing and producing her creations.  At the same time, American Harvest was born as a storefront in Pleasanton, CA.  Sharon saw Debbee’s work at a trade show and knew immediately that these creations were far superior to anything else at the market.  Since then, Debbee has become one of the most collectible American artist of our time.

American Harvest has three Debbee Thibault creations that the color variations are exclusive to our store.  They are available in very limited quantities of only 75 pieces.  They are the American Harvest "Keepsake Angel", "Be My Valentine Bunny" and "Sadie, the Dog Gone Dog".  All three designs are wonderful and the color variations are fabulous.

Debbee visits our store twice a year for an artist signing.  The next event is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, November 4, 2007 (the second day of our Christmas Open House).  Please mark your calendars for that date and keep checking back for additional information as the time gets closer.

Here are some pictures of the three exclusives for American Harvest and past Debbee Thibault events.  You can find more pictures of Debbee and her creations, plus event happenings at our website.  Also, read Debbee’s comment about her signing event at American Harvest this past Spring.


The Bunnies in the background are prototypes.  Our exclusive is in the foreground.  The original "Be My Valentine Bunny" wears a red dress.  The Tiffany blue and chocolate brown has become American Harvest’s signature colors.


Pictured above is Debbee putting the finishing touches on the American Harvest "Be My Valentine Bunny".  No detail is too small for Debbee.  She makes certain that all of her designs are exceptional and special.  You can see in this picture that a little bit of gold paint on her fingertip is used to highlight the trim of the bunny’s dress.


This is Sadie, our English Springer Spaniel.  She loves Debbee Thibault.  When Debbee stays at our house, Sadie will not leave her alone.  So, Debbee created "Sadie, the Dog Gone Dog" in her honor.  See Debbee’s creation below.  Debbee’s original color combination for this doggie was black and white with a Halloween themed costume.  We love the change to "Liver and white" with a red and white party themed costume.  Our Sadie holds a ball and bone, instead of a Jack-O-Lantern.


Debbee with Bonnie H. and Sharon K. at American Harvest’s Spring Debbee Thibault event. 


The "Keepsake Angel" was our first exclusive color change.  Sharon and Debbee worked together to finalize the color choices.  The soft pink and green have been a huge success for this design.  Only a small amount of this color variation remains available.

Soon to come…..Debbee’s new Fall and Christmas 2007 line up of characters!  Keep looking for them on our website.  They will be arriving this fall.


We are very happy to announce the arrival of Lisa Kaus’ prints to the American Harvest family of artists.  Lisa’s creations will bring a huge smile to your face.  We are carrying framed prints (black frames), small wood block prints with a wire hanger, larger wood prints, cards and magnets.  We plan to work closely with Lisa and soon carry her original art work in addition to the prints.  The group of pictures below is a small sampling of her designs.




















Please call the store availability or email us.


We are always thrilled when Lauren walks into the store with a basket of her creations.  We never know what inspirational designs popped out of her imagination.  Enjoy the feast of pictures of her latest work.  Please call the store at 925-485-1577 for availability or email.


Lauren Mumford’s Pillow Collages in pastel colors.


Collage pillows


Baby Dress Collage


Details of Baby Dress Collage


One of the panels from the Lace Banner


Another panel from the Lace Banner


White Collage Pillow


French Peat Pot collage with Swan image


French Peat Pot #29




Dress Form Collage


Sharon and I stayed at the Hotel des Carmes in Paris.  We could walk to Notre-Dame in about 5 minutes.  The beautiful cathedral is located on the Ile de la Cite.  We climbed the tower’s 422 steep, small , winding steps.  The bird’s eye view was grand, even on an overcast morning.  Best of all, the climb put us face to face with gargoyles!