The Blog ofJennifer Shenk

Finding treasure in your own local history and working with color

My mother recently found an old scrapbook in her attic. Somehow I have become the keeper of the family historical information, trinkets and Bibles. Which isn’t a bad gig if you can get it—in my case it includes neat pottery, artwork and Native American artifacts.

This scrapbook that my mother found was fascinating to me because it was a four month journal of a road trip that my Great-Great-Aunt Susie took with some friends (Mr. and Mrs. A. J. McGown and Mrs. Delia Foster). {Accuracy note: When I asked my mother how we were related to Aunt Susie, she wasn’t sure and said that maybe ‘Aunt’ was a term of endearment, not a family relationship indicator}.

Aunt Susie’s road trip took place in 1939 when the foursome drove from Ellsworth, Maine to St. Petersburg, Florida for the winter. There is a long narrative in the beginning then ephemera and keepsakes (feathers, wooden ice cream spoons, etc.) from their road trip.

Aunt Susie Smith was the mother of Charles Smith, a sea captain/ancestor who I’ve heard stories about and have artifacts from his maritime adventures. We have a large beautiful painting of a ship that he captained–a painting that would be worth a heck of a lot more if my own grandmother had not cleaned it with Ajax a few decades ago.

I really enjoyed looking through the scrapbook with my kids—there are many photos with complete names on them. I’d appreciate advice on where I might scan and upload them–has anyone had success with particular websites that specialize in publicizing this sort of thing (, maybe?) The pictures are in great condition and would be a great addition to someone’s family tree.

After reading all about their travels, the people they met and places they visited, it shocked me that at the end of the scrapbook was a newspaper clipping of an obituary for Mrs. Delia Foster (very different writing style from today’s obituaries).

Mrs. Foster was one of the ladies on this road trip. According to the obituary (dated April 12, 1939)…

”Delia Foster, widow of Austin M. Foster, died suddenly of heart disease last Friday, at her home on Laurel Street. She was found dead on the cellar floor, in front of the furnace. Death came suddenly and painlessly…Mrs. Foster had arrived home only that morning, after a pleasant winter in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Enroute home by car, she was accompanied on the trip by Mrs. Susie Smith of Ellsworth, Maine and Mr. and Mrs. A.J. McGown of Carmel, Maine…Mr. and Mrs. McGown had brought her home to Ellsworth on Friday morning and she was busy opening her house for the summer. E.F. Brady, plumber, who had been engaged to turn on the water, found her body when he returned after dinner.”

A few years ago at the Lions Club Auction I bought a big beautiful U.S. Navy trunk with the name of a lieutenant stenciled on the top. I got the big flat-topped trunk for just $5. It’s a beauty with brass trim and corduroy lining…the lieutenant was from Sterling, MA. For now I’ll just keep it in my living room as a piece of furniture—the color coordinates perfectly with my walls and the addition of a steamer trunk to my map-themed living room is absolutely perfect. Speaking of color, this week’s blog is supposed to be about color…
Thinking about changing the color of your living room?
How about a color makeover for the bedroom? No matter what room of the house you are thinking about, the choice of color is important. That calming bedroom you always imagined could turn into a nightmare that won’t end. Of the stunning entry way could be the eyesore of the neighborhood. Knowing a little bit about colors can help you choose the one just right for the look you are trying to achieve.

The Color Wheel
This is the most fundamental thing you need to know about colors. There are 2 basic groups of colors: warm and cool. Warm colors are red, yellow and orange. They are exciting colors, full of life and energy; think about fire with its glowing flames. Cool colors are more mellow blues, greens and purples. Think of an outdoor scene, with green meadows and blue skies. The feel that you are looking for should lead you to one group of colors or the other.

Color Harmony
Putting just any old colors together can really be unpleasant to the eye. Color harmony is all about colors that go well together. The simplest way to think about this is when looking at a color wheel, colors that are adjacent to one another or directly across from one another complement each other. Monochromatic color schemes work well too – where you have varying intensities of the same color.

So now that you have the basics, think about the room you want to change. Would it be a place for relaxation? Or a place for entertaining? You might think about shades of blue and green for a bedroom you can really relax in. Or shades of orange for the kitchen and dining room you love to entertain your guests in. And remember, when working with more vibrant colors, a little goes a long way. If you love the idea of red in your living room, stay away from painting the walls AND having your drapes and upholstery in shades of red. Pick one piece that will take on the spotlight, and accent that with other hues, tones, colors, etc.

And now you can get small paint samples for cheap to bring home and try out. Feel free to experiment with how the colors you are thinking of would look together.
I’m working in Real Estate because I enjoy getting to know houses and helping people find where they want to live, so remember–If you are thinking of buying your first home or selling your home and moving up or downsizing, I’d love to help you. If you’re curious about the value of your home, contact me. If you’d like to get a daily email alerting you to homes that are for sale within your desired price range and zip code(s), there are plenty of places on my website that you can do that.

You can always contact me through my website at, email me at, like me on Facebook at Real Estate with Jen Shenk or call/text me at 978 870 9260. If I can help you in any way, please let me know.