Summer in the Winter

First, to all of you who kept the Dittmer family in your thoughts and prayers these last few weeks, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

Now. Let’s warm things up. Sometimes you need a little summer in the winter, and this is one of those times. (Unless you are in the Southern hemisphere, in which case you are already there. Hmph.)

Here’s a summer book and a summer house, both set in the same storied mountain enclave of Highlands, in the great state of North Carolina.

Moonrise, by Cassandra King (Maiden Lane Press, 2013)

Moonrise, by “queen of Southern storytelling” Cassandra King, is a beautifully written tale of old friends, new loves, and smoldering resentments… BUT. There are also deep, dark secrets lurking, and I catch myself wanting to sneak a read in the middle of the day, which means it’s got me.

It is also fun to read about a place dear to your heart, where I used to have a little house myself, in a book with characters named after your friends, as the author is a friend of said friends. Okay enough with the friending.

There’s a wonderful character named Willa, who looks after the “summer people” and their houses. She also takes an interest in butterflies, catching and mounting them with great love and care.

With great love and care, I buy them on the Internet. Like Willa, I love them at the window with the sun shining through their wings. 

Cassandra King is also the wife of author Pat Conroy, who wrote The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini, among others. Talk about a power couple.

This summer house near Highlands is a favorite of mine, also belonging to friends, that was featured  in A House in the South, which I co-authored with Paula Wallace a few years ago. In the little town of Cashiers, pronounced CAYSH-ers by the locals, this jewel of a house is one I’ve been meaning to show you.

Would you like a waterfall with your dinner?

Finnerty dining table with waterfall – Cashiers

Owners are Caroline and Peter Finnerty. Caroline is as stylish as they come, and her teaming up with Atlanta designer Carolyn Malone was bound to produce the most desireable of outcomes. Which is to say a house that, as Caroline says, “looks like her great-grandmother built it.” Because Caroline is originally from Charleston, and heaven forfend she live in any thing that looks, you know, new.

(See more of Carolyn’s work in Garden & Gun, among other places.)

Finnerty porch – Cashiers

Forgive my photos of photos… and respects to original photographer Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn.

This kitchen photo ran across the gutter, sorry about that, but there are many cool elements here. Start with the antique cabinet/counter island in the middle, then the wall racks for pots and pans above the stove. Hanging pots and pans just makes all the sense in the world and frees up all the cabinet space in the world.

Finnerty Kitchen – Cashiers

The details are so strong, but not in your face saying “Look at me! I’m a cool detail!” The lattice cabinet doors, the toile lining the backs of the shelves, the topiary…

Finnerty kitchen cabinet – Cashiers

Love an old spool bed, and that old-fashioned bedspread fancied up with Leontine linens.

Finnerty bedroom – Cashiers
Finnerty bedroom – Cashiers

A sleeping porch with old iron beds is the perfect place for tellin’ ghost stories, or hearing the crickets chirp you to sleep.

Finnerty bedroom – Cashiers

Would you just love to have a bath tub in front of a window like this? Me too. His Grace would sooner go to the dentist than take a bath. I think because it reminds him of swimming. He takes the mountains over the beach any day.

The cafe curtains provide privacy, but let in the light. (Of course I’m getting to the age where less light in the bath tub is kind of a plus, if you know what I mean.)

Finnerty bath – Cashiers

For more  Highlands and Cashiers style, you might check in on Lissy is a doll and has a great eye. Here is a heavenly scene she captured recently right outside her back door. Since it was snowing, she figured it was a snowbow.

Don’t argue with mountain people.

A snowbow, via



  1. Dear Frances………..I have loved your blog ever since Peg Hardee referred me to it. I am a self-proclaimed “pot rack advocate”, so it was especially lovely to hear you speak of the “good sense” of a pot rack. My pot rack is a reclaimed antique iron cemetary fence and I also think “it makes all the sense in the world”!!!!….no more scrambling around under cabinets…… hallelujah! See you when you come to Greenville for Women for Women………… best….sandy

    1. Hello, Jujubee! Mounted butterflies are pretty easy to come by, and here are two Internet sources for new ones:
      The more special to me, however, are the ones in clear shadowboxes like the one in the blog. I haven’t yet found a source for those exclusively but have found them on eBay and in specialty stores. What we’re just about to try now is detaching the ones from the paper-backed frames and mounting them on clear glass in inexpensive shadowbox frames. Check back in to see how it goes, and I will share my tips. Thank you so much for writing – and for hosting us in Chicago. Warmly, Frances

  2. Frances, you are the absolute BEST! Thank you so very much for featuring my ‘Sbowbow.’ I couldn’t believe my eyes … luckily the camera was close by. That is the exact spot where the ‘Three bears’ came to visit in the Fall. I am keeping my eyes wide open on that porch from now on.
    xoxoxoxo, Lissy

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