Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Missing Marburger ...

I am sad to say that I'm missing the Marburger Farm Antique Show in Round Top, Texas. I was intent on going despite a recent minor surgery, but I'm still feeling a little hesitant to travel.



So, I'll just take it easy and wish all the vendors and shoppers a great time. Hey, it's not too late for you take in the great buys. The show runs through April 2. Stop by the show's official website for details.

Catch up on what's going on at this year's show through the postings of other bloggers, too. Visit:

Eddie Ross
My Favorite French Antiques
Antiques.com
Kim Faison Antiques

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Farmhouse flair ...

This week my design eye is focused on the rustic simplicity of fresh and airy farmhouse decor as the Earth Mother in me awakens to the joys of spring.

The milkstool table and rustic sofa table set a relaxed tone in this photo from Elle Decor.

I think the appeal of farmhouse style is the fact that these rooms can be achieved with ease. No-fuss, farmhouse decorating can incorporate hand-me-downs, vintage finds, humble fabrics and utilitarian pieces with casual, barefoot relaxation in mind.

 

Photos above from Country Living present more refined interiors, but still maintain the warm personality associated with rural farmhouses.


Warm woods, brick floors and industrial chairs contribute to the character of this farmhouse kitchen from House Beautiful (above). The use of copper cookware and galvanized light fixtures beautifully reinforce the design style.


So much of the farmhouse charm comes from the smallest details ... an old trunk, a vintage harvest table, upcycled wooden tools and farm implements ... creating the rural feel layer upon layer. Images above via Manolo Home (left) and The Lettered Cottage (right).


All of the farmhouse elements come together when rustic materials meet sweet, simple linens in the bedroom. Photo above via The Lennoxx.

Do you think 'Old MacDonald' ever had it this good?




The fabulous Beekman Boys ...



I am having a grand time watching the weekly telecast of 'The Fabulous Beekman Boys' on Discovery's Green Planet channel.


To find out the channel carrying this robust frolic in your area, click on the Channel Finder here.

The reality series follows two Manhattanites who give up the city life for a farm in rural, upstate New York.



Josh Kilmer-Purcell and his partner Dr. Brent Ridge have purchased the historic (circa 1802) Beekman Mansion and farm in the village of Sharon Springs, New York. There, they are raising goats, pigs, chickens and a "narcissistic llama" with comedic results.


 
While life on the farm isn't as simple as thought, these dapper fellows are embarking on a journey with enormous branding potential.

To create an income stream for the farm, the industrious twosome began producing Beekman 1802 Blaak, an artisanal cheese produced from the goats at Beekman Farm (shown above right).


To generate retail sales for the cheese and their handmade, pure goatmilk soap, these entrepreneur-farmers created the BEEKMAN 1802 lifestyle brand, opened a retail boutique and online store to serve the growing interest of viewers and buyers worldwide.

The Fabulous Beekman Boys is a weekly 30-minute vicarious romp with a marketing guru and a physician who have pledged to create the bucolic existence of their dreams.

You can read the just-published account of their journey in the humorous memoir, 'The Bucolic Plague,' available in bookstores or online through these retailers.

I'll be tuning in again next week for great laughs, some tears and always pure joy.

Handmade soap ...

For me, almost every visit to a small boutique or 'mom and pop' mercantile includes the purchase of a handcrafted bar of soap. These aromatic charmers trigger beautiful childhood memories of my grandparents and an appreciation for the efforts of soapmakers everywhere.



My grandfather and his brother-in-law (my great uncle) founded a soap company in 1952, based on my grandfather's soap recipes. (He had been making soap from home for meat processors in San Antonio and South Texas since the 1930s.) While the commercial business made industrial cleaning products for manufacturing facilities, grandpa was also a wiz at making soaps for home laundry and personal use, too.


My grandfather (second from left) poses along with family members
who founded and operated the Acme Soap Co.

To this day, clean laundry always reminds me of the smell at my grandparents house. As a result, I have been facinated with the soap-making process ever since I was a child. Now that I have some time on my hands, I think it's high time I give it a try myself.



Photo via Jane Austen Gift Shop.
There are three different soap making methods: melt and pour, cold process and hot process. And, the ingredients needed for most soap recipes are often readily available at health food stores and are sold onlineStep-by-step instructions can be found on the internet as well.

Melt and pour is by far the easiest. Basically, a glycerin base is melted, colorants and fragrances are added, and the whole concoction is poured into molds.



Photo from Candles and Supplies.
Cold process soaps are made from scratch by adding lye to water - allowing it to heat, then, cool; combining it with melted oils for fragrance; then, placing it into molds. The tricky part about the cold process method is the need to cure the soaps for several weeks before using.


Hot process is very similar to the cold process, but this method relies on cooking the mixture on a stove. This way, you don't need to wait for the soap to cure. It can be used as soon as the bars are cool.

What's great about making handcrafted soap is the ability to select all natural ingredients (no more skin allergies), adding your favorite fragrances, and producing cakes for gift giving.

I am ready to give it a try, and I think my grandfather would be proud!

A bed of roses ...

Roses are always the first bloomers in my garden to announce the arrival of spring.


Cuttings from my first bloomers of 2011, Duchesse du Brabant antique roses.

A bed of roses offers non-stop color from spring to the first frost. I'm particularly fond of my Duchesse du Brabant roses with their sentimental, vintage cabbage shape. A favorite of president Teddy Roosevelt, too, the antique rose variety looks as if it were picked from a old still life painting.

The shape and color of roses have adorned fabrics and romantic fantasies for ages.



Stylist and interior decorator Christina Strutt has taken the shabby rose chic popularized by Rachel Ashwell to a larger, worldwide audience with her blog, books and Cabbages & Roses retail locations in the UK, North America and Asia.

 

The company's fabric lines include many with the rose theme, prevalent in refined, rustic cottage furnishings. Photos via Cabbages & Roses.

In celebration of the rose season, let's have a toast.

Photo and recipe from the Bubbly Girl, Maria Hunt

VINTAGE ROSE COCKTAIL

Ingredients (makes one cocktail):
3/4 ounce rose syrup
4 – 5 ounces chilled sparkling wine or champagne
Lemon twist
Organic rose petals

Directions:
Add the rose syrup to a chilled champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine or champagne. Twist the lemon peel over the glass to release the oils and then drop it into the flute. Garnish with fresh, organic rose petals.

You can make your own rose syrup if you cannot find it at a specialty liquor store.
To make your own rose syrup:
Mix 1/2 cup of rose flower water, (dilute with water if necessary), with several sprigs of French lavender, and the fresh petals of one organically grown rose. Bring to a quick boil in a small sauce pan, slowly adding 1 cup of sugar.
Simmer for 5-8 minutes to thicken, remove from heat.
Strain through a filter to remove herbs.
Allow syrup to cool, or chill in your fridge.

Enjoy!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dressing the Easter table ...

A kalidescope of colors and joyful creativity are hallmarks of Easter tablesettings. Bring out your brightest and boldest linens, dinnerware and clever flings of fancy.


Indoors or out, best china or casual pottery, Easter lends itself to any setting that brings the hues of spring to the tabletop. Images above from Brabourne Farm (left) and Country Living (right).


A living tablerunner made of sphagnum moss laid down the length of the table is a novel idea. I love it! Photo from the clever minds at Constance Curtis Events.



Build glam nests at the table for your decorated eggs. Image via Big Y.



Forget the bunnies! I am absolutely smitten by these edible sheep. Who knew Milano cookies and marshmallows could be such a brilliant addition to the Easter table! Would you like to make some of your own 'Baa baa black and white sheep treats?' Click here for the Southern Living step-by-step guide. 


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sheen crazy ...

I'm talking about the metallic glam that has created winning looks across the globe. With new, impressive paints, we mere mortals can give our rooms spectacular wall finishes that would impress gods and goddesses alike.


New York designer David Scott presents a gorgeous, high-end focus wall in metallic champagne hue, above.


The sheen in the paint treatment above comes from a 'Frottage' faux finish. The image (via Apartment Therapy) shows how a frottage finish is achieved by swirling on multiple layers of metallic glaze to create a dramatic room statement.

 

From the front entrance to the water closet, any room can benefit from a bit of glitz. The entry photo (at left) comes via Blossom Interiors. Above, Kansas City Murals shows their industrial viewpoint with metallic silver.

Metallic wallpapers have come along way, too, to achieve the 'look' of the moment. From pearlized backgrounds like the one below via The I Design Box ...


to golden florals stenciled on a light taupe background, sheen is an elegant result of metallic paint treatments perfectly suited to jumping start a room's decor.


Photo above from Lakeside Painting.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Social climbers ...

Our wisteria has once again cast its spell with a magnificient display of spring blooms. The bees, butterflies and I are rather giddy this time of year, and we want to share our joy. Right on cue at St. Patrick's Day, our pergola is layered in the lavender beauty of wisteria. 

Our wisteria is a Chinese variety known as Wisteria sinensis ‘Cooke’s Purple.



Our pergola was built specifically to host wisteria. Hubby and I built it ourselves from start to finish.

To love a wisteria (and I really do), one must love to prune. While the flower display is intoxicating, it will subside, followed by ambitious growth of foliage and vines.

Wisteria never rests during its growing season. Its rampant growth will flow over and through just about any structure - tightening its grip and crushing whatever is in its path. So, it is important to keep the pruning shears ready. Click here to read my prior post on growing wisteria.

You'll notice in the photo (at left) the lavender 'snow' that is beginning to cover our pergola's flagstone floor. I actually love the way it looks, too. Somehow, it brings out the kid in me, and I'm tempted to play in it.

I thought you might like to see some favorite photos of wisteria that bring out my inner gardener.



Engineers Club, Richmond, Virginia

Photo by E.T. Meyer

Image via Ewa In The Garden


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Basin instinct ...

I want a farmhouse sink. Just one deep basin. Porcelain or metal, it makes no difference to me.

Okay, I know I am being heavily influenced by the beautiful basin that a dear friend just installed in her new lake house kitchen. It is gorgeous!


I would be willing to settle for this restored, vintage, cast-iron lovely that was featured on the DIY Network.




Or, I would happily accept either of those above. The metal one at left, photographed by Dan Mayers, has two really deep wells. Better Homes and Gardens featured the wide stone sink at right. Heaven, I tell you!


I can just image the joy of bringing flowers from my garden to a vintage charmer like the one above.


And, this one shown in Southern Living magazine is very similar to one my grandparents had in their kitchen. It has all the charm and character that drives my desire for a farmhouse sink.

One day ...


Collecting and storing seeds ...

I admit it! I am a seed hoarder collector. If I spy a lovely plant (anywhere) with a mature seed pod, chances are that I will lug it home. At times, I have had a bit of a storage issue using envelopes to house my seeds. An old cigar box can't hold too many large envelopes.



But, I have just finished organizing my current stash collection, and it was super easy. I just made my own seed packets.



(1) I designed and printed a packet template, (2) cut around the edges of the artwork, (3) folded, then, glued the bottom and side flaps, and (4) wrote the plant seed names in the label area.



My handmade seed packets.

I created three designs (shown above) that you can print out if you would like. Just click on any of the thumbnail images below and print.



It's amazing how many seed packets I can now store. I even have room for my plant markers and big Sago Palm seeds.



I adore cigar boxes -- memories from childhood craft projects, I guess (can we say cherished, glued macaroni-adorned, silver-painted jewelry box for Mom). It seems I have a sentimental craft history with these boxes. 

Say what you will, but I love to organize, and I love seeds. So, what could be better than a cigar box to hold lovely handmade seed packets? By the way, these packets make great gifts, too.


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