March 31, 2011

Alice Comes to Stay

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Last year at this time I was only getting my feet wet in the world of blogging and I feel so fortunate to still be part of this lovely and loving community. Today’s post is something of a flashback…I did an Alice post exactly 1 year ago today. If you were around way back then, you might remember some of these images.
 
When I wrote the previous post, I had just seen Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and had Lewis Carroll and his magic on the brain. Here’s a roundup of items that capture some of the whimsy of Wonderland.  
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All these goods are now sold, but you’d be amazed what wonder awaits with a simple search for “Alice in Wonderland” on etsy.com. The wares are wonderful, but my  favorite Alice item is most definitely the Japanese NAPCO figurine my Me-me gave me recently. I always peeked at it through the glass of her curio cabinet while growing up and after a little persuading (and 29 years), she gave it to me!
 
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Does Alice hold a special place in your heart?
 
 
 
      

March 30, 2011

Burlap in the home

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On a recent visit to a fabulous antique/everything store, I spotted this industrial cart repurposed as a sofa. I’m not sure it would be comfortable enough to function as your main couch, but what a great addition something like this would make. Talk about a conversation piece!

What interested me most was the burlap upholstery. Who’d have ever thought burlap would be at the peak of chic in the design world? I just don’t know how serviceable it really is for furniture. I guess there are different varieties, but what I’ve encountered is so scratchy and snags quite easily.

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I made my bedroom curtains out of burlap, but they only have to hang there. If we were wallowing around on them all the time, I’m not sure they could withstand. My mom recovered the seats of her dining room chairs in a canvas fabric, giving a similar look as burlap but much softer and more practical.

I’m curious if you’ve had luck with burlap on furniture? Is there a certain type that works best? Do you wash it first or is that a no-no? I know some of you smart & crafty DIY folks can help me!

March 29, 2011

Buttercups on Parade

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It’s no secret on this blog I’m a big fan of the humble buttercup. Some folks call them daffodils and others, jonquils. No matter what you call them, you must admit they are a lovely blossom. Most of the buttercups in my neck of the woods bloomed and wilted with all the rain we’ve had lately.

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Then, this past weekend I attended a daffodil show with more varieties and specimens than I’ve ever seen in my life. Some were huge show-offs, some were teensy tiny, and some were old favorites.

My new favorite is the one with white outer petals with pale pink/peachy centers. Can’t you see those as bridal flowers? They were award winners.

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This one’s for my Me-me because she said she’d rather have one perfect buttercup than a whole bouquet of roses. I’m with her.

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You can’t really tell from this image, but this variety is so tiny. Each bloom is about the size of a quarter or smaller. I should have photographed something else in the shot so you could get an idea about scale. Did you know the daffodil is the national flower of Wales? Maybe Princess-to-be Kate will carry some in her bridal bouquet. I think she should.

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This lovely grouping shows some of the different varieties. Which one is your favorite? I’m no Tennessee Williams, but I hope today’s post leaves you feeling “showered in jonquils” just like his heroine Amanda Wingfield did in The Glass Menagerie. Happy Tuesday friends!

March 28, 2011

Anti-recipes: Homemade Pimento Cheese

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I’ll never forget the first time I ate pimento cheese…and liked it. Oh I’d had it plenty of times while I was growing up, but considered it slimy and gross. Maybe it was how it looked in those little deli tubs it came in. Maybe it was the consistency. I just assumed it was one of those things I would force myself to eat (as a good southern girl).

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Then I attended the art show of a precious family friend where pimento cheese sandwiches (among other things) were served as refreshments. Specifically homemade pimento cheese on white bread, cut into triangles. I think I heard an angel chorus when I took that first bite. How had I never attempted homemade pimento cheese? I just couldn’t see how it would be that much better than store-bought. Dear little na├»ve me, I had so much to learn.

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Now I make it at least every other week or so. I also like to pronounce it puh-men-nah just in case you were wondering. There’s really no recipe…I just add things as I go. It helps if you have your granny’s vintage pyrex dish (with lid), but any container will do.

Homemade Pimento Cheese

  • 1 block of extra sharp cheddar (grated finely) Do NOT use pre-shredded cheese! It’s coated in something weird and you’ll be sorry.
  • 1 cup real mayonnaise (the good stuff)
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of chopped pimentos plus a little juice
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • Onion salt, Coarse black pepper, and red pepper (a few shakes of each to your liking)

Now stir everything together and you’re good to go. I like to mash mine until it becomes more of a paste. Eat it alone on crackers or bread or use it to make grilled pimento cheese sandwiches. Add bacon if you’re really daring! Enjoy! Posted by Kate Spears

March 25, 2011

A Moment for Elizabeth Taylor

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We lost a jewel this week with the passing of Elizabeth Taylor. From the first time I saw National Velvet I loved her, but my favorite of her pictures is a little more off the radar. Released in 1954, Elephant Walk is the story of wealthy colonial tea plantation owner John Wiley and his elegant wife Ruth. Set in Ceylon and filmed on location, there is intrigue, glamour, elegance and sadness. It’s everything that Elizabeth Taylor was so known for bringing to life on screen.

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The film received lackluster reviews, but something about its visual elements make up for that in my mind. The setting is so vibrant, it almost acts as another character. Vivian Leigh was originally chosen to play the female lead and supposedly some of the long shots are of her. When Leigh’s mental illness became too much of an issue, Taylor stepped in to replace her.

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I’m interested to hear if any of you have seen Elephant Walk and what you think of it. Elizabeth Taylor was a legend…they just don’t make movie stars like her anymore. She will be missed.

March 22, 2011

Mix & Match

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Yesterday I mentioned some of the goodies I discovered while junking & antiquing (antique-ing?) this weekend. One of them was this wonderful vintage Jr. League cookbook, published by the Dekalb County, GA chapter! A birthday gift from the southern beau to add to my collection. After hitting the highlights of Clinton’s historic antique shopping district, we were still mostly empty-handed. Then I remembered my bit of good fortune the last time I visited this little town: English ironstone a’ la Goodwill. Read about that adventure here if you missed it.

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I don’t know what it is about this particular Goodwill location, but I think something magical might be afoot. I had barely made my way to the dish display when I spotted a stack of ironstone with my name on it. Ok, it didn’t really have my name on it, but you get the drift.

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I grabbed up these plates and had them wrapped and paid for before the southern beau even knew what was what. For the bargain price of $8, I got about 18 pieces, including salad plates which I always seem to need (we eat more salad than bread at my house…at least that’s what I pretend).

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Here is the mark on the back in case your interested. I like how all ironstone is different, but still goes together. I’ll use these new pieces with my current ones, even though they are a completely different design.

Do you like to mix and match when it comes to your dishes or do you prefer to keep things in the same pattern?

March 21, 2011

Traveling Adventures: Clinton, Tennessee

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This past weekend the southern beau and I visited one of our favorite small towns to peruse the many antique stores and just get out and about to enjoy the sunshine. I thought I knew my way around this tiny hamlet and had pretty much seen all the highlights of it until we found ourselves heading down an unfamiliar street. I almost wrecked the car trying to take pictures of the lovely homes we passed. How did I miss this quaint street with such lovely southern homesteads?

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I hope this doesn’t seem creepy, but I just love to drive around and look at houses. I guess I come by this honestly since it was (and still is) a favorite Sunday afternoon pastime of my parents. I love to see where people live and wonder about what their lives are like.

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Especially when their homes as as elegant as these…and in such a tiny town too. I wonder who built them here so long ago and what these folks’ stories are.

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Maybe someone of importance spent the night here? I guess I could do some research. Do you have any historical homes in your neck of the woods?

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This one almost looks like it should be in Nantucket instead of Tennessee. Isn’t it fun to discover new things in our own backyards?

Sincerest thanks for all the kind birthday wishes! I had a wonderful day & weekend and you added to that for sure! Tune in tomorrow to see what goodies I scored on Saturday from my favorite shop…a real treasure trove! {hint: they might be dishes}

March 18, 2011

Celebrating & the city of lights

The Eiffel Tower Twinkling at night…shot in 2007

Today’s my birthday. No, I’m not in Paris. I’m taking the day off to celebrate, maybe get my nails done and eat cupcakes until my stomach hurts…but nothing nearly as exciting as a Parisian vacay. Except to me those things are exciting too.

I’m sharing the video because it reminds me of one of the many wonderful things I’ve been blessed to experience in my life (travel!). Every year we get a little older, a little wiser. We could all sit around and compare our progress, but that isn’t the point. I’ve had some amazing adventures and I know there are many more to come. I’ve also had some less-than-stellar days and I’m sure plenty of those will come again too. The thing I try to remember is to enjoy each moment and be oh so thankful. I’m definitely thankful for you.

I hope you have a great Friday and a fabulous weekend! It’s supposed to be pretty here in the south & I’m going to enjoy the sunshine!

March 17, 2011

A Lucky Day!

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It’s probably obvious from my blog design…my favorite color is green. Growing up with red hair and fair skin, I wished I were Irish. I might have a tiny bit of Irish heritage, but not much. I still love St. Patrick’s Day and wanted to share these darling vintage images.

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I recently met a wonderful Irish lady named Stella and she told me I had an Irish look about me…which I took as a huge compliment. She said she and her husband had settled in our fair state of Tennessee because it reminded them of Ireland…lush and green with gentle rolling hills and blue water. On behalf of our southern state, I’ll take that as a compliment too!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all! xoxo

March 16, 2011

The way you wear your hat…

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With all this talk of garage sales and getting rid of unwanted things, I’ve been thinking about my personal style and how I want to express it with the design of my home. I took a fun little quiz the other day about this very thing and thought I’d share it here, in case you haven’t seen it yet!
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In the quiz, you select the images you find appealing and then are provided with an assessment about your style. It’s just for fun really, but it might give you some insight about yourself to help with design choices and changes.
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These are a few of the images I chose for my responses. I nearly swooned over the hardwood floors…maybe someday!
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My results are below. I always suspected I was unpretentious, but a bon vivant? Now I feel truly special!
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Isn't it amazing what's available via the world wide web? If you take the quiz, let us know what your Style Maker type is! I can’t wait to find out if any of you are an “Unpretentious Bon Vivant” as well!

March 15, 2011

The Things We Keep

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This weekend, after many weeks of cleaning out all the nooks and crannies in my house, I had a garage sale. It was actually a joint-effort with a few other lovely ladies and I think we were all pleased with the results. I don’t know about you, but for me, having a garage sale can be a sobering experience. When I see all the excess things I’ve accumulated, laid out on tables for strangers to pick through, it makes me ask myself why I thought I needed those things in the first place.

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This is not to say that I won’t end up accumulating more things over time and ultimately, have the need for another garage sale. I just want to put more thought into my purchases. In the south we attach a lot of meaning to the objects in our lives. This can be a good thing, but not always. I’d rather enjoy what I have (dishes, silverware, etc.) and get some use out of things than keep them packed away for “someday.” Do you struggle with this too or are you the ultimate minimalist?

[images are of my grandpa’s collection of things, including his many license plates…not part of the garage sale!]

March 14, 2011

Stylish Blooms a’ la Pink

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I’ve already admitted my tendency of hopping out of moving vehicles to snap a photograph. This weekend was no exception as I was riding through my hometown with my parents. I just couldn’t let these gorgeous pink trees go un-shared. Also, I promise there was no re-touching of the colors!

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Spring is such a beautiful time of year. Can you imagine staring out your window and seeing this in your backyard?

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As style icon Christian Dior once said “pink will prevail.” Pink is definitely prevailing in my neck of the woods. What’s lovely in your yard today?

March 10, 2011

Anti-Recipe: Sweet Potato Hash Browns

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You know that saying “the greatest thing since sliced bread?” In my world, you might as well say “the greatest thing since sweet potato French fries.” Sweet potato fries are one of my very favorite foods. Maybe it’s the combination of sweet and salty that does it for me. 

One night this week I decided to change things up a bit with my sweet taters and made them into hash browns. They weren’t as crispy as the regular white potato variety, but I got past the texture and embraced the deliciousness. Sadly, we slurped them down before I could snap a pic, but they looked something like this, minus the zucchini (now I want to try adding it).

{image via a fabulous blog you should definitely visit!}

Sweet Potato Hash Browns

2 average sized sweet potatoes, scrubbed and peeled

2 Tablespoons of cooking oil (or more if you like)

Grate the sweet potatoes on a box grater (or food processor). At this point I added some Trader Joe’s Everyday seasoning to the spuds. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium/high heat on the stovetop and add half the potato mixture. It’s up to you how long you cook them (5 minutes was about what I did). Repeat with remaining mixture (unless you have a huge skillet and can cook it all at once).

I later read that coating the potatoes in corn starch would help them brown up a bit more, but I was happy with my results. This particular dinner’s main dish was a baked egg casserole with fresh broccoli and cheddar cheese. We’re trying to eat healthier at the SBS household and breakfast for dinner is so easy.

Are you a sweet potato lover like me? If so, what’s your favorite way to fix ‘em?

March 8, 2011

Yay for Women!

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Today is International Women’s Day and March 2011 was recently named “Women’s History Month” so I’m dedicating today’s post to all the fabulous, brilliant, wonderful & witty women who have shaped my life. From my mom, grandmothers & aunts to my teachers, mentors and best friends, I’ve definitely had no shortage of strong female role models. And of course all of the amazing blog pals I’ve made over the last year. How are you celebrating the fabulous women in your life today? I hope you also remember to celebrate yourself!

March 7, 2011

SBS Bookshelf: Furniture City Feasts

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This little gem is the newest addition to my collection of vintage southern Junior League cookbooks. I picked it up at an eclectic shop I visited with my super cool aunt and uncle. For the low price of $12, I consider this volume quite a find. My version (available here)  is from the first printing in 1974, but there is an updated version called Furniture City Feasts: Restored, which you can get here.

So far, my collection includes Jr. League Cookbooks from Tennessee (Memphis), Louisiana (Lafayette & Lake Charles) and North Carolina. Since I have limited shelf space, I only buy the ones that really speak to me. I knew this latest one was a must-have when I saw how it was divided into menus, including one for a debutante brunch complete with chicken salad and strawberry champagne punch. Every entry isn’t a winner (ham logs with raisin sauce?) but it’s all part of the fun!

Do you share my love of cookbooks and if so, what’s your favorite? It doesn’t have to be southern, but mine happen to be!

March 3, 2011

An extra helping of style: Edie Rose for Macy’s

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This belle has a birthday coming up and I’m thinking about treating myself to one or more of these sweet pieces from Rachel Bilson’s new line for Macy’s, “Edie Rose.”

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Something about the drawn designs are reminiscent to me of my Johnson Brothers Ironstone. I think they would mesh well together, no?

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I love anything with peacocks, but I’m not sure how I feel about the following plate. There’s something about his eye that seems too “cartoon-ish.” What do you think?

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These bluebird salt & pepper shakers are too cute! According to the website, most of the line is on sale. I don’t have a Macy’s where I live or else I’d be heading over there immediately!

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Do you like items with a bird motif or is it too much? I think when done simply, bird motifs can be cute. I guess anything can get to the point of overkill, but design is tricky for sure. Happy Thursday Tweeties!

March 1, 2011

SBS Bookshelf: The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook

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I only started reading this book last night, but I already know it’s a keeper. The very first recipe is for pimento cheese. Be still my artery clogged heart! Mine is a library copy, but I’ll surely be adding it to my bookshelf. It’s glossy and beautiful, but made to look a bit worn. I can see it propped up on the counter, pages dog-eared and flour stained for years to come! Grab a basic copy here or a signed copy here.

And for some of the award winning pimento cheese recipes, visit the Southern Foodways Alliance site.