Saturday, April 30, 2011

Vintage Handkerchiefs

I love vintage hankies. LOVE them.

There is just something so sweet and delicate about each and every one- from the painstakingly hand-crocheted and embroidered ones to the mid-century printed designs in vivid colors- they are each unique and lovely.

I love them so much that I began collecting vintage hankies in college. By the time I got married I had amassed enough to use as wedding favors folded up into "pockets" with a message inside for all of the ladies attending our wedding reception.

vintage handkerchief favors at our wedding with
history insert. Photo by Todd Nichols Photography

Since then I have done little else with my hankies except to stash them in a round hat box...but I have recently been thinking of new ways to incorporate them into my home so that they can be functional as well as beautiful. Of course, I have a handful that I actually use for their intended purpose- I find they are much softer on the nose and face than conventional tissues, and much more sustainable with less paper that goes in the trash. It also doesn't hurt that they are pretty :)

These are some ideas of other uses for vintage hankies:

* pillows
* framed wall art
* curtains
* basket liners
* rosettes for pillows, clothing, or hair bands
* lavender sachets
* book covers
* table runners

If you collect vintage hankies, what is your favorite way to use or display them?

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An Unexpected Blessing

I apologize for not having given an update on the baby chicks before now but we have been so busy! The little ones are doing well with their mama and are a little over two weeks old now. Mama Rosemary teaches them how to scratch and forage for bugs, eat greens, drink water, and is teaching them the complex language of chicken talk. The little ones happily go where she goes, sleep warmly under her feathers, and hop up on her back for some snuggle time.
"Little Bit"

However, we have had some hiccups along the way. Almost a week later after the six chicks had hatched, a seventh chick hatched out.  Let's call it Little Bit for now (he will get an herb name when he joins the flock).  Little Bit was getting trampled on and struggled at times to keep up with the other chicks but seemed to be doing okay.  One day after I had been playing with and holding the chicks, I noticed Rosemary pecking on Little Bit repeatedly.  I distracted her for a while but then she would see Little Bit again and go back to pecking
him on the head (while he ran away screaming).  This went on for quite some time and I was sure if I didn't rescue Little Bit that Rosemary would have killed him. Her last peck was so bad she lifted him off the ground in her mouth. It is actually not uncommon in nature for the mother to reject the runt of her litter. I'm such a sucker and couldn't bear to see it any longer so I rescued Little Bit and got him a friend at the feed store. He is happy now in his little brooder with food, water, heat light, sand box, fuzzy sock, mirror, and toys. He and his new friend are best buddies and sleep with their little heads on each other.  So sweet.

Little Bit's friend, a Partridge Rock pullet

Although I am sad that Little Bit could cannot have the same experience outside as the other chicks, I am blessed by the outcome because he has bonded with me, unafraid of my touch and calmed by my presence. The other chicks already run away from me and scream bloody murder if we reach for them. I guess it all worked out for the best!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He Is Risen!

"But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.' This is my message for you.""    
- Matthew 28: 5-7

Wishing you a Happy Easter...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Derby Party Preparation and Menu

The Derby is only a few weeks away!  Do you have a favorite horse yet? Have you picked out your Derby hat?  I've been busily planning our menu full of Derby specialties and traditional Kentucky food. Yum!

Here's a list of menu items so far:

- Kentucky Burgoo 
traditional Kentucky horse racing cuisine usually sold at race tracks; consists of a vegetable and beef-based stew with various meats included.

- Homemade Biscuits 
I think these will be yummy with the Burgoo...

- Mini Hot Browns
miniature-sized versions of the famous Kentucky dish first served by the Brown Hotel in Louisville; consists of small party-sized rye or sourdough bread squares topped with turkey, a special white cheese sauce, onion, bacon crumbles, and parsley; then baked in the oven.

- Corn Pudding
a traditional southern food combining corn, eggs whites and yolk, milk, flour and sugar, then baked. A delicious recipe from my husband's stepmother who grew up Eastern Kentucky. 

- Homemade Beer Cheese (with raw veggies and crackers)
another traditional Kentucky specialty, still served at in some Kentucky restaurants. Hall's on the River is famous for it. There are many recipes for this, but the one we use involves a pre-made mix of spices, sharp cheddar cheese, beer, mayo, and a few other special ingredients. 

- Benedictine Finger Sandwiches
a typical Derby food, consisting of a cucumber, onion, and cream cheese spread with a pinch of paprika sandwiched between thinly sliced white bread. I sometimes tint mine with a drop of green food coloring. 

- Fresh Picked Strawberries with Bourbon-Vanilla Cream
I pick up fresh NC strawberries from local farmers a day or two before the party and I allow them to warm up to room temperature before guests arrive for the best flavor. To make the bourbon vanilla cream I just combine sour cream with a little brown sugar, vanilla flavoring and a splash of bourbon.

- Sauteed Herb Cherry Tomatoes
these are super easy to make; just gently saute your cherry tomatoes in olive oil with your favorite combination of Italian herbs until tender. 

- Amie's Derby Pie
This is an easy recipe and is often the most requested one at the party. It is similar to a pecan pie but with chocolate. I also use a small splash of bourbon for extra flavor. Derby Pie is a must-have for your Kentucky Derby Party. Leave me a comment or send me an email for the recipe! 

- Bourbon Balls
A sweet Kentucky delicacy: these are often sold at Kentucky Bourbon distilleries and many families make them for the Holidays. The Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory (in my hometown of Frankfort) is credited for first inventing the bourbon ball during the 1930s. I will provide you with the recipe for your party below:

1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup plus 2 tsp bourbon
1 1/2 tbsp milk
7 1/2 cups powdered sugar (approx)
1 package of semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 tbsp shortening
Pecan halves to put on top

Combine butter, bourbon and milk; add sugar until mixture is stiff dough. Shape into small balls. Put in fridge until balls are firm, or you can freeze in zip-lock bags until ready to use.  Melt chocolate chips and shortening.  You can use a little shaved paraffin if you want a crisper chocolate coating.  I use a small saucepan sitting in a large skillet of water.  Dip balls into chocolate with a toothpick to cover all of the ball.  Shake off excess chocolate.  Press a pecan half on top of ball covering toothpick hole.  Let cool on foil lined cookie sheets in fridge.  For an extra kick, you can soak pecans in bourbon before placing on balls.  Store in tins or airtight container. 

Drinks to be served include:

- Mint Juleps
The official drink of the Kentucky Derby. A combination of bourbon, ice, crushed fresh mint, and simple syrup. Garnish with fresh cut mint sprigs.

- Mint Tea
a wonderful sweet tea recipe steeped with mint leaves and lemon.

- Bourbon Brown Ale (that my husband brewed himself!)

Be sure to check out my first post on the Derby Party series here and stay tuned for more to come! If you are planning a party for the Derby, feel free to leave a comment and to share your plans or recipes. I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring Table

A table set for spring time....

or Easter dinner...

a vintage Easter postcard

Please forgive my wrinkled's a family heirloom and
has been folded up in one of the china cabinet drawers. I am too lazy busy to iron it.

We are looking forward to hosting an Easter dinner for our in-laws who will visit us next weekend. What do you have on your spring table?

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cleaning Historic Exteriors

I love Spring. Along with the season's wonderful blossoms and the gift of new life, it also means time for spring cleaning- not my favorite thing to do.  When it comes to cleaning the exterior of your historic home, proceed with caution.

Here are some tips to think about:

-Take care not to use harsh chemical washes which can damage historic masonry or leave a  permanent discoloration or residue.
-Resist the urge to power wash your home's exterior unless absolutely necessary. This is especially important for exterior materials that are porous in nature. Even then, start at a very low psi level (garden hose equivalent) and then work up to 200-400 psi.
- It is best to clean dirty spots the old fashioned way: with a natural bristle scrub brush and a biodegradable cleaning solution.

Visit here for the Preservation Brief on cleaning historic masonry. To learn more about the dangers of abrasive cleaning to historic properties, read the Preservation Brief here.

Remember, always use the gentlest means possible when cleaning, treating, or repairing a historic property!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

We Have Baby Chicks!

OUR BABY CHICKS ARE HERE!!!!  My broody, Rosemary, has hatched out SIX little fuzzy babies so far and is still sitting on several more eggs.  I'm so proud of her! We had to move Rosemary and her clutch tonight to a dog crate with a mini-run that is attached onto the front of the main chicken run/coop combination.  We have her crate covered by a tarp. Considering we took her out of the comfort of the coop and the stress of the move, mama and biddies seem to be doing well.  More pics to come! 
Rosemary with one of her biddies peeking out

Rosemary is a very attentive mama, calling her chicks over to show them food

I love it when they poke their heads out of her feathers like this little guy

While I sit mesmerized by the miracle of life before me, realizing how much Rosemary has sacrificed her own health and well-being (broodies will sometimes sit to the point of near death) these past three weeks....

I can't help but make the analogy of Christ's sacrifice us. Just as a mother hen will give every ounce of her strength to her baby chicks,  Christ died on the cross to take away our sins and offer us new life.  Just as mama covers and gathers the babies under her wings, Christ draws his children near to Him and gives us protection with his loving arms. Thank you, Lord! 

What a blessing I have been given....

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Vintage Door Knob Shelf

Love vintage door knobs but are unsure of what you can do with them? Why not use them as "hooks" for hanging everyday items in a mudroom or aprons in a kitchen?

This tutorial will show you how to make a small wall shelf using vintage door knobs:

1. Build wooden base (any size you want) or use existing wooden shelf. Add 1/4 in thick tack strip on sides to give the bolts that will hold on the door knobs room behind the base once hung. 

2. We painted the wood shelf red first, then off white. Next we sanded some areas to "distress" the paint to expose a little of the red. 

3. Prep the antique door knobs: Most have a square bolt receiver, but some still have pre-cut threads, which you can match to a bolt. For those without threads (the grooves on the inside of the doorknob), you will to use a thread tap slightly larger than the diameter of the hole on the knob to cut the grooves. 
Make sure the tap is not too large or you can cut out too much metal and break the knob. Keep track of the tap sizes you use for each knob so you can match to the right bolt diameter. For a quick tutorial on thread tapping click here

4. Determine the bolt length you will need by measuring the thickness of your board/shelf and then adding about a 1/2 inch to that number. If your bolts are too long, you can add washers to the back of the bolt. Drill holes just big enough for the size of your bolts (ours were 1.5 inches) into the shelf, spaced evenly across. 

5. Thread knobs onto the bolts on the front of the shelf.

6. Attach the shelf to desired wall and enjoy! 

A fun yet functional piece of vintage wall art! 

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Talk Derby to Me!

It's that time again....time to start planning for our annual Kentucky Derby Party!

As a born and bred Kentucky girl, I always look forward to hosting a southern soiree the first Saturday in May to celebrate the most exciting two minutes in sports! Guests will enjoy a day filled with beautiful horses, southern traditions, lovely and exuberant hats, rounds of corn hole in the back yard, mint juleps, and wonderful Kentucky food. Derby parties are the custom back home, but here in NC they are are unique and fresh to folks who are new to the Kentucky Derby experience.

I've been daydreaming up designs for party invitations. We plan to print our own on some nice card stock. Here's what I've been able to create so far:

I even scored some awesome finds at a local antique mall for the event including a tin horseshoe-shaped cookie cutter and a cool vintage "Derby Foods" wooden box for $10!

My parents gave us this half of a bourbon barrel from Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, KY for a Christmas gift (our car smelled like bourbon the whole trip home). We plan to use it either as a large planter or maybe as an ice cooler for drinks. 

If you like to entertain, a Kentucky Derby Party is a wonderful way to get together for some good southern food and a historic day of horse racing! I'll be posting more on the upcoming Derby Party as the time draws near, so check back for updates!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring Gardening Part 2: prepping and planting seeds

Our heirloom seeds have arrived!  Time to get our hands dirty and get planting!  Thankfully, I have the hubby to help me because I seem to have a brown thumb when it comes to these things...

Actually, we've had the seeds for two or three weeks now but we've only planted two or three of the packets. The rest of the vegetables require that we wait until mid-April to sow the seeds into the soil.  In the meantime, we have been evaluating and prepping our beds. We are also adding compost to the soil for extra nutrients.
Arugula we harvested recently that was revived from last year

Our largest raised bed (the size of which I grossly overestimated in the sketch from my first post of this series), still has arugula, carrots, a few garlic bulbs, and one lettuce plant growing in it from last year. I assumed these were long dead, but it seems they resurrected themselves as soon as the temperatures warmed up. Weird...

We decided to put in an additional bed for the greens and the veggies that like to climb (such as pole beans) directly behind the back patio. This way, the climbers can use the wooden supports of the railing. Mr. Rue has already christened this vegetable bed when he hopped over the wire one day and happily began foraging for bugs. He was scolded and chased out.

We have potted several herbs already, and plan to pot a few more. We might even consider growing some peppers in pots this year.

How is your spring gardening progressing?