Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Vintage Wedding Inspiration

Oil lamps are everywhere, so it was no surprise to find these a few weeks ago at a local antique mall. 

I have always loved the idea of a simple southern wedding under sprawling grand daddy oaks with spanish moss swaying lazily in the breeze of the low country. 

I live for southern design and would love to decorate a wedding in that type of decor!

I located a few pictures on the web for inspirtaion. 
This tablescape is the epitome of southern charm! 
I adore the rustic wooden barn with the rusty ole star! 
I love the idea of tables set up on a lush green lawn for the reception either under an old oak tree or with rustic barns in the background or even inside the barn!

I love the idea of having mixed vintage seating. 
Simple oil lamps strategically placed upon the tabletop are such a strong southern statement. 

Even placing the lamps upon tree stumps make for a beautiful display around the reception area.

This is a great shot. I personally would have added some oil lamps, duh!

As you can see, I get pretty carried away when talking about wedding design. My sister and I always said that we missed our calling to be wedding planners. 

- Rich

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Collecting Fine China

Fine china is beautiful, elegant, and expensive. The question I hear most often is "when are you supposed to use it"? 
Most people value their fine china so much that they don’t know when to use it or even if they should! 
I believe in using what you have, china is no exception. 
There are times and places to use it and the following suggestions are popular uses for fine china and can help you determine when to use it.

Here is come china that I received after my great aunt passed away back in 2000. I only received a few pieces but was so happy to have them as they reminded me so much of her. I have found some pieces in thrift stores and other pieces online to add to my collection. I'm still on the hunt for some pieces to finish off my collection.

Im quite sure it isn't worth much but to me they're priceless.  The type of china is "Garden Bouquet #4078". It's a very southern pattern to me but I love southern so it works!

Sunday Lunch 
Many people gather for Sunday lunch. Growing up, my grandmother always held Sunday Lunch. 
After church it was a time to gather everyone around one table. 
She always prepared different meals that weren't ordinarily cooked, as they were for special occasions. So, this came to me as a no brainer for when to use your fine china. 
Using your china on Sunday is a good idea because it’s only once a week and on a day that is just a little more special than the others because the whole family is dining together.

For holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter are also popular occasions to use your fine china. 

These holidays are usually celebrated with a big meal, lots of family, and everyone wants things to be just a little nicer than usual. 
So, there is no better way to make your table more elegant than with your favorite china. 

Special Occasions 
Any special occasion where we like for things to be a little more elegant is a great time to use your fine china. 

Anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, or any other special occasion that would be celebrated with a nice meal is a perfect opportunity for setting the table with your fine china. 

You, like some people, may only like to collect and not want to use your fine china.
 If you find you are in this situation then possibly you should buy a china cabinet to store your china in. 
If you chose to display your fine china in a china cabinet, give your collection breathing room. Do not stack plates more than six high and place separators between each piece. 
Display teacups atop their saucers. 
Don't hang your teacups on hooks within a china cabinet since that display option places undue stress on the teacup's handle and forces you to screw a hook into your wooden china cabinet, damaging it. 
A full set of fine china should be displayed by itself in one china cabinet. 
Display other collectible objects elsewhere. 
Don't crowd fine china as it needs room to prevent damage and to show off its beauty.

Packing and Storage
If you have to move your china I recommend that you wrap each piece individually. DO NOT use newspaper to wrap the china, as the printing may bleed onto your china and leave streaks or dark stains. Individually wrap each piece of china in acid free tissue paper follow up by wrapping it again in a white cotton cloth or bubble wrap. Do not plan on storing the china in bubble wrap long term because bubble wrap traps heat and can damage the china.

- Rich

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Antiquing Around Town

I went to the nearby historic town of Micanopy, Fl yesterday on an antiquing trip. 
I had this brilliant idea come to me that maybe I should blog about the towns I visit and frequent on my antiquing adventures! 
You may think, "I don't want to read history about the places you visit" and if thats the case then close the tab and go to another blog. 
Im all about history and southern culture. If you do care then read on! 

Here's some information that I know and some that I gathered from the internet about the area. 
I hope you enjoy and feel free to leave comments about your trip there or if you plan on making the trip, I would love to hear about it.

It is one of the least-occupied, small Florida towns. 
Located in Alachua County, The population is less than 700. 
The town is so small, the historic district is the center of the town, which consists of mainly antique shops, which was featured in the book Antiquing in Florida and many other guides.

Those who are used to the hustle and bustle of bigger towns/cities might feel lost when visiting this entrancing town. 
The streets are lined with giant oak trees with Spanish moss swaying lazily in the breeze. 
The district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 
The buildings are from the eighteen hundreds, and still in use today. 
This town was also frequented by the likes of Marjorie Kinan Rawlings, who lived close by in Cross Creek, and was the location for the films Doc Hollywood, starring Michael J. Fox, and Cross Creek, the story of Marjorie Kinan Rawlings life, starring Mary Steenburgen.

It was named after a famous Seminole Indian chief and was the site of a Seminole village called Cuscowilla, it was settled in 1821. 
Ten years later, during the Second Seminole War, the town was occupied territory. 

Decades after the war, some of the grand buildings and architecture was built. 

These are areas documented for their historical roots and protected from any land development. 
There are a few restored c.1910 Queen Anne style homes and historic homes used for business and museums.
The variety of things to be found range from vintage books to jewelry made from coral and shell.
The general areas in town are located on Main Street and Cholokka Boulevard. 
This is known as the antique district. 
There is also a book store known for carrying historical guides about Florida and local authors. 
Many people come to Micanopy just to antique, but are also taken in by the laid-back and natural surroundings of Micanopy and Cross Creek. 
The towns are still as rural as the days when Marjorie Kinan Rawlings wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Yearling. 
She based the characters in the book on some of her neighbors, genuine Floridians who taught the author so much from observation and friendship. 
The lakes nearby were included in the filming of the movie, and  too retain their old Florida charm.

If you are a photographer or an antique enthusiast, you must visit, along with the nearby town of Cross Creek. 

Attractions that shouldn't be missed are: 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

5 Must Have Blooming Houseplants

Lately, I have had fall and winter on the brain.
Im more than ready for some cooler temperatures.
This summer hadn't really been all that bad except for the latter part. 
It seems to rain everyday and I have been forced to be inside more than I like. 
This afternoon I was in the yard watering plants and doing a bit of weeding. 
With the hopes for cooler weather I couldn't help but think of my favorite indoor plants and what joy they bring when they bloom. 

Im sharing today my favorite houseplants that bloom through the winter months.

African Violets

African Violets (botanically known as Saintpaulia ionanthaare my favorite of any houseplant. In my opinion, they are the easiest plant to keep alive. 
They are so easy to care for and are ever rewarding if you take care of them properly. They bloom all year.
There are many different varieties and forms, some have variegated foliage, ruffled or even white-edged blooms.
They love warm conditions and filtered sunlight.
Avoid getting water on the leaves as this will cause them to turn brown. (cold water causes brown spots also)

*If you are a green thumb, you can also snap a leaf off of the violet and place in some moist soil to take root.

Christmas Cactus

Another one of my favorite indoor plants is the Christmas Cactus. (botanically known as Schlumbergera or Zygocactus).They bloom at Christmas and sometimes around Easter if cared for correctly.In fall, keep the plant in a sunny, cool, frost-free location until you see flower buds beginning to develop.Right before the holidays you can watch this plant transform like an ugly caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.
Most Christmas Cactus sold today are a only a closely related species sometimes called Thanksgiving cactus, because it usually blooms a few weeks earlier than Christmas cactus.
Regardless, These plants are beautiful and make a grand statement during the holidays.

Kaffir Lily

Better known as Clivia. ( botanically known as Clivia miniata in the Amaryllidaceae family)
It is generally a slow grower.
The plant will eventually become quite large, standing nearly 2 feet tall. It is a native of South Africa.
 As a houseplant it usually blooms in winter with clusters of up to 20 reddish orange or yellow tubular flowers.
 It blooms only when it has been exposed to cool, dry conditions, so give it lower temperatures in winter and keep it dry.
 With its deep green leaves aligned in a single plane, the plant is attractive even when not in bloom. 

*A word of caution, in many parts of Africa (especially South Africa), the term “Kaffir” is considered extremely offensive, used to denote people of African origin.


Few geraniums are grown as houseplants. 
Regal or Martha Washington geranium, has larger, prettier blooms, but require cool growing conditions. 
The common garden geranium (P. x hortorum), and ivy geranium (P. peltatum), also offer showy flowers but on easier-growing plants. 
Most scented geraniums are grown primarily for their deeply divided, fragrant foliage rather than their flowers, which are insignificant.
Outdoors, they are used as annual bedding plants, in hanging baskets, pots and in window boxes. 
Indoors, they are cultured as houseplants in sunny locations.

Rieger Begonia

Rieger begonia (Begonia hiemalis)is one of the winter-blooming begonias. 
It has fibrous roots with a swollen tuber-like base. 
Clusters of camellia-like blossoms in warm colors ranging from yellow to orange and red appear on top of glossy green foliage. 
Rieger begonia looks good as a tabletop plant or in a hanging basket.

Most all of the plants I have listed are winter bloomers. This being that you can have all the colorful blooms outside all spring-summer but when winter comes everything dies. How nice to have something inside to warm our hearts through those cold winter months!

What are your favorite houseplants?

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Charleston Sweetgrass Basket

Sweetgrass basketmaking has been part of the Charleston heritage for more than 300 years. 

Brought to the area by slaves who came from West Africa, basketmaking is a traditional art form which has been passed down from generation to generation. Today, it is one of the oldest art forms of African origin in the United States. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, an old village and modern suburb on the north side of Charleston Harbor, is allegedly the only place where this particular type of basketry is still practiced. Here, the descendants of slaves from West Africa continue the tradition. 

During the days of slavery, rice cultivation, and the flourishing plantations of the Old South, these baskets were in great demand for agricultural purposes. They also brought extra income to slave owners, who often sold baskets to other plantation owners.

For the most part, they were used to collect and store vegetables, staples, etc. Men made these large baskets from marsh grasses called "bulrush". A common form which evolved during this era was the winnowing basket (rice basket) called the "fanner." Other agricultural baskets were for grain storage, cotton, fish and shellfish. 

Functional baskets for everyday living in the home were made by women. Some of these were made for bread, fruits, sewing, clothes, storage, etc. They were made from the softer, pliable grass commonly called sweetgrass (Muhlenbergia filipes), because of its fragrance, similar to the smell of fresh hay.

My grandmother owns a few that are VERY OLD. Probably around 100 years. I love to watch the people in the "slave market" (as they call it, even though there was never a slave sold here) make these beautiful pieces of art. A few weeks ago when we visited I purchased a trash bin sized basket. (at least thats what its purpose will be) 

Below is a picture I had taken on a different trip to Charleston back in 2008.

To me, sweetgrass baskets is a very southern decorative item, especially since my ancestors are from Charleston. 
I think that just about everyone in my family owns a sweetgrass basket and if your from the "Old South" you probably should too! 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Vintage Picture Frames

On a recent thrifting adventure I came across this buried in a pile of yucky, ugly frames.

I love the cracking/chipped paint.

I believe the size is 11x13.

Here, you can see the detail on the frame.

I decided immediately that I had to have this frame.

I really didn't know why other than I didn't want to leave the store without it.

When I got home I was looking at it and thought of a few things I could do with it.

I came up with 3 options,

  1. Turn it into a vanity to place on the nightstand in the spare bedroom
  2. Repaint and use it for its original purpose, or
  3. Turn the frame into a chalkboard 
I have yet to do any of them. Im at a loss for inspiration!

I need your help! Any comments or ideas are greatly appreciated

Monday, August 6, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Well, I'm up pretty late tonight blogging because I have really been slacking. Remember when I told you about my thrifting finds? Well, I finally got around to making that homemade vanilla extract that I promised I would make. 

John is quite the baker so we go through A LOT of it! 
I was very excited when I ran across a pinterest recipe for it and knew immediately that it would win him over. I bought him a "kit" type for christmas last year and it turned out amazing but I wanted to DIY it. Well, 8 months later, here it is!

A lot of people, especially those who don't bake, think it's bland and boring.
I highly disagree! High quality vanilla beans are amazingly fragrant, with either warm and spicy or subtle floral overtones, depending on their variety. 

Bakers appreciate the vanilla extract and use it with abandon in cakes, cookies, pies, custards, and homemade ice cream.  I have been known to add a drop or two to my coffee from time to time. But mostly, I try to reserve it for cooking purposes.

 A 4-ounce bottle of a top quality extract will cost you about $8 or more. If you use as much of the stuff as we do, you know it adds up fast! That's one of the reasons I wanted to start making my own vanilla extract a few months ago. Besides, homemade vanilla extract is so ridiculously easy to make. There is simply no way to mess it up!

For this recipe you will need: 

Whole Vanilla Beans: I purchased mine from Amazon. I ordered the 1/3lb of Madagascar Vanilla Beans which were about $25
Vodka: I bought the cheapest I could find at our local liquor store which was $10.99.

The recipe i found called for 3 beans per 1cup of vodka. I used 4 per cup. 

I started with clean mason jars. I purchased Italian swing top glass bottles to put the vanilla in upon completion of the process.

and clean bands and lids

next, split the vanilla beans lengthwise, like I did here

then place the beans inside the mason jar and fill with vodka leaving about 1/4 inch headspace

store the jars in a cool dark place for about 6-8 months and shake 2-3 times a week.

There you have it, Homemade Vanilla Extract! So easy!! 

When I transfer the extract to the swing top bottles I will post pictures.


What A Crock!

This past weekend I had the unfortunate opportunity to visit Plant City, (where I was born and raised) for a funeral service. My family also drove down from Virginia to attend the services. While we all had been there for other reasons, we could not stop ourselves from shopping at one of the towns finest home-decor, warehouse-style, retail shop you can imagine, Southern Hospitality! 

Southern Hospitality is a family owned and operated business that has been around for over 25 years! They are a wholesale/retail shop with over 75,000 sq. ft of merchandising space!

 I remember my mother, aunts and grandma taking me along to this place over 17 years ago to buy their crafting goods. The company started out at their home in a garage in the weirdest location down a back road. My grandmother was friends with the owners and my grandfather sold his woodworks to them.

Anyways...Since I no longer have immediate family members in the area I have no reason to visit so I take the opportunity to see everything while there.

I miss it because it was once my home and will always be home. You get me? 

Well, trolling throughout the 75,000 sq. ft of merchandise, my sister happened upon these "crocks". We both about peed our pants with excitement. We had to have them. We both have about the same decorating style, she like primitive style country and I love farmhouse-chic country, so we both had to have one. 

Now when I display this I will always have a reminder of where I came from, something to take me back, if you will. 

As you probably already know, Plant City isn't just the strawberry capitol of the world its also home the the Florida Strawberry Festival and where my family grew strawberries and peanut crops for many years!

I have some decorating ideas in mind for this baby and will be posting pictures throughout the seasons to show you just how I pay homage to my hometown.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Preserving Flowers

I just wanted to share with you a picture of some spray roses that I purchased from Publix for $3.49 and how I preserve them.

I know that they usually come with a packet of preserver but I like to be unconventional, besides, you may not know these tricks and could use them when cutting from your own garden.

On Sundays, which is our grocery shopping day, we purchase a bouquet of flowers to display on our dining table. 

We usually buy hydrangeas but they didn't have any in the store so we bought some spray roses instead. 

While flipping through the add I noticed these were on sale and had to have them. They're gorgeous aren't they?

I think this week I will have to purchase a few more bouquets just to place around the house. 

Here is a few ways that you can keep your flowers looking fresher, longer!


It's a tried-and-true way to keep roses and other cut flowers fresh, longer: Crush an aspirin and place in the water before adding your flowers. There are many other ways that you can preserve your flowers with things you already have in your home, including: a multivitamin, a teaspoon of sugar, a pinch of salt and baking soda, even a copper penny. Also, don't forget to change the water every few days.

Freshly cut flowers will stay fresh longer if you add 1/4 teaspoon of bleach per quart (1 liter) of water. Another popular recipe calls for 3 drops of bleach and 1 teaspoon of sugar in 1 quart (1 liter) water. This will also keep the water from getting cloudy and inhibit the growth of bacteria.
Posies and other cut flowers will stay fresh longer if you add a copper penny and a cube of sugar to the vase water.
Hair Spray
Much like preserving your hairstyle, a spritz of hair spray can preserve your cut flowers. Stand about a foot away from the bouquet and give them a quick spray on the undersides of the leaves and petals.
Dissolve 3 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar per quart (liter) of warm water. When you fill the vase, make sure the cut stems are covered by 3-4 inches (7-10 centimeters) of the prepared water. The sugar nourishes the plants, while the vinegar inhibits bacterial growth. You’ll be surprised how long the arrangement stays fresh!
Mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons of sugar with the vase water before adding the flowers. Be sure to change the water (with more vinegar and sugar, of course) every few days to enhance your flowers’ longevity.
My secret to keeping cut flowers looking good as long as possible and minimize the growth of bacteria in the water is to add a few drops of vodka to the vase water for antibacterial action along with 1 teaspoon of sugar. Change the water every other day, refresh the vodka and sugar each time.

I hope you find these tips to be useful. Im an open book and will share any information I have with you about cutting and preserving flowers. 
If you know of any way that was not mentioned above, to preserve flowers, please share!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Thrifting Finds

Happy Wednesday! I just wanted to share with you all, one of my thrifting finds from last week.
Thrift shopping happens to be my favorite sport :)

Well, maybe its not an actual sport, but to me it kinda is. You gotta wrestle things away from people sometimes and theres always other competitive shoppers. I know this because I've shared a few words with some! (politely)

I always try to go early in the week, usually Tuesday, because they get donations and do some of their own shopping to fill the thrift stores on the weekend. Tuesday gives them plenty of time on Monday to sort through everything and restock the shelves.

Well, on my recent adventure I went to a local place that I normally do not frequent, mainly because I never find ANYTHING. I figured with the Fall fast approaching, they might have something I need. 

Up front they had already started setting out Christmas items! Of course I love christmas so I had no problem just digging right in. I found many of goodies but only left with a few books on christmas decorating tips and crafts. 

Anywayyyys.... After rummaging the Christmas decor I browsed the whole place and found nothing. I decided to go look in the hardware area and happened upon a dusty box that was unopened. My curiosity got the best of me, so,  I took out my keys and cut the tape and took a peek inside. Boy, was I surprised at what I found. I had opened a box of unused Italian swing-top glass bottles!

Last year I made some homemade vanilla extract and had been looking for the bottles everywhere to make more. I had no luck and didn't want to pay the online price so I gave up. When I took the box to the counter and asked for a price the woman kinda hesitated for a minute and said .50 a piece! I was so ecstatic. I bought all 6!

On the way home it hit me that homemade vanilla extract would make great gifts for christmas.
As soon as I got home I went on Amazon and purchased a 1/3 lb of Madagascar vanilla beans.

Well, they came in today!! I will be making a batch in the next couple of days and will post the recipe and processes for making homemade vanilla.

* One thing you should know about me is that if I don't have a reason for purchasing something, no matter how full my cart is, I will put everything back. I really want to have purpose for everything I buy.

**Every Christmas, John and I do A LOT of baking. We think that the best gifts are handmade and are also the most memorable.