Saturday, August 21, 2010

our Florida vacation - Rosemary Beach

I've been away for a couple of weeks. We headed down to Rosemary Beach, Florida and then we got home just in time to start school. Back into the routine.

Rosemary Beach is a community located on the Florida panhandle and it's our favorite place to stay. There are footpaths everywhere, so walking is encouraged. The architecture is the West Indies meets New Orleans. Landscaping, with the exception of the open park-like greens, tends to be wild and in keeping with what the Spanish first found when they came to Florida. Rosemary Beach is a true gem and is one of the few architecturally unique communities on the Florida panhandle.

We've stayed at Rosemary at least half a dozen times and I'm still awed. I probably took over 100 photos. Here are a few for you to enjoy.

I had to increase the contrast on the photo above to try to get that Moorish arch to show up. The stucco is so white that it blended into the sky.

My two boys playing on the Western Green before dinner one night. There is direct access to the beach at the end of this football field sized green.

This is the Rosemary Beach town hall. Many weddings are held here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

stripey glassware

I love the look of this handpainted vintage glassware I found recently in an antique booth (I believe it to be hand painted... the stripes appear to be applied by hand). The plates and saucer champagnes were priced at $5 each. And there were so many!... at least two dozen of the plates.

The ice bucket is such a clever piece and the pitcher is only $28.

I will go back and buy a few of each and style a table for you.

Friday, July 23, 2010

vintage brass hotel signs

I ran across the collection of brass hotel signs above at an antique mall here in Franklin, Tennessee. I was instantly charmed by them and was taken back to my trip to Paris last summer.

My husband and I stayed at the most delightful place, the Hotel Caron de Beaumarchais, in the Marais section of Paris. It's a small hotel with an innkeeper who always seemed to be there. Keys to your room are real working keys on a brass tag. When you leave, you are asked to leave the key at the desk, a throwback to a bygone era.

The photo with the window box was the view out of one of our little windows and the two interior photos were from the lobby. The owners had decorated the hotel with French antiques, vintage pieces and a few reproductions. Despite the (nicely done) reproductions, the space felt special and charming.

Which is why these signs stirred such an emotion in me. The little blue hotel we stayed in didn't have such signs (and they would have been in French regardless), but I bought one just to reinforce the memory anyway.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Good Cause

As a Mississippi native, I've been heartsick about the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico. There are so many people and places that will be permanently changed because of this disaster.

I recently heard that Vineyard Vines, a favorite of southerners, is doing something to help out. Shep and Ian Murray started Vineyard Vines on Martha's Vineyard back in 1998. Being shore lovers, they treasure and celebrate that lifestyle and feel for their neighbors to the south. They derserve many thanks for stepping up and donating a portion of proceeds of a special tie to the Gulf Coast recovery effort.

Monday, July 19, 2010

useful antiques and vintage finds

If you follow my blog, you know I'm an old soul in a 30-something's body. And If I can use something old instead of something new, I would rather do it. I love these finds from a local Franklin, Tennessee antiques mall.

The antique baby bonnet below would be the perfect addition to a baby's christening gown. Or, on stands of varying heights, like the one below, 5 or 7 of these would make a lovely centerpiece for a baby shower.

And these vintage yelloware bowls! They are endlessly mix-and-matchable. Use them for cake batter or for serving black eyed peas.

Why use one of those metal tape measures around the house if you can instead use one of the vintage wood expandable ones?

Think of how many pie crusts this vintage rolling pin made look perfect. And the fact that it's a French rolling pin makes it all the better. They are much better to control than the kind with handles you hold on to like ears.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vintage Princess Phone - in miniature!

I was born in 1972. There. I said it. I'll turn 38 in a few weeks.

And now that you know that, you'll understand why I went crazy for the darling miniature vintage princess phones I found at an antiques booth recently. I vividly remember the princess phone. I got my own phone line when I was in 5th grade, the first in my grade (I guess today that's akin to the first kid to get a cell phone in their class). And the phone I chose? A pink princess phone. I loved it so much. I think a lot of the allure was just that it was called princess. Some marketing genius realized all the way back then that girls loved the idea of being a princess.

So I stopped dead in my tracks when I ran across this lot. Their little handles lift off and everything! They were about 3 inches across. I know because I always carry a sterling silver tape measure with me. The booth dealer must have had 20 or more of them.

The miniatures were priced at $10 each, but I'm going back tomorrow (hope they are still there!) to buy about a dozen and will see if I can get them for a discount. I think I'll use them as place card holders (maybe I could just lean up a little name card in front?) or simply as place decorations for dinners I occasionally have for girlfriends of my generation who are turning 40. But I can use them again for turning 50, 60... whatever.

Every girl of a certain age I know remembers her first princess phone. I know they'll be a hit!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Antiquing shopping - Franklin, Tennessee

As you may know, I love to ramble through antique malls here in my home town of Franklin, Tennessee. As a daughter of the south and native of Mississippi, I was reared loving old things and my home is full of them - both inherited and purchased. I'm perfectly happy to peruse thrift stores for the random gem, but this kind of shopping is what I love best.

Below are some pictures from my shopping trip today.

The photo below is a close up of the Old Paris serving dish on the table above. I'm absolutely nuts about Old Paris porcelain and this dealer always has the prettiest things.

Can you stand the candelabra below? All those drippy crystals and the figural base? I'm in love! I imagine it came from the Garden District home of a dowager heiress on her uppers. She might not have her cook and driver any more, but she still has her dignity, for goodness sakes! And she used this candelabra each and every evening. (Remember Grey Gardens... Big Edie and Little Edie answering their phone in accent to pretend as if they still had help? But they still dressed up!)

The vignette below is an outstanding example of why this booth owner is one of my favorites. She knows her aesthetic and she has an outstanding eye. Anyone interested in advice on opening an antique booth would do well to study these photos. This might not be your look, but the drama is undeniable. And isn't that why we are drawn to antiques? I know I am. But I'm an old soul and love old things. Just look at how I waxed poetic above about Big Edie and a New Orleans dowager... the drama appeals to my heart, which is why I buy antiques.

And the portrait was in another booth at the same antique mall and I don't mind that he has seen better days. As you may know, I despise the words "shabby" and "chippy", so don't expect me to use them. I think I would use him without a frame and might hang him somewhere unexpected, like a kitchen. And for only $325 I think I'll have to go back and buy him.

My favorite purchase today was the covered Old Paris sauce stand with underplate on the fourth picture down. It's on the far right of the piece of furniture. The handles were just so lovely that I just had to make the piece my own.

So what do you think? Should I go back for the portrait?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

more from Paris

While perusing some of my fellow bloggers' posts, I ran across this one over at Habitually Chic. The post consists of the most beautiful photos taken at Le Petit Trianon on the grounds of Versailles. She also posted the day before about Bastille Day, as I did below.

So it inspired me to post some more photos from my own trip to Paris last summer. As I walked the streets of the city, I was absolutely obsessed with Parisian architecture. I must have photographed nearly 100 doors. The French do love them a blue door, don't they? But it's not just blue. They paint their doors the most delightful and interesting colors.

And the hardware! I love the photograph of the brass knob at an antique shop that's a figural hand.

I could have photographed 100 more.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy Bastille Day!

Any excuse for a party, right? I know I have lots of French blood in my veins, so I think I'm good.

I'm scanning for you the pages of a Bastille Day party from the brilliant mind of Ms. Martha Stewart. Her Living Magazine has been a source of countless tear sheets for me over the years. Not sure about the year, but it must have been around 2002. I pull these gorgeous photo spreads of food and parties and keep them in a file for future reference. My husband thinks it's a little silly and that I'll never use all the magazine tear sheets I pull, but I do use them almost every time I entertain. And now here I am sharing them with you!

The beautiful platter with boiled fingerling potatoes; blue crab claws; red and golden beets; steamed baby zucchini, pencil asparagus and carrots; teardrop tomatoes and lettuce wedges served with Martha's Le Grand Aioli is absolutely breathtaking. The French are genius and so is Martha's aioli. Her recipe is below.

Martha Stewart's Le Grand Aioli
makes about 1 cup

2 garlic cloves
3 large egg yolks
coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 canola oil
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons cold water

1. Mince garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add egg yolks, a pinch of salt, and mustard; process to combine. With machine running, slowly pour in about half the canola oil through the feed tube, a few drops at a time. Stop to make sure the sauce is thickening, and scrape sides of the bowl with rubber spatula.
2. Add 4 teaspoons lemon juice. Resume processing; slowly pour in remaining canola oil and the olive oil. Season with salt and remaining lemon juice, and add the water; process 10 seconds more. If serving immediately, transfer to serving bowls. Aioli can be stored in airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 days.
Note: Raw eggs should not be used in food prepared for pregnant women, babies, young children, the elderly, or anyone else whose health is compromised.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Some say preppy is back - I say it never went away!

"Wake up, Muffy. We're back."

If you came of age in the 80's, like I did, you remember the Official Preppy Handbook. Everyone pored over Lisa Birnbach's tome that was an homage to all things preppy.

And now, thirty years later, she's come out with a follow-up. True Prep: It's a Whole New World will be released September 7 and I've already pre-ordered mine.

Ever since the unfortunate 90's fashion era, I've noted a gradual resurgence in the lady-like, sweet style I'm so fond of. I never left preppy (well, sadly, I probably deviated some during the aforementioned bleak 90's), but it seems like it took everyone else a while to remember it. It takes me back to a youth of grosgrain ribbon everything and monogrammed reversible Bermuda bags. I might have to order the eyelet one above.

And Tretorns? I probably had at least 6 different colors the summer of 1981. Thankfully, Zappos is selling them, saving them from the ash heap of fashion history.

And thank goodness for my local J. McLaughlin store. I can go in there and get my prep fix any time.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Esquire's Handbook for Hosts

While out antiquing this weekend, I ran across this delightful book. I paid $8.75 for it and it was a deal at twice the price.

My edition was published in 1949 and features Esky, Esquire magazine's dapper mascot. The book was intended to be a guide for gentlemen who entertain. There are sections titled "canapes", "midnight snacks", "eggs", "rum drinks", "is there a drunk in the house", "card games" and (my favorite) "365 excuses for a party."

I've been reading it all weekend. Here are a few nuggets:

"Oysters and Mushrooms" from Canapes:
"Take a fresh oyster and place in a large mushroom that has been peeled. Dip in olive oil or butter, sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and a dash of celery salt, then place under a hot grill. Serve on half shell or a piece of thin toast."

"Cold Toddy" from Cocktails:
"In the bottom of an Old-fashioned glass, crush:
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 strip lemon peel, about 1" long
1 teaspoon water
Add 1 or 2 cubes ice. Pour in 1 1/2-2 oz your favorite whisky, give it a quick stir, and there you are. You may add a bit of water or seltzer if you want to last longer."

On "Games, the life-savers of the party":
"But there comes a time in every host's life when conversation is better replaced by GAMES. When your guests know each other so well that they've nothing new to say to each other... when your guests are such complete strangers that they seem in dire need of an organized ice breaker... when your guests, friends or strangers, are of such divergent views and interests that a normal conversation may result in hopeless argument or boredom, propose a game."


On the surprise guest:
"Liquor is quicker, but plain old-fashioned hospitality also sets your guests at ease and assures their enjoyment of an evening in your home. Hospitality seems to be composed of two parts sincerity and one part preparedness. In the home of the congenitally good host, one is ever unexpected. An Emergency Shelf in your pantry should always be equipped to provide a little something for drop-in callers to much on. The bar is always ready with something to sip. But, most important of all, the host is always ready to pretend he is delighted to have the company of his guests."

Good advice, even today.

Finally, today's excuse for a party? Well, it's July 11, birthday of John Quincy Adams! I'll have to get out my cocktail shaker and invite some people over!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Monteagle Sunday School Assembly - Monteagle, Tennessee

I just got back from a little stay at Monteagle Sunday School Assembly (MSSA) in Monteagle, Tennessee. It was absolutely delightful and I captured these photos.

MSSA was established in 1882 as a Chautauqua, a place where visitors gathered in the summer for fellowship and for spiritual and intellectual growth. Originally, the Assembly maintained close ties to Chautauqua Institution at Chautauqua, New York, the first Assembly established. Their goal was to combine the training of Sunday school teachers with a broader program of educational and cultural pursuits.

Today, MSSA is what one might call a resort, but not in any traditional sense. There is one small inn on the grounds, but otherwise visitors must either own a cottage or rent one from an owner. There is no restaurant. Bikes and golf carts are plentiful.

MSSA has remained faithful to its original mission and offers a variety of activities for adults and children during the summer. There are lectures - a Civil War lecturer was there while I was there - art classes, tennis lessons and all kinds of other activities. The lending library is full of wonderful fiction and books on art and history. There is a quite hour after lunch and there are nightly prayers. Night-time activities include visiting with friends on porches, watching movies in the auditorium, playing Bingo and organized kids' games like capture the flag.

It really does take you back to a different time. It's reminiscent of small Southern towns where children ride their bikes everywhere and friends spend hours on the porch visiting.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Carnton Plantation - Franklin, Tennessee

I just spent the most delightful evening at Carnton Plantation. If you aren't familiar with Carnton, it played a pivotal role during the Battle of Franklin here in Tennessee. The home served as a large Confederate field hospital and there are still bloodstains on some of the floors upstairs. Ultimately, over 1,400 soldiers were buried on several acres adjacent to the house. The cemetery is haunting. If you ever get the chance to visit, you should. Thousands of visitors come every year... even more now that Robert Hicks published his bestselling book The Widow of the South, which is based on the events during the Battle of Franklin.

I'm on the Advisory Board of the home and they have a summer concert series on the lawn, the first of which was tonight. I walked around the home and gardens and took these photos. It's truly breathtaking.

Please note one of my favorite features, the "haint blue" paint on the ceiling of the porch. It's a charming Southern tradition and was historically meant to ward off spirits, or haints.