Saturday, September 13, 2014

Faded Roses

My husband loves to grow roses for me.  It's truly a labor of love. He cuts them and brings them in to the kitchen and places them in a water glass.  Never a vase- just a water glass.  That's his ritual!
My ritual  is to take them out of the water glass and arrange them in a beautiful container.  The container choice varies depending on my mood.   But no matter what I put them in,  I enjoy them in perfect bloom and love them even more as they begin to fade.  It's hard to throw them away!

Fresh from the garden and arranged in a laboratory beaker.

The chilly days of autumn have arrived and the garden roses will soon be done for the season.

 Perfect petals at their peak-

But even when they fade, they are still beautiful.

 The colors seem to deepen as they fade away-

I save some of the perfectly   dried roses and place them in small cordials on the kitchen table.

A French rose scented candle adds the sweet rose smell that the dried roses are missing.

 A fresh rose is iced with sugar and dried in the oven.
 It's a pretty  garnish on blood orange and vanilla breakfast crepes.

Rose scented soap will have to substitute for  the scent of fresh roses this winter.

The hand painted rose sugar bowl reminds me of our rose garden all winter.

Yes, it is getting cold outside and they are fading even faster-

I will hurry and sugar a few more roses  before the first frost.
The sugar coated petals are beautiful garnishes and keep a long time in an air tight container.
I brushed the petals with a  glue of lightly beaten egg white and a dash of water. Then you dust them with sugar and dry them in the oven at 150 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Make sure they are completely dry before storing in an air tight container.

 Faded yes- but still gorgeous! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Dish Pantry

Returning from my summer in North Carolina, I realized that I have many tough tasks to accomplish here, before retiring and moving there!  This will not be an easy road for someone who has occasionally been called a dish hoarder and sometimes much worse !  Yes, I do have a dish fetish and it's time to confront it now.  My husband says it will take a semi  just to move my dishes!  So I decided to spend labor day weekend tackling the job of cleaning out my dish pantry. My goal was to get everything off the floor and to eliminate dishes that I could live without (not such an easy decision, as I have spent the past 40 years gathering my own little store house of dining finery!)

When we remodeled the kitchen, I decided to eliminate  upper cabinets and instead built a dish pantry. It's much easier to see what you have, rather than trying to climb up into upper cabinets. 

A heavy old door with beveled thick glass guards the storehouse of collected goodies.


I like peering through the glass to the colorful contents that wait
 for their chance to be used on a dining table.

As I grab the ornate handle and open the door-

Oh- the confessions of a dish hoarder!

Tearing up, I realize how many memories are stored in here. So with a case of the shakes and  sweating profusely, I began the daunting task.

I mean really- I even have oil paintings hanging of china!
Really, Susan???
Doesn't this just make your heart skip a beat? 

The oil and vinegar cruets that Mr.RTH gave to me for Christmas 8 years ago-
a must keep.

One of my first purchases on EBAY- old cream soup bowls.  Surely I can't get rid of those.

If there's anything that makes my heart skip a beat- it's gold gilding. 
To get rid of  these?    Simply not going to happen!

 The beautiful red champagne glasses that my staff at Marshall Field's gave me for Christmas one year!   Staying!!!
 My stash of horn salad dishes!  Perfect for our new cottage on the river for sure!
 A stack of old bread boards in silver trays!  Way to hard to find again!  Staying!

A stack of tin plated bowls from France!   Perfect for rustic dinners in our cottage.  Not going either!
 My mother's china!  Lovingly gathered from the gas stations in Henry County, Virginia. It was a give-away with a fill-up!   Plus, I love it's color- grey and gold.  . Surely, I can't be forced to  give up my mother's china!

My pink and turquoise stash, including the magnificent pink depression glass shrimp cocktail glasses that my Romancing the Home girls gave me!  A must keep!

These sweet little violet teacups.  Just can't- 
Natural shell bowls and salad plates- perfect for Carolina shrimp and crab.  
 My first collected piece of old Paris porcelain.  Pasta bowls from the personal chef to
 King George V.  Or so I was told by the dealer that sold them to me!
 Too good of a story to let them go. 
 Okay- another version of gold!  But I love them.
 My collection of old bakery cake plates.  It took me 30 years to find all those sizes.  I don't have another 30 years.
 My collected grouping of mis- matched Venetian green glasses, many of them gifts.
Green goes with everything and it's going with me.

A stack of gilded band white porcelain plates- so yummy and versatile in their use.
Gilding- shiny gold that makes me smile.   Mine to keep!

 A set of game and fish dishes-  everyone needs a set!  Staying in the Hawthorne arsenal  and moving to NC.

 A stack of Fitz and Floyd Cherubini pattern dessert plates- used for many Christmas dinners.
Lovingly gathered by my friend Lynda Sue and I during our time at Robinson's in California.  We both have a set, so I can't let them go.  Plus they are GOLD!  And just look at those sweet little faces- saying "keep me, keep me"!
A newer passion- Blackberry Farms orange and white dishes.  Some were given to my by friends and some were purchased during my delightful stays at the farm.  Going back to the part of the country from which they came!

 A grouping of old quadruple plate bread baskets, a very popular wedding gift in the 1930's. I love to use them as salad bowls or individual antipasto trays.  Just can't live without them.
Newly polished hotel silver ice cream bowls.  Surely Mr.RTH understands the need for these!

 My collection of French pottery, much bought while in Paris last summer.  Memories!

Leopard goes with everything! And it's going with me!

Tartan collection, perfect for a North Carolina cottage.
Well, Labor Day weekend is almost over, and  the  dish pantry is cleaned out, organized and everything is off the floor.  It took two days and a lot of painful decisions. There are simply too many memories in that closet!  My car is loaded with goodies for the shop and a couple of treasures  are still setting on the  kitchen counter for a final heartbreaking  decision. More Villerory and Boch from Marshall Fields, the pattern Medici.  Just looked it up on Replacements and the plates are selling for $49.99.  I sure do like it- so what's it going to be?  The dish hoarder needs to make another gut wrenching  decision.

 Looks like it's only half a semi needed for the dishes going to  North Carolina !  Next chore- the crystal stash! That's a semi on it's own!  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Western North Carolina- Summertime Delight

I just returned from spending the past 5 weeks in western North Carolina, or WNC, as it is locally called. My friend, Jill, and I rented a cottage on a goat farm.  Family and friends visited during our stay, but our time was primarily spent  planning her daughter's wedding next spring, and finding  retirement property for my husband and I  to build a home.    Mission  accomplished! 

The weather was delightful, the farmer's markets abundant and awesome, and the people were so friendly.  We made it a point to learn the layout of Asheville and  be able to navigate that town before we left!  But did we?  - Yes we did!   We tried numerous restaurants, shopped at every farmer's market and even managed to get in a little antiquing.  It was a delightful summer, full of new things to learn and new people to meet. 
Our cottage was located on a goat pasture.  Many hours were spent on the front porch in  our rocking chairs watching these goats and of  course discussing weddings and house plans.


 Early in the morning fog cover in the pasture-
 To sunny afternoons- these goats grazed non-stop!

A few sheep joined in too!
Our summer buddies!

Our cottage was located on Highland Lake Properties, once an old Catholic girl's camp.  One of our favorite things to do was to walk down to the lake in the evening with Jill's dogs. It was so calm and mystical!

Just at dusk, with the sunset reflecting on the water from the clouds.  So pretty.
 The natural beauty in this part of the country is unbelievable. Everywhere you look- long range mountain views, low covering clouds, and water- lots of waterfalls, rivers, creeks.
The view from the chapel where Laura, Jill's daughter, will be married next spring.

We looked at properties with long range mountain views-

and properties that were tucked in mossy forests- where you were sure that fairies were living there!

A badminton net made from twigs.

 Loved this property- the owners had built this series of bridges and seating along this pristine creek.


 Stone moss covered fences captured my heart  in the area.
As did waterfalls!  Over 250 waterfalls in Transylvania County alone.
Fabulous food was plentiful too!  And it wasn't national chains!  
 Some of the best bakeries that I have ever seen-
A chocolate mousse from Well Bred Bakery in Weaversville, and Biltmore Village.
And if you are in Hendersonville, the Underground Bakery is unbelievable-
especially the bread pudding.
 Just local restaurants with local chefs,
local ingredients and great taste. 

This was the setting for dinner at the Orchard Inn in Saluda, NC.  A quaint B and B in an old historic Victorian home. The dining room overlooked the vegetable and flower garden in the back.

With hammocks waiting for guests to enjoy-

 The view outside the restaurant in Balsam Pines Preserve.
And the view from the restaurant at  Domestique,
 the European inspired boutique hotel in Travelor's Rest, SC.
Honestly, don't you feel like you are in Tuscany?

Peach risotto from Restaurant 17 at Hotel Domestique.

And the farmer's markets were fantastic!  Real tasting tomatoes, fresh fish and seafood from the NC coast, South Carolina peaches, bakery goods, and the very best corn in the world from the market in Hendersonville.  We also enjoyed  the largest blackberries that I have ever seen from this market.

Heirloom tomatoes were abundant at every market.

This region of the country has it's own micro climate and is more moderate than the surrounding area.
The scenery is beautiful and the people are nice. It's close to 3 airports and good healthcare. Atlanta is 2 1/2 hours, Charleston 4 hours, the beach- less that 5 hours.  What more could you want for a great place to retire? Being  an avid flyfisherman, I think my husband is going to keep pretty busy!  As for me,  I think the food and antiquing  scene will keep me entertained for years to come!

So where did we choose to buy?  

On the French Broad River, about 30 minutes north of Ashville.

 The sound of the river crashing on the boulders below is wonderful.  I dream of  sitting on the deck overlooking this glorious river.  I can only imagine what it will look like in the fall!

And my husband can walk down to the bottom of the hill and throw in a line anytime he wants.

As Jill and I left WNC,   a few tears filled up in my eyes.  I really didn't want to leave.
I am usually so anxious to get home, but not this time.  Jill and her husband have also purchased land in this part of the country and are in the process of building their dream home.  It will be fun to compare notes and experiences, as we begin this new phase of our lives. 
  I am thinking a stone storybook cottage with an European aesthetic.  Ideas anyone???