Monday, October 20, 2014

A Chic Autumn Table On The Cheap

Isn't this table runner lovely? I adore it's rich, burnt orange color that is so perfect for fall. And that print. That print! It goes so well with plaids and floral that I think it may very well be able to be considered a neutral like leopard print. It's fast becoming my "go to" this autumn with it's ability to mix and match with so many things. There's just one thing minor detail about this runner that you may not realize.
It's not a table runner at all.
It's a scarf.
From Old Navy.
That cost me under $10.
Crazy, right?
I love a well set table. Not much satisfies me like a gorgeously dressed event does. I have a whole Pinterest board called Gatherings dedicated to nothing but impeccably set tables. They excite me the way other women find shoes, handbags and jewelry exciting. You can keep all of that, I'll take some pretty plates, graceful glassware and beautiful linens please.
Almost two years ago I realized that people are not always comfortable gathering around a traditionally well appointed table. Tablecloths add an air of formality that doesn't translate into the informality we live in today. While I might not have been serving food on bone china or pouring wine into fine crystal stemware, formal linens feel, well, formal. So I started to use runners. A simple table runner can bring any setting to a more casual level. There was just one problem. Even though my dining room table fits a generous 90" round tablecloth, I found that most table runners are too long because they are specifically designed for rectangular or oblong sizes. Because my table is round, ends sit stiffly and squarely and just a little bit awkwardly. Plus, the people at the ends usually ended up with a lap full of excess runner.
I can't exactly remember how it happened, but one day it dawned on me that the mountain of decorative scarves I hardly wear anymore are in loads and loads of different colors and prints. They are not nearly as long as traditional runners and the ends drape gracefully around the curves of my table. Most are wide enough to generously cover a good portion of the surface. They wash well too because obviously they are meant to be worn.  And the options! The options!!! Almost any women's retailer sells scarves in all sorts or styles and sizes making them ideal for personalizing your table like you personalize your outfit. 
The good news?
A chic table on the cheap.
The bad news?
That scarf collection might just keep growing and growing and growing.

*scarves of much thinner than traditional linens so make sure you take precautions to protect your table surface when serving hot foods!

Shop the setting:
Vintage dinner plates here
Similar autumn scarf here
Similar gold glasses here
Great vintage rocks glasses here and here
Other items are vintage

Friday, October 17, 2014

Vintage Champagne Flutes

So often I come across gorgeous glassware just gathering dust on the shelves at my local thrift stores. Stemware in so many different shapes and sizes yet the majority don't necessarily relate to our entertaining needs today. I usually bypass them for the more practical and relatable ~ until the other day when these etched champagne flutes stole my heart.
The moment I saw them I knew they could be for so much more than raising a glass of the old bubbly. Brunch time mimosa's or filled with the perfect parfait; this set not only offers charm, but versatility as well.

Vintage set of 4 etched champagne flutes available here

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Campfire Frittata

What impacts a meal more ~ the aesthetics and surroundings it is served in or the food itself? I think there is good argument for both. Some of the most amazing things I have ever eaten were all on the beach. Ham and cheese sandwiches on fresh kaiser rolls were never as  magical as they were after I had been begrudgingly pulled from the water for lunch. The same sandwich eaten at home paled in comparison. I've never been much of a sweet tooth, but a frozen Milky Way bar purchased at the snack bar and devoured in the sand came pretty close to a religious experience for a child under 12. Growing up just minutes from the shore, there were hundreds of summer days where all three meals were served on the beach and everyone of them was remarkable. In fact, these memories are what led me to plan our dinner on the beach over the summer and again, a meal eaten next to the crashing surf resulted in pure magic.
The weekend we camped each family took responsibility for a meal to provide to the group. On the last morning of our trip, our friends Paul and Ann were in charge of breakfast. In a dutch oven over the fire they began to brown bacon and as it cooked added other odds and ends to that sizzling loveliness. Once everything had had a solid head start, they poured in an egg and cheese mixture and let it rise up to perfection. There were delicious edges crisped up from the fire and each bite seemed more incredible than the last. As we talked about our wonderful weekend on the ride home later that afternoon, that frittata was mentioned again. And again.
On our way home from the apple orchard I thought I would try my hand at recreating it. It was a chilly morning and we had left the house with bellies full of coffee which had worn off as fast as our caffeine buzz. While I browned half a pound of chopped bacon in an old cast iron skillet, I rummaged through the pantry and found a few russet potatoes that were begging to be used before their imminent departure to the compost bin. I cubed them up and added them to the bacon watching them brown up nicely in that bubbling bacon fat. I threw in some onion for good measure and gave it a minute or two before I poured in some eggs whisked with shredded cheddar cheese and let it just do it's thing. After a few minutes on the range top I popped it into the oven so the top would gain a nice light shade of brown.
I wasn't sure it would blow my mind the way the one eaten around a blazing fire while the early morning sun attempted to penetrate the dense woods with it's hazy rays did. Would it be as tasty as it was while we were all sitting around a weathered picnic table, wearing hooded sweatshirts and wool hats, hands clasped around mugs of steaming coffee for warmth?
It ended up providing equal satisfaction even without the incredible outdoorsy aesthetics. It was tasty and filling and made me wonder why I sometimes fuss over delicate omelets while the frittata is it's plain and practical sibling ~ the no nonsense one who doesn't require bells, whistles and tender loving care. The frittata also leaves in it's wake a legacy the omelet cannot. Leftovers. Which I warmed up in my office the following day for lunch. It was just as good as it was the day before and treated my senses to warm memories of that camping weekend. Let's just say it managed to make the Monday blues a little less painful. That in itself is a magical thing.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Apple Orchard

"Dear old world', she murmured, 'you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you."
~L.M. Montgomery

It was cold and crisp outside, the kind of morning where your heaviest knit sweater doesn't cut it and you still need a jacket. The trees were as heavy laden as our layers; the slightest touch sent a bevvy of apples tumbling to the ground. We wound our way up every lane pulling a charming, rusted red wagon we selected because it was named "Mom~Mom" like my mother in law.
As we wandered,  I dreamt of  apple pie and endless jars of applesauce, my Ball preserving book had stoked my imagination before we had even left the house. By the time we arrived at the weigh station and our bounty measured up to 33 pounds I was already scrolling through the calendar in my head trying to plan my return.

Monday, October 6, 2014


Two weekends ago we went camping with friends and family up in Newton, NJ. To say we had a good time would be the understatement of the year. In fact, I am so hooked that we are already planning another one before it gets too cold to sleep on the ground.
Our friends have this camping thing down pat. From meal planning and execution to packing lists, their knowledge and expertise made it much easier for we novices. I realized that I am fully capable of cooking over an open fire and that spending 48 hours or so outdoors can be chicken soup for the soul.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Don't Quit That Daydream

A 115 year old farmhouse for sale in Eastern Tennessee

This little thing called life is funny sometimes. Ironic too. If someone had told me five years ago that we would be looking to buy land and start a small farm I would have laughed in their face. Yet, here I am today trying to figure out how to do just that. 
Truth is, I've changed a lot in the past 4 years. Sometimes it is almost hard for me to comprehend it myself. My goals, ideals and morals have all shifted and I like to think for the better. A dream evolved in my heart and I long for it to come to fruition so badly that sometimes it actually hurts.
We're done with this fast paced suburban life of high taxes and traffic everywhere you turn. We are looking for a home and land far from the hustle and bustle of New Jersey. Land that we can nurture and develop. Somewhere where we can create a small family enterprise that will someday continue to sustain our children and possibly their children. A place where we grow and raise most of our own food. Fresh, good food that doesn't come in packages or boxes. Food that we can share with others in the form of workshops and gatherings. I would love nothing more than to share my passion for canning and preserving with others. I am surrounded by talented friends and family who could use our home to offer workshops of things like photography, styling, cake decorating and the list could go on. I would be wholly in my element to host guests, creating meals and gatherings for like minded creative people.
My husband would rather be outside in a field instead of being trapped in a stuffy office with cranky coworkers. I would love nothing more than to escape working in an industry where commercialism is king and every holiday is slowly disappearing because it's more important to be open for business 24-7 than let your employees spend time with their families. We soldier on every day working to figure out a way to make it all happen.
We spend much of our spare time searching or Zillow, looking in eastern Tennessee and even the western part of North Carolina for the perfect property. My heart skipped a beat a few weeks ago when I found an 1895 farmhouse with a barn and an original two story log cabin on 8 acres. I immediately envisioned setting the cabin up as accommodations for guests. Planting fields of strawberries and other seasonal fruits and vegetables where guests can pick their own then learn how to can and preserve the bounty. Communal dinners set up in the barn after long days laboring in the most rewarding of ways.

These dreams have been so heavy on my heart and mind lately that I was almost startled when a company that helps fulfill dreams such as mine asked me to share my goals. Kabbage is a lending company that specializes in small business loans and entrepreneurs. I usually never create posts for companies ~ that isn't what this place is about. I am not being compensated either, but the fact that I was asked me to write a post about my dreams and goals at a time in life when we are eager to transition and make our dreams come true seemed surreal. Kismet actually. I haven't shared this with a lot of people in detail so thank you Kabbage for reaching out to me so I actually verbalized it all.