Two Besties at the Antique Fair


This weekend my town hosted vendors from all over the Midwest for a huge antique and artisan fair. My best friend Tanya and I had been psyching each other up about this for so many weeks that we were sure we had set ourselves up for a major let down. Regardless, we embraced the high hopes we constructed, knowing they could easily be crushed and we might walk away from the event empty handed. We started out day with coffee and a whole lotta' hype.
Thankfully, we were not disappointed. As soon as we arrived, here is what we saw...
Our first purchases were vintage wood block letters and symbols. The vendor had acquired them from the owner of printing company that had gone out of business decades ago. Apparently, the owner had kept all the inventory until just recently when he sold everything. The vendor knew what a gold mine he had and did not have them priced at a bargain rate by any means. Otherwise we would've bought more. I debated getting initials or favorite words but was drawn to the unique punctuation marks. (See the first pic of this post.)  I love how punctuation marks are being used in design lately. They somehow speak for themselves.
If that antique abacus was a little lot cheaper, I would've loved to have it in my classroom.
This is from one of my favorite shops here in town, Funtiques. The owner had a booth at the fair. Vintage tulip table + chairs for $345. Quite the steal. Too bad I wouldn't be the one "stealing" them that day.
Had our pockets been lined a little thicker, we might have been able to walk away with some of these gems...

Bronze bust from the 1920's. Beautiful.

I loved this vintage toy bowling set, but couldn't see dropping $150 for it.

Then came the buy of the YEAR...A gorgeous green velvet chair with original upholstery for a mere $35. We saw it from across the room, locked our gaze, and sprinted toward the little green beauty. When we saw the price tag, we lost it and literally began shrieking with joy. We knew one of us would be taking it home. Seeing as how I have a "graveyard" of antique chairs still waiting to find a place in our home and Tanya needed an office chair, it was rightfully hers for the taking. The upholstery is in STELLAR condition as is the construction of the chair. 

At the end of the day, here's what we walked away with. I have big plans for the bust I found. I'm thinking high-gloss spray paint in a bold color. More on that later. What was your best flea market/antique fair find?

Three Cheese Beer Soup


I had a delicious beer cheese soup at a local pub last weekend and wanted to try and recreate it at home. This recipe was a first for me and was a bit of an experiment. I was pretty relieved it turned out ok, because I had no back up plan for Saturday's lunch. Kale chips and crusty bread made it a complete meal. I used three cheeses, two of which were smoked.  As long as there's at least one cheddar in the mix somewhere, you can get creative with the other cheeses you add. Here's my version:
Soup Ingredients:
-Cheese (I used smoked applewood cheddar, Gruyere, and a smoked Bavarian cheese.)
-A dark, stout beer like Guinness or Murphey's
-3 cloves of garlic
-Heavy cream
-Chicken bullion or soup base
-Chives (optional)
-Herbs (I used Herbs de Provence, but thyme would work well too.)

1. In your stock pot, saute several tablespoons of butter with about 1/3 cup of chopped carrots, 1/3 cups of minced shallots, and minced garlic on medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
2. Grate 2 cups of various cheeses and set aside.
3. Add 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of whipping cream, and 10 ounces of beer to the stock pot. Bring to a slow boil. Add 2 bullion cubes or 1 tablespoon chicken base and stir. Lower heat once it is dissolved.
4. In a separate pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter to begin the roux. Add in 1/3 cup of flour stirring to combine. Cook on low, stirring consistenly, for 3-5 minutes. This roux will darken a bit in color, which is good.
5. Add 1/2 cup of cream and 1/2 cup of milk to the mixture. Whisk together until blended. Turn heat to low.
6. Slowly add cheese to the roux mixture and stir until it melts. Do not allow to boil. If this begins to happen, quickly remove from the heat. 
7. Once melted, add cheese mixture to the stock pot and combine. Make sure heat is kept low.
8. Top serving bowls with extra grated cheese and chopped chives.

If you've never made kale "chips" before, you'll be shocked at easy they are. My husband doesn't usually love green vegetables, but he'll eat kale chips! Yes, a kale salad would be healthier, but it sure beats potato chips.
Kale Chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and tear kale into "chip sized" leaves.
2. Toss with olive or grape seed oil and spread out evenly on a cookie sheet.
3. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 10-15 minutes until the edges are starting brown.

On a side note, today is my wedding anniversary. 
Three years in and I'm realizing all the time what a blessing marriage is. We've had some pretty tough situations thrown at us for a "recently wed" couple. We weren't expecting our "...for worse" years to show up so soon. Not only has my husband been there for me emotionally, but he challenges me to hope through tears and be transparent when it's easier to mask my fears under false confidence. He cares too much to let me sulk and hide and avoid dealing with problems. We're sometimes surprised at how quickly we find ourselves being changed for the better simply by doing life together. The master plan seems to make more sense the farther along we go. I can't say being married is what I thought it would be. It's so much better and harder and more beautiful than I had imagined. 

Repurposed Vintage Wire Baskets


This weekend my cousin came to visit, and one of our first priorities was to hit up some of my town's amazing flea markets. She scored a gorgeous white headboard for $30 (wish I had taken pictures), and I found these vintage pink wire baskets. I walked by them at first thinking, "Those are cute, but what would I do with them?" About 2 seconds after I imagined using them for storage in my dressing room, she announced, "You could hang them on a wall and use them like shelves!" Yes, we are kin. So, I happily forked over $18 and had instant shelving for my collection of clutches, hats, and scarves.

I made the button art at a craft party last year. I found the idea here on Design*Sponge.
Also, I'm guest posting today over on VIew Along the Way. Kelly has a great series that showcases bloggers' homes. I'll be talking about being content with aspects of your home even though they may not be exactly what you had in mind. Head on over and say "hello"!

Perfect Fall Dessert: Baked Apples


The smell of apples baking in the oven can  make you forget whatever it is you're supposed to be doing and lure you to the kitchen just to wait until they're finished. While it's not a complicated or new recipe, I made baked apples today and wanted to share them. My husband's family has a wonderful tradition of making baked apples for dessert after Thanksgiving dinner.  (On my side, any less than three pies and a cake of some kind is not nearly enough. This tells you why his side of the family is much thinner than mine.)
-4-6 apples (My favorite to use are Jonagold or Honey Crisp.)
-golden and brown raisins
-chopped pecans
-brown sugar
-caramel sauce (homemade or from a jar)

1. Soak raisins in warm water for 10-15 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350. 
2. Wash 4 apples thoroughly. Using a paring knife, remove cores to 1/2 inch of the bottom of the apples. The holes should be about an inch and half wide.
3. In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup of chopped pecans. 1/4 cup of raisins (golden and brown mixed), 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.
4. Place spoonfuls of the mixture into each apple.  Add a generous tab of butter to the top of each apple.
5. Place in a glass baking pan and add 1/2 cup of water (or better yet apple juice) to the base of the pan. 
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is bubbling and apples are soft.
7. Drizzle with warm caramel sauce and try not to drool!

Doesn't this just ooze fall yumminess?
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Molly and Ed's Timeless Wedding


A wedding of a sweet friend is always something you look forward to. When that sweet friend happens to be the closest thing you've ever had to a little sister and your college roommate, it's even more special. I used to joke that Molly was my "muse". I lost all sense of style once we didn't live together. (The real reason for this is that I borrowed stole all of her cute clothes.) She was decorating with antiques and dressing vintage when most people our age were shopping at The Buckle (Uh-huh. I said it.) She's always had a natural way of merging borrowed things with recent finds and pulling it off like Carrie Bradshaw. All of our friends knew her wedding would be beautiful, and it didn't disappoint.

In typical Molly style, her "something borrowed" was her mom's wedding dress. She had it altered (to fit her insanely tiny waist), and it looked absolutely gorgeous.
When Molly came to visit me several months before the wedding, we hit up flea markets to find tea cups, dishes, and vases to use for the centerpieces. She collected old books, spray painted them white, and painted the table numbers on them. 
The cocktail hour was outside in a bricked courtyard with snow cones and croquet for guests to entertain themselves.

All of the lovely images you're seeing were taken by our sweet friend Laura Kackley of Lark Photography. Laura was so nervous to shoot Molly's wedding because she had never worked any of her friends' weddings before. (A little bitterness there on my part...Tanya ,bow tie baby shower mama, and I not-so-subtly like to give Laura a hard time about not shooting our weddings. She was only 9 months pregnant at Tanya's wedding and about to deliver during mine...I really think she could've pulled it off.) By even mentioning this right now on a public forum, I think I'm breaking some pact that I made to never speak of it again...oops. Seriously, aren't her pictures divine? Every wedding she shoots looks like it's straight out of a magazine. She's featured again this month on Style Me Pretty.
It was so nice to be a part of a wedding post the massive wedding rush that happened in our circle a few years ago. We told Molly it was pretty smart of her to wait and get married after our broke, recently graduated years were over. She got much better wedding gifts than the rest of us, took a European honeymoon, and is living in an AMAZING loft in St. Louis. (House tour coming soon.) Honestly, I'm so happy for my "little sis" and felt so proud to be a part of her beautiful day.

Congrats Moll and Ed. Love you!

Etsy Pillows & Some Transparency


I have been stalking certain pillows on Etsy for some time now. I've watched said pillows from afar, saved pictures of them to glance at during the day, and wistfully planned where I'd put them if they were mine. Finally, I saved my splurge money to make the purchase. They came in the mail last week, and I feel that my slip-covered couch now has a reason to exist: just to hold these pillows. 
 It is a running joke in our house that I buy throw pillows for my throw pillows. Maybe someone else can relate to trying to explain another pillow purchase to the male in the house...

ME: Hey babe, I'm gonna' use my splurge money to get some pillows for the living room.
MISTER:  Oh. Really? More throw pillows? Will I be allowed to use these?
ME: If by "use" you mean look at and do not lay on, then yes.
MISTER: Oh good. Just what we need. More fluffy props that confuse me! (Pause) Hey, I'm going to the store to buy some food that we don't eat but keep around just to look nice.
(Sarcasm is seeping out of his pores as he shakes his head and hides a grin. Even though he thinks I'm slightly neurotic for caring about pillows and collecting so many, he would never deny me something that brings such joy to my heart.) 

Disclaimer: I really do have throw pillows that we use, but somehow he forgets this.
Grey trellis pillow covers from Zzz Boutique. Yellow Ikat pillow covers from Debo's Designs.  Pillow forms purchased at my local fabric shop. (The green pillow is one I got from Target a few months ago.)

On a serious note, I feel that I need to be honest for a minute. Sometimes I read blogs, and it seems like the authors' lives are so perfect. They appear to have no problems or stress, and I start comparing myself to them and wishing for such a seemingly "perfect" life. I'm sure many of the bloggers that I read really DO have it altogether, but I know this isn't the case for everyone. What we put on our blogs is only a tiny portion of our real lives. As my little blog grows I want to be very careful not to paint the picture of perfection. My life is far from the edited and cropped version of reality that blogging sometimes presents.  

I'm dealing with a family situation now that breaks my heart. It leaves me questioning, praying, and wondering how things will ever work out. I can't count the hours of sleep I've lost over the last several years worrying about how things will ever be resolved. Many days it clouds my thoughts, and I have to fight to feel even slightly optimistic. Blogging about things I love is a little window of relief for me in the midst of what I deal with. I'm trying to find hope and peace that one day things will be as they should be. A new pillow or the perfect quiche can't fix life's major issues, but they can provide a much needed distraction in times of prolonged stress. 
Speaking of pillows again, anyone want to share the actual number of throw pillows in their house? Don't be ashamed. What's your real number? I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours.

Not Your Average Pot Pie


There are few things as comforting as a chicken pot pie for dinner. This particular recipe calls for some nontraditional ingredients. Tarragon, white wine, and sweet red peppers make this an adult version of a childhood favorite. Low fat? Not even slightly. Save your calories for this one; she's worth it. (Why did I assign a female gender to the pie? I'm not sure, but it just felt right.)
-Cooked and shredded chicken
-puff pastry
-red bell pepper
-white wine (dry)
-chicken stock

Chicken Pot Pie
** I'm going to be honest; I don't make my own crust. Frozen puff pastry tastes delicious, and I'm not going to be ashamed to say that I use it when necessary!

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Making the roux: Saute 1/3 cup of shallots in 1/2 cup of butter on low-medium heat. When shallots are translucent, sift in 1/3 cup of flour and mix well. Continue stirring for 2 minutes. The roux should be a little darker in color.
3. Add 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 cup of broth, 1/3 cup of dry white wine, tarragon ( 1/2 teaspoon dried or 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh), salt and pepper. Stir well incorporating roux into liquid mixture. Cook on low an additional 5- 7 minutes while prepping vegetables.
4. Finely chop carrots and bell pepper. You should have about 2/3 cup of each. Measure out 1 cup of fresh or frozen green peas.
5. Shred cooked chicken until you have about 2 cups. (You can use a whole chicken, breasts, or even a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. I usually make my own broth, so I'll use a whole chicken. Typically I shred all the meat, saving the left over for chicken tacos another night.)
6. Add chopped vegetables and chicken to the pan with the base. Stir only to combine the wet and dry ingredients.
7. Add to casserole dish and spread evenly. Layer Puff pastry on top, making sure to vent a couple areas for steam to escape while cooking.
8. Bake time is tricky. This can bake anywhere from 25-35 minutes on 400 depending on your oven.

Does anyone remember the days of the frozen Banquet pot pies that took 45 minutes in the oven? As a kid, that seemed like an eternity to wait! I remember my brother and I counted down with the timer until the glorious pies were lifted out of the oven, only to have to wait another 20 minutes until they were cool enough to eat. We'd end up sticking them in the freezer to try and speed up the process. After pot pies were consumed, the little tin plates became Frisbees, weapons, and a number of other entertaining items.

Am I alone here? Please validate my childhood if you did the same thing...



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