Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Shop Tour: Memories Antiques in Manassas

A few weeks ago, I visited the most unusual antique store. The exterior made me question if it was still in business, but some of the reviews I found online were adamant that this place was worth a look. It's called Memories Antiques and it's in Manassas, Virginia.

When I saw the door, I figured I'd do a lightening-face loop through a junk shop and be on my way.

Through those doors, there were some empty and near-empty stalls, but half of the building was taken up by Memories. Memories is full. of. stuff.

It isn't a super high-end antique shop, but it is by no means a junk shop. Everything at which I looked was in great condition and the prices were more than fair.

I had to laugh at finding these chairs in a back corner. I wrote about these chairs a few weeks ago!

Memories Antiques
inside the Bull Run Antique Center
7217 Centreville Road
Manassas, VA 20111

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Best Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Though my mother's side of the family is Irish, we never celebrated St. Patrick's Day in a big way. I remember soda bread being made a couple times when I was a child, but not liking it very much. I think I made a few in college that were like the ones I had as a kid - more raisin bread than a sweet bread. I'd choke them down, thinking the dry breads would grow on me, but they didn't.

One day, I was sitting in my college's tutorial center and I casually asked my supervisor, Sr. Carolyn Sullivan, if she had a good soda bread recipe. She immediately started to rattle off ingredients and I grabbed an appointment slip to scribble them down on the back. I distinctly remember her saying "half a box of raisins" and wondering how many cups that was, but I was so in awe that she could recite the recipe off the top of her head that I didn't ask.

I never used another recipe again and up until a couple years ago when I typed it up, I was still referring to the blue tutoring appointment slip when I made the bread. It's the best soda bread I've ever had. It's a little sweet and has a very slight cake-like texture.

When I posted this picture on Instagram and Facebook yesterday, several people asked for the recipe.

Some people get really feisty about their soda bread recipe, guarding it like a precious family heirloom. It doesn't seem fair to keep this one a secret, especially since Sr. Carolyn was so generous with it almost 20 years ago.

If you copy this, I only ask that you keep her name on it.

Sr. Carolyn Sullivan's Irish Soda Bread

3 3/4 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 box of raisins

2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter or oil
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees and grease a 9" round cake pan with butter.
2. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, powder, soda, salt, seeds, and raisins) in a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, eggs, and butter/oil.
4. Combine the two mixtures just until mixed.
5. Bake in the 350 degree oven for one hour. Reduce the baking time slightly for a more cake-like consistency.

Sr. Carolyn is still working in the tutorial center at Providence. I tweeted at them about the recipe the other day and they replied that the recipe is "legendary."
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Shopping for Bathroom Vanities (and more about goods Made in America)

I haven't mentioned my hunt for a bathroom vanity because it hasn't gone so well. I've seen plenty of nice pieces, but nothing that jumped out at me as "the one" so far. Well, scratch that. I really love Restoration Hardware's Odeon vanity. I love the curved lines of it and how it's a furniture-style vanity without being too blocky.

Here it is in two bathrooms...

Via DecorPad

Via Houzz

The things that hold me back: the vanity is just a touch wide for the downstairs bathroom, it's the most expensive vanity I've considered (just over $2300 for one with a cararra countertop), and the RH website has no information about the country of origin.

So after looking at tons of websites, I wasn't sure about the quality of the items I was seeing, so I made an appointment at Ferguson, the bath and kitchen supply company. Right off the bat, I saw some pieces that I liked in the showroom.

These first two aren't for us, but aren't they gorgeous?

Kohler...don't ask me the price.

Kallista...about $6,000

These were the more affordable options. Both have tons of finish and countertop options:

The Framingham by Fairmont

Rustic Chic by Fairmont

Those gray vanities were both by Fairmont Designs. There were four vanities I liked: Framingham, Smithfield, Rustic Chic, and Charlottesville (no kidding!). The difference between the Framingham and Smithfield seem to be in the legs (counter and sinks are ordered separately).



Rustic Chic (what a name)


I loved these options and the prices weren't bad, either. However, towards the end of the conversation, the rep told me that all of these are imports. There's a sustainability statement on the Fairmont website, but no specific information about the country of origin.

The rep said that Kohler is making their vanities in Missouri, but other than that, almost everything is being imported.

I don't abhor imports, but it definitely puts these vanities in the same realm as all the ones I was seeing online from sources like Wayfair and Build.com or at the big box hardware stores. I'm so confused!

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Friday, March 13, 2015

From the Hoop: Home Edition

I can't believe I haven't shared any embroidery projects since December! Today, I thought I'd share some of the home projects I've done in recent months. I think linens and blankets have become my favorite things to monogram. I usually get to go big and bold with the designs.

Many of the items I'm working on are from Sferra, one of my favorite companies for luxury bed linens and blankets. Locally, you can get everything Sferra makes at Folly Home Furnishings. If a size or color isn't in the store, they can usually get it in within a couple days, which I found out when I was working on a photoshoot for a new wedding venue and needed good quality, peach napkins. Sferra's hemstitched napkins come in a rainbow of colors and Folly was able to have them for me in two or three days.

The photoshoot also included my first attempt at embroidering on velvet. I made runners and chair flags out of the most beautiful, green velvet (from UFab!) and added a peach monogram for The Market at Grelen, the wedding venue.

Some other Sferra items I've done include several blankets and loads of napkins. The blankets started when the ladies at Folly asked me to monogram one of their display blankets with a big, beautiful "F." I loved how it turned out and I guess others did, too! People have sent me several blankets and they all seem to way that same, beautiful script monogram on them.

I did this last one for my sister-in-law, whose living room window treatments I love because she used the fabric we used in many of the details at our wedding (Vintage Plumes by Robert Allen)!

I did a few baby blankets, too!

Sferra's napkins always stitch beautifully. I have a stack of hemstitched cocktail napkins that I've been meaning to monogram for friends (I think this is going to be a hot thing this summer!), but I haven't gotten around to it.

These were done for a holiday party (I burned the midnight oil to turn these around in less than 24 hours!):

And these dinner napkins were done for several people who gave them to others as presents over the holidays:

As always, you can follow my embroidery work on my Beloved Thread Facebook page!

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Found in an Old, Saved Magazine

I used to have a pretty random way of handling all of my shelter magazines. I'd flip one as soon as it arrived, then put it in a stack under my coffee table and forget about it until one day the stacks fell over. Then I'd quickly sift through the stacks and recycle almost everything except House Beautiful. I don't care who is editing House Beautiful, I enjoy the magazine. The format is nice, the features are varied, and it always has a nice mix of approachable and aspirational design.

In the house, I have more shelf and storage space, so I have organized my years of House Beautiful issues into magazine files and have started holding onto Traditional Home, Martha Stewart Weddings, and the magazines in which shoots I've been involved are published.

Marc definitely doesn't understand the love of magazines, but he knows that I actually do go back and read old issues sometimes, so the shelf of magazines files is okay with him.

The other day, I was flipping through the Traditional Home from October of 2012 and came upon this feature of a kitchen/great room designed by architect Victor Saroki and desginers Mick De Giulio and Craig Steinhaus. The images are by photographer Werner Straube. A very small detail jumped out at me.

The detail? A Gurgle Pot is stashed on a shelf in the island. Have you ever seen one?

 I think first saw Gurgle Pots at a store called Verity Blue that used to be in the Main Street Market here in Charlottesville. It's possible that my memory is wrong, but where ever it was, I never bought one because I couldn't decide on a color. Gurgle Pots come is such pretty colors!

It seemed like kismet that there was an entire booth dedicated to Gurgle Pots at a charity sale here called Martha's Market. I quickly scooped a white one up for myself and an aqua one for my mother-in-law.

Of course, I had to do a demonstration of my Gurgle Pot. I should have known that youtube would be full of them (there's even an app that mimics the sound). The pitchers are so charming! The story behind them is very cute, too.

All that from a kitchen feature in an old issue of Traditional Home.
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Monday, March 9, 2015

Unbreakable Kimmy Eye Candy

Did you spend the weekend binge-watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? If not, you're missing a hilarious show from Tina Fey (there was even a UVA reference in the first episode) and you're missing some serious eye candy for design lovers.

Every scene that takes place in the home of Jane Krakowski's character, Jacqueline Vorheese, is full of pretty things.

There's a particular scene that mentions carrara marble that had me laughing out loud. 

 And I don't care if they are played out, I still like seeing the hicks pendants in the kitchen.

There are 13 episodes on Netflix. Don't start them too late at night.
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