Monday, January 15, 2018

My Wexford Obsession

I thrift with my sister but we haven't always been thrift store addicted.  It happened innocently enough.  My younger daughter decided that she would start collecting vintage decor and dishes with the intention of starting a side business renting her treasures for parties and photo sessions.  One of the first patterns that she acquired was a group of Wexford stems.  Wexford is a sturdy pressed glass pattern made by Anchor Hocking in the 1940's thru 1960's.  The vintage glassware has a pretty distinctive pattern, small diamonds towards the top and larger diamonds towards the bottom.  Some places this is referred to as criss cross and occasionally it is called a waffle pattern.  When we noticed some glasses in Goodwill that matched my daughter's glasses we snatched them up.  My daughter lives across the state in a metropolitan area. My sister and I felt that while my daughter shopped the big city we could check the stores in the towns that we shopped and pick up things that she might like.

It turns out that Wexford apparently was pretty popular in our area because it has been readily available.  When we stop at Goodwill there is often one or more pieces and it is always reasonably priced. I now love it as much as she does and I now have many more pieces than she does.  She has not yet started her business.  Life has a way of intruding and she has had a lot of stuff going on right now and limited storage.  Perhaps soon.  When she gets ready to open her rental business I will happily share my pieces with her.  I don't have the place settings. No dinner plates, salad plates or saucers.  I have not seen them for purchase locally and have not searched them out online.  I do have many, many serving pieces.  I have six sizes of glasses, as well as punch bowls and punch cups.  I have footed sherbets, hexagonal salad plates, berry bowls.  More of some pieces than others but quite a bit of it.  Here is a sampling.  These pieces are currently displayed in my dining area.  The majority of the collection is in more functional storage on wire shelves in my basement.  None of the pieces are currently in the new dish pantry but I imagine that they will rotate in and out of there.
six sizes of glasses

canisters currently holding dog treats

ice bucket

two stacks of coasters

My newest piece was a gift.  Quite a long while ago I had written a post about my search for decanters.  I had read Helen, who blogs at Entertablement's, post about her husband's bar cart and her decanters and I was taken with the idea of a bar cart and I started my own collection of decanters knowing that at some point I would find the right cart to put them on.  Alas, I am still looking.  My good friend Kim, who blogs at Exquisitely Unremarkable, sent me a gift in the mail of a decanter that she found at an Etsy shop.  Unfortunately the decanter arrived in pieces having been broken in transit between the Etsy shop and the farm.  The only thing in one piece was the stopper.  It was a sad day.  Kim was not to be deterred and soon another package arrived.  This one arrived intact.  Turns out the decanter that she selected was the Wexford pattern and just happened to coordinate with my many other Wexford pieces. Thanks Kim!  It is a lovely piece.  It means so much to me that you would search out and send such a perfect gift.   
my new decanter

part of my collection on top of the bookcase

Friday, January 12, 2018

Learn and Do

The new year is a time traditionally when blog people look back to recap the passing year and look ahead to the upcoming year.  They post lists of their most popular posts or projects or recipes.  They set goals and make resolutions.  I am not one of those people who is successful at those tasks.  I tried posting my garden goals once on the side of my blog.  Eventually it disappeared from there, dying from inattention.  Some bloggers are writing about their one word for the new year, a fairly new type of resolution popular the past few years.  I have not been a 'one worder' either.  But I do have some things that I would like to accomplish and so perhaps some goals would be in order. A very vague goal, kind of on the order of that one word business.  I would like to learn and do new things.

I got started before the New Year.  I decided that my  (only) bathroom could use some upgrading.  My toilet had started to leak and I was having issues with my sink faucet.  I did some research, read some articles and watched some you tube.  I bought a new toilet and a new pedestal sink and I replaced my toilet.  All alone.  By myself.  And it is working.  With no leaking.  The pedestal sink is out of the box and laid out in pieces on my couch.  It is going to be installed today.   Or tomorrow.  Sometime this weekend.  Learn and do.  Our family is replete with DIY'ers.  We all tackle projects.  It is in our DNA I guess.

I have several woodworking projects that I want to accomplish.  One of them is nearly complete.  My dish pantry.  It just needs the door.  That will happen today.  Or tomorrow.  Or this weekend.  I kind of see a trend here.  I am a bit of a procrastinator but it is time to bite the bullet and get it done.  In order to do my wood projects I needed to get my own tools.  Now that I have tools I have no excuses.  More on these other projects later.
Another plan that I have involves food.  I like to cook and bake.  I have a huge number of actual cookbooks, a very extensive pinterest recipe collection and more ebook cookbooks than I should and tons of recipes that show up in my inbox from other bloggers.  I am not afraid to tackle complicated or unusual recipes, I just don't.  I live alone and much of the time I am cooking just for me so it is easy to do the easy, quick stuff.  My new plan is to learn to use an unfamiliar or exotic ingredient.  Not living close to a large metropolitan city I may have to be a bit selective in what recipes I select or plan far enough ahead that my big city offspring can shop for me before they come to the farm to visit.

As a start, yesterday I made a salad using wheat berries.  My friend Bobbie discovered the recipe and was going to try it.  I decided to try it too.  I had never cooked with wheat berries  before but they were good in the salad.  Wheat berries, roasted beets and feta cheese with fresh herbs and a homemade vinaigrette.  Tasty and filling.

And today I made a soup with several new ingredients.  I am a little embarrassed to say that I am slow to the coconut bandwagon but the soup that I made has both coconut oil and coconut milk.  It also has lime and turmeric and bok choy and several kinds of mushrooms.  It did not have tofu in it since I forgot to buy it so I went without it.  It was good.  Interesting flavors.

I have several other soups on my list.  Maybe my goal should be a big pot of a new soup each week.    And a salad.  With greens from the winter greenhouse once they are ready. 

I will have to do a Part 2 of this post with other things from my To Do list.  Stay warm. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The dish pantry is done--kind of

I am an avid dish collector.  My sister and I hit the closest thrift stores pretty regularly, at least several times a month and there are some others that we frequent when we get further out of town.  Because I have been pretty successful at finding dishes that appeal to me I was finding myself short of dish storage.  I live in a small farmhouse and storage in general is nonexistent.  My house has a total of three small closets, one in each bedroom.  No linen closet, no broom closet, no coat closet.

What I do have is a small entry that at one time was added on to the house.  I don't think that it is original to the house.  When we moved here nearly 30 years ago this little entryway was sort of a pass through from the back door, which is the door that we use, to the kitchen.  On one side was a homemade closet only 11 inches deep with thin plywood doors and some hooks for hanging a couple of coats.  There was an upper cabinet and the lower cabinet and at some point after we moved we removed the doors on the lower cabinet and made three cubbies.

On the other side of the entryway was a shelf about a foot down from the ceiling and a built in bench with a lid that raised where you could sit to put on your shoes or boots.  We also took out the bench and added a three more shelves.  For quite a few years I used the area for pantry storage with canisters and canning jars and a table below the shelves.  When I was given a shelving unit from IKEA for Christmas one year by my daughter for in my kitchen that became my pantry storage and I put dishes on the entry shelves.

I have been coveting this pantry ever since I first saw it on pinterest.


My space is not nearly as big and certainly not tall enough to justify a ladder but wouldn't that be fun.  It is kind of an awkward place for dish storage, next to the exterior door but space is at a premium and that space is not well used right now.  I happened upon a narrow vintage French door about a year ago and it has been hanging out in my shed just waiting for me to use it.

I also like the narrow display area in this photo:

Farmhouse style is the popular kitchen decorating trend of this days because of its shabby chic accents mixed with simple and natural features. If you are looking forward to have a kitchen with farmhouse style, you don’t need to do big renovation for your kitchen, just insert into it some fun farmhouse-inspired storage projects. That’s […] 

So shortly before Christmas I decided the time was right to take on this project.  I don't have a lot of experience building anything this big by myself.  Our family built the winter greenhouse from scratch and I participated.  I have helped with projects and built some small stuff like bird houses and a rustic table.  And I do have that trouble with distorted vision.  I bought myself some tools that I have been wanting for a long time and some bead board and lumber.  I tore out the old shelves and started covering the walls with the bead board.  I built two narrow walls that would flank the door and built the shelves.  Then I painted.  And painted.  Two days before we were to celebrate Christmas I was washing dishes and glasses and putting them away in the new pantry and between loads I was painting my vintage door which was laying on the dining room table.  The door was kind of a challenge.  There were 10 divided lites to paint around both on the front and the back.  It was taking multiple coats and the morning of our celebration, I discover that the door I had been painting for two days would not fit.  One of my walls is apparently not quite plumb and so the door fits fine at the top but not at the bottom.  So back out to the shed it goes until I can decide what to do with it.

So far I have come up with these options:

Rebuild the offending wall so that it is plumb and square.
Plane the door or the door frame so that it fits better.
Leave the door off and use the door for a different project perhaps like this:


Anyway, here is my dish pantry.  Without a door.


It is 53 inches wide by 25.5 inches deep.  There are 7 u shaped shelves that are 11.5 inches deep on the back wall and 9.25 inches deep on the side walls.  They are deep enough for my dinner plates but some of the platters protrude a bit past the front edge of the shelves.


I have soup tureens on the very top and five not quite complete sets of china, stoneware and glasses on the middle five shelves and platters on the bottom.

I know that it will need some adjusting.  I have some things that will probably be replaced with other things that are stored elsewhere in the house.  It was a fun project.  I am glad for the extra storage.

I am sharing this with
Dishing it & Digging it here.
Metamorphosis Monday at BNOTP here.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Do you bake bread?

I used to be a rare bread baker.  That changed this summer when I started to do the farmers market.  All of a sudden I was making bread twice a week.  When I started selling at the market I didn't have much for produce yet so baked goods were my way to have enough things to offer for sale.  There were other bakers at the market and other breads for sale.  I wanted to find my niche in the baked goods area, offering something different from the others so I made white bread as buns and small loaves and French baguettes.  Both were familiar breads.  I wrote about the baguettes here.
my baskets of breads at the market

My older daughter also has an interest in bread baking.  When she made known that interest she began to amass a collection of tools that she would need.  I helped with that. She has a beautiful cookbook on bread making that details what they recommend for baking fabulous artisan breads. A trip to the restaurant supply store for the bench scraper and cambro box for proofing that were on her Christmas wish list last year and a few treasures found while thrifting since have been my contribution.

She gave me my baguette pan for Christmas a couple of years ago and I have a couple of thrift store treasures that have found their way to my kitchen gear stash.  I am, after all, a gadget girl.  And I am also a cookbook girl.  During the market season my mom bought me a bread cookbook and my daughter sent me my own copy of the cookbook that was her inspiration.  Both are a treasure trove of information and recipes that I am excited to try.
the cookbook from my mom
cookbook from my daughter

After a couple of shoppers at the market asked about gluten free offerings I decided to try my hand a gluten free breads.  We do not have any family members that are gluten intolerant so it was not something that I had ever done but it was a need that none of the other market vendors were attempting to fill.  Gluten free baking has its own learning curve and its own specialty ingredients.  I love a baking challenge.  I have had some successes and some repeat customers.  I have one that I will be baking for even now that the market is done.  And that will be fun.

Each market day I would make baguettes and buns and little loaves and sometimes I would try something new.  A couple of times I used my Pullman pan or pain de mie.  It is a rectangular pan with straight sides and a cover.  The bread raises in the pan and the cover keeps the loaf from having an arched top.  The loaf makes squared off slices, kind of like the shape of commercial breads available at the store.  The pans come in two sizes and mine is the smaller one.  The bread is perfect sliced thinly for appetizer toasts or fancy tea sandwiches.
Pain de mie
I also tried my hand at focaccia.  I thought it was good but best fresh from the oven. Probably better to make and eat than make and sell the next day.

Another thrift store find just recently was a baking cloche.

It prompted me to get out the new cookbook and try my hand at an artisan bread.  There is a lot to learn and I started with a prefermented bread. A prefermented bread requires the making of a starter so it is not something that is done spontaneously.  I started my starter, called biga, on Saturday and baked my bread on Sunday.   I have extra biga in my fridge so I will probably be baking bread again over the next couple of days.  The bread that I made is a white bread, using only all purpose flour, but it has a slightly different taste and a little darker color.  It tastes great both fresh and toasted.  I baked a baguette from a baguette recipe using the biga.  Instead of baking on a stone I tried my baguette pan.  It turned out nice.  I also tried two artisan breads.  One recipe but one-half baked under the cover of the cloche and one-half baked in the cloche bottom without the cover.  The recipe was for one loaf but it was a fairly large recipe and my cloche is supposed to hold dough made from three cups of flour and mine was more than that. Both breads were good but the covered bread and the baguette had a chewier crust.  The baguette had a pan of water for steam in the oven and the cloche created steam from the moisture in the dough.  The unsteamed version had a softer crust.

All in all it has been great fun.  I will be sharing the recipes soon but in the meantime I will be sharing this post with Susan at BNOTP here.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

A few recent thrift store finds

I think I may have written in the past about how my sister and I got addicted to thrifting.  The story, in a nutshell, is that we started searching out treasures for my daughter who was contemplating starting a dish and decor rental service.  I don't know that I had ever been to a Goodwill prior to that time.  Now we have a whole group of stores in several towns that we shop often or sporadically.
My sister and I  have different things that we collect so we are rarely in competition.   I like white dishes of any vintage.  She loves silver platters.  I like sets of vintage china.  She collects small plates and bases and glues them together to make cupcake stands.  Kitchen gadgets are a thing that we both like.  I have not ever bought an article of clothing at Goodwill.  To be honest, there are parts of the store that I have not really even wandered through.  But I can spend an hour in the dishes and the home goods.  And the fabric/linens.  And a quick walk thru the pictures for interesting frames.
We believe that the reason that we find great stuff is that we shop regularly.  The great stuff rarely stays on the shelf for long and if you happen to be in the store when it happens to be on the shelf, that is when the magic happens.  Our closest Goodwill is in a slightly larger nearby town.  I think it is rare that a week goes by that we don't stop in.  I don't think that we have ever left empty handed.  Our Goodwill store generally has pretty good prices.  But we rarely pay full price.  If you donate, they give you  a coupon for 25% off your purchase. And on Wednesdays seniors get 25% off.  And one day a week a particular color of sticker is 75% off.  And sometimes we happen to be in the store when there is a special sale, like yesterday when everything was 30% off. 

Last week I found this.

The pattern is American by Fostoria. My mom was given this pattern.  It was passed down to her from her mom or her grandmother.  I don't remember her receiving it but I remember her having this pattern while I was still at home.  Her grandmother died about the time that she was a newlywed or within the first year or two of her marriage.  She has several sizes of glasses, a wine, a champagne coupe and a cordial as well as a water glass and serving pieces.  Over the years her collection has slowly expanded as we have added a few pieces here and there when we happened upon them at an antique store.  Since we have been hitting the thrift stores the pace has quickened.  We seem to find a piece or two quite regularly.  The pattern seems to have lost some of its value.  I remember paying $50 for a bud vase years ago in an antique store and now many of the pieces are less than $20  at and $5-10 and usually less at Goodwill.

This pitcher was priced at $2.99 but we purchased it with a senior discount.  Just so you know, Goodwill's senior discount starts at a very young 55 years and my sister and I barely qualify.  Replacements has the same one priced at $70. And then, just yesterday they had one more at the very same price so we bought that one too.  Now she can have a pitcher of ice water at each end of her Thanksgiving or Christmas table.  Mom generally has her pieces displayed in a beautiful antique china cabinet and rarely uses them.  They are not a delicate handblown crystal but a sturdy one so this year my sister and I decided that we will help set the table and drag out many of her pieces.  I will try to remember to get some pictures.
I have written previously about my plans to convert my chicken coop into a bar.  My kids are game players and I am hoping that the bar will be a great three season place for board games and cards.  In anticipation of that project I have been picking up barware when I see it.  I am a little embarrassed to admit that I have quite a bit.  This is my latest find.  It is a hammered metal cocktail shaker and six glasses.

I have been researching them and have found some that are very similar with a different handle on the cover or a slightly different pour spout but none that match exactly, at least not so far.  It is always possible that at some point the lid was swapped with another..  The ones that I have read about online are usually described as being silverplate and in an art deco style.  These were priced each piece  separately with the glasses at $1.99 and the shaker at $6.99 all before the senior discount. I love the patina.  

I haven't done a whole table in quite a long time but still going to join the fun at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday here.


Friday, October 27, 2017

The farmers market season is ended.

Thursday was to be our second to the last farmers market with the last being on Saturday but our weather has taken a turn towards winter so our Thursday market ended early and the Saturday market cancelled.  It was cold and windy with snow predicted.  The snow seems to have gone around us and after a cold weekend it should be a bit warmer next week  The garden crops have been killed by frost but there is still lots of clean up left to do.  A part of today was spent collecting the hoses and taking down sprinklers. I use a lot of hoses.  A couple of days ago Dad and I blew out the water line that goes thru the grove to the big garden. It is a two person job, one on each side of the grove with a lot of yelling back and forth.  We never seem to remember until to late that we could call each other on our cells instead of hollering. 

I dug up the herbs that I wanted to try and overwinter and moved them to the greenhouse.   I would like to make one more trip over the lawn with the mower.  After that the next big project is to clean out the barn.  We practice a type of deep litter method in our barn.  We cover the soiled straw bedding with fresh all winter and then in the summer (or more realistically the fall) the old bedding gets mucked out and we start over.  What often happens is that instead of doing it during the summer when the barn is not really used much, it gets put off until the last minute.  It is time to get it done.  I have a date with a pitchfork and a wheelbarrow.  The herd will be glad to get back into their barn. They are locked out and they do have other shelter available but they stand there by the door looking at me as if to say 'When can we go back in?'

Once the barn is cleaned and the outside work finished I am hoping to get some serious blogging time in.  I have recipes to share and stories to tell.  See you soon.


Monday, October 9, 2017

Freeze warning issued

The weather has been kind of dreary lately, cloudy, cool, some rain, even some jacket weather.  But yesterday was a glorious fall day, sunny and short sleeves.  I spent a good part of it outside doing some mowing and some fall clean up chores.  Today isn't expected to be as nice but I will be outside most of today as well as a freeze warning has been issued for tonight and I need to harvest what I can just in case.  The rest of the ten day forecast appears to look like it will stay above freezing but tonight's predicted 31 degrees could be the end of my tomatoes.
I have been doing some work in the greenhouse.  I hope to begin seeding the greens this week so I am cleaning and organizing and sanitizing equipment.  Last year, I had purchased a pot of strawberry plants and I overwintered them successfully so this year I am hoping to expand that and try it on a larger scale.  This past spring my daughter bought some strawberry plants in little pots and we planted several together into four hanging baskets and they were outside this summer.  Some of them developed runners so I have separated them and put them in hanging baskets.  I also have a raised bed of strawberry plants that were given to me when a friend's patch was dismantled and those are also getting runners and some of them are trying to get a foothold outside of their wooden walls so I am hoping to get those relocated to pots for the greenhouse as well and today might be my last opportunity. 
It is canning season and my excess produce is making its way to jars.  I have been doing tomato recipes and some jelly.  As I move through the canning process I have been dreaming about an outside canning kitchen.  Earlier this summer I bought a vintage sink to use outdoors. 
My plan is this winter to get it mounted on a stand and plumbed for water from the hose with another hose to drain away the water and I will use that sink to wash produce.  I am also looking at outdoor cooking and propane camp stoves and flat top grills as there never seems to be enough burners for all of those big pots in my tiny farm kitchen. 

I am hoping to have a farmers market update post soon.  In addition to baked goods and produce sales I have been trying my hand at soap making and gluten free baking.  Lots of stuff to post about. 
Happy fall!

Joining Met Monday at Between Naps on the Porch