Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Gathering of Friends

A couple of years ago we discovered an absolutely beautiful cookbook called The Gathering of Friends. A few months after the first edition, the editors came out with an equally well-done Volume II. They were our best-selling cookbooks ever! Then sadly it disappeared from the market for about a year, while the editors tried marketing it through home-shopping parties. So we were absolutely thrilled this past month when we were in Atlanta, and found that they were once again available for us to carry. The recipes in both books are simple and delicious, and each chapter includes tablescape ideas, menu plans, shopping lists, and inspirations to create your own "gathering of friends". It makes entertaining and giving dinner parties totally foolproof! I love their basic philosophy that "when someone comes to your home and sits at your table and breaks bread with you, your relationship is forever changed." This is so very true! You get to know new friends better and you learn new things about old friends while lingering over dessert in the warmth of your candlelit dining room. So why not pick up a copy of one of these books soon, and start planning your own garden brunch or springtime luncheon. It will make it fun and easy to host your very own "gathering of friends"!

Each book is beautifully photographed...and could double as a coffee table book.

The recipes are simple and delicious!

Both volumes also contains some great gift-giving recipes.

As well as recipes, the authors give tablesetting and centerpiece ideas.

And now, some pictures from our own "gathering of friends" last Thursday evening at our Girls' Night Out.....

Some came from Michigan City---

Others, some really good friends, were from closer to home.

One was a great neighbor----

And several pairs of sisters attended.

Diane came from Bremen for GNO.

Ruth Ann and Joann happily await the next customer.

And Tina, behind the front counter, looks pretty in pink.

Gwen, always a good hostess, mans the wine table!

If you weren't able to make it to this Girls' Night Out, we hope you'll try to come next time (May 12). And in the meantime, enjoy your very own special "gathering of friends"!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Joy of Collecting

Nothing makes my heart go pitter-patter quite as fast as walking into a promising-looking antique mall or going through the gates of a great outdoor antique market on a beautiful summer day! Ahhh---the thrill of the hunt----and the possibility that I might find the one perfect thing that I didn't even know I was looking for! It is absolutely my favorite pastime. And so it's not surprising that I have amassed a few collections of vintage items over the years, and use them as focal points in decorating my own home.

Whether you are already a collector, or are thinking about starting a collection, here are some guidelines that I follow:

1. Collect what you love! That is the "thrill" part of the hunt ---catching sight of that special something that touches your heart. If you love an object, you will always be able to find a place for it in your is naturally and inherently "your style".

2. Conversely, don't collect for the investment or re-sale value of an antique. As antique lovers know, many categories of antiques have lost value over the past few years. However, if you buy it because you love it, it will always have value to YOU.

3. Narrow your scope to make your collection more personal and the hunt more interesting. For example, vintage baby shoes are very collectible, but there are lots of them available in most antique malls. So I decided to collect only RED vintage baby shoes that are less than 5" long, and because they are hard to find, I'm just thrilled when I do!

4. Not everything you collect needs to be perfect. Imperfection can be a refreshing break from the matchy-matchy, brand new look, as well as a sign that the piece has been well-loved and well-used in the past. A small chip on the rim or age-crazing won't detract from your overall collection.

5. Group the items in your collection together for the most impact. Scattered here and there throughout your house, the pieces lose their connection and run the risk of becoming clutter. Grouping them together in an interesting way will elevate the individual items to become a focal point in your decor.

6. Rotate your collections seasonally. "Like the tired star athlete who needs bench time for refreshment, items maintain their shine if we give them necessary time out of rotation." (from Vintage Vavoom--see below)

Another one of my collections---children's watering cans --- decorates a tiny corner in a half bath. Tiered shelves provide space to group them all in one spot, not scattered about.

Gwen Oldfield's collection of miniature log cabins in a primitive cupboard adds charm to her guest bath.

My collection of tartanware and other plaid items decorates my mantel for the winter season (and then moves to the den in the spring and summer!)

Vintage majolica, massed together in a wall cabinet for the most impact, rotates to the mantel in the summertime.

Sometimes adding additional objects to your collection will make the "stars" stand out. Here, plain yellow plates and a red tray add background contrast to black and white transferware.

This unique cupboard, which is only 5 inches deep, allows me to make the most of my small laundry room to display miscellaneous blue and white transferware, blue willow, and flow blue plates and platters.

Gwen's miniature chair collection becomes a "tongue-in-cheek" chairrail!

Tiered cake plates are used as risers to display black papier mache boxes, while the silver tray unifies additional papier mache pieces.

Red tole trays are hung forming a large triangle above the bed in the guest room, decked out with Christmas bedding. The red trays get changed to tole trays in yellows, greens, and pinks (as does the bedding) for the other seasons.

Gwen changes this bookshelf in her sunroom seasonally, displaying her collection of deer and pinecones in the winter, and fresh white pottery planters for spring and summer.

One of my favorite books about collecting and displaying collections is VINTAGE VAVOOM, Romantic Decorating with one-of-a-kind Finds, by the editors of Romantic Homes magazine. Beautifully photographed and full of ideas, this book ($35.00) will be available at Interiors Etc. later this week. Happy Collecting!

Just a reminder: Our first Girls' Night Out of the year is this Thursday evening (Feb. 24) from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. Everything (excluding antiques and clearance items) will be 20% off, wine and cheese will be served, and we will be giving away a $25.00 gift certificate every hour. Hope you'll come party with us!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Every year just before we open the doors for the Christmas Open House, we have a long-standing tradition of taking a group photo of all of our staff. I have these photos for the past thirty years, and they are a documentary of changing hairstyles, changing outfits, and sometimes changing faces. They are also one of my most treasured possessions! Every year, we say that we should make it into a Christmas card to send to all of you, our customers and clients. And every year, the season gets so frantically busy that we never get it done! So this year, since we are all appropriately dressed in red, and with not too much Christmas in view, we decided to send it to you as a Valentine. We wish you lots of love in your life for Valentine's Day. May your sweetest years be yet to come!

Back row: Gwen Oldfield, Ann Knott, Joann Germano, Bonnie DeCola, Jane Nagy, Ruth Ann Meilstrup, Barbara Habas, Tammi Yoder, Tina Tepe, Carol VanBruaene, Karla Surmacz, Judy Anderson

Front row: Marceil Yoder, Joy Newman, Denise Collins, Anne Esch, Carol Brademas, Alicia Hochstetler

Absent from picture: Trudy Knoblock

Spring Fling

Hope you enjoy some pictures of our Spring Fling today!

Carol VanBruaene serving the raspberry punch and Valentine desserts

Some of our great staff ---Jane, Sally, Tina and Bonnie dressed to coordinate (accidentally!)

Lots of shoppers checking out new items in the kitchen area

More shoppers enjoying the spring-like day!

Checking out at the front counter with their favorite finds

A mother and daughter shopping together before attending the N.D. girls' basketball game!

It was a great day today, with the sun shining and in the upper 30's ----just right for our preview of Spring. Thanks to all of you who came! And for those who weren't able to make it today, we still have lots of fresh spring merchandise, and more arriving daily. Take a break from the winter snow and slushy roads, and plan to visit us soon.