buffalo plates by williams-sonoma

photo:  williams-sonoma.comIt might be obvious by now that my usual dishes of choice ~ for eating on as well as photographing ~ are by Fiestaware.  I love all the colors and how the grooves catch the light in a photo.

That said, it seemed like a nice ivory colored plate would lend itself well to food photography.  Rather than going for more Fiestaware I decided to check out the Buffalo plates by Williams-Sonoma.

Here’s a quote on the history of this classic dinnerware, from their website:

These plates are an authentic bit of Americana. They were originally made by the Buffalo China Co., which was founded in New York in 1901 to produce the plates offered as premiums by a soap manufacturer. That sturdy dinnerware went on to become popular at roadside diners along the new U.S. highways and today it’s a classic. Replicating a style from the 1940s, our dinnerware is creamy white – the natural color of the clay – with a durable, clear glaze.

photo:  williams-sonoma.comSuch a nostalgic feeling, the great American diner ~ and the lovely creamy tone for me is preferable to bright white, while still making the food “pop” in a photo.

So far I’ve purchased the set of 4 salad plates and will post some food shots soon.  I’m thinking about getting the 5-piece setting with the cup and saucer ~ the cups are so cute and chubby and the saucers will come in handy for all sorts of little things.

photo:  williams-sonoma.comAdorable!  Obviously the photographers over at Williams-Sonoma did a fantastic job with what you see here ~ hopefully I will do these plates justice and their creamy colored cuteness will shine through my photos as well.

trying to get the blues

photo: houseofturquoise.comAll my life, if someone asked me what my favorite color is, never would I say “blue”.  As a child my room was done up in pale yellow {not my choice but it was okay} and as I became an adolescent I loved red.  Nowadays I have no favorite color but other than a few select shades I’ve never been a big blue fan.

Recently I was talking to a painter and she said she’s perpetually on a quest for the perfect robin’s egg blue.  Since I do like certain glacier blues and other pale aquas, I was intrigued.  She said mixing paints was one of her favorite pastimes and robin’s egg was particularly elusive.  It contains brown, the secret ingredient to make the aqua more warm and muted.

As a photographer this really got me interested, and as a lover of home decor it got me thinking about wall colors.  I’d never had a blue wall before, what about a really dusty aqua shade of robin’s egg?

photo:  colourlovers.comLeave it to Benjamin Moore to have a few decent options:  “antiguan sky”, above, looks kind of nice.  Pale, soft and would look great with cream colored furniture.

Another color that has caught my eye by Benjamin is “stratton blue”, which is the color in the first photo, and below appearing on design*sponge and was said to be the favorite wall color in the house ~ I love it with the barn red:

photo:  designsponge.com

I’m sure other companies are making some great shades of this complex color.  And now that I’ve started collecting photos like these on pinterest, I might just have to make an entire board dedicated to wall colors and see what turns up.

emeril 1-quart saucier with spouts

emeril one quart saucier

I’m one of those people who likes to warm up their milk in the morning.  The two things that will spoil a nice hot cup of coffee or tea is pouring it into a cold mug and pouring in cold cream or milk.

The cold mug problem is solved easily enough with some hot water before assembling my morning bevvie.  But warming milk can be an issue when all you’ve got is a regular small saucepan to do it in.

Every time I’d make my cafe ole or chai tea, when it came time to pour the hot milk some of it would end up on the counter.  Not a big deal to wipe up, but after a while it just seemed silly not to rectify the problem.

Enter my morning glory pan ~ a 1-quart saucier with spouts from Emeril by All-Clad.  Made of 18/10 stainless with a copper bottom and substantial handle, this lidless little pot does exactly what I need it to do.  No spills, not a single drip to be found when I’m done making  a hot creamy beverage.

emeril 1 quart saucier with lip

On the down side, the steel is a bit thin and the handle actually weighs the same if not more than the pan itself.  So a few reviewers on Amazon said the pan tips over if there’s nothing in it.  I haven’t found that to be so, and don’t have a problem with it anyway because when it’s not full of milk, it’s busy looking cute hanging over the sink.

emeril 1 quart saucier

So if you’re like me and want effortless pouring ~ not just of milk but maybe a single or duo serving of soup, hot cocoa, or just about any small amount of liquid ~ then Emeril’s saucier is just the ticket.

amazing gadget ~ the julienne peeler

 

julienne peelerSometimes impulse shopping can turn out really well.  Take this unexpected purchase I made yesterday at a local kitchen shop ~ a julienne peeler by Kuhn Rikon.  I had no idea what I was missing!

This little peeler is amazing at its one and only job:  peeling vegetables into perfect julienned strips.  With no more effort than a potato peeler, the fine tooth blades slice your zucchini, carrot or whatever else you can imagine into long and thin lovely morsels.

julienne peelerUnlike the learning curve and intimidating blade of a mandolin, the julienne peeler is very simple to use and handle from the very first day.

julienned zucchini

And at a modest $18 or so, to me it’s a must have for a cook’s kitchen.  I’ll be using it for variations on summertime salads ~ including potatoes and yams ~ quick pickled veggies with rice wine vinegar, and even zucchini spaghetti.

zucchini spaghetti

It took literally 2 minutes to toss the zucchini in olive oil, garlic, s&p and a tiny splash of lemon juice, then a pat of butter at the end and a sprinkling of parmesan to finish it off.  Delicious and it has the same consistency as noodles ~ highly recommended!

vintage home accents

wild cherry blossom fairyWhen I was younger and got into decorating, I had little knowledge of things vintage.  My style had always been eclectic ~ juxtaposing different styles together ~ but a lot has changed.

Back then I chose teak wood furniture from Denmark and mixed it with Native American rugs and Georgia O’Keefe prints.  Then Rachel Ashwell’s shabby chic exploded onto the scene and I was greatly influenced ~ soft, feminine with weathered wood and washed ivory linen.  Being more of a minimalist than Rachel, I looked and learned and kept some ideas for future use.

My taste has since morphed into a blend of American farmhouse, English cottage and French country.  One thing I love are vintage illustrations like the fairy shown above.  Dating from the 1930s to ’50s ~ flowers, trees and herbs were drawn with their particular fairy.  This and many other beautiful prints can be found at Collectors Prints, out of London.

I also love this antique pen drawing of a deer {complete with “real pen-work” stated in the background} available as clip art at The Graphics Fairy.

spencerian pen flourished deer illustrationThe image on my About page is part of this series ~ apparently they are from an early calligraphy book.  Some of them, like the one above, are large enough to print out and frame.

She also offers wonderful vintage botanicals like this adorable pear.

vintage pear illustrationAgain the link contains a large image that can be printed out.  Thank you Graphics Fairy!  She has loads of great stuff ~ highly recommended.

Besides illustrations, another type of vintage decor I became fond of is carnival glass.

carnival depression glassThe above photo is from an Etsy shop with a large selection of depression glassware.  I discovered orange carnival glass not long ago while photographing inventory for a second hand store.  Here are a couple of my favorites.

carnival glass

Usually described as “marigold” orange, I love how the iridescence doesn’t overwhelm the softness of the peach and pink tones.  Most of this type of glassware was made by Anchor Hocking, a name well known in the vintage collectible world.  Here’s one that’s a bit more bold.

carnival ribbed tumblerNot my style for drinking out of but they’d be fun accents, maybe holding teaspoons or wooden utensils.

I could really imagine these style elements working together in a kitchen ~ functional pieces in fun off-beat colors alongside old world prints of nature.  Tres eclectic!

pillows for the seasons

pottery barn throw pillows

Throw pillows are so much fun ~ like fashion accessories for the sofa, they can change with the seasons or with the months or even depending upon one’s mood.  Pillow inserts and covers make the changes so easy; storage is also a snap, it’s more economical and they can be easily washed.

I love velvet and Pottery Barn has no shortage of it during certain months.  They usually offer all cotton; although the above pillow covers are a cotton/poly blend I’m sure they’re very soft.  I would like these for after summer is over; the trouble is I love all four colors and will have a tough time deciding!

pottery barn throw pillows

For the upcoming season, the above linen pillow covers seem perfect.  Again loving the color selection, particularly the barn red and mocha brown although I do like the pale blue and I’m not usually a ‘blue person’.

They offer nice feather inserts in all the shapes and sizes needed.  It’s possible some could be found for a better price; I’ll be doing a bit of research.

pottery barn pillow inserts

Williams-Sonoma has a small selection of throw pillows and one of them caught my eye.  I have a strange desire for a pillow made from a vintage flour sack.  I even went on ebay, found stores where they specialize in rare and well-preserved flour sacks, and subscribed to their newsletter.

I’m not sure what it is about them, but I am the eclectic faerie after all and there’s no accounting for an eclectic taste.  I really wanted to make a bench pillow out of one, but never got around to buying a bench, so started thinking about making a few throw pillows instead.  Super easy, it wouldn’t even require a sewing machine!

williams-sonoma grain sack pillow

Vintage flour sacks ~ the ones in really good condition ~ are a bit expensive, and so is this pillow.  I just might end up buying one on ebay and making a pillow on my own.  If and when I do it will surely be posted here!

considering cutting boards

photo:  cooking.comThere are a lot of options and opinions as to which cutting board material is the best for knives and the most hygienic.  I’m interested in finding a new board so, without investing too much money, I recently picked up the above Epicurean at a local kitchen shop.

Priced at around $20 for a small and rather thin board, it was not cheap.  The sales woman said everyone was talking about the great quality of the material.  Here is what the manufacturer writes about their product:

Developed from a material used in restaurants for the past 35 years, Epicurean Cutting Surfaces are made from an environmentally friendly natural wood fiber laminate. A pleasure to use and even easier to clean, Epicurean Cutting Surfaces are dishwasher safe, won’t dull knives, are virtually maintenance free and NSF approved. Temperature resistant to 350 degrees, the durable board is nonporous and prohibits bacteria, odors, and staining. This Kitchen Series cutting board is ideal for all food preparation. At 1/4 inch thick the cutting surface is easy to use and cleans up in the dishwasher.  — source: cooking.com

To me it’s a good board for small jobs; even if I had purchased the larger board it just doesn’t feel substantial enough for every day use.  I also didn’t get the kind with grips so it does tend to slide around without a tea towel beneath it.

photo:  amazon.com

My day to day boards are the above Oneida, which, as written on amazon.com, is made out of high density polypropylene and features soft, sure-grip santoprene edges that help grip your cutting board to your counter. This durable cutting surface is dishwasher safe and has a lifetime warranty.

And the Architec Gripper, below, which is also made of polypropylene and thermally bonded to a soft bed of gripping octagons, providing Architec’s famous non-slip grip. The surface won’t dull knife blades and the soft feet grip the countertop so the cutting surface does not move while you are working. The Original Gripper is dishwasher “encouraged”. 

photo:  amazon.comBoth the Oneida and Architec have lasted a long time and, all things considered, were the best all-around options.  That said, a well-made wood cutting board is the direction I am heading in.  The ubiquitous John Boos boards are seen on most cooking shows and I’m sure would be a sound investment.

photo:  amazon.comThey sure look good and have been endorsed by some famous chefs, but if I do indeed purchase a butcher block then bamboo will be my material of choice.

photo:  amazon.comMade by Totally Bamboo, this cutting board has all the signs of lasting a very long time.  The product description on Amazon as well as customer reviews indicate it’s made to very high standards and, if properly maintained, will be enjoyed for many years to come.  I’m hopeful that, at under $80, the Totally Bamboo is a wise investment that is also kind to the tree world.

williams-sonoma agrarian

photo:  williams-sonoma.com

It’s been been a few days since I visited Williams-Sonoma’s website ~ I’d invested in the $30 per year free shipping promotion a while back, so I like to check in regularly and see what’s new and/or on sale.  Much to my surprise, they have launched a new section called agrarian.

Had I been overlooking this for months?  I wasn’t sure.  After a quick search I realized they did indeed just add this rather extensive branch of their company a few days ago.

Would I buy a $1300 chicken coop?  I don’t know, but I love their aesthetic and trust the quality of many of their products.

photo:  williams-sonoma.com

I’m new to gardening and love the idea of using a Joseph Bentley hand trowel.  This might be my first W-S agrarian purchase.

photo:  williams-sonoma.com

This heirloom-quality copper hand fork is also on my wish list.  Made by Austrian coppersmiths, it would be a wise purchase.  A bit more expensive but apparently copper is a superior metal for gardening tools, according to the description:  “as they contact soil, the tines deposit minute amounts of copper that promote water absorption and help to repel slugs and snails”.  Beauty and function!

photo:  williams-sonoma.com

I’ve been meaning to look into growing mushrooms at home and, rather than in a box, this kit where they grow in a semi-natural habitat appeals to me.

photo:  williams-sonoma.com

And I am the eclectic faerie after all, so I like a bit of eclectic vintage decor.  This 1940’s watering can is just the sort of thing I’d splurge on.  I don’t know if I will ever run into something this cute at an estate sale… Love it!