Friday, July 14, 2017

Childhood Memories of Baking with Mom

Some of my earliest memories from childhood have to do with mom's baking.  It's hard to pinpoint exactly when it was that I started to show an interest in baking, but I can clearly remember standing on a kitchen chair, back in the 70s, right next to mom as she was either baking a cake or portioning out cookie dough.

Here is mom helping me with a slice of homemade cake for my 1st. birthday.  

All of our birthday cakes, holiday sweets for the family, cupcakes for school P.T.A. events, and milestone celebration desserts, were made from scratch by our dear mother.  Not only that, but mom was a baker to many of our neighbors who clamored for her cakes whenever they needed them. 

I somehow became mom's pastry assistant in the kitchen for some of her biggest projects, such as wedding cakes.  I remember helping mom mix batch after batch of cake batters or cookie doughs, tinting pounds of icing if she asked me to, preparing cake pans for baking, and adding countless sprinkles or decorative toppers to cupcakes for our holiday school parties.

The large pastry boxes which sat on top of the kitchen counter, ready to go out the door, always beckoned and taunted with their sweet icing, sugar sprinkles and whatever else mom added to them.  I secretly wanted to devour those cupcakes before they even made it out the door.

Homemade chocolate chips will always be my favorite cookie.

Trips to her favorite baking supply store were a real treat for me as a kid, because I was able to learn what tools were needed for specific tasks, and which supplies made mom's baking projects effortless.   

Kitchenaid Heavy Duty 5qt. mixer.

These days when I visit mom, I always request that we bake a little something, just so that I can use her classic heavy duty mixer.  Mom's 5qt. mixer is so retro, and yet, it looks great in any type of kitchen.  I was lucky enough to have found one of these mixers a few weeks ago, untouched in its original box!  It's perfect (👌).

I treasure the moments in the kitchen with mom, because it's time well spent.  We catch up on family matters while we bake, or we reminisce about a particular event in the past.  Whether I'm standing in the kitchen while using mom's KitchenAid mixer or watching her scoop out some cookie dough onto baking sheets, I'm immediately taken back to childhood.

Thank you mom for all of the great baking memories!! 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Antiquing and Vintage Shopping Today

The world of antiques, antique shops and various antiquing venues has changed rapidly in the last decade or so.  Long gone are the days when I could hop in my car and drive to my former hometown to visit the shops I patroned on a regular basis, when I first started collecting for our home.  All of the antique shops along Kings Highway are no longer there, and the same goes for so many of the shops on "Antique Row" in Center City, Philadelphia. 

Recently, I took a small trip into the city with a dear friend of mine from Washington, and we began a discussion about antiques, antiquing and everything vintage.  I lamented the fact that so many antique shops were now out of business along a stretch of road that was famous for them.  The shop owners that were so passionate about their hordes of fine china, glassware, silverware, linens, furniture and garden ornaments, have packed up and moved out.

Tureens from my antique ironstone collection.
The economy, shrinking 401ks, reality television, changes in the lifestyle magazine world, and the ever-growing popularity of those mega stores selling ultra-cheap, imported wares, have all had a hand in what the antiques world faces today.

With more and more vendors finding it easier and better for their bottom line to 'set up shop' online, brick and mortar antique/vintage stores are slowly becoming things of the past.  I do shop online via eBay, Etsy and Rubylane for some of the things that I like, but there is something about being able to see, feel, judge and make a purchasing decision in person, on the spur of the moment.  There is always peace of mind from buying something vintage or antique in person, because one doesn't have to worry about potential shipping mishaps, which do happen (it's maddening!) from time to time.

I understand wanting to own new pieces of furniture that don't require delicate treatment, or having a brand new set of inexpensive dinnerware, glassware and silverware that can get put in the dishwasher. It's absolutely convenient.  However, I find that there is an ineffable beauty in owning antiques and using vintage items throughout one's home, which can't be mimicked with something new. 

Even though I have contemporary housewares that get used often, there is nothing like using something antique or vintage on a dining table or having beautiful, old objects in various rooms throughout the house.  I get more pleasure out of setting a beautiful table with vintage or antique items that have a history, than I would if I were to use items from the "world markets".  I know I'm not alone when I say that I collect antique and vintage items because it makes me happy.  It's what I've grown to like and admire.  

The value that we attach to our vintage pieces and antique treasures, whether they're picked up at a shop or passed down to us through the generations, is quite subjective.  An old object may or may not have much market value, but the sentimental importance that we affix to said object, can be priceless.   

If I happen to be visiting a town or city outside of my area, I make it a habit of mapping out where the antique shops, consignment shops and Goodwill stores are located.  I also like to know if there are any scheduled flea markets and antique fairs in the area, because those can attract a large amount of vendors.  In fact, I'll be going to some in the next couple of weeks!

When shopping for or selling antiques and vintage items, it's imperative to know and understand the differences between the two.  Inside the trade, experts state that any object which is over 100 years old is considered an "antique".  The term "vintage" refers to items that are between 50-100 years old.  It's not uncommon, though, to see these terms used loosely by vendors, especially if they're unaware of what they have.  It is your job, as a collector, to know what's what.  

Have you ever attended the world's largest yard sale that is over 600 miles long?  It will be taking place in less than a month, and I know of a couple of people who may travel down this route for their vintage shopping.  From the photos I've seen in the past, it is quite the adventure picking through what is out there.  Click here for more information. 

Are you still antiquing these days?  Do you make an effort to visit flea markets and antique shows like I do?  What about tag sales, estate sales and yard sales? Shopping for old items is something that I will never tire of.  I hope that many of you continue to admire and collect the vintage and the antique for years to come.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day!

I want to wish every American a very happy and safe Independence Day! The Fourth of July is a day to cheer our country's independence and it's a day to be a proud citizen.  Old Glory will be displayed throughout the country in various forms, so let us remember what the red, white and blue signify.   May every one of you proudly display our nation's flag.    

From sea to shining sea, Happy Fourth of July!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Larchago Rosé, Rioja 2015

Perfect for lunch or dinner, Larchago's 2015 RosĂ© from Spain's Rioja region is such an easy summer sip.  I love Spanish wines made from tempranillo grapes, so it's no surprise that I find this 100% tempranillo rosĂ© to be worthy of keeping in stock for summer entertaining.

Its rich salmon color hints at the notes of fresh raspberries and strawberries. Furthermore, its low acidity makes it suitable for hors d'oeuvres, such as canapĂ©s, antipasti and cheeses. 

Enjoy a glass or two of this flavorful wine at your Fourth of July gathering or simply because you feel like having some rosĂ© this summer.  You might as well pick up a second bottle to keep on hand because it is a good bargain, and a lovely vintage.