Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Bluebird

Nestled in the small town of Stanford, Kentucky sits a cafe that is well worth the drive. It's one I kept hearing about from Kentucky friends and family. On the wedding week-end, a group of young people who arrived from Idaho and California for the event, joined Julia and Rylan made sure they enjoyed a hearty breakfast there before they started their Kentucky day and the busy wedding schedule! 

So, once the wedding was over and we had a day to relax before shuttling family back to the airport to meet their planes, we decided to check out the Bluebird for ourselves.

Now, who in the world would write an entire blog post about a restaurant? Well, I guess I would. Bear with me. There are some yummy food pictures coming up!

Dad was his usual cheerful self. He enjoys talking to people and engaged our waitress in conversation about the restaurant. 
Local. Fresh. Sustainable. Pure.

Our server was helpful in finding us exactly what we needed to meet our dietary needs. The vegetarian and gluten-free in our group came away happily satisfied with a great selection of foods.

Look at this for freshness! Pasta served with spinach, onion, and artichoke hearts. Add to that roasted red pepper, olives, and a good sprinkling of sunflower seeds.

Gluten free breads were available, like this wrap. They could be served around a variety of delicious gluten-free and vegetarian ingredients.

And you can never go wrong with made-from-scratch potato soup!

I'll admit that we did do some food sharing, simply so we could "try" the yummy looking foods that other family members had ordered. 

Alma looks satisfied. Everything was delicious!

And. . .I was able to buy a BLUE.bird mug so I can remember the experience as I sip on my tea here at home. Connections. LOVE. Memories.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bluegrass Country {TEA} Adventure

Adventures in Bluegrass Country are bound to be special. Especially when they involve a tea friend! Recently a family wedding took us into the heart of bluegrass country. The festivities were fun and the wedding beautiful! After the event we had a couple days to "rest up" before we headed home again. And what better way to "rest up" than to visit with a lovely tea friend. We drove to a nearby town where we met Linda from Friendship Tea for lunch. Our meeting place was the Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant. It is included on the list of Historic Hotels of America along with the finest. It's also included as Best Historic Hotel of Kentucky {2011}. As such, you can correctly conclude that it exudes charm, beauty, and grace.

How fitting that a fine silver tea set graced a table in the lobby. Linda is responsible for the etiquette and instruction in preparation of tea in this lovely establishment. Our server skillfully prepared a lovely cup of Boone Tavern Blend loose tea...and it was perfection in a cup! Each sip was relished and doubly appreciated because Linda sat at the table with us. The Historic Boone Tavern Hotel and Restaurant of Berea College has their own tea blend, aptly created and blended by Elmwood Inn Fine Teas of Danville, Kentucky. It is rich and full-bodied. I enjoyed it immensely. Linda kindly gifted me with a tin of the blended loose tea so that I can continue the enjoyment once I returned home.

As we chatted, Linda filled us in on the history of the hotel and of Berea College. We were extremely interested in all she had to share. Berea College was founded before the Civil War by abolitionists and reformers whose purpose was to promote the cause of Christ. Students who reside at any point of the Appalachia's may apply for enrollment at Berea College. Enrollment is free to the student in exchange for a minimal hours of gainful labor over the course of each week. Student industries include woodworking, pottery & ceramic making, broomcraft, textile weaving, and jewelry making. The student's craftsmanship is displayed in a school store where their talents meld with other artisans from Kentucky whose products are also displayed and sold. The concept of student work in exchange for an education is one I think is admirable and is one that I believe other educational establishments should consider.

It's only fitting that the hotel decor included a nod to the fine horse gentility of the area. It was obvious that Bluegrass Country is a place where horse culture is alive and well! Beautiful farms, stately barns, acres of rolling hillsides and pastures, and genteel folk made us fall in love with this beautiful state. I was charmed by the black barns, many of which had large, painted quilt blocks displayed at a focal point someplace on the barn's exterior. Each quilt block was unique and in some way represented the farm where it was displayed.

There is so much more to share about Kentucky. Another time, another post. For now, simply recollecting a wonderful time shared with Linda will set the tone for future reminiscing. Linda exemplified SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY at its best.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Think Pink for Spring

"The tea party supposes neither appetite nor thirst,
and has no object but distraction,
no basis but delicate enjoyment."

Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Spring is near!
It's an inspiration to update the mantle
with delicate, pink teapots.
Each teapot holds a memory,
shares a story,
and speaks without words.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

May your blessings be multiplied, just as this rainbow.
TWO pots of gold are better than one!

Enjoy a lucky day!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Old Quilts

Hexies with Yarn Ties
I am naturally drawn to old quilts. It doesn't matter how ugly or worn they are. I believe each quilt has a story. It's a story that I may never be able to fully decipher, but one that is worthy of contemplating and spending time thinking about. No matter how flawed a quilt may be, there is something of interest and value within those fibers.

Wool Quilt
Some old quilts were crafted with well-honed skills. Time, effort, and skill went into each design and every stitch. But just because a quilt was made in the "olden days" it doesn't mean it was automatically stitched as a piece of art. Sometimes an old quilt was made simply to provide warmth for the family. And sometimes quality stitching or design was the last thing on the quilters mind. Quilts were how families kept warm! Poorly heated homes frequently had chilly bedrooms! A quilt was what provided a cozy and warm place to sleep. 

Yarn Tied and Muslin
Yardage for any quilt is fairly expensive these days. I suspect purchasing quilting fabric could have been even more of a hardship in days gone by. Many old quilts that are still around to be viewed and appreciated are made from scraps of garments. When a dress or shirt grew to be too small or tattered to be worn, the good parts of the garment were cut out to be used as quilt blocks. Inventive. Thrifty. Waste not, want not.

Strips and Scraps
Sometimes {frequently} if a selected fabric was not large enough to create a whole strip or block, the seamstress stitched pieces together to create a whole. Usually they would use the same fabric to create a whole, but occasionally they would simply add another fabric to the strip or piece to make the whole. Can you see the black stripe in the quilt above that becomes a white stripe part way through? That was a common trait with thrifty quilters.  I have several old quilts that my great-grandmother made. She was super thrifty! Many of the pieces have been stitched together to make a block. Fortunately, most of her piecing was with the same color and type of fabric of the original piece. By using great-grandmother's method, the eye forgives or doesn't see the patchwork, instead, looking at the whole for the full-effect.

Log Cabin
Somewhere in the recesses of my memory is my all-time favorite old quilt. I found it years ago while hiking to an old Civil War fort. While others were intent upon finding old bullets and exploring cannons, I was mesmerized by a log cabin quilt on display in the visitor's center. It was made of all wool fabrics, each which had been a part of the uniform of a Civil War soldier. As is tradition with authentic log cabin quilts, the center of each block was a square of orange wool. The quilt was old, worn, and drab. It also spoke of loyalty, truth, respect, and patriotism.

Sensational Hand Quilting
This beautiful appliqued quilt is one I found recently in a private museum. It was made in 1855 which would make it smack, dab in the middle of the Oregon Trail era. Because it was viewed near the Idaho and Oregon border, one would naturally assume that this quilt was made by a pioneer woman. The materials were quality, still holding together very well with no fraying or fading. But the amazing thing about this old quilt --- the stitching! The hand-stitching for this quilting was amazing! Super tiny stitches were evenly stitched on the entire quilt top. Mostly squares, a flower with heart-shaped petals were scattered in selected places in the design. This quilt exemplifies stitching perfection!

All That Work for $4.00
This quilt is a true beauty! I do worry about that pin, though. Will it cause rust on that pretty quilt top? There's no cover or protection for this quilt. Next time I go, dare I take a quality, modern quilt pin and ask them if I could replace the one they are using? Would that be ungracious and tacky of me?

Scrappy Quilt
This old quilt was made by a woman I call Mary. I believe that's what they said her name was, but since I cannot remember clearly, let's just say it was. Mary was not a quilter. She probably never made a quilt in her life. But, like many of us, she had her quilt-y dreams. For years she would take a 9 1/2" square piece of muslin and then sew scraps of fabric in a circulating pattern around a focal point. When she passed away, huge stacks of these blocks were found with her belongings. Such devotion and dedication to a cause deserved to reach its conclusion. A faithful quilter took some of the blocks, squared them, pressed them, and stitched them together to make a quilt top that speaks volumes. The story of the history of this quilt, along with the many types of textiles and fabric designs share of times passed that only a quilter would understand. 

Every quilt has a story. If only they could talk. They cannot, so it is our task as those who love and appreciate the stories they tell to figure them out. Do you have an old quilt in your life?

Like a Coat of Many Colors

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Family Blessing

A visit to a beloved aunt and uncle who live far away brings delight to the heart. Although time and distance makes these meetings not often enough, there is a great deal of pleasure in picking up where we left off the last time we were together. Conversing and taking pleasure in one another's companionship brings so much joy. Talk of family, of ancestors, of old times is sure to ensue. And photos of those who are now gone spark interest and pleasure in remembering these times gone by.

I love the photo of Grandmother Iva (above). To me, she looks like she belongs at Highclere Castle with the rest of the Downton Abbey occupants. She looks so beautiful. I wonder what she is hiding behind those smokey eyes. Mischief, perhaps? She was an adventurious woman who was as confident driving a cattle truck as she was hosing farm dinners or reading the mission story at church. When she and Gramp were courting they once spilled and tipped their horse drawn sled into a snowbank. Grandmother was the queen of road trips! Sometimes she even drove a lumber truck into the city, loaded heavily with crate for delivery. Don't let those smokey eyes fool you!

Here's grandmother and grandfather with their pretty daughters. Years have passed since the first photo of Grandmother Iva. Her hair is carefully curled and styled in an up-do. She's probably in her mid-forties in this photo. One of her daughters is my dear mother-by-marriage and the other is sweet Aunt Marcella. As happens with time, those dear pass on. Aunt Marcella is the only one who remains of the generations gone before.

Fast forward to this lovely photo of Grandmother Iva with Gramp. Her hair is snowy white and it was always perfectly coifed with an ever present perm. I always appreciated her beautiful smile and the quiet glow that surrounded her. She's probably near seventy in this photo. Her gentle and quiet ways graced our family with love until she was 105 years old.

We missed her while on a recent visit to her home. It seems different without her there. But Aunt Marcella now is hostess of the house and has the same grace that Grandmother Iva did. It's so nice that we can go back and find that the welcome mat is still out; that love creeps out of every space. Conversation, good food, memories of past adventures, a bit of spiritual counsel, and family love make this a place to come back to whenever you can! A family blessing!