Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Farm to Table Dinner at The Farmer's Hands

Mars Hill, North Carolina has a true treasure residing in it's hills!  The Farmer's Hands is a 2 acre farm that produces vegetables, rabbits and eggs and showcases them at farm to table dinners and in their cooking school.  This past Saturday night was the first dinner of the season and we were thrilled to attend.

Upon entering the drive, you come upon a charming old farmhouse.

Foot stomping music sets the mood for the evening.

Ice water with crushed mint is ready to quench your thirst as you walk the farm.

Enter the appetizer display through an arbor that is covered with wisteria and garden lights.

Goat cheeses, pates and pickled vegetables are to be enjoyed as you walk the vegetable gardens.

Just picked French breakfast radishes served with creamy farm butter and salt.

House made berry preserves flavored with thyme are the perfect accompaniment to the pates.

Many varieties of chickens lay eggs on the farm.

A seasonal menu is ready to be served.

Picnic tables are under a newly constructed pergola that is romantically lit with overhead strands of lights.  The décor is sweet and perfect for the farm setting.  French water bottles hold water to be served in the mason jars.   

Its time to bring out the wine and start the meal.

 Asparagus soup garnished with chive blossoms is so pretty.

A roasted pork loin is covered with a spring garlic salsa verde and a parsnip puree.

 The finale to the meal- fresh local strawberries on home made shortcakes.  

Thanks Chefs Sebastian and Ariel!   We are so lucky to have you in our own back yard.
It was  a wonderful evening.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The French Farmer's Wife Barn Sale and a Misty River Morning- Two Special Times

On Wednesday, my girlfriend Jill and I headed over to the Greensboro- Winston Salem area of North Carolina to check out a barn sale.   The French Farmer's Wife was having a three day sale in her darling red barn and we wanted to be there on the first day!  A little antiquing here and there on our drive over and back produced a few treasures, but the real finds were at the sale!   Bright and early, we left our hotel  to find the barn.  My GPS was a bit confused on the country roads, but ultimately we found it!  
 A 2500 square foot red barn stood ready to be explored.

 Fresh flowers and arrangements embellished vignettes and made you never want to leave.

Where to start?   A cutting board for me, a cutting board for Jill, another cutting board for me, and another cutting board for Jill!   But wait, how about those baskets? One for me, two for Jill. 

Soft pink French soaps mixed with ballet slippers- I feel an inspiration coming on!

Gilded chippy frames mixed with demi johns and dried hydrangeas- so tempting.

We both gather and place piles on the check out desk.  One more go around and then we decide that we have spent enough- well one go around- we are sure that we have missed something.

So Jill and I load up the car with little space left for more. 
Happily we head back  to the mountains, discussing our new found treasures and our plans for them!  
We will definitely come back to this barn sale in the future.

When attending a pop-up sale, there are really two exciting times.  One is when you shop the event and purchase your treasures.  The second is when you get them home and have time to incorporate them into your home.  I am not sure which I enjoy more.

So its now Sunday morning and I finally have time to play with my new finds. I like to mix them with old finds and create some new looks.  It is the perfect day for being inside- a rainy mist falling with low clouds in the mountains.  
I turn on my classical music and get going!

Open the screens and let the rushing river sound into the house.

I am now in my happy place!

I start by grouping like items together.  The new olive jar goes well with
the yellow one that I have had for a while.  And I think the emerald green demi john works too.

Maybe add an old celery vase filled with bone handled flatware to add a little sparkly and I am
happy with my new arrangement on the dining table.

Next to the foyer to try out the bark basket that I found in another shop.

Loving it's rustic contrast with the gilded console and fancy lamp.

Back to the dining hall to pull out some lavender inspiration.

The French Farmer's Wife had a collection of the green canning jars, and both Jill and I could not resist taking them home.  I love using them for my herb arrangements. 

A collection of old linens is placed in the French basket that was a prized treasure from the barn sale.

 My recently acquired lavender hand blown glasses work well with this too! And I am loving that emerald green demi-john that Jill made me go back and buy!  Good call.

Next I try an oil painting of radishes over  the stove.  I know its not practical, but who cares? It was waiting for a home after the big move and the French breakfast radishes from our CSA box this week inspired me to find one!

So pretty, just had to show them off!

Now back to my new treasures from the barn sale.  I think the white ironstone pitcher looks great with the old marmalade crock and the white stone fruit.  But where to put them?  
First trying them in the conservatory- 

I place the collection on the two cutting boards that I purchased at the barn sale.

Loving this little guy!

Then I move the white pitcher to the kitchen island and place it in the French basket, along with 
fringed tea towel that I found at the sale. The cutting boards are tucked in the back to add another texture to the collection.

Yes, I think this is it ???????

I like the way this old V and B plate picks up the black range in the back.

The island is the winner for now!

The French Farmers Wife information about upcoming sales can be found at

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Italian Themed Birthday Party

Last night was a milestone birthday for one of our neighbors.  Using her Italian heritage as inspiration, an Italian feast was in order!   Local chefs prepared the food and I was in charge of décor!

Fresh vegetables were chosen for the   centerpieces, as they  remind me of the Italian countryside. And as a side benefit, the chef's that were catering the party, also prepare food for a local school and I thought the vegetables  could be used later in the meal preparations.  Hopefully, no waste here!

The party was held in our French Broad Crossing lodge.   It is decorated in traditional mountain leather, wood and dark pattern fabrics, so throwing in a bit of Italian checks was a bit tricky.  But you just have to go with it!

Using an antique pickle jar, I filled it with lemons and mandarins and then filled it with water.  Then a  vegetable arrangement  was assembled on a small plate to sit on top.  Wet flower foam was taped to the plate, then  picks  skewered the peppers, lettuce, swiss chard and grapes to the flower foam.  

 Eggplants were hollowed out and filled with wet flower foam and filled with curly parsley and roses.   Eggplant parmigiana- eat your heart out!  Less calories too!

Wine crates and cutting boards were stacked to create different heights for the food platters.
My mother in laws old ice cream maker was repurposed for flowers. 
Looks like we found it in Tuscany !

Galvanized containers were filled with hydrangeas, lettuces, rosemary and skewered vegetables. 

Every table had a centerpiece that featured a wine bottle that had been labeled with a picture of the guest of honor from 30 years ago!  Her husband wanted the words  " fine women and fine wine improve with age".  Sweet guy!  Cut lemons, kale, parsley, tomatoes on the vine and a vase of ranunculus competed the arrangement.

The guest of honor wearing her birthday crown-
a tiara embellished with gold painted pasta and Italian flags! 

A beautiful signature cocktail started the party off with a bang! 
The Aperol liqueur  gave it the pretty shade of orange.

Our great local chef's were part of the party!

 The table is ready for appetizers! 
Crab stuffed mushrooms, brie and fig bites, baguettes with dipping sauce, sausages and cheeses!

A feast of Italian delights was prepared  for dinner- 
lasagna with fresh mozzarella, seafood stew
Caesar salad, risotto.

The finale  of the dinner, a homemade Italian crème cake from the guest of honors family recipe!
The caterer's made it in wedding cake pans and topped it off with pansies- so pretty!

It was a  great memorable evening for all that attended.  The host made sure that there was plenty of good Italian wine for all to enjoy!