Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Utillizing Fine Linens as Decor

I have acquired myriad hand embroidered linens over the years, some from family and friends and some from estate sales in anticipation of opening the B&B. Many come out for special occasions like Christmas and Valentines.  Others were not utilized  because there was just one (or a few) or the handwork was too precious to use.

One of my favorites is this beautiful tablecloth with these perfect roses and buds.  It was given to us by a guest and was sewn by a great-great somebody back when this kind of embroidery was more common place. I wanted people to see it but not be tempted to put coffee cups or wine glasses on it.  Solution?  Hang it on the wall.

Other pieces that are a little sturdier have made it onto table surfaces in the rooms.  I love these sweet little cocktail napkins that are the perfect accent for the pink & blue in Mimi's Room.

My grandmother's handkerchief sits underneath her picture and rouge box in Nana's Room.

Made for my mother's 65th surprise party, this tablecloth is the perfect accent for the blue & yellow colors in Hattie.

This "Pineapple" tablecloth, crocheted by my grandmother, hangs over the bed in Janie Lee's room.

I have other pieces that were framed (and difficult to photograph). If you haven't heard the story, the embroidery of the lady on the wall in Nana's Room was originally an apron. It was stitched by a friend that was coming to America after WWII to marry an airman she met in Australia.  She worked on it the whole time she was sailing here and presented it to her future mother-in-law on arrival to the states. Fortunately, the mother-in-law took one look at it and proclaimed it too beautiful to use and promptly had it framed.

I hope this post inspires you to bring out those treasures and enjoy them.  They like being admired and enjoy the light of day!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The life of an Arkansas Innkeeper

At the end of the novel, “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe,” the author states that if anyone ever figures out what life is all about it will instantly change into something even more bizarre.  I am pretty sure my life proves that theory.  And I sure wish you deep thinkers out there would knock it off!

Some of it may have to do with the place I live.  It's a place that lets school out for a week every November so the kids can go hunting, (some for deer & turkey, and some for road signs & mailboxes.)  A place where the churches put out signs that say “Camouflage Welcome.”   A place where a store sells only fishing bait and donuts (and good ones at that.)  A place where you can reserve tanning bed time , then rent some movies on your way out.  A place where you can rent a tuxedo and a ditch-witch at the same store. A place where, when you forget your purse at the gas station or hamburger stand, they tell you to just bring the money by the next time you are there.  A far cry from life in the big city I had escaped.

It is no wonder I take folks out into the yard to go Toad Scratchin’.

Well, it didn't really start out that way.

Some time back I noticed a toad that came out of his hole to watch me
when I was working close by.  Maybe he is the Neighborhood Watch
Captain, who knows.  After spotting him a couple of times, I decided to
“remodel” his place by adding a slate roof and patio. A few months
later, one of the guests noticed this and asked me about it in front of
some other folks.  When I explained what it was, they all wanted to go
take a look at it. It had started to mist outside so we all grabbed
umbrellas and headed down the hill to Mr. Toad's house.  When he didn't
make an appearance right away, I explained that my leaf raking was what
probably got him curious in the past so maybe we should scratch around
some with our feet to make a similar noise.

So here we stood, a half dozen of us, in the rain, holding umbrellas, looking down at the ground and pawing around with our feet.  And no toad in sight.   Finally, one of the guys looked at me with a wry expression and stated more than asked, “There really isn't a toad, is there.”

There is a town close by named Toad Suck and they have a weekend event
every year called “Toad Suck Daze.” I wonder if we could have a Toad
Scratch Festival?

You also learn a lot of weird stuff being an innkeeper.  I've new insights into everything from embalming to carp fishing. I can now identify Huckleberry bushes and Pygmy Rattlesnakes from ten paces. I know that a glass eye isn't round from seeing one up close and out of the socket. I have recently learned that if you shove some white bread into a copper pipe, it will keep the water from running out while you “sweat it” ,  but then it will  wash out when you are done.  Also, talcum powder in conduit will make feeding the wires through easier.  I know it takes a dead mouse about two days to start smelling inside the house but have yet to ascertain how long it takes a lizard in the duct work.  I just know it takes weeks for it to go away.

I have quit making notes of all the small world stories.  They happen all the time now and I have come to expect them. Everybody knows everybody.  They just don't know it yet!

And people can still surprise me.  One of the dogs was sleeping on the front porch when this elderly, very prim and proper woman was coming up the walk.  Everything about her said she was a quiet and dignified “lady.”  When she got to the top steps, the dog rolled over and stuck all four legs in the air, ready for a good belly rub.  The woman laughed, scratched the dog's stomach and muttered, “Well, aren't you just a little slut puppy!”

I was also tickled by the story about the old man across the road that
was fed up with coyotes getting into his stuff.  He set a trap and finally caught it.  He went down with his rifle to shoot it.  But when he approached the cage,  the coyote rolled over on his back and looked pitiful, so the man let him go.

Maybe showing your belly can bring out the true nature in people.

I am pretty sure I have finally found a life that suits me.  It is just
predictable enough for my Virgo nature to find a comfortable groove and
just weird enough to keep me on my toes.  I have learned to live in the
moment... mainly because there is seldom time to think about tomorrow or yesterday. And, if I keep reminding people how “Zen” I have become, maybe they won't notice that I have actually slipped into senility.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Almond Joy Cookies

 This is just one of many recipes you can create with a box of brownie mix.


1 box brownie mix (app 4 cups)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 Tbsp water
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup slivered almonds

In a large measuring cup whip together eggs, oil and water.  Pour into bowl with brownie mix and stir until all is moist.  Add coconut and almonds and set in fridge for 30 minutes.  Scoop out with mini ice cream scoop (or spoons) onto cookie sheet.  Cook at 350 for 11 minutes.

I sometimes add a few drops of coconut extract to the dry coconut. (I stir them together in a small bowl that I set aside for a few hours before making the cookies.)

Also, I toast the almonds.  Some people like to do this on the stove top in a skillet, but I just put them in the microwave in a shallow glass bowl and heat on high for 60 seconds

This basic recipe (brownie mix, oil, eggs & water) is the perfect start for all kinds of fun combinations.  I will share more of mine in the future but until then, have fun experimenting!