Enchanting Objects.... Feed

Just like Magic ~ In your Grandmas China Cabinet are the Ultimate Recyclables....

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My mothers Coalport Indian Tree Coral. I never tire of using it and remembering just how much she loved it. These things are made to be used, not hidden away for a another time. Another time never comes. Use them now and don't worry about it! 

Once upon a time my family owned a beautiful gift business, what would have been known in days past as a carriage trade store.  Schreibman Jewelers was  full of gorgeous china, crystal , silver and everything else beautiful. We had the largest bridal registry in Northeast Ohio and I spent my days setting tables, creating events and just generally making people very happy. I got to set tables for Julia Child, Jacque Pepin and Todd English. I was interviewed by Martha Stewart Living and Town and Country.  I worked in the business as a child..hello to anyone who has ever been part of a family business and in my adulthood,  for 30 plus years I got to be the best part of peoples lives. For the most part, nothing makes people happier than a wedding, except for the wedding gifts!  Every package we shipped out was beautifully wrapped and to this day, my old customers still stop me to let me know just how grateful they are that I encouraged them to register for those silver candlesticks that they thought that they'd never use, or that beautiful pewter tray that they fell in love with but was just impractical. I'm still a complete sucker for a beautifully wrapped package and nothing makes me happier than a handwritten thank you note. 

It has been said that I have a PhD in napkin folding:)

I closed my families business 16 years ago when it became apparent that times were changing. The internet had taken over ushering in discount branding and the big box stores were seducing everyone, everywhere with lower priced goods. Alas, what we tried to tell everyone was what they are finally realizing now....With generic brands that are available all across the country comes the problem of built in obsolescence , or in easier terms, if it stops making money, it stops being produced. In other words, a china pattern that you buy from a larger chain store today, has a great chance of not being available next year and the same goes for fine crystal and silverware. 

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If that weren't enough to sadden my porcelain loving heart, I read an article last year in the New York Times about millennials and how they don't want any if the beautiful things in our linen cabinets. I had to laugh to myself or I would have burst into tears. This is the same group that recycles and composts and they are missing one of the great solutions that's right in front of them. They have made Ancestry a huge multimillion dollar corporation and yet so many are missing the most important point. Porcelain isn't fragile and it doesn't disintegrate easily. They've pieced together entire civilizations from shards of broken dishes and pieces of silver and pewter. They've pieced together entire histories, her-stories and historical intrigues from a simple knife style or a monogrammed silver tray. 

Which should lead everyone to the same conclusion. Your mother and grandmothers dishes, linens, glasses and silver and pewterware are the ultimate recyclables. Think about it. Your mothers Haviland china has probably already had a pretty full life as the formal china you grew up with, but it doesn't mean that you need to use it formally. I use my mothers white and gold limoges dishes for everyday when I'm in the mood.  If it's 30 years old or younger, you can put it in the dishwasher...just let it get cold in the dishwasher before you take it out. The same goes for good crystal and silverware. take it out of it's cupboard and use it for goodness sakes! It's nothing to be afraid of. At the turn of the century, all meals were set with the good stuff...casual dishes really didn't come into vogue until the 60s when everything became so earthenware and earnest!  Designs from the earliest years of America are as classic and relevant today as they were 200 years ago. That's what good design is. 

Here's what I will promise you. There will come a time when you'll wish that you had some of these beautiful things from the not so distant past. You never know who is going to show up at your table for dinner and one lovely set of candlesticks, or that silver water pitcher that you didn't think you wanted can make all of the difference in how you feel about it when they do. 

Using the beautiful things that were once used by those you love or loved is a wonderful way to keep beautiful parts of your past magically alive in the present moment.

Remember, that conjuring these memories for your family is the most important thing of all...if you aren't going to use your beautiful things for your family, as much as possible, then you might as well box them up and send them to me..or someone else who will cherish them and make memories with them!

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Just kidding!  I want you to use them. If you do , you won't have to buy them again and this keeps alot of junk out of alot of landfills and don't even get me started about using cloth napkins. Yes...if you're a millennial concerned about the environment, you should be using cloth napkins. You don't get to worry about the environment if you're not doing this simple thing..Don't complain about laundering them. Here's my favorite secret. Wash them, put them in a cool dryer  and take them out and fold them while they're still warm. Then here's the secret. Put a lovely clean brick on top of them vertically,  once you've folded them all. You'll never iron them again when you see how well this works.

Faster than you can say Abracadabra....Perfectly flat, folded and pressed napkins...

You can thank me later:) 

 

  


Countdown to Halloween ~ Beignets and Broomsticks

Bayou collage

 It's Samhain. My favorite time of year when and if I had my way I would be in New Orleans completely naked , drinking chicory laced, milky Cafe au Lait out of a antique silver pot and eating beignets dressed with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar, having never moved even a toe from out of an enormous duvet covered bed. That bed would be canopied of course and the sheets would be silky Egyptian cotton and the duvet would be silky and as airy as marshmallows. The pillows would be embroidered and lavish and the curtains would be a deep bottle green velvet.  There would be pralines dripping with brown sugar and sass and there would be gardenias in bunches everywhere.  There would be a bewitchingly beautiful man with an equally devastating mask waiting for me to finish breakfast so that he could draw my bath, liberally laced with Frederic Malle's Carnal Flower.   I know that none of these thoughts will come as any sort of surprise to those who know me well, especially the lusty man that I was smart enough to marry. I cherish food, perfume, magic and passion equally with a fervor that some women reserve solely for diamonds, shoes and pearls.  Gift me with truffles, tarot or tuberose on any given day and I will be properly enslaved ! 

 The thing about New Orleans is that she's a completely sensual, captivatingly sexual creature who's literally dripping with the sweet fleshy smell of the morning after a marvelous night with the naughtiest man.  The carnal and sardonic vibe of the deep south spells trouble for me with a capital T, but you have to experience it for yourself. You'll never ignore her haunting sirens call although you might hate yourself in the morning for heeding them..remember that I said  "might". Those beignets and gardenias blended with a soupçon of bloodlust can produce some very powerful magic. New Orleans produced the incomparably beautiful and tortured Louis Ponte du Lac, Anne Rices first beloved vampire. New Orleans is also the home of some of the finest burlesque in the world. Where else can you take a walk late at night with a Sazerac  in your hands and discover  just as many beautiful antique stores , strip clubs and tarot readers open all on the same block?

Burlesque

 I can never forget the all of the flowers, jasmine vines and dripping wet gardenias in the courtyard outside of Brennans Restaurant, where their pungent aroma mixed with the chicory and cinnamon coffee was about as heady a scent as a woman like me could ever ask for. I still revel in the memory of a sweet and sticky Banana’s Foster dripping with hot caramel and the flowering Jasmine climbing the wrought iron fences. I remember the candlelight and the hauntingly flirtatious laughter from women heard but never seen. The sticky Tuberose that grew everywhere was as stunning as a full moon and as narcotic as an opium den. Then there were all of the women, gorgeous hot house flowers with slickly coral lips , caramel skin and curvaceous bodies that were a promise of something that took me years to understand.


Southern women just astonish me with their ability to entice and enchant. I’ve never met a man who didn’t just love them, even if they love them only in secret , but I’ve met lots of women who absolutely hated them although I’ve never understood why. Not me…..I’ve always wanted to be one of them because they literally smell of orange blossoms, sex and white chocolate. They're the ones who really know how to wear stockings, gloves and hats...and they know how to take them off just as well. Their powers of seduction are legendary and who wouldn’t want some of that? Their magic is alive all year round....They love to have a cup of afternoon tea and I've never met one who couldn't read the tea leaves.  But truly? I think that the magic lies in the Beignets and Cafe au Lait! 

 

 

 Here's the best Beignet recipe that I've found yet from none other than Emeril Lagasse!

Beignets and Cafe au Lait

Ingredients
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups warm milk (110 degrees)
1 egg, beaten
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Oil for frying
Powdered sugar for dusting
5 cups of Chicory Coffee, hot
5 cups whole milk, hot
Directions
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a dough hook, add the yeast, sugar, shortening, and milk, mix for 2 minutes. Add the egg. Mix well. Add 4 cups of the flour and salt. Beat at low speed until all of the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Then beat at medium speed until the mixture forms a ball, leaves the sides of the bowl, and climbs up the dough hook. Remove the dough from the bowl. Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball. Lightly oil a bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Preheat the vegetable oil a deep fat fryer to 360 degrees F.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Lightly dust the surface of the dough. Roll out the rectangle to 12 1/2 inches long by 10 inches wide and about 1/4-inch thick. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into twenty 2 1/2-inch square beignets. Fry the beignets, a couple at a time until golden brown and crispy on all sides, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towels. Sprinkle the beignets with powdered sugar and serve. Fill each cup with 1/2 cup of coffee and 1/2 cup of the hot milk. Stir well.

Serve the coffee with the beignets.

In Bed. 


Milady's Pantry and Stillroom: Incense and Peppermint

 

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“I unlaced the front of my robe and rubbed my body quickly with handfuls of the lavender and valerian. It was a pleasant, spicy smell, distinctive and richly evocative. A smell that, to me, conjured the shade of the man who wore its perfume, and the shade of the man behind him; shades that evoked confusing images of present terror and lost love. A smell that, to Jamie, must recall the hours of pain and rage spent wrapped in its waves. I rubbed the last of it vigorously between my palms and dropped the fragrant shreds on the floor.

With a deep breath for courage, I picked up the vial of ammoniacal spirits. I stood by the bed a moment holding it, looking down at the gaunt, stubbled face. At most he might last a day; at the least, only a few more hours.

“All right, you bloody Scottish bastard,” I said softly. “Let’s see how stubborn you really are.” I lifted the injured hand, dripping, from the water and set the soaking dish aside."

Excerpt From: Diana Gabaldon. “Outlander.”  

Incense and Peppermint

Please enjoy this lovely chart! Click on it, blow it up and print it out! I don't know who to attribute it to but I'm very grateful that it showed up on my personal facebook page.  It's one of the best tools that for creating incense that  I've seen in a long time! I love incense and I make my own and burn it often for healing, conjuring or simply when I just want my home to smell simply wonderful.  There are all kinds of glorious combinations that you can use when you want to provoke different emotions, for example, an incense of cinnamon, rose petals, cloves, dried apple, basil, lavender buds, vanilla bean , cardomom and sandalwood sprinkled with a couple of drops of essential oil of rose is one of the sexiest love potions that I know...... 

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Abolone shell with white sage smudge stick/ origins of photograph unknown

 It's truly easy to create your own.  Take a flameproof bowl and fill it 1/2 way with sand. I use a beautiful abalone shell that I bought years ago because it does have a wonderfully feminine vibe! Then get a pack of incense charcoal disks and lay one on top of the sand. Light it and let it burn until you're sure that it's ready (It will be ashy and glowing, not flaming!) and scatter any combination of herbs and spices around and on top of it. Please be sure to only use leaves , petals , spices and woods  that you know have not been treated with pesticides and have fun....the magic's even more personal if you've gathered them yourself. Just be sure to gather conciously. Never take an endangered species . Don't take to much of any one plant and be sure to ALWAYS leave a little love token for the fey folk !

You don't want to upset them you know:)

image from home-school-coach.com

 My husband laughs because he does the laundry (love that man!) and he's always emptying my pockets which are filled with offerings of seeds, pennies and pretty stones. You can even add a couple of drops of any essential oil that you love, provided that it's organic. Please don't use perfumed oils. Perfumed oils are generally derived from petroleum products and other nasty things. They will produce a horrid black smoke when you light them and the magical correspondences are not  present in chemically produced scents. My favorite? A combination of White sage, Lavender , Bourbon Rose,  Bay and Pine.  Please write me at My Outlander Love Affair/Milady's Pantry and Stillroom  and let me know yours!

Now for fun:)

 


31 Days of Halloween ~ Enchanting Objects~ Aroma Diffusers

 

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We have a wonderful herb store in Chagrin Falls called the Village Herb Shop!

VHS is one of my favorite places to go for a steaming cup of tea and a bit of a wander through all of the amazing rooms filled with teas, candles, soaps and home decor. Yesterday was no exception. My son moved out recently , leaving me with a third floor that I promply turned into a guest suite. I went to the Village Herb Shop yesterday in search of amenities such as candles, soaps and lotion. I walked out with two Greenleaf Aroma diffusers. Well the long and short of it is that I can't believe that I resisted these for so long! They are very pretty with a style for every decor and they are also wonderfully functional. 

This is the time of year that I want my home to be smelling like apples, cinnamon and fragrant pine boughs. I love to make my own incense and I still will, but these aroma diffusers serve an unbelievable purpose. Utilizing catalytic converter technologies they clean AND scent your air all at the same time. There are so many different styles and aromas to choose from. All that you do is fill them, let the wick soak up the oils and then light the diffuser for 2 minutes and then blow out the flame. The stone on top of the wick gets hot and forms a simple combustion process, pulling the air in and sending the scent out.

It's easy, decadent and very safe. Once the flame's blown out there's really no worry of fire which makes it quite cat safe(In my home always a worry!) Once the flame is blown out it takes each diffuser about 30 minutes to scent a room and right now my house smells like autumn. I'm obsessed and I'm about to go buy another one for my third floor. I've never experienced anything so simple and perfect for whole house scenting. The oils are not natural, but they are  clean-burning and there's not a bit of residue. Right now I'm  diffusing apple /cinnamon and ginger /cinnamon and the house smells yummy. Trust me and go buy yourself a present for this holiday season...these are wonderful!

   

 

 

 

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31 Days of Halloween: Hot Skwash!

Every now and then I see something that really tickles my fancy! In this case it was these gorgeous velvet pumpkins from Hot Skwash! I was in Neiman Marcus last month and I saw a display of them that really caught my eye. I can't help but wonder how a few of these might look in my antique wooden salad bowl or tucked around my Williamsburg hurricane. They are expensive but well a girl can dream right? Or a crafty girl could try to make them on her own! All of those colors? All of those choices? This witch is going to see if she can wave her wand and make a few of them magically appear on her harvest table!

Big red velvet pumpkin hot skwash

Hot Skwash velvet pumpkins rasberry ice group

Hot-Skwash-in-Harvest-Colors

 


Sacred Sexuality: Benwa Balls! I'll bet I've got your attention now !

 

Warning ~ If you blush easily or are under 18 than this post is not for you! We're going to talk about shhhhh...SEX:)

Benwa balls

I cracked up the other day when I went to the local Ambience store to help one of my clients choose her first vibrator. As we went to the counter I noticed a small package with the words.. "Ben wa Balls just like those used by Christian in 50 Shades of Grey". I was amazed to see these sex toys which have been used happily by women all over the world for centuries being repackaged to suit a newer, less familiar and less experienced American public. I lost it..I didn't know that they'd ever gone out of style:) I bought a pair of them for fun but I  have to say..go to an Oriental shop and get the real thing. These were cheap and unimpressive!

I'm a 50 plus year old woman who cut her teeth on the likes of Colette and Anais Nin so quite frankly I found "50 Shades " as a novel rather silly and slightly boring. My apologies to any and all who loved it. That being said I had to laugh. Ben wa Balls, most commonly called "orgasm balls" , "Geisha Balls" or "Venus Balls" should really be given to a woman as soon as she has her first child right along with a case of wonderful ale..."good for the breast milk" and a gift certificate for babysitting and a night away with her husband! 

I say this because aside from being very successful at creating the desired sexual response , Ben wa balls have the ability to tone the muscles of the vaginal walls. Any woman who has ever had a baby knows just how important this is. There's a reason that our mothers (well at least my mother!) always said to do your Kegal exercises. Ben wa balls can be made of sterling silver, stainless and I've  seen some beautiful ones made of jade. The most important thing is that they are heavy enough to create a feeling of fullness in the vagina so that you involuntarily have to contract your muscles to hold them in. Yes...that feeling inspires almost continual amourousness.

Excuse me..that's the whole point for a guy like Christian Grey.

Yes..if you do this one of the side effects is that you will constantly be dragging your partner into bed but really is that so bad? 

The other side effects of using Ben wa Balls are very important but very very practical. Childbirth really loosens up the muscles of the pelvic floor. Sneezing can bring on bursts of incontinence in even the youngest woman. Instead of worrying about it, buy yourself a pair of Ben wa balls and use them. Regularly. The benefits are amazing. You will be able to control your muscles such that as soon as you begin to sneeze they take over and incontinence is a thing of the past. The other thing that happens is that your muscles become so strong that you can control and contract them easily and that means alot more pleasure for yourself and your partner in bed. 

Ben wa Balls are easy to use. Seriously... Please don't be squeamish! Just google them, buy a pair , some lubricant that you like and practice inserting and removing them a couple of times. Better yet? Let your partner do it!  In case you're wondering, they can't get lost and if you're that worried about it buy a pair with the string attached to both. No..they won't fall out!

Do this for yourself  and your partner !

Trust me. 


Enchanting Objects: Christmas at the Village Herb Shop

So yesterday I was finally able to get out for a bit of Yuletide shopping! Of course one of my favorite places to visit is The Village Herb Shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Kathleen Gip's and her knowledgable staff have many magical herbal treasures just waiting to be enjoyed. Handcrafted potpourris and "do it yourself" herbal crafts are some of the many wonderful treats waiting for you there. They have an extensive selection of savory herbs and spice mixes,fragrant soaps, teas from all over the world,  glorious candles and wonderfully herby bath and beauty products and just wait until you experience the Fairy Garden room through the eyes of your favorite child! Enjoy a cup of the fragrant tea of the day and relax for awhile in this delightful apothecary. They have every thing you need to make your Christmas merry and bright! Here are just a few scenes from yesterdays visit. Just click on each picture to enlarge!

                        Rose and Lavender Soaps


                  Hot Chocolate Mixes from Bellagio


                   The view from the top of the stairs!


   Silver Bells to benefit the Fabulous Cleveland Orchestra!


                Are you ready for an indoor snowball fight?


             My new favorite holiday saying!


Kathleen Gip's, owner of The Village Herb Shop and two of her handcrafted & stunning potpourri blends!


      One of the cutest advent calenders that I've ever seen!



    The stockings were hung by the chimney with care!

                   Decorations to fill your home with cheer!


Fresh Rosemary to bring love, luck and happiness in the coming year to anyone who smells it on Christmas Eve!


                      Be sure to shop from the glorious herb shop tree!


 All Photos belong to me. Please do not use without my permission.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Bubbling in the Cauldron...Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Tuesday night my friend Bethane and I decided to carve our pumpkins. We had a blast, sprawled out all over her kitchen floor like kids, laughing and drinking wine and reminiscing about times shared.

 With the exception of one gory fight that left us not speaking for over 6 months we've been friends for over 30 years and I always say that she's more like my sister which means that we always have loads to laugh about over the many shared bottles of wine and mischievous escapades. 

My pumpkin's on the left and her's which ended up looking just like her cat Thistle is on the right:)

Now...what to do with all of those seeds. Both of these pumpkins were full of them and the walls were incredibly thick and fleshy. I predict a long , cold winter but at least we'll have roasted pumpkin seeds!

 

Bubbling in the Cauldron...Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
BOO!

 

Bubbling in the Cauldron...Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Rinse the seeds of the remaining strands of pumpkin

 

Bubbling in the Cauldron...Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Put them in a wok and begin to slowly roast them. I use about two tablespoons of butter and when they begin to dry out I add salt, pepper, a tablespoon of maple syrup, 1 of teriyaki sauce,1 of minced garlic and 1 of chili sauce . Continue to stir until coated and roasted.

 

 

Bubbling in the Cauldron...Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
They will be a bit sticky but they will be delicious. Sprinkle them on to salads or serve them as a wonderfully chewy autumn snack with drinks