Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Shortcut to Some Amazing Gazpacho!

Some of the best things are fairly simple...
Try this recipe at your next summer gathering. It is one of my favorites and I love to serve it when entertaining or at the beach.
Shhh...I have one secret...the main ingredient is V8 Juice. Yes...canned but the recipe tastes like you picked tomatoes that very day to use in this this tasty number. You can use the reduced sodium version if you are worried about the salt level in regular V8 juice. I also recommend that you let the flavors meld for at least a few hours in the fridge before serving. It is even great served the next day. 


Serves 4 ( I often double and you can easily serve 8-10)

1 jar (12 oz) roasted red peppers, drained
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeds scooped out or use the seedless variety
2 cups V8 juice (you can use plain tomato if you are not a V8 fan but I prefer the flavor of the other)

Put all ingredients in a blender . Blend at medium speed 1 minute or until smooth. Pour into a metal bowl , stirring occasionally and chill in fridge until ready to serve. 

While that is chilling mix together the following: (THIS is what makes it really yummy)
12 oz peeled, cleaned and cooked medium shrimp diced
2 Plum (Roma) tomatoes diced
1 avocado diced
1 small green pepper diced
1/2 small red onion
3 Tbls minced parsley or if you want a little more flavor use cilantro (I prefer cilantro)
2 Tbls fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

To serve, pour a cup or so of soup into a decorative bowl. Use an ice cream scooper to mound shrimp mixture in center of bowl. Top with a tsp. of sour cream or more if you really like sour cream! Sprinkle with a little cracked black pepper and enjoy!

When I am serving this for a crowd, I pour the soup into a large glass candy holder type container with a lid. Lay a silver soup server on a pretty glass plate in front and let guests serve themselves. You can also serve the soup in a glass pitcher. Lay out instructions or assemble one so they are sure to not miss every ingredient!

I will post pictures later in the summer of how I serve this refreshing dish but I wanted you to have plenty of time to try it since the summer has now half passed us by.

Bon App├ętit~

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

All is Well That Ends Well

After an incredibly welcome shower to wipe both the dirt and grime off as well as the memories of the past day, we started Sunday off with a bang. Things start much later on the fields of Brimfield on Sundays so we fit right in. Arriving around 8:30 am, we hit the stalls and tents and found many more treasures to fill up the last remaining space in both the Suburban and the trailer. It was too bad that the roof rack was stuffed with all the luggage from our family trip the week before. Only half of it fit in Chris' car when she met us so the rest went up in the roof rack and still awaits unloading! Maybe tomorrow...

This we had no room for although isn't it so very cool??

This we could fit in and NO it is not an antique port-o-potty but a grain bin. Wouldn't it make a fabulous recycling center?

We could not fit this in either...nor would we have wanted to. It is an antique torpedo, and I know, we totally missed the boat on not trying to fit that strapped to the roof rack.

We were able to fit in a collection of rusty metal lamp shades in all shapes and sizes which we have some really neat plans for. 

Up and down the main street of Brimfield, for a mile long, are tents upon tents of anything and everything you can imagine. Some things you can use your imagination on to dream of what they could become...some you cannot. It takes all kinds of folks!

There are tents of vignetted items...

and rows and rows of...stuff...for lack of a better word.
You definitely need a good sense of what you would like to do with this stuff or you need a clear cut idea of what you are looking for because you can absolutely get mired down in...the stuff.

We definitely found some "stuff" that we really like. Some that is ready to go as is and some that we have grand plans for.

(You know I love my mantels!)
We will be documenting the change over of some of these items over the next two months as we get ready for the Fall.

So seven hours after leaving Brimfield we arrived home to the crack of thunder and pouring rain at 10:25 pm. Brimfield is not that far away but have you ever tried to pull a heavy trailer and go above 55 mph? Don't!
 It is a good thing that we could back that stinker up within a foot of the entrance. Four of the five of my brood and my doting husband (Ha!) I think fed up husband by this time, met us up at the barn and we unloaded the loot, returned the trailer and fell into bed in an exhausted heap at 12:40 am.

As I fell asleep, the question of, "why am I doing this?" did enter once of twice before my heavy eye lids closed. I do not think that I had time to answer that question for myself before I started snoring but I certainly can now!
The thrill of the hunt...
the love of all things old and vintage with a past...
the stories behind these objects...
the beauty in their age...
I just love it...
and always will!
Thanks for coming along for the ride with me!
My favorite find reveal is coming tomorrow so check back in here!
Until then~

Monday, July 14, 2014

Euphoria and Insanity all Rolled into One at Brimfield

Okay, the gig is up. Am I paying for a wrong in a past life? Not that I believe in that stuff but really, how can you explain how our first full day at the Brimfield Antique Show went from total euphoria to a  re-enactment of a scene from Thelma and Louise?  We had hit the fields early, being the very first car to park in the lot of the field that we had chosen to peruse first. We had strapped on our back packs, checked our show map and confirmed in which direction we were heading. 

The sun was high in the sky and as the temperatures soared we scored find after find. Some small and...

some big.

After four hours, we felt so good about our purchases that we even took some time to sit and nosh on  Brimfield's famous lobster rolls. How can life get any better than this?

We were thrilled to run into one of our favorite Face book friends, Carried Away Antiques as we happened upon their booth. We made quite a comical site as we rolled a fabulously large grain bin out of their booth and over two fields while we balanced an antique frame that was larger than Chris is, while stopping to fill the grain bin with a selection of glass buoys. 

You know, when it really comes down to it, picking out the perfectly imperfect buoy to fill a bag of eight is hard work.

We had picked out goodies in four different fields, some quite large and heavy which could not be pushed over the river and through the woods. The solution was, to assemble your piles, pay for them and then hope like heck that they are still there when you maneuver your trailer as close to them as you possibly can without appearing in the local paper the next day for taking out a few of the shoppers.

We begrudgingly left our coveted parking spot to navigate through the various fields hoping that our mental notes of where we had left our piles were accurate. That was the biggest worry! Chris and I were incredibly proud of our accomplishment of finding everything that we had purchased and were delighting at the new found friends that we had made who so graciously helped us load the trailer. One thing about loading a trailer, that we have learned, is that you have to pack it like you are putting together a puzzle so as to to fit in as much as you can into the space. Space is a hot commodity, for God forbid you find that perfect piece and cannot fit it in to make the trip home!

Chris and I high fived each other as we pulled away from our last pick up at 2:15 pm. We were doing a little happy dance having found so many goodies with so much time still left in front of us. Most of the fields do not close until dusk so we had more than a few hours left. We had one snafu and that was that both of us had forgotten to bring a lock for the trailer doors in the back. The next batch of fields were too far away to see the trailer. Should we chance leaving a loaded trailer in a field and then leave it unlocked? We decide no, so we  headed to the closest Walmart to pick up a lock. We were literally soaking wet from loading the trailer and thought that the ten minutes sitting in front of the blasting air conditioner might do us good so that we could hit the fields hard, once again, after we cooled off during our short drive. 

That little happy dance that we were doing just a short time ago was abruptly interrupted by a mean Mr. Murphy as we smelled something burning and then noticed smoke coming out of what looked like the back of the trailer. I pulled over as quickly as I could, clicked on the hazards as 
Chris popped out of the passenger side. I joined her and we both stood starring at the baked rubber on the back right tire of the trailer. Did we have a flat? was still full. Hmm...why is the metal above the tire so hot? why is the tire so hot? why is the metal rim of the trailer resting on the top of the tire? We quickly ascertain that the metal cover above the tire is rubbing the tire, causing it to create friction, causing it to melt a line in the tire and to cause the smoke. I had noticed the 1-800 number on the U Haul paperwork as I was stuffing it in the console, for the number was quite large. I had vaguely read something about calling that number for road side assistance. As I try to get back in the car to retrieve that helpful info, I barely get in the car with my rear end attached as we were partially on the road and the car whizzing by did not give any courtesy to my backside as I climbed in. We both decide that the trailer is drive-able enough to put our hazards on and limp along at 20 mph the two miles to our hotel. Who knew how long it would be until someone got to us to check things out?

Let us just say that after the first tow truck comes, in an hours time, to have the driver declare that it is not a tire problem and he is a tire guy, he will have to call dispatch to get a mechanic out, we are a little frustrated. I am sorry but I was under the impression that a tire guy is a mechanic. Not true people. 

This is the truck of a real mechanic who arrived another hour or so later to ascertain that our problem was a rotted bolt on the right rear axle which caused three axle springs to break causing the back end of the trailer to sag onto the tire. The U Haul is not drive-able.
 "How do we get another one we ask?" 
"We don't," the mechanic says. "I am going to temporarily fix the axle with a block of wood I can attach the bolt to and then you will drive to the closest U Haul dealer to get another one. " Chris and I look at each other leerily and ask why they cannot bring us another one. For those of you who don't know, Brimfield is the largest antique show in the eastern part of the country, stuck in the middle of a tiny town in Massachusetts. There were tons of crazies like us renting all the U Hauls in a 30 mile radius. We had to get the temporary fix to be able to drive thirty something miles to the the U Haul place that still had trailers available. We pulled out around 6:15 pm with our trusty mechanic behind us who had jury rigged the axle singing, On the road again, I just can't wait to get on the road again, almost four hours after the initial break down took place. Four hours in which we paced the parking lot, ran into the hotel at times (thank goodness we had made that decision to get to the hotel) to connect to wifi to use the facilities and to call U Haul. As we paced, the thought of driving thirty something miles away at a snails pace, unloading everything we had just loaded to load it yet again and then drive back the thirty something miles started to cause us to pace more. Did I mention that at least half of what we bought had iron on it somewhere causing the necessity of three of us to load many of the pieces into the trailer? The two of us and one very strong man. 

Sensing my frustration at one time, with our dreams dashed of checking into the hotel at a decent hour with smiles imprinted smugly upon our faces from accomplishing so much in that one day, that heck we might even have time to watch a movie, Chris said to me, "I will continue to do fake, stupid, happy for a little longer and you run across the street and check out that antique store." After keeping my calm for almost four hours I took her up on it and fake, stupid, happy became our mantra for the day. Thanks Chris!

Chris and I work really well together in all circumstances, we both try and remain calm at all times, we both do well with stress and we try to find the humor in whatever situation might come our way, which in my case, seems to be where the Murphy's Law comes in. Was anybody else looking to unload their trailer that night because the first one they had had broke down??? 
No... Has anyone heard of a U Haul breaking down??? Maybe a flat tire...but the axle??? As we map quest the directions to the address the mechanic had given us an App came up entitled shut uppa your face.
Shut uppa your face...anyone ever heard of that one??? 
We both start laughing hysterically probably out of fatigue, the heat and the lack of any food since our lobster roll at 11 am.

We finally pull into our second U Haul dealer for the day after completing the drive uneventfully which seemed to have taken hours for the fear that the wood block would not hold up, to find several trailers in a row. Great we can have our pick! No one is around and the mechanic was told by U Haul that they close at 7 (it was 7:22) but it was no problem. They would leave us a trailer and we should just drop ours after transferring the packed goods. After searching for several minutes for any sign that paperwork had been left for us to take the trailer or any indication of which trailer we were to take, two men walk out of the U Haul facility. We approach them and the mechanic tells them the scenario and asks which trailer we are to take. They reply that we cannot take any trailer for they are closed and the computers are shut down.
 "Sorry ma'm." 
This is where the Thelma and Louise part comes in and my temporary battle with insanity. 

Sorry Ma'm? 
You want me to drive back thirty something miles on a broken axle and then drive back here thirty something miles tomorrow morning when you are open? when we were told by U Haul to come here and pick up a trailer...tonight? 

"Sorry ma'm, we are closed, there is nothing we can do." 
"Your vehicle broke down on us and there is nothing you can do???" 
It all went downhill from there. Not that it had not slipped in that direction hours ago but not to this extent. Again, I think it was the heat, my own stench at this point, the realization that I had a bad sun burn on my arms, the visions of a bottle of water or better yet a Margarita and some food, the thought of still having to load and reload the trailer and the shut uppa your face that made me break.

As the two insolent attendants left us hanging as they drove away, having repeated, "Sorry ma'm," several more times the poor mechanic knew that he better do something quick before I turned my wrath on him. During our little "conversation", he had called the owner of that particular U Haul store and got permission to take a U Haul. We were back in action and by 8:45 we had the load switched with the help of Kevin the mechanic, who had softened to our plight and finally made introductions as he warned us that we were in a bad area and should get this done quickly. I think he was rather puzzled at what we were going to do with all this "old stuff" but he was a work horse. If it weren't for Kevin who had volunteered to help us load and unload vs. us waiting for U Haul to find  someone to help us, which we were told could be a couple of hours, we would still be pacing...frantically. Maybe the two attendants would have been happy to help us?
Shut uppa your face

We make a quick stop at the Home Depot to pick up our lock on the way back to the hotel parking lot because wouldn't it be soooo funny if we walked out the next am to remember that we had not locked the back of the trailer and everything was gone???

Drama has a way of following me around at times and really, it is not of my own making.

The positive of this whole experience?

I found this really funny little saying that I love!
Chris and I finally got to enjoy some pasta and that Margarita at 9:50 pm as we raced into the restaurant that we could walk to from the hotel before they stopped serving at 10.
We learned how to do fake, stupid, happy... really well.
We learned about a new App that we had never heard of before.
I also learned that sanity can be reinstated after suffering from a bout of insanity...
and we will be back at Brimfield tomorrow am bright and early...well maybe not as bright nor early as the first am only sixteen hours ago, but we will be there never the less!

More later~

Friday, July 11, 2014

Finally....Brimfield....well almost!

As most of of you know who follow Life's Patina on Face book, we were just on a wonderful family vacation in Mont Tremblant Canada. For those of you who know me really well, then you know that any time I can kill two birds with one stone, I am a happy camper and if I can kill three...even happier. To kill three birds this time, the stars aligned, the plans fell into place and I am finally at the Brimfield Antiques Show in Massachusetts!!! A junkers paradise...a feast for the bargain hunters...a plethora of OLD things...whatever you want to call it...I am honest to goodness here in person!

This was no small feat, for it took some finagling on my part to talk the hubby into coming home through Massachusetts. Lo and behold, we had learned about an early college that we wanted to look into for Shane that just happened to be a little over an hour from Brimfield. Perfect plan...we got an interview on Friday so all I had to do now was talk my partner in crime to meeting me up here! Since this had been a goal of ours for three years now, she was a taker and right after the tour and interview, we met her in the parking lot and promptly switched cars. For one certainly needed a hitch to hook up the U Haul they were going to try to stuff with found goodies, wouldn't one? All family members helped switch the luggage from one roof rack to another and we were off! ( I did offer for all of them to stay with me and shop the one mile long, twenty tent deep shopping frenzy but I had no takers...go figure!)

After a slight detour, compliments of the GPS system who wouldn't take us to Brimfield MA, but to a cul-de-sac in Ware Massachusetts, which caused us to exclaim..."Ware are we?"we arrived!!  

 They were mostly closing up shop by this time but we were able to snag three gorgeous columns before the day ended.

I have to bid you adieu for we are now about to fall into an exhausted slumber to dream about all the goodies we are going to find at tomorrows first light!
Until then~
Meg and Chris

PS~ Three seems to be the magic number...kill three birds ie. family trip, college visit and Brimfield Antique Show
Three years we have been trying to get here
We found three columns and three really cool soda bottles...hmmm...
really makes one wonder what is on the agenda for tomorrow?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

An Affair with a Vegetable Garden

My affair with a vegetable garden began about eighteen long years ago when we bought our first house. After pulling out page after page from the magazines I perused, I sketched out a half circle plot off of our back deck. Having spent the first few years of my married life either in a condo or a townhouse, I welcomed the freedom to plant anything I wanted in my own back yard! The years of dreaming of doing so had caused my wheels to turn full time. Before we bought furniture to fill the house, we had erected a small garden and made plans to lay out a brick patio edged by a cutting garden and tons of flowers. Flowers were a love of mine and I grew up cutting wild ones from the rose bushes that grew on the small farm that I moved to when I was 14. Being a totally inexperienced gardener, I went from planting annuals each year to finding out which perennials flourished in our area and would come back year after year. Slowly but surely, as the garden grew, so did my love for both working in it and delighting in what it produced. Weeding became my favorite past time and weekends were spent with babies and young kids working out back in the garden. One year, we even had a sunflower house entwined by pumpkins that they could sit in like a club house. Memories were sown along with the gifts of the earth that the garden produced. I will never forget going into labor while staking up tomato plants in the vegetable garden. I had to finish the task before we headed to the hospital to bring our fourth child into the world. Maybe that is why he has such an aversion to helping out in the garden these days??? No, me thinks it is the fact that he is about to turn 16!

One thing that I missed sorely when we moved eight years ago was that garden right out our back door. One of the many things that "spoke to me" about Willowbrook Farm was the huge vegetable garden that although was totally overgrown, was a dream come true. A dream that for some reason is always way behind the eight ball. What was I thinking when I saw the size of it and thought that I could realistically keep on top of it? Every year I try and every always ends up is an overgrown tangle of weeds, flowers and vegetables by the end of the season (that is if the deer haven't gotten to it).

Before it can become that tangled mess though, it needs to be planted. My husband can almost set his clock to when we are going on our summer vacation to when I finally get around to planting the garden. This year, we made some adjustments and added raised beds. This of course could not be done until after all of Life's Patina Barn Sales so that put us behind in a major way. Then the chickens, who had been helping me "weed" the garden, decided that they liked the tender shoots of the just purchased trays of vegetables than the weeds. By the time I went back out to Amish country where I get my plants, I had lost some more precious time. Lo and behold, we hit the garden hard this week for I knew that if I did not get everything in by the time we left on our trip, the garden was not to be this year. For some reason, I can not fathom that prospect even with the challenges of heat, rats (garden is next to chicken coop), deer (they munched the whole thing down last year in August when we were at the beach), remembering that the sprinklers are still on once tucked restfully into bed (who the heck else is going to get up and turn them off?) and weeds that seem to be getting a better food supply than the poor veggies because they are producing much more quickly! 

I have been seduced by the garden and all that it entails.Two years ago, I introduced some help in the garden arena aside from my bribery induced teenagers. My oldest son Christopher works two days a week around the farm along with Ben, a hugely talented artist who helps with all things Willowbrook Farm. Together we have managed to keep the garden afloat although it does list about like no one is steering it at times. They have become embroiled in my affair and they worked eleven long hours this week on the hottest day of the year thus far, completing the rest of the beds, adding the chicken wire to keep the chickens out of the tender beds while letting them scurry about in other areas of the fenced in area, adding compost, mulching etc. That was yesterday... so that left today to get the garden planted before we took off for a road trip to Canada. Departure time 2pm. My husband could only shake his head from afar as he came home early this morning after getting gas to fill up the road trip mobile, as he found me quite dirty and sweaty, (Did anyone else feel like they could cut the humidity with a knife this am after that rain?)  frantically getting the last of the plants in their proper places. I did it!! 

Each of the ten beds are filled what they need to produce a variety of produce and goodies that even my  ever complaining teenagers adore.

Ben and Chris had made teepees out of bamboo they cut from some of our crazy growth. Some of the beds are planted with just seeds, so their visibility will anxiously be awaited.

Others are filled with Squash, melons, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and the like.

I used two old windows fastened together to make trellises that the cucumbers could grow up and over.

Nasturtiums and Borage are two of my favorite edible flowers. They add a beautiful pop of color in both a salad and the garden and are easy to grow.

Of course, there are always the plants that come back year after year and sometimes more proliffickly. The rest of the garden will soon look like this and I will do my best to keep the weeds at bay and to keep you posted on its beautiful progression. 

I have become smarter in some ways with my garden knowledge. In particular, I have learned that it is best to leave the dogs at home when away so they can continue to keep the deer at bay. So they are being watched tenderly at home by friends who are staying to keep watch on both the animals and the gardens. Maybe they will be swept up in the affair of the garden. Most likely not...but just maybe.

“It was such a pleasure to sink one's hands into the warm earth, to feel at one's fingertips the possibilities of the new season.”
― Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

Fabulous book by the way! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Surprise Pop Up Sale!

As many of you know, Life's Patina had their last Barn Sale hours this past Thursday. We saw many of our loyal customers there as well as some new faces but we had many requests to open by appointment so we thought we would hold one more Thursday sale...this Thursday the 26th of June, to offer ALL of you a last look at our Summer merchandise while it is 25% off !  Come in to stock up on some fabulous beach decor and hostess gifts for those weekend trips down to the shore. We have a couple of our well known crab and lobster paper place mats left as well as some beautifully simple table decor items.

If you have some remodeling that you are doing at a beach house, why not choose navy, tan and white as your new color palette?

To fit right in with that color combo, we have a beautifully detailed desk/dressing table that we painted and distressed with a wood relief ship on it and a matching navy and white shell bench.

Come check out the beautiful signed prints by Colleen Spicher that would fit right in!

As well as beautiful photographs by photographer Julie Gerber.

If a softer color palette is what you are craving, we have that too!

Beautiful blue glass and many accessories that compliment that soft shade abound.

Pair that with burlap table runners with cream ruffled edges and linen napkins and a simple elegance pops!

All of our prints will be 20% off,  

including Coleen Spicher's artwork. 

We have a couple of our handmade chalkboards and bulletin boards available and as always, we can customize one to fir in with your own decor.

Of course the ocean is not our only focus. We have a fabulous array of equestrian themed items,

animal lover goodies,

"Breakfast at Tiffany's" stylized accouterments, as well as many different stylized vignettes of "rooms"of all different varieties.

We could never forget our unique gift and entertaining products. Have you seen these Book Doc's that charge your i-phone or i-pads anywhere else? We have them!

We also have Letter books

which make a wonderful Graduation gift with a gift card or money enclosed inside.

We could not forget to highlight some of our favorite entertaining products like our fabulous oversized bread boards...just a couple are left,

and our Cake Vintage papers which always make a beautiful addition to your table.

Last but not least, we could not forget to include the 4th of July!

Lots of goodies to bring the festivities to your back yard!

or favorite cook out spot!

We have just a couple sets of these melamine dishes that look like paper plates left!

Any way you want to look at it, you don't want to miss this Summer Sale for we are only open by appointment after the Sale Day this Thursday for we will be busy trying to keep cool in the barn as we become busy little bees dreaming up, making and planning the Fall season. We have some really cool and exciting things coming this Fall and the barn will look very much different in September so come and get a last look and some great deals!

See you this Thursday from 10-2! If you cannot make it between those times, send me and email or message me on Face book and we will work something out!
All the best~