In Creative May: Where Ms. Jeannie Popped Up Last Month

Ms. Jeannie is never one to toot her own horn, but having prefaced what she is about to say with that disclaimer, she is adding a new category to her blog entitled Press Mentions, which will organize all the places around the web where Ms. Jeannie has popped up in conversation.

She likes this category not for the “look at me” neurosis but for the ability to showcase other talented creatives who have stumbled upon Ms. Jeannie’s shop and and interpreted her vintage items in their own unique way.  Ms. Jeannie discovers so many fascinating people through these features, so many new ideas, so many new viewpoints, that’s what she’d like to pass on to you in these monthly round-ups. Possibly you will discover something new and exciting for yourself.

All of the photographs are clickable links that go directly to each source’s site so get your explorer hat on and ready yourself for a little getaway. In this round-up, you’ll head to to Britain (twice), fall in love with flowers all over again, be introduced to what is fresh and new in beachy cottage decor and be inspired by the possibilities of paper.

Jocelyn is an American expat living in London. With a beautiful eye for interior design,  her blog offers a calm, thoughtful and artful approach to living graciously.
Jocelyn is an American expat living in London. With a beautiful eye for interior design (see her portfolio here), her blog offers a calm, thoughtful and artful approach to living graciously.
Freedom with Flowers follows the adventures of Regan, who just celebrated her 20th birthday and has a gorgeous appreciation of all things floral.
Freedom with Flowers follows the adventures of Rowan, who just celebrated her 20th birthday and has a gorgeous appreciation of all things floral.
Mickey has been involved in the advertysing and design industries for over 30 years. She recently started her own decoupage plate and home decor business. With her relaxed, coastal type feel of her designs - these plates would be perfect for beach houses or country cottages.
Mickey has been involved in the advertising and design industries for over 30 years. She recently started her own decoupage plate and home decor business. With the relaxed, coastal type feel of her designs, they would be perfect additions to your beach house or country cottage.
Peta is also based in the UK. In addition to selling vintage jewelry online she also is the editor a new free vintage magazine, which is gorgeous in both layout and design.  Content ranges from vintage recipes to howto tutorials to interviews that recall all the glamour without all  the fussiness of vintage style.
Peta is also based in the UK. In addition to selling vintage jewelry online she also is the editor a new free vintage magazine, which is gorgeous in both layout and design. Content ranges from vintage recipes to howto tutorials to interviews that recall all the glamour without all the fussiness of vintage style.
Martha needs no introduction! This feature was thrilling for Ms. Jeannie because she has always been inspired by Martha's entrepreneurial spirit.
Martha needs no introduction! This feature was thrilling for Ms. Jeannie because she has always been inspired by Martha’s entrepreneurial spirit!

Happy inspiration! And a great big THANK YOU to all the ladies above for inviting Ms. Jeannie into your thoughts.

Also on quick side note: Ms. Jeannie just joined bloglovin’ which is a handy little organizer that allows you to collect, follow and read blogs from all over the internet in one handy little spot. It doesn’t matter if its a wordpress blog, a blogspot or a personal website – you just gather all the ones you want and every morning your bloglovin’ feed is updated and emailed to you.

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/7894337/?claim=vgh2eurpw6b”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Ms. Jeannie on Martha: A Feature on marthastewart.com

Ms. Jeannie was over the moon that a set of her children’s books were mentioned on marthastewart.com yesterday! The piece was about a 17 year old paper artist named Lova, who creates all sorts of paper art, flowers, gift wrap, dioramas and such from vintage paper.

Nature Study
Nature Study; Featuring the amazing work of Lova Blavarg

Lova chose Ms. Jeannie’s Etsy shop as one of her favorite sources for inspiration!

There's Ms. Jeannie's vintage children's books! And a nice quote from Lova:)
There’s Ms. Jeannie’s vintage children’s books! And a nice quote from Lova:)

As a big lover of both paper art and Martha, Ms. Jeannie was doubly thrilled! To read the entire article, click here. To see more of Lova’s work visit her website.

A big BIG thank you to Lova and to Taylor at Martha Stewart!

From Our Readers: Scones, Wedding China and Homemade Jam

The other day when Ms. Jeannie went over the year in review, she mentioned making a batch of cinnamon-nutmeg scones. If you don’t recall, here is what they looked like:

Scones, antique ironstone and vintage Royal Jackson china.
Scones, antique ironstone and vintage Royal Jackson china.

Blog reader, Amy, wrote in to request the recipe agreeing that such a simple treat would be the perfect partner to mull over one’s thoughts with. This recipe is an easy one  and made even better by adding home made jam on top.

Ms. Jeannie’s sister, Marianne, makes AMAZING jams and jellies. Those pictured above are the latest batch she just sent. It is a happy day whenever a box of goodies arrives from her. Mr. Jeannie Ology can hardly contain himself while the box gets unwrapped. This gift box included: Blackberry, Raspberry, Orange Cranberry and Italian Plum jams (Italian plum not pictured – because it’s already been devoured!).

Each jar holds a magnificent concoction of flavors – this one is cranberry orange.

The perfect amount of jam vs. chunky fruit.

Marianne picks all the fruit herself, in the Seattle summer months (aka the non-rainy season!), and then gets to work canning away. She also makes her own labels – so cute! She was a true Martha Stewart way before anybody knew about the actual Martha.

Gorgeous jam in a gorgeous package!
Gorgeous jam in a gorgeous package!

She’s actually really crafty in all the creative areas. When Ms. Jeannie’s other sister, Christine, got married in 2010, Ms. Jeannie and Marianne put together all the floral arrangements and wedding bouquets.

Wedding flowers in route to the wedding!
Wedding flowers in route to the wedding!

Their work space for the bouquet assembly was the hotel room floor the morning of the wedding.  It was festive and fun to see a floor full of flowers.  The arrangements came together with ribbon and laughter. It was frantic but in a good way and left such an edible memory – one of her favorites of the entire wedding weekend.

wed

So, as you can see Marianne’s creativity knows no limits. From jam to floral arrangements – she’s a one woman wonder.

Back to those scones…  Ms. Jeannie recommends, that once you remove them from the oven, you should add a healthy dose of butter and jam on top of each scone while they are still warm. Hopefully you are lucky, like Ms. Jeannie and have an excellent jam source too.

Nutmeg-Scented Scones

Makes eight triangle shaped scones.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup golden brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly grated whole nutmeg or ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg white, beaten to blend with 2 teaspoons water (for glaze)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in processor; blend 10 seconds. Using on/off turns, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add sour cream. Using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form. Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Knead 4 turns to form ball. Flatten dough to about 3/4 inch thick circle. Cut into 8 wedges. Brush with egg-white glaze; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Transfer to baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart.

Bake scones until tops are golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer scones to rack and cool slightly.

Recently, RoseMary from Shasta Lake Shop on Etsy, also wrote in about the Royal Jackson china (pictured with the scone). This is what she had to say:

“FYI The Autumn pattern was discontinued in the early 1950s. I was married in 1952 and chose it as my fine china pattern. I was devastated when in about 1953 I received a call that the pattern was being discontinued. I had just a few pieces, probably a service for 6. Replacement services were unknown at that time. It wasn’t until 50 years later that I found someone on ebay who had many of the pieces. I bought everything he had. Now I can set a table for 20+ people with all the extra serving pieces. Homer Laughlin also made a matching pattern in semi-vitreous china. Don’t know what its called or much about it but bought a set to help fill out my pattern for a while.” – RoseMary, The Shasta Lake Shop

Ms. Jeannie loves hearing stories like these! She tried to do a quick search for the Homer Laughlin pattern that RoseMary mentioned but she couldn’t come up with anything yet. If you know what the pattern name is, please write in!  This china is so pretty – Ms. Jeannie couldn’t imagine having an entire set. RoseMary is one lucky lady!

Set of 6 Royal Jackson teacups - available in Ms. Jeannie's shop.
Set of 6 Royal Jackson teacups – available in Ms. Jeannie’s shop.

When Ms. Jeannie got married she didn’t register for one specific china pattern. Instead she registered at Fishs Eddy, which is a vintage/contemporary china store in New York City.

The magical Fishs Eddy store on Broadway and 19th Street in NYC. Photo credit: David Mills.

They sell a mix-match of vintage and antique dishes mostly from old hotels and restaurants, and then they offer some unique new patterns from designers like Cynthia Rowley too. Basically every time you visit – it’s a new experience.

So Ms. Jeannie registered for a color scheme (blue and white at the time!), which meant any piece of china that fell under those two colors was a gift in the making. Some people thought Ms. Jeannie was brave for being so whimsical in giving guests the “pick whatever you like” experience – but Ms. Jeannie thought of it as an adventure. Besides – there was nothing at Fishs Eddy that she didn’t like – so how could anyone go wrong? As long as it was blue and white – it was perfect!

And as it turned out, each piece that someone chose as a wedding gift, carried with it a little bit of personality from the gift giver. So it became a great memory stacked on top of another great memory. This is the kind of stuff Ms. Jeannie loves most about china. It’s not only the beauty of the actual piece – it’s the beauty of the memory that it represents too.

A big thank you for sharing your thoughts, dear readers! Ms. Jeannie looks forward to more conversations. Until then, happy reading (and writing!).

Wednesday Night in the Kitchen: Wonderful Whoopie Pies

Last night  Ms. Jeannie had a craving for a little dessert. So she pulled out her recipe books and flipped through the pages to see what jumped out at her. As luck would have it, she discovered she had all the ingredients on hand to make Whoopie Pies, one of Mr. Jeannie Ology’s favorites.

If you’ve never had a Whoopie Pie, it is kind of like a cross between a homemade oreo cookie, an ice cream sandwich and cake. Here’s a picture of one from Ms. Jeannie’s batch…

Ms. Jeannie’s Homemade Whoopie Pies

It is essentially a whipped peanut butter cream filling sandwiched between two chocolate cake mounds.  You can use all sorts of different types of filling (sweet cream, mint, maple cream, etc) but Mr. Jeannie Ology is such a nut for peanut butter, she decided to surprise him with a little sweet treat.

Originally made famous by the Pennsylvania Dutch, Ms. Jeannie first learned of whoopie pies when she visited Amish Country in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania years ago.

While flipping through Martha Stewart Living magazine some years later, Ms. Jeannie came across the recipe. So that’s the one she uses. You’ll find that version of the recipe listed at the bottom of this blog post.

Ms. Jeannie’s platter of whoopie pies. There were a few more in the batch that got eaten before the photoshoot:) That Mr. Jeannie Ology – he just loves them!

Sources trace the first whoopie pie back to the early 1920’s.  Named from the sheer delight of discovering such a treat, eaters of the delicious dessert often said “whoopie” when they were offered one to enjoy.

Both Maine and Pennsylvania are the state leaders when it comes to the commercial production of the whoopie pie. Maine loves them so much they are considered the official state treat.

Labadie’s Bakery in Maine has been making whoopie pies in the same location since 1925!

Labadie’s Bakery – Lewiston, Maine

And every September in Pennsylvania, in the heart of Amish Country, occurs the Whoopie Pie Festival, where people participate in all sorts of challenging feats like the whoopie pie treasure hunt, the whoopie long shot, whoopie checkers, whoopie yell off, whoopie pie eating contest and more!

The Annual Whoopie Pie Festival in Strasburg, PA. This year scheduled for September 15th, 2012.

It’s an easy dessert to make and a fun project for little ones., since they can help spread the filling and make the “sandwiches”. Etsy has all the equipment you need to make your own batch of wonderfully delicious whoopie pies. All you need are the following…

Two mixing bowls:

Two Milk Glass Mixing Bowls from mothrasue

One hand held mixer or stand alone electric mixer (this one comes with both!)

Vintage Hamilton Beach Mixer from AttysVintage

One wire whisk:

Vintage Copper Wire Whisk from thebluebirdstudio

One large baking tray:

Vintage Bakery Tray from cheryl12108

One wire cooling rack:

Vintage French Wire Cooling Rack from stilllifestyle

One spatula:

Green Bakelite Vintage Spatula from efinegifts

Or for those that aren’t the baking sort, you can buy them already made in a variety of flavors!

From original…

3 Month Supply of Whoopie Pies from BundlesBakeShop

to red velvet…

Gourmet Red Velvet Whoopie Pies from CandyCakeTruffles

to vegan pumpkin cinnamon…

Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Whoopie Pies from LoveThyBaker

to lemon buttercream…

Lemon Whoopie Pies by radicalculinary

to tropical…

Tropical Whoopie Pies with Pineapple and Macadamia by VeganVille

Either way, whether you decide to make them yourself or by them already prepared you are in for a sweet treat!

Here’s the recipe that Ms. Jeannie used. Many thanks to Martha Stewart for incorporating the peanut butter:)

Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies –

Makes 18 Cookie Sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Peanut Butter Buttercream
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl; set aside.
  2. Add butter, shortening, and sugars to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; cream on high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add egg; beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add half the flour mixture, then the milk and vanilla; beat until combined. Add the remaining flour mixture. Beat together, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  3. Drop 12 slightly rounded tablespoons of batter 2 inches apart on each baking sheet. Bake the cookies in the upper and lower thirds of oven, 10 minutes; switch the positions of the baking sheets, and rotate each one. Continue baking until the cookies spring back to the touch, 2 to 4 minutes more.
  4. Remove from oven; let cookies cool on baking sheets, 10 minutes.Transfer with a metal spatula to a wire rack; let cool completely. Meanwhile, line a cooled baking sheet with a new piece of parchment; repeat process with remaining batter.
  5. Spread 1 scant tablespoon buttercream on flat sides of half the cookies.Top each with one of the remaining cookies, flat side down, and gently press together. Transfer pies to a tray.
  6. Melt half the chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat; add remaining chocolate, and stir until melted and smooth. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip (Ateco #2 or #3) or a small parchment cone. Pipe chocolate in a spiral pattern on top of each pie. Let chocolate set before serving, about 1 hour.

BLOG UPDATE! A lovely reader wrote in to say that Maine has its own Whoopie Festival too! This year, the  Maine Whoopie Pie Festival is held on June 23rd from 10:00am – 4:00pm in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine.

Like the Pennsylvania Whoopie Pie Festival, there is a bevy of themed activities, but one of the most creative is the Whoopie Pie Trail which takes you on a tour of several bakeries in the Dover-Foxcroft area. This sounds like one delicious way to spend an afternoon!

The Start of the Sunflowers

Today Ms. Jeannie started planting her summer garden.

Bed of sunflower seeds all planted!

It’s been a very mild winter this year in the South, so she could have started much earlier, but every once in a while, a folklorish sounding thing called blackberry winter  hits our region, which sort of fools you into thinking that spring has sprung. But then a wicked Mr. Frost comes calling, and knocks out all the early garden preparations.   Usually this happens around Eastertime, if it occurs at all, but this year Ms. Jeannie is throwing caution to the wind and planting early. Hopefully it will all work out.

Ms. Jeannie likes to order seeds from her favorite company, Botantical Interests.  They have a lot of heirloom varieties,  organic mixtures and seeds that always sprout. Plus they have marvelous looking seed packets that contain all sorts of fun growing information. They contain drawings of what the seedlings should look like too, which is helpful if you have a weed prone garden or aren’t quite sure what is what!

Pretty packaging!
…and informative too!

This year Ms. Jeannie is keeping things simple by just planting sunflowers and herbs. She will leave her vegetable growing to the local farmers and just shop for them at market each week.

Ms. Jeannie always likes to be a little out of the ordinary, so she has ordered 4 different varieties of red sunflowers, two fuzzy yellow sunflowers and one white sunflower.  Ms. Jeannie finds red sunflowers to be most elegant in a bouquet and since many people aren’t familiar with them, she enjoys a bit of the surprise element!

Martha Stewart put together this beautiful bouquet.

Urn style planters serve as great vases for sunflowers. Their tall yet curvaceous lines balance the bold roundness of the sunflower face. Urns are usually heavier too, which is good, because some mammoth varieties can reach heights up to 9′ feet tall!

The botanical name for sunflower is Helianthus, which comes from the Greek word “helios” which means “sun” and “anthos” which means “flower.”  Although native to North America, sunflowers were first discovered by European explorers in South America, but Native American tribes had been growing, cultivating and defining them from the beginning.  Native American tribes used the flower petals for dye, the seeds for food, the oil for ceremonial body painting and the stalks for fiber.

Explorers brought seeds back to their native countries, so that by the late 1500’s sunflowers were a common site throughout Europe.

Sunflower Field – Bordeaux, France. Photo by robsound

By the 18th century though that Europeans began cooking with sunflower oil. If you have never cooked with sunflower oil, it is supposed to contain the highest levels of Vitamin E, of all the cooking oils. It is light in taste and color. and is low in saturated fat. Learn more here.

Sunflowers can even be used as birdfeeders! Thanks again crafty Martha for supplying us with this pretty feeder idea:

To make your own birdfeeder like this one click here.

Because of their warm, cheerful coloring and their dramatic size and shape, sunflowers have been a subject for artistic study for centuries. Probably, the most recognized paintings of sunflowers would be those of Vincent Van Gogh:

While Ms. Jeannie does love all these paintings, she does wish that Van Gogh had painted more red sunflowers! As a gift recently, she did receive the new Vincent Van Gogh biography by Steven Naifeh and Gregory Smith…

Book Cover

…perhaps she will learn more about the inspiration behind all those sunflower portraits! Maybe he’ll even address the red ones! If anyone has already read this book, please let Ms. Jeannie know what you thought of  it. She always enjoys a good book review.

On Etsy, there is a glorious amount of sunflower-related items, but red sunflower items are a little more niche. Ms. Jeannie was happy to come across these items:

1970’s Ceramic pitcher from Vintagality
Duralee Red Sunflower Pillow by PopOColor
Red Sunflower Card from Teroldegoandtomatoes
Large Decorative Clipboard from ConfettiStyleDesigns
The Kernal Kozi from HollyWorks
Glowing Golden Sunflower Pendant from Bella Grethel
Sunflower Bowl from betsybpottery

Ms. Jeannie couldn’t resist these yellow sunflower items either:

Sun King – 11×17 Fine Art Photography from sintwister
Sunflower Tote Bag from jjmillistration
Vintage 1960s Sunflower Tunic Dress from digVintageClothing
Reverse Me Dotty Apron in Sunflowers & Paisley from bdoodles

Ok, garden. Ms. Jeannie can’t wait to see your pretty faces. So start GROWING!

“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows follow behind you.”
~ Maori Proverb