Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Shuffling My Life Around...

We have been doing some rearranging of rooms & furniture here at the B&B. I say "we," but really it was just me working like a mad woman yesterday. I managed everything pretty well, though moving the large antique writing desk was a true test of my arm power (and also how I managed to pull a muscle in BOTH arms!).

We are turning the upstairs library into a private craft room (aka "The Hat Box"), so therefore all of the library furniture had to find a new home elsewhere in the house. Still, it's surprising how adding MORE furniture in the right areas can actually make a room feel BIGGER!

We still have to rearrange/realign the paintings, but this gives you an idea...(please excuse the mess from moving)



I finally found somewhere to show off one of my antique treadle sewing machines! YAY!

Jugi approves of the new arrangement...as long as I pet him...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Welcome to the Duck Hut

Every morning I nearly fall flat on my face in the slick crud floor of the Duck Hut, and every morning it's absolutely worth it. Today, there were nine eggs waiting for me: two randomly in the middle of the hut, and the rest in the "community nest" at the northwest corner. Good Job, Girls!!

Our ducks are phenomenal layers, so much so that it makes me want to trade in my flock of chickens for more ducks! Ducks are sweet, goofy, flightless (in the case of my Indian Runners, anyway), and not prone to the pecking/egg cannibalism qualities that chickens can be. Not to mention that duck eggs taste delicious, and are fabulous for baking!

One of the eggs I collected this morning was twice the size of the other eggs. I am convinced it's a double yolk...Omelet, anyone?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Birthday Luck - It Must Be Genetic

Poor Grandpa has had the most horrid birthday luck this year! We had promised to take him on the trolley tour that goes around downtown Jacksonville this weekend, and then out to lunch at the local German restaurant. Well, we got all dressed up and headed out the door about 10 am this morning. We arrived in Jacksonville early, walked around a bit, and then wandered over to the trolley's pick-up location. Unfortunately, there was a sign there saying that the trolley wasn't running today. We called the information number to verify. Sigh. So then we wandered over to the German restaurant, which was apparently closed for the day, even though there was an Oktoberfest celebration going on next to it. ACK! We tried to do a few more things, but everything just seemed to be a bust. So, finally, we packed back into the car and headed home. Poor Gramps! We are going to try again next weekend, hopefully with better results!

The weather tomorrow is supposed to be cool and rainy (Hello, Fall!), so I have plans for turkey noodle soup and a good book! Hard to believe next Saturday is the first of October already!!!

Fuzzy Wuzzy Fur Coat - Update

My grandmother and I finally finished repairing that $19 fur coat I found at the thrifty the other day. There were a great deal more seam tears than we originally thought. However, the coat is now back to being as good as new! I have searched in vain for a maker's label and have found nothing. The style of the coat had me a bit stumped too. However, after a great deal of research, here are my theories:

1) I believe the coat to be marmot fur, most likely woodchuck, yellow-bellied, or alpine marmot due to the white spots prevalent throughout. This is just a guess, mind you. I am no fur expert! But based on the description and images from the Vintage Fashion Guild's fur resource site, this seems a good bet. The pelts have darker, long-ish guard hairs, and a short, fine, light-brown down fur in between. Mink, squirrel, etc., is too fine and even in hair type/dispersal, and does not match what I am seeing on this coat.

2) I have searched in vain for a maker's label, or anything to tell me who made this coat and how old it is. I have not found anything. The coat has had a second lining hand-sewn onto it (I don't quite know why, as the original lining appears to be intact underneath...?), so if there IS a label on the original lining, it's very hard to see (I have looked though!). The style is unusual to me: extremely long length, cuffed sleeves, very wide collar. The closest guess I can make is that it's from the 1950s, which seem to favor that style of collar. You can see one example on Etsy HERE. The CLOSEST I have been able to come to another coat has been this very high-end 1950s SCHIAPARELLI coat on Etsy. Now, I'm not saying that my coat is a Schiaparelli, however, it IS well made and this other coat is quite similar. A girl can dream, eh?

So, there ya go. Any opinions about timelines, etc.?

In any event, it's a gorgeous coat, and I am so thrilled to give it a loving home! Bring on the cool weather!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Egg Money Madness

So, bitch and you shall receive!

After my previous complaint that no one wanted to buy eggs, all of a sudden I had orders for 6 dozen assorted chicken and duck eggs today! YAY for fridge space again (at least for a day or two)!!! I had to drive into Medford to deliver the eggs, so
of course I stopped off for a quick look at the thrifty. Gotta feed the addiction, right? Anywho, what lovely treasure should I find today but a BREATHTAKINGLY beautiful vintage fur coat! Talk about meant to be: I had made $19 in egg sales. What was the price of the fur coat? Why, $19 of course!!!

It's in amazing shape - the pelts are still soft and supple with no discernible shedding! The full-length coat is quite obviously high-end and very well-made, with a double lining and deep front pockets lined in soft suede. The only problems with it were four 6-8" long tears in the seams between the pelts on both arms (2 tears per arm - one is visible in the pictures). This is an ok defect because the actual FUR is not ripped. Therefore, my grandmother and I spent the afternoon carefully stitching up the tears. We draped the fur coat over a chair, and each of us pulled up a seat, took an arm, and began sewing. Voila! Good as new! The fur has me a bit stumped - it's too long for mink, and the white spots scattered throughout are startling and gorgeous. I plan to do some more research on it.

Anywho, forgive the poor pictures, but I was just SO excited to share my find! I'll get some better ones another day, but here is a glimpse. The large back collar can be worn either down or flipped up. Haven't figured out a time period on the coat yet. Doesn't seem to have the large Joan Crawford shoulders though...

Here Are Those Pictures I Promised!

(Well, ok, just for the wedding dress. I really can't show you the slip and petticoat, this being a "family" blog and all! *laughing*)

I will say that the beige slip works very well under this dress!

P.S. - This is what a sleepily-confused Adso looks like (he's been caught in the act of NAPPING!!):


Thrifting Backlog...

I haven't been very good about posting/taking pictures of my thrift store scores lately, mainly because there have been so many of them (have I mentioned that I LOVE this time of year?!). Yesterday was another good day, though I still left some fun vintage pieces behind (like an authentic pink & sequined poodle skirt with metal zipper...*sigh*). I have been trying to be better about only buying the ones that I know I will wear and enjoy. Still, it's hard not to bring everything home with me! I just hate seeing it neglected at the thrifty, bound to be covered in fake blood or torn up for someone's Halloween costume. Anywho, where was I? Ah, yes: yesterday, I found the most adorable late 50s/early 60s wedding-y dress. What cracks me up is that also in the costume rack were 2 wedding dresses from the 1960s, and these were marked $29.99 and $35.99. My dress, however, being a beige-colored lace, was apparently not priced as a wedding dress (even though it came with a lace "shawl" that I suspect is actually a full-length veil). It was only $4.99. Teehee!
I also found a lovely beige full slip ($1.99) for wearing under some of my sheer vintage dresses, and a long muslin & crinoline multi-layered 1950's ribonned petticoat ($2.99). Pictures of these three items coming soon...

The other week, I found the most beautiful 1950s cocktail hat made my "Replica de Parisienne." It is a deep sapphire blue velvet with sequin decorations and a veil.

I also found a fabulous pair of off-white 1940's peep toe wedge heels for $1.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Eggs, Anyone?

Despite it being so late in the season, my flock of chickens and ducks are laying eggs like crazy! I'm currently collecting 6-8 eggs a day from the chicken coop, and 4-6 eggs from the duck hut. You do the math - that's a lot of eggs per week! What's strange is that no one seems to want to buy any right now...? It's not as though I have raised my prices (in fact, we are cheaper than many surrounding sellers), but folks just don't seem interested? I don't get it! So anyhow, looks like I need to make egg salad soon...about 7 dozen eggs worth of egg salad! *laughing* And make a great deal of cakes, cookies, and egg noodle batches I suppose. The good news is that I really don't hear Ryan complaining about it. *grin*

Monday, September 19, 2011

Trading One Insanity For Another...

Now that tourist season is (un)officially over, I have traded the insane work schedule of that for the insane work schedule of Fall Harvest! Ack! This past weekend, I harvested our 2nd potato bed, bringing in another 30+ pounds of potatoes (mainly Kennebec, with a little Beauty of Hebron thrown in for kicks!). Kennebec potatoes are my main crop - they are incredibly high-yielding, and they have above-average disease and pest resistance around here. Plus, they make a nice "all purpose" culinary potato. I have one final large potato bed to harvest, and then a small one. Overall, I expect to bring in nearly 100 lbs of heirloom potatoes this year! YAY for ME! I also harvested another ~40 lbs of heirloom tomatoes (currently waiting to be processed into sauce and canned) and the remainder of the flour corn (which I spread out in the Boutique for final drying before I grind it into cornmeal).

The winter squash aren't quite ready to bring in yet, and the bean patch is still producing like crazy!

There are still quite a few tomatoes out there needing to be picked, as well as Litchi "tomatoes" and raspberries...Oh, and I haven't finished harvesting the dry bean crop yet. So much to do!!

Not to mention all of the herb and veggie seed harvesting/cleaning/drying/processing/storing.

So, for those folks who think I'm just a stay-at-home house wife who likes to spend money on silly clothes and hats, I have news for you: I earn my keep (and my hats!). Do you know how many pounds of tomatoes alone it takes to feed two people through the winter? 140 lbs will be just enough to get us through til next year!!! That doesn't include the beans, apples, peaches, peppers, etc., or the turkeys we raise and slaughter/process ourselves every year...I guess what I am trying to say is that you don't have to work outside of the home to be valuable, and you don't have to be a tom boy just because you're a dirty farmer. :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Flapper Girl Continued!

I found the most AMAZING "flapper" dress scored at the thrift store for $4.99! Can you believe they had this marked "witch costume"?!?!?! (Insert your bad jokes about me HERE).

Everything is hand-stitched. There are accordion pleats in front (which is what tipped me off to take a better look at this dress as I was about to walk out of the store!!!), a slightly dropped waist, and there is a nude/beige-colored fabric backing the bodice lace in front. There is also an ornate half metal zipper in back, which was either a slightly later addition OR shows that the dress (which has a bit of the 20s and 30s styles mixed in) was of the later flapper period of the early 1930s.

Several portions of the bodice lace are in tatters. Is this repairable? Maybe (though probably not by me). Does it take away from the wearability of the piece? Not really, as far as I am concerned. I would probably stitch in a lace insert along the section of front shoulder area that is missing, but that's about it. The dress is still in amazing shape for it's age, which is impressive.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Hair Fiasco!"


"How I Spent All Day Yesterday Crying Like a Sissy Little Girl"

Good Grief, what a hair fiasco!! I'm back to being "cute" again, but I spent most of yesterday in tears! That's what I get for going with a new (more economical) stylist instead of my normal one, I suppose...

Anywho, the stylist yesterday acted as though she didn't even know how to cut hair! I brought in the picture of Claudette Colbert and explained exactly what I wanted. The first attempt, she just trimmed the ends of my hair and asked if that was what I wanted? Ummmm...no! ACK! When I explained everything again, she looked even more confused and trimmed my hair ends a little more. Then she went to talk to some of the other stylists, who tried to explain to her what a simple haircut it was and how to do it. I should have left right then and there, but I was in such a state of shock I wasn't thinking! On try #3, she MASSACRED my head with horrible layers! The top laid flat because it was too heavy, the middle (due to my abundant natural curl) flipped up and out, and the bottom POOFED out and down. At this point I had spent TWO HOURS in her chair! There had been two stylists working in the booth next to mine, and every now and then they had been casting barely concealed looks of horror my way...I numbly nodded "ok that looks good" in pure shock, paid, walked out to my truck and started crying like a sissy little girl! Ryan, whom I was supposed to meet for lunch an hour ago, was frantic with worry, and had left me several messages asking where I was and if I was ok? I called him to explain, but ended up just crying harder into the phone. When we finally met up near his work, he took one look at my head and said that we needed to have them fix it asap (no kidding, honey!). So he called the salon for me (I was still sobbing uncontrollably) using his best "debt collector" tone and scheduled an appointment with the manager (who is also my normal hair stylist) to fix it the next day (which was today). Painfully funny: the receptionist knew who he was referring to as far as the "very upset customer" without Ryan dropping a single name. I spent the rest of the day with a scarf wrapped around my head, sobbing in our darkened bedroom and gorging on self-pity chocolate cake. I'm not a girly-girly feminine freak, but I have NEVER had an awful experience like that before, and my hair looked so bad it was unbelievable! Amazing how an event like that will just turn you into a weeping mess. I couldn't look in the mirror without bawling! What a blow to your self esteem!

Anywho, today, the manager/stylist ended up repairing as much damage as she could without giving me a pixie cut, but the back still lays rather funky and won't look quite right til my hair grows out and I have it re-cut. *Sigh* She did show me how to do finger waves and pin curls before I left, which I am very excited to style my hair with (that was part of the reason I wanted a "flapper cut"). They didn't charge me for the repair work (thank goodness!). I'm partly mad at myself: I should have gone with my normal stylist in the first place, instead of trying to save a little money on my cut by using one of the other, newer stylists. I just figured it was an easy haircut (it's a short bob, for crying out loud!) and wouldn't be hard for any stylist to do! Boy, I have learned my lesson! Next time I'll fork over the $50 for my usual stylist and never think twice!

Lesson Learned.

Quick Note: My hair is very curly in the pictures - what's funny is that while the stylist DID curl it a bit for me, today was very humid, and my hair has grown "bigger" and more out of control as the day has dragged on...I'm a little worried as to what sort of curly poof I may be sporting come bedtime!

Today was also better in that I found a real score at the thrifty: $7.99 emerald green velvet 1950's strapless party dress! It definitely needs a steam pressing, as the bodice lays funky right now and makes me look like I have torpedo nipples or something when viewed from the side, but it's in great shape otherwise (no holes or tears!). It has a metal zipper in back, and the most fascinating "petticoat" design I have ever seen!!: instead of using a built-in petticoat or lining the skirt with a crinoline fabric, the seamstress used some sort of heavy-weight industrial "foam" is what it looks like to add the stiffness and volume so classic to the 1950s style. I have never seen anything like it, and it makes for a wonderful (and wearable!) study piece. Plus, I am a TOTAL sucker for emerald green, especially velvet, and it matches both of my wedding rings as well as the pair of drippy $5 earrings I scored at an antique store last week. The color doesn't come out well in the pictures because I'm standing in the shade, but it really is the most lovely green color...I also love the little bow in the front of the dress!

P.S. - the bracelet I'm wearing is a $4 thrift store score, and the necklace is a family "heirloom" that my grandmother got for free when she was working at Fedco in CA. On that note, a little side story: I want to scream because apparently she was offered an entire box of D&E Juliana jewelry (retailing now individually anywhere from $250-$2000!) for free, but she only took one necklace because she thought it was "too gaudy." I still have that necklace, but oh! To think she turned away an entire box of them! That could have paid for my college education via Ebay! :P

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ta-Ta For Now!

Apothecary Inn will be closing early for the off-season beginning October 1st, 2011. We will reopen for B&B guests on February 1st, 2012.
It's been a phenomenal year for us, both in terms of business AND great guests, but your hardworking innkeepers now need to focus on bringing in/preserving the rest of the harvest, & getting the inn ready for winter.
Thanks again for a great year, and we'll see you all in Spring 2012!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

That's a lot of beans...

We have been pulling some long days here on the farm between the harvest season, extreme heat wave (which means that evening chores are begin started at about 7 pm), and B&B bookings. Lately, we have taken to harvesting the garden produce after evening chores, since that's when it's the coolest. Last night, we harvested 16+ lbs of heirloom bush beans from our late season bean patch!! This is a pretty typical week's haul off of the plot. I love the Dragon's Tongue variety because they are SUCH productive plants!

Now, yours truly gets to spend the rest of the week processing them! ;)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Feeling Inspired

(The "Before" Picture)

I checked out a DVD copy of "It Happened One Night" (starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert) from the library last week, and I am now feeling inspired to chop off all of my hair and be a Flapper Girl! My hair has grown long enough to be annoying lately - it's at that terrible in between phase that you reach when you have shorter hair and you wait too long in between hair cuts! Basically, it's long enough to constantly get in my eyes and be irritating, but not long enough to properly put up in a ponytail or do anything creative with it. Plus, as much as I love my hair when it's long, the upkeep is a lot more intensive, and as a farmer and a food-based business owner, short hair would just be SO much more practical! I used to wear my hair very short in high school, but since then it's always been at least mid-length if not quite long. Well, time for a change!

Here is an inspirational photo that I hope to emulate come Monday!:

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

B. Siegel Co

I love thrifting during the pre-Halloween season! Even though you find many sad & abused vintage items, you can also generally score some reasonably nice pieces for quite cheaply. Start looking early, as many stores raise their prices the closer it gets to Halloween.

This week, all of the stores are just beginning to put their costume sections out. Even with limited stock, I struck gold!

First, four pairs of terribly gaudy (and absolutely wonderful!) earrings! One pair I would put ~1960s, the rest are 1970s-1980s (not generally my style time, but I actually rather like these ones). The later earrings were all made for pierced ears, but were reconstructed as clip-ons (which is the state I found them in). One is clearly a homemade "destash" project from other vintage jewelry parts, but it's SO over-the-top and shiny that I just couldn't resist!

I also found a vintage mink stole/scarf/whatever for $3.99! Only some minor shedding, and in otherwise great shape! I've named it "Leonard." Here is Leonard with two of the vintage earring pairs.

My real score today was an early 1950's dress made by "B. Siegel Co" in Detroit. Now, normally I almost never find out any information about the makers or stores on vintage labels. However, today was an exception! Here is a blurb about the store from labellevintage.net's page:

"Benjamin Siegel, who was born and educated in Germany, came to the United States in 1876. In 1877 he began his career in a general merchandise store in Alabama, later relocating to Detroit, Michigan where he organized the B. Siegel Co. in 1881. Siegel had started out in Detroit at Heyn’s Bazaar on Woodward, where he was a department manager for women’s apparel. He later rose from department manager to store owner, and changed the name to Siegel’s.

Relocating in 1904 to 159-163 Woodward Avenue (at State Street) in Detroit’s downtown business district, the B. Siegel Co. specialized in fine ladies’, misses’ and children’s cloaks, suits and furs. The store had the reputation of being “the largest, finest and most complete cloak and suit store in the United States.”

Until the company filed for bankruptcy in 1981 that is. Ouch.

For more information about the store, you can also visit Wikipedia's site:


The B. Siegal Co dress that I bought today (for $3.99! HA!) is clearly well made. It has a calf-length skirt with built-in crinoline, front pockets, buttons down the back, a sash, and long zippered sleeves. The sash actually buttons onto the dress in back!


Close-Up of Zippered Sleeve Ends


Close-up of Back Sash/Button Closure


This is what I refer to as a bit of a harvest backlog...As you can see, when tourist season takes off, the canning/processing to-do list gets further and further behind. Right now I have close to 40 lbs of tomatoes that need to have their seeds removed (and saved!) and cooked down into sauce for canning (which I can't do until I finish cooking down the 20+ lbs of apples I have simmering on the stove for apple butter & apple leather!). You can also see from the picture below that I am behind in shelling my Scarlet Runner Bean pods, and there is flour corn that needs to be ground, and purslane (in the bucket) that needs to be dried and have its seeds collected. SO much to do, and not enough hours in the days between B&B bookings with which to do it! *sigh*

None of the above "projects" take into account the enormous pasture of bush beans I need to harvest, flash boil, and can. Nor the dozens of ripe tomatoes hanging on the vines and needing to be picked...or the 7 different garden areas that need to be watered! Good grief, I tire myself out just even thinking about it!

Speaking of tomatoes and seed-saving, here is a comparison between two different varieties of heirloom bi-colored tomatoes that I grow (and yes, they are different!):

Joya de Oaxaca

Applegate Valley Heirloom Tomato

And somewhere in there I still need to make another batch of soap...we had a group of guests stay with us in August, and they enjoyed the soap samples we gave them so much that they bought out our entire supply of homemade soap bars!

Anywho, for those who think that a farm wife/entrepreneur doesn't earn her keep around here, I beg to differ...