Let's Get Fresh

Beautiful print by Yellow Button Studio.

So it's been almost 9 months since I last hit that "new post" button. Almost enough time to incubate and birth a baby, which, I think, is pretty fitting for today's dialogue.

Some of you might remember when I participated in a wonderful blogger challenge called "Things I'm Afraid to Tell You" back in 2012, championed by Ez of Creature Comforts. That post (which I would love for you to read, including the wonderful responses) was so very freeing for me to write, but it was also a catalyst for the long period of silence that began this past January (totally unplanned, but, I see now, very necessary).

In that space in 2012, I felt I could finally express my dissatisfaction with what blogs have become. To name a few things (backed up by several of your responses and continuing conversations I have had with so many other young women), I feel a lot (not all, mind you) blogs have become:

If only I could be that put together. If only my house were that pretty. If only I could afford those Anthropologie pillows.

The wonders of everything being shot and styled by professional photographers.

I got SO tired of reading something only to find it out was a "sponsored" post.

Look at me! Like what I like! Love what I love!

Reading DIY after DIY, and totally loving them, but then after a while you start to feel like people are just DIYing everything and now there isn't a reason for you to tap into your own creative juices because that other person already did it and it was way cuter than what you were thinking, so why exercise that part of my brain?

Now, as I mentioned before, I don't think all blogs are this way, and I'm sure there are people out there who don't agree with anything I just said, and that is just fine. There is certainly space for everyone's thoughts. But for me, for the next year and a half after that post, these feelings grew, and I gradually stopped reading blogs. Then I started to lose interest in my own, because it just didn't feel like "me" anymore; it felt like a shell of the other blogs I wanted to be, so of course I was uninspired! Finally, I decided that, until I could find my voice again, and have a clear picture of what I wanted it to be, I just needed to let it go. And I did. And it felt great.

Afterward, I focused all my energy on the brick-and-mortar store, which, I am happy to say, celebrated its first anniversary this past September (yay!). It has been on of the most challenging, heartbreaking, exciting, creative things I've ever done, and as the store eases into its second year, I have no shortage of ideas for how to keep pushing and evolving it. And that is where we come to today's post.

During this hiatus, the blog was always in the back of my mind, and I've tried very hard to think of what I want it to be and become:

I want it to be encouraging.
I want it to be empowering.
I want it to make you smile.
I want it to inspire you.
I want it to challenge you (in a good way).
And, of course, I want to use it to share my love of vintage.

All that said, I have some ideas that I'm really excited about, but it's a fruitless effort without asking for — and open-heartedly inviting — your feedback.

So, go on; let me have it. I want to hear what you love about blogs. What you don't. What inspires you. What's important to you. What you love about vintage (or if you don't know anything about it!). What keeps you going back to the bloggers you've come to love. Issues (especially as women) you feel strongly about. Anything you can think of that you want to share!

In the meantime, I'll keep brewing ideas, too, and we'll see what comes out of the oven. ;-)


Free 2014 Owl-Lover Calendar

One of my favorite times each year is when I get an email from Shivani of My Owl Barn telling me the new (and free!) Owl-Lover calendar is ready to be printed!

For those of you who might not be familiar with the project, each year Shivani gets 50 artists from all over the world to donate their time and talent so that we, the owl-lovers of the world, can customize our own calendar to print out and display on the wall. That's right; 50 original owl images from which we can make countless calendars (hello birthday presents!), and then trim off the calendar part at the end of each month for free wall art.

I mean...you're already customizing yours, right? :-)


The Thrifted Kitchen: Rock & Rye

Some weeks ago before the holiday hustle, I picked up a copy of the 1976 Sappington School Mothers' Club Christmas Goodies cook book at an estate sale. I love buying these collections of carefully crafted recipes from dedicated school moms as they're often family favorites, and this particular packet was a little different from ones I've seen in that it had an extensive "drinks" section that didn't shy away from the spirits!

Since whiskey is all the rage right now, my eye was drawn to a recipe called Rock & Rye, which takes a bottle of rye whiskey, rock candy, orange, lemon and maraschino cherries and lets them marinate in a jar for at least a week. I'd never heard of this cocktail before, so I did a little Googling and found an article from Saveur and one from The Wall Street Journal that were very enlightening.

Apparently the drink was popularized in America's early saloons, when bartender's put rock candy (or its syrup) into rye whiskey to smooth it out. Then, once Prohibition hit, rock and rye was patented for medicinal use and started making its way into people's medicine cabinets.

Yesterday our batch reached its one-week maturation, and after indulging in a couple glasses, I have to say I'm ready to my this a regular in our liquor cabinet.

A few notes about ingredients and tools: 

> The rock candy was tricky to track down at regular stores, but those of you in St. Louis can find it at General Candy Company in the city on Oleatha. Or you can order boxes of it online.

> The wide-mouth quart jar is by Ball and I found mine at Target. It's also sold at Hobby Lobby.

Happy slugging! ;-)

Rock and Rye
Courtesy of the 1976 Sappington School Mothers' Club Christmas Goodies cook book
Yields 2/3 quart jar

1 quart-size wide-mouth jar
6 ounces natural rock candy (no flavor)
13 maraschino cherries
1 orange slice (1/4" thick), cut in 8 pieces
1 thin slice of lemon, diced
1/2 to 3/4 cup maraschino cherry juice
1 bottle rye whiskey (I used George Dickel)

Put everything from rock candy through cherry juice into quart jar. Pour entire bottle of whiskey on top. Stir to combine. Store in a dark, dry place for at least one week. Strain and enjoy!
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