Tuesday, December 16, 2008

favorite things...

Love came down at Christmas; Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas, stars and angels gave the sign.

~ Christina Rossetti

It's the season for making lists and checking them twice, for giving friends and family an idea on what it is you want or need {depending on if you prefer practical or frivolous presents}, and recalling the "favorites". That recipe of your great-aunt's, the carols you sing every year, the fresh Christmas pajamas that you receive like clockwork every Christmas Eve.

And for some of my friends, this is when they start compiling lists of the greatest movies, albums, or books released this past year. One even puts together a pictorial of the major events that have occurred in her life. Each picture bears a caption, every story a thousand memories.

So this post is devoted to a cross between all those things... and I hope you enjoy it.

First things first, however, is a great album I stumbled upon and am so grateful I picked up, if for no other reason than this song. "Winter Song" is a collaboration by two of my favorite singer-songwriters Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson and was written for the release of The Hotel Cafe presents Winter Songs. I would've loved to embed the video for you directly, but alas that feature was disabled. It is sweet and poignant, touching on loss, hope and love. Every time I listen to it, I find myself thinking of a line of poetry from Ella Wheeler Wilcox: When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow, we hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago, and etched on vacant places are half-forgotten faces of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know.

And now, a few snapshots from my house and some of my most favorite things...

I captured this shot looking down into a large apothecary jar I filled with white buttons of all shapes and sizes, a few vintage bakelite pins, a small pearl cuff bracelet, and a deliciously tarnished silver star. I placed a large pearl choker around the neck of the jar and it fit perfectly. Doesn't it look wintery?

I love to collect vintage photographs, especially when they include dogs. When you stop to think about how expensive photography was at that time, the fact that people would choose to include their pets indicates an abiding love and sense of priority. Perhaps this would be the only image of the pet they'd ever have. This darling photographic postcard was snagged at a local flea market I shop at dawn on Sundays {I have it perfectly timed for travel and shopping so that I still make it to church on time!} in the spring and summer. The hats, muffs and wraps almost make it seem like the little girls are playing dress-up, with their beloved pup sitting prim and proper for the occasion.

Another dog photograph, this one of my grandmother circa 1925 with the puppy and outfit { complete with hat! } she had received for her birthday. The little gold frame in the forefront was a flea market treasure that is content to wait until I find the perfect image for it.

I adore monograms and engraving as found on trinkets and jewelry. The silver piece is another flea market find and is a sterling collapsible drinking cup. Love it! Another piece that makes me smile everytime I see it is the tiny bracelet that is engraved "Hoops Major". Doesn't it just sound like a character's name from some heartwarming Hoosiers-esque movie?

I am not a francophile on the whole, preferring an eclectic English/Grand Tour feel, but I couldn't resist sharing this pair that are perched on my farm table turned desk. The mother-of-pearl opera glasses are just one set from my growing collection and the jewelry box is a treasure I picked up during some retail therapy at The Green Velvet in Granville, Ohio. If you are ever near Columbus, Granville definitely warrants a visit. There is a darling cafe that has gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches on the menu just a few doors down. Not to mention the amazing architecture, quaint historic homes, and the campus of Denison University.

Something that came about totally by chance. I got a small stash of these cement angels into the shop this holiday, and treated myself to just one. But it needed something where I nestled it. A little bit of sparkle and... voila! A darling { and inexpensive } adornment from the wedding aisle of a certain mega store. A child's tiara is the perfect cherub crown. As Heather would say, "Love!"

Another auction find. It's missing some pieces and is fragile with age, but I love the idea of a homemade toy carriage with a swan pulling it. Makes me think of what darling little child once received this under their Christmas tree.

I love statuary, whether it is made from concrete, marble, bisque or porcelain. Isn't the expression on this little miss precocious and sweet? Oh, and in the background, another apothecary jar filled with large silver and gold indented Shiny Brite ornaments. { In the meantime, I've poured mother-of-pearl buttons all around the gaps. } Another pearl cuff encircles the stem and a vintage pocketwatch dangles from a super yummy chocolate silk ribbon.

Some of my favorite cameos on display. If you haven't picked up on a theme yet, I love things that are sentimental and tender. On the back of the gold pocketwatch is inscribed {in the thinest, most delicate hand ever} "Thy God Seeth Thee".

If you ever happen to be in Cincinnati on the second Sunday of the month from April to October, make a point to visit the Antique Fair in Covington's historic Mainstrasse district. There are lots of quality dealers with incredible one-of-a-kind finds. Some things can inch towards the high-end but every once in a while a bargain can be found, like this tarnished compact with a broken latch. What do a few imperfections matter with an inset portrait, hmmm?

There seems to be some sort of issue with blogger tonight, so I shall end this post here and finish it up in a second entry.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


And so begins another month, the one we count down day by day until the arrival of Christmas and then after that, through the end of yet another year. So often that countdown is filled with stress and to-do lists, a thousand different activities that require us to double-book our evenings, living our lives in a caravan from place to place so that no gift goes unpurchased, no house unvisited.

Yet looking back to the Christmases of my childhood, it is no wonder that it is still my favorite time of year and the treasure trove of some of my happiest days and my favorite tradition {which I will divulge in a moment}. But first, the backstory...

I was born and raised in Florida and for the majority of my life, my maternal grandparents lived with us. And while in my minds' eye I can still see snapshots of the house in Deerfield Beach, all decorated for Christmas, the years that I remember the most vividly are from when we moved to Orlando shortly after I turned five.

We always had artificial trees, which was fine because that meant we could have more than one and that we could put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving and leave everything up until after the New Year {but never later than Epiphany on January 6th}. Being a native Floridian, it wasn't until we moved north that I could really comprehend what the season felt like with real trees, flurries, and having a nice fire to roast chestnuts on.

Anyway, shortly after we had moved, my brother and I were each given a tiny tree that was maybe 12" for our rooms that only held one strand of twenty lights and little miniature ornaments made from wood. They were simple little things, really. Tiny angels made out of wooden shapes, the cookie dough ornaments you could have personalized at the mall with your name and the year, those little craft teddy bears and birds. There was a strict rule that the lights could not stay on once we went to bed, with the exception of Christmas Eve.

As we got older, we were able to add ornaments until eventually the trees were replaced with larger ones { 3' table top }. By the time I was twelve, mine had ornaments in shades of pink and lavender, spun glass, and an icicle garland. {I think it was just a cry for some snow!} Marshall's had dinosaurs, tin soldiers, trains and bubble lights. In fact, we both have all our childhood things packed away in storage. Just can't bear to part with them.

My mother was mostly a stay-at-home mother in those years, dealing in antiques with her best friend at a local shop. With her at the helm, the season was always magical. One year, we had NINE trees {two large ones and seven in various sizes}.

I could not comprehend that much work with two children, but between my grandmother and she the halls seemed to be decked in no time at all. On top of the trees in our rooms, there were trees in the family and living room, and a small countertop tree in the kitchen with antique glass ornaments and twisted tin "icicles". Then my grandparents had a pencil tree in their bedroom and my parents had a "memory tree" in theirs. It would be hung with the treasures of our family - a silver baby cup, my great-uncles lace baby cap, a pair of my great-grandmother's chandelier earrings - and photographs of those no longer with us. The dining room had a topiary tree with fruit and gold drops, and finally... Grandfather's favorite, the ceramic tree with the little color bulbs that sat atop the console television.

But more than any of the decorations, what holds the most special place in my heart was our advent. On December 1st, we would wake up to find that our stockings had been hung up in a corner of the living room. There was no fireplace, so each hung from the drawer of a large hutch, at just the perfect height for a five year old. I had searched online for an image of what our stockings looked like {as they are also packed up in storage} but came up empty handed.

Our stockings did not look like stockings at all. Marshall's was in the shape of a toy soldier with a large drum and mine was a soft-bodied doll complete with dark curls, dress, apron and cap. The pockets were concealed in their outfits, so if one did not notice the small plastic hooks stitched at the top so they could be hung, one might not think they were anything more than toys. In guesstimation, they were probably about 16" in size. But I digress...

Spilling out from each pocket would be long strands of red and green curling ribbon. At the end of each strand was a perfectly crafted miniature tag {at most 1/4" square} that Mother had made for each. Looking back at it, I marvel at the time and effort she took to make each one something special. Every morning after breakfast we were allowed {with supervision} to go to our stockings and pull the streamer for the appropriate day and from the pocket would emerge a treasure.

Sometimes it would be a small piece of chocolate we could have later for a snack {or I could take to school in my lunch}, or a small little trinket, or a piece of rolled paper that held a clue on where to look for something larger. I can still recall how giddy I was to look under the couch and find a coloring book about Christmas around the world and a set of those crayon pencils that were so popular in the 80's.

Every night before bed there would be an addition to bedtime prayers in the form of singing a carol or reading a Christmas story.

The Neapolitan Baroque Creche at the Metropolitan Museum in NYC

advent: n. a coming into place, view or being; arrival;
a momentous event that has been awaited;
the season including the four Sundays before Christmas

And while it is so easy to let the focus slip from what is the center of the of it all... dare I even say it, the "reason for the Season"... that's what has me humming one of my favorite carols of all. {I've included the lyrics for you below.}


O Come Divine Messiah

O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

Dear Savior haste;
Come, come to earth,
Dispel the night and show your face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.

O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

O Christ, whom nations sigh for,
Whom priest and prophet long foretold,
Come break the captive fetters;
Redeem the long-lost fold.

Dear Savior haste;
Come, come to earth,
Dispel the night and show your face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.

O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

You come in peace and meekness,
And lowly will your cradle be;
All clothed in human weakness
Shall we your Godhead see.

Dear Savior haste;
Come, come to earth,
Dispel the night and show your face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.

O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.

{ Photos courtesy of Flickr }

Friday, November 28, 2008


On Monday, I spent the day in Canton driving in a cold, dreary drizzle as I jotted from a client to a vendor and then on a quick string of errands. As I was stopped at a light, I noticed this sign off to my left, nearly obscured by the traffic.

Hem your blessings with gratitude lest they unravel.

It humbled me and got me thinking { which for those of you who know me well is not a surprise at all -- I'm a "thinker" }. Anyway... I realized that Thanksgiving, more than the traditions we use to celebrate it, is pausing long enough to be grateful for the blessings we have. From the basics to the bonuses. Too often I focus only on the BIG things and not all the minute daily things that so many in this world do not have.

Yesterday we did the "go around the circle and state what we're thankful for" before grace was said for our meal. I entered from the kitchen and somehow received the privilege of going first. There were so many thoughts in my head, so many things I could have said... that all I got out was "this season of the year". Yes, I know... it seems cliche, but indulge me the ability to flesh out what that means to me.

The Pilgrims held Thanksgiving to give thanks for what had been accomplished over the past year, of the mighty harvest and of God's provision for them and their families. I am doing the same. It has been a year since Alice Adair first previewed, not quite a week since the website launched. Our family has welcomed new additions and a sister-in-law. In the midst of all the uncertainty and the unknown in the world, there is an underlying confidence and peace deep within. And as the year draws to a close, I can actually pause a moment from all that I have to do to... rest and relax.

So it is my prayer for each of you, that you get to do the same. And just so you know -- I am thankful for each of you.

I am excited to share a recipe that was a huge success yesterday. We are a family of game players and while my aunt cooked a most marvelous meal, she had each of us bring things to snack on through the evening during rounds of games and giggles. It is simple, easy and sure to be a crowd favorite. I had wanted to take a picture of it in a beautiful trifle bowl but I made such a big batch I had to use something else at the last minute and completely forgot to snap it. {And there was hardly any left! }

Finger Salad
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup vinegar of choice {white, red wine, apple -- I used apple}
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tblsp salt
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • raw vegetables of choice, coarsely chopped into finger-friendly pieces
The dressing can be made a day in advance but needs to be kept at room temperature. I mixed mine in a large canning jar so that it would be easy to shake and transport. Once all the vegetables are cleaned and cut, simply pour the dressing over the top and toss so that all the pieces are evenly coated. I used a large tupperware bowl to make the process easy.

It is probably best to consider your audience when prepping this dish, but the vegetable options are endless. Listed below are my recommendations:

Baby carrots, celery, baby corn, mushrooms, green and black olives, green onion, bell peppers {red, green, yellow and orange}, sugar snap peas, snow peas, green beans, cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, belgian endive, edamame, cucumber, zucchini, radishes, asparagus.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

pleased to announce...

It was quite the feeling last night to flip the switch for the final time and make the site "live." And even more surreal this afternoon to realize that what had been concept and conjecture for over a year and in production for almost twelve weeks is finally a full reality.

Now I know this isn't an Oscar moment or a time to make speeches { my mind keeps going to that Sally Field acceptance speech "you like me, you really like me!" }, but in a week where we all pause to focus on grace and gratitude, my heart is full of thankfulness.

First, I want to extend my deepest and heartfelt thanks to Heather and Brian. This entire thing would not have been possible without their talent and expertise in taking what was in my head and putting it on the web.

And of course, I would be remiss if I did not thank each one of you -- for your patience with the delays, for the comments and encouraging emails, and for reading this blog as regularly as some of you do.

So yes, Alice Adair is officially open and new product will be uploaded daily between now and the end of the year... which means I should probably get back to doing just that.

May your week be full to the brim with love, friends, and family whether they are in your arms or in your hearts and separated by miles.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

hark! just in time....


Holiday Hours
{ now through December 23rd }

Tuesday ~ Friday . . . . . . . . . . 10:00 am ~ 6:00 pm

Saturday . . . . . . . . . . . . 10:00 am ~ 3:00pm

~ and ~
By Special Appointment

CLOSED Sunday and Monday


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

ringing in the Season...

There have already been flurries, but the weatherman is calling for a true dusting of snow by this weekend. It was seventy degrees for our Gala Evening of the Soiree, and while the shop glistened as one client put it "like a diamond" from down the street, the hard chill this week has awakened the hum in the air that is { Holiday }.

My apologies in taking so long in getting the images up, but after this whirlwind and sacrificing comfort for style with cute shoes, I just had to decompress and recover a bit.

I've done things a bit differently... and have posted in reverse so that as you scroll down, you'll peek at individual vignettes. Think of it like peeling an orange and popping out the juicy segments one by one. Please use the post list to the right if for some reason you cannot scroll through all of them.

If you see something in any of the photos that you are interested in, please email me at adair@tusco.net. E-commerce will not kick-off until the end of this week, but very few of the Shop goods are included with the cache of wares for Alice Adair so there will be little overlap.

After posting all the other photos, these are the only ones that remain -- the remnants of an incredible spread that was catered for the Gala Evening. Toni and Donna outdid themselves as always. ( Now if only I could have cajoled them into parting with that great concrete finial and base! ) Countless clients raved that our event is one of the highlights for their year, and that the menu never fails to delight them.

What We Served

Baked Brie with Honeyed Walnuts
Savory Pigs-in-a-Blanket
Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts
An Assortment of Artisan Breads and Spreads
Cheese and Fruit
Marscapone Fruit Dip
Sugared Pecans
Almond Finger Cookies
Swiss Cinnamon Crisps
Powder Sugared Shortbread Cookies
Pineapple-Lemon Punch


Next year, however.... I'm taking pictures of the tables before and not after.


sprigs and sprays...

A miscellany of images from throughout the Shop. Paper chandeliers and ornaments, antique glass ornaments in various containers, glittered snowflake "trees"... the latest edition of Romantic Homes... and our jewelry. Sold the very first piece of it right off my neck!

farmhouse chic...

Whether your style is rustic to cottage to English country, we have an array of upholstery that is simply ideal.

sparkle and flash at Solid Rock....

We have been so blessed to have Solid Rock's studio in our building (and now some of her photography on our blog). I adore the ballerina shot of a local senior printed in sepia on metallic white paper. It's simply stunning...

the glamour of gold...

Lounge among the shimmer and imagine yourself in a French salon.

the greenhouse...

"I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven."
Emily Dickinson

winter's garden...

Paper-whites, pine boughs, snowflakes and statuary... even the garden decks itself for the festive season.