Tuesday, August 26, 2014

National Dog Day

It's National Dog Day and in honor of doggies I wanted to post a few pics of my favorite pooches.   

If this doesn't epitomize a teacup terrier I don't know what does!

Dogs are the focal point on a corbel in one of my wallscapes

Some beautiful transferware in my shop featuring dogs

Although I don't have any live dogs, they reside all over my house and sometimes on my tablescapes!

My mantle has dog portraits and Staffordshire dogs.  If you look in the corner, you'll see a Setter on the wall corbel by the curtain.

This is the view from my desk.  I can't wait to show more of my office but right now I've got too many plates on the floor!

Dogs on the side table in the living room

More dogs on wall corbels

It's a wonder I don't sell dog things and not transferware!

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Hearty Goodfellow: Blue Willow Toby

 These adorably stout little guys are called Tobies.  A Toby is a figural ceramic / earthenware piece, often a pitcher or jug, moulded into the form of a popular character.  Often, these characters are historical in nature, such as Winston Churchill, but the original Tobies date back to the 1760's shortly after the invention of transferware and were made in the form of jovial, stout men dressed in clothing of the period: knee length breaches, waistcoat, tricorn hat, frock coat, neckerchief and black buckle shoes, often seated, puffing away on a pipe and almost always clutching onto a pitcher or jug of frothy ale.  

A Four Piece "Toby Jug" Cruet Set, probably Prestonpans, 19th century, comprising pepper pot, salt, vinegar and mustard.

 These cruet sets are most often attributed to one of the potteries in the town of Prestonpans, east of Edinburgh, in Scotland.   This was an an ideal location for the development of potteries as early as the 17th century due to the ample supplies of coal and clay that were easily transported by sea to the south side of the Firth of Forth,  These Tobies are sometimes referred to simply as Prestonpans, dating back to the early 19th century and included figures for salt, mustard, vinegar and pepper.  They were made in other areas including Staffordshire, many by Royal Doulton and Spode, where other versions were produced.   

"With my pipe in one hand & jug in the other
I drink to my Neighbour & Friend
May cares in a whiff of tobacco I'll sother
For life you know shortly must end"

Each of the portly figures I'm featuring all have some area of blue transfer printed headgear, coats or bases and are attributed to Prestonpans, though many English potters made Tobies in other forms, such as Whieldon, Ralph Wood, Spode and Royal Doulton though most, if not all, do not feature the transfer printed areas on them which I think makes these so unique and interesting.  

Many collectors and historians have competing theories as to where the name Toby Jug comes from. Some say they are named after Sir Toby Belch, a character in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night play.   "Tope" is a French word meaning to drink hard (a Tope, Toper, or Toby).  However most speculate that Tobies were named after Henry Elwes, aka as Toby Fillpot (or Philpot), renowned for his drinking prowess, and inspired by an old English drinking song, "The Brown Jug" which paid tribute to Toby Fillpot whose ashes were made into a Toby jug.

Dear Tom, this brown jug that now foams with mild ale-
In which I will drink to sweet Nan of the vale-
Was once Toby Fillpot, a thirsty old soul,
As e'er drank a bottle, or fathomed a bowl;
In bousing about 'twas his praise to excel,
And among jolly topers he bore off the bell.

It chanced as in dog-days he sat at his case,
In his flower-woven arbour, as gay as you please,
With a friend and a pipe puffing sorrows away,
And with honest old stingo was soaking his clay,
His breath-doors of life on a sudden were shut,
And he died full as big as a Dorchester butt.

His body when long in the ground it had lain,
And time into clay had resolved it again,
A Potter found out in its covert so sang,
And with part of fat Toby he formed this brown jug,
Now sacred to friendship and mirth, and mild ale,
So here's to my lovely sweet Nan of the vale!
~Frances Fawkes, 1761~

Below; a very rare set of four Prestonpans toby cruets, comprising a salt with a fixed dished circular hat as the bowl, a pepper pot with a fixed pierced tricorn hat, a vinegar jar with detachable conical hat and a mustard pot with a detachable hat, each with crimson coat, green tie, yellow breeches and black shoes, within transfer printed blue and white borders, 5 1/4" - 6 1/4" high

This set below sold on Atlas Antiques for about $5000

As cute as they are, they are valuable and probably not something I'll see in my collection any time soon!  Some of the sets still intact are housed in museums. 

Reference:  Plate XXXV Page 162 Scottish Pottery J Arnold Fleming
Belfield Potteries of Scotland
The Toby Collector

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

English Cottage Living Room - Before, Partly After & Still a Work in Progress

I am sorry for not posting more pictures of the progress we've made settling into this new (to us) home.   It seems life rushes by so fast and that at times, doing little things, even those that I love and enjoy, often get pushed aside and onto the back shelf of my mind where I tell myself, "I'll get to this later".  Well, it is later and though I don't have as much to share with you as I'd like, I'm going to at least share my favorite spot in our living room.  I promise to show the rest of the room soon but for now the opposite half of the living room has been occupied by my daughters boyfriend who has been staying with us for the past 7 or so weeks until his apartment is ready for him to move into, and so the couch is usually made up for him to sleep on!  

Here is a photo of the current living room just as we found it, a small room just off the entry of the house with a nice marble and wood fireplace surround, hard wood floors, beautiful crown moulding and a neutral shade of paint that I am really happy with and glad not to have needed to repaint.  

I've always loved to incorporate English Cottage style in my decorating but I wanted this room to exude an even cozier feeling like that found in a Country house, just a tad less formal.  This corner is my favorite place in the house to have my morning coffee.  The red checked French chairs are some I found years ago at an estate sale for $25.  I refinished them myself and then had them professionally reupholstered in a Schumacher fabric.  They really need reupholstering again but even if I could afford to do that right now,  I'd probably do a very similar fabric as I love the buffalo checks.  The chairs are really comfy too!

I am also working on a post about a fairly recent find.  It's shown in the pic above and I can't wait to tell more about it. Hint:  It's not transferware!

Here's a little peak at the room taken from further back, looking in from the entryway.   Although I like the arrangement over the mantle, I'm already considering changing it up a bit.  I may move the dog portraits to another wall and hang a large mirror or painting there instead.   Or, maybe raise the banjo clock several inches and add some plates in an arched arrangement around it.  Or, maybe I'll do both! One change first…leave it awhile…then the other!  Who knows?!?!?  What do you think?   I'll share whatever it is that I do, when I do it.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Momma Mecha's Green Enchiladas La Cazuela

After making one form or other of Green Enchiladas for a number of years, I have finally gotten my own recipe just the way we like it, at least my 7 family members + 1 extra staying here say so!   You guys might remember me telling you that last Fall while I was getting things in order for the largest job I've had to date for The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas (read that post HERE),  I was given the name Mecha Corte, aka short fuse, by my family.    Our house was seriously like a shipping and receiving warehouse and maze for awhile as every room, bedrooms included, were filled with transferware and packing materials.    This was all during the holidays and it was a little more than crazy.  Good crazy.  Nonetheless, I earned another nickname, Mecha Corte, because I was on a short fuse more than once during that time.

 We decided this dish needed a better name than just Green Enchiladas and since I've actually grown a fondness of the jest in being called Mecha (meecha), an even shortened version of my nickname, we came up with Momma Mecha's Green Enchiladas La Cazuela (casserole in Spanish).  How's that?  =)

 For almost 2 months, Shawn and I have been cooking nightly for 9!  Whew.  For that reason, the green light is on when it comes to casseroles and one pan dishes that feed a crowd!  You could easily make a smaller version, or larger (I  sometimes double this and freeze one casserole for a quick meal later).

Momma Mecha's La Cazuela Green Enchiladas 

2 lbs ground hamburger meat
1 large yellow onion, chopped 
1 Family size can (26 oz) Cream of Mushroom soup
1/2 to 1 soup can full of milk (13-26 oz)
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
1 large can chopped, diced green chilies…I do not drain
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 bag tortilla chips (I usually use Tostitos or buy from my fave Mexican restaurant)
1 1/2 cup Monterey Jack or Colby / Jack cheese blend, shredded

Garnishes, optional:
Sour cream
Green onions
Sliced black olives
Diced tomatoes
Mexican cheese blend

Brown ground beef and onion in skillet until onion is translucent and beef cooked through.  Drain fat.

While beef is cooking combine mushroom soup, cream cheese and 1/2 soup can of milk in sauce pan over low-medium heat and blend to mix.  Add ancho chili powder, stir.  Add green chilies.  Once warmed, stir in the grated sharp cheddar cheese and stir until melted and blended into sauce.  Stir in green chilies.  Add more milk if it is too thick.  You want it to be about the consistency of a thick soup, like a chowder, or a thinner queso cheese sauce.   Set aside.

Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 casserole dish with Pam or grease very lightly.  Slightly crush a couple of handfuls, about 1/4 bag, of tortilla chips on bottom.  Layer with beef & onion mixture and then 1/2 sauce.  Repeat.  Top with a few more, small crushed chips and shredded monterey jack cheese or cheese blend.  Bake at 325 for 45 minutes. 

Serve with optional garnishes such as sour cream,  extra cheese, green onions, chopped tomatoes, sliced black olives, sliced jalapenos, and salsa.   I always have sour cream and green onions to garnish ours with.  

I made this again night before last and served it up in some green transferware bowls.   Each of my kids, Shawn and an extra one staying with us commented on how delicious it was.  In fact, we have found that the cheese sauce is excellent for tortilla chip dipping and would be a wonderful base for a soup/chowder with just a little extra added milk or perhaps broth to thin it down.  It would also be good with chicken.  There are endless possibilities with this! If you like Mexican food, I am pretty confident you'll like this.  I hope you'll let me know what you think!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Monday, August 11, 2014

A Sneak Peek into My Kitchen

Last week I posted HERE about the figural pieces of transferware in my shop and tonight I thought I'd do a quick post and show some of the ones I have in my collection that are displayed in vignettes around my kicthen.   

Next to the stove I have a large dairy cheese slab (you can read about these pieces HERE) which holds a couple of transferware pitchers filled with utensils, a jar of olive oil that we cook with regularly, salt and pepper shakers and a nice, plump little piggy.  The piggy doesn't really serve a purpose other than to look cute and make me want bacon.  It's actually a piggy bank.  I've got two of these and am currently trying to decide which one to sell.  They are so darn cute though that it's hard to decide!  One is an advertising piece for Harrod's and is printed in green.  

Over in the corner, next to the sink I have my rooster pitcher, nesting hen egg basket and a chicken creamer.  I've layered two trays behind these pieces; a very large handled wicker and iron tray and inside of it sets an antique hand painted tole tray.  I love this little vignette and it's one of the first things I see when I walk in the kitchen.

An another counter top is this cute cow creamer Cow creamers are really popular pieces and make fun collections in and of themselves as there are so many different ones.   I call this the laughing cow. 

 It is displayed  along with a huge Spode platter, a Masons Vista jug and my latest addition to my advertising collection, a huge, antique 1 gallon size Marmalade crock (I am going to be listing one of these in my shop soon)!

Hope you all enjoyed these kitchen vignette photos. 

It's 9:00 and I'm finishing up for the day with a piece of banana cake I made this afternoon.   I'll share the recipe soon.

Have a nice night!

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