Saturday, November 29, 2008

The sprout has landed

Normally, I reserve blog posts to shop information only, however, this post is in response to all the inquiries about how my dad's Thanksgiving brussel sprouts turned out this year. In case you are not on my email mailing list and did not receive November's Urban Farmhouse newsletter…here is the beginning of this story:

Thanksgiving is probably my most favorite holiday. What other meal do we plan with so much nostalgia? How many meals does the whole family join in on during the planning and preparation? My family starts prepping the menu weeks in advance. We watch every Thanksgiving cooking special on the Food Network, research and print off recipes, try a few before the week arrives, etc. A few have reached the status of permanence on our menu: cream of wild mushroom soup, King's Arms Tavern cream of peanut soup, Cajun fried turkey, classic sage dressing, my mom's Sally Lund bread, cranberry-orange relish, and my Grandma Ada's gravy & pies.

There is one elusive recipe that my dad has been seeking for about 7 years now...a coveted brussel sprout dish. Every year he tries a new method. He has roasted them, boiled them, blanched them and sautéed them with fresh parmesan and garlic (a particularly pungent year). Thus far he has not found a "keeper". I'm sure he's burned a few midnight candles this week looking for another recipe worthy of a try. The rest of my family, most of whom do not appreciate the mighty sprout with the same exuberance as my dad, would appreciate any previously tested (and I mean tasted) recipes (with written references and photos, but no samples, samples).

Well, this year, the search is over. No, he didn't give up…he won us over, not with perseverance, but with wonderful flavor. I can't describe it better than the description that prefaces the recipe so here it is from

"Not too often do you hear 'fantastic' and 'Brussels sprouts' in the same sentence but this recipe is deserving of that. When I mentioned I was bringing Brussels sprouts to a holiday get together, my mom told me not to bother. After eating this dish, my family now requests I bring it to every get together!"

  • 1/2 pound sliced bacon
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, cored and shredded
  • 3 green onions, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • pepper to taste

    Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons grease, crumble and set aside. In the same skillet, melt butter in with reserved bacon grease over medium heat. Add pine nuts, and cook, stirring until browned. Add Brussels sprouts and green onions to the pan, and season with seasoning salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until sprouts are wilted and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in crumbled bacon just before serving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


We know how hectic this season will be and would like to make it easier to shop. To that end we will be open every Sunday starting this weekend through the end of December from noon until 4 pm. Urban Farmhouse is holiday shopping the way it should be, unrushed, unique, and magical. We hope to see you soon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Windows

The holiday windows are always big fun for me. I start thinking about them in January and run through all kinds of ideas. A lot gets changed, altered or flat out scrapped before the final plan comes together. Usually I have too much planned for the space and my original plan is scaled back to be more simplistic. I have to keep in mind 2 things:
1) it has to be big - teeny tiny is pointless for people driving by at 25mph (wish the semi drivers would read this and realize it's 25mph in the village!!)
2) this time of year it's more of an invitation to come in rather than sellable space (although by the time I took this picture several items sold off the icy table).

(((A favorite from last year returns, these glittered star wreath holders.)))

The icicles took FOREVER! First we unrolled the "paper". I then handcut lengths of icicles leaving enough at the top to adhere to the window. I should have done that part weeks ago. Then, trying to seperate the skin back from the frosted front zapped mine and my mom's patience. Thankfully, on the second window Lisa Marton stepped in with her usually level headed calmness and started each piece for us. She had the touch. It was so frustrating at one point I almost said just forget it. We still had the entire shop to flip!! But I'm glad we pressed (pun intended) on, they are the icing on the cake so to speak!

"Deep within the winter forest among the snowdrift wide, you can find a magic place where all the fairies hide." I think this is where they gather for their feast. I used 4 glass cylinder vases for the table legs, luckily finding the third the day before set up. I had planned on glass block stacked for the legs until I priced them...scary. The cylinders actually worked out better because U was able to partially fill them with snow. The glass top is from my parent's patio table. The "food" is cupcakes stacked on the frosty tiered stand are made from expanding foam insulation in cupcake liners, there is a siler tray laden with icy glass "croquette's" dripping with white primer "icing", the carved ice martini glasses are filled with chunky ice and an icy ribbon tied bucket holds frosty white pears (I know I know...not things you see at 25mph, broke rule #1).

My skater, she actually turns which was my plan, I was even going to conceal a fan up in the corner to keep her moving but she has Julia Roberts' legs and she gets hung up in the trees. Her original "ice" (vintage mirror) sold the night of the Gathering and was replaced the following week with another.

I do hope they add joy to your holiday season!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Urban Farmhouse Unwrapped

The 3 or 4 weeks leading up to our Christmas weekend are extremely fun but also chock full of anxiety, fear, & dread just to name a few. Only because I so want everything to be perfect for everyone. Most of my plans materialize but others have to be altered or sometimes scrapped altogether (like having carriage rides through town for customers..."no can do" on the state routes, something silly like safety was mentioned.) At 5 o'clock Thursday, when I am totally wiped out mentally and physically, I am trying to get those deadbolts to slide on the front door...the anxiety, fear & dread melt away when I see a line of glorious customers waiting outside...a wonderful thing to see let me tell you. Groups of women arrived one after another all three days. Some quiet and focused, others filling the shop with contagious laughter & giggling, and the Urban Farmhouse virgins completely speechless except for phrases like "OH! Look at that!" or "Wait until you see this!" or "You need at least 2 of these!".

With Janet, Lisa Marton, Denise & my dear friend Kimberly assisting everyone with their purchases my mom and I covered the floor, filling in the newly made holes with new product freshly pulled from my stash of goods in the "dungeon". All weekend we rearranged while customers snatched up everything in sight. We are still unpacking new products that we couldn't get out for the weekend because we simply ran out of room and time and more are scheduled to arrive each week. We have reordered some of the best sellers that are gone already and continue searching out new and wonderful items for you. This year we are carrying just as many gift items as Christmas goods. Okay, enough of my ramblings, here are the photos I took an hour before opening.

Just a smattering of Lisa Marton's fantastic vintage items.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Urban Farmhouse goods featured in Country Living!

Now that my Christmas season kick off weekend is a little bit behind me I am finally able to blog about one of my products being featured in a gorgeous layout in Country Living magazine. I have known since mid August about the feature but had not seen the photos yet and could hardly stand the wait! Once an on-line order from Pennsylvania came in on my website for the product featured I knew Ohio delivery would be soon...finally on Wednesday the wait was over.

photo credit: Don Freeman
photo caption: (((((Mercury glass finials by Urban Farmhouse line up like toy soldiers on the mantel, alongside a glass vase from Crate & Barrel and silver-plated pieces from Kevin's own collection. A mirror from a barn sale is positioned on the mantel to bounce reflective light and color throughout the room.)))))

I quickly flipped through my issue looking for "Christmas at Boxwood Cottage" but I couldn't find it...then, one more flip and there it was with a new title just to throw me off. "Let It Shine" is a shimmering and festive Christmas arrangement showcasing Kevin Reiner's signature style in his Ohio farmhouse. Right there on the opening page of his piece are Urban Farmhouse's mercury glass finials with hand-strung fresh cranberries, cedar garland and fresh red tulips creating a fabulous Christmas confection on a simple farmhouse mantle.

The photos get even yummier as you flip each page. I especially love how Kevin set his 10-foot dining table for a special holiday evening with new and vintage pieces. Pink and white peonies in Frances Palmer pottery alongside vintage glass battery jars filled with layers of Kevin's ornaments. An added surprise for me? Tucked away in one of my kitchen cabinets are the same water goblets Kevin used in his place settings. They are pink Fostoria in the Jamestown pattern. My mom purchased them at the Fostoria outlet store in West Virginia in the 1960's. I think those will have to make an appearance with my ironstone on my holiday table...and I know where to get the mercury glass finials too!