Classic Chicken a la King is rich and creamy and made from scratch. This easy dinner recipe is great served over rice, pasta, toast, or biscuits!
1/2 cup salted butter
8 ounces mushrooms sliced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup heavy creamy
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup chopped drained pimientos
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add in mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes.
Add in flour and stir until there are no more specks of flour left. Pour in chicken broth and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes.
For a richer sauce: in a small mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks with heavy cream. Working quickly, slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the hot mixture into the egg mixture while whisking vigorously. Immediately pour this mixture back into the saucepan, whisking the entire time. Cook 2 minutes more.
Stir in frozen peas, drained pimientos, and cooked chicken and let heat through, 2 to 3 minutes.
Serve hot over cooked rice, pasta, toast, or biscuits.
Step 1Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
Step 2Cook sausage in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink; drain.
Step 3Sauté onion and bell peppers in hot oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat 6 minutes. Add garlic, and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in sausage, cooked pasta, chicken broth, crushed red pepper, and black pepper. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Transfer to a serving dish, and top evenly with basil and cheese. Serve immediately.
Layers of thinly sliced sweet potatoes are baked in a sage-infused cream for this tian, which is a French term for both the style of casserole as well as the shallow earthenware dish it is traditionally baked in. Simple and satisfying, this side dish pairs will pair just as well with a Thanksgiving turkey as it will with a holiday ham.
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, plus 7 whole black peppercorns
5 cups half-and-half
32 fresh sage leaves (from 1 bunch)
4 cloves garlic, smashed
3 pounds sweet potatoes, such as Jewel, Garnet, or Beauregard, unpeeled
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Step 1Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush butter evenly over bottom and sides of a 9-by-12-inch oval baking dish, 8-by-10-inch rectangular baking dish, or other shallow 2-to-2 1/2-quart dish. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese evenly over butter; season with ground pepper.
Step 2Combine half-and-half, 20 sage leaves, garlic, and peppercorns in a large saucepan; season with 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced by half, 15 to 20 minutes. Strain, discarding solids; season to taste.
Step 3Meanwhile, slice sweet potatoes into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Snugly arrange slices vertically in prepared baking dish. Tuck remaining 12 sage leaves between potatoes; carefully pour half-and-half mixture over top. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and lightly drizzle with oil.
Step 4Roast until potatoes are tender and top is golden brown, 55 to 65 minutes. (If top is browning too quickly, tent with foil.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
Brahms Mount weaves textiles with a signature American look and soft, luxurious hand. Classically beautiful, wonderfully comfortable and grounded in the authentic character and centuries-old textile tradition of Maine, their products have been capturing hearts since the company was founded in 1983.
Be very careful to not garden when it is overly hot and dry. Plan the hours and days when you will enjoy being in the garden. In August I limit myself to 6am to 8 am and then after dinner before nightfall.
Those bargain-basement annuals that you bought back in July should have returned to health by now. Keep them watered and insect-free.
2. Keep everything watered! and continue to mulch so that you can afford not to mind the garden for days at a time. Mulch cuts down on weed growth and lessens your need for watering- plus mulch will soak up extra water from thunderstorms.
3. Harvest vegetables and berries regularly. Zucchinis will get tough if you leave them too long on the vine and not harvesting can cut down a plant’s willingness to put out more. Tomatos can be sliced/chopped and frozen until you have enough for sauce so do pick them as they are ready.
4. Harvest herbs because although we love to dry them, they are awesome when grilling. `
5. And lastly, August is a great time to assess your pests. Gopher, Rabbit and Groundhog damage can be scene more readily and its a good time to note where and how prevalent these little garden fiends are and to make a list of where we will want to put plants next year that discourage them.
At Pipe Creek Farm, ground hogs are a major issue. Not just in the garden but they can be a safety issue for horses that can easily break a leg in an unseen hole and even for tractors that can turn over or get stuck on hills that have been eroded from underground by runamok rodents. Hawks, foxes and coyotes do our main groundhog control but I always try and keep them away from the house and gardens- and the dogs.
Heading down to the Pond
Inaccessible when we first arrived, we could tell that there was great potential when we could see geese and ducks flying overhead. Sadly we often found geese nests, bones and egg chips so we knew that predators were enjoying the overgrown conditions more than the geese.
We cut and mowed until we had a path that wound around the pond. We placed some Adirondack benches for either side and cleared where they would be and then stopped. Too much clearing and once again the birds would have no where to hide and protect their young. Coyotes now can be seen approaching and the deer venture forth now for water and berries. To draw wildlife we do place salt licks for the deer and encourage berries bushes and we will place corn there in the Fall.
The pond is a great place to cool off, fish and take a canoe ride. The dogs find it irresistible and the geese families now know that they are harmless. A magical place best kept in a semi-natural state with minimum mowing and clearing.
Nothing spells Summer like Hydrangeas! They are beautiful and easy. But their popularity has meant that the varietals have started to pop up everywhere and now we need to know what we’ve planted and how to care for them. I am a huge Oak Leaf Hydrangea fan because I love mine to be big and form a hedge ( I use Alice which can grow to 10 feet). but I also have always had a Nikko or two in the flower beds. Do I prune both the same? NO!
If you are lucky, your home had a PeeGee hydrangea when you moved in. I think we need a guide to growing these lovelies. So lets get started. And by the way, you can get a piece of grandmom’s PeeGee and grow it in your yard. I’ll show you how.
Some hydrangeas have large, round flower clusters while others have smaller, flatter, and more delicate flowers. The foliage also varies depending on the species. Plus, these versatile shrubs thrive in sandy coastal soils, shady woodland sites, and almost everything in between. To ensure that hydrangea shrubs have time to establish a healthy root system before blooming, it is best to plant them in fall or early spring. Once planted, hydrangeas are rapid growers, averaging 2 feet or more of growth per year.
Toxic to people and animals, be careful not to allow young children to place in their mouths.
Fertilizer: If your soil is rich in nutrients, you likely won’t have to fertilize your hydrangeas. In fact, if hydrangeas are given too much high-nitrogen fertilizer, they might grow full and lush but with fewer flowers. If your soil is not rich, apply a flowering shrub fertilizer in the spring.
Placement: Hydrangeas prefer fairly mild temperatures. In areas with cold winters, dieback (a plant dying from the tips of its leaves inward) can be a problem. Protect your hydrangeas from cold winds by planting them in a sheltered spot or with a burlap windscreen or burlap frame filled with dry leaves. A north- or east-facing site, where temperatures remain somewhat constant, is a better choice than a spot on the south and west side of your property, which will heat up in the winter sun and can cause buds to open prematurely and be vulnerable to cold snaps. Hydrangeas prefer moderate to high humidity, as dry climates can cause the leaves to wilt which is why they naturally grow and are native to the South.
Too much shade can reduce a hydrangea shrub’s flower output. Hydrangeas do well in the partial shade provided by tall deciduous trees, especially if they receive morning sun and the partial shade is in the heat of the afternoon. They will also thrive in full sun but might need extra water on hot summer days.
Water: Hydrangeas prefer a deep watering at least once a week unless you’ve had rainfall. During particularly hot weather, slightly increase the amount of water, but make sure they’re not sitting in soggy soil.
Soil: Hydrangeas can tolerate a wide range of soil types. YES! And you may be able to change their flower color. Although somewhat determined by cultivar, the color can be tweaked by the amount of aluminum in the soil and the soil pH. The soil pH determines how available aluminum is to the plants. Acidic soil (aluminum available to the plants) will give you blue flowers, and alkaline soil (aluminum unavailable to the plants) will give you pink flowers.
To decrease the acidity of your soil and change flowers from blue to pink, add hydrated lime to the soil in the spring. To increase the acidity to change flowers from pink to blue, add aluminum sulfate to your soil in the spring, or mulch with oak-leaf mulch.
Blooms on old or new wood
When to prune
Immediately after flowers fade
Late winter or early spring before new growth starts
Light pruning in late winter or early spring
Summer after flowers fade
Immediately after flowering
Winter or early spring, only when necessary to control size
Easily recognized by its oak leaf-shaped foliage. It is native to the southeastern United States, in woodland habitats from North Carolina west to Tennessee, and south to Florida and Louisiana. Can grow from 4-8 feet up and out.
PLANT: full sun to partial shade in moist well-drained soil.
PRUNE: Oakleaf hydrangea blooms on old growth and should be pruned immediately after it has finished flowering.
Mountain hydrangeas are small flowering shrubs with narrow, pointed leaves and flattened flower heads.
Mountain hydrangeas are small flowering shrubs with narrow, pointed leaves and flattened flower heads. 2 feet high and out and works well under higher shrubs and in border gardens.
PLANT: Easily grown in sun or partial shade
PRUNE: Prune after it flowers, trim back to a pair of healthy buds. In early spring, prune unhealthy stems to the ground.
Smooth hydrangea, including the popular cultivar H. arborescens ‘Grandiflora,’ doesn’t usually have any problems blooming, though its white flowers aren’t as showy as we normally expect from hydrangeas. It’s a round shrub with leaves that are somewhat rounded with a pointed end, paler on the underside than on the top. Popular varieties are Annabelle or Incrediball.
PLANT: full sun to partial shade in moist well-drained soil.
PRUNE: lightly just after its flowers fade in early autumn.
Also known as panicle hydrangeas, peegees display massive snowball-shaped flower clusters in mid- to late summer. The flowers start out white and slowly turn pink, drying and remaining on the plant. Can take full sun and is the hardiest of all the hydrangeas in cold weather. It can grow to 6′ up and out.
PLANT: Best in full sun to partial shade.
PRUNE: light pruning of individual stems in late winter or early spring plus you can deadhead spent flowers during summer
The stunning climbing hydrangea is the type you see slowly making its way up a tree or other support. It’s a vine not a shrub, and it generally requires little to no pruning. This plant flowers on old wood grown during the previous season.
PRUNE: might need occasional late winter pruning to set boundaries. Overgrown? cut back to ground level in early spring to rejuvenate the plant.
The bigleaf hydrangea often has flowers whose color changes with the soil pH: blue in acid soil and pink in alkaline soil. However, there are also a few varieties that simply stay white. Its leaves are coarsely serrated and glossy, dark green. Bigleaf hydrangeas set their flower buds from late summer to early fall. Grows to 4-5 feet up and out.
PLANT: Sun to part shade. Rich, well drained soil
PRUNE: When most of the flowers have faded, it’s time for pruning. Pruning in the spring or even late fall will remove the flower buds and any chance of getting blooms for that season. Don’t prune the old wood because this is what will keep flowering as the new growth matures.
DRYING YOUR HYDRANGEA BLOOMS
After a successful growing season, you hate to see your hydrangeas fade. So keep them around by drying them. Here’s How:
Cut the blooms when they are just past their prime. If the flower has too much water, it can take too long to dry out and get mushy. You want to cut them when they are getting a little papery in texture.
Remove all the leaves.
Place the stems in a vase of water with about 4-5 inches of water. Place the stems in a cool dry place and wait for the water to evaporate. Dont overcrowd the vase. Give the stems plenty of room and air to dry evenly.
HOW TO MAKE A HYDRANGEA WREATHE
USING DRIED HYDRANGEA
You’ll need a grapevine form, some wire, a hot glue gun and a clear sealant.
Work your way around the wreath form, weaving bunches through the grapevine to hold them in place. Secure the stems to the wreath with florists wire. Simply loop it around the wreath and twist to secure. Once you’ve worked your way around, add smaller hydrangea flowers to fill in any gaps. If needed, you can use hot glue to keep the flowers in place. Spray with a clear sealant (yes hairspray works). Will last for years with care.
USING FRESH FLOWERS
You’ll need a wire frame, floral wire
Work your way around the wireframe attaching bundles of blooms and wrapping the wire 3 times for each bundle. Limelight hydrangeas work well here!
During the Victorian era, hydrangeas were thought to represent showiness or boastfulness. This was because while hydrangeas produce spectacular flowers, they rarely, if ever, produce seeds. This can create a problem for a gardener who wants to propagate hydrangea shrubs. Because of this, propagating hydrangeas is typically done from cuttings — also referred to as “striking”.
Let’s take a look at how to root cuttings from hydrangea bushes.
The first step for how to root cuttings from hydrangea is to select a stem for cutting. In early fall, choose a stem for hydrangea propagation that is at least 6 inches (15 cm.) long, has no flower, and is new growth. A new growth stem will be a lighter green than old growth. Also be aware that if you live in a colder climate where the hydrangea dies back to the ground, the whole shrub may consist of new growth Once you have selected a stem to propagate the hydrangea, take a sharp pair of shears and cut the stem off just below a leaf node. A leaf node is where a set of leaves will be growing.
The hydrangea cutting should be at least 4 inches (10 cm.) long and should contain at least one additional set of leaves above the selected leaf node. Next, strip all but the topmost set of leaves from the cutting. The cutting should have only two leaves left. Cut the two remaining leaves in half crosswise (not lengthwise).
Dip the end of the cutting in rooting hormone. While rooting hormone will increase the chances of successfully propagating hydrangeas, you can still propagate hydrangea shrubs without it. Stick the cutting into damp potting soil. Cover the pot with a plastic bag, making sure that the bag does not touch the leaves of the hydrangea cutting. Place the pot in a sheltered location out of direct sunlight.
Many things conspired to bring us here, many of them not particularly good but then again we never know the plan, do we? And you can really appreciate the concept of Fate when it happens to you. Here tucked away on a 450 acre farm in Westminster Maryland was a charming house that had been cared for by the Chambers family and let out to people who cared and sometimes didn’t about preserving this place a home.
We had been living in Monkton Maryland since our daughter had gone off to college. We had what we called an artist’s cabin on the Gunpowder River. But it had issues and it was time to go after 7 years. Moving all the way to Westminster was not met with enthusiasm by anyone and it did mean an hour commute to work but then again- work was secondary in a pandemic. I argued to make the move because I thought that this house needed the kind of work that Spider and I had always been good at- hard work, physical labor and zero patience work- pick a project and get it done work.
The house had been put into very good shape by the owners and the Realtor. It had its typical and amusing old house issues- like light switches that dont seem to be attached to lights and actual lights that dont appear to have a way to turn them on. If you’re smart, you call that Charm and move on. A pickier person will spend $5000 putting it all in order. Plus we needed things to tackle what wasn’t perfectly fine!
A good decorator could turn these rooms into any style you imagine yourself living in. But I took a cue from a great decorator, Barry Dixon and a home he did in Virginia that I was lucky enough to visit. Let the house be what it is supposed to be. We are living in a farmhouse. Get used to it. Not a cottage, not an Estate- its a house on a farm. Now with a few channelings from Barry Dixon-make it the best farmhouse it can be. Good thing I am an antique dealer. But you never own what you need so, Oh I wish I had a budget and a credit card!
Nestled in trees on top of a hill whose precipice is way too close, it has both shade and sun and, more importantly; its quiet. It looks over forest within feet on one side and hay fields on the other that stretch out forever. It has a sky that has a blue that you only see in paintings and at night is pitch black with layers of twinkling lights- the stars, an occasional airplane and the lightening bugs- all doing their part to keep you outside. The back of the house looks doooowwwwwnn into a pasture and at one end of that is a pond. The front of the house looks up to the big red barn. A long formal driveway under oak trees can be perceived but has long ago succumbed to falling trees and ever growing thorn bushes. You can see at once that things GROW here.
We determined it best to shelve our house muse and call upon the teachings of another master, John Saladino whose exterior rooms are as magnificent as his interiors. The exterior needed to be done first! (and it costs less). I remembered a lecture I attended once given by Mr Saladino in Washington DC where we went on a tear about suburbanites who plant azaleas in the sun and have dogwood trees in their front yards. I never enjoyed a lecture more- rear ends were twitching and sliding throughout the room as women were scolded for not having natural exteriors- you know, lawns vs yards. I remember thinking that someone should take Mr Saladino through Bethesda on the way back to the airport. But still a great lesson because he was right! So years one and two will be for clearing and creating great soil. And….as funds permit peonies and daylillies will replace grass in the sun and azaleas, rhododendrons and even a dogwood or two will find themselves settled in the cleared woods.
So the house could get the breathing room we should always give a home before we redo it and make it our own. And Spider and I could get to what we do best- labor. What I had not realized was how ill equipped we were to take this on. Living in the artist cabin on the river, we had a cappuccino machine not a chainsaw not to mention a riding mower. Normally you would just go to Lowe’s. But with no work and no open stores- and good heavens, these new mowers are 5000 dollars. So I started driving around looking for signs of life in the towns around me and found Jerry. Jerry has a junkyard and a lawn service. I was able to make 2 payments and get Scott, my first lawn mower for 350.00. Scott will cut anything. He has heart. Only when I run up on unseen, downed trees will Scott get fed up and turn over- pinning me in 5 foot tall grass screaming for Spider, who responds, “Where are you?” and to which I can only repeatedly yell louder, HERE!. Scott is my friend and he and I spend romantic late afternoons together looking out over whatever plot he has mowed that day. I have a glass of wine and he sighs and moans and coughs up oil as he settles. Jerry has also created Frank or Frankenstein as no two parts fit perfectly together, a John Deere with a wicked turning radius but no heart. I will always prefer Scott.
Other tools had to be found- a wood chipper, push mower, tiller, hoses, sprinklers, edgers, weeders There is just nothing in our urban tool box that can do this kind of work. And there is no point even starting with out the hedge hog- especially if I was going to reach the pond which at first was inaccessible but held forth such promise- as I could see Geese overhead. So everything went on Ebay that we had and we worked our way down the Need List as things sold. Slowly pasture was cleared and just as fast, it needed to be replanted or put to some use. So we named everything the gate, the drive, the garden, the glen, the orchard, the pasture, the upper field and the pond- we made each area our friend and we set about defining them with love and a chainsaw.
Working here on Pipe Creek Farm has another wonderful advantage. You are never lost for something to do. That feeling of what do I do today when you first wake up was decided when you put your rake down the night before. And as I work in the peace of the land, I have come to understand people in my past better. My grandparents, for instance would look at something you offered to buy them and simply say, “this one works fine”. Or when they would excuse themselves from family and company that had come to swim or vacation and slip away and back into chores- because they loved the work. They saw the result even if it was not admired by anyone else and they enjoyed each other – because they shared the same Need List.
Year One we uncovered the brick pathway, added a few feet and planted Hostas (the best plant in the Universe)- a few Birch Trees that we got for $5 dollars from Tractor Supply and now we wait for the trees to lend shade.
It helps to be an antique dealer! I have carted the zinc panel in the background to every home for the last 25 years. It fits, like so many fated things- perfectly.
PART TWO: The Garden- you dont know what you dont know.
We have been blessed this year with lots of rain! That is hours of Mother Nature doing my evening chores and cooling off the the very hot daily temperatures. But rain can bring its own unique problems, we have many down or weakened trees and loads of weeds. So …lots of expense and hard work..as always.
They hay harvest was late and got barned just before the 4th- so no fireworks! It only takes minutes for a spark to level a full barn of hay. But thanks to the downed Locust tree, we could see all the other fireworks from the porch.
Tomatoes seem late to me, but we planted so many that I will never go hungry this winter. The herbs are nuts! The neighbor’s corn is almost ready. BTW how do you buy “Local Corn” when the fields everywhere are only half high? As always zucchini and squash are prolific. Potatoes are doing great. Sweet potatoes not so much. A good lesson to the different ways they were planted… Its really too hot to be outside during the day but starting after work there are a couple of hours that are really beautiful in the garden and of course, we finish the day atop the hill or by the pond with a glass of wine.
All the garden centers have SALES going on now. Try and buy from the local garden centers if possible but even I cannot resist the sales at Home Depot and Lowes. A 4 foot tall Nanho Butterfly Bush is now 17.00. Come on! Do be careful though…the damage done to these plants from forced survival waterings and sitting on baking asphalt for months can be too much for healthy roots. I sometimes look at these centers as a plant ASPCA. I feel more like I am adopting. If a tree is truly days away from death, I always offer to take them off their hands for few dollars. Amazingly, managers agree most times. So its a great time to shop, make some deals and plan for next years garden lay out.
SECOND: We can still plant. You can even still sow seeds. But get started now!
BEANS, BEETS, CARROTS can start from seed
CUCUMBERS, KALE, CABBAGE, BROCCOLI, CAWLIFLOWER, SQUASH are available in plant packs and that gives them some extra time. If you grow to harvest- you can wait on Kale – it hates the heat and will push to flower. I have Kale in my fenced garden for eating and Kale in the pasture garden for its beauty and for the deer, of course.
THIRD: We Harvest! You should still be getting strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. And then, of course, its July so we get Peaches!!
We planted 4 trees in our newly restored orchard, two made it past winter. We had moved them late when we finally got the orchard cleared last year. But we did not give them enough time to get their roots down. The surviving two are burdened down with peaches now and they should be in our store by this weekend. And I will be making peach ice cream for myself…If peaches are really plentiful, we’ll do a chutney. Of all the fruit crops, peaches are the most beautiful and helpful….planted in the right spot (protected from wind)…they are pretty easy. So I’ll be checking those SALES for a few more to complete that orchard.
FOURTH: MORE MULCHING ! Compost should be turning out now from early Spring clean up and water will get scarce next month. Its back breaking work so we do one wheel barrel every morning. and just let the projects pile up.
FIFTH: We start the canning. We have finished the Dill pickles and Bread and Butter pickles. And tomatoes are now coming on at a rate that is beyond our meals and store. So its getting to sauce time. And with all these zuchinnis- I’m guessing that relish is in my future.
When we first moved to Pipe Creek Farm, our first project was the horse run in barn. Filled with manure and hornets, it was very close to the main house and had to be cleaned but was far enough way to be able to have a rustic, tree house fun space of it own. Someplace you sit while still dirty or hide out with a book.
The shed was small- but big enough to be a room. So manure out of the barn and into the compost pile…Next we tried to level out the shed floor but even an axe could not get through. We put down cobblestone “look” cement pavers. A pair of louvered doors that I had been carrying around for years- finally found their forever home on either side of the opening. We painted the interior a light green, with a black green coat over the beams and the ceiling (metal, yuck) and them scrubbed the wood walls which this fall will get a coat of wax.
Then it was off to the stone yard for stone pallets, which are stronger and made to last and they have way too many! Back home and level out the front of the entry. Lay out the pallets, measure them and then off to Lowes for decking. No you should not do this…but you CAN. I wanted a deck, a porch so that a dining table could be under the stars. It doesn’t have to last forever, I wont.
We found a great but over the hill, antique German wardrobe at an auction (Brad Dudley & Son). It had no doors so we took just the top and bottom and made a big potting stand. Above it, another collection of iron wedges found a home. I put in a small flagstone area underneath to keep water from seeping into the wood. The potting area faces the garden and old zinc milk boxes keep seeds and small tools dry.
On the other side, I put a grill. This summer, sauces for canning will all be done here. Meanwhile, dinner goes right to the grill! and we rarely make it back in the house. Carrots with just a little oil and salt and pepper- peppers, corn and tomatoes are all just a few minutes and a little gas or charcoal from vine to dine!
The shed looks down on a new stock tank pool tucked into a fig orchard.
Easy to clean You can machine wash, hand wash or dry clean. Check out our guide.
Goes with everything white or ivory goes with everthing but they are not interchangable
Elegant You can dress it up and make it casual. That’s why they call it classic
Mix it up You can use different designs and collections together as long as the color matches!
OUR VIEW: People are sometimes hesitant to purchase fine linens. They are scared that they are a lot of work, can be ruined easily and are not convenient. Our view is that they are more work than a paper napkin- and that’s about it. Paper napkins are a one time and toss what could be less GREEN. Cloth napkins will last, they are beautiful and with a few rules of thumb- are easily cleaned. Cloth napkins are nicer to live with. You spend time and money on preparing dinner- so dine! don’t just eat! You can read about Caring for Table Linens here.
My best advice would be to start every collection with a good set of white or ivory napkins. White is more contemporary and goes nicely with cool colors. Ivory has a greater array of base colors, its warm and inviting. Both can be dressed up, starched, and monogrammed or left to their wrinkled beauty. I have found that ivory is easier to mix and match and lends itself to mix easily both new and old.
Then add a tablecloth when you have settled on your dining table or do a runner for both indoors and out. I personally do not do white placemats, unless they are wood, rattan or my favorite, Chilewich. I use placemats for design more than function so I usually go for color. But knowing that there are 12 napkins and a tablecloth that are clean and pressed in the closet gives me great comfort as I rush through the grocery at 5 pm the day before Thanksgiving.
But most importantly- USE YOUR LINENS. Think about collecting antique linens as well. But try and match size (20 – 22″ square for a dinner napkin) slight variations in design and hue are usually a lovely addition to your table.
Antique fabrics can lose their pristine quality over time, often due to dinner-party spills, dirt settling into folds, and discolorations caused by ironing and starch. Some may be too delicate to machine-wash. . Fortunately, with a little bit of patience, you can revive them.
WWMD: ( What would Martha do?)
If the pieces have been exiled to the deepest corner of your linen closet for a while, give them a long bath in plain cold or tepid water to loosen set-in grime. Replace the water when it gets cloudy, and repeat until it stays clear. (And we do mean a long one: This can take up to a week.)
Fill a tub with tepid water and mild laundry detergent. Wearing rubber gloves, slosh the linens around gently. Rinse well.
Martha Stewart Living home editor Lorna Aragon swears by Engleside Restoration Fabric Restorer to remove stubborn stains. Dissolve three scoops per gallon of water, then soak the fabric for six to eight hours. Remove and rinse.
The sun has natural fabric-brightening powers. Lay your items flat on a towel outside (or in a sunny spot inside).
To keep antique linens in mint condition, store them in a dry, dark cupboard on shelves that are painted or lined with acid-free paper (oils in wood can discolor them), and tuck sheets of acid-free paper in their folds, too.
Machine wash in warm (not hot) water on gentle cycle. You may use any mild detergent or soap. Use enzyme reactive stain removers only. Do not use chlorine, bleach, stain removers or detergents with lighteners (if its blue, its not your friend). Never pour detergent or soap directly on your textiles. Either pour it in when the tub is full or dilute it. Do not use fabric softeners. These only coat the fibers and make them “appear” to be soft. Use one cup of white vinegar in the rinse water to remove any traces of soap and leave fabrics smelling fresh.
The ideal way to dry textiles is air only. A line or rod is perfect, but you can use a railing or shower rod as well. If you must use a dryer, use the lowest setting and never, never dry completely. During the last few minutes of a dryer cycle the fabric overheats and dries out, making it brittle and lifeless over time. Always remove them from the dryer while still damp.
This is an ideal time to press, but if that is not possible, let them air dry. Press on the underside, using a well-padded ironing board and a clean iron. Do not press in creases because this will also cause wear over time. When pressing monograms or embellishments, place face down on a terry towel so that the decoration will “pop” out.
Finally, simply fold them neatly. Never store linens in plastic. If you must cover them, use an old piece of sheeting or pillow case. Storage should be dry and away from light with some air circulation.
Accidents…try these tips:
If wine is spilled, immediately splash seltzer water on the spot and place a dry towel underneath it
. For food stains, not much can be done until after the meal. When the meal is finished, “spot” the stains with diluted mild detergent and fill the washing machine with warm water. Now let them soak all night long. In the morning, turn the machine on and this usually will take care of it. If you still have a problem, then soak another 24 hours in enzyme reactive stain removers. Dry and press.
For candle wax, scrape off as much as you can only when it is hard. Place a brown paper bag over the wax and iron on top of this, changing positions frequently until all wax is absorbed. You should then “spot” that place with diluted detergent and follow the soaking instructions above.
You may have heard that the classic tradition of picnicing is having a moment again, rebooted for 2021 as an altogether more luxury picnic. Outdoor get-togethers, having initially become a necessity, are now the activity of choice for re-engaging with friends and family.
Below is our guide for making the most of your summer, whether the occasion is a low-key drink and snacks or a fabulous multi-course dinner party, to help you have a season full of memorable, stylish luxury picnics.
For a whimsical and intimate luxury picnic date, pack all the necessities in a whicker hamper along with Huddleson’s Lovebirds Linen Tablecloth andLovebirds Napkinsto set the mood. Suddenly, even the most simple menu of wine and chips looks like a lesson in charming sophistication!
A garden tea party calls for fresh light colors. The combination of a Celadon Green Table Runner and Ivory Napkins– an elegant turquoise and creamy off-white – is one of our favorites, and it looks wonderful out on the veranda.
This happy table is sure to keep a smile on your face as you enjoy an al fresco cheese board. The Piccadilly Round Polka Dot Tableclothis perfect for celebrations big and small. Did you notice how the dots form into petals? Always thoughtful design from Huddleson!
Done right, dining outdoors can be better than anything you could put together inside. This dinner on the beach is one such occasion – surrounded by woods and an endless lake view, giving an unforgettable experience. The place settings echo these surroundings: ambers and blues to echo the sunset over the lake and armfuls of fresh white flowers. The napkins are Huddleson’s Seagram print inspired by the paintings of Mark Rothko. Building a wine cooler into your table will ensure that you don’t miss a moment!
A summer Champagne brunch calls for the soft, preppy elegance of Huddleson’s Sky Blue Table Runner andSky BlueNapkins. It’s a fresh, elegant daytime look and provides the perfect basis for everyone’s favorite blue and white color pairing, allowing you to bring in an artfully mismatched selection of plates and bowls.
On this outdoor lunch table, the rich blue-green tone of the Petrol Green Linen Tableclothplays beautifully off nature’s shades of green surrounding it. Add in some vibrant red Calla Lillies for a focal burst of color, load up the table with meze and settle in for a memorably chic afternoon in the fresh air.
Browse the Entire Collection and put together your own perfect luxury picnic to celebrate reconnecting with your loved ones.