A CHANGE OF PLANS

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I am a Midwest, central Illinois gal.  For as long as I can remember, the Morton Pumpkin Festival has taken place the second week of September, just shortly after the kids go back to school.  It was something we looked forward to throughout the year.  But this year, the date was changed to the THIRD week of September because of a late Labor Day.

This is momentous to me because I had already sent out promotional material that our Farm Grove September Sale would take place Sat., Sept. 19–WRONG.  That is the same day as the all-American pumpkin parade in Morton.  No self-respecting area gal would set a sale on that day of all days!!!

So without further ado, I hereby change the date of the sale to September 26.

FARM GROVE SEPTEMBER SALE

 SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26 – 10 A.M. TO 2 P.M.

THE FARM GROVE BARN

18886 SPRINGFIELD ROAD

GROVELAND, IL  61535

[One day only; cash or check.  No refunds or returns.]

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The Promise of Pumpkins — And a New Sale Date!

Pumpkin vine on the picket fence

Pumpkin vine on the picket fence

Fall brings out the passion for all things autumn.  This year I planted pumpkins in any bit of earth I thought had enough sun for them to flourish.  The vines in the step beds behind the picket fence are doing well.  I spotted at least four pumpkins; one is even turning a creamy yellow.  My husband is not happy that the exuberant vine in the picture is creeping its way toward the front lawn; I am trying to convince it to remain in the perennial border so its tendrils are not clipped by the lawn mower.

This fall especially I want a lot of pumpkins for our September Sale.  Pumpkins on hay bales, pumpkins on garden pedestals, pumpkins in old galvanized tubs and buckets and farm baskets…

SPEAKING OF PUMPKINS…The Morton Pumpkin Festival threw me a surprise curve this year.  I set my sale date on what I thought was the weekend AFTER the festival.  Wrong!  For the first time in my recollection the festival is the third week of September, not the second.  Someone mentioned the date had to do with the late Labor Day.  As a result, our Farm Grove September Sale will be SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26th beginning at 10 a.m. 

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Grow little pumpkin!

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Getaway Galena

The Streets of Old Galena, Illinois

The Streets of Old Galena, Illinois

To celebrate our 43rd anniversary, my husband and I took an over-night trip to Galena, Illinois.  Breath-taking views as we turned onto Highway 20 reminded us the northwest corner of Illinois is a refreshing departure from flat prairie.  We spent our time browsing the shops fueled by gelato and chocolate.  I found a pair of Euro slacks at Collette’s that may just change my life.  They are so slimming–I love them!  Savvy Scavenger’s carries close-out fashions at fabulous prices.  I purchased a soft fall scarf in pumpkin and slate.  My new slacks just happen to be the color of gray slate.

Our home-away-from-home was The Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel featuring an authentic pub restaurant, O’Dowd’s.  Good food and some traditional Irish specialties such as Shepherd’s Pie are served in a traditional atmosphere with a nice view of  woods and hills.  The pub features live entertainment on stage Friday and Saturday evenings.

Although it is The Irish Cottage, the cozy refers to the environment not the amenities.  They offer an indoor pool, fully equip workout facility and spa.  Breakfast is complimentary and served near the library and lounge.  Each room is given a basket with fresh fruit and scones–to-die-for scones.  They were soft and delicious!  Guests can help themselves to an additional breakfast assortment of English muffins, eggs, yogurt, juice and coffee.  We ate on a raised dais in the library filled with works from well-known Irish authors.  Baskets of large shiny red apples decorated the side tables for “help yourself.”

Comfy leather furniture, woodwork and books--the library.

Comfy leather furniture, woodwork and books–the library.

 

O'Dowd's Pub

O’Dowd’s Pub

Hotel Entrance

Hotel Entrance

Welcome to the Irish Cottage!

Welcome to the Irish Cottage!

This very comfortable hotel made our short stay feel much longer.  It is located near Grant’s Home in Galena on Route 20.

 

 

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SUMMER WEEKEND

Summer Produce

Summer Produce

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I am beginning to associate ripe tomatoes with summer’s last hurrah.  But they are worth the wait.  Next week I will probably set my sights on canning salsa with the basil, cilantro and tomatoes from the garden.  We still must dig the potatoes but this weekend’s priority was an all-day auction.

I purchased two café chairs and a truck load of farmhouse finds for our September 19th SEPTEMBER SALE at Farm Grove in Groveland.  My goal is to provide the kind of vintage charm that clients can use to create their own country kitchen and nostalgic atmosphere.

The benefit of vintage items such as granite ware, cast iron, and galvanized buckets and tubs is that while charming for display, they are also time-tested and useful articles to have on hand.  I regularly use my galvanized laundry tubs to soak heavy area rugs that will not fit in my washing machine.  Galvanized buckets catch rain water on my back porch and ones with holes are used for herb planters.  I also acquired charming antique books from the 1800’s, some in German.  A book with an aged cover is the perfect accessory for a table top display.  Try stacking cover-less books and tying them with nubby twine.  The white wicker baby basket on folding stand is perfect for the laundry room or stuffed toy storage in a daughter’s nest; and the small wicker stool is ideal for a small tea table, plant stand or display piece.

My daughter bought a box of canning jars to do creative projects and a container of decorative picture frames.  I can’t wait to see how she repurposes them.  Planters, vintage wood boxes and advertising pieces, red and white granite dish pans and pails, brass post office box doors, a vintage suitcase and a galvanized long-spout watering can were also among our treasures.

It is all coming together and I can’t wait to share more pictures with you as the sale displays are finished and the day draws near!

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Vignettes’ Inside the Barn

Apple tree through the kitchen window.

Apple tree through the kitchen window.

Grandma Hilst's flour sifter on the top of the Hoosier cabinet.

Grandma Hilst’s flour sifter on the top of the Hoosier cabinet.

New Red & White hand-quilted and embroidered quilt from Roth auction.

New Red & White hand-quilted and embroidered quilt from Roth auction.

Morton Scottie dog on top of sunroom cabinet.

Morton Scottie dog on top of sunroom cabinet.

Vintage lamb and bowl of notions on sunroom mantle.

Vintage lamb and bowl of notions on sunroom mantle.

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A few snap shots inside our barn home.  Grouping vintage items and family heirlooms is a delight.  They represent snatches of my favorite things with memories.

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Cast Iron Cookware

I have become a firm believer in cast iron cookware.  I inherited a small skillet from Mom Clemens but used it rarely.  My husband occasionally used it to fry his morning eggs, for nostalgic reasons.  Then one of our cooks during our restaurant years requested a large heavy iron skillet for frying chicken.   She said cast iron was the only way to get crispy chicken–and she was right.  Now that big skillet comes down from the kitchen wall whenever I prepare French fries, sweet potato fries, chicken, fritters and pancakes.  Cast iron crisps without burning.  Eureka!

From over twenty pieces of cast iron at a recent auction, I procured a medium and small skillet at my price for our September sale.  They were caked from years of use and had a patina of rust.  I wish I had taken a “before” picture.  The “after” picture is below.  Using a method I learned from Pinterest, they are now like new.

Vintage Cast Iron Skillets

Vintage Cast Iron Skillets

  • Place the cast iron pieces top down in the oven.  Set for automatic oven clean.  As your oven cleans, old buildup on the iron turns to a fine powder.  Wipe off the powder with a wet dish cloth.
  • The buildup is taken care of but rust remains.  Ironware can rust if exposed to moisture.
  • To remove rust, fill a basin deep enough to submerge pieces.  Fill the basin with half water and half white vinegar.  Soak iron for several hours until rust is loosened.  As the vinegar works, it sends up small bubbles from the surface of the iron.
  • Wash off rust residue with warm soap and water.  Rinse and dry.
  • Your iron ware will now have a silvery appearance but cannot be used for cooking until it is re-seasoned.  Wipe the cookware on all surfaces with a paper towel dabbed in solid shortening.  Coat all surfaces with a thin coat.
  • Bake iron in a 350 degree oven for about an hour.  Let cool.  Wipe residue of excess oil from iron with a clean paper towel.

After using any cast iron, wipe with mild soap and water and rinse but do not scrub to avoid removing the “seasoning” that gives cast iron its excellent cooking surface.  The patina of seasoned oil also helps to protect the iron from rusting.  After cleaning, place your cookware in a warm oven to dry completely before storing.  Re-season as needed.

Although every chef seems to have their own line of cookware, old-fashion cast iron worked for grandma and has benefits for the self-reliant lifestyle.  Virtually every dish, including bread, can be cooked on a grill or over a wood fire with a cast iron Dutch oven and large iron skillet.

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Summer Harvesting

yellow yarrow 015yellow yarrow 016 Although the extremely wet spring and summer in Central Illinois has cut down on some of our harvest, I have plenty to keep me busy.  The Yellow Yarrow along the lane to Old Towne Grove Wedding Chapel was caught up into 10 bunches and is now drying in the great room.  Yarrow dries wonderfully well and keeps its color for years in arrangements and wreaths.  It will add a seasonal note to my autumn wreaths.   The cute chicken in the basket is a Morton cookie jar that I inherited from my dear mother-in-law, Donna Clemens.  The knob on the top for removing the lid is a chick! Many of the peaches are rotting on the trees from a blight due, I am sure, to the wet.  Dirk and I still managed to pick this big basket and another galvanized bucket full.  The result is 18 quarts of canned peaches.  It will not take long for us to eat our way through those pretty jars of fruit.  We are having peach shortcake for Sunday dinner dessert tomorrow.

Filled to the Brim.

Filled to the Brim.

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