Thursday, April 28, 2011

Haystack Antiques

There is nothing I love more than visiting a flea market or estate sale and hunting around for treasures for the home. So, I was thrilled when I learned that a darling friend of mine was opening a fertile hunting ground just across the pond! Haystack Antiques is a pavilion filled with treasures from 25 carefully picked dealers, now open in Bellevue, it's sort of like a flea market but all under one nice, protective roof.

My friend, Debbie, has invited all Splendid Readers to come to the grand opening party on Saturday, April 30 from 5 ~ 8. Find Haystack Antiques at 144~105th Avenue, NE in Bellevue.

I had a chance to go for a little hunt in the Haystack the other day, I loved the variety and found quite a few treasures.

Here are some things that caught my eye:

unusually tall, industrial looking lamp bases

tangerine and turquoise

handy, stackable wicker shelves.

Summery placemats or trays

Thick tribal blankets (wouldn't they be gorgeous on a couch or chair?)

An unusual carved boating piece.

A selection of earthy, exotic tribal pieces.

Library lovelies

Seashell splendor

I'd love to fill this with a huge bouquet of hydrangeas.

This was a grain grinder from British Colonial India, now reformed into a handsome cushion topped ottoman. 

A sumptuous set of tacked, well-worn leather dining chairs.
Wouldn't these copper troughs be incredible filled with logs and kindling next to the fireplace? The blue urn would be incredible ANYWHERE!

An ornate tub converted into a coffee table.

Classic luggage stacked to make a side table.

This demure table takes a little walk on the wild side when topped with cow hide.

Please avert your eyes when you see this splendid little chest... because I want it!!

The framed fabrics are "un-white" boards, there is glass over the fabric, one can write a message on the glass and then wipe it off.

This little French country table may be just the thing for my bedroom.

A plethora of petite items to place into vignettes.
Here's what one can do with all of those corks! This artist enjoyed some grande bottles for sure!

I'd love 2-dozen rhubarb roots, please!

From rustic to more refined...I'm sure you'll find something sharp at Haystack Antiques.

Enjoy the hunt!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Champagne mangos and sticky rice...

When it is cold a grey, I love to slip into our fabulous neighborhood Thai restaurant for a comforting and spicy lunch and some warm green tea. Such was the day yesterday. I was a little burned out from all of the Easter festivities and my daughter was home from school, so a relaxing lunch at Thai Ginger was perfect. 

As I walked in the door, I counted my blessings, because I realized it was "champagne" mango season. I just love champagne mangos, they have a fabulous buttery texture and mellow, sweet flavor with a tart finish. A big bowl mangos on the counter welcomed us, there they had become very ripe, soft and sweet.

Last year I wrote a post on these delightful fruits and how to cut them with ease (click on the caption beneath the photo below to read the post). 

Champagne Mangos
In response to the post, a reader told me about a Thai dessert she loves...Champagne mangos with sticky rice. I tried it right away, and it was fabulous.

Well, I thrilled to see they were in the process of steaming the sticky rice during our visit. I wish I had my regular camera...these are Iphone shots.

This is a sticky rice steamer, the basket is made of bamboo, which helps to give the rice it's sweet flavor. You can actually buy them on Amazon ($12.95!), I may get one just to look at it!

Steaming Thai sticky rice

The rice is covered with a damp cloth.

My Thai is a little rusty (okay, okay, non existent) but thank goodness, my server spoke pretty good English, and she explained that after steaming the rice they stir in coconut milk and allow it to be absorbed by the rice. While I doubt I'll be making this at home, since the experts are doing it so well, so close by, I did a little recipe research. It most recipes they also add salt and a starch to the rice. I think the best recipe is here, from Real Thai Recipes.

Thai Ginger did not disappoint. The fresh ingredients, quickly and expertly combined and seasoned gave us the satisfying lunch we were hoping for, my Pad Kee Mao was perfection. For dessert, the rice was warm and lusciously sticky. Combined with the perfectly ripe mangos, the flavors and textures were exotic and comforting. 

Champagne mangos and sticky rice, Thai Ginger

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I can't believe I made an Easter Tree...

It's hard for me to believe that it was only a year ago that I was in Switzerland, preparing to tour across the Haute Route, the route (sprinkled with high mountain huts) stretches across the Alps from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland.

This tour had been a goal of mine for many years, and it was quite an experience.

So, have you noticed "Easter trees" have been showing up more and more lately? I have always kind of wondered where the idea came from, and while I was in Switzerland, I realized that they were quite common there. We saw them in most every hotel, restaurant and shop.

Some were simple and sweet (I loved this dogwood display, the photo doesn't do it justice).

Some were quite gaudy (it's probably best this is a little blurry).

 The branches were decorated with all kinds of do-dads, including feathers, various creatures, and bows.

Here's an Easter tree I saw after completing the Haute Route, tucked away behind a counter at one of my favorite restaurants in the world, Chez Vrony, a delightful spot in the shadows of the Matterhorn.

I wasn't able to locate a photo I took in a ski lodge, where they had created a "tree" (as you can probably tell, they are really bouquets of branches) in a paper coca~cola cup.

So, I just had to put an Easter tree together this year.

In addition to little wooden ornaments I added these gardenia scented paper blossoms from Pottery Barn,

 a nest,

and plenty of bright blue Peeps.

I know it won't last long.

Back to Switzerland: when I took this shot, I thought that the signs on the rabbits probably said Happy Easter, but actually, the words translate into...


and cute bunny...(or hare)

Happy Easter Everyone!

I hope the Easter Bunny is good to you!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Asparagus fields and spring flowers...

With few pots of flowers from the grocery store and a stroll down the produce aisle you can create a fresh looking flower display with ease. Gorgeous, green asparagus, which have pushed up through the warming soil are always a refreshing sign that spring has sprung. 

In addition to being delicious to eat, asparagus are lovely to look at. We find some of the most beautiful displays are those that mimic nature. Who wouldn't enjoy gazing at a field of bright green stalks surrounding spring blooms?

Here is how to make these displays.

Buy potted flowers to fit your display needs (plastic or clay pots will work).

Place a thick rubberband (often found around a bunch of asparagus, conveniently) around the top of the flower pot.

Measure the length from the bottom of the pot to about 1" over the top of the pot. Cut asparagus to the right height.

Slip the asparagus spears under the rubberband packing them closely together all around the pot.

When the pot is encircled in spears, tie a ribbon (or raffia) around the base of the pot and spears. You'll have to do a little shifting of the stalks to make it as smooth as possible. Because the top of the pots are often bigger than the bottoms, the asparagus may be too crowded around the bottom. You can cut the bottom half off of a spear or two to make it fit more neatly.

A piece of double stick tape or a rolled over piece of clear tape will help to keep the ribbon in place around the top of the pot.  Attach the ribbon to the rubberband, then tie the ribbon in an attractive bow or knot.

Cover the soil with a layer of green moss.

You can keep these fresh for a couple of days by setting them in a shallow bowl of fresh water.

You could make these look more Easter - y by arching a branch up and over the top of the pot to make it look like an Easter basket...just a thought..