Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hawaii Inspiration Travel Pictures

A quick look at paradise... aka Hawaii

It's the middle of Winter... 

... and I'm dreaming of paradise.  Although I must confess living in Southern California is hardly experiencing Winter!  All the pictures in the post I have taken myself! 

So grab a hot cup of tea and let's pretend we're there... 

Molokini

Maui

Maui

Wailea Beach, Maui

Pool at the Four Seasons Lanai

Lanai

Lanai


Honu, aka Green Sea Turtle, at Turtle Beach in Oahu

Waimea Canyon in Oahu, where Lost was filmed

Wailea Beach

Lanai

Lanai
Hawaiian Sunset
Don't you wish you were there?

I wished so much that I bought a plane ticket! Headed there in two months!!!  Off to the island of Kauai, I have never been there before.  

If you have been to Kauai before, I would appreciate suggestions of your favorite things to do in the comment box!

I've linked up with The Scoop! Visit Confessions of a Plate Addict blog, Tablescape Thursday at 'Between Naps on the Porch',Wow us Wednesdays!at Savvy Southern Style, Open House Party at no minimalist here, Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage,Seasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been at The Tablescaper, andlife of the party at the grant life, and the style sisters, and ThursdayFavorite Things Blog Hop

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Antique Staffordshire Cats

Have you ever seen a pair of Staffordshire dogs? I'm sure you have, as they are immensely popular and many faux Staffordshire dogs are widely available in stores today.



But, have you ever seen a pair of real antique Staffordshire cats?  I have been slowly working on building up my collection of Staffordshire cats.  The problem is though... they are pretty rare. And you know what that means. Rare = expensive.

I think these are from the 20th century, but they are my favorite. From a very good friend, given to me from her will. 

Staffordshire cats were manufactured in the 1740s-1960s in several different pottery factories in Staffordshire county, England. However, I only care about the ones made before 1900. The older, the better!

The oldest cat in my collection! Wish I had the pair. 

It is common that these figures are damaged... they are, after all, 150 years old!  A little damage is okay, depending on the location.  If it's on the face it's not worth as much.

my damaged one. She was $1. I'll take it! 
So, how do you know you're buying a fake one vs a real one?  That takes an eye... and I think I may be fooled sometimes too!  The fakes even include fake dirt! Can you believe it? 

Below are 3 examples of cats from the 20th century. Notice how they just look a little different?

The matching pair piece to this one literally jumped off the shelf and broke. 

Notice the lighter blue color? Light blue =  new.

Now, let's take a look at some other real antique Staffordshire cats!

Calico Cat from the 1850s. Picture from antiquepottery.co.uk

Purple cats from Ebay. Sold for $400.

Seated cat from the 1820s. Picture from antiquepottery.co.uk

Cat and kitten from the 1840s. Picture from antiquepottery.co.uk

Calico cat from the 1850s. From antiquepottery.co.uk

Seated cat from the 1850s. Picture from antiquepottery.co.uk

This cat is from the early 18th century. From antiques.com 

Seated cat, 1850s, from madalena.com

Kitten and cat pair, mid 1800s, from millersguide.com

Pair of RARE jackfield cats. I think from ebay.com. These go for $1000. 


So you ask yourself,  how old is my Staffordshire?  
1. Glass eyes were introduced in 1885.
2. If a printed mark is found on the bottom, it is most likely from the 20th century.

If there is a printed mark that says...
"Trade Mark" it is from after 1862.
"R N" 1883
"England" 1891 or after.
"Made in England" is from the 20th century.
Descriptive words like "genuine Staffordshire ware" are modern fake copies.


For more information on Staffordshire figurines in general, visit this website.

I've linked up with The Scoop! Visit Confessions of a Plate Addict blog, Tablescape Thursday at 'Between Naps on the Porch',Wow us Wednesdays!at Savvy Southern Style, Open House Party at no minimalist here, Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage,Seasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been at The Tablescaper, andlife of the party at the grant life, and the style sisters, and ThursdayFavorite Things Blog Hop, and What's it Wednesday?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Downton Abbey Castle

A Downton Abbey Castle... Inverarary Castle

Since I've recently been thinking about all things Downton Abbey, I'm sharing with you about my trip to Inverarary Castle in the Scottish Highlands.

If you haven't seen my post about Downton Abbey fashion... make sure to go here

This castle was featured in the Christmas Special from Season 3. 

The fellas on the show at the fictional "Duneagle" castle.




Here are some of my pictures from June 2012. I had no idea the show had just filmed there a few weeks prior.  Needless to say, I was very surprised to see it on TV! 

Inverarary Castle is located in Scotland near the town of Inverarary in the county of Argyll.  It sits on Loch Fyne, the longest sea loch of Scotland.  

Inverarary Castle location is the red dot.

What's that I see down there?
driving up to the castle, looking across Loch Fyne
The town of Inverarary is small and quaint. There is a woolen mill, a church, a jail, and a little hotel.  We ate lunch in the hotel.

Main Street
image from here
Pictures of Inveraray
clockwise upper left, the town next door, a sign to the castle, the Duke's black sheep, a view of the Castle's backyard, and a soldier statue that a seagull was sitting on.
Approaching the castle... It started construction in 1746.  The castle was completed 43 years later.  In 1877 there as a fire.  It resulted in a third floor addition and conical roofs on the corner towers.


The Duke of Argyll, who is the seat of the Clan Campbell, and his family currently reside here today.  The 9th Duke of Argyll married a daughter of Queen Victoria, HRH Princess Louise.

I waited a long time to get this shot with no one in it! 

The photos below are from the official Inverarary Castle website.  There were no photos allowed inside. 

One of the things I liked about this castle was how they displayed their weapons here in the Armoury Hall.  All 4 sides of the wall are covered in arms.


The dining room. If you look closely you'll notice a ship made of gold.  The chandelier is Waterford.  The paintings were done by the same painter who painted for the Prince of Wales.


A bedroom with the family's tartan I believe. Love this bed!  However, this bed apparently is ghostly.  A young Irish harpist was murdered in the 1600s.  The bed was moved from that castle to this one.  The boy's ghost was so attached to his pretty bed that he travelled with it.  When a member of the family is about to die, it is said harp music is heard coming from the room.

The beautiful drawing room!  It is decorated with Parisian tapestries from the 1780s.

The estate sits on 60,000 acres.  As you can imagine, just like Downton Abbey, running one of these estates is costly.  The Duke of Argyll has had to market his estate.  We actually met the Duke of Argyll in the basement bookstore where he was signing books.  You can even rent the castle out for weddings!

A helicopter view of the property.  It is a very pretty place to visit in Scotland! 


For more information, visit here.

That's all, folks!
 I've linked up with The Scoop! Visit Confessions of a Plate Addict blog, Tablescape Thursday at 'Between Naps on the Porch',Wow us Wednesdays!at Savvy Southern Style, Open House Party at no minimalist here, Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage,Seasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been at The Tablescaper, and life of the party at the grant life, and the style sisters, and Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Banana-nana Walnut Bread!

Banana-nana Walnut Bread!

I'm sharing with you a recipe for banana walnut bread. It is GOOD.  I brought the bread into work... it was gone in about 2 seconds.  

Finished product! Cooling down... I'm drooling waiting for it to cool.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients
  • 3-4 very ripe bananas, smashed. (I had used old bananas that I had frozen; let them thaw and then smash them up).
  • 1/3 cup melted salted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten (I actually used egg whites instead. Still turned out great)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Mix the melted butter into your smashed bananas.  
  3. Mix in the sugar, egg, and spices.
  4. Mix in the baking soda and salt.
  5. Add the flour.  Mix everything well.
  6. Stir in your walnuts last. (You may omit if you don't like walnuts)
  7. Pour mixture into oiled 8x4 inch bread loaf pan.
  8. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the tester comes out clean.
Cool and serve! YUM!
Mixing the bread in the Kitchen aid mixer!

Cooking in the oven! Doesn't look like much yet. 

All done! Too hot to eat!

Ready to eat! Imagine the smell of freshly baked banana bread... yummmmm

Now go make some banana bread!

I've linked up with The Scoop! Visit Confessions of a Plate Addict blog, Tablescape Thursday at 'Between Naps on the Porch',Wow us Wednesdays!at Savvy Southern Style, Open House Party at no minimalist here, Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage,Seasonal Sundays & Oh the places I have been at The Tablescaper, andlife of the party at the grant life, and the style sisters, and ThursdayFavorite Things Blog Hop