Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Enter to Win a $50 Gift Certificate!

Like my Facebook page and be entered into the drawing to win a $50 gift certificate to shop at Urban Heirlooms

Once I reach 200 Facebook fans, I will draw names from my spiffy antique top hat, and someone will be mighty happy!  Deadline to enter is Friday, December 9th, 2011 at midnight ET.

HURRY! I will draw names on Saturday!  Good luck!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hold On! It's Gonna Be a Bumpy Ride!

 Riding the Cyclone Fine Art Print - Chris Lord
Last night I dreamt I was on a roller coaster.  It was just like the dreams I have occasionally of elevators that go anywhere but up or down, dreams of frighteningly steep escalators, swimming in murky gym pools, or rushing through a strange airport to catch an international flight w/o having taken enough traveling money. 

While I've never ridden the legendary Cyclone at Coney Island, I do remember standing on line to ride The Loch Ness Monster roller coaster at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA over and over and over again when I was a teenager.  It was crazy fun to be inched up a steep 13-story incline only to be plunged sadistically down 114 feet, whipped around a tight corner, pelted through a dark and smoky tunnel, then flipped upside down in a loopdy-loop before the ride (and my screaming bloody murder) ended.  The sooner I jumped back on line to do it again, the less afraid I was.  That's how I was as a teen; if you're anything like me, once you pass 40--even 30-- you might decide that your life is plenty exciting as it is, and roller coasters are no longer needed or remotely considered fun.  You have a blood pressure to regulate!

When everything around me seems to be in turmoil yet I've managed to maintain this calm exterior, it's funny how it all comes out in the wash...or rather the dreams.  I know now that these dreams are all about fear of success and failure, losing control, inadequacy, uncertainty of direction, and fear of the unknown.  Do all artists dream this way?  

I'm convinced that life is always going to be full of ups and downs, stallings, unplanned detours and winding up in fabulous, unexpected places.  I wish I could learn to just throw up my hands and enjoy the ride.  I could sure use a hefty dose of crazy teen courage for whatever's coming down the pike!  The kind of courage that's so busy enjoying itself that fear can barely stand a chance; can barely get a dream in edgewise.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Sale Today Only. 10% Off!

Use coupon code 10UHBLACKFRIDAY to get 10% OFF your purchase at Urban Heirlooms!  (discount does not include shipping; valid for one order only. Not valid for custom orders.  Coupon expires at midnight!) ***Made-to-order bags cannot be guaranteed to arrive in time for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Rainy Day In Georgia

It was a beautiful autumn day today; a little bit wet, and all kinds of colorful!  Mr. T. was looking really cute, but he just wasn't feeling it.

He gave me a double dose of "Westie-tude"!

It was the perfect opportunity to try out my new "Tellies"
(Target + Wellies = Tellies).  Only $30.00 for these happy feet!

Someone in the neighborhood has a smokin' Vespa! It always looks so chic, even plastered in leaves.

The ornamental cabbages were looking mighty divine.

As were the poppies making their last stand.

I love this winding trail.  I usually bring along my iPod, but today I brought my camera and enjoyed the sounds of nature.  The birds were especially vocal this morning, so there was music anyway.

And the air smelled amazing-- fresh, crisp, woodsy.  Nothing beats the perfume of crushed leaves, woody bark, acorns and rich, moist soil.


Lazy leaves, just lounging about.

The creek was in a hurry this morning. 

A gazebo in all its splendor.  Recently a huge tree fell dangerously close to it.  I'm so glad the structure survived!

A gift of roses in November; freshly showered and smelling sweet.

Standing proud amidst the dormant lavender.

Bright orange berries close to home.  Fall is such a colorful season! 

And if you look closely, day or night, you can always find
a star to wish upon!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Boho Leather Messenger Bag with Crochet Lace & Antique Steamship Key : The Finished Product!

XL Gypsy Boho Messenger Bag from Urban Heirlooms.

I thought you'd enjoy seeing the finished product.  This one went quickly!  And of all the bags I've made, it's by far my favorite.

I'm doing my darnedest to finish up two smaller ones from this collection, so I hope I'll be able to show you those in the next week or two.  Stay tuned...and have an amazing week ahead!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

New Gypsy Bags Coming: Steamship Keys & All The Gorgeous Details

Details from the new XL Gypsy Messenger Bag from Urban Heirlooms.  Shown while still in progress, this one is lined with a classic ticking stripe and features an inside zippered pocket and cell phone pocket, plus a patch pocket on the back with a leather tie.  Coming soon!

I had so much fun with and got so much attention from my last collection of leather and crochet lace gypsy bags, I decided to continue in that vein and work on another collection.

This group will feature a burnt sugar brindled leather (think caramel colored with darker striations of color throughout the hide), more fabulous antique keys and matching antique brass hardware, plus lots of special, nifty little details I think you'll really love.

Making History:  An antique key from the Commonwealth Steamship makes a special souvenir on the new XL Gypsy messenger bag.

The gypsy bag I just finished stars one amazing antique key!  It's a stateroom key from the steamship Commonwealth; Room 176 to be exact.  I wonder what guests slumbered in that fancy cabin?

Contemporary painting of Commonwealth by amateur artist James Bard, c. 1860

"Commonwealth was a large sidewheel steamboat built in 1854–55 for passenger service on Long Island Sound. The most celebrated Sound steamer of her day, Commonwealth was especially noted for the elegance and comfort of her passenger accommodations, which included gas lighting, steam heating, and an "enchantingly beautiful" domed roof in her upper saloon...

"The saloon deck also featured an after cabin fitted with thirty large sofas, allowing passengers to "sit and enjoy the magnificent prospect of the evening passage on the Sound with comfort.  The main passenger deck (housed) 120 staterooms, fitted with two beds each, and a number of bridal suites. The staterooms were large, well-ventilated, and designed with "Oriental elegance", incorporating materials such as satin damask, moquette, lace, velvet tapestry, and rosewood furniture.  Also on this deck, abaft of the engine room, was "a spacious and splendid ladies' cabin, unsurpassed in style and finish."

"During the American Civil War, (the Commonwealth) was part of the transport network that moved northern state Union regiments to the battlefront. Commonwealth's end came prematurely when she was destroyed by a dockyard fire at Groton in December 1865." - Wikipedia

How's that for history in the making?

Monday, September 26, 2011

"You Know It Was A Good Day If..."

I hope you don't hit or bite anyone today.  It might be hard to do on a Monday, but I'll try too!  Kids say the darnedest things!  

Friday, September 23, 2011

20% Off Sale Today Only

 Use coupon code TGIF20UH and get 20% off your order at Urban Heirlooms! Sale is today only, so hurry!
Expires Friday, 9/23 at midnight Eastern Time.
One coupon per customer. Valid for one transaction only. Discount does not include shipping.
Have an amazing weekend!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

The 24-Hour Bread Pudding

This bread pudding never lasts beyond 24-hours.  It gets sliced, devoured, picked at and nibbled on mercilessly, day and night.   I've been wanting to share this recipe since I started this blog.  The problem was, whenever I'd get the urge to make it, it was late in the day or just past dinnertime when the lighting was low, and that makes for poor food photography, at least without an armory of lights.  So by the time I remembered I wanted to share it here, all that would be left was a skillet of crumbs.  

Now, you should know that I'm from a casual family.  None of that Leave It to Beaver stuff.  My mom cooks intuitively, the way she was taught, and that rubbed off on me, which means you'll find no neatly handwritten vintage recipe cards in her kitchen or mine.  What you will find are hastily scribbled recipes on whatever paper was handy at the time, shoved between the pages of cookbooks she never used, and always a pile of clean dish towels-- that's one of the simple pleasures I picked up from her that I enjoy in my own kitchen to this day. 

What I love about this recipe is that it's very forgiving.  There are few if any precise measurements, and I've never seen her pick up a recipe book.  So, this is how she handed down this bread pudding recipe to me when I called long-distance and asked for it: she dictated it enthusiastically right over the phone in her cute southern drawl.

But, why torture you with my chicken scratch when I can type it neatly for you right here?

Dottie's Apple & Raisin Skillet Bread Pudding
You will need:

1.  A cast iron skillet (the one I use most is 9")
2.  A large mixing bowl


About 6-10 slices of white bread.  (I use 10 because I'm greedy!) Potato bread also works well.

A pinch of salt (about 1/4 tsp)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 medium to large egg, beaten

1/2 cup of raisins

1 medium or large sweet apple, chopped (about 1 cup)

1/2 stick unsalted butter melted (put aside 1 TBSP to grease the skillet)

 1 tsp. vegetable or canola oil

4+ cups of milk-- enough to soak the bread thoroughly

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp rum extract (optional)


    Preheat oven to 350º F.

    Meanwhile, roughly tear your bread into chunks (about 2" big or so)  and add to the bowl.
    Add all ingredients except the egg.  Let sit for about 10-15 minutes to soak up the moisture, then stir together thoroughly.  Do not overmix; the resulting consistency should be something like super-chunky oatmeal.  If it's too dry, simply stir in more milk.

    Next, I like to taste my mixture to make sure it's sweet enough, then I mix in the beaten egg.

    Heat the skillet in the oven.  When the skillet gets hot (not smoking), melt the TBSP of butter you reserved and the tsp of oil together in the skillet. Grease the hot skillet with this mixture. I like to use a pastry brush for this.

    Immediately pour the bread pudding mixture into the skillet and bake at 350º F on the center oven rack for approximately 45-50 minutes.

    Watch it rise...  Once the top has browned, press it with your finger  to see if it has solidified; it should not be jiggly when you wiggle the pan, and the crust should be pulling away from the sides of the skillet by now.  Remove from the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes if you can wait that long.  The center will sink in just a little bit.  (By now, your house smells divine and  you have your coffee or tea waiting patiently on stand-by.)

    The result will be a yummy, tender pudding with a chewy, sweet crust.  Equally delicious hot, room temperature, or cold; off a lovely dish, a paper towel, or eaten out of hand.  And if yours comes out as good as mine, it won't last more than 24 hours!

    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    Bitches Brew: Something Wicked In My Cup

    This easy, spicy, butt-kicking potion is what I’m drinking to fight off a cold that threw me for a loop and derailed my bag making productivity in the studio last week.   

    About a year ago while listening to a natural remedy radio show, these are the ingredients I remember being touted as a cure for what ails you; an immunity-boosting punch that not only helps to break up congestion and keep you hydrated, but it tastes delicious and just feels good in your tummy.  I feel better already!

    Bitches Brew

    • 1 quart of water

    • 3 or 4 star anise pods

    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

    • 2” of ginger root, chopped or grated

    • Juice of 1 lime

    • 3 Tbsp honey

    For an added treat, I like to throw in my favorite family sized tea bag.   Today it’s pomegranate green tea, because I’m out of my favorite lemon green tea from TeaMan.

    Now, put on some Miles Davis and bring everything except the tea bag to a boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and add your tea bag.  Let steep for about 3 minutes.  Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy sipping while hot all through the day.

    Do you have a favorite natural remedy or concoction for colds?  I'd love to hear.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011

    Happy Birthday, Tigger!

    Birthday cake served at our Small Dog MeetUp group.  We had a party for all the dogs born in August.  This cake for dogs is from Woof Gang Bakery in Atlanta, GA.  It disappeared fast!

    Today is my dog Tigger's birthday! The birthday boy is 8 years old, and I swear, this Westie is the best dog in the whole wide world.  It's hard to believe we've had him for 6 years already, as he was only 2 years old when we drove from New Jersey to Philadelphia to meet him halfway between his home in Northern Virginia and ours.

    My husband and I had been searching high and low for a dog of our own, pathetically stalking other people's dogs, visiting shelters and applying for dogs at rescue societies for a dog who would fit into our lifestyle.  We even found ourselves attending the Purina Challenge one Saturday,  giddy as we watched dogs perform agility runs and squee-ing after spectators' pups.

    We found Tigger when I did an email blast to everyone I was connected to and let them know we were looking for a small dog to share our lives.  A woman in my book club just happened to have a brother who was looking for someone to take his little dog, as he and his wife spent long hours at work and couldn't devote as much attention to Tigger as they wanted to.  After many emails and some photos, we totally fell in love with this adorable little West Highland White Terrier with his spunky stance and terrible haircut. We wanted him badly!

    What an angel he turned out to be.  Perfect for us in every way.  After a couple of sleepless nights of him woofing at every little sound in the city,  he finally settled down into our home.  Afraid I'd be allergic to him, I foolishly thought I'd be able to keep him off the furniture...nope...out of the bedroom...nope! (he burst right through the French doors!) and off the bed...not a chance!  In fact, he always goes and lays on my side of the bed (because my husband says I smell like sweet milk (I think that's a compliment! LOL).  But what's a few sniffles and boxes of Kleenex and Swiffers between best friends?

    We got a loving, funny, well-behaved but certainly obsessive-compulsive, almost perfectly house-trained dog who in the beginning walked over to his coat when he wanted to go outside.  Now he runs from it and once we get it on him, he does laps around the coffee table like it's some weird ritual. 

    It wasn't long after we got him that I went on a mission to create a snazzy wardrobe for him -- atonement for a mother's guilt and shame from sending him out in the pouring rain wearing a trash bag one dreadful night.  It began with a shiny black patent leather raincoat with a vintage print lining, then graduated to sweaters and additional coats.  He had a better wardrobe than me; why, he snagged the attention of many dapper gents in our gentrified neighborhood!

    I couldn't resist buying this hoodie on Ebay.  Cuz all Jersey Boyz wear sweatsuits!  Fuhgeddaboudit!

    We laugh daily with him in our lives; he certainly brought a lot of much needed comic relief during some very tough times.  He plays with his food, flipping kibble in the air, then batting at it with his paws, and he's mercilessly destroyed many a stuffed animal--too numerous to count-- as we stood by gaping in horror.

    Oh...the carnage!

    Despite his typical Westie stubborn ways, not one day goes by that we don't coo about how cute he is and how lucky we are to have him!

    Relaxing at Grandma's house on the lawn.  Ahhh, Happiness!

    Enjoying a sunny spot in the window

    Happy Birthday, Tigger! You totally rock!
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