The Splattered Recipe Card.

When I use the term heirloom it extends far beyond a tangible thing. Quite literally it is defined as a person or a thing that carries on some tradition or circumstance. It could be a vintage piece of jewelry, a family recipe or even a skill, like learning to sew. To me, the heirloom quality is the storied past, full of meaning, memories and craftsmanship.

As I often mention, I have been fortunate to have been passed down a big stack of my Grandmother and Great Grandmother's handwritten recipe cards. There are some I've never heard of and certainly never eaten, and some that are treasures I grew up enjoying around our table.

handwritten recipe cards

I love when someone says that they have "no recipe" because it means they cook from the heart, and from a learned skill that has been passed down to them. Terms like dash, pinch + splash give nod to the inclusion of an ingredient but hint at the secret fact that you must truly listen, learn and practice these family recipes to truly master them in your own kitchen one day.

To spend an entire day baking alongside your mother or grandmother, learning what they dough should feel like or how the cake should feel or when the sauce should boil, is the most invaluable time you will spend. Anyone who has ever tried to re-create their Grandmother's biscuits will know this to be true. And I guarantee you'll hear stories you've never heard before, as she recalls memories of making the same dish years ago, of when she learned to make it as a child.

Much like the stories that Native Americans pass down through their tribes, the details may change slightly over the years but at the heart of the tale, or recipe, is a storied past rich in history. It are these nuances that bring a well-loved, splattered, handwritten family recipe card to life.

To not take the time to celebrate and learn to make these treasured family recipes from scratch, the way they've always been made, marks the end of an heirloom. My challenge to you today is to pick one of your childhood favorites and learn to make it for yourself. It seems a simple challenge but it means this recipe will live on for another generation.

Love if you'd share your favorite handwritten recipe cards, your try at recreating a recipe or your time spent mastering this challenge with #heirloomed.

I'll be sharing a special new project with you that was inspired by this very notion, so stay tuned!

Grandma's Chocolate Sauce.

I'm one of those people who prefers a 95-degree, sunny day to any other day in the world, but even I can admit that it's been a long, hot summer. Another fun fact, I'm not a super chocolate fan. If given the choice, I always go vanilla or citrus. But there is one exception ... my Grandmother's (top secret) Chocolate Sauce.

chocolate sauce ingredients

I went back and forth as to whether I should even share this family recipe, but it's truly too good not to. And, I know Grandma would have loved doing the same. The recipe actually may have originally come from my Great Grandmother's collection, but that I cannot confirm for certain. It originated as part of a delicious frozen Calypso Pie recipe (that I'll also have to share) but I love it alone much, much more.

On the night of my Grandmother's funeral, we gathered for dinner with our family and a few very close family friends and we each shared a few memories and kind words. I couldn't quite find the words so I instead made several batches of this recipe and bottled up a jar, along with a copy of the original recipe tied to the lid for everyone to enjoy.

Grandma's Chocolate Sauce

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 oz. evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. almond extract

Melt butter and chocolate squares in a heavy saucepan on low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and mix in sugar and salt to form a thick mixture. Slowly add in evaporated milk, blending well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and almond extracts. Cool to room temperature and enjoy over ice cream, or bottle and keep refrigerated.

Melt chocolate and butter
hot fudge sauce recipe
fudgy chocolate sauce recipe
chocolate sauce for ice cream recipe
vanilla extract and vintage teaspoons
chocolate fudge sauce
family ice cream dessert
kids favorite ice cream
enjoying hot fudge sundaes
family enjoying ice cream
vanilla ice cream with hot fudge sauce

A few quick tips, remember to cook this recipe slowly, on low heat and pouring the milk in splash by splash for the best results. Otherwise you'll end up with a more glossy sauce that is clumpy instead of a smooth and flowing sauce.

Also, it's meant to be enjoyed hot over ice cream but my favorite way is to sneak a spoonful when it's cold and fresh out of the fridge.

Shop a few pieces from our collection in this post - the Wooden Feast Board, Linen Waist Apron, and Wooden Spoons.

One Hutch, Two Generations of Wedding China.

You may have noticed I've been focusing a lot more on storytelling and sharing the heart of our brand, the heirloom, lately. I love to think of this not as a blog, but rather a place to share the stories of the South and to capture the stories behind handwritten recipes, meaningful objects, small town squares and forgotten crafts before they are lost for future generations.

wedding china display hutch

Today I'm sharing a peek inside our dining room hutch, which houses a treasure trove of some of the most special pieces to me. When my Grandmother passed away, we were fortunate to each have the chance to select a collection of her China to keep for our very own. Why she had so many full collections of China, I'm not quite sure, though I do remember her using each of them for different purposes over the years as she was always entertaining.

grandmas white wedding china teacup

I, of course, selected the most neutral of the patterns, white-on-white was an easy choice. But even more special to me, this set was actually my Grandmother + Grandfather's set of wedding China so it was full of sentiment. The ironic thing about this set is that she used it rather frequently, and the set she regarded more as an "everyday" setting not to be used for special occasions like most holiday meals. Today's bride would surely scoff at the notion.

great grandmothers rose floral wedding china

The second set of China I inherited is the one that holds the important story, and one I hope you'll take note of. This floral rose pattern was my Great Grandmother, who we called Nana, my Grandpa's mother. She was very French, very proper and I love looking at old photos of her dressed in furs and heels - at least that was my impression of her. She lived well into her nineties so I recall visiting her throughout my childhood, though I never met my Great Grandfather, as he passed away before I was born. This particular pattern was also their set of wedding China, and I absolutely love that I have two sets of wedding China from two generations to tell this story.

floral rose wedding china set

Now the "story" here is that after the selections of China had all been made, it was this rose pattern of my Nana's that remained unclaimed. Everyone had had their pick so this was the extra that no one desired. The other collections were all more meaningful or more beautiful or more appropriate for our homes, but this was the oldest set and the one with the most storied past.

Especially at the time, the pattern was one that was certainly not the most appealing. These florals were not exactly "in Vogue" if you will. But I couldn't let it go. The thought of selling it, or dropping it off at the Goodwill and letting this collection and all the memories that were created around the table of our family's past generations was more than I could bear. So, I agreed to take it and packed it away for over a decade, where it has remained tucked in kitchen cabinets or attic storage.

vintage china hutch

This "treatment" of an heirloom kind of goes against everything I stand for. I mean, you can't keep everything but surely you are with me on this one, right? However, I tell the story today because recently we purchased this great new hutch for our dining room and I needed something to fill the bare shelves. Though it took a minute, I finally decided my Grandmother's white China in stacks would be the perfect accessory but when it only filled up half it left me wondering what to do. It was then I remembered this other set and figured it would do to fill the void.

Much to my excitement, as I unwrapped each piece I realized all over how truly beautiful and special each piece was. Seeing it proudly displayed, next to my Grandmother's China to help tell the story gave me a renewed appreciation for all the thought they had put into their patterns during a joyous time, all the guests who had selected a special pieces to gift and all of the meals they prepared and enjoyed using the set.

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While the art of registering for weddings these days has become much more practical and disposable, it is my hope that folks remember the significance an object can hold, even generations down the line.

[ Just a few more things to note in our cabinet - the pewter goblets my Mom gave us for our wedding, a few collected candle sticks + cakestands, a sketch of my Grandmother when she was younger, and a wedding photo from my Grandparents wedding, that includes my Great Grandmother + Grandfather that truly brings these pieces to life ]

Love to see your China patterns and hear your stories at #heirloomed.

Made-From-Scratch Baby Food Recipes.

I often have the "highlight reel" conversation about our Instagram because clearly the meltdown family photos and cardboard box shipping photos from the warehouse aren't the ones that attract new followers or get a lot of likes. But, the things I do share are the ones that are important to me, the ones that I love the most.

And it is true what they say about the meticulous level of care and caution provided to baby #1 vs baby #2 (and baby #3 in our case - who's featured here, love him!). I think part of it is parenting experience and knowing what to expect, while a lot of it is simply a lack of time and more focus on what is truly important. But, one thing I loved doing and truly believe made a difference for my little ones was making their own baby food.

It started when I tasted one of those dreadful pouches for myself. If you haven't done it I'd certainly recommend you give it a try. Another motivator was my quest to provide cleaner, more pure & organic ingredients and food choices for my family, right from the start. And as a third thought, I think exposing your children to fresh, new ingredients every day helps to make them more flexible and ambitious eaters for life.

While my "recipes" are always like my Grandmothers, teaching tips & discussions and loose approximations, instead of full recipes the below have been some of my favorite, simple combinations for you to try if you're looking to make your own baby food.

  • Peas + Mint
  • Sweet Potato + Sage
  • Apple + Cinnamon
  • Carrot + Nutmeg
  • Broccoli + Apple
  • Butternut Squash + Cinnamon
  • Spinach + Pineapple
  • Cherry + Pear + Kale

Other Baby Food Tips ....

  • For the purees I would simply steam the fruits + veggies and add them to the blender to puree. Sometimes I needed to add water to thin the puree and I'd add the water straight from the saucepan to take advantage of the nutrients. Add the fresh herbs at the end for a final puree.
  • For most ingredients I used fresh, organic fruits + veggies but for some things, like broccoli and peas I would go frozen (organic) as they're just as good and much easier sometimes.
  • I didn't have a lot of luck with fruits that browned easily - apples, pears + bananas - as the purees tended to brown quickly and taste not so great. And really, these tended to be the softer foods that I could mash with a fork and just feed to the kiddos with much less ease than a puree.
  • For the more "bitter" veggies, I tend to add a sweeter fruit component (like apple, pineapple, or peach) to jump up the flavor, while still keeping the nutrients and variation of adding another food to the mix
  • I make batches at a time one or two times per month. It goes more quickly and efficiently this way and gives you enough in the freezer to get you through.
  • Fresh herbs from the garden are such an easy way to amp up the flavor and give your babe a lot of flavor and variation from such simple ingredients.
  • This is in no way an endorsement but having tried everything from large ice cube molds to "baby food" containers, I loved this little squeeze pouch food system so, so much and I couldn't imagine making + storing baby food without it.
  • I would usually pair my purees with some organic brown oatmeal or plain yogurt to give a more complete meal.

Good luck - I'd love to know some of our favorite pairings and tips as well!

Also, be sure to take a peek at our new Baby + Child section on the site, including these Railroad Stripe and Bull Denim Bibs (which also come with the option of a great handstitched monogram as well)!

 

Photography by : Heidi Geldhauser / Silly Goose Photography

A Western-Inspired Nursery for my Little Cowboy

Since my youngest turns one next month (insert gasp + tears) I thought I would share a little glimpse into his nursery before he heads off to college. "The days are long but the years are short" really does ring true with your third.

Western Nursery Table
Giraffe and Crib
Giraffe and Hats

There is no space I love designing more than a nursery. It’s such an open book and allows you to have so much fun in the details. And, I believe it truly sets the tone for your little one when they’re just starting out. And with #3fourandunder I’ve had a lot of practice with nurseries over the last few years.

mom and newborn shot
newborn shot

Our youngest is Waylon and with an “outlaw” name like that, a western-inspired room was kind of a no-brainer in my book. Beyond his room, the inspiration for his room came from a vintage painting in my moms house that was painted by my great, great aunt of two men on horseback wandering through a prairie-like landscape. I love it and am still holding out hope that she’ll let me have it in his room at some point (hi Mom).

As you know, my thing is always about integrating heirloom pieces into your space in a way that doesn’t feel dated. These pieces bring your home to life and knowing the stories behind the pieces adds to the adventure when folks are touring your space.

Waylon’s space is one of my favorite rooms structurally in our house, it’s a cozy little room just off the master bedroom which has truly been the perfect place for him. The high roof and open rafter look with our shiplap just makes it feel cozy and sweet.

Hallway to Nursery
Hat Closeup
Nursery Window

The cowboy hats in the space line both sides of the bright window and we found them at the farm. Shane’s brother and cousin wore them growing up when they showed horses.

My always-neutral color palette helped bring everything together and cohesive, letting the tones and textures be the hero. A little bookcase and school-house chalkboard that was in my room growing up, with my guitar on the matching entrance wall welcome you upon entering. I cut out a few illustrated pages from a chapter book that belonged to my stepmom for display on the board, and the book sits on the shelf with her name (maiden) inside in third-grade type cursive writing. The book sits next to a row of vintage storybooks that my cousin recently gave me. They once belonged to my dad and his siblings and they are just so beautiful and special to me.

Heirloom Guitar
Vintage Storybooks
Vintage Picture Books

I always love functional but cute storage elements for a kids space and love using one of our Steele Canvas Baskets for toys, blankets and such. This sweet little rocking chair from my Great Aunt Ashley (my namesake) was also passed down to me and is often home to a monkey or teddy bear, depending on the day.

My mom sewed and hand-painted the strong little felt banner for his space, inspired by an old vinyl record. We’ve had so many comments on it that we just added these little banners to our site as part of our Southern Artisan Collection (thanks Mom) so you can have one too. And, the giraffes were gifted from my Dad, one for each of our first two children. We were holding our breath that a third one didn’t show up this go-around.

Steele Canvas Basket

As for the furniture, we moved this lengthy antique buffet table up from our dining room to sit in as a changing table. It’s the best one I’ve had, so much space and the perfect height, and I can stash the non-pretty essentials in the space below. I helped carry this up the stairs, so I really do appreciate it up here. We also inherited my Grandmother’s old campaign dresser, which once sat in a guest room in her home. It was originally a robins egg blue, but we painted it black to be a strong element in the room. I love the tarnished brass accents. This campaign-style has become especially popular over the last year or so, so we’re right on trend pulling in this classic piece.

Repurposed Buffet

I know we are so fortunate to have be passed down so many special treasures from our family before us. If this isn’t the case for you, start by checking out some pieces that family members may have (and be willing to part with) and think about how you could incorporate them in your own space. And, when you’re purchasing new pieces, consider at least buying one or two things that are truly special so your little one has something they could use in a nursery for their own children one day.

Now, onto planning a first-birthday party over here…

family portrait