Kite-like breathing, pancake-eating, The denim struggle is real.

It’s not often a song makes me shoot elderflower lemonade through my nose. When I am driving, my brain goes a million miles a minute and sometimes, quite bored by my own company I will turn on the radio, and so when I heard, “…if you don’t jump to put your jeans on, baby, you don’t feel my pain.” I literally coated my steering wheel in said beverage, and proceeded to crack up while cleaning up the mess and still maintaining safe and graceful backroads driving. It has completely changed my mind about getting dressed. Now I am in a much cooler club than I was before, so thanks for that Madame Beyonce’!

I blame the jeans struggle on pancakes, mainly. I adore pancakes and rarely get to eat them in restaurants (well, plus curbside pancakes who wants THAT?) because they are 99% of the time made from a mix heavily laced with S500, to give the batter more staying power -that chemical aftertaste is awful. So I make them at home and then eat them! One of my favorite pancake books, “Pancakes in Paris ” just came out with ANOTHER book, “Let them Eat Pancakes!” SHOP HERE And since I am not getting to Paris anytime soon, this will suffice!

I love his writing and I love that he is Polish, which makes us almost family! AND the coolest thing happened! One of my friends who had just finished Monsieur Carlson’s first book, QUIT HER JOB, on the strength of being inspired by his book and a healthy dose of pandemic fatigue and THEN SHE TOLD HIM SHE DID THAT!!! It was incredibly inspiring to see, hear and watch and she is a brave and courageous gal who will do great things! Talk about a validation for sticking your neck out and writing a book! It’s funny because the very day before, one of my favorite people told me this anecdote about a bucket of water (click the link if you want the full anecdote) and initially it annoyed me immensely, the notion that everyone was dispensable. But the more I chewed on it, I finally understood that it is the only way of thinking that would ever give anyone the freedom to move about in such a manner that makes them beholden to NOBODY, and man, isn’t THAT a breath of fresh air?

“Pancakes for Breakfast” by Tomie de Paola is another favorite. I wrote him a fan letter this year, right after Christmas and sadly he passed away this year, so I am super happy I took the time to write. (You should check out his website. He was wonderful.) More people should write legitimate fan letters. What’s better than getting a random note of praise? Twitter and IG messages don’t cut it! Did you know Roald Dahl WROTE to Claudia when she was little?? How magical is THAT?

I finished reading “Prairie Fires” last week and WHOA. It sat heavy. Fascinating, illuminating, disturbing and it sent me into 50,000 research holes, pursuing other papers and books from the time period. For instance, “On the night of October 30, 1968, she baked some bread, then went to bed. She never woke up.”

Why is that so chilling? This is referring to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter, Rose, whom after reading the book it was absolutely impossible to like. I do share a house obsession with her, but other than that she seems a maniac, despite her prolific writing and she certainly let the money and legacy behind the Little House books be destroyed by a loathsome politician of all things. I was inclined to read the book because I so enjoyed the Little House books (I mean, we had a Little House store, for pig’s sake) and one of the glowing recommendations was written by one of my favorite Beatrix Potter scholars, Linda Lear. Did you know Beatrix Potter’s birthday is Tuesday? Make sure to make yourself a proper tea on Tuesday and peruse her website and then donate to her trust. I myself am a member of the Beatrix Potter Society, ahem.

As much as I blather on about Susan Branch and her blog and her books, her book about her Hilltop visit is especially cunning and DEFINITELY worth a read. Somehow Mom just NOW read that book, though I have been beating her about the head with it for years!

I do find it odd, that Susan Branch doesn’t talk about Anne of Green Gables more but perhaps that is just not as much her thing. I reread them yearly, “Jane of Lantern Hill” being my absolute favorite and every time I read it I can be 9 again, and it’s a very pleasant exercise in escaping the world of instant information, texting, masks and being an adult in a world of jerks. Somehow, my dear friend Donna intuited I was at the end of my being-an-adult-tether and surprised me with a clutch of vintage cookbooks and the MOST DARLING TOTE that I have threatened my children’s lives over ever touching!

Recently I learned that when a kite shows up, their appearance indicates a need to develop flexibility and adaptability.  Swallow-tailed kites drink in air, in a swallowing pattern.  They can teach us how to develop unique breathing techniques to open our intuitive abilities to recognize and communicate with spirit. Why did I learn this? Being Cherokee, I assumed there was some reason the birds were here living in the buffalo pasture! They look like dinosaurs when they fly, it’s a little creepy. So between the white kites dropping hints and Donna’s bag, I am attempting to calm down, be more flexible, and stop throwing things at the kitchen door when people stand there and stare at me. Plus, I just finished reading Jessica Simpson’s book and it is also a great exercise in calming down, realistic denim crises and being a girl in the world. (On a hilarious note, when I met Shawn his roommates had a Jessica Simpson poster IN THE KITCHEN. Share your thoughts, PUH-LEEZ.) But truly, her book was enjoyable, I grew up in that age so it was interesting to see and hear plus you HAVE to pull for someone who is a billionaire on the strength of a GED. MY COMPLAINT THOUGH-no. pictures. What on earth? In the “Prairie Fires” book there were some incredible photos. I LOVE PHOTOS. Susan Branch lards her books gorgeously with photos. COME ON PEOPLE.

Does this not look like a bird from Harry Potter?

This week I made the boys attempt to write with a quill, just to give them a sense of how much more laborious writing was long before the age of, say, PENS. They were exhausted by the effort. Should you want your own goose feather sent home with your curbside pickup this week, let me know! We have gobs-turns out geese shed as bad as German Shepherds! Thank goodness they don’t live inside, too-and it is quite a trick thinking of writing long documents, much less a book in this manner. The scritching of the quill on the paper sounds a lot like Dr. Pepsi and his morning ablutions, though!

Goose feathers ABOUND.
Morning bath complete. Hostile computer takeover.

This week is also Harry Potter’s birthday, so I do hope you have some sort of homespun magical plans for Friday! I am reading a book by Dodie Smith (a J.K Rowling beloved author), “I Capture the Castle“, and keep putting it down because it is so great I don’t want to finish reading it! I was destined to love it since Dodie and I share an adoration of dogs, castles and we have the same last name but the writing! I am now setting about acquiring everything she has ever written and mourning the fact I never got to meet her!

English novelist Dodie Smith (1896 – 1990) in Waterloo, London, 1937. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

I hope you had a Merry Christmas in July! We put up a tree, had a feast, listened to Christmas carols and exchanged tiny gifts of candy. Twinkle lights always help! Sadly, of all the Christmas goodies people ordered through the shop this month NOBODY ordered the fruitcake cookies and so I didn’t get to make them, which is probably just as well given the pancake+pants dilemma.

Oddly, the Dodie book materialized (and I mean that because it was a box of books given to me by a friend!) about the same time as I was going through a box of old photos I had bought at an estate sale last year and had not gotten to go through just yet. I love old photos. This box was packed full and most of them are dated. I had kept them tucked in my Vietri camel until I had time. Here’s the crazy thing, they are dated the same year as “I Capture the Castle” book was written. And so many of the photos are things I would have photographed NOW but these are from 1948! I have always felt like the 40’s was the era I was supposed to have been born during. Recently Granny sent me some clippings from old date books of hers where she kept notes of how wildly obnoxious I was when I was 4 going on 5. The computer comment still holds true as to the extent of my technology prowess.

Enjoy your week! August is almost here and I am hoping that Sylvia Plath is right and there will be some rain! “August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

If you GIVE a pig some noodles

Words are so, crazy powerful. I sometimes forget, just what they can do. A lot of times, just expressing a sentiment yields results. That seems quite simple. We girls used to play a game at the bakery where we would think of someone out loud and then, lo and behold, that person would call, email or show up!! Sometimes, this was a very, very bad thing, but mostly it was someone we had been wanting to see!! And after this occurred we would marvel at how funny that was that we were JUST talking about that person. (You should ask Claudia about how powerful QUESTIONS are-one time I asked someone an innocent question and this gal UNLOADED on Clauds for 20 minutes in intimate detail while I was doubled over laugh-crying in the next room.) And it didn’t always extend to just people-occasionally it would be an animal or in one case, it was a house we rented for a while on the Island. I just happened to ask, they thought about it, came back 2 days later and said, “Sure, why not?” and then we ended up selling it for them to another customer a few years later. So simple, just words and giving thought to them.

Giving has always been a joy of mine. I worked for a long time at a corporate place that had the philosophy, “…give until it hurts,” which I always thought ABSURD because if you are hurting to give you are not helping ANYONE and simply redoubling the issue. However, to me giving things is supremely satisfying and is one of the many, many reasons you NEVER see me on the counter. In my mind, everyone is entitled to the comfort a cookie gives, the hug that is a muffin or a celebratory cake made just for them to make them feel special even if NOTHING else in the world is going right. Why should these things not be gifts? When we had our shop downtown every person had a tab. Some people would go 45 days without paying. I knew everyone’s story: teachers only get paid once a month, students never have money, single mom’s, all the elderly people on fixed incomes at the retirement home around the corner from us-everyone had a true story and everyone equally needed a latte and a slice of pie. Needless to say, nobody at the bank thought this was a great idea and would repeatedly point out that I was not running a non-profit, but what does one do? How do you say no when you have the power to grant somebody 25 minutes of grace and happiness in a cruddy day? Exactly, you don’t. You just give in.

We have had the opportunity lately to give a great deal of good stuff to Habitat Restore and have begun giving to Share The Table and this has been a nice jolt of fuzzy feel good in the never-ending stream of horrible that is the news.

But I got stuck on the word give the other day and then it seemed like it kept popping up every 10 seconds! (No, not in a creepy my-phone-spies-on-me manner.) A friend of mine came to drop items off at the store and was introducing herself, social-distance style, to another friend outside of the store and she identified herself as “The Giver” and the funny thing was not 20 minutes before I had emailed myself a note about all the things swirling in my head about giving and the book “The Giver” and “The Giving Tree” and how much I hate “If you give a mouse a cookie” and also, quite often I am shouting in my head “GIVE ME A BREAK!!!” and so when she delivered that conversational alley-oop I was done! SIGN DELIVERED. GOT IT.

It has taken some effort to give myself time and space to write-and then there is the inner struggle of
“it’s not REALLY writing, it’s a free-style ramble and there is no merit to it” but then I think of one of my all-time favorite blogs by Susan Branch and how I would be gutted if I didn’t have that to read on occasion. And while this is certainly NOTHING, nothing like that, there are people who reach out after particular writings and tell me certain comments bring back good memories and also, how will I ever get good at it if I don’t keep trying? I certainly can’t continually rail at my children to practice their art and music if I’m not doing it and so I have given myself permission to plunk away.

People give us stuff all the time. Somehow, we have become the “Keepers of Things.” Dozens and dozens of people have (pre-pandemic) given us treasures from deceased loved ones, furniture they couldn’t take with them when they moved but didn’t want to sell, old pictures and pottery-not their style but too sentimental to donate and that is why there are so very many items in our store that were never for sale, but merely there for you to enjoy and talk about and for those people to know, were waiting for them when they were ready. I can’t resist a story.

We also get given foodstuffs to feed the voracious appetites of all our farm critters. Phineas T. Piglet is obsessed with the occasional leftover noodles from the New York Corner Deli and Apricot knows to listen for the crinkle of the Jan Farmer ‘bag of old apples”.

I wanted to give you some updated garden pictures too! My #virusgarden has rocketed skyward with the mix of wrathful rains and steaming sunshine (whoever said “steamy” was a sexy word has never done a summer morning in the South covered in biting flies, rivulets of sweat in your eyes and your lungs sucking in STEAM.) The junk bike flowers filled in nicely, though Logan persists in calling her “Tetanus Timmy” since it’s one of my side of the road treasures and my blackberries WOULD be ok if the ye olde hog would LEAVE THEM ALONE.

There were a million tiny flowers in bloom all over the garden and while I was zooming in on all the petite jewels this dragonfly was hanging out with me! Tiny basil buds, lavender, elderberry blossoms, butterfly bush, salvia, tomato flowers, curry, all tiny flowers-all pure magic. Phineas thought he was hiding from me under the curry bush. He still thinks he is a tiny piglet.

I hope you have been enjoying all the delicious produce right now!! The corn is amazing and we have been eating it night and day. The boys like to shuck it because they can throw the corn silks everywhere and the pig (again), chickens and geese hoover it right up!

Thank you for all the birthday wishes! It was very, very low key which is my preferred style for me! I have always hated my birthday because it is always a looming deadline of all the things I laid out for myself to complete that I didn’t. One of the crap things about becoming an adult in the world of restaurants is there is “NO EXCUSE” you are simply late, wrong or you didn’t finish on time and weren’t fast enough or good enough. Isn’t that dumb? So every year, the week before my birthday I am in an absolute lather of self-loathing (boy closing the Little House that week too, sure didn’t help) of all the goals I didn’t accomplish and historically, this year, for the first time EVER I. GAVE. MYSELF. A. BREAK. and let myself blame the lack of forward motion on the pandemic. (ALSO, some woman called LITERALLY the same day we closed it to grill me on the particulars of how could she rent it and what did I think of her business idea? I hung up on her.) Yeah, it’s an excuse, but it is also, most definitely a reason and hideously beyond my control and I couldn’t see any other way around it. So you see, I haven’t given up but am making some adjustments and attempting to calm the control-freak that so loathes this constant state of limbo and not-knowing. Lots of sarcasm and a snarky sense of humor seems to help.

“…I don’t need very much now,” said the boy.
“just a quiet place to sit and rest.
I am very tired.”
“Well,” said the tree, straightening
herself up as much as she could,
“well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting
Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.”
And the boy did.
And the tree was happy.

Blood, SWEET and Tears. 10 years legal.

Happy 10th Birthday Sugar!!!

Have you ever received the gift of a frozen whole raccoon? No? I was invited into a trailer with both live and taxidermied bears, and as a result of having behaved in a manner worthy, I was gifted a whole frozen raccoon-furry feet still attached. I have been handed a whole frozen bunny-still furry-by it’s bereft owner who wanted me to meet the beloved pet that died and he couldn’t bear to part with. I have had an Igloo cooler with 2 halves of a whole deer-and by whole I mean WHOLE, recently dispatched deer, dropped at the bakery. I had a beloved FedEx driver show me a picture of the massive hawk in his freezer that all his people claim to keep for good luck. I have found and rescued more dogs and cats than I can count. We have had baby sheep and steers visit the bakery. We have raised sick baby chickens in the bathroom. I have made friendships with dogs that would drag their owners for blocks to get to me at the farmer’s market so we could have our morning chat. And downtown, the police horses would come visit and demand oatmeal cookies as a treat. There are before sunrise walkers on the island whose dogs know to run up to the kitchen door for a hug and a whisker of cheese. There are island cats who lounge out front waiting for teacups of cream. There is a one footed grackle who returns every year for Logan to toss him crumbs. It has been quite a decade of bizarre (and magical) animal interactions and the host of people who genuinely love them.

“I needed comfort. I was going to make scones.” Goldy April 2001 Diane Mott Davidson When people ask me my favorite thing to make, the answer is always scones. I have been making scones for 20 years and I never, ever tire of making them. (Jam bars and cinnamon rolls, however, reduce me to gnashing of teeth EVERY. TIME.) I suppose it is the attention scones demand when done-insisting they be eaten piping hot-ideally lavished with clotted cream. And in those few bites, you can be still and think about nothing else other than the beauty of those simple, clean, basic ingredients and the gorgeousness they create when combined. That is a moment to be treasured and a pause in which to think thoughts to give you clarity and the courage to start anew, with maybe less, to a much better end. Small snack-big learning. I am including a recipe for one of my favorite scones below.

In the 10 years prior to launching out on my own in a retail space, there was a decade of private catering, baking for coffee shops, barista-ing, and running bakeries for others and pastry chef-ing in the wee hours. So in a way, it was it’s own culinary-hospitality grad school program. I have roasted coffee and created recipes for a massive coffee chain you would know, learned to make bagels on the scale of 1000’s in Charleston, pulled off catered affairs for 100’s of people (one of those my sister almost killed me. It involved sand dunes, summer, and a remote location) so by the time we got to a retail store I was ready to retire from the party scene! You can only do so many weddings (and sometimes with some people over the course of time, MULTIPLE WEDDINGS) so many times before the beauty starts to elude you. It’s like my birthday, after making hundreds of birthday cakes a year for people I know and WANT to have a lovely birthday, by the time mine rolls around-HARD PASS. No thanks!

But there are gifts that come all year long year after year and when I look around the bakery or my home, everything has a story to tell! Susan’s handmade Sugar Bag sign from downtown, Mom’s yellow wooden sun from a Riverfest 12 years ago, Terri’s travel trunk, Jessi’s mom’s shelves, Joseph Peter’s tables and lamps, Claudia’s signs, Janice’s mixer, a million hand written recipes mailed to me, stacks of cookbooks from Cameron’s mom, Ginny’s bear and internal organ reindeer, Shelly’s art from 100 Wisconsin fairs, Liz’s beer steins and mugs, Katie’s treasured trinkets, Tom and Desiree’s stove, Josh’s bread slicer, Uncle John’s desk, Grandpa Jack’s fishing knife, Logan and Connor’s cryptic notes taped to all fridge surfaces, Shawn’s designs, Joanie’s giant snowmen, Sara’s art, Kenny’s sewing machine, Cathy and CJ’s art, June’s table, Billy and Alex’s pool table lamp, Lenny’s garden urns, Romelle’s pie pans, Jan and Piper’s book shelves, fridges from Mainsail, I could literally tell you a story about every piece in that shop. No joke. Whether it was a gift, a donation a trade out for eternal birthday pies the stories are there, reminding me of all the good and kind people in the world.

To be honest, I didn’t know what I was doing when I embarked on this journey all these years ago. It’s like the time I was little and at my grandparents house down in the swamps of Florida and I decided to catch a fish and went right down to the lake’s edge with a net (this was strictly forbidden as the gator population here was terrible and people’s dogs disappeared regularly) and decided to fish. As beginner’s luck would have it there was an ENORMOUS spawning gar fish there for the taking and I smugly scooped it up and staggered over to the adults. To my dismay, I promptly had to return the poor fish to the water and was told AGAIN, not to go the water’s edge and that this did NOT count as mastering the art of fishing since that fish was not up to it’s usual snuff. Which is a bit how I feel about, Sugar, it seemed like such a simple thing, make birthday cake and hand out some lattes in 18 square feet, how hard can it be? Silly, silly girl. Much, much harder. And so you take it apart and put it back together, again and again and again. We moved from downtown after “a massive series of unfortunate events”. Some people ask for signs-man did we get them. Exploding toasters, theft, people removing fingertips to write poetry in blood, people who would stand outside the window before daylight staring at me-not blinking-in drug addled-states, sabotaged espresso machines, destroyed coffee grinders from some prankster dropping a dime in the hopper, run my finger thru an espresso grinder, an accident with a food processor that put slivers of almond through my contact into my eye, a bad knife cut from a pear and when I ran to my car to go buy loads of bandages I find some INSANE attorney from Raleigh brought her 15 year old daughter to downtown Wilmington at CHRISTMAS to teach her to parallel park a STATION wagon and has crushed the front part of my car so I can’t drive away and must stand there bleeding while this lovely…mother…shrieks at me repeatedly that she is an attorney! All this was truly during the last 3 months we were downtown. How my hair didn’t turn white, I don’t know, and this was when Connor was still a toddler, we had a puppy, and Logan was in middle school. So, it seemed time to move on to much quieter pastures even though we had made the MOST wonderful friends. Do you remember what the island was like in 2013? Swingbridge, the Pirate ship, way less houses and neighborhoods, much quieter EXCEPT from May to Labor Day, but outside of those times it was a sleepy little town. Since then, housing developments, condos, marinas, shopping centers, have popped up like toadstools. When I used to drive out here to work in 2000 there was no Harris Teeter on the corner but a shack with goats! So we came, started small, just one side, 900 square feet, and then we redid it and grew another 900 feet and then we redid it and added another 1000 square feet BUT then we needed a market, oh man I loved that market, but Florence and some nasty people, decided “no market” and so we added the Little House, because the Island is sorely lacking in adorable, historic houses, and I ADORED the Little House but sadly, the pandemic has claimed her too, and so you see, the cycle never really ends, scoop it up, sway smugly, put it back-wail of despair- and start over. BUT

“If you sit around and wait for inspiration, all you get is a sore a&*.” Wayne Thibeaud

I am bad at waiting and worse at patience, so we have just kept trying, Shawn, the kids, Mom and I, many combinations of many things all these years. Picking up the pieces as they fall after each incident, trying to remain focused on the things that have always mattered to me-feeding people. I can’t bear hunger, it should not exist anywhere.

There are lots of things I have yet to do, that I am hoping to drag my family through. Mercifully, they are escaping my long-cherished dream of being the first female president, but it does NOT mean that they will get out of my bed and breakfast dream. I have wanted to do that, always. 15 Years ago I made bread for lots of bed and breakfasts downtown and would often help at some of them or work there on weekends and just loved it. We shall see. If you know someone with a perfectly gorgeous house that needs keeping, you let me know.

Thank you for all the memories and the treasures.

Love, Sam

Clorox, Borax, Lorax, Lombax.

A Dr. Suess Classic

:”I am the Lorax…” one of my favorite Suess books with a big, fat moral tucked into it. Our family is deeply enthusiastic about trees, as are all of our animals. In fact, one of our animals is part tree. Meet Lombax.

Lombax a.k.a. BaxonTraxon

Lombax is of Topsail Island feral Cat lineage. Her crazy cat mom hid in a closet in the storage room and surprised us with kittens. Before we could even wrap our heads around this (this was a feral cat mind you-read NOT FRIENDLY) she then relocates the kittens. Where you ask? To the almost top of a pine tree. An incredibly tall pine tree, like abandon your kid in the mountains Roman times style. SO-we trapped the feral, non-maternal beast-got her a wonderful home+neuter and Shawn rescued the kittens from the tree and rehomed one and we kept Lombax. While Lombax (yes, this is a Ratchet and Clank throwback) or BaxonTraxon (like the Winnie the Pooh song “Backson”) was not to the manner born, we have managed to teach her some manners and you can pet her without being sliced to ribbons. We have not successfully convinced her that 80 foot trees are not a normal hang-out. But she LOVES to drop out of a tree, directly next to you, when you are deeply absorbed in a book thus scaring the daylights out of you and usually causing the upset of a drink, much to her delight.

The books I have read and re-read this week while parked under a tree, are all home-themed-which I guess, is fairly appropriate, though was wholly unconscious on my part!

Surely I am not alone in the naming of household furniture and appliances? People always say “if walls could talk”, but imagine if dining room tables could? Cafeteria tables, restaurant tables, antique zinc-topped bars that started in Italy and were shipped to restaurants in NYC, old farm tables that were hand-whittled-these would have some tales to tell!! I know I am not alone in this deep-seated respect for the personality of furniture because C.S. Lewis, Ruth Chew , Thomas Disch, Diana Wynne Jones, to name a few, wrote romping tales that centered around the magics these furnitures could perform. Thus making the book about home elements an incredibly fun read! Did you know lots of publishers initially rejected Anne of Green Gables? Or that L.M. Montgomery’s favorite flowers were hollyhocks and cosmos?

One of my plans this summer, long before this mess hit, was to plant different gardens that were author-themed! A Jane Austen garden, a L.M. Montgomery garden, a Beatrix Potter, Louisa May Alcott-you get the idea- garden-all of their favorite flowers were so very different and the resulting combinations are going to be quite interesting! It’s a bit like peeking into a diary-seeing what shapes and color combinations appealed to the minds that generated their brilliant books. ( Knowing so many female farmers, naturally made me interested in The Earth in Her Hands. Our beautiful plants from Green Drop Farms and Shelton Herb Farms are female-owned farms, our delicious lamb and pork comes from Southern Sheep Company, helmed by Melissa Gray, my cousin Linda is a farmer and our friend Nonie has Carol Sue Blueberry Farms and being around that many fabulous, hard-working women always reminds me not to be a lazy slug!!

I do a lot of combat with slugs, though, so it wears off on me. Did you know that cats think it’s fun to bring you slugs? They do. And slugs think it’s fun to eat your plants. I think neither thing is fun, hence slug-combat. Cats also like to bring rotting things in from the woods and sometimes the combination is simply too much and you must clean it with something industrial strength, like bleach. There is MUCH talk of bleach these days (have you seen this? it is SO FUNNY ) BUT did you know bleach can EXPIRE? Did you know bleach came from SOUR MILK?

In a commerical kitchen we have to use some heavy-duty stuff to clean. One time, when I worked at a bakery on Market Street, a man was shot in our doorway, and you want to talk about putting some bleach in action…but BEFORE that, when I was still learning the ropes, when it was my turn to clean, I dumped a whole gallon of bleach in the mop bucket and then started to pour in ammonia! Luckily, an adult came screaming up to me telling me I was getting ready to die AND that I was an idiot. (Ok, I was 21, but still had not had any toxic chemical info ALSO, how on earth did women teach school at 16 and run farms and have huge families by the time they were 20 back in Little House on the Prairie days? What happened to us?) So, bleach and I don’t hang out too much unless it is an extreme situation. It was fascinating to learn though that the chemical bleach came about to replicate what sour milk and sunlight used to do for fabrics! -Side note, the Owlcation blog about bleach is great but there is some odd grammar in it, so all my editor friends prepare to cringe and shudder, even more so than you do on here.-
BORAX! My safer option!

So instead of Clorox (did you know they own Burt’s Bees??? Is that weird or what?), I turn to Borax, 20 Mule Borax, specifically, as I own said mule. If you click the chart above it tells you loads of useful things that Borax does. It’s something I keep on hand in bulk!

Apricot the ever so sassy, miniature donkey.

We received so many texts and emails with pictures of everyone’s pizzas, #virsugardens, homemade cookies and dresses! It was wonderful to get a glimpse into everyone’s home life and it’s ALWAYS fascinating to see one thing interpreted so many different ways! Nobody’s pizzas were the same, cookies all different, home coffee bars unique and the same dress looks so different on every gal! Thanks for the inspiration-I love it!!

June is just around the corner. Halfway through 2020. I will say, I have put into use many old-school techniques that I haven’t gotten a chance to use in years, caught up on lots of actual phone conversations that made me feel high schoolish again, sprawled out in a bean bag on my oh-so-special black phone, racking up 40 minute phone calls! Those things have been nice. Keep the pictures coming, but DO remember to let us know it’s ok to use them 🙂 Don’t feel crushed if your picture isn’t here-we just didn’t have lots of people’s permission!

Until next time, please don’t let your cat stash her kittens in trees and remember NOT to mix ammonia and bleach.

Read-y or Not, White Tiles and Blue Painted Skies.

(The title of this blog reminded me of an Irving Berlin song and Grandpa Jack (far left) always looked like he belonged in an Irving Berlin picture.)

Bane of my existence.

White Tiles and I go way back. No, it’s not some super-chic band you have never heard of, it is ,simply, WHITE tiles.

Somehow, wherever we live, there are acres of massive white tiles. Our old little house in Castle Hayne thoughtfully has them in the kitchen, main room, down the halls and in the bathroom. Our current house is a literal SHRINE to white tiles. In fact, we call this decor style “early 80’s Florida druglord” so overwhelming are the white tiles. And lastly, the bakery, both the kitchen and the shop side, 1800 square feet of WHITE TILE AND WHITE GROUT. Why? Dogs and Pigs and Kids and chickens and white tile are terrible BUT hundreds of pounds of coffee and cocoa and cherries and white tile? Who would come up with such a cruel floor covering? Mercifully, I find the instant gratification mopping supplies, to be cathartic and an excellent mind-clearer/thought generator. ESPECIALLY when I have gone wildly indulgent and treated myself to…A NEW MOP!

Monsieur Mop

And as I was test-driving Monsieur Mop around 16 acres of bakery floor (before you get all huffy (MOM) Shawn always asks to mop, but it is so soothing to my overwrought brain at the end of a day, it gives time for all things I need to remember to ship, order, proof, mail etc to float to my forebrain so it gets done!) it occured to me that there was cold-comfort in the upcoming Memorial Day weekend this year for many people for many reasons. (OH, OH Guess what! The traffic with the NEW 10,000 BAZILLION DOLLAR BRIDGE STILL BACKS UP. Hmmmm.)

This is Phineas T, Piglet, having successfully stolen a quilt from the clothesline, pretending the beach is HIS sanctuary.

People yearning to escape cities- pretend everything is normal, locals not thrilled about a revolving door of people for 9 weeks, other locals desperate for $ boost after a squiffy 2019 courtesy of Hurricane Florence; that much dissension among the ranks makes for a level of discomfort. They are coming though, and READ-Y I am not.

Fortunately, I was given a 30 minute cosmic dose of comfort by the surprise return of Lynn Rossetto Kasper to Splendid Table! I have missed her show tremendously. Being able to hear a NEW interview with her was such a treat! Years ago, when I was doing Farmer’s Markets downtown, after the baking+packing, her radio show was on WHQR while we would be waiting in line at Thalian Hall to queue up parade-style, before all the cars could drive down to Water Street at 7:30 a.m. to begin setup. This was BEFORE podcasts and smart phones (2002 y’all) and I would sit in my truck full of hot breads, sipping Java Estate coffee and the mellifluous sounds of Lynne telling me fascinating stories of food. It was divine. Podcasts, though I love them, are not always the same as a live radio (though I absolutely ALWAYS turned off the callers. Not a fan of questions.) And here she was talking about how, in Italy, the bits that sink to the bottom of your pasta dish in a ragu’ are actually more like a second meat course! Something rich and delectable to be scooped up with a fork or a hunk of bread and just the telling of this simple act and the logic behind it was enormously comforting and cozy and transported me back 18 years, just like that.

Years and years ago, Water St., Wilmington NC Mr Bill, RT, Margaret, MaryBeth-it was so much fun!

With Memorial Day on the 25th, I have nothing to offer in terms of true comfort, other than to embrace tastes that take you back in time, or tastes that feel like travel. Food-driven memories are so very powerful. I was thrilled to have someone call me and tell me that they too had wonderful memories of gooey grilled cheese and tv nights as a child, and then brought to tears by someone emailing me that my baking came close to their mom’s. Of course, we all know that CAN’T be duplicated, but the idea of being able to feed people simple foods that are calming and give a few minutes of happiness is the best part of my work day.

Living in a military community, almost everyone you know will have a personal connection to someone lost in combat. Isn’t that a sombering sentence to say? But it’s true. Shawn lost a dear friend in combat years ago and so we will take a moment to share him here with you, letting him know he is always remembered and that you are remembering yours as well.

We remember. Remember the good and the sad. Use it to compare and steady yourself. Take comfort in small things, simple gestures. Send letters and cards. Claudia sent postcards! Granny Shirley just sent us a note full of old Guidepost clippings!

Granny Shirley sends old recipes too, which I dearly love to receive!

And at the end of your remembering, remember that we, here, are under Carolina bluest of BLUE skies right now, that you can always safely travel through your imagination, a good book, an exotic recipe or via Mary Poppins Transit and pretend to pop into a chalk painting and take off on a jaunt!

Sometimes, just a spoonful of sugar…

One of my biggest thrift store paintings purchased years ago in Burgaw for $5. It had mountains and llamas, my 2 favorite things. While it will never make me rich on Antiques Roadshow it has inspired many of Connor’s bedtime stories, as well as a llama-centric Sound of Chew-sic.

simple payments block

Magical Cheapness!

I hope you are all well and you had some type of Mother’s Day celebration if it was your day to celebrate!

We had a quiet celebration here and I made a brutal wish list of things I wanted the guys to get done AND THEY DID! The goal was to make things or reinvent things around the house. You know how many times a year I flipped the interior of the bakery or the Little House, so you should feel deeply sympathetic to this crew marooned on Quarantine Island with me!

We roasted large batches of coffee, installed rain barrels from recycled bits, upcycled broken bikes and made pavers from old bags of concrete. BUT THE big event was GUERILLA PLANTING! One time at a yard sale I bought an enormous bag of seeds. It’s been in my pantry for over a year and this spring I planted some in pots-half of them sprouted and the other half did nothing. So, I determined that rather than gamble on the remaining 60,000 packs, I would save them for a different project!

Guerilla Planting
Lake of Shining Waters (as per Anne of Green Gables)
Concrete Crafts. Less fun then I had imagined. Will gladly never pour a concrete countertop.
Broke Chic. Will look better when plants fill in!!!
Organic Peruvian roasting to dark and delicious goodness!

So ANYWAY, I mixed all these iffy seeds together in a bucket and planted this field adjacent to our house! It used to have buffalo in it, and we miss them immensely, and now they no longer use (or mow) the pasture and I figured, when in my lifetime will I ever again have the luxury of randomly planting an entire field that may or may not grow? I didn’t feel bad about seed waste because the seed packets were years expired and IF some of them work, well then it will be the most outrageously gorgeous food harvest I will ever get to do! I also planted a sunflower seed at the base of every fence post in the pasture, so fingers crossed, they all pop up!

Gypsophila Million Stars

What’s in a name? I have always loathed baby’s breath until I met this particular type of baby’s breath, Gypsophila Million Stars!!! And CLEARLY, the tiny blossoms do look like a million stars! So I stuffed them in a broken percolator to look like clouds of steam and stars and was tickled at the cheap, messy result! (Fear not, flower arranging is not my backup day job!) But it’s funny how words can change your perception so quickly. As we have been operating on less than a shoestring budget for quite sometime now (me and the rest of the world!!) I wanted to have loads of flowers for not too much money. And once I had culled the bruised peonies that didn’t make the cut from your Mother’s Day orders and stuffed them in my various junk store vases and the few gift vases, I had a house full of girly happy that made the guys SUPER uncomfortable.

So because I made them all work like dogs (where does that come from? my dogs do nothing but demand affection, bark loads and shed entire mattresses of hair) on Sunday, we are going to make it up to them this Friday and BLOW IT OUT in celebration of NATIONAL PIZZA DAY and NATIONAL CHOCOLATE CHIP DAY! -I did not make these days up.-

When I was little Mom used to make Chef Boyardee pizza kits once in a while on Sunday nights and we would get to EAT and WATCH TV (this was unheard of-we did not watch much tv) usually, Murder, She Wrote. ( I adore Angela Lansbury. Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Harvey Girls, Beauty and the Beast, Nanny McPhee, Murder She Wrote-she is way up on my list on “people I would love to have a cup of tea with sometime!!!”)

Chef Boyardee+Angela Lansbury=Time Travel.

But, we have grown up sadly, so instead of boxes of magical pizza, this week we are sending you the option of a “Chef Quarantine Pizza Kit!” Homemade dough and sauces, gorgeous cheeses and some luxury add ons so you can celebrate in-style at home! Bake it or grill it!

National Pizza Day! Fresh basil, beautiful cheese, homemade dough!

Most of my favorite things are spontaneous gifts I have gotten over the years. Like this apron from Weez. When we first opened in downtown Wilmington years and years ago, Ms. Weez made me some super light, super soft aprons with pockets. After years of use, abuse and too many washings, the cotton gave way and we hung it in a place of honor at my house. (It’s like my shoulder, torn to shreds…) Right next to these obscenely glittery shoes that I will probably never, ever wear but that Logan got me in a most magical turn of events! I found these shoes in one of my favorite jumble stores. They were new and spoke of a cancelled wedding or perhaps an online purchase that couldn’t be returned but MOSTLY they twinkled and glittered and gave you the option to believe that A. Yes, you are the kind of person that can walk on a church steeple held to your foot with bejewelled dental floss and B. CERTAINLY, as many formal events as you attend, you WILL get your $80 out of these glittering fripperies. And this was even before quarantine, so now…I blather. But, I had visited these shoes longingly 3 times over the course of 2 months. They haunted me. But I knew better. $80 is a LOT of cookies. On the fourth visit to this store, the store had been sold and unfortunate changes were AFOOT. So I greeted the shoes sadly, made a quick lap and we headed to the checkout. Logan was still meandering through the store and a man approached him and asked him if he could help him move a bookshelf to his truck. Logan, of course, agreed. The shelf was crazy heavy and the man felt bad and offered Logan money and Logan said “No, it’s ok” and the man said “What about something from my booth?” GUESS WHICH BOOTH IT WAS!!! I was clueless, by the way, any of this was going on in the hinterland of this warehouse. So Logan says, “Mom is crazy about those shoes” and the man was DELIGHTED to give them to him and THAT is how, through Magical Cheapness and Supreme gentlemanly kindness I am now prepared for a night on the town followed up with a trip to the ER!

But since, really, nobody wants to go the ER, ever, I will take this opportunity to tell you that, we are NOT going to be reopening for a while and are going to stick with curbside for lots of reasons. We have disabled vets, handicapped people, heart conditions and infants in our immediate family and when we ARE open, it is kind of stunning the amount of people who come through that little door on a daily basis. For example, the Saturday before we closed, we had 300 people come through there in 5 hours. That was a Saturday in the off-season. So you can imagine in the summer how the numbers swell. There is no way to clean books and stuffed animals. It’s just not a thing. And for now, until there is a better handle and a clear path to what exactly this new situation is, it seems safest for everyone to stay with this method. This way, nobody has to worry about the treats they pickup or the books or toys they purchase having been sitting geese in a mind-boggling parade of humanity. Other stores have stayed open and are re-opening and we wish them much success and certainly do not question their choices and hopefully when this is all situated we will look like hyper-sensitive silly geese but if that’s the worst that happens, I will be ok.

Thank you for all The Mother’s Day texts, emails and messages! I passed them on to Mom and she said to tell you all “Hello!!! Be Well!” We appreciate all your support as do the farmer’s that you guys have been rallying to keep going in our Coastal Community. This is such a delicious time of year! There will be recipe cards in this week’s CSA bags for some of the delicacies and we always LOVE getting pictures of the foods you made and the #virusgardens you have planted.


“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Roald Dahl

Hidden Treasures/Broken Bricks

I have a deep, abiding love for glossy magazines. Books too, obviously, but, I have always loved subscribing to magazines ever since the days of Ranger Rick! It’s like having super-glamorous pen pals. This month has been a stretch, I must admit. We all know they plan magazines months in advance (as we are all well educated via “The Devil Wears Prada” yes?) Shooting Thanksgiving scenes in the heat of May, etc, etc BUT all the rambling about resort wear, the cruise line ads and the concert ticket giveaways has set my teeth on edge! I mean, I like escapism as much as anybody (well not escape rooms-those terrify me) BUT it’s really weird reading these magazines that are so completely out of step with the current everything! Anyway, my point is, in one of my magazines there was an article about this woman and the list of mundane tasks she repeatedly avoided and GUESS WHAT, it’s actually a syndrome, so now she feels validated and inspired. UM NO. You just let a grad school intern play fast and loose with shrink terms and you are totally normal like the rest of the world and DON’T WANT TO VACUUM BEHIND YOUR FRIDGE. (Speaking of which, if I had Marie Kondoe-d all my stuff and was now trapped in my apartment for 6 weeks with no old photos or 1000 extra books to read I would be HOT! Hoarding can be healthy.)

So once I had rolled my eyeballs back in from the back of my skull, I continued blithely through my stack of May magazines and then set to my list for the day. Today I had to time to indulge myself in a completely pointless task that had no use to anyone in my family, nothing to do with work or growing food, and everything to do with years of obsession with 2 spectacular books!

“The Shades” is about a magic fountain, I won’t spoil the rest because you need to buy it immediately. “Mandy” is full of wonderful, impossible adventures INCLUDING finding a hidden cottage and making it her own. I have never outgrown the thrill of setting up houses, each house is so distinctly it’s own creature! And in the spirit of hidden houses and treasures, one of the Diane Chamberlain books I just finished has a little girl that finds random bits and buries it as mysterious treasure-type hints!

That being said, our current house has a crazy fountain with a custom-made top piece signed by a long-deceased artist (yes it came with the house). I have on occasion, coaxed it into working for brief spells but had never excavated the bottom to clean out the monkey grass that had taken over. (I loathe monkey grass. And monkeys. This extends even to Curious George and Coco. I don’t care. I have had night terrors about monkeys on ceiling fans since childhood-still do. I am unsure what this means in dream-speak, but in day-to-day it translates into NO MONKEYS, NO MONKEY GRASS.)

So, I weeded and dug and hoed and found broken hay bricks, broken slate, a paintbrush and an old horse bit which was fun, all of which is installed now in my rock garden. I replaced the grass of evil dreams with Mojito Mint and Lemon Thyme, which the pig promptly came over and ate one of the mint and we had a long and serious conversation about respecting each other’s boundaries and overt piggery. Maggie was not impressed.

Pig parenting aside, it was wonderfully frivolous and lots of fun to root around in the dirt and reread those stories in my head. The first time I read “Mandy” I was 8ish and had a perfect Granny Smith apple to crunch as I read through it, and it makes for such a strong combined memory! I hope you have had time to read during the down time, instead of being overrun by worry and speculations and what-ifs. Below are some of my other favorite gardening books that I have read as an adult (Mom has 100 stories for you about Elizabeth Lawrence!)

Because MAY DAY is coming! And in honor of May Day we will have a rainbows worth of flowers all locally grown (even some from our farm!) up on the website tomorrow! Flowers make me so happy.

So the fountain is finished, we did another week of Quarantine Theatre. (Someone emailed and tried to buy the cake topper from the “Days of our Bridezz” episode. Hahhahhaa!) And we are getting ready to load a lot of delicious meats and veggies onto the website. I am so very proud of everyone buying all these local ingredients and turning them into delicious foods! I have also enjoyed getting everyone’s #virusgarden photos and dinner photos and cheese plate photos! Keep ’em coming!

“…Outside the talkative fountain
Continues night and day
Repeating my warm passion
In whatever it has to say…” Charles Baudelaire

Kitchen Log, day 35.

One OF the neat things about having friends and family all over the world and the country, is that in this time of oddness, we can get a true play-by-play of what’s going on in different places. We have friends in London, Paris, Canada and Spain and family in big cities and rural towns, so it’s nice to have a perspective with no media influence. If and when, we ever get a news source that isn’t funded by advertising dollars, I will be more inclined to tune in to said news.

Fairly Obvious News. Clearly an underfunded channel. No Bias, just cats.

In the meantime, we have been cooking our way through both the fun bounty of spring time veggies and fruits and simultaneously mowing through things frozen (I can use vegetable stock about 6000 times a day!) and taking advantage of time-consuming kitchen projects we have not had the time to do! Mozzarella, ricotta, yogurt all those fun things. I have some fun new asparagus recipes I will share at the end of the post.

The garden has been enjoying the deluge of rain and then blazing sun and the cool down! My garden is so full of plants with stories, it’s like a little museum every time I am in it! I have a fig tree that came over from Croatia via Angelica’s dad, and a fig tree my friend Jelena gave me, I have a zucchini plant from my friend Allie and rose bushes from Heirloom Roses from Mom, loads of herbs from Shelton Herb Farm, baby herbs from Green Drop Farms, vintage fencing from my friend Ginny, a fantastic garden cart from Claudia, loamy black dirt from Daddy Pete’s and my friend Amie, old roses from Orton Plantation, tomato plants from seeds saved from my Epic Tomato project from Craig Lehoullier, a chubby greenhouse from my friends at Territorial when they gave me a leg up post hurricane, a vermicomposter from Sara Webster’s mom, hibiscus blossoms from my friend Donna, beautiful fossil rocks for garden borders from our friend’s Tom and Debbie and raised beds built by Shawn from lumber we scavenged different places! Yes, that IS a run-on sentence but you should hear the one’s in my head-way worse.

Found garden statue!
Allie’s Zucchini!
Angelica’s Dad’s fig tree!

But we do have deer out here, and foxes, opossums, trash pandas (aka raccoons) and so it makes it a bit dicey at night sometimes with the chickens and the garden BUT Linda and I discovered the other day via HGTV blog that deer HATE Dove Soap! So we shall see if that helps!

One thing there is NOT a lot of on a micro-farm with a Great Pyrenees and 2 boys (ok 3 boys) is SILENCE. (Yes we also have the GSD, Edison, but he is way less noisy, concentrates more on shedding. All German Shepherds should come with a Roomba.) “Feed your soul with silence, that’s where dreams are born.” Susan Branch ( Like, none, ever. So, in a sanity-preserving effort I have taken to showering. Now, believe it or not, when the bakery was running full time, a shower, a lengthy shower, was a treat! TMI, yes, yes. But we have a variety of animals and people to feed morning and night, and so if I went in by 5 a.m. and didn’t get home till after 7 p.m. you can see how the time for a REAL shower seemed rather impossible! And so, NOW, I light a big, fat soy candle on my clean bathroom counter, put a little cups of baking soda with drops of cypress pine oil beneath the stream of water and escape from dinosaurs, Legos, beer and barking for 10 glorious minutes. Because nothing makes a better filter for your mirror than shower fog and candlelight! And I emerge, temporarily clean and calm-ish. (Which by the way, the new candles we got from Wilmington Candle Company are AMAZING).

Magnolia McKenna CooperSmith. Queen of Barking.
The cutest box of watercolors you ever saw!

If you planted your plants from last week, send us pictures of your #virusgarden ! It’s so interesting to see how plants perform in different parts of our 3 counties! We do have Irises this week from Castle Hayne Farms-their house grown irises make me wish for fields of irises!

Beautiful, happy irises.

And so, we begin another week of quarantine, 7 more days of Quarantine Theatre and 63+meals!!!

The new curbside menu for the week is up, and per request, there are cinnamon rolls and no-bakes! And for poor Victoria, I solemnly swear NOT to let the boys pack your bag this week! I know you thought you were being pranked!!!

Asparagus with Miso Dip!!!

Boil 1 bundle asparagus in super salty water for 2 minutes. Drain and place on a plate in fridge. In small bowl, crush half a clove of garlic with a 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, loosen with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Set aside. In larger bowl, place 2 tablespoons of white miso (did you know we make world famous miso in NC? ) and whisk in 3 tablespoons hot water to dissolve miso. Add in garlic mixture and stir in 2 tablespoons tahini and a drizzle of really nice olive oil. Voila! A yummy asparagus dig or killer salad dressing!

(P.S. If you are wildly irritated that I assumed you had those ingredients on hand and want me to stick a batch in your order just email me 🙂 Shawn will murder me if I add anything else to the website this week. This blog took forever because the cat rolled up with a snake. Bad times for mom.


You’re so faaaaaaaar away…

Everybody better stay in one place, that’s indoors. It would be SO NICE to, to kick this virus out the door, but it doesn’t help to know…

Clearly, this was not what Carole King meant when she wrote the song. Don’t worry, I am also rewriting the lyrics to RENT! Next blog, next blog.

I like to wait to write a blog for when I have a TRULY captive audience. Because by now, I am sure, you have alphabetized your spices and ironed your underwear so, really, what else can you do but motor through some blog drivel? (Hey, at least you aren’t binge watching Tiger King.) The LAST blog I wrote on here was while opening the Little House after the recovery Spring from Hurricane Florence. That was a gleeful little piece, almost a year to the day, it was.

We do hope you and your loved ones are well. And yes, Tanis IS climbing the walls without her 100’s of bakery friends to talk to. If you drop her a line or an email we will make sure she gets it! Claudia and Angelica and Mallory are all well, too and staying home and being wildly creative!

Updates from the farm are many! We had our first baby goat-it’s a girl! Mozambique Mozartella, and she is beautiful! Planted squash, zucchini, peas, green beans, tomatoes and loads of herbs so far. Hopefully everyone is doing some rendition of a #virusgarden.

We DO hope you have been enjoying “QUARANTINE THEATRE.” Our goal is to perform an original story EVERY day of the quarantine using ONLY stuff from around the house and yard.

To be honest, we got nervous before they even forced the shutdown, so while we are not wanting to deprive people of comfort food and caffeine, we ARE wanting everyone to stay home, stay well and stay separate. THEREFORE, shipping doth exist on the website as well as the Friday pickup 12-2, where it is ALL pre-paid, one customer at a time at the pickup station and we wave at you through the glass so we respect all the rules and everyone’s well-being. #socialdistancing #justdoit

MY FAVORITE thing in this blog, though, is announcing the launch of “FARM DIRT.” Our real-deal, old school farm newsletter mailed out monthly-MAILED NOT EMAILED-full of photos, advice, recipes, farm hacks and FARM FAILS!

Speaking of FarmFails, I built a bomb! Tin+Potassium Chloride=Hydrogen Bomb. Note to all-do NOT pour saponifying olive oil soap into a vintage tin soap mold. Bad.

Wash your hands. Stay away from people, all of ’em. Read 1000000 books, send 100000 texts and emails, plant a #virusgarden. Don’t give up. We’re sorry this is hard and scary. But for the first time, everyone, absolutely everyone, is in this together, whether they want to be or not.

“I do not exhaust.” Julia Child

Love, Sam and the Boys

P.S. I have a list below of Quarantine Perspective books. It’s far from done, but a decent start!

“Secret Garden” “Diary of Anne Frank” “Madame Curie” “Little House on the Praire” “Swiss Family Robinson” “Time Traveler’s Wife” “The Egg and I” “Dirty Life”

HouseHunters, Hampstead.

I have just begun dreaming again. One night, I dreamed nothing but hues of pink. The entire dream, as it were, was seen through rose-hued glasses and it has been two weeks now and I am still completely obsessed with pink. THAT is boring but I say this to explain that the last 6 months have been so bewildering it took my brain this long to even remember how to dream. Once we had edged hopefully into 2019, suddenly there was a downpour of cancer-stricken friends and babies… babies everywhere! The wonderful news is everyone has made it through the scary zone and friends are doing much better and I have gotten to see almost ALL the babies-we seem to be rounding a corner into a happier Spring. While all this was being tended to, we held with tradition and began a new phase of growth for our business. February 1st of last year we closed on the market and this February we began work on The Little House!

We actually got the lease on the charming Little House back in November but dear Florence pushed everything back and back and so here we are doing the Spring Scramble to scoot into residence now. But oh! the twinkling things that have happened while we have been filling this little happy house. Are you in the mood for a meandering story full of star-crossed connections? Good!

(on a side note, I went into a grocery store for the first time last week since we lost the market and I was so, so sad. I know get over it, and yet…………………. no, I have NOT been starving my family. Just shopping creatively or sending ye olde husband in my stead.)

I get attached to an odd assortment of things. Perhaps blame the “Brave Little Toaster” or “Mandy” or “A Little Princess” or “The Secret Garden”, I don’t know. I have an Astoria Espresso Machine that was the first machine I ever trained on and I don’t care what anyone thinks it makes the BEST espresso. And so… when I was going to open my very first store downtown Wilmington 100,000 years ago, I combed Craigslist for an espresso machine. You know how we roll; reuse, recycle, haunt Habitat Restore religiously – as we had no budget or loan to open a store. So frugal was the name of the game; and lo and behold, the very espresso machine I plucked from a storage unit in Hampstead was the VERY SAME MACHINE!!!! Fast forward to moving the shop to the Island from Wilmington and it became glaringly apparent that the little machine would not be able to keep up with volume in the summer and we had to upgrade to a bigger (but still used) Astoria.

Switching gears slightly, you all know Claudia, yes? She makes the enchanting signs we have tucked around the stores, has the famous Claudia Crackers, does the window displays and has the cutest baby clothes ever upstairs? Well, Claudia worked in the Little House when it was the Silver Peddler AND Claudia worked with me (though she had forgotten :)) at Beauchaine’s (the old one at the South End.)

Have you seen the beautiful MsElaineous pottery? Well, I have loved her pottery since Donna and Barry had Brown Dog Coffee. You see when I was growing up in Burgaw, Barry was the postmaster and then when they bought Brown Dog I did their baking and got to buy Elaine’s mugs BUT Donna FOUND out about MsElaineous pottery when she purchased the pottery at THE LITTLE HOUSE when it was Snickerdoodles Ice Cream shop a long time ago!

Did I mention the 2 Paulas? I have 2 magical Paula friends – one the result of a long -standing farmer’s market friendship with her noble canine, the other a result of my Williams-Sonoma days. Both are darling, fascinating gals and within 2 weeks they are both landing in houses ON THE SAME BLOCK, across the street from The Little House.

Oh and the Susan Branch Mugs! Have been smitten forever and we make every kindred spirit read her books and subscribe to her blog

But this year, when they sent me the order preview for retail shops one of the mugs happens to be :

Because you KNOW Hampstead, NC was named after Hampstead, UK. And so will allow us to indulge in High Teas now and again; as well as a healthy dose of Jane Eyre and Jemima Puddleduck and J.K. Rowling!

In a happy convergence of friendship and craftsmanship, the little Astoria is back home in The Little House, MsElaineous pottery is gracing the shelves, Susan Branch Little House Mugs are on the way, we will have 2 Paula’s and the delightful, creative Claudia will be there occasionally to make everything justttt right! Oh, and pink. Inordinate, unexplainable, embarrassing amounts of pink.

That’s your update on The Little House! There is a wine tasting at Sugar Island this Saturday from 12-4, plus handing out our Easter Menus, Sandy Toes will be having $10 table sales, Pelican Sno-Balls has reopened, Southern Emporium has some of the CUTEST new baby outfits for Spring, the Skating Rink reopened, QuarterMoon hired one of our favorite customers, Ally for their weekends, Shaka Taco opened back up, Herrings Sporting Goods got in the prettiest spring bikes, Inlet Blue is having their Grand Opening Friday night and EMA is almost back open!

The Island, plus the concrete monster known as:


is getting back to normal as fast as a sea turtle getting released out to sea.

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