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Temple's Blog

Bridal registry/ Mixin' It Up!

By Temple Wynne

 I am excited to see the current American trends in dinnerware selection- more open minded and exciting!  It used to be that a bride and groom registered for one formal china pattern, one pottery pattern, one crystal, etc, and that was it-they were done.  Serving pieces, everything, "matched" in the same patterns.  While a table filled with a single pattern can look very beautiful, it is inevitably boring, boring, boring.  I cannot count how many people have told me that they haven't pulled their china out in years!

 Now, couples of all ages seem determined to put their own marks on their dining styles and add some pizzaz to their tables- what fun!  The beauty of a fine traditional china is complimented and softened with a richly glazed pottery charger rather than with a tablecloth.  Hand thrown pottery is dressed up with sparkling glassware or formal crystal.  Beautiful ceramic and pewter platters and bowls bring a splash of color, texture and individual style to the table. The addition of a single textile from African, India, New England or the American Southwest changes the look of the table from one meal to the next.

 No longer are we following the staid British mandates of what is proper, but we are back to our adventurous roots!   Many newly weds forgo the fine china altogether, choosing a sturdy everyday porcelain (microwavable to be sure) and a beautiful pottery for special occasions.    And at least part of the credit for the change in attitude may come from the designers themselves.  Fine lines like Vietri, Match and Jan Barboglio have been designing dinnerware which encourage the imagination and lend themselves to individualistic interpretation.  International trade has made gorgeous Mexican, Italian, Indian and Asian lines accessible as well.   Mixing ceramics, pewter, iron and hammered metals into the equation makes setting a buffet a much more interesting proposition as well.  Ah, life is good, and sometimes it only takes a small addition to make our dining experience seem fresh and new.



 

 

 

 

 

Your house or mine?


 Home is truly where the heart is, and when is that more apparent than during the bleak month of February?  Waiting for blessed Spring can seem endless.  It's been too cold to swim, too rainy (thank heavens!) to do much outside, and all of the vim and bustle of Christmas is well behind us.   Valentine's Day offers us a warm respite, a special day to express love for one another- a little shopping and a special meal are in order- and let's not forget chocolates!  Valentine's also reminds us of how many good friends warm our lives, invigorate our minds, and welcome us so willingly into their homes.

 Sharing one's home is the ultimate valentine, givable year round!  Living here in the glorious Texas Hill Country, we have more opportunity than most to extend this gift.  Houseguests are plentiful most of the year, and if you are like me, low key/ self serve is the key to happiness there.   But what about our Hill Country friends?  Of course, quiet dinners are always wonderful and book club invaluable.  But, taking my lead from a generous friend, I say,  "let the games begin!"  How about pulling out those dominos, dusting off that Risk game, sorting out those poker chips?  My friend has started a multi-game night where couples come to play the game of their choice; some play Mexican dominos, some straight dominos and some play poker.  I think she is wonderful for organizing this, and plan to join the group whenever possible.  On a less organized note, asking a couple of friends over to play gin, ping-pong, or monopoly on the spur of the moment might be the ticket.  Come for coffee and pie, a fire and some fun.  Speaking of fire, remember that the hearth is the actual heart your home.  We have so few cold weeks in Texas that sitting at the hearth, no matter what you are doing, is a real treat for everyone. Yes, home is definitely the place to be- your house or mine?

 

 

The Joy of Christmas by Temple Wynne 1/28/08

Family traditions at Christmas time were up front and center in my childhood.  NO ONE was ever absent to the myriad sights and gatherings that became our family's traditions.  Christmas was all about love, grandparents, cousins, and the many blessings of the day.  What family traditions do you still hold dear?

 

For us, a drive to downtown Dallas after Thanksgiving was a must, for that was when department stores miraculously unveiled their huge windows, resplendent with exquisitely executed, dazzling scenes of The Nativity, winter wonderlands, and sugarplum fairies.  From there we'd drive over to view three breathtakingly beautiful giant pecan trees which were (and still are!) lit in the simplest of fashions, my personal favorite of the season.

 

Times change, children scatter, and new traditions evolve.  For one thing, these days, I am the grandmother!  But children, cousins and the blessings of the day are still front and center.  Now we all suit up for The EmilyAnn Trail of lights, lovingly designed and executed by individuals, families, churches and organizations in celebration of Faith, Joy and Fellowship.  Thank heavens that founders Ann and Norm Rolling present "The Trail" for so many weeks (all the way til New Years) making it possible for blended families like mine to be on the grounds together throughout the season as kids and I travel in and out of the region.

 

And, of course, there is the food and drink!  Roast beef, mashed potatoes, yeasty rolls  and brussel sprouts with cranberries and caramelized onions sounds good to me.   My personal favorite is thick, cinnamony, hot Mexican Chocolate, both as a food and a drink- bad, I know!  What is yours?  Hot chili, spice cake, baked ham?  A favorite with my adult guests is my family's milk punch (but designated drivers are a must with this concoction).  Served in a big bowl with ladle: One part rum, two parts bourbon, 4 parts milk, a big blob of vanilla bean ice cream topped with liberal sprinkles of nutmeg and cinnamon.

 

May the Joy of Christmas reign! Merry Christmas from River House

 

That Delicious Mexican Pottery

by Temple Wynne

I confess that I have always been smitten by a table set in great looking Mexican pottery.  Mmm, the warm red clays and subtle glazes make fresh limes and richly spiced food ever so much more savory –and nothing looks richer on a Thanksgiving table!  During my life-long love affair with Mexican ceramics, I have found sources for first class food safe pottery  AND  for great looking under-fired decorative ware – the trick is to know the difference!    

Years ago, while traveling, I purchased a number of beautifully decorated Talavera-style serving pieces in a studio that I knew nothing about.    When the shipment arrived home, the larger items were virtually crumbled, indicating weakness in the clay bodies.   Disheartened, we tested some of the undamaged pieces in water (if you can hear or smell the clay taking on water, don’t eat on it).  When wet, these pieces smelled like rich earth, and they crackled; our new treasures had not been   ”vitrified” [fired  hot enough (800-1000c) for the clay particles to turn to glass] and were not food safe.  Resolved to love it anyway, we decorated the tops of our cabinets with the gorgeous new pieces, and determined to keep looking for top notch Mexican dinnerware.

And oh my, we’ve found it in spades!  In Guanajuato, for example, master potter Gorky Gonzales produces classic high quality majolica dinnerware, and in Puebla, world -class Talavera has been produced  for generations.   When looking for food-safe dinnerware in Mexico, research the area that you will be visiting to find out who the premier potters are – you will very likely find a superior studio that you do not want to miss.    

For decorative ceramics, all of Mexico is a playground!  Driving through Dolores Hidalgo, or Urapan during the annual National Folk Art Festival, you will see the streets lined with great looking pots, jars and planters decorated with colorful designs.   I love the pineapples and painted vases of the Michoacan and the folk art from anywhere.  Every region of Mexico produces its unique style of ceramic.  Ask questions everywhere, and have a buen vieja!

Respectfully yours?

by Temple Wynne

 

 

A dilemma that many of us face is what to do with good, possibly valuable belongings when they no longer fit our life styles, or cease to please us aesthetically. I cannot count the number of people I know who have been stumped by this issue, Sometimes there is a full set of china stashed away, furniture in storage, silver in the attic, etc, etc.  We struggle with this when grandparents and parents pass away, when we move, and when we decide that we no longer want to shuffle or store certain items.  What to do?

I find that often the hardest thing for me to come to terms is my own sentimentality.  I make associations made between inanimate objects and the people I love. However, sometimes thoughts about the origins or quality of the items can make me feel guilty when I store them indefinitely, or think about giving them away:  "this box was my grandmother's (one of many)" or "I was with so-and-so when we bought this…".  The idea that we are disrespectful if we do not keep all sentimental items can doom wonderful treasures to dark storage shelves or, worse yet, non-acclimatized storage units.  Bring those things out into the light of day!    Ask "DO I REALLY LOVE THIS?"

 

If the answer is "no, not really", then find someone who will!  There are respectful methods for sending good  items on their way. The easiest, and best, in many cases, is to gift the items to family and friends or to a worthy charity.  Cool little thrift stores, like The Village Store here in Wimberley not only get the items into appreciative hands, but also benefit local non profits with the money it generates from the sales!!  If the value of the item is monetary, place it in an auction house, on EBay or in a garage sale.  Better yet, place it in a reputable consignment store like Treasures On Twelve (where the consignment fee benefits WAG, Wimberley's dog rescue non-profit), where you AND a charity benefit.

 

It is true that we may need to store a few things for  the child who loves that particular piece, but letting the rest go, to be enjoyed by others feels pretty darn great!

Christmas Delights

By Temple Wynne

I have always loved Christmas - everything about it. I love the music and the lights. I love the thought that goes into making Christmas lists, and keeping family traditions alive.  I love setting out marvelous nativity scenes that bring home the true meaning of Christmas.  And, yes, the food - traditional delights!

 

This year, I got my first real infusion of Christmas spirit at the EmilyAnn Trail of Lights - more wonderful than ever. Thus inspired, I made a special trip to Dallas to join my cousins in a seven generation old tradition - the putting down of the Christmas spice rounds.  Looking forward to this taste treat as I was growing up, I decided that this is a tradition worth kindling at my home here in Wimberley. All in all, we made rounds that went to homes in Dallas, Plano, Tulsa, Midland, Ft. Worth, Austin and Wimberley!

 

To make this magic, representatives from each branch of our large extended family gather in one kitchen.  While our "spice girls" measure and stir delicious smelling spices into a special concoction on the stove, the rest of us work around a kitchen table preparing our respective rounds of beef.  Not a job for the faint of heart, each round cut of beef (10'd x 6" h) has to be bound tightly with kitchen string, punctured through repeatedly with a sharpened dowel, and then each hole stuffed with the fragrant blend of spices. The round is then sewn snuggly into cheesecloth, and "put down" in a cold spot for two weeks to cure in the brine.  And finally, while still in its cloth, it is boiled, refrigerated, and made ready to go!   And go it does, to each of our houses and friends' houses, for every holiday party. Placed on a beautiful tray, surrounded with greenery and berries, the firm spice round is carved flat across the top in paper thin slices, and enjoyed on crackers or thin toasts- spicy and delicious- a real Christmas delight!

 

We at River House wish you and yours a loving, delightful Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Just Breezing Through

by Temple Wynne

 

The beautiful hills, streams and charming towns in which we live draw houseguests from far and wide.  What a pleasure it is to share this glorious place with friends and family!  For the host, however, there are a few obvious challenges to a steady stream of visitors, like stocking the guest bath, fridge and bar, cooking meals, cleaning house, and providing clean beds!  I have found that some simple requests and procedures help me stay on an even keel, and my guests seem happy to help.

 

Keep things very simple, over all.  Stock the guest bath with small guest soap so that when they look ratty, there are no qualms about tossing! Rinse soap and soap dishes. Check you paper goods.  Keep Sam's-size shampoo, toothpaste, throw away razors, Q-tips and spray deodorant, (which rarely need replenishing) handy for the forgetful traveler.  I also stock a high cabinet with calamine lotion, antiseptic cream, band-aids, Advil, antihistamine  and Pepto-Bismol, just in case!  For water, supply an individual thermal glass, distinctive top and straw to each guest. At my house, we have a huge water dispenser from which the glasses can be refilled by each guest as needed.

 

Many of us have busy schedules, even while friends and family are breezing through our homes on a regular basis.  Be realistic- most guests are happy to help plan and execute the visit.   Ask them bring breakfast for the days they will be here; they can fix it too!  Also ask them to bring their favorite snack foods and to take them with them when they leave!!  I usually provide a fridge full of fruit, veggies, cheeses, olives, and plan to cook at least one good dinner while they are here.  Alcohol can get expensive, so if it is a group who likes to party, don't hesitate to ask them to contribute to the cooler and to keep it iced up.  Last, but not least, at the end of the visit, ask them to leave sheets and towels in the laundry room.  This needs to be a breeze for everyone!

All Saddled Up

It is time for summer fun, seeing new sights or revisiting familiar places.  For some of us, a trip abroad might be in the offing too.  So the question of the day is "Are you saddled up for summer?".

 Travel by plane, train or car make for liberating adventures as long as you and yours are not too bogged down with stuff!  It took me most of my life to face the fact that my big, beautiful luggage was literally slowing me down( and causing my back no small problem as well). My initial awakening should have been as early as the 60's with the disappearance of Sky Caps: changing terminals at Kennedy schlepping  huge leather hanging bags;  that family trip to Crested Butte in the with the condo way up above the lodge; a trip to Venice dragging huge cases over multiple foot bridges - what can I say, I am a very slow learner.  I finally realized that smaller and light weight is the new beautiful. And if we play our cards well, light weight pieces of luggage stack well and roll easily in every direction.

 That is not to say that luggage is the only "saddlebag" that has been in transition.  I am happy to say that our culture has been learning some valuable new tricks in brief cases and ladies' handbags as well - using durable new materials that do not weight us down.  Don't get me wrong, you still see plenty of grandpa's leather and gi-normous purses, but practical lightweight bags with a hands-free option are huge sellers at River House.  Colorful offerings in solids and prints are all the rage.  From the crisp linen surfaces of the Spartina brand, to lightweight LouenHide faux leathers, to my personal favorite, Baggalini, there are plenty of good options to accommodate each person's druthers.  I personally like to have my cake and eat it too; I carry a wonderful spacious Baggalini tote (outstanding for travel too) with a small bag that has a cross-body strap tucked inside.  When I want to run into a store, I ditch the tote, and off I go - hands- free- ah, the versatility!

 All in all, I am saddled up and ready for summer adventures.  How about you?




 

A Special Gift

It is wedding season again, and the question, as always, is what to get for the couple in question- something for the table or a decorative item for the home?  Many of us feel obligated to purchase a wedding gift from a registry, while others search for something unique to give.  Both are much appreciated!  All of these years later, I still remember who gave me what when I married.   I still use my beautiful china and delight in the many unique items that I had not selected beforehand. Most importantly, the memories that these gifts invoke of the special people who gave them are worth their weight in gold!.

 

Today, couples of all ages are adding pizzazz to their tables with colorful serving pieces and multiple patterns - what fun!  Everything no longer has to "match"!  The beauty of fine traditional china can be complimented and softened with a richly glazed pottery accent.  Hand thrown pottery is dressed up with sparkling glassware or formal crystal.  A single unique platter or bowl can bring a splash of color, texture and individual style to a table or buffet. The addition of a textile from India or New England .distinctive spreaders, salad servers, ladel - oh, I could go on and on!

 

American households are no longer held hostage by the staid British mandates of the past; we are back to our adventurous roots!   Accent pieces are the name of the game in home décor. And at least part of the credit for the change in attitude may come from the designers themselves.  Fine lines like JuliskaMatch and Jan Barboglio have been designing serveware and home accents which encourage the imagination and lend themselves to individualistic interpretation.  International trade has made gorgeous Mexican, Italian, Indian and Asian lines accessible as well.   When choosing a gift, remember that a colorful ceramic, beautiful box, or distinctive pewter or iron piece may be the perfect reflection of you for your loved ones. There are myriad exciting gifts out there from which to choose.  What will you choose???!

 

 

 

 

What is your personal palette?

by Temple Wynne 3/24/11

 

Over the last two decades, America has undoubtedly become a more casual place to live.  For many people, this has seemed a blessing: casual Fridays (or everyday) at work; flip flops for all occasions; blue jeans everywhere.  For others, this dressing down seems undignified and sloppy.  Regardless of where we fall on the opinion poll, there are some fun options out there for us.  What are your personal druthers?

 

Moving to the Texas Hill Country was definitely liberating for me personally.  Downsizing to my new home, and adapting to a more casual life style meant that I could divest myself of clothing that now sat motionless in my closet.  And while I sort of hated to part with "the good stuff", I felt very happy to share my professional garb, suits, hose and heels, with someone who needed them more than I (the Village Store in Wimberley is a wonderful option for our donations).  Eventually, the more formal wear followed.  There are occasions in our Valley to "put on the dog", however, so I tried not to shoot myself in the foot! 

 

This is not to say that country life dictates the same message to all of its inhabitants.  While I love the ease of donning a pair of jeans and a sweater, there are plenty of lovely ladies afloat in these here hills who look gorgeous in spring frocks and pretty footwear!  What about you, what is your style? 

 

Jewelry design has always been interesting to me, and yes, I love it.  And just as I continue to regularly use my good china on my rustic table, I do regularly wear my good jewelry with my extremely casual dress. Mixing the things that please your own eye works. Swapping one jewelry "story" out for another is fun, simple and gratifying.  Just as in home décor, changing one piece of jewelry, or adding a new one can lift spirits and excite your personal palette - Enjoy!


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