Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This was today's haul from the hen house. Oh, and let's not forget the Colonel, who is the rooster that rules the roost. I have to get out there early, because of the heat. The chickens have been so hot in the afternoon, that I have to go out to the pen with the water hose and sprinkle them with a fountain of water, which they love. Otherwise, they are walking around squawking with their tongues hanging out. The Polish hens are so funny, they have what looks like a fancy hat, and they can barely see where they are going. We have always had chickens here, and I love the color of the Araucana's eggs, in their pale blues and greens. The yolks are bright gold, and of course our chickens are free roaming. They like to be petted, so whenever Grayson or Carrington come over, the first thing that they want to do is gather the eggs. What a great way to start the day...fresh eggs. xoxo Carolyn

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

So, you must have figured out by now that I am the worst blogger in the whole world. I am really going to try and be better, as anyone that knows me knows how much I love to talk, and cook, and decorate, and eat, and this sort of covers all of that. For months, I have been telling the kids that I wanted us to start eating outdoors more. Well, last Saturday night against a few protests of, "It's too hot," we finally had the chance to do it. I cook this stuff up in my head, and dreamed of wine, Italian fare and dining al fresco. Sometimes a plan comes together and sometimes it doesn't, but I was full steam ahead and had everyone plan on this outside get-together.
We used to do this all the time, when we stayed at my grandparents farm during the summer, and it was much less complicated. Of course back then there were not cell phones and I-Pads, and every kid did not have their own vehicle. I remember our cookouts with my grandparents, parents and cousins, which were filled with my grandmother's amazing ability to throw a meal together at the drop of a hat. They always had a big garden, like we do, and it supplied all of the "fixins" for the hamburgers. Of course after the cook out there were wolf calls to make, which was basically us howling at the moon, until we would get a howl back, and then came the spooky tales. Everyone would tell there scariest ghost stories, and we would scare ourselves so badly, and then have to go in and go to bed, listening to every creak of the house, and thinking that Big Foot was going to come carry us away.

Sorry for veering off, this night it was a gathering of everybody, to include my kids, Victoria and Nick (Alex has sadly gone off to school) and Victoria's friend Tristan, her adorable son, Grayson, and of course, Joe (husband), Christi (sister-in-law), Carrington (niece) who is also quite adorable, my mother Charlotte, and Nick's friend Riley, who has grown up at our house.
I love this old, metal, outdoor chandelier, and use it as often as we can, to light up the night while dining outdoors. I also have to have lots and lots of candles sprinkled about. Christi is worse than I am about candles, she lit every one. I cooked the lasagna and Cesar Salad ahead of time, so not that much to do. I used linen drop cloths to cover the tables, and gathered real silverware, as I hate plastic, silver serving trays, which I collect. If you can run across silver trays at an estate or garage sale, then get them. They always make for a beautiful table. Throw in some blue Spode dishes and of course some wine, and it is a party. The kids slurped on pink lemonade and we slurped on some pretty delicious wine, and a good time was had by all. My advice...enjoy this warm weather and the evening breezes. Even if you don't have a grove of Oak trees, set up on a porch, under any tree or shelter, and you are ready for some good food and the amazing gift of slowing life down, listening to stories, and maybe even throw in a scary story at the end. Wishing you loads of end of summer fun! XOXO Carolyn

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Live from the's tomato season!

Oh My Gosh!! It is that time of year. This year the weather has been a total blessing here in Texas, and the garden is overloaded with red, ripe, juicy tomatoes. Because of the cooler weather, which never happens in August in our neck of the woods in Texas, we are still gathering loads of squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, black-eyed peas, green beans, and more!! I made a glorious tomato and cucumber salad that y'all would love! It is just cubed tomatoes, cucumbers, sliced red onion, fresh basil chopped, 1/2 block of Feta cheese, salt, pepper, and Italian Dressing....YUM!!! It is heaven.
And just a mention...the sale at the plantation listed on the blog is for last year...we have not set a date for this year's sale. Don't want anyone disappointed!

xoxo Carolyn

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Carolyn Westbrook: HUGE SALE at the plantation

 For all of those who have been asking when our next sale will be....this is it. It is this Saturday the 24th. One day only from 8am-2pm. The address is 3043 NE CR 1030 Chatfield, TX. 75105. GPS does not work so good out here. Take I-45 to exit FM 1603 and it will loop back up over the hwy. When you come to the stop sign on FM 1603, make a left and head 5 miles.

There will be signs from there pointing the way.
If you are a quilter, a sewer or just a lover of fabrics, then this is your sale. There are bolts and bolts of fabric for sale, CHEAP! We all know how expensive fabric has gotten, and these are amazing vintage style prints, toiles, tickings, and also bolts of my vintage- replica childrens prints, for anyone that does children's wear or product or just likes beautiful fabric. This is from my days of manufacturing children's wear. Most of these fabrics will be $2 a yard. Also, there is antique furniture, architectural, garden, concrete, wooden filing cabinet, frames, old prints, oil paintings, huge old wooden columns, lamps, lampshades, small showcases, and on and on. There is also some of the linen clothes that I made that are left. They are the long, linen, duster jackets and vests. They are one-size-fits-all. You just have to come see for yourself. Don't miss it!
xo Carolyn
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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Carolyn Westbrook: Congratulations.

 Here are the pics from the last post. Enjoy!
Photography by:                           Sarah Williams Photography in Corsicana, Texas.

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Carolyn Westbrook: Wedding Time

 Finally, I have time to finish this off. So, the wedding day was there and so were the clouds. I kept saying, don't worry the weathermen are never right. I was of course still decorating an hour before the wedding. I had the vintage metal couches, the outdoor furniture and loaded them with white linen and aqua print pillows and placed them outside of the tent. Everyone was upstairs getting dressed. Nick came out in his tux and he was in charge of setting up tables on the side yard that were topped with aqua metal washtubs filled with ice and bottled water for our guests. Joe was helping me and playing meterologist. We ran in to get ready ourselves and I ran upstairs and there are people in every bathroom. One of Nick's friends is in the shower. I was in a panic. Nick banged on the door and had him," Get Out!" I was thinking, this is not how this part was supposed to go. I was
 putting on make-up and looked out the window and the skies let loose and the rain poured down. The bridesmaids all came running in screaming, "What are we going to do." It was 30 minutes before the wedding. Obviously, they were not going to be able to come out from the side of the house, like we had practiced. I told them to calm down...there was always a back up plan. Now, they would come down the stairs and out the front door. If things did not let up, we might be having the wedding at our church down the street. It was five minutes to "go" time, and the clouds parted, the rain stopped, and the sun shined. Joe and his friend were busy with towels wiping down the chairs, as the guests made there way outside to claim a seat. I had to stay upstairs and tell the girls what order to go
down the stairs, as they were in a panic.
The preacher signaled me, the music started and here we go. Joe and I looked at each other, and it all sort of hit us. He looked so handsome in his tux, and as he looped arms with Alexandria, it was so touching. Christi of course was downstairs cuing the music, and then it began. As the girls looked beautiful as they descended the stairs, and Carrington dropped flower petals for the bride. As Alex and Joe made there way out the door, Christi and I raced out the back door, around the side of the house and quielty claimed our own seat. It could not have been better. The preacher started the ceremony, and then the vows. As soon as the vows started, a blast of shotgun fire. Not just one time, but over and over. All the guests looked at each other, as the filming was catching all of this. The gunshots stopped, I was thinking, just a fluke. It was as if on cue when Alexandria started her vows, so did the shotgun fire. You could barely hear her the shots were so loud. Joe and I were whispering what should we do, and then my brother says, "Guess y'all have never heard of a shotgun wedding." Everyone laughed, and the wedding carried on. After that, at the end of the wedding, more shots, and at that point I am thinking that this is what makes the country so unpredictable, and something that we would look back on and laugh. 
The ceremony was done,and everyone was on to the tent. Alexandria could not believe the tent, when she walked inside. She was stunned.
Champagne was flowing, candles were glowing, the doves were cooing, and there was the sound of laughter in the air. The food was served with southern pecan chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, French green beans, and a fabulous salad with pecans, feta, grapes, and such. We had a dessert bar with lemon bars, pecan bars, cheescake bars, brownies, each one set atop small individual white porcelain cakestands, and of course iced tea with mint, lemon and orange slices.
After the dinner, people gathered in groups everywhere, and it was such a romantic and happy night, as the music played and the candles glowed from everywhere. Joe and I were of course the last to eat, as we were trying to make sure that everything was taken care of. In fact, I really did not even get to talk to the bride and groom, and then they were leaving.The wedding couple made their getaway with bird seed being thrown and well wishes were cheered. A "Just Married" sign was on the back of their convertible Mustang done in of course mint green writing. As they drove off, Joe and I walked back to the tent and sat there for a while just surveying what we had accomplished. It was sad that it was over for me, I wanted to be able to enjoy the surroundings longer. It was so magical and we had worked so hard.
I asked Joe if he thought Alex had liked what I had done. He asked if I was kidding. He said that anyone would have to be crazy not to think it was amazing.
We both were happy, but also kind of sad, as our baby was now married. About that time, Nick calls, "Mom, telephone." He brought the phone to the tent, and it was Alexandria.
I could not believe it, as Alex is never one for words. She said, "Thank you Mamma, it was the prettiest wedding that was ever done. I cannot believe that you did all that for us. I love you."
I cried. She told me, "Tell Daddy that I love him, I have to go."
It was just like Father of the Bride, I thought.
That made every bit of it worth it. Joe and I looked at each other and toasted with a glass of champagne, as Nick and Victoria and friends were starting the fire pit, as the music played on into the night.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Carolyn Westbrook: More Wedded Bliss

 Here is a shot of the arch that I was telling you about. It was stunning. My beautiful daughter pictured here underneath it. So, last we talked, I was in the middle of getting the flowers done. It was Friday, the day before the wedding, and Eric gets here from New York, ready to start firing off photography for the new book. The problem is that we still have to get everything set up...tables, chairs, and the serving space where the food is to be served. So, really nothing to shoot. We walk around and talk about what the shots will be, as the cake is delivered. We ordered the cake from Romano's Bakery in Dallas. I of course, was worried sick because I am such a control freak. I tore into the cake box, carefully of course, and the cake was fantastic. I mean AMAZING! It was a Tiffany blue icing with gorgeous garlands of flowers swagged around the cake in a pearlized white, and an enormous amount of detail, and looked even better than I thought...that NEVER happens. It was white cake with raspberry filling. I wondered if it would taste as good as it looked, and it did!! Every bite was gone. Except for the top tier, which we had to put in a box and wrap and wrap it, so that they could eat it on their first anniversary. That is the tradition.  If you need a cake, then I would highly recommend. I had to get busy with my crew. Christi had spent the night, along with a bunch of other guests, so it was full steam ahead. We took French doors and hinged a pair together on each side of the front of the tent, which created a doorway to the tent. We took several vines of "hops" which you can order online, and strung them over the doors and across the entrance way. We added branches that we had cut, as well. Tomorrow, there would be flowers added in. In front of each door we would have different features. On one side, we had a fountain with concrete doves (love birds) spilling out water into the bowl of the fountain. I colored the water with a tinge of blue food coloring to make the water the same aqua color as the wedding. Then we staggered ferns and white hydrangeas underneath the fountain, so it would look like a garden. On the other side, there were staggered bird cages. Nick (my son) comes out, and says, "What's with the bird cages?" I then told him that I had to be off to meet my friend Rebecca, who had been on a mission to get me 4 white doves. Nick looks at me and rolls his eyes and says," Like thats not over the top." I had to take off to go meet Rebecca on my "covert dove operation" and get back in time for rehearsal.
Anyway, I left Eric to scout around as we got ready for the rehearsal. We had the bridesmaids dresses made by one of my seamstresses. We searched all over for bridesmaids dresses and they were horrible color choices. We did not want dark eggplant or chocolate brown for a late spring wedding, and Alex had her heart set on Mint Green and Aqua for the wedding colors, so the dresses were to be in that color. I found beautiful satin in the perfect shade and had a simple strapless dress made for each of the girls. If you cannot find the bridesmaids dresses that you love, then it is easy enough to find a seamstress. You can pick out the exact dress pattern, the exact color of fabric, and a seamstress can usually make a dress anywhere from $75-$125 each. This way it is more special too. So, the dresses were made and the flowers were done, and the cake was good...things were going well. Everyone showed up for the rehearsal, and since my cousin's husband was driving quite a distance to serve as the pastor, he would not be there until the next day. We were so happy to have David do the ceremony, as he had married Joe and I...a million years ago. The girls were to line up on the side of the house and walk around the crowd and down the isle, and that is how we rehearsed it. Little did we know that when they said 80% chance of rain, the following day, they meant it. Most of the time they are wrong. I have always heard that it is good luck if it rains on your wedding day. Maybe that is because it rained on mine and Joe's wedding day too, and it has been good so far. Anyway, we were all so excited that we could barely sleep. The next day was complete chaos. There were people coming and going in every direction. The bridesmaids showed up for mani-pedi's after they had all had their hair done. We had three photographers. I was rushing out to the tent to decorate the food area. We set up long tables for the food and drinks, and added fabric to cover the tables. I then had 4 rod-iron mid century porch posts that we used at the end of each table and a metal scrolly flat piece was added across the top to create an arbor. We screwed into the table with a small screw and wired the post to the table and then wired the top to the side posts. Here is the great part. I had seen that my neighbor has three gigantic rose bushes, and they are blooming. I was praying that the rain had not knocked off all of the petals. I grabbed Victoria, some gloves, and several clippers, and we were off in my black FBI suburban on another covert operation...get more roses. Those things were so prickly it was unbelievable. We cut and cut branches. Then we tossed them into the back of the SUV, and were off back to the tent. We ran tulle all across the "food arbor" and then wound the branches of roses all about. Then we added in our vines of orchids too. Gorgeous!! I love it when a plan comes together. Then I had found a very gorgeous antique curly-que thing. Not sure what it was, but I made a sign out of it. I cut an oval piece of masonite, painted it aqua, and screwed the fabulous scrolly thing to the top. I had masterminded this plan a couple of weeks before, and my good friend Pam, who is part of the "Girls Gone Junkin" made marvelous script lettering that said the couple's names and the date, which I adhered to the wood. It would hang over the cake table. Here's the deal...I treated the tent, much like I would any show, and that meant bringing in some "walls." Walls are masonite sheets which come 4'x8' and are braced with a surround of 1x2's. I wire the walls to the top of the tent frame, so no chance of them blowing down. I had the walls up and placed a round skirted table in front, which would be for the cake, and hung the sign from the wall. Joe was then bringing in an antique buffet, that I had painted aqua (of course) and put it in front of a wall in the center. He then brought in a huge ornate white mirror and hung it over the chest. Stunning. We then topped it with a vase full of white lilies and roses, silver trays, candelabras, and a pitcher of limeade in the perfect shade of mint green. A spooner was filled with mint green and white straws, for the perfect effect. It was all starting to come together. The caterer had just arrived and so had the storm clouds. Check back for more...
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