Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Custom Monogram

Southern women are taught to value their monogram like their grandmother's pearls. As much as I have tried to resist over monogramming my possessions, one of my most favorite wedding gifts was our monogrammed stationery. I am completely smitten with these custom monograms by Allison R. Banks Designs. Whether you have a two, three, or four letter monogram you can choose the style lettering you prefer and work directly with an artist to design exactly what you want. Once your monogram is set, you can have letterpress plate or rubber stamp created that can be used on stationery, note cards, packages and more. The middle design below is literally calling my name!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen

The Lee Bros. released their new cookbook, Charleston Kitchen last month. Matt and Ted Lee are certainly a fancier version of Lowcountry than I am. In our house we've joked about them because they served champagne at an oyster roast on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. Today I flipped through the book and was blown away. I loved it so much I got it for a friend's bridal shower. Below are a few pics I snapped before I wrapped it. This book is full of gorgeous images that remind me of home. There's a section in the book paying homage to the Charleston Receipts cookbook. Charleston Receipts, published in 1950, was the first and most successful community cookbook in the country and no Charleston kitchen is complete without one.

Mrs. Vereen Cohen
A mess of Blue Crabs
Pan-roasted Corn, Okra and Tomatoes
Crab Boil
Smothered Porkchops

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lowcountry Linens

Check out these pillows I came across recently while shopping for a wedding gift. Lowcountry Linens, based in Hilton Head Island, block prints each design by hand. I love the bright colors and lowcountry inspired patterns.

Porch Fan
Blue Crab
Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Badass Caramel Cake

A few years ago I went to a funeral in a small town just up the road from Charleston. Folks were coming from near and far, bringing desserts, gallons of sweet tea and more fried chicken than one family could possibly eat. One sweet little lady brought a layered caramel cake. After tasting her cake, I decided that I would like to be a lady who can whip up a badass caramel cake. Last night I finally got up the courage to bake the dang thing.

I used the recipe for Gigi's Fabulous Caramel Cake from the cookbook Southern Cakes. The icing sets up very quickly and it becomes hard to evenly spread. While it tastes delicious, I just might be a little old lady before I can make this cake look as pretty as it did in the cookbook. You'll want to bring a glass of milk to the table, even a sweet tooth like mine is on overload with this cake.

Gigi’s Fabulous Caramel Cake


3/4 cup butter
1 cup milk
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


2 1/2 cups light brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

7 tablespoons evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Combine butter and milk in a small sauce pan and cook until the butter melts. Let cool. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and mix well. In a large bowl, combine eggs and sugar, beat well at high speed until smooth and thick. Stir the dry mixture, egg mixture, milk mixture and vanilla together until smooth. Pour batter in to prepared bake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool.
In a sauce pan, combine the brown sugar, butter, evaporated milk and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Adjust the heat so that the frosting oils and bubbles gently. Cook for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
Beat the warm icing with a wooden spoon 2-3 minutes until it thickens. Place a cake layer, top side down, on a cake stand or plate. Quickly spread some icing over the top and cover it with the second layer, top side up. Ice the top quickly and then spread the remaining icing over the sides. If the icing become too hard to spread, warm gently over low heat add a spoonful of evaporated milk and then scrape and stir well until the icing softens enough to spread again. Dip a table knife in very hot water to help soften and smooth icing out once it is spread.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Belle and Union

Belle and Union is a stationery company formed in Savannah, Georgia by Josh and Meg Sutton. She's a Southern Belle and he's Yankee boy. The name fits, right? Their letterpress gift cards incorporate Southern sayings and American wit. My favorites are obviously the ones with the sugar and the oysters. When on their website you are encouraged to kick off your boots and stay awhile. Gift cards aren't their only gig... you will also find tea towels, recipe cards and wrapping paper. I can't stop thinking about having a few of these framed to hang in my kitchen.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Heirloom Kitchen

A friend in Bluffton, SC has a kitchen that is an heirloom in every sense of the word. His collection of silver has been passed down for generations and his library with over 250 cookbooks is as important as his pots and pans. When I decided to get him a cookbook, Heirloom Book Company is the only place I was confident I could find a cookbook that he doesn't already own.

Heirloom Book Company - 123 King Sreet, Charleston

I found this little gem, Stirrin' the Pots on Daufuskie by Billy Berns. This book, published in 1985, includes hand written recipes, black and white photos and tips for life on the island. Recipes for Deviled Crab, Tomato Pie and Pickled Shrimp dance throughout the cookbook. Mrs. Berns showcases a few truly Gullah recipes such as Squirrel Stew and Oxtail Soup which make flipping through this cookbook a lowcountry history lesson. This is a book that will be hard to give away!

Just a tip: "Whip okra with a switch - makes it bear better"

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Happy Spring!

This week my granddaddy turned 89. I can't look at an azalea without thinking of his garden in Savannah. When we were little my grandparents used to line all the cousins up for pictures in front of their big azalea bushes on Easter. Today I am grateful for the sweet memories that these flowers bring and the promise of warmer weather on the way. Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Southern Print Shop

Meet my new friends over at Old Try, a Southern print shop North of the Mason-Dixon line. A couple from Alabama and North Carolina put together this business which is oddly run out of their home in Boston. (What in the world are they doing up there?) In any case, I love their work.

Mind your manners
Summer, In Words
ATL, Georgia
Lowcountry Shirt

Sandlapper Shirt*

In the South, any child raised up right was taught how to drink sweet tea and to mind their manners. With Southern sayings on every print and t-shirt in the shop, I've quickly become a fan. 

*For those of you who aren't from around here, the nickname Sandlapper is affectionately given to South Carolinians from the sandy-hilled ares. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Bourbon Angel

Does she drink bourbon? While it can't be confirmed, I'm willing to bet the Nashville singer-songwriter Holly Williams can throw a few back. Her music is inspiring and refreshing and her voice has been described as a one of a bourbon angel. Holly has the art of storytelling down pat, and that's a trait that is absolutely southern.

I'm sure that growing up the daughter of Hank Williams Jr. and the granddaughter of Hank Williams Sr. was not easy. With a family tree made up of country music legends, it's no surprise that her music is amazing. Her song "Waiting on June" is the story of her maternal grandparent's life written through the eyes of her sweet grandaddy. This song has brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion and is now on my list of favorites. Listen here to her recent Back Porch Session for Garden & Gun's Charleston office.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Lowcountry St. Patricks Day

Yesterday we went by boat from Edisto to Bennett's Point for a Lowcountry St. Patricks Day celebration. Bennett's Point is a very small town off Hwy. 17 that is known for it's fresh seafood and persistent mosquitoes. The town's tag line is "Bennett's Point - Gotta Love It". The day was filled with a tractor parade, chicken purloo, Lynard Skynard, bourbon and springtime breezes. While the community celebration was fun, the best part of the day was the serene boat ride back to Edisto. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Charleston in Bloom

I recently came across the very talented Charleston artist, Lulie Wallace. Y'all. These paintings are precious. Check out her work: here. If you don't see a piece here that you fancy, you can commission Lulie to create a custom piece for you using a photo. I love the idea of having my bridal bouquet painted and in my house!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Rebuilding after a Hurricane

Labor day 2011 brought Hurricane Irene. We love extreme weather and as long as it didn't come crashing in on us we figured we would enjoy it. We spent our weekend between Folly Beach and Edisto Beach chasing big waves and collecting shells. The storm breezed by, and the Lowcountry got off easy. On our way home Mitch and I talked about how lucky we were. We tried to decide what we would change about our lives if given the opportunity, knowing it would effect all things related to it. If you could change the school you went to, you would have to take back knowing all the people you met along the way. We both came up pretty dry and we were both very happy with our lives. We loved each other, where we live, our friends and our jobs. Mitch mentioned how our families had pretty much been spared from major heath issues. I compared it to a hurricane. After a while you know you are due, and in the meantime you are happy and grateful to have the life that has been given to you.

Three weeks later we found out he had cancer. My young, sweet, amazing husband was diagnosed with the rare and highly aggressive Burkitt's Lymphoma. We went to the doctor and he was immediately admitted in the hospital where he stayed for four months. All the while, I tried to maintain this blog and some sort normalcy. As Mitch's condition worsened my positive thinking and blog content ran dry.

Now that the storm has passed it still takes a while to shake the feeling that something bad may be around the corner. The past year has been one of healing for both of us and life is finally starting to feel more normal. Sadly, the blog post you are reading was started in November 2011. It's certainly been a long time coming! In any case, things are good (and cancer free!) and I have finally come up for air. It just takes a while to rebuild after a hurricane.