Tag Archives: antiques

Things I Love, Volume 3: Austin’s SoCo

I’m in Austin, Texas this week spending time with My Baby and the world’s smartest grandkids, Jonah Bear and Lilly Bug. While they were at school and daycare, I spent some time in one of my favorite areas of Austin – SoCo.

South Congress Shopping is Funky Fun

South Congress Avenue runs due south from the state capital building cutting through the heart of downtown Austin and into one of the most unique shopping and dining areas in the city. On weekends and evenings, this place is jumpin’. Parking can be a mess (especially on Saturdays) but the variety of shops and restaurants make it worthwhile. Everything from antiques to candy and cowboy boots to cupcakes, as well as great food can be found on South Congress. If you’re into the twinkling lights in the live oak trees on a patio with a cold adult beverage scene, you’ll find lots of good choices here after dark. I go for the shopping. If you’re looking for Austin hot spots, SoCo is on fire. If you’re ever in town, you have to go. To get you started, here are just a few of the shops I love:

Big Top Candy Shop
This candy shop rocks my world. I love the circus themed decor and the absolutely huge variety of treats they offer. This place carries the candy of my childhood – orange slices, circus peanuts, chick-o-sticks, candy corn…I could go on and on. They have a section with gummi everything. They have a retro section with hard to find candies from the past. They have bins of M&Ms in every color. They have a handmade chocolates counter where you’ll find irresistible treats like sea salt caramels, homemade fudge and get this – chocolate covered bacon. You heard me. If that’s not enough to entice you, they also have an old-fashioned popcorn machine and an ice cream counter. This place is a sugar lover’s mecca and a circus lover’s shrine. Big Top Candy doesn’t have a website, but you can connect with them on Facebook or MySpace. You AND your kids will love this place. You can find them at 1706 South Congress.

Inside the Big Top Candy Shop

Farm to Market Grocery
I love this little organic market. It’s tiny, but it’s packed with organic products from all over. They carry local items and produce, as well as items I’ve never seen and that excites me. I like to discover new things and expand my view of the world. My Baby introducted me to Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-In-One organic peppermint liquid soap in this little market. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this soap. It wakes me up in the morning like no other, and the tingly peppermint senstation feels fabulous after a hot day in the Texas sun. The selection of organic vegetables and carry-out foods like hummus and samosas are just lovely. Drop in for a fair trade fiesta sometime. And don’t forget to pick up some soap. Farm to Market Grocery is located at 1718 South Congress. http://www.fm1718.com

Farm to Market Grocery - An Organic Dream

Hey, Cupcake!
I couldn’t get a good photo of this place. It’s a cupcake shop inside of a stainless steel Airstream trailer, and it catches the sun like a kaleidoscope. Every photo is pure glare. Maybe it’s not the sunshine. Maybe it’s the aura coming off the giant rotating cupcake on top of the trailer! When you try them, you’ll hear angels sing. If you love cupcakes (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t) this place needs to be on your radar. The cupcakes are big and fluffy and delicious, and for a few pennies more they’ll even pump a big shot of whipped cream right down the middle of it. Flavor choices include red velvet, carrot cake and winner of my favorite name, the Michael Jackson. It’s a chocolate cupcake with white butter cream frosting. I can state from personal experience that the carrot cake and red velvet cupcakes are extraordinary. Want to try them? I like to visit the trailer at 1600 South Congress, but there are other locations around Austin. Visit their website to find them. But find them you must! http://www.heycupcake.com.

Uncommon Objects
I saved the best for last. This is one of my favorite shops to kill an hour in. It’s fun and funky and literally filled to the rafters with antiques and collectibles.

Uncommon Objects - Floor to Ceiling Fun

That’s a winning combination in my book. If I were a hoarder, this place would be crack to me. There’s so much to see, you really need to go back again and again. I love that every nook and cranny is filled with unexpected treasures.

Nooks & Crannies Galore at Uncommon Objects

Some nooks are sorted by color. Some crannies are sorted by item type. Whatever you’re looking for, they’ve probably got it. I love that you never know what’s around the next corner. This ain’t no ordinary antique shop!

This Place is Full of Uncommon Objects

Lots of stores advertise that they carry “something for everyone” but Uncommon Objects exemplifies it. There is truly a treasure for every treasure hunter. Uncommon Objects is located at 1512 South Congress Avenue. http://www.uncommonobjects.com

And so, my friends, if you’re ever in Austin and need some “me time” and a spa isn’t your cup of tea, visit South Congress, or SoCo, as the locals call it. There are 5-6 blocks of unique shops to browse, coffee spots to soothe your caffeine addiction, and a multitude of restaurants with fabulously shaded patios and views of the state capitol. It’s a great place to stroll with friends and family and take in the funky fun Austin has to offer. Don’t forget to pick up some chocolate covered bacon. I got mine!


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Filed under Things I Love, Travel Tales

Things I Love, Volume 1: Antique Transferware Cups & Saucers

I love browsing through antique shops. I get it from my mother. We’ve been known to spend hours or even days poking through antique shops when she comes to visit. One of the things I’m most drawn to in any antique shop is transferware dishes. I specifically love cups and saucers.

I Have a Thing for Transferware Cups & Saucers

This serving table in my formal dining room is perfect for them. One – we never use the formal dining room, so there’s little chance of breaking them. Two – it’s where Granny Lonon’s old silver coffee service sits. Granny Lonon was The Complete Package’s maternal grandmother, and a fabulously feisty woman. She is greatly missed. Her coffee set probably had something to do with my cup & saucer obsession. They go together so well. My original goal was to collect one excellent specimen from each color range. Sometimes, however, I found one in a color I already had and I would fall in love and bring it home anyway. Like the blue ones:

Countryside by Enoch Wedgewood (Tunstall) Ltd., England

This was one of my first. I love the simple landscape and the deep blue hue.

Light Blue Willow Demitasse Set

And this little demitasse cup and saucer stole my heart. It looks really, really old. There’s no maker’s mark on it anywhere, but there are tiny bubbles and cracks in the glaze that make it look old and fragile. I love the detail of the handle, too. It’s very thin and very dainty. I wish I knew more about it. When was it made and by whom? If you’re a transferware expert, contact me!

Black Royal Mail Fine Staffordshire Ironstone, England

I knew this little black number was coming home with me as soon as I spotted her. It’s another English landscape, but I love the carriage pattern. The horseman is blowing a horn like he’s announcing that company has arrived. Time to break out the transferware!

Brown Peacock Pattern - Also English?

This brown peacock set is lovely. The detail around the edge of the saucer, rim of the cup and on the handle takes my breath away. I’m in love with the tiny flower inside each scallop. The saucer is every bit as lovely as the cup. I used this set in my post about Mom’s coffee shortbread cookies. Nothing but the best for one of mom’s recipes. I have no idea who the maker might be. There’s no name on it, but there is a cool maker’s mark that has a shield topped with a crown guarded by a lion carrying a flag on each side. I’m assuming it is also English. Most of my sets are. Is transferware primarily an English art?

Tonquin by Myott, Staffordshire, England

This little red siren called my name from across the room. I love the deep ruby red color of the glaze and the cabbage rose pattern along the edge of the saucer. It’s so very girly. Even the cup handle is delicate and pretty. She’s a real beauty. But unless my vision is off, she’s not old at all. The print on the back of the saucer is faded, but I’m pretty sure it says “Made in 1982”. So what if she’s a youngster. I love her anyway. But I saved my favorites for last. This was my first transferware purchase. My baby. Oh, how I love these little quails!

Furnivals Quail - Made in England 1913

They’re inside the lip of the cup, they’re on the outside of the cup, and they’re on the saucer, as well. Seven quails in all. Seven is my lucky number. This is the cup and saucer that started it all… the birth of an obsession. I love the brown that’s almost orange hue. Imagine how excited I must have been when I found this:

Furnivals Quail Blue Demitasse Set, 1913

It’s a blue demitasse quail set – a perfect “mini-me” version of its larger, browner cousin. This little beauty takes the cake. It’s tiny and exquisitely detailed and perfect in every way. I just love it to pieces. Oh…that’s probably bad luck. I mean it’s very special to me. Both of my quail cups are. What is it about transferware that fascinates me so? I can’t really pinpoint it. I love the simplicity of one single color painstakingly transferred by hand onto a white cup. I love the attention to detail. I love the idea that these were all lovingly made by hand by artisans back to the 1800’s. They’re fragile. They’re beautiful. They brought friends and family together. They’re from a dying art form in an industrial age. I think it’s all of that. Whatever it is, I’m hooked.


Filed under Things I Love

Hoegarden – It’s A “Girls Only” Weekend Named For a Beer

The Hoegarden Crew

I know it sounds weird, but that’s exactly what it is – a weekend retreat named for a beer. Here’s how it all got started. Every year, my large extended family gathers at Thanksgiving. We actually call it Thanxmas, because we celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas at the same time. We multi-task so we are free to spend Christmas week with our individual families or in-laws. Anyway, back in 2004, we were all being thankful in Sister #4’s back yard in Garland, Texas with our usual family tradition – one-handed croquet. Leave it to us to make croquet a drinking game, right? Rules require that you must have a drink in one hand at all times, and said drink glass must contain a beverage at all times or penalty shots will be incurred. To make a long story less painful, Big Sister #1 was penalized heavily that night, and her beverage at the time was Hoegaarden Beer. She was new to Hoegaarden, and let’s just say it hit her a little hard. Every time someone sent a croquet ball into vegetation, she would say in a slushy sing-song voice, “Welcome to the Hoegarden!” and giggle profusely.

Shortly after that we decided to hold an annual “girls only” estrogen festival, and Hoegarden emerged as front runner in the naming contest. We dreamed of weekend escapes that would include lots of giggly girly fun and one-handed croquet in a testosterone-free environment. We launched our first Hoegarden Weekend in March 2005, and have kept it going and growing since. Even though we limit it to female family members, that now includes eleven of us from four generations. Because of that, Big Sister #1 hosts each year. For one thing, her house is big enough to hold us all, and she lives near Dallas, which is geographically central for all of us (we’re spread out from Tulsa to Fort Smith to Houston to Austin). Her husband, Saint David, is kind enough to vacate (or escape) with their two sons while we party. We have encouraged the men to retaliate with a “Brogarden” weekend but so far, it’s a no-go.

Hoegarden is filled with food, crafts, spa treatments, food, chocolate, family favorites, more food, some alcohol, funny family photos, board games and food. We choose a different theme each year and plan meals, deocrations and craft ideas around that theme. Our first year was simply “Welcome to the Hoegarden” and we took the garden theme to the max. We each created custom flowered hats and flipflops to wear antique shopping on Saturday.

Hoegarden Hats

Hoegarden Flipflops

We have a lot of fun when we all go out shopping on Saturdays. We’re that large fun group that walks in a pack and can be heard laughing down the block. Larger shops love us. I think smaller antique shops full of old glass get a little nervous. We spend Saturday shopping and eating lunch out, then come home to make family favorites for dinner, share spa treatments and make-overs and play boardgames to disco music until late in the night. I’ll share more photos later from “Extreme Make-Over Night” if I can get signed waivers from the sisters involved (just kidding – about the waivers).

One year’s theme was “HoDown”, which was a hoot. Then there was “Ho Lotta Lovin” around a Valentine’s theme. This year’s theme was “HoDepot” complete with tool belt aprons. We always find a way to tie the theme into our Hoegarden roots. Next year’s theme is island/tropical. We’re calling it “Hawaii Five-Hos” in honor of the five sisters (see my ‘A Tale of Five Sisters’ tab for more). Can’t wait to see what that encompasses. I’m thinking I’ll make my Hanalei Sunrise muffins and work up a good Mai Tai recipe. I’ll also be shopping for luau decorations and some Don Ho music, or maybe soundtracks from “Blue Hawaii” with Elvis (or not). One thing we love in this family is a good creative challenge. I can’t wait to see what the sisters, nieces and grandbabies come up with next! Whatever it is, you can bet it will be tutu fun.

Hoegarden Tutus


Filed under Family Stuff, Hoegarden Weekends