Sunday, July 27, 2014

Antique Shopping in Belgium

I was so excited to be able to shop an antique fair in Tongeren, Belgium while visiting Europe in April. Unfortunately there was no shipping service available while we were there so anything that I bought had to fit in my suitcase. Luckily I was able to find a few treasures to bring home.

Delft canister

We loved all of the Delft ware and found this little spice canister to purchase. It is only about five inches tall.

Delft tiles

The man who was selling these vintage tiles tried to make us a good deal for a whole box but they were heavy. Each one is about six inches square and weighs about a half pound. We settled for four that I will mount onto a serving tray.

vintage ice skates

I had seen another pair of vintage ice skates at a street market in Amsterdam but didn’t buy them for 20 Euros. Since this pair was only 10 Euros I decided to get them.

tea caddy

This antique tea caddy was my best find. I have admired them for years but have never been willing to pay the price since I have never seen one in the US for less than $195. When I spotted this one I asked the vendor what the price was. She said 35. Her accent was so heavy I wanted to make sure that I understood her so I was asking “thirty” to make sure she was saying thirty-five. She thought that I was negotiating and answered that yes she would take 30!!! She took thirty Euros! I would have paid much more but didn’t argue. I could not get that thing in my bag fast enough!

tea caddy detail

I love the little feet and the carved detail on the top.

tea caddy interior

Originally this caddy would have had two small lids for the interior compartments but these were missing. Otherwise, it is in excellent shape especially considering that it is well over 100 years old.  I was thrilled with this little treasure!

If you missed my previous post on the Tongeren Antique Fair you can read it by clicking here.

If you missed my other posts on the trip to Europe here are the links:

Biking Through the Flower Fields of Holland

A Visit to Keukenhof Gardens

Touring Amsterdam

Touring Amsterdam Part 2

Touring  Amsterdam Part 3

This is a great you tube video that my daughter made of the trip.

I hope that you have found some treasures this summer!

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I’m linking to Thrifty Treasures at Southern Hospitality.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Antique Fair in Tongeren, Belgium

On our trip to Europe this past spring I only had one “must do” on the itinerary: the Tongeren antique fair. For the past 35 years the Tongeren antique fair has been held on Sunday mornings so we had to arrange our schedule to be there on Saturday night for Sunday morning. This presented a challenge but we were able to manage it. On our travel day we left Amsterdam by train and headed to Brussels with a brief stop in Antwerp. I’ll cover those in another post. From Brussels we took the train to Tongeren and walked to the hotel. Once we got into Belgium, my daughter was eligible to use the GoPass for the train because she is younger than 26 which made her fair 6 Euros per day.  It was very budget friendly. My ticket from Brussels to Tongeren was 14.80 Euros. Taking the train in Belgium is very user friendly. No reservations are required. You show up, buy a ticket, and hop on the train and find a seat. Every station that we were in had a vending machine for tickets and the machines had an English option too. While we were doing research for our trip this site was the most helpful to me for train info. Most of the websites that I used had links to buy tickets from home but those sites did not offer the GoPass option and all were more expensive than purchasing tickets at the station.  The only ticket that we purchased ahead of time was our ticket for the Thalys train from Brussels to Paris. It is my understanding that all seats on the international train are reserved and much like airline travel the longer you wait to purchase the ticket, the more expensive it is. Finding a hotel was another challenge. The first hotel that came up in my search only had 8 rooms that were already booked. I sent an email asking for other nearby hotels but got no response. I was able to use to find  Hotel Ambiotel and it worked out wonderfully well. As we came from the train station into the very small town, the hotel was right in front of us. The next morning the antique fair was right outside the door. The hotel was somewhat modest but very clean and the location was excellent for our purposes. My research also revealed that the fair started at 6 AM. I am not an early bird but I did venture out at 7. Perhaps because this was not heavy tourist season (early April) most vendors were just arriving and setting up.  Some vendors were still arriving at 8. I made one lap around the block and went back to the hotel to meet my daughter for the next round. I could have made many purchases here but had to fit my purchases into a suitcase and carry them for the rest of the trip. There were no shipping options immediately available to us in this tiny little town.

antique furniture

This vendor had very reasonable prices. The table with 6 chairs was 145 Euros (about $200). Unfortunately it would not fit in the suitcase!

Antique rocking horses

What a wonderful collection of vintage rocking horses! Again, too big for the suitcase!

carnival ride boat

I could so incorporate this little carnival boat into the d├ęcor at our Summer Cottage! Look at the little life preserver on the back!

meat clevers

I really liked these meat cleavers but they were a little pricey. The cheapest one was 55 Euros. I wonder what airport security would think when they saw these while scanning my bag!

misc hardware

This vendor had lots of great miscellaneous pieces: chocolate molds, antique telephones, andirons, a pulley, ram’s horns. What more could a junk lover want!

vintage glassware

This vendor had vintage glassware from European pubs.


This vintage pram was really cute and I love that teak deck chair behind it.

spice rack

We really loved this spice rack. We seriously considered buying it but decided it was much too big and too heavy to carry and we feared that if we tried it would be broken before we got home.

After having fun looking at the antiques we strolled around the town. Tongeren claims to be the oldest town in Belgium. This site has some very interesting information on Tongeren and its history. Tongeren is a walled city. The ancient wall built by the Romans was rebuilt in 1241 reusing much of the same material!

outside city wall

The photo above was taken from outside the city wall and the photo below was from inside the city wall.

inside the city wall

You can see from the photo below that the antique fair was set up around the city wall.

top of the city wall

We also took a few photos of the tower on the wall.

tower on the wall

another tower view

Oh my goodness, I think I just spotted James Bond. Or maybe somebody stole his car!

James Bond car

To quote my son, that was a sweet ride!  Inside the city wall most of the streets were cobblestone.

cobblestone streets

Most of the buildings were very old.

1619 building

This one dates back to 1619! Obviously they were built to last.

tiny doorway

Look at this beautiful tiny doorway. It was just over 5 feet high! (The shopping bag is what we put our purchases in!)

Basilica of Our Lady Tongeren

The Basilica of Our Lady is in the center of town. Construction on the basilica began in 1240 and was completed in 1544! Wow!

Basilica of Our Lady  Tongeren 2

The bell tower soars to just over 200 feet high!

Basilica of Our Lady bell tower Tongeren

There is also a statue of Ambiorix in the center of town. Ambiorix was a legendary Gallic chieftain who led his tribe to victory over Julius Caesar’s legions here in 54-53 BC. I told you this place is old!

Roman statue Tongeren

The last photo is to show that it is a small world after all. Keep in mind that Tongeren is off the beaten path in the far corner of Belgium right near the border with Germany and the Netherlands. Then what to our eyes should appear but a piece of our hometown!

BMW X3 Tongeren

The BWW x3 has been built exclusively in Spartanburg, South Carolina since 2010!  Now let’s all sing together “It’s a small world after all…..” repeat and fade since this song has no end!

What did we buy? I’ll show you in my next post. If you missed the other posts on our trip here are the links:

Biking Through the Flower Fields of Holland

A Visit to Keukenhof Gardens

Touring Amsterdam

Touring Amsterdam Part 2

Touring  Amsterdam Part 3

This is a great you tube video that my daughter made of the trip.

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I’ll be linking to Wow US Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style and to Grace at Home at Imparting Grace.

Please note: I have not been compensated in any way for this post. All opinions are my own. However, if you folks at BMW want to talk, have your people get in touch with my people. I’ll bet we can work something out!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Top 10 Ways to Eat Fresh Tomatoes

Summer is upon us and my family is enjoying the bounty of fresh tomatoes.  We don’t have a garden but we are blessed to have friends and co-workers who share with us.

fresh tomatoes in the pie shell

Actually, I don’t eat tomatoes unless they are fresh.  Grocery store tomatoes have no appeal to me.

Have you seen Jane and Leo’s garden at Cottage at the Crossroads? You really need to see it.  It is absolutely beautiful and just look at all of those tomatoes! They have enough tomatoes to supply their whole community!

Our #1 favorite way to eat fresh tomatoes is to slice them. We love a supper of fresh garden vegetables but regardless of what we are eating for supper, you will almost always find a slice of tomato on our plates.

fresh veggie plate

Our second favorite way to eat tomatoes is on a tomato sandwich. Nothing says summer like a tomato sandwich!

Our third favorite way would be on a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. How could anything not be good with bacon on it?

Fourth on the list is spaghetti sauce made with fresh tomatoes.

Our fifth favorite tomato dish is tomato pie. Tomatoes, cheese, bacon, and onions are a no fail. Click here to see the recipe that I use.

ready to eat tomato pie

Another favorite tomato dish that we love is Cornbread Salad. It has a layer of cornbread, pinto beans, and fresh tomatoes topped with cheese and bacon. Need I say more?

We also love fresh salsa. Rhoda at Southern Hospitality just shared her recipe and it looks delicious.

Although we don’t eat it as much in summer as we do in winter, we love vegetable soup made with a tomato base. I usually start with fresh tomatoes then throw in all of the leftover vegetables from the refrigerator! It always turns out delicious.

If you are entertaining, you need to try Yvonne’s Caprese Towers. Click the link for her recipe.

They look so elegant and delicious!

We also love fried green tomatoes but our friends usually give us ripe red tomatoes. When we do get green tomatoes, I slice them, give them a light coating of cornmeal and fry them in a little vegetable oil. Yum yum!

Finally, when we have so many tomatoes that we can’t eat all of them, I freeze them to use later in sauces and soups. I know it sounds crazy, but even frozen tomatoes taste better when they come from my freezer rather than the grocery store!

I hope that you are enjoying your summer as much as I am!

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I’ll be linking to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps On the Porch.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Updating the Guest Room

For a while I have wanted to add a little more color to the guest room at our summer cottage and recently I was able to do just that.  I had seen a “bed in bag” at a local department store and decided to think about it.  While I was thinking about it, I received some reward bucks from said department store and as I was strolling through the store I just happened to notice that the bedding I was thinking about was reduced to half price and it just happened to be almost the exact price as my reward bucks! As you can imagine, I didn’t have to think anymore! I snapped up the Waverly bedding and headed to the check out.

guest room re-do

And here is a picture of the “before.”

Guest room 1

Here is a little closer look.

guest room re-do close up

I also updated the drop cloth window treatments by switching out the top and bottom accent fabric.

guest room re-do

As an additional detail, I made new “slip covers” for the lamp shades in coordinating fabric. You can see how I made them in this post.

guest room lamp shade

The existing settee and artwork stayed the same.

Settee and floor lamp

You can read the story about the settee by clicking here. You can read the post about the floor lamp by clicking here. You can take a little tour of the summer cottage here. This was a very quick and easy project and was very budget friendly!

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I will be linking to the Scoop at Worthing Court and to Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style. Click the links for lots of inspiration.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Adding a Pantry to the Refrigerator Cabinet

I recently marked another project off of my to-do list. I added a pull-out pantry to both sides of the refrigerator cabinet at our summer cottage. I had to figure it out as I went along and made several trips to the store to fine tune the hardware but I got it done and am so glad that it is behind me. It adds a considerable amount of storage in an otherwise unused space. Big disclaimer here: this was not my original idea. I saw one at my friend’s house that was built into her custom cabinetry and I thought I could probably do that. So, I copied hers. (Thanks, Stacy!) Because my husband sometimes gets stressed when I am in a very messy project, I waited until he was out of town to complete this project. Thankfully, he was gone for two days so that it was completely finished when he got back home.

refrigerator cabinet pantry 1-16

It was hard to take photos because the island is in front of the frig but I think you can get the idea.

refrigerator cabinet pantry 5

I started by measuring the space inside the cabinet on each side of the refrigerator then I used a handsaw to cut the trim piece of cabinetry on each side of the refrigerator. I did cut 1/8 th inch from the trim piece so that it would slide in and out without dragging the floor.

refrigerator cabinet pantry 6

I slid the refrigerator out to allow some workspace and I used a hammer to pry off the piece of cabinet trim.

refrigerator cabinet pantry 7

I purchased 1 x 3 poplar boards from my local home improvement store and cut them the appropriate lengths to construct a simple bookcase type structure.

refrigerator cabinet pantry 8

refrigerator cabinet pantry 9

The photo above is the basic box laying on one side. The other shelves were then added. I used wood screws for construction and I did not think that I needed to use glue too.

refrigerator cabinet pantry 10

The photo above shows the finished shelves and you can see that I added three casters to the bottom. Those were fixed casters, not the swivel kind so that the shelf would slide straight in and out. I also added aluminum strips (3/4 inch wide) to hold items on the shelves. The aluminum strips were purchased at the home improvement center too and I used a handsaw to cut them to the appropriate size.

refrigerator cabinet pantry 11

Next I used wood screws to attach the trim piece to the front of the shelf. (The screws were put it from the back so that they don’t show.) I attached a cabinet slide to the top and the bottom to keep the shelf in place as it slides in and out.

refrigerator cabinet pantry 11 A

refrigerator cabinet pantry 12

The photo above shows the unfinished part of the cabinet where I pulled the trim piece off. The photo below shows where I painted that little piece to blend in with the cabinet. It only shows when the shelf is pulled out.

refrigerator cabinet pantry 13

We have the same hardware in the laundry room and the kitchen so I used the pulls from the laundry room cabinet so that the pulls would all match and attached them to the fronts.

refrigerator cabinet pantry 14

refrigerator cabinet pantry 15

refrigerator cabinet pantry 1-16

I am thoroughly enjoying summer and am looking forward to the Haven conference this week!

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I’ll be linking to the Scoop at Worthing Court, to Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life, and to Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style. Click the links for lots of inspiration!