Sunday, December 26, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Shopping in Middleburg VA

I was back in Virginia for a couple of days prior to Christmas. Snow was on the ground and peppery Oak wood smoke hung in the air.
-I had a decision to make. Should we join the crowds on Rt. 66 at Fairoaks Mall or on I-95 at Potomac Mills? Third option. Take the beautiful back roads through The Plains, Warrenton and Upperville to shopping in Middleburg. Easy choice, really.

After completing my Christmas shopping, our final stop was at the town bakery. Full of tempting treats, we decided upon a few cookies to tide us over for the ride home.
We put caloric concerns aside and chose the bakery's claim to fame 'The Cow Puddle.' Lil' Bean snapped a picture before sharing it with me. Mmmmmm..... Buuuuuutttttteerrrrr...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Grove Park Inn at Christmas Time

It's Chrismastime in North Carolina and I was recently lucky enough to be sent to a meeting at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville. The historic Grove Park Inn shines during Christmas when its mammoth stone hearths and warm furnishings show off the abundent greenery and trimmings.

The Inn had been greatly expanded since my family last stayed there but I was really impressed with the state of the Inn. In the early 20th Century when the Inn was constructed, the Arts and Crafts Movement was in full swing and patent medicine baron Edwin Grove liberally applied those design concepts throughout the Inn.

Today, the Arts and Crafts Movement is still evident in the massive stonework throughout the Inn along with a very important collection of Stickley and Roycroft oak furnishings. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Trailer Trad Grooming: Dr. Woods Peppermint Castile Soap (Re-shown)

When the zombies attack and everybody’s heading for the hills, Whole Paycheck (my term for that granola supermarket with Prius’ and Suburus filling the parking lot) is not the first place that I would rush to. However, there is one product there that will be bartered along with cordwood and genetically unaltered vegetable seeds. That product is Dr. Woods Peppermint Castile Soap.

This stuff makes a Swiss Army knife seem impractical. I have washed my hair with it, my face with it, put it in a pump and used it as hand soap and washed my clothes with it. In addition, you can wash your dishes with it. You can even wash off your vegetables with it. It is reasonably priced and lasts for a long time. It is perfect for camping or to have on hand at the weekend cottage. It epitomizes WASPy practicality and, boy, your buttondowns will smell better than ever!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Trailer Trad Attire: Recent Clothing Scores

Like a squirrel, I've been frantically running around, gathering up for the winter. But, in my case, that means digging up classic men's clothing that will keep one warm while in the duck blind, ski slope or campus (or cubicle, grocery store or laying on the couch).

In an estate sale jewelry box, I came across some old brass cufflink chain doohickeys that I can use to convert a button (or anything with an 'eye') into a cufflink. I did this to a couple of antique overall buttons. I'll keep looking for cool old buttons to try this with.

I found the Bean and Duxbak chamoise shirts at a great yard sale. -Remember Duxbak? I don't hear much about it but it really is one of the great heritage sporting goods brands. I remember that they used to have an outlet on the Eastern Shore of Maryland next to their factory years ago. The dog tie is excellent. I assume that 'Orvis Fishing Tackle - Manchester VT' is a tag from the 1970s.

You can't have too many lambswool sweaters and this Alan Paine number has been in heavy rotation. I've written about how much I like the wider 4.25 - 4.5 inch ties from the late 60s through the late 70s and how difficult they can be to find in all silk. This navy one knots great and looks good with about anything.

Nice grab at the local Junior League-sponsored thrift store. The Turnbull & Asser shirts fit great and are perfect with a tie or used as casual shirts. I wore the blue gingham one with my cashmere Fortnum & Mason jacket to the Montpelier Races steeplechase. I was ready to tailgate! The new old stock Levis have never been washed, were made in the USA and feel like NOTHING you can get at the mall!

Man, I love this flannel shirt that I picked up at a yard sale for $1. It's from the 70s or 80s and feels like a blanket on. It's sized as a XXXL! -Fits more like a full XL, though.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Trailer Trad Grooming: Make Your Own Aftershave FAIL

Wouldn't it be great to have an aftershave that smelled real? By that I mean that most department store aftershaves (even expensive ones) smell good I guess but what do they really SMELL like? Take a whiff of that stuff you've got in your medicine cabinet. It smells like..... what? -And they all smell the same! Time to be adventurous and make your own!

Blogs like 'Badger and Blade', 'The Art of Manliness' and 'Unchained' list a common recipe for making your very own bayrum aftershave. It is really easy (compared to making your own beer, anyway) and I've got a couple of tips that make it even easier.

It calls for a rum base with a little water with bay leaf oils extracted into it. That's the starting point for a bay rum. After this step, you can customize it in any number of ways. Here's the first short cut I'll offer. You've seen my entry on Superior 70 Alcoholado, haven't you? ....Haven't you? It is made in Puerto Rico by The Puerto Rico Distilling Co. It's sold as rubbing alcohol combined with the Bay leaf's essential oils. Using Superior 70 enables you to skip the above step while saving your rum (combine that with Barritt's Ginger Beer for the perfect Dark n' Stormy and you won't care what you smell like).

Since this was my first time trying this, I made a Frankenstein's brew of cloves, spearmint leaves, cinnamon, orange zest, and other spices. I obtained the assistance of Lil' Bean for the ingredient combining process. -She's made her own, less jumbled, scent and it probably came out better than mine. The second cost saving short cut I'll offer regards the spices used.

As I've mentioned before when discussing Dr. Woods Peppermint Castile Soap, Whole Foods normally isn't the first place you think of when you think of bargains. -But this is a good one. When you need spices like cloves or allspice as well as harder to find spices, go to their bulk spice isle and buy the stuff by the ounce. -It's a REALLY cost-effective way to experiment with spices. (As an aside, roast a chicken with their 'herbs de provence' spice mix from the bulk isle and that lady you're cooking for will be really impressed.)

We carefully placed the ingredients into the Superior 70 bottles and stored them under the sink for two weeks. We then strained the mixture through coffee filters into a vintage lab bottle with a cut-glass stopper. The color was very similar to my own Pinaud Clubman bayrum and smelled a little like it. Not awful for a first attempt but not quite up to splashing on before a night out.

Most recipes for bay rum aftershave call for zesting citrus fruit. Since we weren't using the peel in an actual food recipe, we peeled oranges and just scraped most of the white rind off. I also think that I used too much ground clove. My aftershave came out smelling like the cooking pan of a Christmas ham. -Not really what I was looking for. I would suggest actually zesting lemons, limes or even grapefruits or a cleaner, brighter fragrance.

This process can be modified to suit the season too. In the spring, make it very citrusy along with rosemary, mint, thyme or ginger. For cooler weather or for around Christmas, add more cloves, allspice, cinnamon, even tobacco or woods like sandlewood.

It was a fun experiment but I don't think that the folks at Creed have anything to worry about just yet.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Trailer Trad Collecting: Autumn Picking

Autumn's here and while that's often good for antique shows and such, it's not as good for yard sales and estate sales (the spring and summer are often better for those). know me. Out before dawn looking for that 'rusty gold' as that guy on TV says. The Flea Market is still the best place to look over junk. But it's like everything else. Ten percent of the dealers bring out 90% of the good junk. The rest of the dealers bring out the same tired old crap and ask too much for it.

I got this old industrial steel lamp shade at the flea market last week. It's from the 20's approx. and originally came out of a victorian washboard factory building in the Boylan Heights neighborhood of Raleigh. It's much older and crustier than most of the old industrial shades that you see.

Most yard sales are a complete waste of time. That's why I only go to ones that are in North Raleigh close by. -They're not typically worth wasting gas over. However, I have found a few interesting things.

I bought a pair of oak showcases at a yard sale in my neighborhood recently. The guy selling them was given them when he was helping demolish UNC Chapel Hill's old Medical School. They housed exhibits in its museum room. The manufacturer's label dates them to the 40's approximately.

I picked up this Bavarian antler mount at a yard sale in the Oakwood neighberhood downtown. It's an old mounting of a little antelope or mountain goat I think. The oak mounting plaque has its original dry finish and looks cooler in person!

This poster featuring the Native American dates from the 1940s. Original, old advertising has become much harder to find so I tryed getting some through a Midwestern contact who goes through old warehouses and factories out there and gets amazing stuff. The Maine potato posters came from the same source.

I picked up the oak teachers desk recently and fixed it up a little using my secret weapons (a certain finish stripper and a certain refinisher). Not a world beater by any means but not bad for the $5 that I paid for it. I could have picked up more furniture of this type recently but I passed. They take up too much space and are kind of hard to haul in my Volvo V70 wagon.

There's a dealer at the flea market that always has good stuff. He sets up at Round Top, Brimfield and other great shows. I traded a 60's 'flower power' bedspread for this diner plate advertising a long-defunct restaurant called 'Yummies.'

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Back Home in Virginia: Mothers Rugby Thriller

My trip back to Virginia concluded with a stop off in Richmond to see my old college rugby club The Mothers compete for the Division II State Championship. They were unbeaten going into the Ed Lee Cup and were to go up against a very good James Madison University club who they had beaten earlier in the season.

However, The Mothers lost a couple of key starters in non-rugby injuries during the previous week and lost their main 'line-out' jumper during the Radford semifinals.

The brutual physicality and lightning pace of the action were striking. Both clubs played very, very hard. By the middle of the game, our side had three additional starters go down to injuries. Luckily, they all walked off the field on their own power. The large size of JMU's pack gradually wore down our smaller guys a bit. But through force of will The Mothers stood tall, coming away just a couple of points short. Their season is not over since they will have a good seed in the MARFU (Mid Atlantic Rugby Football Union) championship tournament. If our guys can heal up quickly, I would not bet against them.

Because I was so amped by the effort that I had witnessed and so proud of my old club The Mothers, I was wide awake for the remaining trip back to Raleigh.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Back Home in Virginia: Alma Mater Afternoon

Visiting the ol' collegiate stomping grounds in the late afternoon casts a decidedly different light on the campus. Brightly illuminated Doric or Corinthian columns in the morning are replaced by long shadows cast by the ancient shade trees and the bittersweet cascade of fallen leaves.