Saturday, October 29, 2016

Urban Foraged Autumn Apple Pie

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There was a time in America when small towns were just that - small. These were rural places surrounded by farms which fed their communities, and where those that lived in town would have gardens on their properties and in their backyards. If someone wanted to make an apple pie, all you would have to do is walk outside to your field or garden, pick some apples, and make a pie.

Of course we all know how that all changed with industrialization, and how those small towns turned into small cities and then into even larger cities that become unrecognizable to anyone born and raised in the earlier, semi-rural environments. The farms became housing developments and shopping centers, and the backyard gardens went by the wayside.

I live in such a city.

But there are places around our city where remnants of that old way of life are still visible. We may be driving somewhere and pass an open field, and just by the placement of a group of trees, it's obvious that there used to be a farmhouse tucked amongst those trees. Sometimes we'll see traces of an old house foundation surrounded by a large field, or even houses completely caved in and nearly swallowed up by blackberry vines!

A few weeks ago James and I were driving in a part of town we hardly ever go to, and as we passed by a shopping center, my eyes lit up! There it was - an old green apple tree, long forgotten, growing right on the fence line between a parking lot and an old farmhouse.

I convinced James that we had to turn around and go check out that apple tree. And sure enough there were ripe apples just falling off the tree. James found a grocery bag in the car and there I was in high heels and a skirt, shuffling through layers of ivy growing all around the base of the tree, picking apples. James held the bag for me and also helped me pick the apples. 

I don't know why, but sour green apples from old trees make the best pies.

And the best pie crust is made with butter. My favorite pie crust recipe is this Pate Brisee from Martha Stewart.

For the filling, peel, then cut tart green apples into bite sized pieces and add a small amount of sugar - about 1/4 cup, and a lot of cinnamon! A sure fire way to know the right quantity of apples to use is to put the cut apple pieces into an empty pie pan until you've filled it a bit over the brim. Remove them from the pie pan and place in a bowl. Add the sugar and cinnamon and toss to combine. Roll out your chilled pie dough and place in the pie pan. Add the apples. Fancy up your top crust and bake for 40 minutes to an hour at 350 degrees.

Let cool and then, dig in and enjoy!


#collectandstyle - October Monthly Favorite

Emily Quinton, Makelight blog, collect, style, October, autumn still life, autumn botanical still life, Makelight Studio,

Happy October #collectandstyle community! Thank you for visiting Under The Plum Blossom Tree blog. I am beyond excited to share this month's Instagram #collectandstyle Monthly Favorite with you.

In her photograph above, Emily Quinton shares with us a view of her creative workspace, decorated with a number of inspiring items - natural botanicals, photos, and various interesting paper ephemera. In all, she has created a wonderful autumnal mood in her studio.

If you have not yet been introduced to Emily Quinton, you are indeed in for a treat! In her fabulous blog Makelight, along with a whole lot more, Emily imparts her philosophy on how to collect, style and photograph interesting things; especially those items we'd like to share in our own blogs and other social media. Her ideas on how to do all of this are a helpful guide to learning and practicing the skills needed to accomplish our own goals. She also shows us how to express personal meaning and story telling in visual form. This resonates deeply with many of us who are looking for creative ways to share what we love in meaningful ways.

A very good example is her video Styling With Prop Boxes, in which Emily explains her idea of keeping a mini prop bag or box, filled with a gathering of favorite items that are alike in color. She explains that having similar items assembled and at the ready, can contribute greatly to using our photography time wisely. Emily walks us through the variety of items she keeps in her own prop bag, and then shares several images she created using those items.

And in Styling A Flatlay Emily walks us through her process of using the items from her prop bag to create flay lay images, sharing several expert tips, suggestions, and finally, her inspiring photographs.

For more examples of the items Emily gathered for a winter prop box, and ideas to keep you inspired during the upcoming dark months, you might like January's Prop Box

Many of us have also been inspired by Emily's flower images, especially on her Instagram feed. If you are interested in learning about flower photography, you may like Photographing Flowers - Hydrangea or A Hundred Photos From One Bouquet. And speaking of Emily's Instagram, you might say that one of Emily's great claims to fame is her weekly hashtag #floralfridaycompetition. With thousands of images already shared, it's a welcoming community of flower loving photographers from all over the world. Please do join in - you can post your images any day of the week, with Friday being the most popular day for posting. And if you love Pinterest, you'll find Emily there as well; with almost 100 pin boards and nearly 10,000 images there is plenty of inspiration!

For anyone who might want to take an online or in-person professional educational course, Emily has plenty of those to offer as well. Emily's course offerings are for both beginners and the more advanced, in subjects such as food, makers, street photography, tech, and Instagram. For all the details, her current offerings, and a free 'Taster Course', visit Emily on Makelight!

Thank you for joining me today for the #collectandstyle October Monthly Favorite image. I hope you will join Emily in her adventures in styling and photography.

And if you would like to participate in my own Instagram hashtag project #collectandstyle, I would love to see you there! Click here for all the details on how to join in.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Vintage Finds: Colorful Roosters!

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Hi Friends! Here in Oregon, we've already had the change of seasons, and it's been cloudy and grey and raining for over a week straight, so let's have fun with some rich autumnal colors and tones, to balance it all out. October's Vintage Finds is a colorful rooster theme; a pair of Norcrest ceramic wall hangings on the left are a recent find while the large orange California pottery wall pocket rooster was purchased awhile back. Although very different in style, shape, color and manufacturer, the subject matter is quite interestingly similar.

Once upon a time here in the United States, decorative household ceramics production were very popular, a trend beginning in the 1930s and lasting through the 1960s. During that time, Los Angeles, California was the largest center for makers of colorful ceramics, with as many as 300 manufacturers in those early years. After World War II began, imports from Europe and Asia were discontinued, and the California ceramics industry reached its pinnacle in the post war era with over 800 small family and larger company businesses in existence. In the 1950s the US began importing ceramic wares again, leading to a decline in the number of California potteries. Sadly, only a few have survived into the 21st century. 

No doubt, this abstract orange rooster was made during the post war heyday of the California pottery makers. It bears an impressed stamp that says 'Made in Calif. USA' along with three letters which are hard to read. It looks like 'CHP' - California something Pottery? What attracted me to this rooster was its modern abstract design, and the fact that it functions as a wall pocket, which allows for some fun floral arranging, resulting in a captivating statement piece!

vintage made in California abstract orange rooster wall pocket

Norcrest China Company has its roots right here in the state of Oregon. The story begins with Hide and Fukiye Naito, who emigrated to America in 1912 from Tara, Japan, a farming community near Tokyo. The couple had two children, Bill and Sam, both born in Oregon. 

In 1920, Hide opened a Japanese imports shop on Washington Street in Portland, selling Japanese goods to the general population, which was considered unconventional at the time because Japanese owned businesses were usually only located in Japan-town, and sold their goods to other Japanese. When the Depression hit, Hide's business savvy was in full gear, running a variety of different small businesses, while at the same time expanding the import business. In 1938 Mr Naito opened an import warehouse in Portland, which at the time was a major West Coast seaport. 

Once the United States entered into World War II, Japanese families, including the Naitos, were forced to give up their homes and businesses and were relocated to internment camps in various isolated areas around the western interior. Although the Naito family was scheduled to go to one of these camps, they were instead allowed permission to go to Utah and live with family.

After the war, the Naito family returned to Portland, and Hide and his son Sam reestablished their family business, which became known as Norcrest China Company. Interestingly, one of the ways in which Sam worked to reestablish their business was to bring pottery up to Oregon from California, most likely sourced  from those very same pottery concerns from which my abstract orange rooster came from! The family continued importing goods from Japan, and due to popular demand for English tea ware, they also began importing bone china teacups and saucers from the United Kingdom.

In the 1960s Hide's son Bill expanded Norcrest China Company into several other businesses, including the "Made In Oregon" retail stores and Import Plaza. These holdings allowed the Naitos to invest in Portland's run-down area then known as "Skid Road", revitalizing the district that they then renamed Old Town. Bill's son Bob joined his father after finishing college, and together they worked on other historic development projects in the Portland area. Bill Naito died in 1996 and Bob has carried on his fathers legacy of historic preservation and sustainable development.    
Considering the humble beginnings this pair of Norcrest stylized dueling roosters represent, I've come to appreciate their striking dynamic appearance, kitschey energetic design and rich color palette even more. I'm already very fond of Japanese vintage collectables, and now look forward to finding additional Norcrest pieces.
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Thank you for letting me share my favorite vintage finds. See you next month! 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Vintage Tea Treasures: An Etsy Shop Update

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Hi friends! Just a quick update on a few of the items recently listed in my new Etsy shop, Vintage Tea Treasures; a four place tea set of Johnson Bros teacups, saucers, and cake plates, a Regency bone china teacup and saucer, and a Gibsons teapot. They are all beautiful, vintage English tea ware.

• The Johnson Bros tea set consists of four teacups, four saucers and four cake plates, all in Johnson's lovely Greydawn color, which is a pastel sky blue.

• The Regency teacup and saucer set both feature a repeated pattern of rose bouquets, and the saucer has understated edge scalloping.

• The Gibsons teapot has a distinctively styled spiral fluted body and lid, with a delicate spray of red lilies on the front and the back.

Both the Regency teacup set and the Gibsons teapot are embellished in gold gilding. 

If you would like to know more about these items, including detailed descriptions, sizes and condition, please visit Vintage Tea Treasures on Etsy! And if you have any questions, I'm happy to help. You can leave a comment here, or in the shop.

Thank you for visiting my shop, and while you're there, I hope you will consider showing Etsy you support Vintage Tea Treasures, by "liking" or "favoriting" an item, or clicking on the 'Favorite shop' button. Thanks again!


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

#collectandstyle - September Monthly Favorite

#collectandstyle September Monthly Favorite, Instagram hashtag challenge #collectandstyle, plum cake, transferware, late summer early autumn plum cake

Greetings #collectandstyle community! Thank you for visiting the Under The Plum Blossom Tree blog. I'm thrilled you are here!

For September's #collectandstyle Monthly Favorite I have a special surprise. This month's favorite image was not only created by my brilliant fellow Instagram friend in the U.K., Madeline Norris (@bymeeni), but Madeline also agreed to share with you, in her own words, the story behind these beautifully styled pieces of transferware from her collection of vintage crockery:

"Over the years I have acquired quite a few pieces of vintage crockery. I’m not quite sure how this collection began but I have always been interested in objects with a history and a story to tell. Some of the items in my collection have been handed down to me and belonged to my grandma and great grandma, other pieces have been gifted to me by friends and family and some things I have bought myself.

I don’t collect a particular make, design, period, or colour of crockery and my collection is quite eclectic. I often look on the bargain shelves, as I don’t mind if something is a bit damaged, in fact this often draws me in. For me this gives the piece more character and I want to give it home and a purpose.

The large blue and white plate that I used for my homemade plum cake in this photo is just such a find. It was in the bargain bucket at a little antique shop that I visited while on holiday last year. I love the crackles in the glaze and it’s signs of use. The white and gold plate is part of a tea set that was my grandma’s and I bought the plate with the rose to add to that set, I like to mix and match.

You will notice in this photo a couple of doilies and these are part of another collection. I started collecting these for use in the textile pieces I design and make but some of them have found their way into my prop box and have become a kind of signature in many of my photos. My family often tease me about my doilies!"

Since connecting with Madeline on Instagram, I have been influenced and inspired by her numerous creative talents, and I'm so happy to be able to share this sample of her work with you. As I have only recently discovered, and come to appreciate, the beauty and history of transferware, it seems fitting to include Madeline's image here, since it was other beautiful photos by her which led me to the discovery of transferware in the first place.

To discover more of Madeline's work, including her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest accounts, visit her on her blog bymeeni for all the links.

And if you would like to participate in #collectandstyle, click here for all the details.

Thank you for reading, friends!
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