Friday, March 29, 2013

Benton MacKaye Trail Day Hike to Long Creek Falls

Day Hike to Long Creek Falls on the Benton MacKaye Trail

     The Benton MacKaye (MacKaye rhymes with sky) trail was named for the man who envisioned the Appalachian Trail and can be accessed through the Blue Ridge Wildlife Management Area.  It includes about 300 miles of trails which intersects with the Appalachian Trail in several areas.  The drive in is on gravel road USFS Road 58; it's about a 6 mile journey to the parking area at Three Forks.  The beautiful drive is bordered with the Noontootla Creek on the right and mountain side on the left.  Noontootla Creek is a noted trout stream and we saw several occupied camp sites right next to the stream along the way.

Mountain side sneak peek on FS 58

     The road is single lane gravel, it is well maintained and graded, making it accessible with most vehicles.  However, there are no guard rails, and passing oncoming traffic is very tight.  Meeting opposing traffic was a little scary as you can't always see around the turns for oncoming traffic and it's a tight fit for two vehicles.  Drive with caution! I was glad my hike guide was driving!

Benton MacKaye and Appalachian Trail

     The Benton MacKaye trails intertwines with the Appalachian Trail here in Fannin County, Georgia and much of the trail shows the markers of both trails.  The Benton MacKaye trail marker is the diamond which is about 7 inches tall and 5 inches wide.  The Appalachian Trail marker is the rectangle which is about 7 inches tall and 3 inches wide.  Guided hikes are available through The Lilly Pad Village and can be arranged by calling (706) 534-1317.

     The Long Creeks Falls hike is an especially nice day hike, 1.1 miles in length to the falls, where paths are reserved for hikers only; no horses, mountain bikes or 4 wheeler's allowed.  It is a dog friendly trail and it was fun to see many dogs enjoying themselves along the way.  I was glad to have a guide who knew which side paths provided great photo opportunities and some assistance climbing the steep rocks next to the falls to get to the higher tiers.

Appalachian Trails and Benton MacKaye Trail sign post.

Let the hike begin!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Vintage Dansk Christianshavn Blue Bistro Dinnerware

Vintage Dansk Bistro Dinnerware in Christianshavn Blue

Vintage Dansk Bistro Christianshavn Blue
The Dansk Bistro line of porcelain china, designed by Niels Refsgaard, was introduced by Dansk in 1981 and was marketed as the "mix and match" line of tableware which included several stylized patterns as well as the Bisserup White.

I began collecting the Bisserup White for my personal use in the early 1980's and continued to collect that pattern until the mid 1990's.

It was a tough choice for me between the Christianshavn Blue line with the white winning out; but I did collect some of the Christianshavn Blue in select pieces such as the espresso cups and saucers   It was after all the mix and match collection!

Having been a fan of Dansk since I was introduced to it as a child, I seek it out to sell in my shop The Inspired Trader!

The Designer for Dansk Bistro - Niels Refsgaard

Vintage Dansk Bistro Chrisitanshavn Blue shown
with Odin Servers
The Dansk Bistro line was designed by Niels Refsgaard, who graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, The School of Design in Copenhagen in 1957, currently has a studio and shop in Bisserup, and his current designs are available online which can be seen with this link Refsgaard Danish Ceramics Web Store.  Refsgaard still has a relationship with Dansk, now owned by Lenox, and has for over 50 years.  He states on his web site that, after years of industrial design (designs for mass production), he is "finally doing what was my youth dream and hope" enjoying a more organic approach and using local materials which can only be achieved on a small scale.

Refsgaard and Dansk are the recipient of several design awards including:

  •  iF Product Design Awards - Niels Refsgaard for "Generation" Two Awards in different categories.
  • International Tabletop Award - Dansk International Designs Niels Refsgaard designer, Dansk Bistro in the  Dinnerware Design category.

Dansk Bistro - Christianshavn Blue - Design Inspiration

Dansk advertising described the Bistro line as "gleaming white porcelain  in traditional colors - cool sea-blue and warm earth-brown -- he offers distinctive border to mix and match in endless combinations."  Dansk hung their hat on the Bistro line, accompanied by copious companion pieces, they honed the Bistro brand through advertising not only the dinnerware but also "accessories" such as casseroles, bakers, quiche pans, ramekins and souffles in "The Cook's Collection" and the "Cook and Serve Collection".

According to one Dansk ad, the inspiration for the line was "a charming Danish custom: to tile kitchen walls and working surfaces in a multitude of unmatched patterns."  The sapphire blue and the earthy brown were named Christianshavn after the trendy neighborhood in Copenhagen with a mix of old and new architecture.

Sunset at Christianshavn, Copenhagen
Christianshavn at sunset is truly an inspiration!
Thanks to Serge Y on Flickr for providing HTML for his fabulous image.

Dansk Bistro - Mix and Match - Cook's Collection

A Tabletop Revolution

Minimalist Design  - Influential Designers Compete for the Market

Minimalist tableware china wasn't a new concept, Rosenthal produced all white patterns since the early 1900's, Wedgwood also produced all white ironstone china from the late 1800's; however the overall pattern impressions were of more traditional profiles, shapes and donned ornate reliefs as borders.  Pressure from Dansk's success was certainly seen in Rosenthal's developing a strong relationship with Danish designer Bjorn Wiinblad, the designer of Romance and German designer, Wolf Karnagel the designer for the Joy 1 (Joy One) pattern.

Dansk's Design and Branding Revolutionized the American Tabletop

What Dansk accomplished through award winning designers like Niels Refsgaard and Kathleen Wills, combined with comprehensive product branding through the print medium, was to revolutionize and forever change the china and tableware industry and American tabletops.

While Julia Child was expanding our culinary skills and teaching us how to cook, Dansk was providing an expansive line of cook and serve ware which took meals directly from the kitchen to the table.  It couldn't have been better timing and it was a perfect fit for our changing to a more casual lifestyle.  It was indeed a new concept for upscale dinnerware.  With styles and colors which further reinforced earlier offerings such a Kobenstyle enamelware and Teak offerings.

The line between everyday dishware and company china became blurred; for many like myself it disappeared altogether.  Dansk reinforced that change through their designs and advertising.  Designs became the frame for food instead of aesthetically competing.  The clean tabletop visually captivating.  The food took main stage center and the new designs allowed it to shine.

Many designs were rooted in European folk art.  Refsgaard's designs in particular, are clearly born from Danish folk art, but certainly influenced by his travels; textures and patterns which were heretofore more apt to be found on stoneware than fine porcelain.  It worked then.  It still does!

Timeless Design

Tricia's Cool Blue and Green Table Setting featuring Dansk Kristina & Florencia pattern by Refsgaard

Above is pictured Dansk's current Kristina & Florencia pattern by Refsgaard which would mix and match perfectly with vintage Bistro Christianshavn Blue.  A special thanks to Tricia, of the Dull and the Dutiful, a tabletop blogger, for allowing me post her lovely tablescape!  She has fabulous seasonal tablescapes (several which are Dansk) and a visit to her blog is a must!  You can see her outstanding work including her Easter table here:  The Dull and the Dutiful Blog  

Modern designs do have their detractors, one online review of Dansk, calls it "clinical".  Of which I hardily disagree.  Dansk Bistro Christianshavn dinnerware would be as beautiful on Monet's dinning table in his yellow dinning room at Giverny as it would on any traditional or contemporary dinning table such as Tricia's beautiful table shown above.

The Bistro Christianshavn line transcends, just as intended!  As Dansk stated so well in a 1980's advertisement: "From our earliest beginnings, Dansk's commitment has been to create designs that are always timely because they are timeless.  So when you buy Dansk, you know that your are buying style that lasts, not a fashion that comes and goes.  It's the guarantee that your tabletop will always be a winner."

I couldn't agree more.

Vintage Dansk Bistro Christianshavn Blue presents Classic Stripes - Compatible with all the Bistro and complementary patterns:

  • Fredriksborg
  • Maribo
  • Flora
  • Flora in Solid Blue
  • Bistro Bisserup Brown
  • Blue Ringsted
  • Lyngby
  • Bistro Bisserup White

It is no surprise that Dansk Bistro won First Prize for Classic Dinnerware in the First International Tabletop Awards competition.

If you have found this helpful please share.

Best,  Deb

Friday, March 15, 2013

Signs of Spring

The First Signs of Spring

I'm enjoying the first signs of Spring in the otherwise dreary landscapes here in Aska area of the Blue Ridge mountains.

Forsythia bushes in the morning light.

When the buds on the bushes which line the drive began to open I was so pleased to see their happy yellow petals.  Forsythia and witch hazel are one of the first bloomers in the garden and often are blooming when there is still snow on the ground.

Identifying the bushes had to wait until spring as when we first moved here in September of 2012 these four were already beginning to lose their leaves.  I wasn't sure if they were witch hazel or forsythia.

The flowers, similar at a distance, are quite different upon closer inspection.  The forsythia has a bell shaped flower, while the witch hazel flower, although about the same size, looks more like a spider flower and is comprised of thin tendrils.

Click on the photographs for a full size view!

Waiting to see what type of bulbs these are!

I have much work to do in the yard and garden, which is a happy problem!  I anxiously await the many secrets of our new garden to be revealed as Spring progresses.  We have a wonderful fire pit located behind this large maple.

Several of the smaller flat leaved plants appear to be wild daisies.  Dandelions and wild daisies are very similar plants also. Too soon to tell, so until I know for sure they are allowed to stay!  But obviously I need to get the weed whacker out...perhaps on Sunday.  You can see in the background quite a few small/young trees which have clung onto their dead leaves all winter.  I'm resisting the urge to go and clip off the long dead leaves; I am so tired of seeing brown.

Hen on a nest salt cellar available in my shop on Etsy

I took the opportunity to add just a touch of Forsythia to a photo shoot of a new listing for my Etsy shop today.  A sweet little reminder of Spring and the tiny flowers were the perfect size not to overpower this small salt cellar.

What does your spring garden look like?  Send me a photo to and I'll add it to the post!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Snow Day Dinner

A Blue Ridge Mountains Snow Day


After over 20 years living in Florida, I've packed up and moved to the Blue Ridge area of Georgia.  I'm loving living here in the mountains and we are blessed with our new home, friends and pathways in our life journey here in the mountains.  I lived in Canada for a couple of years prior to moving to Florida, so I have an intimate knowledge of living in snow country and the mountains.

With our move to Blue Ridge and living on less (much less) I am grateful I have lived a frugal lifestyle.   I'm pulling all my tools out of my life's tool box and employing them to make frugal - fabulous!  I look forward to sharing with you my as I discover my new home, tried and true tools to enhance your life as well as tips and tricks to have affordable enjoyable options as I begin a new life journey here in the Blue Ridge mountains.

My Snowy Cabin Home

Cabin front elevation.

Side yard winter landscape.

Baby It's Cold Outside!

As I type, I'm wearing two long sleeve shirts, an undershirt, a sweater, jeans, two pairs of socks and my Doc Martens; which is not enough to keep my hands and feet warm.  This is the most winter I've had for a very long time and I'm ready for Spring!

Here's our little two bedroom cabin which appears larger than it is because the basement space (the stone portion) is partially exposed on the front and side elevations.  We have a great room style living space with a shared living and kitchen with walls of tongue and groove and hardwood floors all out of knotty pine, which is just perfect for us!

While Mother Nature is dragging her spring feet and we've had more snow in the past four days than all winter.  I thought it would be fun for my first post since my move, to share our snow day before spring arrives.  Our elevation is about 2,000 ft and while the daffodils (which grow wild in places) are blooming down in town up here in the mountains we only have the promise of Spring with green foliage sprouting up from the ground.  Check out the base of the tree in the left of the photo below to see the tulip leaves peeking up from the snow.

Click on any photograph in the post to see the photo enlarged.

Ready to go Canoeing?

Playing around in the snow!

I made my first snowman in over twenty years!  He's ready to melt and join the Toccoa river, ensuring canoeing fun for all!

I had to get resourceful when accessorizing my snowman; with traditional sticks for arms and a carrot nose, but no coal (or charcoal briquettes) so yes those are root beer dumdums for eyes and buttons!

I was inspired to create the best snow day meal I could and celebrate with a warming dinner of Chicken Pot Pie.  A good excuse to turn the oven on and warm the house up!

A Snow Day Dinner - Chicken Pot Pie - Fabulously Frugal Dinners

Chicken Pot Pie baked in a vintage Dansk Quiche Dish and served in vintage Dansk rimmed soup bowls.

Humble left-over chicken is elevated and transformed into fabulous comfort food with this retro chicken pot pie recipe.  A perfect fit in my vintage Dansk Quiche Dish and served in a Bistro 8" rimmed soup bowl.  I use these Bistro Bisserup white quiche dishes for everything from apple crisp and deep dish pies to vegetable casseroles and small beef roasts.

This 1980's recipe for flaky crust recipe from the California Culinary Academy brings the perfect old fashioned topper to tender leftover chicken breast along with peas, carrots and mushrooms in a velvety smooth gravy.  It would also be good for a cold spring evening made with leftover lamb, spring vegetables and made with a vegetable broth gravy.

Prep time is about 40 minutes (including the pastry) and cook time is 30 to 40 minutes.  Prepare the filling first then top with the flaky pastry.  To make it even faster use a store bought pastry crust rolled out to a 12 inch circle (but it won't be as light as using the flaky pastry outlined below).

Flaky Pastry

1 1/4 cups unsifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons each firm butter and lard (I used trans fat free
    shortening in place of the lard)
1 egg yolk (reserve egg white to glaze pastry)
2 tablespoons very cold water

Mix flour with salt.  Cut in butter and lard (shortening) until mixture forms coarse crumbs.  Beat egg yolk with cold water (reserve egg white to glaze pastry); add to flour mixture and stir with a fork until pastry begins to cling together.  Shape with your hand into a smooth ball.  Roll out on a floured board or pastry cloth to a circle about 12 inches in diameter.

Chicken Pot Pie Filling

2 cups leftover white meat chicken cut into large chunks
2 cups chicken broth warmed (even more affordable if you make your own)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup thawed frozen peas
1 cup thick sliced carrots simmered in salt water until crisp tender
6 large mushrooms quartered and sauteed in a teaspoon of butter
freshly ground black pepper
dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a small saucepan simmer the carrots in 1/4 cup salted water until they are crisp tender. Drain and reserve.

While the carrots are simmering, in a 10 inch saute pan, melt 1 to 2 teaspoons of butter or margarine and saute the mushroom quarters until they are tender and just lightly browned.  Remove and reserve.

In the 10 inch saute pan melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat and saute the celery and onion until the onion is translucent and soft but not brown.  Stir in flour, pepper, and nutmeg cooking until bubbly about 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and slowly add the warmed chicken broth gradually quickly whisking as you add.  Return to heat and cook, stirring until the mixture bubbles and is thickened.

Mix in the carrots, mushrooms, peas and chicken and add salt to taste.  Pour mixture in a 9 inch pie pan or quiche dish and top with the flaky pastry.  Flute and decorate the pastry.  Cut several vents in the pastry crust with a sharp knife to allow the steam to vent.  Use your vintage pie birds if you have them!

At this point the pie can be refrigerated for several hours or baked the next day.

When ready to bake, beat reserved egg white and brush over the top crust with a pastry brush.  Place pie on a cookie sheet to avoid messy spill overs.  Bake on the center rake of a 425 degree oven until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve with a leafy green salad a light oil and vinegar dressing and a glass of white wine for casual elegance.

I hope you enjoyed a peek at our new home and snow day celebration!