Author: Emily

Home Decor

Happy Easter from Sincerely, Doris Jane!


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Spring is FINALLY here. There are buds on our magnolia trees, birds are singing and the temperature, although slowly here in Cincinnati, is rising steadily week to week. With Spring comes one of Em’s favorite holidays. Easter! She’s a warm weather girl and loves the outdoor entertaining that comes with it, so we celebrate Easter at her house every year. We spent this past weekend prepping food, baking and gathering anything and everything Easter, because we have zero self control when it comes to adorable holiday accents.

A few weeks ago, our mom found these adorable green gingham and bunny napkins at Pottery Barn (which we’re actually using as tea towels shown here) and we knew immediately we had to have a table runner to match. We found nearly the same fabric at Fabric Shack in Waynesville, OH and after a couple quick passes through the sewing machine we had the perfect addition to our dessert table.

Next up was planning the menu. Of course our favorite Easter treat is this carrot cake recipe. Last year, we had a much more formal dinner so this year we thought we’d offer some ideas for a more casual setting. With family needing to come and go to accommodate multiple Easter celebrations, we opted for an “open house” style.

We hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Easter celebration!

Local Travel

Backstage at Music Hall


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One of Cincinnati’s most famous, and in our opinion, most beautiful landmarks recently underwent a massive facelift. Originally we thought, how could anyone possibly make it any better? It’s architecture and history are so iconic to our dear city we were a bit anxious when we heard about the renovations so we’ve had all our fingers crossed that the renovations would be more of a restoration. The word renovate for us carries the connotation of modern updates, busting down walls, tearing up original flooring … our love of HGTV is very much to blame.

Emily’s husband, Jim, is a member of the BOLD group with United Way, a group dedicated to teaching its members how to get involved in their communities by serving on boards for local non-profits. As a team-building event, the group got together last weekend for a backstage tour of Cincinnati’s Music Hall, led by the Society for Preservation of Music Hall.

Cautiously optimistic about the new updates, they followed their tour guide, a member of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for more than 35 years, through the doors. Inside, it is still the same gorgeous building, but now looking more beautiful than ever. Her high ceilings and columns topped with gleaming capitols, catching all the light in just the right places.

Inside the auditorium the most prominent difference is the seating. Seats are a bit wider and offer much more leg room than in the past, but mostly everything else is just as we remember. Other changes were made to improve the acoustics of the building, and the chandelier (oh, that incredible chandelier!) was taken down completely for a thorough cleaning and now hangs proudly above the center of the space, sparkling like it was brand new.

The Backstage tour is just $15 with group discounts available for groups of 10+. Children are welcome and are only $5 for anyone under 12 years of age. (Em brought her 1½ year old with no problems) Check out a list of all of the tour options available here.

We JUST booked our tickets to the Harry James dance (hosted by WMKV) in the Music Hall Ballroom and we are counting down the days. We went to the Glenn Miller Orchestra dance back in October and danced (if you can call it that) until our feet were sore. These dances are so much fun and we don’t plan on missing any of them from now on!

We can’t wait to see a performance in the auditorium! Ballet? Symphony? Pops? How will we choose!

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Interviews

Love blooms Where Family Sows: A visit with Two Little Buds Florist


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“It kind of just happened.”

Isn’t it funny how the best things seem to “just happen?” Career changes, spontaneous romances, entrepreneurial endeavors. Sometimes these things seem to just fall into our laps. The stars align, we sit next to the right person on an airplane or an unforeseen change of plans, whatever it may be, forces us to challenge ourselves and step out of the comfy little box where we all tend to linger. Sometimes, even, you go to a concert with your Grandpa and walk out arm-in-arm with your sister bursting with ideas for a new blog.

But these things don’t just happen, do they? Venturing into a new industry, nurturing a new relationship, starting a business from scratch, all these things take more than an idea. More than just the proverbial light bulb over our head. These things take dedication. They take passion and determination, and confidence and being able to take failures on the chin. Most of all they take hard work.

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Mindy Staton and her mom, Alice Francis, began filling orders out of Alice’s greenhouse and when word spread swiftly across town, they quickly outgrew their greenhouse operation, leading them to start Two Little Buds in Hamilton, OH. Not long after, they also began Morning Sun Flower Farm nearby. (We’re hoping to tag along on a little tour of her farm this spring – stay tuned!) 

Mindy was kind enough to take some time out of her day to tell us a little about what it’s like to not only be a florist, but to be a florist preparing for the Valentine’s Day rush.

Take a stroll through most floral shops in early February and you can expect roses. Hundreds of them in every color and arrangement you can imagine, but we walked in to find ranunculus, anemones and tulips bursting with cheery color filling vase after vase, making the entire store smell like springtime.

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Two Little Buds has decided to do Valentine’s Day a bit differently this year by focusing on longer-lasting, American-grown flowers for their Valentine’s Day customers, breaking the I’ll-take-a-dozen-red-roses-and-an-I-love-you-card mold.

When they’re not filling vases this time of year, they are hard at work sowing seeds at the flower farm. Mindy says her “in-laws owned a lot of land in Oxford, Ohio and the flower farm kind of just happened.” She’s a farm girl at heart, with a passion for flowers, a love of nature and a insatiable desire to keep her hands in the dirt. Her flower farm and storefronts aren’t just a business, however. They’re a chance to be with her family. They all pitched in to build her “hoop house” (an unheated greenhouse), creating Mindy’s favorite memories of her floral venture.

Somewhere between developing a personal relationship with upcoming brides, custom orders, corporate events and pop-ups at stores like Anthropologie and Madewell, the girls of Two Little Buds also offer Farm to Vase workshops at their flower farm three times a year. Workshop dates are April 14th, July 17th and September 22nd. You can sign up to learn how to arrange your own hand-picked creation HERE.

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Two Little Buds will soon be moving from their Bridgewater Falls location to D Street in Hamilton, but can also be found at their “flower bar” inside the Lane + Kate store in Over the Rhine. Flowers, gorgeous jewelry and “gifty” things all in the same shop? Yes, please!

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Time is running out for Valentine’s Day blooms everyone! (Okay, we’re actually looking at you, gentlemen) Break tradition, skip the imported roses this year and spread love by shopping local and supporting your local florist!

 

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Recipes

Recipe: Grandma Patti’s Baked Oatmeal


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Back in November, Em and her husband caught a flight to Houston, TX to visit their friends, Mark and Nadine, for the weekend. On their first morning there, Nadine made her Grandma’s baked oatmeal and an obsession was born. We’ve never had the privilege of meeting Nadine’s Grandma Patti, but she certainly sounds lovely, and we’re sure we’d love her just as much as we love this recipe. “Grandma Patti” is from Cathay, ND and was a farm-girl turned farm-wife.

Nadine’s Grandma Patti and 6 of her 9 Great-Grandchildren

Not only is this recipe SO easy, it’s also the perfect cold-morning breakfast that will fill you up and stay with you until lunch time. It’s also not packed full of butter and is fairly low on sugar so, although it is just sweet enough to tame a craving, it won’t totally wreck your diet. This baked oatmeal is just too good not to share, so after clearing it with Nadine (since it’s a family recipe), we’re passing it on to you. Here we go!


Ingredients

  • ½ cup oil (can substitute applesauce)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups quick oatmeal
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • We’ve been adding a little cinnamon when we make it – optional!

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350º
  • Mix oil, brown sugar and eggs
  • Add oats, baking powder, salt and milk
  • Pour into a buttered 9×5 (loaf) pan and bake at 350º for 30-35 minutes
    • You can mix recipe and leave overnight (refrigerate) to bake in the morning
    • Keep in fridge after baking and microwave before serving
Oatmeal will rise slightly after baking 

We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. We make it often and it never lasts long around here.

Sincerely,

Doris Jane

Home Decor

Breakfast Room Before and After


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As promised, we wanted to share the before and after of Em’s breakfast room before and after and the finished product of our drop cloth curtain tutorial.

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Here’s where we found everything:

Drop cloth fabric – Lowes ($11)

Table – Pottery Barn Outlet (no longer available 😦 Sorry!)

Chairs – Pier 1 (No longer available, but these are pretty similar. Bargains and Buyouts also has an online option that is almost identical here)

Rug – Bargains and Buyouts ($44 … no. we’re not kidding. find a store and go today.)

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Tree – It’s real! It’s a Fiddle Leaf Fig (about $40 at our local garden center), and as the lady at the garden center told us it is also “impossible to kill.” As someone who never remembers to water, it’s perfect! It only needs water once a week at best.

Basket – Ohio Valley Antique Mall ($40)

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Home Decor

DIY: Drop Cloth Curtains in 10 Easy Steps


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We love a good DIY project and that, we-can-do-all-things feeling we get out of making something ourselves. We may be a couple of girls, but thanks to our Dad we’re no stranger to a power tool. (Pass the drill, please.)

Em’s been kicking around the idea of hanging some sort of window treatment in her kitchen for about a year; always stopping short of buying fabric before changing her mind. Then she discovered drop cloth curtains. The perfect neutral shade, airy enough to let in lots of natural light and best of all …. they don’t cost a fortune and they’re a piece of cake.

We read a few different tutorials, combined them and then tweaked them a bit to fit the look Em was going for. The finished product is SEW worth the time behind the sewing machine (Or not, check out a “no-sew” option here  from, Thoughts from Alice.)

We’ll be sure to post before and after photos of Em’s breakfast room once we piece everything together. In the meantime, we wanted to share our own version of the Drop Cloth Curtain tutorial: 


Supplies:

6′ x 9′ drop cloths (We found ours for just $11 at Lowe’s!), scissors and/or pinking shears, measuring tape, thread and, of course, wine.

We also enlisted the help of our mom who tends to be the brains behind most of our projects.

Cost:

Drop Cloths – $11 each at Lowe’s

White Pom Fringe trim – $6.99/yard + 50% off coupon from Joann Fabric

Total: About $25 per curtain

Let’s get started! 

Step 1: Launder your drop cloths – this removes dust and softens the fabric A LOT. It also removes that this-is-a-drop-cloth-not-a-curtain smell.

Step 2: Put any children to bed (very important. We stopped several times to restart Lion King, fetch snacks, give a bath and reset our sewing machine settings after pudgy little fingers got to them before we did.) This is where the wine comes in.

Step 3: Lay your drop cloths out on a large table (you could also use the floor, but Em has a very hairy, very high maintenance yellow Lab so, kitchen table it was for us.) If you’ll need to do any hemming, fold the top of your fabric down rather than cutting off the bottom.

***Our drop cloths did not have true 90° corners. Be careful that this doesn’t throw off your measurements. We had to rip seams and start over*** 

Step 4: Create the pocket for the curtain rod. Our curtain rod is 2″ diameter so we measured and marked 2½” from the top, then pinned our fabric.

Step 5: Start sewing! Fire up the machine and follow your pins to make a pocket.

Step 6: Refill wine glass.

Step 7: Add the trim – We decided to dress these up a bit so Em found 1¾” white pom fringe at Joann Fabric. Just pin the trim vertically down the side of the drop cloth, then head back to your sewing machine.

Step 8: Hem and trim loose threads – if necessary! We had to cut one large drop cloth in half for two smaller windows so that one needed a little extra love, but the two on the larger window did not.

Step 9: Break out your iron/steamer – we also read that this step is more effective to do when they’re damp, but we ran out of nap time so we decided to just do it while they were dry.

Step 10: Hang ’em up and let everyone ooooh and aaaah over how creative and clever you are.

This project took us about 6 hours, but that includes chasing around a toddler, wine refills and having to restart once because we’re rookies. Depending on your skill level, we’d guess it would take about 3-4 hours. Happy sewing, friends!

Sincerely,

Doris Jane


Resources:

Naptime Decorator

Thoughts from Alice

Farmhouse 40

Liz Marie Blog

Recipes

Baby it’s chili outside …


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Fresh off the plane from Naples, Florida, Em came home to a cleared out refrigerator and zero motivation to drag a baby to the grocery in this cold weather. (Yes, we know it’s warmed up a bit, but when you were in flip flops on Sunday and today there’s ice on the ground, there’s definitely an adjustment period.) However, she also needed something to feed her little family tonight.

One of our favorite quick and easy recipes is our dad’s chili. We tend to keep the ingredients stocked for just such an occasion. A grey day calls for something warm to ease you back into Cincinnati weather.

We shared our dad’s chili recipe in our canning post a few months ago, but with the recent snap of chill-you-to-the-bone weather Cincinnati has had, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share it again in case you need a quick, but delicious idea for dinner tonight:

Ingredients:

• 1 lb ground chuck, browned and drained

• 2 cans tomatoes, diced and drained

• 1 can red kidney beans (we like the low sodium option), drained

• 1 packet French’s Chili-O Chili Seasoning

• 1 box elbow macaroni (optional)

• 1 bag shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

• Oyster crackers (optional)

Brown ground chuck in a skillet, then remove from pan to drain grease. Add ground chuck, tomatoes, beans and 3/4 – 1 chili seasoning packet to a large pot and stir. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Serve over cooked elbow macaroni or by itself – topping off the chili with a handful of oyster crackers and a heap of shredded cheese and devour.

Shop Small

SDJ’s Vintage-Inspired Gift Guide


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Let’s face it. Some people are just hard to shop for. Whether they’re the “already has everything” person, or the return/regift type – we all have at least one on our list who sends our inner Santa into a frenzy.

Fear not friends, for Sincerely, Doris Jane scoured the mall, for blog post research of course *wink wink*, in search of vintage inspired gifts that are timeless classics, an instant hit and surely to not be returned. We’ve got you covered from stocking stuffers to hardly-fits-under-your-tree gifts.

  • Remember our interview with Sara’s House?  We stopped in to do a little shopping and Sara is offering an EXCLUSIVE BOGO offer on her mercury glass ornaments for our readers only! Simply mention: SINCERELYSANTA and you’re an instant VIP. They’re gorgeous on a tree and remind us of the ornaments our grandma’s always had. The best part? They’re not made with actual mercury so they’re household safe.
  • Nothing says old school glam like a holly-berry red lip. We stopped over to the MAC counter in Macy’s and tried on a few. Our favorite? MAC Red in their satin finish ($17.50). The perfect shade for a very Marilyn Christmas. Find it online here.

  • What’s every lovely lady want for Christmas? Why, Chanel No. 5 of course! We loved the “pink bottle” version. Starting at $80 at Macy’s.

  • Get your Don Draper on with crystal barware. We love this set from Macy’s, on sale for $100 right now, but we’ve seen it for as low as $70! A staple in any MadMen loving household.

  • Gloves make a statement. They say I’m classy. They say I’m confident. They also say, I’m cold. We love these leather gloves by Charter Club at Macy’s for about $50.

  • Pearls go with everything. Faux or Authentic, they’re a must have for every lady’s jewelry box. The best part? You can literally find them EVERYWHERE.

  • Christmas music sounds best on vinyl and whether you have records that have been passed down to you or if you’ve picked them up in a local antique store like we did (for just a few dollars a piece at Ohio Valley Antique Mall), you’ll need something to play them on. We had to have this Crosley Rochester 5-in-1 Deluxe Entertainment System for just $99 at Target right now.
  • The holidays can be crazy and chaotic. We recently read “Chasing Slow” by Erin Loechner for a fresh perspective on prioritizing family and simply slowing down to enjoy the people and things we’ve been blessed with. We really related to her point of view and think our readers will love it! We found it for $14.95 at Anthropologie, but it’s also available on Amazon, and at your local library.

Happy shopping everybody! Share your vintage inspired gifts on our Facebook page or in the comments below! We’d love to see what you’ve found.

Local Travel

5 Reasons to Take a Trip to West Baden Springs Hotel


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Emily turned 30 last week! To celebrate, we’re giving you a peek into her surprise trip and 5 reasons you’ll love French Lick Resort & West Baden Springs Hotel

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This year was a big one. Or so everyone told me. THIRTY.

Sure, thirty sounded older, but doesn’t it also sound more sophisticated? 29 year old me certainly thought so, and I was prepared to celebrate it appropriately. Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you my birthday seems to go on forever. Can anyone really fit a celebration that big into 24 short hours? I say no. 

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A little back story here: he knows I love a surprise, but also knows I will drive myself bananas trying to figure it out. So naturally, he told me 2 months ago and then … NOTHING. No clues, no tripped up words, no subtle hints or forgotten receipts left lying on the counter. I had NO idea where we were going.

What I didn’t know was my husband, Jimmy, had planned a surprise getaway for my birthday – which also happens to be our wedding anniversary.

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We hopped in the car, dropped off the kid, grabbed a coffee and were on our way.

A beautiful 3 hour drive ended at the even more beautiful West Baden Springs Hotel. We stayed Thursday – Saturday and had plenty to do. These are just a few of our favorites … in no particular order:

 1. The “Little Things” – West Baden Springs Hotel is full of tiny details to enhance your trip. Our room was gorgeous, he splurged for the Historical Room, knowing my love of antiques and old-timey details. Paned French windows with velvet curtains overlooked the atrium, a claw foot tub, and chocolates and chilled champagne, all there to greet us when we arrived. He also reserved a horse drawn carriage to pick us up from dinner (awwww…) and when we got back to the hotel, a piano was crooning in the atrium so we sat to listen for a while. The perfect ending to a busy day.

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2. The History – The original hotel, built in 1855, was destroyed by a fire in 1901, but was reopened in 1902 by then owner, Lee W. Sinclair. His new design included the beautiful indoor atrium, umbrella-ed by the “Eighth Wonder of the World” dome and a fireplace that could burn 14-foot logs. (Still intact, but not functioning – or at least not when we were there.) The hotel changed hands a few times before it closed its doors and sat empty for nearly 20 years. Read more about the hotels history here.

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3. The Dining – Our first night in French Lick we had reservations at 1875: The Steakhouse, located inside the French Lick Resort which was fantastic. Don’t leave without a piece of cheesecake! We also tried out the decadent Grand Colonnade Restaurant for breakfast and were not disappointed. The only thing better than that waffle bar is the room itself. Gilded and Gorgeous and perfectly grandiose.

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French Lick Resort is the “Birthplace of Tomato Juice.” 1875 serves each guest a shotglass of their signature tomato juice to honor this part of their history.

4. The Relaxing Atmosphere –  On day 2 I was whisked away to the Spa at West Baden Springs Hotel for a couples massage. Once we got over the implied romantics (we’re not the couples massage type, so we spent the first few minutes holding back laughter) we settled in for 50 minutes of quiet relaxation. The kind of quiet you just don’t get when there’s a 1 year old at home. 

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Spa selfies are the best selfies …

We took the rest of the afternoon to take walks and enjoy the view from the breathtaking veranda that wraps around the hotel. We chose two rockers in the sun; I did a crossword and he read the days newspaper. I could’ve stayed there all day. We let the beautiful gardens and surrounding areas lead us. To tell us their stories at their own pace.

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5. The Outdoor Activities – Wooded trails teeming with wildlife surround the hotel grounds, and at varying difficulty levels, there is something for everyone. Paved paths for runners and walkers, rugged woodsy trails for hiking and mountain bikes, and gravel drives for a relaxing walk or drive through the woods. We hiked every day, first down the gravel driveway to the stables, and eventually ventured into the woods for more of a challenge, in awe of the autumn beauty everywhere we looked.

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It’s safe to say we’ll be back, and hopefully very soon!