Monday, November 30, 2009

The Cookbook Has Arrived!!!!


It's gorgeous!

It's full of wonderful recipes!

Spread the word!!!!

Come and get one (or two) today!

They'll make a great gift for the cook on your gift list!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lights ~ Trees ~ ACTION!!!!!

So many customers keep commenting about our teeny, tiny white lights.
"These are soooooooooooo cute!"

"I love the brown wire!"

"These little lights are magical!"

"I love these so much more than the regular Christmas string lights!"

We have these little lights everywhere!
On trees, on garlands, anywhere we need a little sparkle!
And since they are so tiny, they aren't just for the holidays!
We use them all year long!
In fact, these little gems have so much life in them,
that I plugged in a set last November, and it is still working!
Keep in mind that I never turn them off,
and this extends the life of them,
because they are not constantly being turned on and off!!!!
Here are the details....
Set of 20 lights ~ on 60" of wire (bulbs spaced 2.5" apart) are great for small trees and wreaths and are just $5.95 each.

Set of 50 lights ~ length is 11 feet and is good for a 5' mantle or small trees. $9.95 each

Set of 100 lights ~ length is 19 feet and is perfect for trees! Can plug into each other, but not end to end. $13.95 each.

These bulbs work even if one bulb burns out!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Paulette's Party Pics!!!

Paulette recently hosted a private shopping party at
Brown & Hopkins for many of her friends and family!
It was a fabulous and festive night! They enjoyed samples of our gourmet specialities
like the Swedish meatballs in our Raspberry Honey Mustard Dip,
a new cheeseball to which wine is added,
and of course, our famous Vidlaia Onion Dip!!! Guests were caught peering into the penny candy case,
and oohing and ahhing over our displays. I had fun snapping some photos of the camera shy hostess. Oh, and by the way, Thanks ALOT Paulette
for bringing pastry from Pastiche......I almost ate all of it single handedly!!!!

We could probably squeeze in one more private shopping party on December 4th, if anyone is interested.......just call the store at 568-4830 for more info!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Childhood Memories

As a kid, I loved candy!

Actually, I haven't changed much in that department...I still love candy!

One of my most vivid candy memories
was at Christmas time, when my Mom would buy
Gingerbread candy aka sponge candy for me.
It is quite an unusual melt in your mouth treat,
having an airy and crunchy texture,
with the slight taste of molasses,
even though there isn't a drop of molasses in it!

Displayed in a wooden barrel in the shop,
it fits appropriately into our gingerbread theme!
Isn't it funny how the simplest things
can bring you back to days gone by?

Does anyone else remember this candy?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Genuine Bayberry Candles

One of the most popular items now being ordered on our online shopping site are our
Genuine Bayberry Candles. They are available in 6" (approx 3 hours burn time) and 8" (approx 4 hours burn time) and come in an attractive gift box with the Brown & Hopkins logo and the following legend......"A bayberry candle burned to the socket, puts luck in the home, food in the larder, and gold in the pocket". Burned to the nub on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve,
they bring good luck for the coming year. Now couldn't we all use a little of that!?

When colonial families settled on the Eastern seaboard, they set about on their “women’s work”. Each day, the women of the house were responsible for the cooking, cleaning and care of the home. In late fall, as the animals were slaughtered, women would begin making candles for the following year. The average home would require approximately 200 - 400 candles to illuminate the home for a year. Tallow, or animal fat, was collected throughout the year, but slaughter always brought more fat to the home. As candle making was grueling and smelly work, the bulk of it was done in a single day.

Tallow can be quite foul after a few weeks. Imagine how much worse it must be after several months! In more affluent homes, the women would make candles from beeswax or bayberry wax, as the aroma was far sweeter than anything an animal would leave behind.

Women would gather bushels of bayberries and boil them for several hours. This heating process allowed the waxy substance to seep from the berries. As the wax has a natural buoyancy, the wax floated to the top of the kettle. Once the wax cooled, it was skimmed off much the same way we skim chicken fat from cooled broth today. It takes approximately 15 pounds of bayberries to render one pound of wax. Bayberry wax is brittle by nature, and prone to “blooming”, which is a white powdery residue that forms on the outside of the candle after several months. Candles had to be stored in a cool flat place to protect their fragile shape.

Over time, chandlers made their rounds, relieving women of the chore of candle making. Thank goodness I wasn't a colonial woman......because if Bruce needed me to make candles from animal fat, well, let's just say......we would have been living in a very dark home!!!

Eventually, molds and paraffins were developed to replace tallow and chandlers altogether.
Our true bayberry taper candles make a very nice hostess gift on Christmas Eve or New Years Eve.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Annies Angel Fundraiser 2009

Each year we hold a fundraiser for Annie Walsh,
a sweet local teenager who is currently on the
waiting list for a double lung transplant.
For the past few years we have offered angel ornaments,
but this year the manufacturer was unable to
supply us with them, so we needed to go back to the drawing board.
And that is when it "hit me"!!!!

I remember this story like it was yesterday.......

Earlier this year, Annie's Mom,
Sue was visiting Brown & Hopkins.
It was a rainy spring day.
Sue had left the store, only to return an instant later.....

She went over to our front window and grasped an item from it.
She held it to her heart.
"I have to have this.", she said.
"I tell my kids all the time that this is what 'it's' all about....."

The item was a country plate with the following words...

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass,
it's about learning to dance in the rain.

Tears came to my eyes. As they are right now as I write this......
The saying is so true.
They say when you have your health, you have everything.
I also think, in light of so many struggling in the world right now,
the saying is even more meaningful and powerful.

I presented the idea to Sue, and she loved it!

So, this year we are offering this 9" Dance in the Rain plate,
complete with a sentiment from Annie's Mom on the back of it.
The plates are in limited supply, and are available for $14.95 each.
A portion of the proceeds goes directly to the Annies Angel fund
to help Annies family with her medical expenses.
This item will make a wonderful gift for everyone!
A reminder to everyone that life is as good as you make it!!!!
Plate stands to sit or hang the plate will be available.

We will take orders over the phone at 401-568-4830
Or, you may make your purchase when you visit!
Key tags may not be punched for this since it is a fundraising item.

Thank You!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cookbook Update!

The cookbook publisher tells us, if everything goes as planned,
The Brown & Hopkins Friends & Family Cookbook
will be here before December 18th!!!
Just in time for holiday gifting!!!

We had over 100 different contributors,
and over 280 delectable recipes!

I gained weight just typing them!!!!

One that I still have in my memory is "Amaretto Chicken" sounded so gooooooooood!

Oh, and "Auntie Ida's Chocolate Cake", which has been in one family for three generations....and now the secret is OUT!!!! Shhhhhh, don't tell anyone.

And let's not forget my own
Mom's "Best Brownies Ever"....she would bake these
and always have them on hand!
My kids loved going to Nanny's house!

I dedicated the cookbook to my Mom, Cecilia,
who would have loved working on this project with me,
and who would have been prouder than a peacock
to see her treasured recipes in print!
If you have a moment,
I'd like to tell you a funny little story about my MOM...

"Back in the 1980's, she worked for the famous A.T. Cross Pen company in Lincoln, as a test-writer, which basically meant she had to write the letter 'e' in cursive, over and over and over again, by hand, and if the pen ink refill created a drop of ink at the top of the 'e', then it was a dud, and got tossed. Well, to pass the time at this tedious job, she listened to her cooking shows on her radio headphones! And you know what happened next.......YUP, she started writing the recipes that folks would call in to the radio show!
So, I have bins full of sheets of paper,
with the letter 'e' all over them,
with recipes scattered intermittantly!!!
Oh, sure, she would get 'in trouble' for doing that
every now and then.....but she never stopped!
Eeeeeeeeeeeee heheheheeeeeeeeeeee She was a rebel! LOL"

We are taking pre-orders on the cookbook, which is a high quality, three ring binder, with a padded hard back, full color cover.
They are available for $19.95 each, with a 50% deposit.

We only ordered 300 copies! Reserve yours today!!

Also, if you were a contibutor to the cookbook,
and would like to make one of your recipes
for our Brown & Hopkins customers to try,
please contact me by email at
I am tossing around the idea of holding a holiday party on
Sunday, December 20th!!!
I would love to try Michelle's Rum Balls, wouldn't you????
I'll keep you posted!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wedding Details as Promised

Our wedding cake was baked and decorated by Wrights Farm Bakery.....
Lemon cake with cream cheese frosting......
served with raspberry sauce.....yummy!
The cake turned out even better than I had imagined!
It is so hard to convey your idea without a photogragh,
but Ellen at Wrights did an awesome job!
I don't know if I'll be able to wait until our first anniversary
to dive into the top of the cake....
I am thinking of convincing Bruce that we have it
when we move into the new house!!!
I think that sounds like a plan!
Don't you????

Barbara set up all 18 of our centerpieces
on the morning of the wedding!
They consisted of a large mirror as a base,
a bubble vase filled with faux green apples,
surrounded by a wispy vine, and other florals,
and the finishing touch....a rustic birch bird perched atop!
Candlelight surrounded each one,
as well as little blocks of wood with the words.....

Live each moment...
Love beyond words...
Laugh Everydaya

That's our motto!

The table numbers were actually named after trees........
Just sort of a rustic theme I was going after....
I also thought of the idea of making the
place cards out of slivers or rounds of wood,
that could double as a drink coaster if someone so desired.....
Bruce was really glad that I found
someone to make these for me.....LOL
It was one less thing on his "Honey Do" list!
But I did hand write everyones name on their placecards....
and it was a casual wedding, so I wanted the placecards
to be on a first name basis only!
That way it could be a little keepsake for our guests.
In keeping with the "tree, rustic theme",
for wedding favors, I decided upon pieces of
chocolate bark (white, milk and dark) with almonds
which were bagged and ribbon tied, and placed at each place setting.....

Making those up was a delicious job....
and there wasn't one left over at the end of the night!
Instead of sugar packets for guests coffee, I ordered little rock candy swizzle sticks for them to use in their coffee....
Unfortunately most of them got eaten as a lollipop before the coffee arrived...
Oh well, I guess I should have made a little sign as to what they were for...LOL

During our ceremony, we presented a love letter
to each other in sealed envelopes,
placed then in a wooden box
with two bottles of wine (one for me and one for him...LOL),
and closed the box.
The letters are to be opened on our 5th wedding anniversary,
or anytime in our marriage if we start to have "serious issues".
In the letters we were supposed to write
what made us fall in love with each other.
Bruce keeps thinking that I am going to peek......
I only did that when I was a kid!!!!!
I like surprises now.....

Notice how our photographer captured the reflection
of the fall foliage in the bottle of wine....I love that!!

Bruces' gift to the guys were a pair
of RayBan sunglasses, Blues Brothers style.......
And the reason behind that is that he loves their music.
In fact, during our introduction into the reception,
two Blues Brothers tunes were played......
it was sooooooooooooooo much FUN!!!!!
The girls and I, including little Clare,
wore feather boas,
which really added some more FUN to the reception!

I had made a guest book from photos
from our engagement session,
and asked our guests to write a special note to us.
Wow, did we get some interesting advice and lots of good wishes!
I wanted something to keep and look back on rather than just a book with names in it.

Here is a photo of my bouquet with
my Mom's vintage rhinestone pin attached to it.
I guess you can say,
"I'm a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll",
as alot of times my primitive side is blended with a little bit of sparkle!!
Hence, the rustic theme, with little touches of glam!

Thank you to my staff for putting up with me this year!!!!
You were all a great help to me at the store,
not to mention all the extra time spent on "the wedding"!!!!
Hugs and Kisses to everyone!!!!

Oh, and there's that feather boa......
Oh, I have so many pictures of guests
having a gooooood time with them! It was one of the best decisions I made!
OMG...I have to get to the store and set up more Christmas!!!!!!
See you soon!!!!