Green Springs Gardens

Charlene is always looking for beautiful outdoor settings to enjoy her days off (yes she does have them!). Green Springs Gardens is a local gem that is only about 15 minutes outside of Old Town.

Green Springs Gardens are lined with serene paths that are perfect for walking with friends or taking a meditative stroll. The park opens at dusk, and the benches by this pond would be a great place to sit and enjoy your morning coffee! The path by the pond leads you into the woods towards the Horticulture Center. It is a wonderfully calming path!

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Once you emerge from the woods, you are bombarded with the natural beauty of the land! There is a different kind of garden in every direction as the property has over 22 themed gardens total. The grounds offer inspiration for the home gardener, and the staff are happy to answer any questions visitors may have pertaining to gardening techniques, history, native plants, etc.

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Be sure to stop by the Horticulture Center to learn about volunteer opportunities, programs, and Master Gardeners. They also hold lectures, workshops, and tours about nature, horticulture, and history. 

 See you Saturday, September 10th at the Fall Garden Day!

See you Saturday, September 10th at the Fall Garden Day!

Summer Day Trip

August is the time of year when everyone is ready for a vacation! If you don't want to go too far, but still want to "get away", take advantage of the surrounding rural areas. There are so many hidden gems within two and a half hours of here. Here are a few of Charlene's favorites that she passes on her way to her home state of Pennsylvania:

Clear Spring Creamery: You may have seen them at the DuPont or Arlington Farmers Market! They are a family dairy farm known for their delicious and humanely sourced products ranging from milk to eggs. Stop by their farm on your way to our next spot...

 

Knobhall Winery: A great place for the setting and ambiance alone! Charlene loves the house on the property and the relaxed vibe of the winery. It's a great place to sit down with friends, relax, and just forget about the world!

 

Spruce Forest Artisan Village: Charlene is an absolute bird lover!!! When she discovered that one of the resident artists, Gary Yoder, was a Master Bird Sculptor, she was thrilled! His sculptures are impeccable, and he spends about four years on each piece. The village is comprised of quaint, restored cabins. Each cabin has a unique history and serves as a work space for artists, crafters, writers, etc. It is free to visit the village, and you can tour the grounds and watch the artists at work! They have a great cafe on the grounds too, The Cornucopia Cafe, where you can grab lunch and a glass of wine.

The Cornucopia Cafe is tucked behind the Spruce Forest Artisan Village. It offers fresh local fare in a charming rustic setting. The view of the surrounding mountains and stream make the outdoor seating delightful! You might even catch one of the fly fishing classes at the stream! Be sure to visit the Grants Mercantile store too while you're on the grounds. It's a cute country store with a variety of gifts, home items, olive oils, and more!

The Auction Square Market Place, sometimes referred to as the "Boonsboro Antique Mall, is a great indoor flea market with a wide variety of vendors. You can easily spend a few hours looking through all of the collections. Make sure you bring your truck in case you need to haul off your new antique trunk or dresser!

After a long day of antiquing and hiking the Great Allegheny Passage, spend the night at the Savage River Lodge! The lodge is nestled in over 700 acres of State Forest lands making it a great getaway from city life. 

 

Hostess with the Most-ess: Open Kitchen

Charlene is a big fan of mixing high end items with affordable pieces when entertaining! With everybody looking for great deals, we are happy to see Williams-Sonoma's addition, Open Kitchen, offering a line of inexpensive kitchenware that still meets the Williams-Sonoma standard.

The Open Kitchen glassware and dinnerware are cabinet essentials for the frequent hostess. The clean lines and contemporary design make it easy for you to incorporate these new items with your current dishes. 

 Appetizer Plate - $4

Appetizer Plate - $4

 Pasta Bowls - $6

Pasta Bowls - $6

If you frequently find yourself with a house full of kids after lacrosse games, art club, or movie night you will be happy to pull these out for the gang opposed to your fine dishes! They're also great for weekend get togethers with the family! The versatility is wonderful and the sleek design make these dishes ideal for mixing and matching.

 Dinner Plate - $6

Dinner Plate - $6

 Stemless Red Wine Glass - $7

Stemless Red Wine Glass - $7

 Champagne Flute - $7

Champagne Flute - $7

Don't forget about Open Kitchen glassware! It can really save you in the long run if you are constantly renting glasses for parties. You will be ready for impromptu get togethers with the girls!

Open Kitchen also features bar & wine tools, cookware, and electrics. Besides entertaining, Open Kitchen supplies are perfect for a second home, a beach house, your rental property, or a college dorm! 

 

Charlene's Arrangements: Bringing the Outdoors In

Besides catering delicious food for your event, Charlene's Kitchen can set-up gorgeous floral arrangements! Unlike your typical florist, Charlene has a vault of vintage props and natural elements that enhance each and every arrangement. She mixes old and new effortlessly to create centerpieces that have a "freshly picked" feel. Her arrangements will never be boring and stuffy; they will always be bursting with life! Similar to her food philosophy, Charlene likes to stick with what's in season. Below you'll see variations of Spring's flowering branches mixed with other farmer's market finds. Here's a peak at some of our favorites:

Allow Charlene's Kitchen to provide the arrangement for your next event and enjoy the full "Charlene Experience!" Email us at info@charlenes-kitchen.com for more details.

A Visual Journey

Some things cannot be expressed with words. Join us on this visual journey as we explore the stages of table design and Charlene's artistic process. (Keep in mind: this table was simply covered with a white table cloth before Charlene arrived.)

All props* and flowers were provided by Charlene's Kitchen.  Email us at info@charlenes-kitchen.com to discuss design & rental fees.

*Burlap provided by client and plates provided by Select Rentals

Charlene's Top Five: Williams-Sonoma Foods

Charlene has worked for Williams-Sonoma for over 30 years, and she is still an active member of the Old Town WS team! Clients always ask her for product recommendations, so she's compiled a list of her TOP FIVE WS food products:

1. Pernigotti Cocoa 

Charlene considers this to be "the best cocoa out there!" The cocoa undergoes Dutch-processing which helps neutralize the cocoa's natural acidity. Thus, Pernigotti Cocoa has a distinct, rich flavor that will elevate any cake, brownie, or warm mug of hot chocolate.

2. Fini Balsamic Vinegar

Have you ever had one of Charlene's salads? They are to die for. Charlene is a firm believer in using the highest quality ingredients in her salads, and you can taste the difference. Fini is a luscious balsamic vinegar made from sweet Italian grapes. It is thicker than your average store-bought balsamic vinegar because it is aged in multiple barrels over a 12 month period. Each barrel, whether oak or juniper, lend to Fini's complex flavor profile.

3. Williams-Sonoma House Olive Oil

Speaking of salads: what salad is complete without a drizzle of olive oil? WS House Olive Oil is an unfiltered, extra virgin olive oil made from Sonoma grapes. Charlene is adamant when it comes to olive oil, and she knows that there are different uses for every variety. This smooth, fruity EVOO is not meant for cooking. Use it in marinades, salads, or dips and taste the difference!

4. Maldon Sea Salt

"Flake sea salt is an absolute must!" I know you're probably tired of hearing this, but you really can taste the difference. Maldon Sea Salt has a distinct clean taste that enhances the flavor of whatever your seasoning. Charlene explains that this is not to be confused with the kosher rock salts that require a grinder; Maldon Sea Salt is a pyramid shaped flake that is meant to be crumbled by hand. (Charlene tip: you know you've purchased a low quality flake sea salt if it does not crumble by hand!)

5. Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract

Unlike other vanilla extracts, Nielsen-Massey's Vanilla Extract is not watered down. As soon as you open the bottle you are greeted by an intense vanilla aroma that is out of this world. This bottle's distinction comes from Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans which have a mellow, smooth, and sweet flavor. Put this vanilla extract in your waffle batter on a lazy Sunday morning for an elegant treat!

 

New Terrain

Artists are constantly seeking new sources of inspiration, however, sometimes revisiting the past can be just as inspiring. This week, Charlene revisited one of her favorite places for inspiration- Terrain. Terrain is a... retail experience to say the least, and it's located about 25 minutes outside of Philadelphia. Not only do they offer home decor and gardening materials, they feature artisanal bath products, fine linens, specialty dishware, an array of lifestyle books, a restaurant, and a cafe!

When you first arrive at Terrain, you are greeted by a distressed brick pathway, an array of garden sheds, and beautiful white birch trees that scream, "CHARLENE!" This place is her idea of a playground to say the least.

 See how happy Terrain makes Charlene? (We're just happy that she's happy :) )

See how happy Terrain makes Charlene? (We're just happy that she's happy :) )

From the moment you step foot on the distressed brick path, you are transformed into a world of natural beauty. Charlene appreciates the kind of beauty the Earth has to offer, and she takes her time examining every branch, petal, and root that awaits her. As mentioned in our previous blog post, Spring is 'flowering branch season', so Charlene, an avid gardener, picked out a few of her favorite flowering branches to add to her home garden.

Continuing along the path, one cannot help but notice how perfect Terrain is for Charlene's imagination. I mean, it's is an intersection of at least two of her favorite things: nature & rustic materials.

From the outside, the cafe was so unassuming. It looked like it would be anywhere in Small Town, USA.

But, then I remembered that this place was on Charlene's radar. So it came as no surprise to see these gems right beyond the old, rickety door:

 These white birch poles can be found everywhere now (even at HomeGoods and TJ Maxx). Your local contractor can make this for you as a backdrop at a barn wedding or party!

These white birch poles can be found everywhere now (even at HomeGoods and TJ Maxx). Your local contractor can make this for you as a backdrop at a barn wedding or party!

 Charlene loves the old-world feeling of succulents and that they don't require a lot of maintenance. She loves the texture of the leaves, and the muted tones.

Charlene loves the old-world feeling of succulents and that they don't require a lot of maintenance. She loves the texture of the leaves, and the muted tones.

 This sap bucket would be a great vessel to hold your flatware or simply used as a centerpiece.

This sap bucket would be a great vessel to hold your flatware or simply used as a centerpiece.

 Charlene loves dried flowers as much as fresh. This distressed wall with dried floral wreaths is a wonderful backdrop for a rustic event.

Charlene loves dried flowers as much as fresh. This distressed wall with dried floral wreaths is a wonderful backdrop for a rustic event.

 Building terrariums is just one of Charlene's gardening hobbies. This would look great suspended from the ceiling with rope, ribbon, or chains for a more industrial feel.

Building terrariums is just one of Charlene's gardening hobbies. This would look great suspended from the ceiling with rope, ribbon, or chains for a more industrial feel.

All in all, this was a great trip for Charlene & Co! We are excited to incorporate this garden theme into our Spring set-ups and our farmers market inspired Spring dishes. Check out our Menu to see our newest Spring additions! 

A New Season

 Food, signs, and props: Charlene's Kitchen                                  Michelle Lindsay's Photography

Food, signs, and props: Charlene's Kitchen                                 Michelle Lindsay's Photography

 

Alas! Winter is in her final throws, and we are finally beginning to see hints of her baby sister-Spring! Spring fare at Charlene's Kitchen can be summarized in one word:

fresh.

Spring is the season when Charlene begins to take full advantage of all of the wonderful local farmers markets including Dupont, Sherwood Hall Lane, and the Old Town Farmers Market on King Street. The warmer weather calls for lighter fare, and Charlene is back at the drawing boards brainstorming new menu ideas! Expect new farm-fresh salads, wholesome grains, and plenty of fresh herbs.

Charlene's homemade veggie dips are a great alternative to their creamy cousins! She creates wonderful dips from beans, root vegetables, and other healthy items. Her homemade dips can be served alongside crudite, pita chips, a fresh baguette, or even spread on your sandwich! Reference the Dips section of our menu the next time you are looking for a figure-friendly option this Spring! 

 


Charlene's Glassware

 Glasses type from left: Garnet White Wine Glass, Antique Etched Goblet, Antique Champagne Flute, Antique Sherry Glass, Garnet Goblet, Antique Cocktail (Martini) Glass, Assorted Bohemian Rocks Glasses, Red Wine Glass with Gold Spiral, and Amber Bottom White Wine Glass.

Glasses type from left: Garnet White Wine Glass, Antique Etched Goblet, Antique Champagne Flute, Antique Sherry Glass, Garnet Goblet, Antique Cocktail (Martini) Glass, Assorted Bohemian Rocks Glasses, Red Wine Glass with Gold Spiral, and Amber Bottom White Wine Glass.

Did you know that Charlene has an extensive collection of antique glassware available for rent? Well you do now! Charlene has been collecting antique glasses, and other assorted dishware, for over three decades. Whether it's etched, embellished, clear, or colored, she's got it in her vault! Take a peak at some of her featured glassware that's available to rent for your next event:

 

 Glasses from left: Garnet Goblet, Antique Champagne Flute, and Garnet White Wine Glass.

Glasses from left: Garnet Goblet, Antique Champagne Flute, and Garnet White Wine Glass.

 The assorted Bohemian Rocks Glasses are a few of Charlene's favorites! They look great mixed in with your other dishes for an instant pop of color and texture!

The assorted Bohemian Rocks Glasses are a few of Charlene's favorites! They look great mixed in with your other dishes for an instant pop of color and texture!

 Don't be afraid to mix it up! Differing heights and colors make your selection of glassware much more interesting!

Don't be afraid to mix it up! Differing heights and colors make your selection of glassware much more interesting!

Send us an email at info@charlenes-kitchen.com for any questions or concerns! 

Ice Ice Baby!

Ice Ice Baby!

In our previous blog posts, we've stressed the importance of quality spirits when crafting cocktails... We've touched upon display and gone over garnishes, however....

We still need to discuss ice! With the cocktail movement in full swing, it is not surprising that artisanal ice has become a trend. Although it's often overlooked, the proper ice can drastically alter your drinking experience.

Instead of pulling out the old ice cube trays in your freezer or buying a bag of ice, consider these tips the next time you're having happy hour in your living room:

1. Freeze distilled water instead of tap water. Have you ever taken ice out of the freezer only to discover it had that "freezer taste?" That taste is caused by the impurities found in tap water. The tedious distillation process removes those impurities from water - leaving you with distinctly pure tasting ice. At $1 per gallon, distilled water can fit in any budget. Find yours at your local grocery store.

2. Ring mold it. With Spring around the corner, I can think of nothing prettier than a crystal punch bowl filled with a glorious, refreshing drink that is chilled by a floral ice ring. Creating your own floral ice ring is so simple! You will only need three things: flowers, bundt cake pan, and distilled water. Add water to bundt pan, arrange flowers, and freeze. The floral ice ring can easily be loosened by dunking the bundt pan in a shallow dish of hot water. The mold should easily slide out when turned upside down. All of the flowering branches are in season right now, so set your sights on Quince Apple Blossoms (orchids, pansies, and herbs are also great options).

 

 

3. Flavor cubes. When you're looking to add more punch to your drinks, turn to a flavored ice cube. Try using rose water for a refreshing and exotic twist or coffee for a depth of flavor. Herbs muddled with ginger and mixed with distilled water would be perfect for a Spring mojito!

 

4. Varying sizes & shapes. Plastic ice cube trays yielding frozen rectangles are so no longer fashionable.  The cube and sphere are all the rage in today's artisanal ice rage. These cubes tend be larger in size thus producing a slower melting ice that keeps drinks colder longer.