Monthly Archives: August 2014

Drowning in Summer Squash? Bake it!

Heirloom Finds image of Wittens Farm Market and their homegrown zucchini

My summer squash plants shriveled up and died this year, leaving me in the lurch. I’m one of the few people who can’t get enough of the stuff, in all its forms: patty pan, yellow squash, and especially zucchini.

Perhaps you gardeners and friends-of-gardeners out there face the opposite problem and are swimming in squash. Fortunately, zucchini is bland and plays nicely with other flavors, so it’s not very challenging to weave into a menu. Writer Deena Prichep threw an all-zucchini dinner party a few years ago, featuring zucchini in every course, just to show her zucchini-hating friends what’s what.

But here’s my favorite way to put a dent in that pesky stockpile of baseball-bat-sized garden zukes that got out of control: fudgy and dense Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Bread. I came up with it a few years ago as an antidote to all of the classic but boring 1970s-style zucchini breads. Adding cocoa powder and a little cayenne to the mix gave it a sophisticated edge. This recipe is vegan; I’ve found vegan quick breads have a richer texture and more refined crumb. I promise everyone, vegan or not, will love this complex, cakey loaf. I top slices with a smear of plain Greek yogurt and enjoy them for breakfast or a snack.

Heirloom Finds Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe

Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Bread baked, aged and ready to eat!

Oh, and a tip: to keep your summer squash at bay, just pick it earlier, when it’s still small and tender. If your monster zucchinis weigh more than a newborn baby, make sure to use only the outer parts and not the pulpy interior.

Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Bread

This makes two loaves, but it keeps well. I sometimes freeze one loaf for later. The amount of liquid needed to create a wet enough batter might change, depending on the moisture content of your zucchini.

Heirloom Finds Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe

Ingredients prepped and ready to mix together!

Makes two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2 inch loaves

¼ cup finely ground flax seed or chia seed
1-1/4 cups strong-brewed coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
15 ounces (3 cups) whole-wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
14-1/2 ounces (2 cups) sugar
2 ounces (10 tablespoons) natural (preferably not Dutch-processed) cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon, or ½ teaspoon cassia cinnamon (the normal kind)
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated zucchini
1/3 cup cacao nibs or 1 to ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips, optional

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the center. Grease and flour two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2 inch loaf pans.

In a medium bowl, combine the ground flaxseed, coffee, and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon, cayenne, and baking powder. Add the vegetable oil, zucchini, and the coffee-flax mixture and fold together with a large rubber spatula until combined. The batter will be thick, with a body that resembles brownie batter. If the batter is too dry or pasty, fold in a few more tablespoons of coffee, or some water or non-dairy milk. Stir in the cacao nibs or chocolate chips, if using.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until the tops are dry and springy and a skewer inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Cool bread in pans for 5 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack. The loaves will have a better flavor if aged for a day before you slice into them.


By Sara Bir of The Sausagetarian


Why You Should Wear White After Labor Day

Heirloom Finds Jewelry Ivory White Fan Drop Earring perfect for fall.

The first leaves are falling from the trees, the kids are back in school, and the sun is setting earlier. Once upon a time, the arrival of Labor Day signaled it was time to stop wearing white. Remember that old chestnut? “Only wear white between Memorial Day and Labor Day.”

It brings to mind Emily Post, but the origins go back to the 19th century, when the über-elite used fashion to both secure what they saw as their rightful place in high society and distinguish them from newly wealthy families who didn’t—or couldn’t—know better. “These nouveau-riche folks were often unaware of the standards of high society, so they were given specific codified rules to follow in order to fit in,” says Dr. Valerie Steele, Director and Chief Curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Think about it: dirt and stains show up on white clothing easily. White attire represented a leisure class with refined behavior and a staff of underlings who could keep sumptuous clothing bright and clean in the days before Tide to Go pens.

Heirloom Finds Jewelry Daringly Art Deco Drop Earrings in Ivory and Opalescent Dreams Bracelet in Matte Gold

Daringly Geometric Drop Earrings in Ivory, paired with our Opalescent Dreams Bracelet.

Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, at the height of the Gilded Age. Families of Gilded Age tycoons donned white while summering in the exclusive resort towns such as Newport, Rhode Island and Saratoga, New York. Edith Wharton fans can geek out to the breathtaking costumes of Gillian Anderson in the movie adaptation of The House of Mirth and Winona Ryder in The Age of Innocence, as well as the BBC miniseries The Buccaneers (all feature plots with significant action set in the all-important summer resort social season.)

The Gilded Age had rigid, constantly evolving conventions about what was and wasn’t proper, and not only in personal attire, but in personal interaction. “Gilded Age social events were elaborate stages on which costumed and bejeweled players enacted very public dramas. Wealthy women in their finery were under constant scrutiny by those around them,” write Donald Albrecht and Jeannine Falino in Gilded Age New York: Design, Fashion, and Society. Though they didn’t have to slave away in unsafe sweatshops, elite New York society women were slaves to conformity.

Heirloom Finds Jewelry Soft Hues Hinged Bracelet in Turquoise and Ivory.

Layered white knits and laces with our Soft Hues Hinged Bracelet.

Fast-forward a hundred or so years, and here we are now. As far as we’re concerned, you can and should wear white whenever you feel like it! But do it with a flair that fits the season. Frosty white jeans are great for fall. Breezy linen and seersucker sundresses? Unless you live in Bali, not so much.

White accessories are a fine way to infuse clean, crisp looks with the darker colors we gravitate toward once there’s a hint of chill in the air. You can’t go wrong with black and white, or a cozy white sweater to turn layering from dreary to darling. White statement chains and cuffs really pop against a dark top, and white leather wrap bracelets dress up casual outfits and keep blazers and suits from looking too stuffy.

Heirloom Finds White Mixed Media Collar Necklace and Earring Set

Our Ivory White Mixed Media Collar Necklace adds a pop of white atop a little black dress.

We have a trove of Edwardian-inspired baubles, too, resplendent with faux crystals and white pearls. And you can flaunt them because you simply like them, not because you’re coveting a spot in the upcoming Social Register. While it’s fun to pine for the glamor and formality of times past, it’s even better to celebrate the freedom we have today to express ourselves in what we choose to wear, when we choose to wear it. (And you thought black was the only color for rebels!) White never goes out of style, no matter which side of Labor Day the calendar falls on.

By Sara Bir


How to Rock This Year’s Back to School Looks

Heirloom Finds Tortoise Shell Crystal Burst Pendant Necklace

Get your new Trapper Keepers out! What’s the most important thing about the first day of school? It isn’t finding out where your locker is, or the desk you wind up sitting in. Everyone knows it’s what you wear—not because of how it makes you look, but because of how it makes you feel. A great outfit puts a positive spin on everything to follow, giving you a confidence that builds and builds all year long.

We asked Sarah Saho, a 15-year-old incoming sophomore at Warren High School in Vincent, Ohio, to show us easy ways to weave this fall’s key trends into back-to-school looks: pastels, statement chains, sporty attire, and iconic prints and pendants. Here she wears our tortoiseshell statement necklace that combines the chunky chains we’ve been seeing on runways with a crystal floral pendant. The tactile appeal of special jewelry can provide a calming respite during a dull lecture. “When I’m bored in class,” Sarah says, “I like to look down at my jewelry and just think about a memory that it gives me, or just enjoy how cool it looks.”

Heirloom Finds Jewelry's Rock, Paper, Scissors pendant necklace

Sarah showing off her unique Rock, Paper, Scissors pendant necklace.

That’s not to say Sarah’s a slacker—she’s one of the most confident girls we know! An aspiring actress, Sarah modeled for us before opening night of a youth production of “Fiddler of the Roof” (she played Yente the matchmaker). “I’ve always been interested in acting, ever since I first saw a movie,” she says. “I started to act around fifth grade. I love being on stage. I really hope acting stays with me.”

Heirloom Finds Jewelry Pastel Agate Bohemian Wrapsody Cord Bracelet

Sarah sporting some pastels with her aqua Converse and our Pastel Bohemian Wrapsody Bracelet.

Sarah loves her Converse All-Stars and owns many pairs. These minty Chucks showcase the passion for pastels we’re seeing a lot of this year, just like our cute beaded bracelet.

“A lot of people get accustomed to the normal fashion for teenagers, like jeans and a t-shirt with a name on it,” Sarah says, “but I don’t care as much for a brand. I like to have my own style.” One of Sarah’s favorite places to shop is T.J. Maxx. “You can find more unique things there, and at a lower price.”

Heirloom Finds Jewelry Gold Tone and Crystal Double Strand Necklace

Sarah takes a pensive pose in our Shining Golden Tribal Shield Necklace.

Teen Vogue is one place Sarah looks to for fashion inspiration, but there’s another: her mom’s closet. “I wear my mom’s stuff all of the time, and I actually get compliments. Either she’s up to date, or I’m old-fashioned.”

Heirloom Finds Jewelry Tree of Life magnifying glass pendant necklace

Sarah shows us the dual function of fashion and magnifying that her Tree of Life Pendant Necklace can do.

When Sarah saw our tree pendant, she “thought of a family tree. Family is one of the most important things to me. I love my family so much. Four or five of us live on the same road.”

Sarah’s a movie fanatic, and she cites Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as one of her favorites. “It’s so fun. I like the friendship bond they have and the adventure they go through. They’re graduating from high school and trying to figure out their lives, and I like that part of it, too. And I love Sloane’s hair and her white leather jacket with the fringe.” Sarah says she likes a “casual ‘80s look.”

Heirloom Finds style feature Sarah Saho in a ballerina pendant necklace

Sarah layering a petite statement necklace with our Ballerina Dancer Pendant Necklace over a graphic tee.

Sporty print shirts and jerseys like this “Save Ferris” shirt have that casual ‘80s vibe and nod to the current trend for high-fashion sportswear. And the ballerina pendant reflects the trend for playful iconic jewelry and iconic-print clothing.

We think Sarah would look great in whatever she wears. And that’s because she’s so personable and upbeat. She knows who she is, and she’s comfortable in her own skin – and it’s that attitude that puts those back-to-school butterflies at rest like nothing else can. (Cute jewelry certainly can’t hurt, though!)

Heirloom Finds Jewelry White Crystal Bloom Ring Stack Set

Sarah mixes a graphic tee with a floral skirt and our White Blooms Ring Stack.

By Sara Bir


Beat the Heat with Fun and Flirty Beer Cocktails

Beer cocktail with Heirloom Finds Jewelry's Turquoise Fringe Fling Necklace.

Beer cocktail, First Blush, styled alongside the Turquoise Fringe Fling Necklace.

They call these the dog days of summer. If sunny seasonal fatigue sets in, there’s no need to let it bring you down.  Liven things up with elegant and easy beer cocktails. They’re ideal for unwinding in sticky weather, and they won’t slow you down because they dilute beer with refreshing, hydrating beverages. (Translation: You can enjoy a few and not get wasted.)

Though creative possibilities have made beer cocktails all the rage with cutting-edge mixologists, ours are straightforward and simple, requiring only a few ingredients. The better to get you sipping!

When you mix citrus and beer, you really can’t lose. In Britain there’s the Shandy, a 50-50 mixture of fizzy lemonade and ale or lager. Similar drinks go by Panaché in France and Radler in Germany. We like to skip the carbonated stuff and use freshly squeezed lemonade instead. It pairs splendidly with a crisp pilsner (psst: it doesn’t even have to be a fancy one).

The michelada, a Mexican classic which adds spicy heat to pilsner beer and lime, fights fire with fire. On a hot day, a hint of chilies and salt cool down a weary traveler.

Keep a wide berth from the recent spate of canned, ready-to-drink Shandys and Micheladas. They are to beer cocktails what Tang is to orange juice. The biggest key to successful beer cocktails is to mix them yourself, at home, with fresh ingredients (for instance, use real lemonade, not Crystal Light).

We created a beer cocktail just for Heirloom Finds—the First Blush, naturally. It’s fruity, not too sweet, and gorgeous to look at. Of course.

Beer cocktail in a pitcher named after Heirloom Finds Jewelry's blog, First Blush.

Garnet-hued beer cocktail named after the blog, First Blush.

The First Blush Beer Cocktail

Instead of citrus, we rely on the tart zip of dried hibiscus blossoms. Since they’re not easy to find, we brewed a batch of Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger tea, which you can get at nearly any grocery store (the zing comes from hibiscus) and chilled it. Mix away for a garnet-hued drink to let you savor the last weeks of summer in comfort and contentment.

4 bags Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger Tea
4 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
Bottles or cans of decent Pilsner beer (we like Full Sail Session Premium Lager or Yuengling Traditional Lager)
Lime wedges, for serving

Bring two cups of water to a boil. Add the tea bags and steep for six minutes. Discard the tea bags. Add the sugar and two cups of cold water and refrigerate until chilled.

To serve, pour one part herbal tea to one part beer in a glass and garnish with a slice of lime. Offer the remaining beer in the can or bottle along with the drink so guests can top off and adjust as they like.

Beer cocktail styled with Heirloom Finds Turquoise Beaded Fringe Necklace and a butterfly.

Even the butterflies love the cocktail and the Turquoise Fringe Fling Necklace!

…and here’s a more sweet-tart option for those of you who have access to dried hibiscus.

First Blush Hibiscus Blossom

Popular in Latin American and the Caribbean, drinks made with hibiscus flowers are tangy, colorful, and invigorating. Dried hibiscus (called “sorrel” in Jamaica) is available in natural foods stores and Latin American markets. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup dried hibiscus, remove from heat, and let steep for four hours. Strain, add sugar to taste (we recommend about half a cup) and chill. To prepare a drink, mix one part hibiscus drink to two parts light-bodied pilsner. Garnish with a lime wedge.

By Sara Bir


Natural Glam: Crystals and Rough Cut Stones

Heirloom Finds collection of natural and rough cut faux stone jewelry

Anyone who’s experienced the American Museum of Natural History’s Earth and Planetary Science Halls knows that it’s like visiting another planet. Dark and labyrinthine, the only light in the halls comes from the backlit complex of cases recessed into the walls. Each case holds a mesmerizing assortment of the rockhound’s glory: faceted gems as tiny as your pinkie nail, hulking meteorites larger than a compact car. The white light illuminating the specimens seems to pulsate, as if it were radioactive, originating from the minerals themselves.

There’s a cliché that crystal jewelry is just for the new-age crowd. But natural crystal’s tactile allure has a draw for anyone who values the one-of-a-kind mystique of unrefined stones. We’ve selected a big variety of looks, from ultramodern to elemental, for you to “rock” your style.

Display of amethysts, geodes and natural rough cut stones

Ever break open a geode with a hammer? I used to find egg-sized ones in my stocking on Christmas morning, and remember the almost illicit thrill of cracking apart their unassuming exteriors to reveal the incredible network of minute crystals inside.

Blue dyed stone

Geodes start as air pockets in volcanic rock, or the remains of organic material such as a tree root or animal carcass. Millions of years pass, and dissolved minerals (quartz and calcite, most commonly) seep slowly into the hollow and form many tiny crystals, called druzy. Our pendants take geodes out of the museum gift shop and transform them into wearable curiosities. Raw minerals are not just attractive to look at, but a tangible token of geological history. When featured in jewelry, druzy crystals’ irregular gleam pulls in the eye. It’s chaos at its most calming.

Heirloom Finds rough cut faux stone fashion jewelry collection

Three pieces from our rough cut stone collection.

Crystals and rough stones give dressy clothing a more relaxed, natural feel. In the other direction, they can bring unexpected elegance to jeans and casual tops. Quartz prism pendants on long chains are perfect for summery layering, and the saturated hues of cobalt druzy carry over into the fall.

For a smoother look, polished stones with minimal faceting let the variations and unusual unique character of stones like turquoise, agate, and jasper come through.

Natural glam is for everyone, a singular trend literally eons in the making. It’s bigger than fashion, and as enduring as the rocks and minerals that inspire it.