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How to Restore a Piece of Vintage Costume Jewelry – And Whether You Should

Perhaps you gasped at the title of this piece. After all, any serious vintage collector or fashionista knows you should leave vintage jewelry in its original state. Right?

In general, I agree with that rule and almost all of the vintage jewelry we offer at HeirloomFinds.com is in its original condition, just as we find it at estate sales and flea markets. We simply hand clean the surface and tighten jump rings and clasps as necessary.

However, as the buyer of all the vintage goodies that appear on the site, I will confess that there are occasions when nothing but a complete cleaning and restoration will save a tired piece of otherwise wonderful old jewelry.

I employ the 3 R’s when out shopping and sometimes actually buy less than perfect pieces. As I examine each piece of jewelry before buying, I ask myself where it falls on this scale:

  • Resell – Yay! This item is beautiful, stylish, wearable and ready to offer on the site.
  • Rubbish – Well, that one is obvious, right?
  • Restore – I use this categorization infrequently, but I want to discuss that here.

When should you attempt to restore a piece of vintage jewelry? On rare occasions, you may find a mistreated or neglected piece of vintage jewelry that is so striking in its design or use of materials, so evocative of an era or a designer that you are driven to find a way to restore it and find it a new home.

Before

Sometimes, restoring vintage jewelry is worth the effort.

I acquired the necklace pictured here in a box lot at a recent auction. It was so dingy at first that I really showed it no love. A second glance as I unpacked my treasures of the day revealed the true nature of this gem. Stunning pre-war style? Check! Quality materials? Check! All parts present, intact and working? Check!

This 1930’s Brass and Prystal Bakelite Drop Festoon Necklace was really showing its age in a bad way. The reverse of the book chain had green gunky tarnish and the Bakelite baubles were so dirty and oxidized that they appeared opaque.  However, it had great “bones”.

Funk Before

This necklace was basically unwearable prior to restoration.

Given the choice of leaving the piece dirty (and basically unwearable) or restoring it to something very close to its original condition, I chose the latter. Please note that the techniques used in this restoration project will not work with all vintage pieces. They do work very well with brass and Bakelite.

Tools

Gathering the tools you need is an important first step in restoring old jewelry.

The required tools and materials are:

  • Needle nose pliers
  • Simichrome metal polish (truly the best for this task)
  • Soft toothbrush
  • Cotton swabs
  • Toothpicks
  • Soft cotton towel
  • Rubber gloves (your mani will thank you)

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Carefully remove the transparent Bakelite heptahedron (yep, it’s a word) drops from the brass bead drops using the needle nose pliers. Place the original jump rings aside, as you will need to reuse them.

    Be careful when removing the Bakelite beads. Don’t lose them!

  2. Soak those Prystal drops in water with a few drops of dishwater, then gently scrub them with a soft toothbrush and rinse.

    Soap

    Remove the beads and let them soak in soapy water.

  3. Hand polish the Bakelite beads with a dab of Simichrome. Perhaps you have heard of testing Bakelite with Simichrome, but did you know that is also removes the surface oxidation, grime and scratches, revealing beautiful colors and a smoother finish?

    Simichrome

    Simichrome removes grime to bring out the Bakelite beads’ gorgeous colors.

  4. Carefully hand polish the brass chains and bead drops with Simichrome. This step takes patience, care and elbow grease. For the most tarnished or dirty areas, I found the toothbrush to be a very effective tool. Cotton swabs and toothpicks were also useful in crevices. I then polished the entire piece with a soft cotton cloth. Don’t forget to polish the jump rings as well.

    Toothbrush

    Use a toothbrush to gentry scrub off excessive funk.

  5. Reattach the Bakelite drops using the needle nose pliers.

    Clean and Pretty

    Once the beads are back on, you can’t help but admire the brass and beads’ restored gleam!

  6. Marvel at the transformation. I confess that the necklace is not “like new.” No vintage Bakelite piece is ever truly in its original state, as the colors of the plastic change over the years. However, I love the way the Catalin Prystal and brass glow after the facelift.
After

A bit of cleaning has given new life to this fabulous vintage bauble.

As with any restoration project, remember to research the materials in your piece for the appropriate tools, chemical and techniques. Use care and clean/polish gently. Trust me, in the early days I had a few restoration fails that were heartbreaking, which led me to be more careful when studying materials and experimenting with other techniques.

by Jeanne Peters

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This Summer, Skip the Veggie Burger and Just Grill the Veggies

Ah, summer. Parties, get-togethers, and family dinners are all a little more fun when you throw grilling into the works. You’re probably familiar with outdoor gathering invitations that state, “We’ll have the grill going, so bring your favorite grillable and a side and we’ll make it a potluck!”

If you’re following a vegetarian diet or simply want to try out meat-free options, don’t be tempted to show up to your next backyard party with a box of frozen veggie patties or a few faux hot dogs. The grill unfortunately does no favors for fake meat. It dries it out and renders it rubbery, and even wonderful homemade veggie patties tend to crumble and fall through the grates into the grill fire. These non-carnivorous options fare better when cooked in a skillet or baked in the oven.

Trendy cauliflower steaks, on the other hand, are delicious and satisfying, and they’re a great canvas for bold, grill-friendly flavors like the recipe below. Unlike veggie patties, a thick cross-section of cauliflower benefits from a good char on the grill.  Bring along a bean salad like this one as a side to work in some extra protein.

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Get ready to create a delicious alternative to run-of-the-mill veggie burgers.

Grilled Chipotle Lime Cauliflower Steaks
Adapted from Faith Durand, The Kitchn

Serves 4 to 6

You may need to cook your cauliflower steaks in two batches to ensure a good char. If you have a grilling basket, you can cut the cauliflower into 2-inch florets and grill those in the basket instead.

2 large heads cauliflower
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice and finely grated zest of 2 limes
2 cloves garlic, smashed into a paste or finely grated
1 teaspoon honey or agave syrup
1 tablespoon paprika (unsmoked)
1-2 teaspoons chipotle powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
Lime wedges, to serve

Remove the leaves on each cauliflower head and trim the stem end until you can set the cauliflower flat on the cutting board. Use a large, sharp knife to trim off the sides, then cut the cauliflower into 3 to 4 thick “steaks” about an inch thick.

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You’ll want to slice your cauliflower heads into 1-inch steaks.

Whisk the olive oil, lime juice, garlic and honey or agave syrup in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, mix the lime zest, paprika, chipotle and salt.

Heat a gas or charcoal grill to high. Brush each cauliflower steak all over with the olive oil mixture and sprinkle the top surfaces generously with the chipotle powder mixture. Place the seasoned sides down on the hot grill.

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Grill the seasoned side of your cauliflower steaks first, then flip.

Cover the grill and cook for 3 to 6 minutes. Remove the lid and carefully flip the cauliflower. Cook covered for an additional 3 minutes or until done to your desired texture.

Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.

by Sara Bir

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Heirloom Finds Loves Pets!

You probably already know how much we here at Heirloom Finds love jewelry. What you may not know is that many members of our staff are dedicated animal lovers and pet parents. This week, we asked the crew to submit photos and stories about their furbabies. Get ready for some heartwarming cuteness!

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Taz at play and Gracie as a puppy.

Tazzie and Gracie are the spoiled babies of Heirloom Finds owners Kim Williams and Jeanne Peters. Taz the Jack Russell Terrier (or as Jeanne calls him, “terrier of indeterminate origin”) was adopted from a neighbor about ten years ago, and Gracie the Boxer joined their home six years ago. The pair have since become unlikely albeit inseparable best friends and often accompany Kim and Jeanne to work at the HF offices. They spend most of their time sleeping on the job, with brief breaks for walks around the neighborhood and games of tug-of-war (which consists of Gracie dragging Taz around on the other end of a stuffed toy). Taz has a bossy personality and has never recognized that Gracie, who’s consistently gentle, is four times his size.

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Marne the lab mix is playful and full of affection.

Marnie, also known as Marnieduke, is Order Fulfillment Specialist Fran William’s lab mix. She was adopted from the Human Society of Parkersburg when Fran and her husband Tom were mourning the loss of Bonkers, their wonderful dog of fifteen years who had recently died of renal failure. As it turns out, Marnie needed the Williams as much as they needed her. Today, Marnie is affectionate, ornery, goofy and simply adorable as she enjoys the puppyhood she missed before being adopted. Fran reports that this sweet dog gives her family laughter, joy and lots of loving kisses.

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Puppies on a picnic!

Operations Associate Sarah Cline is the proud mama of three furbabies! Her smallest is a black apple head Chihuahua named Dewey. A friend that was sick with cancer gave him to Sarah when he was a tiny puppy that fit in the palm of her hand. Molly, a tan and brown ShiChi puppy, and Chubby, her long-haired brother, are the children of Dewey and a shih tzu named Maggie. Dewey, Molly and Chubby love playing, barking, wrestling and being silly.  They all have different personalities, with Molly being the troublemaker, Dewey playing the referee and Chubby charmingly copying everything Dewey does. Sarah and her husband love their dogs because they’re their best friends, and despite their orneriness always brighten the Clines’ day by just being there.

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Scooter originally hails from Portland, Oregon.

Data Specialist Joe Ryckebosch and First Blush blogger Sara Bir’s dog Scooter was about six years old when he was adopted from the Oregon Humane Society in Portland in 2007. Part Border Collie, part Jack Russell Terrier, Scooter is a loving, devoted pet who has always been bursting with highly focused energy. He’s slowed down quite a bit now that he’s older, but this extra sweet dog still enjoys long walks and chasing balls. Although he sometimes drives them batty, Scooter has become a valued part of his humans’ family. Joe, Sara and their daughter love how his companionship and open heart have brought them all closer together.

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Monk has grown from a skittish kitten into a playful furbaby.

Copywriter Sarah Clark’s cat, Monk, was adopted as a seven-week-old semi-feral kitten two months ago. Although she had a reputation for being skittish and hissy at the Human Society of the Ohio Valley in Marietta, Ohio, the brownish-grey tabby calmed down shortly after arriving at her new home. She now divides her time between playing with the multitude of toys her human parents give her and napping on the first available lap she finds. Sarah is a lifelong cat lady at heart, and absolutely melts when Monk, named for her chipmunk-like markings and a 1960’s garage rock band, runs to greet her when she arrives home from work.

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Devoted friendship and unconditional love? Yes, please!

Heirloom Finds would like to warmly thank our local Humane Societies for all the important work they do for the community. Looking for a pet of your own? Your best friend just might be waiting for you at your local animal shelter.

by Sarah Clark

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Lemon Curd Dresses Up Simple Summer Desserts

Just as jewelry accessorizes outfits, condiments can accessorize recipes. Around this time of summer when blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are abundant, a jar of lemon curd stashed in the fridge is the key to instantly dressing up quick and appealing fruit desserts.

Rich and tart lemon curd is the perfect foil for fresh and juicy berries, particularly blueberries. You can make up a batch using our favorite recipe below, or just buy a jar from the store. Once you have lemon curd on hand, you’ll keep discovering new uses for it. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Serve it with freshly baked scones or biscuits.
  • Whip heavy cream and fold in lemon curd; use as a filling for tarts, as in this recipe, or serve it in small dishes with berries and shortbread or wafer cookies on the side.
  • Swirl it into the filling of your favorite cheesecake recipe right before baking.
  • Layer it with whipped cream or yogurt and fruit for a classic fool.
  • Use dabs of it as a filling for thumbprint cookies.

We’re currently adoring these impressive but easy no-bake lemon-ginger ice cream sandwiches. Crisp and spicy ginger cookies soften in the freezer and provide a contrast to a smooth filling of lemon curd folded with premium ice cream. The flavor is decadent, but the portion size is perfect for when you want a satisfyingly cool and sweet nibble.

plated frozen sandwiches

These summertime faves are sweet and satisfying.

Easy Lemon-Ginger Ice Cream Sandwiches
From Linda Faus, former test kitchen director for The Oregonian

Makes small 16 sandwiches

These cool and refreshing four-bite treats hit the spot. They make a wonderful sweet midday snack or light dessert.

  • 1 pint premium vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd, storebought or homemade (see recipe below)
  • 32 thin, crisp ginger cookies

In a medium bowl, beat the ice cream briskly with a sturdy wooden spoon until it is smooth. Return to the freezer for 15 minutes to firm.

sandwiches in tray to freeze

Be sure to freeze your sandwiches at least three hours before serving.

Lay 16 cookies, bottom-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Using a small ice cream scoop, dole about 2 tablespoons of the ice cream mixture onto each cookie and top with the remaining 16 cookies, pressing to flatten slightly.

Clear out a space in the freezer where the sheet will lay flat. Freeze for at least 3 hours before serving. To freeze longer, wrap each sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and place carefully in a plastic freezer bag. Use within 2 weeks.

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You’ll love finding scrumptious new uses for this lemon curd recipe!

Lemon Curd
Adapted from Lynne Sampson for The Oregonian

Makes 1⅔ cups

It takes time to make lemon curd, but it can feel meditative to stand at the stove and stir. If you don’t anticipate using all of the lemon curd within a month, simply freeze half to use later.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice
  • Grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 6 tablespoons butter

In a medium stainless steel, nonstick, or enameled saucepan, beat the eggs, yolks and sugar with a whisk until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest.

Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula, making sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pan. The mixture will slowly turn more opaque and the spatula will start to make visible swaths through the mixture, 10 to 15 minutes. Keep stirring until the curd is as thick as sour cream and coats the spatula, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter until it melts and the curd is smooth. Pour into a medium bowl and lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the lemon curd to prevent a crust from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours before using. Store the lemon curd tightly sealed in the refrigerator for 1 month or in the freezer for up to 1 year.

by Sara Bir

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An Interview with Actress Scarlet Sheppard

Heirloom Finds recently had the opportunity to coordinate with local body-positive portrait studio Hot Tomato Pin-up Academy and actress Scarlet Sheppard on a day-long photoshoot. Scarlet grew up near HF Headquarters in Parkersburg, West Virginia and graduated with honors from Columbia College Chicago’s theatre program. She currently resides in Southern California and can be found appearing in film, stage and new media productions. We caught up with her to ask her about her modeling experience and personal jewelry favorites.

How was your experience modeling for our recent photo shoot at Hot Tomato Pin-up Academy?

I absolutely loved modeling some of your newest pieces at Hot Tomato! There was so much gorgeous-ness to choose from; I wish we could have done at least a dozen more looks. I especially loved working with photographer Andi Roberts. She was so quick yet precise in setting up each shot. And now seeing the photos, how they’re lit and composed, I really see her vision and am extra impressed!

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Scarlet adds star appeal to these baubles inspired by Old Hollywood glamour.

What did you like about the jewelry you were modeling?

I’ll be honest, I don’t typically wear a lot of jewelry. I’m pretty petite (a.k.a. short!) and I think that’s made me shy away from accessories in general because they sometimes make me feel like a little kid playing dress up in her mother’s closet. But as glamorous and bold as each piece was, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by any of it. I was wearing the jewelry, it wasn’t wearing me! That’s true for each of the collections, even the uber glamorous Old Hollywood line. Each piece at Heirloom Finds has that vintage heirloom feel as though it’s been passed down from one chic generation of women to the next.

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Photographer Andi Roberts staged beautiful bohemian backdrops.

How did you come to be an actress and model? What do you like about the work you do?

Well, I started dancing with the local ballet company around age four and really loved that. Soon it became obvious that I loved performing in any capacity (a.k.a. I was a total ham) so when I was asked to do some commercials and print modeling around town, my parents supported me doing that although they were very careful not to become “stage parents.” I had to be motivated to do these things for myself. So I just auditioned for everything I could in the Mid-Ohio Valley and started planning a path towards acting professionally that inevitably took me to Los Angeles. Along the way, I’ve met various filmmakers and photographers who need models for their projects and kindly think of me. That’s been super fun and a bit of a surprise! I never thought I could model for real. My interest in acting and modeling both grew out of a love of dance, I think. Each is about placing yourself in a new world and allowing the stories of that world to move through you physically.

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Scarlet’s interest in acting and modeling grew from a love for dancing.

How would you describe your personal style? Do you have a special approach to fashion? What do you wear on a given day?

I love fashion and sometimes feel like a clothing collector, but I try not to take it too seriously. I wear things that make me happy! Maybe I’d call it “whimsical, cowgirl flower child?” That’s ridiculous, but accurate. I’m inspired by my favorite films and the actresses in them. I have these ankle laced gladiator sandals (which I actually wore for the boho collection photos!) that remind me a lot of the ones Audrey Hepburn wears in Roman Holiday when she gets her hair cut and eats gelato. I always have my trusty, brown leather, map-faced watch on with some kind of delicate gold bracelet alongside it. Or sometimes I’ll just let a big, colorful statement necklace do all the talking!

Do you have any favorite pieces from the Heirloom Finds catalog? 

YES! The Opalescent Fan Statement Necklace, Burgundy Warrior Tassel Pendant, Silver Spring Pastels Diadem Statement NecklaceStone Geode Statement Ring and the Rose Quartz Orb Topped Goldtone Cuff Bracelet are all in my suitcase at this very moment.

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Pursuing a career in acting or modeling? Scarlet recommends that you be ready to do your best.

Do you have any advice for anyone pursuing a career in acting or modeling?

Be easy and fun to work with! “Networking” is an icky word, but the more people you meet and show kindness to (in life, as well as in your career) the happier you’ll be and the more opportunities will come your way. Be on time, be excited to be at whatever photoshoot or audition or job or rehearsal the day presents you with. Be ready to do your best. Ideally, this will just come naturally because this type of work IS so much fun. But it’s still a job and sometimes you’d rather be in bed. That’s okay, but don’t forget to be grateful that you’ve been asked to come and play!

by Sarah Clark

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Swanky Summer Accessorizing

The Art Deco style flourished across the decades spanning the end of WWI to the end of WWII. You can find this eclectic style with its bold geometric elements that echo scenes from the Machine Age of the early 20th century in architecture, art and consumer goods. Our favorite aspect, of course, is the inspiration Art Deco gives to today’s jewelry styles.

The Art Deco style often summons up images of exuberant parties straight out of a Fitzgerald novel, but that doesn’t mean you need to wear Deco baubles strictly at Roaring Twenties parties. Instead, let the style enjoy some time in the sun this summer.

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This layered Deco style necklace is positively copacetic!

The layered look is in, so why not embrace it while letting your inner flapper girl shine? This necklace’s coppery finish combines perfectly with peach crystals, resin fans and a geometric design that’s astonishingly striking. We love that it’s so versatile, and can easily transform from edgy to boho with a simple change of costume.

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This nifty mint necklace is the cat’s pajamas!

Mint is a classic summertime color, and what’s not to love? Such a fresh pastel shade is perfect for shaking off the winter blues. This statement necklace’s exquisite fanning design and minty color scheme makes it the optimal choice for enlivening summer couture with chic Art Deco appeal.

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These ritzy dangle earrings glam up any outfit!

Whatever you do, don’t forget the earrings! The architectural Deco look of these gold-tone dangle earrings lends a touch of luxuriance to any ensemble. Need something a bit more formal for weddings or summer soirees? We have daring drop earrings to coordinate with nearly any extra fancy frock.

All in all, we’re stoked to celebrate the swanky style of modern Art Deco fashion all summer long. However, that’s not to say we aren’t also in love with the Deco jewelry of yesteryear. In fact, we’re thrilled to offer an exciting lineup of pieces that are either true Deco or heavily inspired by the movement in our vintage catalog. So whether you’re going full flapper for your next party or simply inspired to bring throwback glamour into your wardrobe, we’ve got the jewelry to make this season the Summer of Deco!

by Sarah Clark

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Make a Sweet & Tart Shrub, an Old-Fashioned Drink with a Funny Name

In the beverage world, shrubs are for drinking, not landscaping. Once commonplace during colonial times, shrubs have come back to American mixology with a vengeance. Simply a combination of ripe fruit, sugar and vinegar, modern shrubs are essentially brightly-flavored drinks for grownups. They slake thirst on a balmy afternoon, and while they can be mixed into cocktails, a simple virgin shrub over ice is utterly refreshing and satisfying.

Crafting shrubs originated as a way to utilize surplus seasonal fruit crops in the days before refrigeration or canning. Fruit and sugar were fermented together to make a slightly sour drink. The common technique now is to skip the fermentation and instead add vinegar to extend the shrub’s keeping quality, as well as add an appealing zip.

step 1 mulberries

Have an abundance of fruits or berries? Time to make shrubs!

Most any fruit can be made into a shrub, but it’s easiest to use berries or orchard fruits. Here’s a very basic step-by-step to have you shrubbing in no time. And the best part? It requires very little hands-on work.

Step One: Select and Prepare the Fruit

Here we’re using a mix of sweet strawberries and slightly tart wild mulberries. Rinse off the berries. If you’re using larger fruits such as peaches, cut them into smaller chunks. The fun of shrubs is their flexibility: you can easily use the fruit you have on hand. Our strawberries were still edible, but getting on the squishy side. Fortunately, a shrub is a perfect final destination for such close-to-the-edge fruit.

step 1 strawberries

Strawberries are an excellent fruit for making shrubs.

Step Two: Toss with Sugar

The amount of sugar you’ll need depends on how much fruit you are using, and how sweet that fruit is. The basic ratio for making shrubs, by volume, is one part fruit to one part sugar. That is, if you have two cups of fruit, you’ll need to add two cups of sugar. Feel free to adjust the quantities to fit your preference. For a more straightforward flavor that lets the fruit be the star, use granulated sugar.

step 2 mix with sugar

The basic fruit-to-sugar ratio is 1-to-1, but feel free to adjust.

Toss the fruit with the sugar, put it in a stainless steel or glass container, and cover it. At this point you can refrigerate the fruit overnight or let it sit out at room temperature for a few hours to macerate. You’ll know it’s ready when all of the sugar is dissolved and the fruit is slouchy and soft. If the sugar is not fully dissolved, just give it a stir and let it macerate for another few hours, or up to another full day.

step 2 macerated fruit ready to strain

Let your fruit absorb all the sugar before proceeding to the next step.

Step Three: Strain

Strain the liquid from the fruit. In the photo we’re using a fancy food mill, but a fine-mesh sieve or a simple plastic colander lined with cheesecloth set over a bowl will work just as well. Press down on the fruit to release as much of the liquid as you can. It will be sticky and a little syrupy. Some fruits give off more liquid than others, so your yield here could vary quite a bit.

step 3 strain

Strain your fruit using a food mill, sieve or colander.

Step Four: Add the Vinegar

You don’t want to be using harsh-tasting, distilled white vinegar in a shrub. Softer, less acidic vinegars like champagne vinegar, rice wine vinegar or most any fruit vinegar work well. Though a lot of recipes and procedures call for one part sugar to one part fruit to one part vinegar, we find that the amount of vinegar required can vary greatly. It’s wise to be conservative when adding the vinegar by using only a little at first, and then increasing the amount to taste. We got about three cups of syrup from our macerated fruit, and to that we needed to add only half a cup of white wine vinegar to get the right combination of sweet and tart flavors.

step 4 add vinegar

For best results, choose a champagne, rice wine or fruit-based vinegar.

Step Five: Chill and Serve

Your shrub will be very intense and possibly a little harsh when you taste it right away. No worries: think of it as a concentrate, or a base to be diluted. We like to let ours mellow in the fridge overnight so all of the flavors can settle in and blend. Your final result should be puckery and jammy.

The following day, taste and make any adjustments necessary by adding more vinegar or sugar. To serve, pour over cracked ice and add a little water or soda water. That’s it!

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Pour over ice, dilute and enjoy!

Step Six: Get Creative

There are a ton of shrub recipes out there that you can follow if this general method is too loosey-goosey for you. There are also many cocktails you can dream up to use with your finished shrub syrup (including one laced with moonshine, a cousin of the kombucha-based booch ’n’ hooch). You can find plenty of shrub recipes on Serious Eats, or in the book Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times. As summer progresses, you can experiment with cherries, apricots, plums or even pineapples. Whatever the case, once you taste the vivid flavors of a homemade shrub, we’re sure you’ll never go back to boring sugary fruit drinks again.

by Sara Bir

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Three Ways to Style Your Little White Dress

Although the little black dress is always in fashion, the long summer days we’re currently enjoying call for something just a little bit lighter. Enter the little white dress! A flirty white frock makes a great blank canvas for styling fresh looks, and we here at Heirloom Finds have pulled together three fantastic variations on this vital wardrobe essential.

Breezy Bohemian

The boho chic look is enormously popular this year, so don’t pass up the opportunity to let your hippie chick run free. All you need to do is break out that white dress and pile on a long tribal-inspired necklace, fringe earrings to match and a few of your favorite coordinating bracelets. This updated take on festival couture is the perfect ensemble for road trips, picnics and any occasion your creative spirit needs to shine.

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From music festivals to just relaxing al fresco, a boho chic take on the LWD is the way to go.

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We’re simply in love with this necklace’s Southwestern take on the modern tassel.

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For your hippie chic bracelets, opt for beautiful beads, bold cuffs and geometric patterns.

Casual Chic

Whether you’re celebrating Casual Friday at the office or running errands on the weekend, this laidback look is the way to keep your LWD cute without overdoing it. You’ll need one white dress, one denim jacket, three or more dainty necklaces to layer (we love this combination of inspirational, iconic and magnifier pieces), multiple bracelets stacked in an arm party and a few of your favorite rings. Not only will you be rocking the trendy layered look, you’ll be showing off the baubles you feel that matter most. How fabulous!

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This casual take on the LWD lets you curate a collection of favorite baubles to layer.

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Ring stacks? Check. Arm party? Check. Super cute magnifier? Of course!

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The adventurous vibe of this bracelet stack brings unexpected excitement to this white dress and denim combo.

Date Night Dashing

Planning a special evening out? We’ve been crushing on antiqued gold-tone baubles set with sparkling rhinestones as the optimum choice for fancy nighttime glamour. Simply pair that little white dress with a flattering blazer, add some coordinating high heels and then pile on the jewels! The edgy look of an antiqued gold-tone finish plus the classic shimmer of clear crystals will make this evening ensemble truly memorable. A few bracelets, two layered statement necklaces and one pair of dangle earrings later, and you’ve got yourself one gorgeous go-to date night outfit.

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These baubles glam up the LWD without becoming overwhelming.

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Could you ask for more amazing accessories for date night couture?

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High heels, edgy bracelets, a beautiful blazer and that LWD: perfection!

The effortless versatility of the little white dress makes it a serious style contender this season, so make sure your wardrobe is ready. As long as you have the right accessories in your wheelhouse, customizing the LWD to suit any occasion is sublimely simple. Whether it’s boho, casual or delightfully fancy, enjoy curating your own unique look!

by Sarah Clark

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shortcake plated

Old-Fashioned Shortcakes Make the Most of Summer Fruits

Berries, the colorful glories of summer, are out in full force. Depending on where you live, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cherries are abundant at farm stands, U-pick orchards and grocery stores. It’s a little challenging not to go overboard when working these sweet fruits into salads, smoothies and cobblers, or just popping them into your mouth, straight-up, as snacks.

Sandwiching berries in a tender and buttery shortcake is a classic option in which you should indulge this season. As a kid, you may have coveted those packages of golden sponge cakes that produce managers displayed next to the eye-catching display of ripe strawberries. Now that you’re older, you can pull together far superior shortcakes in your own kitchen with minimal baking time.

We prefer old-fashioned, biscuit-style shortcakes for their homespun charm and the berries’ sweetness that shines without an excessive amount of added sugar. And, best of all, they’re even faster to make than a boxed cake mix.

shortcake strawberries

Take advantage of strawberry season by preparing this sweet summertime treat!

Light and Fluffy Old-Fashioned Shortcakes

Makes 9 shortcakes

This comes from Marion Cunningham’s The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. The mixing technique is similar to our Mother’s Day scones, but there’s a beaten egg added here for a more cake-like crumb. We recommend using cake flour to make your shortcake light and fluffy, but regular all-purpose flour also works fine with this recipe. You may prepare the shortcakes a day in advance.

For the Shortcakes:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick or ½ cup) unsalted butter, cold
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream or whole milk
  • 1 egg

For the Berries:

  • 2 pints fresh berries
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar, or to taste (some berries are sweeter than others)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon or lime zest, optional

For the Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1. To make the shortcakes, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar and sugar. Grate the butter on the large holes of a box grater and toss it with the flour mixture. Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour until it looks like fine crumbs. Measure the cream in a glass measuring cup, crack the egg into it, and beat with a fork until well combined.

shortcake butter cut into flour

Combine your butter and flour until the mixture has a fine crumb-like appearance.

3. Pour the cream mixture over the flour-butter mixture and, with your hands, gently work until it comes together to form a rough, shaggy dough that’s slightly sticky. (Add a sprinkle of flour if the dough it too loose; add a drizzle of cream if it feels too dry or crumbly.) Knead for four or five turns on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7-inch by 7-inch square. Cut into nine squares and transfer to the baking sheets (giving the shortcakes plenty of room allows them to brown more evenly).

4. Bake until golden in spots, for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

shortcakes, baked

You can choose to prepare your shortcakes a day in advance.

5. Rinse and drain the berries when you’re ready to prepare them. If using strawberries, stem them before halving or slicing. Toss together with the sugar and (if using) lemon or lime zest. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

6. Prepare the whipped cream shortly before serving. Combine the heavy cream and sugar in a large bowl and beat by hand or with an electric mixer until it makes soft, rounded peaks.

7. Gently split the shortcakes with a serrated knife or fork. Spoon the berries and their accumulated juice over the bottom halves of the shortcakes, top with a generous dollop of whipped cream, then top with the top half of the shortcake. Serve immediately with any remaining berries or whipped cream on the side.

shortcake plated 2

This seasonal treat makes one fabulous dessert!

We hope you enjoy making this delightful summer dessert! Bon appétit!

by Sara Bir

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Plain and Simple

DIY Ombre Manicure

If you’re ready to enliven your look for summer, we here at Heirloom Finds recommend fresh rings, beautiful bracelets and a fabulous ombre manicure. We tried our hand at this nail art trend and found it to be both fun and surprisingly simple. If you’re looking for an excuse to stay in the shade on a hot summer’s day, this mani is one good way to spend some down time.

Supplies

Gather your supplies and get ready to create one memorable mani!

What You’ll Need

  • Clear base coat
  • Clear top coat
  • Two nail polish colors: one for the base and one for the ombre effect
  • Nail art sponge
  • Pure acetone
  • Cotton swabs
  • Small cleanup brush
  • Small cutout piece of plastic or other surface for mixing nail polish
White Base Coat

We chose a white for our base color, but feel free to experiment with the colors of your choice.

Step One: Apply your base coat and let dry. Then apply one coat of your base color. We chose “Paper Mâche” by Finger Paints.

Preparing the Polish

We decided “Do You Lilac It?” by OPI would be the perfect pastel for a summer ombre.

Step Two: Prepare your nail polish by applying your two nail polishes onto a cutout piece of plastic or other mixing surface. Try to create a rectangular shape slightly larger than your nail surface. Your base color should be at the bottom, while the main ombre color should be at the top.

Mixing the Polish

Use a gentle swirling motion to combine the two colors where they meet on your mixing surface.

Step Three: Use the bottom tip of your cleanup brush (or a toothpick, if you prefer) to gently combine the two nail polishes where they meet at the center of the rectangle. Make sure you don’t mix the two colors entirely, as this would destroy the ombre effect.

Sponge the Polish

Use the nail art sponge to carefully apply your polish onto your fingernail.

Step Four: Take your nail art sponge and lay it on top of your mixed nail polishes, making sure that you do not move it around as you press it into your mixing surface. Gently remove it, then slowly press it onto your first fingernail, with the top color section lining up with the top portion of your nail and the base color section matching the bottom of your nail. Carefully pull the sponge away.

Touch Ups

Step Five: Use a cotton swab dipped in pure acetone to remove excess polish. Carefully tidy up around your cuticles using the small cleanup brush dipped in pure acetone.

Poser

Don’t forget to give your nails some time to dry!

Step Six: Repeat steps two through five for your remaining fingernails. Then apply a clear top coat to each nail to complete the manicure.

Coffee

And there you have it! Your fingernails now have a fantastic dipped effect that’s perfect for glamming up warm weather couture. Don’t be afraid to try out different color combinations using this ombre technique. Summertime is, after all, definitely about being adventurous.

by Sarah Clark

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