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It's ALWAYS a kitchen party & EVERYONE's invited!
Welcome to Ladles & Linens Kitchen Shoppe!
Thanks for visiting! Just like our happy little stores, we take pride in making this page a place you leave happier than when you arrived! We have been in business for 22 years now, starting as a small kitchen shoppe in Lexington VA and now have expanded to 2 other locations in Roanoke VA and Richmond VA. We pride ourselves on staying ahead of cooking, baking, bar and food trends. Meeting our customers needs is always forefront, whether it's that impossible to find gadget, hostess gift, entertaining/bar items or just a good ole fashion high five! We are owned by Chef Sarah Nicholas and have a BEYOND FABULOUS team that knows it all when speaking "kitchen".
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It's that time of the year again. Teachers can barely contain their students because the whiff of summer is in the air. And come this weekend, we'll be kicking off the season with Memorial Day BBQs. The air will be thick with smoke and the squealing sound of children, as pools will open their doors across the country.
Sometimes in an attempt to make their party stand out, hosts eschew tradition. But Memorial Day is a perfect example of why some traditions exist. People want to be outside after a long winter, and soak it up before heat and humidity set in. A BBQ is perfect. But how can yours stand out, and properly kick off summer like no one else?
Step Up to the Plate
Parties will be awash in paper plates and red Solo cups this weekend. Why not step it up a notch and use real plateware? You can even mix and match colorful dishes to make it less formal, even playful. This sustainable option means less waste and less space being taken up in landfills. Will it mean more time at the dishwasher? Yes. But you're sending a clear message to your guests: they're worth it.
Grocery stores are stocked with BBQ sauces made cheaply with high fructose corn syrup. Those in the know will grab Sweet Baby Ray's, which is usually the only good option. But why not go for a fresh new sauce that will have even your most polite guests licking their fingers? Ladles and Linens carries the Virginia-based brand Clark & Hopkins. Their zesty Bloody Mary mix and BBQ sauces equal sticky fingers around the table.
The Reason for the Season
When was the last time you went to a Memorial Day BBQ that actually acknowledged the meaning of the holiday? Not that the party should be a somber affair. In fact, there are positive ways to remind people of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Have guests make toasts to friends or family in the military, or share a story about them. If there are children at the party, gather them up, show them photos of people in military uniform and teach them to thank these soldiers for their service. Serve oysters on a gorgeous porcelain dish, and call it the Pearl Harbor Platter. Make your grilled burger "extra tough" with jalapenos or hot sauce, and call it "The General Patton."
Don't Hate the Player
Nothing screams "Party's Over!" more than guests wandering inside for your remote control. Keep the party engaging by busting out some classic summertime/field day games! Adults and children alike love to be competitive, though adults need a little more coaxing than children at first. You know what will embolden them? Prizes, like gift cards! So fill up those balloons for a good old-fashioned water balloon toss; race while balancing an egg on your spoon. And folks, I'm not above a good game of musical chairs.
Top it Off
Famous hostess and writer Nora Ephron wrote a lot about entertaining, and stressed the fact that that people love to play with their food. There is something fun about the communal activity of fondue or Korean BBQ. Build a toppings bar that goes beyond ketchup and mustard. Once, for a bonfire I hosted, I scanned my fridge and pantry for out-of-the-box topping ideas, and the options filled an entire table (pictured above). If you're grilling hot dogs or burgers, consider what you already have. My toppings included caramelized onions, cranberry chutney, crushed pineapple and homemade habanero sauce. Guests compared notes and enjoyed strange combinations.
A rule of thumb when entertaining is to always ask yourself, "Why be boring?" And with that, your summer kick-off will be one for the books.
Modern life is an anomaly. Technology is designed to simplify our lives, yet our world only seems to grow more hectic. And in the mad rush to cross things off our lists, we sometimes miss out on great moments. The other night I was so intent on getting my son to prepare for bed, that I didn't notice the ridiculous rap song he was making up. Not until I saw my husband laughing.
Many of us love the idea of being in the moment. After all, that's what made our childhoods slide by slowly. Life truly is more simple without the cycling thoughts. As a child, if I were eating an ice cream cone, I was all in. I wasn't going over a grocery list at the same time.
I'm tinkering with my work/life balance; it needs to improve. Whether you're a stay-at-home parent or a tax attorney, below you will find ideas to help make work easier, and play more joyful.
1) But First, Coffee
The best way to tackle the day is to fuel up, so improve the quality of your life by improving your coffee. Skip staleness and enjoy the aroma of a freshly-ground bean. If you don't have a coffee grinder, it's time. If you're a purist like me, you may not want the flavor of your coffee tainted by filters, plastic and machinery. Opt for a French press. It's simple, doesn't need electricity and makes a nice, strong cup!
2) Cultivating the Cube
It's hard to unwind after a workday if you dread going back. You can do a few things to liven up your work space. Keep a stash of power bars and other snacks in a conversation piece, like this acacia wood jar. Ditch the dated styrofoam and drink out of a cheerful mug. Hang up a new piece of art, and light up a desk lamp to battle a modern day blight: fluorescent lighting.
3) Shaken, not Stirred
Whether you spent an afternoon with spit-up on your sweatshirt or with an Excel spreadsheet that wouldn't die, five o'clock couldn't come sooner. So grab a shaker, some ice, and start mixing things up! Ladles and Linens has an outstanding collection of bitters, shrubs and rim sugars; so kick your drinks up a notch - you deserve it. Especially if have spit-up on your sweatshirt.
4) Kick Off Your Sunday Shoes
Women wear so many things that defy gravity; stiletto heels, push-up bras - even hairspray. To be relaxed you have to feel relaxed. Give your battered feet some love in these cozy, graphic socks. Take a hot shower and use a luxurious French soap. Read a great book. It's guaranteed to take you out of your head and transport you.
5) The Best Medicine
That's right. Remember not to take yourself too seriously. Sometimes the weight of the world will melt away if you watch a ridiculously unrealistic romantic comedy. For me, Friends on Netflix is an instant mood booster. Lighten up your living space with hilarious hand-towels, cheeky (pun intended) magnets and rubber chicken bottle stoppers. Life is too short to have everything in your home be 100% beige.
We are a generation of cocktail enthusiasts. We started referring to bartenders as "mixologists," as they slowly morphed into 1920s-era dandies with waxed mustaches. We now expect cleverly-named signature cocktails from established bars and restaurants. Some trends fall flat, like gold flakes in your drink. It was a flavorless expense.
But a new cocktail trend has taken off, and it blew me away. At the speakeasy Grandstaff & Stein, I ordered a drink called The Briar Patch, and it was tart, tangy and sweet. That's when I learned about shrubs, the sweet drinking vinegar infused with fruit, and/or herbs.
Luckily, here in Virginia we have Mother Shrub, a business that specializes in small-batch shrubs, made locally. Owner Meredyth Archer remembers growing up in West Virginia drinking shrub with her grandmother, who was convinced it was the cure to everything. Archer stumbled upon a family cookbook from the 1800s, found a recipe for drinking vinegar, and never looked back.
You can find a great variety of Mother Shrub drinking vinegars at your local Ladles & Linens store. And below, we got a little intel from Mother Shrub herself!
Me: Favorite shrub?
Meredyth: Such a hard question! My favorites vary depending on the time of year and what I am in the mood to drink. Lately I've been drinking either the Salted Honey or Grapefruit shrub mixed with seltzer. So refreshing! For Cinco de Mayo I made a margarita hybrid with tequila, fresh lime juice, and grapefruit shrub topped with Modelo Especial.
Me: What are some other fun ways to enjoy shrub?
Meredyth: I have been making some honey-sweetened lemonades and adding a shot of Black Cherry, Cranberry or Ginger shrub to make a non-alcoholic drink, or spiking them with a shot of vodka or moonshine. A couple of combinations I love are AR's Hot Southern Honey-sweetened lemonade with ginger shrub and moonshine or a wildflower honey sweetened lemonade with Black Cherry shrub and vodka. I've also been playing around with some kombucha and shrub mocktails and cocktails.
Me: Can you share a recipe?
Meredyth: Basic favorite mocktail: 1 oz Grapefruit shrub, topped with 4-6 oz sparkling water. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary. Punch it up by adding 1 1/2 oz grapefruit infused spirit like Belle Isle Ruby Red Moonshine or Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka.
Me: Favorite salad dressing or marinade recipe?
Meredyth: Mix 1.5 parts any flavor MOTHER shrub with 1 part olive oil. Season to taste. Add salt and pepper, fresh or dried herbs.