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Manner & Lane: A Southern Lifestyle Guide for Women
 
 
Vintage Style Made New Style
 
ElvaSometimes it’s the small things that can evoke vivid memories and sentiments – a flower pressed between pages of a well-read book, a drop of the perfume your mother has worn for years or a wedding ring passed down for generations. For Emily Wheat Maynard it was jewelry that sparked a passion, prompting her to not only admire jewelry, but also create it.

“I’ve always loved jewelry and have countless, very distinct memories of jewelry growing up – especially in my family,” she notes. “It’s amazing how jewelry can mark an occasion or be a remarkable connection with a person, place or time.” Her path to becoming a designer started out in academia, though, with Emily pursuing a master’s degree in the history of jewelry making, focusing on ancient Greek, Roman and Italian Renaissance jewelry. “I made the decision to combine my love of history with my newfound passion for jewelry design by founding a company that would showcase both of these pursuits,” she says. In 2003, Emily launched Elva Fields (so named for her great grandmother, Elva Fields Bivens Cooke), with the studio in Taylorsville, Kentucky. The boutique brand creates four collections each year – spring, summer, fall and holiday – of necklaces and earrings.

Part of the charm of Elva Fields designs is that they blend old, vintage pieces with new materials to create something that’s unique. “Discovering the vintage materials is definitely one of my favorite things about what I do,” Emily says. “Incorporating them in our designs means that each necklace is entirely one-of-a-kind.” She scours vintage stores, antique shows and markets for brooches, pewter bracelets and tiny pillboxes to pair with new faceted crystal beads, turquoise nuggets, enamel chains, Lucite beads and lacquered shell pearls.

While each piece is one-of-a-kind, Emily and her two design assistants occasionally cherish a design so much that they set out to approximate it so additional clients may enjoy it. “Though no two will ever be exactly alike, if the stars align, we come very close,” she says. One particularly discriminating group of clients has fallen in love with Elva Fields: brides. Since Emily and her team offer custom designs, brides – many of them from other parts of the world entirely – are able to incorporate family heirlooms and unique color combinations for their special day. In the case of Elva Fields jewels, a thing of beauty truly has the potential to be a joy forever.

 
 
 
Ripe For Picking Culinary
 
NettlesWe know the Bard posed the enduring question “What’s in a name?” and for the herbaceous Urtica dioica or the stinging nettle, a name is everything. This densely nutritious weed comes by its name because its leaves and stems are covered in miniscule poisonous hairs that burn the skin when touched. While this verdant yet venomous plant may not seem like something you’d want to eat, stinging nettles are quickly becoming the darling ingredient of some chefs.

Earthy and full of flavor, nettles lose their stinging power once they are cooked. You can find them this time of year when the leaves are young and tender at your local farmers’ market or specialty grocery store. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even forage for the weed yourself, as it can be found in the wild across the United States and in abundance in the South. Stinging nettles grow near shady spots and are relatively easy to identify: the deep green leaves are heart-shaped with jagged teeth, somewhat resembling a mint leaf. Be sure to handle the raw plant with gloves and wear long pants as you search for nettles in the wild.

Regardless of how you acquire stinging nettle, the possibilities are endless once you’ve brought it into the kitchen. With a similar grassy flavor to spinach and asparagus, stinging nettles can be substituted for any recipe that calls for a leafy green. Add it to lasagna, pesto or quiche to impart a bright, springtime punch. As a bonus, the stinging nettle packs an impressive nutritional profile, bursting with vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, Vitamin C and even protein.

Ed Matthews, owner and executive chef of One Block West in Winchester, Virginia, loves incorporating this often-misunderstood plant into his cooking, making him somewhat of a local expert. Chef Matthews, a connoisseur of local, foraged ingredients, recommends consuming nettles when they are young. He adds, “The older the plants get, the tougher they get, just like most plants. Early spring is their season. To my knowledge, there is nothing else that looks like nettles that grows at the same time and in the same location. In other words, they’re hard to mistake. The hairy stems with the spines are a dead giveaway. When foraging, avoid orchards, golf courses and other areas that may have been sprayed with chemicals.”

Here, he shares one of his favorite recipes for a creamy, hearty soup made with nettles.

Cream of Stinging Nettle Soup

2 tablespoons sweet butter
2 large shallots, minced
1 pound cleaned nettle leaves
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups heavy cream
Salt and white pepper to taste

Method:
Sweat the shallots and butter in the bottom of a soup pan until the shallots are translucent. Add the nettles and wilt. Add the stock and simmer until the nettles are tender. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the blended soup into a clean soup pan. Add the cream to the soup, rewarm and season to taste.

Variations:
Add spinach, asparagus or sweet peas to the nettles.
Use mushroom stock and garnish the finished soup with sautéed mushrooms.
For a thicker soup, add a handful of rice, tapioca, cream of wheat, white grits or diced potato while cooking the nettles.

 
 
 
Upscale Outdoors Travel
 
Upscale Outdoors
 
There is something magical about communing with nature, observing wildlife, watching stunning sunrises and breathing in the clean, fresh air that comes from unspoiled environments. However, connecting with Mother Nature doesn’t have to mean musty tents, copious amounts of bug spray and freeze-dried food. Here are some favorite places around the South to experience the splendor of the outdoors while enjoying the finer things, such as piping hot coffee and cozy bedding.

Texas Hill Country Retreat For Two: Just 45 minutes southwest of Austin, Sinya on Lone Man Creek (starting at $255 per night, pictured above) feels like another world. The property offers just one enchanting modified safari tent that comes complete with a king-sized bed and goose-down pillows, a claw-foot soaking tub and a mini kitchen to cook your own meals. After hiking or swimming in the creek, sit outside in the porch hammock and take full advantage of the provided s’mores ingredients. Insider tip: since there is only one tent, it tends to book months in advance, so you’ll want to plan your visit early.

What’s A Yurt? Ancient Mongolians were really onto something with their efficient yurt structures, and now guests to the Yurt Village at Falling Waters Resort (starting at $84 per room, per night) can take full advantage of their ingenuity. Tucked into the stunning landscape of Bryson City, North Carolina, these circular homes-away-from-home consist of weatherproof fabric wrapped around a Douglas-fir lattice wall, complete with ceiling fans and space heaters. Bathhouses are just a short walk away, and guests can relax on private decks overlooking sparkling Fontana Lake.

Woodland Haven: For a tent experience that feels more like a bed and breakfast (indeed, a hearty breakfast is included with each night’s stay), the Martyn House in Ellijay, Georgia, features four beautifully appointed, environmentally conscious canvas tents. Each features a private bath with hot shower and composting toilet, a sitting area and queen-sized bed (starting at $180 per night). Stroll the 18-acre property, venture into town – considered the apple capitol of Georgia – or take a private photography lesson with co-owner and pro-photographer Rick Lucas.

Wildlife Safari: If embarking on a safari sounds like just the right adventure, but Africa seems like too far of a trip, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas, might be just the ticket. The 1,700-acre preserve is home to 1,000 animals and more than 50 species (you might spot antelope, bison, deer, kudu or an ostrich) and offers “tent cabins,” modeled after African safari tents. Each is outfitted with two twin beds, fresh linens, a private bath, ceiling fans and central heat and air (starting at $125 per night) and is in a two-acre enclosure overlooking a popular watering hole – so you can see the animals interact up close.

 
 
 
Customized Care For Your Skin Beauty
 
ReneeYour skin is as unique as you. Just like a quirky affinity for green peas with honey or lukewarm coffee, your skin type can’t possibly fit into a one-size-fits-all mold. That’s why most of us harbor an arsenal of half-used cleansers, moisturizers and other products in our bathroom cabinets. Our complexions are more complicated than simply “dry, oily or normal.”

Renee Rouleau has recognized this since she launched her first skin care spa at the tender age of 21. Hoping to create products that could smooth even the most complicated complexions, the Dallas-based esthetician and skin care expert developed nine skin types that take into account factors like redness, type of blemishes, scarring and enlarged pores. Now, 25 years after she began, her award-winning line is being shipped from Texas to loyal customers the world over.

Through video interviews, Renee assesses her customers’ skin from afar and puts them on the right path to a fresh face. Once you figure out what type of skin you have – check out the nine skin types here – Renee offers these tips for keeping your face smooth as the changing seasons start to wreak havoc on your complexion.

  • Rethink your moisturizer. During the cold winter months, the heating system in your home saps the moisture from your skin. To compensate, many women use a thick moisturizer throughout the season. Once it starts to warm up, switch to a lighter moisturizer to keep your skin from becoming oily.
  • Be careful what you wash with. If your skin feels tight and dry after you wash your face in the morning, your cleanser is too harsh. It’s easy to get used to your routine and the way your skin feels – but Renee recommends paying close attention to what your skin is telling you. “If your cleanser is too dry or too harsh, then right out of the gate, your skin is in a bad place,” she explains. “Every product after that has to do repair work to replace the moisture that has been taken out.”
  • A good rule is to purchase low-foaming cleansers that do not contain harsh sulfates.
  • Exfoliate to prevent blemishes. For many people, the changing seasons can bring on blemishes and breakouts. Why? According to Renee, winter temperatures can create a buildup of dry skin cells in your pores. Exfoliate twice a week with a mild scrub (she recommends Mint Buffing Beads), using circular motions for 60 seconds each time.
  • Apply sunscreen every day. You don’t have to smell like a beach vacation to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Use a moisturizer that contains SPF 30, and apply it generously. “The formula has to be applied generously or it will not provide adequate protection,” Renee notes. “If you have a sunscreen that feels too heavy on your skin, you’ll probably only apply a small amount and you’re not doing your skin any good. The goal is to find a sunscreen that doesn’t use heavy emollients or sunscreen ingredients, so as not to leave a greasy residue.”
  • Use the right type of foundation. Although it’s easy to get comfortable with the same brand and shade of makeup, consider your skin type the next time you’re choosing a foundation in the makeup aisle. If you have sensitive or oily skin, a powder foundation will smooth your skin tone without irritating your face. Liquid foundation will keep dry skin from losing moisture and gives your skin a dewy complexion.

Photo by Leigh Germy Photography

 
 
 
Back To Basics Knowledge
 
Basics
 
There is a feeling of joy completely distinct and utterly satisfying that comes from the creating of something by hand. Making your own jam. Pickling your own vegetables. Cultivating your own garden. Building your own table. Hand-made things taste better, feel better and endure better.

Today, this hands-on approach is part of a growing interest in reconnecting with a simpler, more authentic way of life and in getting back to the basics. This general concept of embracing simpler ways and doing things yourself is called "homesteading" and all across our region, organizations are popping up to help show you just how to make it a part of your life.

One such outfit, which opened in March, is Homestead Atlanta, a new center for self-sufficiency offering affordable classes at locations throughout the metro area, featuring instructors who are masters of their crafts. Founded by Kimberly Coburn, Homestead Atlanta helps hobbyists and aspiring homesteaders alike to reconnect with both the heritage skills of the past and the amenities often taken for granted in today’s convenience-driven world. “I’ve always been interested in crafts but found myself increasingly drawn to ones that were purposeful and useful,” she says. “There’s nothing quite like the sense of accomplishment inherent in creating something with form and function, usefulness and aesthetic integrity. There’s a marriage of simplicity, skill and sustainability that seems a perfect antidote to our modern sensibility.”

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources around our region to get you started on your way to being a master homesteader.

  • The Skillery in Nashville offers classes of all kinds – from sewing to writing – including sustainable gardening, gardening with children, composting and even hydroponics.
  • The Mississippi Modern Homestead Center in Starkville offers a collection of classes in their Nourishing Kitchen series that teaches guests how to create their own probiotics, pickled vegetables, milk cultures for cheese and more.
  • The Ploughshare Institute for Sustainable Culture in Waco, Texas, teaches soap making, canning and preserving, knitting, pottery and perhaps the most delicious of all homesteading pursuits: bread baking. A bonus for non-Texans: the institute offers select classes online, so that you can learn more from the comfort of your own home.
  • Located in Virginia Beach, the Virginia Urban Homestead League offers “meet ups” around town, with classes on fruit grafting, bee keeping and even an upcoming heritage class about the herbs of the Old South.
 
 
 
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