Welcome to the inaugural issue of Dagger & Dill. We hope you’ll slip on a pair of cashmere socks, wrap your hands around a hot toddy in a pottery mug made by an old man in overalls, and stay awhile.
If it’s local, we love it. If it’s handmade, we fetishize it. If it’s old, we worship it. If it’s baked in a wood-burning oven, painted on a salvaged farmhouse door, or hand-engraved on a pewter cup, we dig it.
In our first issue, we’ll toss ideas for tasteful living around like an armful of so many fall leaves. Plus, we’ll answer reader questions and help you plan for what’s coming up on the calendar. Summer may be on the wane, but fall has a harvest of natural riches in store.
We believe in subtle flavor, quirky doorknobs, fresh peonies, and a rich patina. Details matter. Beauty is everywhere.
Life is for living.
“F” is for Fall, Foliage, and Friends:
The Seasonal Dinner Party
Fall is the perfect time to entertain at your home or in an abandoned barn. Obviously, you’ll hand-deliver the invitations. You can’t go wrong with these darling letterpress cards on acid-free paper:
Your fall supper will be an intimate gathering of your own personal illuminati — local cloth artisans, butter sculptors, and those orthopedic surgeon brothers who play in a bluegrass band. Choose a few friends who have a theatrical side, too, because everyone will be expected to chime in when you start playing folk favorites.
Pulling this party together is as simple as making a meal for dear friends. Simply break the process down into steps:
The morning of: Finish canning the last of summer’s berry crop.
Seven hours before: Prep your veranda by misting the underside of the columns with calendula essence. By creating a scented reception area, you set the tone for cordial conversation and the exchange of ideas.
Six hours before: Kill the chickens for a pot pie. (You’ll achieve best results if you start with a shovel, then finish the job with a pearl-handled boning knife.)
Four hours before: Set the scene for after-dinner lounging by tossing an array of velvet, wool tweed, and crewel embroidery pillows around the room. Stack your family’s collection of quilts by the fire.
Three hours before: Write out name cards for each jam at the jam-tasting station. Roast the vegetables, roll out the crust, and assemble the pot pie lovingly in a heavy cast iron pan. It must be cast iron.
Two hours before: Muddle the pumpkin seeds, rutabega shavings, and apple skins in a cup of oak-cask bourbon with a sterling silver muddler. Stir in some corn syrup. Allow the mixture to sit by an open window to breathe.
One hour before: If you are a woman, stack 7 gold bangles on your arm. Jingle them. If you are a man, strap on your great-uncle’s watch.
10 minutes before: Light the candles.
5 minutes before: Mix and pour your signature Harvest Hammer cocktails into 9 gold-rimmed glasses and place on a tray for arriving guests.
Enjoy the party, and don’t sweat the surprises. If the chicken burns, use it as charcoal for a bonfire. If someone spills gravy, rub it into the floorboards for a delicate yet meaty shine. Before everyone departs, treat the group to your annual autumn tradition, the reading aloud of Colin Nissan’s It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers:
Then hand everyone a brown paper bag tied with grosgrain ribbon (surprise! it’s full of delicious beet-crumb muffins!) and bid them adieu.
Hay bales are the jack-of-all-trades for autumn. Whimsically stacked, they can serve as seating for impromptu gatherings, decorative yard accents, or simply a spot to relax and whittle a little whistle shaped like a hedgehog. For the finest hay, gather it on the warmest evening after the fall equinox and before Thanksgiving, under a gibbous moon. At D&D, we’re partial to our local hay-grower’s bounty, which is not only organically grown and humanely harvested — it also comes hand-tied with lengths of Civil War-era twine, and it smells of history and courage.
Tip: Use hay bales to accessorize antique farm equipment. Place one along your front walkway, and stab an old pitchfork into it at a jaunty angle. Put a piece of reclaimed wood from a stable door on top of another, and turn it into a table. Park an ancient wheelbarrow in your garden, and fill it with mounds and mounds of hay. The possibilities are as endless and unique as your collection of groundskeeping accoutrements.
Q: The worst thing has happened: My favorite pair of wellies has finally begun to disintegrate from years of wear. What should I do?
A: First, accept our condolences. A well-loved pair of mud boots is like a member of the family, and we’re so sorry for your loss. Second, don’t despair. While a worn-out boot may no longer protect your toes from puddles, it makes a perfect home for an herb garden. Fill each boot with a mix of soil and compost, and transfer some of your heirloom sage and rosemary into it. You’ll be reunited with your favorite former footwear every time you gather ingredients for the famous herbed cheese straws you learned to make from Lola, the owner of the shrimp shack where you spent so many afternoons as a child. Savor the memories!
Play cornhole with real corn!
Loving Life, All Fall Long
Music Fall brings an end to festival season, as concerts move indoors. Check your local listings for news of shows playing in cozy spots such as pop-up flower shops, saloons, and post office lobbies.
Food Don’t stop browsing your farmer’s market just because summer’s over. Some of the most wonderful root vegetables and fall fruits are now hitting the stands. Organically grown turnips make a warm and soothing dish when mashed with fingerling potatoes and served in hand-painted ceramic bowl at a rough-hewn pine table. Coffee beans are ripe for the grinding, and if you save a few leftovers, you can tuck piles of them into tiny cheesecloth purses, which can be stuffed into your shoes to keep them fresh when you’re not wearing them.
Culture Read that memoir about denim. Go to a gallery crawl. Experience the quail-and-pancakes tasting menu at the new restaurant in the industrial district. Try welding.
Outdoors While the nip in the air may have you packing up your paddleboards, it’s still warm enough to enjoy many outside excursions such as leaf peeping, chipmunk peeping, and neighbor peeping. Rollerblading is a deliciously retro way to enjoy the paved areas in your local park — even better if you pack a tiny picnic, wear it on your back, and treat yourself to a gourmet mini-feast when you arrive at your favorite large, flat rock. An unhemmed burlap square or mid-century dishrag would make a nice napkin.
Giving Back We’re all tired of fundraising galas and auction brunches. Rejuvenate your generous spirit by reaching out in ways that are personal and meaningful. Send a pot of vibrant mums to someone who could use a pick-me-up. Bake a parsnip loaf for a senior citizen, and when you deliver it, ask if you can record them telling stories about their youth. Listen. Give a one-of-a-kind quilt to a panhandler. Touch someone.
The holiday season will be here before we know it, and there’s no time like the present to start making your wrapping paper, monogramming your stockings with vegetable-dyed thread, and searching out the most delicate hand-blown glass ornaments to give as gifts to children.
No joke — want to do something nice?
Dagger & Dill is an offshoot of I Miss You When I Blink. Please enjoy responsibly.