Check out some really fabulous shops I found scouting out Cleveland, Ohio. This midwest city has a vibrant craft community and you can find out more about activities in and around Cleveland as well as the artists that call it home at the Cleveland Handmade group website.
Megan Nolton, of Art Shark Designs, created this awesome print representing her hometown – but her shop also includes many prints representing other cities, including Philly, Venice, and Portland. Trained in graphic design, Megan also fancies printmaking and painting. Her “city love” prints are created using a Gocco printer and the red umbrellas are delicately added with watercolor. [Read more…]
I love a good lamb gyro perhaps as much as anyone can love any food. Ever. In the world. But I also have a soft spot for lambs. I cannot resist their particular brand of cute. So much so, in fact, they are the only livestock I have been reluctant to try my hand at raising for meat myself. I simply cannot say with any sort of confidence whatsoever that processing day would be even the least bit tolerable. And since tolerable is the best any processing day can ever be, I’ve yet to take the plunge.
Luckily, others do not harbor my biases and sheep farms are anything but scarce in most of the United States. And though the traditional holiday for lamb eating may have already passed, a good rack of lamb is a celebration in and of itself fit for any time of year.
In fact, there is an often unforeseen bonus in buying lambs after the Easter holiday has passed — especially if you’re buying a whole or half lamb — ethnic markets for lamb are strongest just before Easter and demand for a smaller carcass there drives down the size of lambs sold around that time of year. After Easter has passed lambs are often grown out longer, making for a larger end product; a bonus if you’re feeding a family of four or more as am I.
In an ideal world we’d all buy our lambs — whether we’re looking for wholes, halves, racks, legs, chops, roasts or a combination of all of the above — from the farm down the road, and we literally have a sheep farm down the road here, but not everyone is so lucky. To find fresh, local lamb you can search Local Harvest for sheep farms near you, but if that fails you can also buy lamb online. Upper Dry Creek Ranch, a family owned farm in Western Oregon, offers their lamb products on Foodzie. That’s a picture of their loin chops above.
And as long as you’re at it, don’t forget the toppings, rubs and marinades. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box, the Chipotle Pepper Jam by Uncle Berch’s Foods, also via Foodzie, is reportedly a great accompaniment.
The last time I was in New Orleans, it was Mardi Gras. Was it a sleepless series of hoopla and parties for me? Nope—I was 12 and with my grandparents. I remember the atmosphere of the town, but I’m pretty sure I was asleep by 9pm at the latest. Oh but those beignets, mmmm. So in the spirit of all things New Orleans (especially because of the awesome new series on HBO—Treme) today we Shop Local NOLA aka New Orleans.
The Back Porch Shoppe is run by Darline and her husband and guess where their “studio” is? Their backporch. Duh. And Darline is also a certified clogging instructor—I had nooo idea what that was, so I looked it up. Clogging is a folk dance with roots in African American, European, and traditional Cherokee dance. Pretty cool. It’s basically representing the earliest of our ancestors here in the United States. Darline and her husband make each piece in their shop by hand, from cutting the wood, to sanding, and then painting the designs and pattern. Darline has another shop as well. You can find ephemera like hardware, buttons, old bottles, lace, etc. All good stuff when you lie to repurpose or remake things yourself.
My other brush with New Orleans culture was when I planned a wedding for a cute couple from there. The had won a wedding from Martha Stewart Weddings in Puerto Rico. One of the things they wanted to include in the party was a Second Line dance. So of course, we needed umbrellas. And just like Liz, the maker of these umbrellas, we also used them to keep the guests shaded. I love the idea of walking through the streets with one of these fantastic creations. It serves a really important purpose, too, because we all need to stay out of the hot sun as the weather gets warmer. Liz’s work is also available in person, at Lost & Found at 323 Chartres St. in the French Quarter (504) 595-6745.
I have a little girl with unruly hair, so I am always on the hunt for cute hair clips. I wouldn’t describe these clips from Etsy seller FunkyHairClips as cute, they’re way cooler than that. I also love how she explains her story of starting her handmade business, she says that she was an English major, and if history were a band she’d be a groupie. So here designs are a reflection of that love of the old, and she gets inspiration from the streets of New Orleans and the eclectic blend of the old and the new. She says, “my true love is New Orleans–the hot tropic climate, the madness of Mardi Gras, the saturation of color, even the sprawling gothic voodoo creepiness of the “Cities of the Dead”. Give me my aging madness–floods, disasters and all! And that about says it all, don’t you think?
This weekend I spent a few snow-free days in Western Massachusetts for work. Pioneer Valley is full of colleges and cultural opportunities. You can experience world class dance at Jacob’s Pillow, or see where Emily Dickinson lived–all within a half an hour drive. But the closest I got to sampling the local flavor was a quick pit stop at Friendly’s–that’s what happens when you have a 1 year old and a three year sitting in the back seat! My trip inspired me to find some local Western Mass artisans online.
I have always loved polaroid transfers, and this by Briana Taylor is one of the nicest I’ve seen. It reminds me of an old postcard from the early days of photography. I also love the story behind the artist. Like many creative souls, she took a winding path to her present day life as a working artist. She has become a part of the vibrant arts community of Western Mass. and you can feel her creative joy in all of her art.
Living in a creative community certainly makes it easier to find real studio space for making your art. The creator of these milk bottle inspired vases, Cara Taylor, used an electric kiln to fire them. She also has handthrown pieces for sale. Hey, wouldn’t these be perfect for those long stem roses coming your way for Valentine’s Day? Or maybe not. Either way, these ceramic vases have a distinct New England sensibility that makes them lovely and useful items to have in your home–or maybe in my home!
What is more indicative of New England life than a quilt? Seriously, quilts never go out of style–and they are one thing you can never have too many of. A quilt has so many applications in the home–at the foot of your bed, over the back of a sofa, or folded carefully in the corner waiting patiently to be put to use. This charming quilt by Pioneer Valley Girl has a red and white patchwork pattern that’s complimented by a classic ticking stripe facing with a thick lining. What a perfect way to stay warm and cozy inside as the last days of winter come barreling through.