Archive for November, 2010

vet2010Today is Veterans’ Day in the United States, the day we pause to remember the contributions of those who have served our country in war and in peace.  It is always a good thing to thank those who have served in the military and remember those who gave their lives for us.  But it is especially poignant as a whole new generation of men and women are risking and giving their lives in active wars as we speak.

In recent years I have thought much about those who have come before us as well.  I have also become interested in the toys that mark our military history.  Along with my growing collection of toy cowboys (including the “lost” cowboy that gave this blog its name) I have collected more than a few toy soldiers from various eras and US wars.

Among my collection is a Marine in full dress uniform from the Korean war era.  This little guy sits on my desk and is among other things, a tribute to my Dad who served in the Marine Corps at that time.

I look at all the little toy soldiers I have collected and think about the contributions so many people have made to allow us to live our lives of freedom.  Each little model soldier represent the millions of veterans that served our nation over the past 230 years or so and serves as a reminder to show continued appreciation to them.

I was pleased to find that the business of making, selling and collecting toy soldiers is still going strong.  In addition to a very active community of collectors trading vintage toy soldiers, new collections are minted every day.

I recently came across the website for The Sierra Toy Soldier Company, a purveyor of all things toy soldiers.

I really like this set of The 20th Massachusetts from the Civil War manufactured by Collector’s Showcase“The 20th Massachusetts was one of the hardest fighting regiments in the Army Of The Potomac. Of the 2,000 Union regiments engaged during the Civil War, the 20th suffered some of the highest losses. Through their tenacity and bravery the unit earned the right to file in first at the head of the Corp column. The 20th was known as “The Harvard Regiment” because of the large number of Harvard educated officers. As a unit in the Second Corps, the 20th Massachusetts fought in battles from Balls Bluff, Fair Oaks, Malvern Hill, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness all the way to Appomattox Court House. Our sets capture their fighting spirit.”

miasMy recent collision with extremely wonderful olive oil sent me on the search for more. I have always enjoyed olive oil, but until I came across the really good stuff I had no idea what I was missing.

I was told that like wine, there are good vintages and not so good – and of course the flavor and textures can change based on the quality of the olives and the region they come from.

Also like wine, California has come to be a premier venue for the growth of olives and the production of olive oil. In looking into the olive oils of California , Sonoma in particular, I came across Mia’s Kitchen.

Mia’s Kitchen is the business of Mia Sebastiani, of California wine’s noted Sebastiani family. Based in Sonoma , Mia’s Kitchen offers Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as well as complimentary products like Balsamic Reduction Sauce and Wine Reduction sauces.

About Mia’ Extra Virgin Olive Oil: “Only the finest California-grown olives are used to create this exquisite, flavorful oil, which is a perfect accompaniment to our balsamic reduction sauces. Whisk with a smidgeon of Dijon mustard and one of our Mia’s Kitchen Wine Reduction Sauces for a quick and tasty salad dressing. Pour a liberal amount onto a plate and add Mia’s Kitchen Balsamic Reduction Sauce and you’ve got an instant dipping sauce for a crusty loaf of bread.”

You can see all the products Mia’s Kitchen offer – along with extremely tempting recipes – on the Mia’s Kitchen website. We have a made a note to try the Cranberry Pork Tenderloin recipe which makes use of the Mia’s Kitchen Cabernet Reduction Sauce – sound like a perfect meal for the upcoming holidays.

DMCartonLogoFans of design – all kinds of design – will love Design Milk, an “online magazine” devoted to modern design. It is a great site that features items about design in fashion, art, architecture, technology and more.

Flipping through the Design Milk site I will guarantee you will be moved to learn more about something that is featured or bookmark the site to return to on a regular basis.

About Design Milk: “Design Milk is an online magazine dedicated to modern design. Our goal is to bring you what’s fresh and new in art, architecture, interior design, furniture and decor, fashion, and technology. Design Milk has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Time Out New York, and is one of the Google Engineers’ Staff Picks. We’re also read by many entertainers, hundreds of retailers, magazine editors, and HGTV hosts and designers.”

I love a recent posting about Camelion Floor Tiles by IVANKA  in the Interior Design section. And how else would I have found out about the awesome chandeliers by Carolina Fontoura Alzaga which are actually made of bike components – as in bicycle parts.

Design Milk definitely has our endorsement – check it out here.

scarfAfter reading many of the Lost Cowboy posts I suspect there are many people out there trying to figure it all out. When I started out over a year ago, I said that over time you will see a certain sensibility emerge. I hope that is the case. Exactly what that sensibility is, and whether or not it is attractive, I will leave to others to determine.

But what I do know is that people are probably thinking that I like everything. Well, not everything, but I have many interests. Today, at the risk of taking us over a cliff, I would like to share with you a newfound obsession with scarves.

Yes, the piece of knit or fabric you toss around you neck, mostly to stay warm. I have used a scarf for as long as I can remember – mostly for warmth. But in the past couple of years I have come to enjoy scarves as a fashion accessory, even when it is not so cold.

Maybe it is a reaction to my rapidly aging neck or the fact they are trendy, but all of a sudden I am all about the scarf.

Admittedly, this is not a surprise. When I was a kid my mother famously knitted me a scarf for Christmas that matched my new winter coat. She also knitted a mini version of the same scarf and affixed it to stuffed gingerbread man that was pinned to my stocking. Now, some 30 years later, that scarf my mother made is used as a draft stopper under a door in my house and I still hang that stocking with my little friend on it every Christmas Eve.

More recently, my scarf thing was on display for everyone to see when I insisted on wearing a Gryffindor House scarf, ala Harry Potter, for much too long at much too an advanced age.

Fade-in/fade-out a month or so ago I was on line browsing one of this websites that sells designer products by invitation only to “boutiques” and I was attracted to the fun fashion scarves by men’s designer John Varvatos.

I got up my nerve and I purchased a long black scarf for about $80, which was a bargain compared to the retail prices of $170. However, when I received it, I noted that it was like wearing a stretch of medical gauze, like what you might wrap a twisted ankle in. I was not disappointed, but I made a note.

A week or so later, on Columbus Day weekend, there I was with Sophie on our day trip down to Cape Cod and our favorite seaside village of Wellfleet . We had planned to stop at the Wellfleet Drive-In where they hold a flea market on the weekend. We have been to this flea market many times over the years, and although there is a lot of junk, we have often found some great vintage pieces for our various collections.

Sophie was hoping to find a vendor she saw back in September. The vendor made knit scarves. Not the full length kind, but more like the cowl neck attached at the ends that is made to wear around your neck. Sophie bought one before and love it and wanted more, especially because the woman was charging only $5 for these things that were very well made by hand.

Well, the woman was there and Sophie and I bought out the place while telling the vendor that she really should be charging more and setting up shop on Etsy and the like as there are scarves of much inferior a quality going for much more there.

Although the colors and designs were mostly geared towards woman, I purchased one in green that I thought would look amazing with a dark brown suede jacket I have – and it does.

Funny, I am much more satisfied with this purchase than I was with the one from Mr. Varvatos. Mostly because I love supporting the little vendors and the woman was just so happy Sophie and I loved her stuff.

husetI have memories of visiting a shopping mall when I was a kid. I don’t remember what mall, but it was a big deal when we went there, mostly to buy back-to-school clothes at Sears. I remember a few of the other stores in the mall that made an impression on me. One was a store that sold organs. Not hearts and livers, but the keyboard instrument. I remember wondering if there were enough people out there looking to buy organs to justify a whole store. But mostly I remember the organ store as there was often somebody playing an organ right out in front of the place.

There was also a store that I think was just called “Scandinavian Design” — which featured mostly teak furniture. I remember thinking how cool the stuff looked and wishing we could decorate in Scandinavian design as it look so modern. Thus was born a healthy appreciation of Scandinavian design which I have come to know as much more than just teak cabinets (and IKEA for that matter).

I recently came across Huset, a site that brings together products from all over Scandinavia to showcase cool designs for “modern living.” What’s great is that it is not all just one type of product the Huset offers, you can fine clothes, toys, kitchen products, and yes, furniture – but the latter is in the minority.

About Huset: “Huset, which means ‘the house’ in Swedish, Danish and Norwegian is a one-stop shop for the best in modern Scandinavian design. Huset offers a thoughtful collection of clean, clever, and contemporary items for modern living. In addition we also present designers, and design news for those of you that are interested to know more about what is going on in the Scandinavian design arena.”

There are many great products here, but I love the Myrica Nemesi Headboard / Wall Décor which I can imagine finding the perfect place for in my home. And then there is the “gorilla” clothes hanger. But how can anyone resist the “Elk shaped bottle opener made from sand casted aluminum, covered in red leather by Swedish design brand Edblad & Co.?”

Seriously folks, there are some really cool finds at Huset – check them out here.

indexketchupSo it turns out that in the strange alternative world in which Lost Cowboy exists there is some kind of “Condiment Fairness Doctrine” – a tenet of which is that you must give equal time to ketchup and mustard.

I have received much ribbing with a few recent posts about mustard. What can I say, I like mustard. I have nothing against ketchup, it is a fine condiment with French fries and the like, but I also found it to not be as versatile as I would like.

Well, that was until I found the delightful Sir Kensington’s Gourmet Scooping Ketchup, which I sampled this summer at a barbeque party that I really did not want to attend. Sir Kensington’s Gourmet Scooping Ketchup made it all worth it.

Sir Kensington’s Gourmet Scooping Ketchup “represents excellence in natural quality and is free of gluten and sulfites. Produced from a secret recipe requiring years of exhaustive research, this ketchup offers a healthier, more delicious, and more versatile option.”

Again, I just say yummy. This the perfect culinary “find” for us – an old world product that is still available and can add a special touch to the most ordinary of meals. It is pricier than your supermarket ketchup – is about $9 for a jar – but you just need to roll this out for special occasions.

Check out the Sir Kensington’s website – it is quite fun presenting a whole back-story for Sir Kensington himself. Was he real? I should think so. You can purchase the products – the classic or spicy versions of the ketchup – online, read the fun “facts” about Sir Kensington’s Gourmet Scooping Ketchup and find a gourmet food purveyor near you that stocks the product.

pearThe other day Sophie and I were chatting and the topic of Napa Valley came up – how we got on the subject is a long story, something about flying in a hot air balloon over Napa being on my elderly mother’s “bucket list.”  Anyway, Sophie and I agreed that a trip touring Napa would be a ton of fun.

Sophie pointed out that I don’t like wine and a trip to wine country would be wasted on me.  But I countered that I love the whole idea of the region and thought there would be plenty to excite me.  A place like A Perfect Pear is exactly the type of place that captures my attention.

A Perfect Pear is a Napa area-based purveyor of pear-based products from jams and marinades to Mustards & Tapenades.  And I have to tell you all of their products look and sound amazing.  And as a supporter of people following their passion, I love the back story…

About the founder of  A Perfect Pear: “When Susan Knapp decided to try country life, she moved to a mountaintop in Lake County, California, north of Napa Valley. There, walnut trees and pear orchards surrounded Knapp and her prolific garden. There she fell in love… with pears.  From her neighbor’s pear orchard, the gourmet cook indulged in her new passion. She created Cinnamon Pear Jelly, which earned top prizes at county and state fairs. After four years in the country she moved to Danville in the San Francisco Bay Area but she made the drive back to Lake County every year at harvest time to pick up several hundred pounds of Bartlett Pears. Susan would then make her prized jelly and give it to her co-workers at Christmas time each year.”

The Pear Fig Jam sounds delightful:  “Use for appetizers with goat cheese on a toasted crostini, in tarts or baked goods. Made with organic pears, organic figs, organic sugar.”

When Sophie is off at all those wine tastings – I have no problem taking in some pear tasting!

Check out A Perfect Pear from Napa Valley here.

laquLost Cowboy followers may remember my trip to Buenos Aires last fall.  It was my first time in Argentina and its great capital, and I had a great time.  So great a time that I am headed back there in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait.

I posted a lot about what I did and saw in Buenos Aires, but I did not write about the food.  The restaurants were amazing and the level or service and quality of food were excellent.  One thing that I discovered was that the residents or Buenos Aires love cured meats.  Maybe that is why I loved Argentina so much – as I love cured meats too.

Give me a salami, prosciutto, speck, or pancetta and I am good to go.

I am a particular fan of the products of La Quercia, an Iowa-based purveyor of fine cured meats.  La Quercia makes artisan cured meats like salumi-prosciutto, coppa, speck, pancetta, guanciale, and lardo. They seek “the best possible ingredients, produced responsibly, we craft them by hand into something that expresses our appreciation for the beauty and bounty of Iowa.”

I just say: “delightful!”

La Quercia‘s mission: “We believe that the food we eat can delight us every day. It is our mission to help you make that happen. With each product, we strive to offer a memorable eating experience, one that causes you stop and savor the moment. Great food is more than great taste. It is healthful, nutritious, and pleasurable. It is satisfying sensually, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. It tastes good and it feels good. It pleases and it nourishes. It is part of a responsible food system that sustains you, producers, craftspeople, restaurants, and stores who support their communities and respect the environment.”

Visit the La Quercia website here.

MUS-SSHYep, I am still on my mustard kick.  The other day I was nosing around he condiments at my local Whole Food store and discovered the products of School House Kitchen.

About School House Kitchen: “Beginning with SweetSmoothHot Mustard, Patsy Smith, a graduate of Miss Hall’s School and Smith College, launched her company, SchoolHouse Kitchen, in 2005 with the mission to raise funds for educational organizations and to make her gourmet products available to more people.”

I like the Sweet Smooth Hot Mustard!  Tastes exactly as it sounds…

I checked out the School House Kitchen website and was delighted to see a few other products that sound interesting, including various chutneys, marinades and “spread able fruit.”  The site also includes recipes and an online store.

Visit the School House Kitchen site here.

earth-walkers-1We have featured items about pets in the past. We at Lost Cowboy are inspired by our furry friends past and present. I have often spoken about my parents’ beloved Lady, the most precious puppy that ever walked the face of the earth. And of course there are Sophie and Gavin’s adorable, mischievous yet playful Yorkies (three of them – hear no evil, see no evil and just plain evil).

Anyway, I love products for dogs and art and such that features dogs. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to come across the website cum blog Dog Milk – dedicated to featuring all sort of design-orient products for dogs.

About Dog Milk: “Dog Milk is a website dedicated to modern dog design, inspired by Jaime (Derringer)’s love for her two modern pets, Lulu and Beans . She felt that there needed to be a place where modern dog lovers can discover new products and sniff out what’s beyond the chain pet stores. Whether an innovative pet feeder, cool dog tee, or modern dog bed, Dog Milk strives to bring you the most cutting edge and modern design for your very best friend.”

Poke around, if you are a dog lover (read: if you have a soul) you will enjoy this site and seeing all of the fun stuff highlighted. I particularly like this recent post about Earth Walker’s line of “basic cowls for dogs.”

Check out Dog Milk here.