Archive for May, 2013

FF: The Farmers Market bike from Sweet Pea Bicycles

ff7My pet name for one of my dearest friends is “Sweet Pea” – and you all know I love bicycles… so it follows that I was please to find the Farmers Market bike from Sweet Pea Bicycles. You have to like a company with the slogan: “Sweet Pea Bicycles was born from the idea that a bike can love you back.”

About the Farmers Market bike from Sweet Pea Bicycles: “When we originally designed the Farmers Market, we said it was a part time touring bike, part time road bike. Meant for gettin’ s@#$ done, lugging around veggies, and having a few beers with the girls on the weekends. This bike does that, but also takes it a step further making it even easier to leave the car at home. Available in just 10 weeks in a standard size or a completely custom design.”

Learn more about Sweet Pea Bicycles here.

FF: “Privateering” by Mark Knopfler

FF1I don’t often write about music here, but Friday Finds is a perfect venue for talking about the arts. Today, I wanted to recommend the latest album from Mark Knopfler, Privateering. Mr. Knopfler has carved out quite a solo career since his days in Dire Straits. His music is somewhere in the realm of folk ballads, ballads in the true sense of the word. His distinctive voice and superior guitar work makes listening to him an utter delight.

About Privateering by Mark Knopfler: “’A privateer is what I am, really,’ says Mark Knopfler. The title track of the legendary singer-songwriter and guitarist’s eighth solo album evokes a swashbuckling era of seafaring plunder, merchant raiders and licensed pirates. But Mark finds an analogy with the modern rock and roll life. ‘I really get a buzz out of having this little group of people that sallies forth across the world. I enjoy being in command of it, the band, the crew, travelling through this ever changing landscape and playing in all these different places. You get where you get without any kind of assistance, really, making your own way in the world. There are no government grants to play this music. You’re a privateer. And that’s the way I like it.’”

Privateering by Mark Knopfler is available from Amazon and other fine music retailers.

FF: The Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand

FF2Seattle may be the coffee capital these days, but you would be hard pressed to find an older or better coffee shop than New Orlean’s Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand. If you can’t make it to New Orleans you can buy Cafe Du Monde’s coffee and other products in their online shop.

About The Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand: “The Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market. The Cafe is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It closes only on Christmas Day and on the day an occasional Hurricane passes too close to New Orleans. The Original Cafe Du Monde is a traditional coffee shop. Its menu consists of dark roasted Coffee and Chicory, Beignets, White and Chocolate Milk, and fresh squeezed Orange Juice. The coffee is served Black or Au Lait. Au Lait means that it is mixed half and half with hot milk. Beignets are square French -style doughnuts, lavishly covered with powdered sugar. In 1988 Iced Coffee was introduced to the cafe. Soft drinks also made their debut that year.”

Shop Cafe Du Monde here.

Learn more about Cafe Du Monde here.

FF: Jacobsen Salt

FF4From the cold waters off the coast of Oregon comes Jacobsen Salt.

I love salt, as you know, and l love the folks at Jacobsen Salt, not just for their salt, but for their cool packaging, like their Slide Tin.

About Jacobsen Salt’s Slide Tin: “Perfect for your bag, chest pocket, or purse. Take your favorite finishing salt with you wherever you go and make each bite of food that much better – wherever you are.”

Also try Jacobsen’s vanilla bean salt – what I refer to as a fine “dessert salt.”

Learn more about Jacobsen Salt here.

JCNI hope by the time this post is live I have given this as a gift to my dear friend for whose birthday I purchased it: the awesome Johnny Cash Necklace.

The necklace is designed and hand crafted by Christy Bourns of Little Rock’s Robinson Lane and available from retailer Bourbon and Boots. Why does Robinson Lane make this piece of jewelry? “Because Johnny Cash is awesome.” We agree!

About the Johnny Cash Necklace: “Hand-stamped brass oval with pewter gun charm – sterling silver box chain. Johnny Cash reminds us to keep a close watch on our hearts, and this necklace is a reminder. Christy hand stamps and assembles each one personally. Robinson Lane epitomizes the creative child that is within all of us. Christy’s desire is to create pieces that make women feel confident and beautiful.”

My friend is a big fan of Mr. Cash (as am I) and this is a nice little bobble to show respect for the Man in Black,

The Johnny Cash Necklace is available from Bourbon and Boots.

Check out all the cool offerings of Bourbon and Boots here.

AVIAI just finished the wonderful new historical novel The Aviator’s Wife: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin. In The Aviator’s Wife, Ms. Benjamin retells the story of one of the 20th century’s most famous couples, Charles Lindbergh and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

The story of Mr. Lindbergh is perhaps one of the best known in modern times, and his wife was also well known, not just as the great “aviator’s wife” but as a celebrated author in her own right. But for the first time, the full story of the Lindberghs is told, although in fictional form, from Mrs. Lindbergh’s point of view and the result is a charming novel that allows you to experience history unfolding first hand.

About The Aviator’s Wife: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin: “For much of her life, Anne Morrow, the shy daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has stood in the shadows of those around her, including her millionaire father and vibrant older sister, who often steals the spotlight. Then Anne, a college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family. There she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’s assurance and fame, Anne is certain the celebrated aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong.”

Although The Aviator’s Wife is a good read and stays close to the real events and timeline of the Lindberg’s story, I think Ms. Benjamin makes some choices that make for a great novel at the expense of the legacy of a great, although complicated and flawed man, Charles Lindberg himself. That said, The Aviator’s Wife is a novel and as such it is a well structured and a compelling read. And like all good historical fiction, it sparks curiosity for the real life events that inspired the story.

ASBMeanwhile, A. Scott Berg’s Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Charles Lindbergh, Lindbergh, is one of my most favorite books of all time and made me admire what the young Lindbergh did on his historic flight if not admire some of what he stood for in later years. I highly recommend Mr. Berg’s book for anyone who is interested in the story of a young man who did an amazing thing and ended up the most famous man on the face of the earth.

Lindberg’s story is also about the birth of the cult of celebrity that we thought was an invention of the latter half of the 20th century. Perhaps no one in modern times, other than maybe Princess Diana, was followed by the media and torment by them, as was Mr. Lindbergh. The stories of just how famous the Lindbergh’s were is fascinating when looking back with a modern lens.

Fact or fiction, in The Aviator’s Wife and in the biography Lindberg, the story of Charles Lindberg, and his wife Anne Morrow, is as compelling as any other story in history.

The Aviator’s Wife: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin is available from Amazon and other fine retailers.

Lindbergh by A. Scott Berg is also available from Amazon and other fine retailers.

ELBOK, I hate florescent lighting, compact florescent lights, LED lights and just about every other kind of other artificial light other than the good old fashioned incandescent bulb that Thomas Edison himself invented.

This is precisely why I love the good folks at 1000 Bulbs, because they have a full line of wonderful antique light bulbs, including the Edison Style Antique Bulb.

About Edison Style Antique Bulb:

“Meticulously crafted to preserve the look of early 20th-century lighting, this tungsten filament ST19 light bulb is the perfect complement to any vintage or contemporary decor. Tungsten filaments, used on some of the earliest light bulbs ever produced, create a unique glow unparalleled by common incandescent bulbs. Perfect for hotel, theater, restaurants & other themed venues.”

ELB2I also love the “Radio Style” Vintage Antique Light Bulb:

“This reproduction lamp from Antique Light Bulb Co. mimics the vacuum tubes used in classic radios, but has been used by our customers in applications as varied as restaurants and film sets. The subtle glow of its spiral tungsten filament creates an ambiance that sets a welcoming mood for any classic interior.”

The soft light from these old school bulbs will make anyone look good in your home. Really!

See all the antique light bulbs of 1000 Bulbs here.

On this Memorial Day, let’s remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

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While I was taking this picture of Lake and Mount Chocorua (from Tamworth, NH) the other day, another visitor to the spot remarked “this is quintessential New Hampshire, the lake, the mountain, even a couple of loons splashing around.”

Quintessential it is, and I love it. I watched those loons for quite some time and was amazed at how long they can stay underwater and how fast they can swim.

Meanwhile, the green of spring continues to make its way up to the summit. Soon, the foliage will be full and we will know that summer is here at last.

Chocorua.05.14.2013

OSH1I lived and worked in and around the great city of Boston most of my adult life. I went to college in Boston, lived in some of the city’s best neighborhoods including Beacon Hill, Back Bay and the South End, and I love every inch of the city. I could go on and on about things I love about the city, but today I will only mention the history and the great old building like the Old State House which is celebrating its ll 300th anniversary this year.

About Boston’s Old State House: “Known today as the Old State House, this building was the center of Boston’s civic life in the 18th century and the scene of some of the most dramatic chapters in the lead-up to the American Revolution. Within these walls, Samuel Adams, James Otis, John Hancock, and John Adams debated the future of the British colonies. Just outside the building, five men were among the first casualties of the battle for independence, in what would later be known as the Boston Massacre. The Declaration of Independence was proclaimed from the balcony to the citizens of Boston in 1776.”

I love this old building. Boston’s Old State House stands in the center of the city’s financial district and even houses a stop on the city’s subway system, which makes it a place that thousands of people pass by and through every day. It is so cool to see this historic structure dwarfed by all the modern skyscrapers that surround it and appreciate the history of this great city.

If you have never been to Boston you must visit and be sure to walk the Freedom Trail, which connects the city’s Colonial and Revolution era historic sites, including the Old State House. There is no better time to explore Boston than in the summer, so plan a trip and help celebrate the 300th birthday of one of the city’s historic gems.

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Help celebrate the 300th birthday of this great site and visit the Boston’s Old State House Museum here.

FF: This recipe for Bottomless Vanilla Extract from Southern Living

BVEThis recipe for Vanilla Extract is simple – it has one two ingredients, and one of them is bourbon. I’m in!

About the Bottomless Vanilla Extract recipe from Southern Living magazine: “Homemade extract is something every baker should have. It’s more flavorful and generally less expensive than store-bought versions. Cooking speeds up the infusion, but you can omit the process by letting the mixture stand an extra week. Then use it in frostings and baked goods.”

Find the recipe for Bottomless Vanilla Extract here.

Check out Southern Living magazine here.

FF: Red Retro Mini Cooler Fridge from Kalorik

FFRMC I love this Red Retro Mini Cooler Fridge from Belgian appliance manufacturer, Kalorik.

About the Red Retro Mini Cooler Fridge from Kalorik: “Collectors will love the RETRO themed detailing on this nostalgic vending fridge. Its red exterior features the Drink O Matic logo in polished chrome and the words “Ice Cold” below the open compartment at the bottom. The unit can hold up to twelve 12-ounce cans. To further evoke a nostalgic trip down memory lane, the fridge will dispense the beverage of choice at the push of a button vending-machine style. The unit cools up to 30 degrees F below the ambient temperature, and its thermoelectric cooling system runs quietly and efficiently, without any of the noise or vibration associated with compressor-style units. The vending fridge runs on 110-volt AC power for use at home or at the office, but can also operate using 12-volt DC power for tailgating parties or when entertaining on a boat.”

See all the fine Belgian-designed products of Kalorik here.

FF: The Bamboo (and totally awesome) Bicycles of Erba Cycles

FFEBSo yeah, I guess bamboo bikes are a thing… but none are as cool as the bamboo bikes by the good folks at Erba Cycles.

About Erba Cycles: “The frame of the bike is made from a specific species of bamboo that is known for being light and incredibly strong. It is stronger and lighter than most alloy steels. Our frames are joined using either hemp or flax fiber treated with an epoxy-resin. Bamboo has been used for hundreds of years as a structural material for houses and is commonly used for scaffolding. We think that riding a bike made from a great, renewable resource like bamboo doubles your eco-consciousness. Perhaps, one of the best qualities of our bikes is the smooth ride quality. Bamboo, with its dense cellulose structure actually dampens road vibration and is noticeably smoother on the road than bikes made from the usual materials (steel, aluminum, and some carbon bikes ).”

Check out all the totally awesome bicycles of Erba Cycles here.

FF: Catacombs Black Diamond Fountain Pen

FFCPFancy pens have always made great gifts. You can choose from any number of nice pens at all price ranges. However, you would be hard-pressed to find a pen as cool as – or as pricey as – the Catacombs Black Diamond Fountain Pen.

About the Catacombs Black Diamond Fountain Pen: “The Catacombs of Paris, created in the late 18th century refers to the underground ossuary holding the remains of 6 million people. Created by master artist-jeweler Philippe Tournaire. Fashioned from sterling silver and finished in black diamonds. ‘S.T. Dupont by Tournaire’ is engraved opposite the roller; Cast in solid .925 Sterling Silver; 48 Black Diamonds (2.78 carats) placed on the pen. Only 10 pieces released worldwide. Packaged in a custom Black Lacquer box.”

The $20K price tag for the Catacombs Black Diamond Fountain Pen may be a little much, so may I suggest a more humble alternative? Try the Paper Mate® InkJoy™ 100 Ballpoint Stick Pens – only $3.99 a dozen from Staples – sorry no diamonds.

The Catacombs Black Diamond Fountain Pen is available from Lighters Direct.

ffdYou may recall the many past posts where I have gone on and on about my love of a good pen. You no doubt have also noticed my affinity for fine bourbon. Well, put those two things together (pens and bourbon) and you have today’s find: the Mark® Barrel Rollerball & Fountain Pen.

About the Maker’s Mark® Barrel Rollerball & Fountain Pen: “Crafted from a gorgeous chunk of a Maker’s Mark® White Oak whisky barrel stave—the Oak barrel wood looks amazing and comes with a certificate of authenticity—featuring your choice of either the extremely smooth rollerball cartridge or medium fountain pen nib with gunmetal accents. The magnetic cap posts securely at both ends for easy writing and storage. Its rounded styling allows the pen to rest snugly in your hand with minimal pressure from your fingers.”

This is a truly cool pen – not only does it have that Maker’s Mark bourbon chic thing going on, it is a good old fashioned fountain pen updated with the best technology. I would make this pen my every day pen, but it would make a nice gift on a special occasion.

The Maker’s Mark® Barrel Rollerball & Fountain Pen is available from fine retailers like Bourbon & Boots.

See all the cool thing available from Bourbon & Boots here.

WOWThe other day I finally finished Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett. I say “finally” because at just about 1,000 pages in the print version, this is one long book and I have been picking at it for the past several weeks.

In addition to the satisfaction that comes with finishing a long novel, I now can’t wait for the third and final installment in Mr. Follett’s Century Trilogy. Winter of the World, the book I just finished, is the second in the series and takes off shortly after where the first book, Fall of Giants, left off.

I loved Fall of Giants and the families and character Mr. Follett introduced us to within its pages as they navigate the early days of the 20th century through the First World War. In Winter of the World, we meet the next generation of the families from the first book and pretty much follow them through World War II to the brink of the Cold War.

About Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett: “Ken Follett follows up his #1 New York Times bestseller Fall of Giants with a brilliant, page-turning epic about the heroism and honor of World War II, and the dawn of the atomic age. Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants, the first novel in his extraordinary new historical epic, The Century Trilogy, was an international sensation, acclaimed as “sweeping and fascinating, a book that will consume you for days or weeks” (USA Today) and “grippingly told and readable to the end” (The New York Times Book Review). ‘If the next two volumes are as lively and entertaining as Fall of Giants,’ said The Washington Post, “they should be well worth waiting for.” Winter of the World picks up right where the first book left off, as its five interrelated families—American, German, Russian, English, Welsh—enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs.”

I am a big fan of Mr. Follett, who I think is a master storyteller, and his deft hand at weaving multiple stories together in epic detail are on full display in Winter of the World. However, I have found that the middle book (or movie) in a trilogy can’t truly be appreciated until the series is completed. More often than not it turns out the second part of the series is the best, but until then it is just a lot middle.

There is no doubt that Mr. Follett has great plans for the final book of his Century Trilogy as he has at least one fan primed and ready.

Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.