Archive for July, 2013

EOTNWhen I was a kid, my siblings and I used to joke that my father never read a book that didn’t have Nazi insignia on the cover. It is true that he loved novels, and nonfiction, about World War II and it was pretty much true that there was that certain symbol on most of the covers. One such book I remember was Ken Follett’s 1978 novel Eye of the Needle.

It is so funny, I remember the cover of the paperback very well and my dad’s excitement when the movie version came on HBO. Like most kids, the last thing I wanted to do was show interest in anything my parents did so I never picked up any of my dad’s books to read for myself.

However, in recent years I discovered the works of Mr. Follett, most notably Pillars of the Earth and his Century Trilogy. Having read and enjoyed those more recent works, I have gone back through Mr. Follett’s catalog and read some of his older novels. Recently, I was looking for a vintage best seller to read, as I like to do in the summer, and came across Eye of the Needle and I knew in an instant that I had found the perfect summer read.

Eye of the Needle is a traditional spy thriller set during World War II and although formulaic and somewhat dated, it is still a great story in the very capable hands of Mr. Follett who was at the top his game when he wrote this book.

About Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett: “One enemy spy knows the secret of the Allies’ greatest deception, a brilliant aristocrat and ruthless assassin—code name: ‘The Needle’—who holds the key to the ultimate Nazi victory. Only one person stands in his way: a lonely Englishwoman on an isolated island, who is coming to love the killer who has mysteriously entered her life. Ken Follett’s unsurpassed and unforgettable masterwork of suspense, intrigue, and the dangerous machinations of the human heart—Eye of the Needle.”

Part of the joy of reading this book for was thinking about my dad reading it all those years ago. It is one of those truisms that one appreciates his/her parents more as you get older. By reading books that I know my dad liked back in the day makes me understand him a little bit more.

Meanwhile, Eye of the Needle was the perfect escapist novel for summer reading.

Eye of the Needle is available from Amazon and other fine retailers.

CofCNow for a little nepotism…

…this past Sunday I had the great pleasure to see an art installation, The Colors of Cuba, presenting the work of my very own sister, Paula, at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA.

My sister is an accomplished photographer and is on the staff of Phillips Academy where her work is the main feature of a current exhibition of the art works of faculty and staff.

Earlier this year, my sister and a colleague travelled to Cuba where they immersed themselves in the local culture. The exhibit, The Colors of Cuba, presents many of the photos and other observations they made on the trip.

cc1About the The Colors of Cuba exhibition at Phillips Academy: “Sherri Gray and Paula Driscoll, who work in the Polk-Lillard Center in the Elson Art building at Phillips, traveled to Cuba in February for a week-long educational tour supported by the Abbot Academy Association. The duo, who specialize in photography, digital photo and film editing, spent a week immersed in the local culture and got to see how most Cubans live on a daily basis. In addition to learning about a country most Americans know little about, they participated in discussions about the U.S. embargo and how it impacts the Cuban economy. Colors of Cuba chronicles their experiences through photographs and a documentary-style video.”

In addition to The Colors of Cuba, the works of other Phillips faculty and staff were great to see. However, I am most proud of my sister and I am a big fan of her work.

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The Colors of Cuba continues at Gelb Gallery inside Phillip Academy’s George Washington Hall through tomorrow, July 31, 2013.

Read more about The Colors of Cuba exhibition in The Andover Townsman here.

PORTSAL1My friend Lynda recently made the trip from her lovely home south of Boston to New Hampshire to visit me. We had planned a day to go kayaking on lovely Lake Chocorua, but when the weather did not cooperate, we decided to take a daytrip to Portland, ME instead.

The idea came from a post I made a couple of months ago about wanting to take to the road to visit Portland Architectural Salvage, a large warehouse of all manner of fixtures and other relics of old buildings.

PORTSAL3So we hit the road and made the scenic 60 mile drive due east of the NH homestead to Portland. Our plan was to stop along the way at the many antique shops that dot the road (Route 25) between Kezar Falls and Standish, ME in what is known as one of Maine’s “Antique Allies”, and hit Portland in time for lunch.

By the time we made it to Portland, the rain had stopped which made walking around very comfortable. We found Portland Architectural Salvage and from the time we walked through the front door of the large historic building, we were in love.

Everything we had hoped to find at Portland Architectural Salvage was there and more. There were all the things you would expect to see at a “salvage” store – things like window frames and bath fixtures – but there was so much more, including furniture and large collections of “smalls” from bottles to cameras. Just very cool, and very overwhelming.

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Portland Architectural Salvage is definitely worth the trip just to be awed by the inventory – but if you are looking for just the right decorative (or functional) piece for your home, even better.

FFA,2Adjacent to Portland Architectural Salvage, we spotted the Portland Flea-for-All, a weekends only flea market and art shop – which from peering in the many well curated windows, looks amazing. Of course we made a note to return to check it out some time in the future.

About the Portland Flea-for-All: “The Portland Flea-for-All is a vintage, antique and artisan marketplace located in the heart of Portland’s Bayside neighborhood. With a rotating cast of vendors, everything from antique furniture to vintage clothing to handmade jewelry to classic vinyl is on display. Whether or not you have a special item in mind, chances are you’ll find something at the Flea.”

After touring around Portland Architectural Salvage and scoping out the Flea-for-All, we made our way over to Portland’s Old Port District, a charming area of unique shops and restaurants amongst the old world charm of Portland’s historic waterfront. We found a lot of great things in the Old Port – a few of which will be featured in this week’s Friday Finds. So check back then.

In the meantime:

Learn more about Portland Architectural Salvage here.

Learn more about Portland Flea for All here.

Start planning your own trip to Portland, ME here.

If you have spent any amount of time reading the posts of Lost Cowboy you will know that I am an unabashed anglophile and royalist. As such, I am as happy as anyone to welcome the Royal Baby, the future King George.

Here are a few “finds” that can help celebrate and commemorate the occasion…

Biscuiteers Baby Boy Celebration Biscuits from Harrod’s of course

BBBHere’s a lovely gift to send anyone who just had a bouncing baby boy – the Biscuiteers Baby Boy Celebration Biscuits from Harrod’s of London.

About the Biscuiteers Baby Boy Celebration Biscuits from Harrod’s: “Celebrate their new arrival with this cute collection of vanilla baked biscuits. Handmade fresh vanilla pod biscuits featuring baby-blue mummy and baby ducklings. Presented in Biscuiteers keepsake tin, this makes an ideal gift for new parents. What better way to celebrate the arrival of a bouncing baby boy, than with this sweet selection of baby-blue mummy and baby ducklings. Complete with adorable ribbons these delicious treats are almost too sweet to eat.”

Find the Biscuiteers Baby Boy Celebration Biscuits from Harrod’s here.

The Royal Baby Tea Towel by Milly Green

MGTTThe UK’s very own Milly Green has a few commemorative items to mark the occasion, but none more British than a tea towel – a Royal Baby Tea Towel.

About the Royal Baby Tea Towel by Milly Green:

“A commemorative tea towel which has been specially designed for this historic and happy event! The 100% cotton tea towel (75cm x 50cm) is made in the UK.”

See all of Milly Green’s Royal Baby commemorative items here.

The Royal Crown Derby Royal Baby Loving Cup from John Lewis

RCDLCFor a true heirloom item to mark the Royal Birth, I like the Royal Crown Derby Royal Baby Loving Cup from John Lewis.

About the Royal Crown Derby Royal Baby Loving Cup from John Lewis: “Traditionally, the loving cup was used at events of celebration to share a drink among the guests. Raise a toast to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as they welcome their first child into the world, with this stunning loving cup from Royal Crown Derby. This heirloom-worthy piece is hand finished with 22 carat gold by specialist craftspeople in Britain. Marking this historic event in true British style, this is a piece to treasure for many years to come. (This product will be personalised with the date of birth and name.)”

Find all the commemorative Royal Baby items from John Lewis here.

The Royal Nursery – “for the baby who deserves everything”

TRNI am sure little Prince George has everything he needs and will be well taken care of. However, as the folks at the baby retailer The Royal Nursery may say, all babies deserves everything. The Royal Nursery offers a wide selection of products for babies and new parents.

About The Royal Nursery:

“Featuring baby gifts, including blankets, Christening and Baptism items, classic toys, gifts for new moms, dads and Grandparents, personalized gifts, Sterling & Gold, Moses baskets, and our exclusive Royal Nursery and Royal Baby Collections.”

Find the “everything” of The Royal Nursery here.

BOOK: “Shhh! Don’t Wake the Royal Baby!”

SHHHThere is nothing like a good old children’s book to make an occasion special. There are a few Royal Baby books out already, with more to come for sure, among the best is Shhh! Don’t Wake the Royal Baby! by Martha Mumford (Author), Ada Grey (Illustrator)

About Shhh! Don’t Wake the Royal Baby!: “It’s chaos at the Royal Palace – the Royal Baby just won’t go to sleep. Waaaaah! Waaaaah! Waaaaah! The Royal Family has tried everything to pacify the little bundle of joy – from proffering the golden royal dummy to death-defying parachute jumps with the Queen. But, just when the little one seems to be settling, another disturbance is just around the corner. From yip-yapping corgis to marching guards and noisy party planning, the palace is awash with noise. Will it ever be peaceful enough to lull the baby off to sleep? A laugh-out-loud celebration of the new addition to the Royal Family, guaranteed to raise a few giggles.”

Shhh! Don’t Wake the Royal Baby! is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.

The Cascara from Babycotpod

COTPThe folks at UK’s Babycotpod have been reimagining the traditional bassinet and crib and have created many cool items, including the Cascara, a high-design sleeping pod for your baby – of course the most fitting for the occasion comes emblazoned with the Union Jack.

About the Cascara from Babycotpod: “The waiting is finally over for all those parents who have been craving for an exciting and stunningly unique alternative to the more traditional Moses basket, crib and bassinet. With its stylish and sophisticated design Babycotpod bring you their signature piece, the CascaraTM. With its unique shape and quality of materials Babycotpod have created a wonderfully soothing place to sleep for your newborn baby. With its built in hood, carry handles and collapsible Tang stand the CascaraTM is a true around the home bassinet.”

Find the Cascara from Babycotpod here.

RSSMy summer of soups continues and I found this recipe for Smoky Salmorejo from Food & Wine magazine just in time. Just in time because I have suddenly found myself with way more tomatoes from my container garden than I ever expected.

About the Smoky Salmorejo recipe from Food & Wine magazine:

“This chilled, no-cook Spanish soup is similar to gazpacho but blended instead of chopped. Smoked olive oil adds meatiness to the vegetarian dish.”

In addition to tomatoes, this Smoky Salmorejo recipe calls for smoke olive oil – which adds the smoky bit and is great on its own or mixed with a fine balsamic for salads.

Smoky Salmorejo is a tasty and cool summer treat and the best part is you never have to turn on the oven or stove.

Find the recipe for Smoky Salmorejo from Food & Wine magazine here.

See other summer cold soup recipes from Food & Wine here.

Visit Food & Wine magazine on line here.

FF: The Martone Cycling Company

FFMCYou know I love bikes and I love the high fashion and design of the bicycles from the Martone Cycling Company.

About the Martone Cycling Company: “Martone Cycling Company is a fashion- and design-driven bike company. Our bikes are a bold statement of personal style: city bikes, created with passion—with a red chain on every bike we make. We believe that, if you’re like us, you’re always carrying something: a tote, a gym bag, groceries, a dog…who knows? That’s why all of our bikes have a basket built into the handlebars, to make your life easier, in style.”

See the cool bikes of the Martone Cycling Company here.

FF: Chicago Theater – “The Jungle Book” at the Goodman Theatre

TJBChicago is a great theater town, mostly due to the many resident theater companies that call the city home, like the Goodman Theatre, who are currently presenting a new production of The Jungle Book.

About The Jungle Book at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre: “From the imagination of Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman, this dazzling new adaptation of a timeless favorite is sure to enchant audiences of all ages. The jungle springs to life in a music-filled spectacle that chronicles young Mowgli’s adventures growing up in the animal kingdom. Based both on Rudyard Kipling’s time-honored children’s tales and the classic Disney film— and with a score featuring the movie’s best-loved songs and original Indian-inspired music and dance—this spellbinding world premiere is the theatrical event of the season.”

The Jungle Book continues at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre through August 11, 2013.

FF: The Dry Cured Salami of Olympic Provisions

ff6It’s been a while since I have posted about my love of cured meats. I think a perfect summer meal is a platter of sliced meats, cheeses and grilled vegetables. For the meat part, I fancy the salamis of Olympic Provisions.

About the Dry Cured Salami of Olympic Provisions: “This is what started it all. Olympic Provisions was Oregon’s first USDA approved dry curing facility and salami producer. First and Best. Under the guidance of salumist Elias Cairo, Olympic Provisions has garnered numerous accolades and recognition. Saveur magazine included us in their exclusive top 100 list. Olympic Provisions’ charcuterie has also been awarded more Good Food Awards than any other food company in the country.”

Learn more about Olympic Provisions here.

FF: “Postcards from Vogue”

FFPVI love a good postcard book, like the Postcards from Vogue book that is a “collection of one hundred postcards from the classic covers of Vogue.”

About Postcards from Vogue: “Launched in 1892 and acquired by Condé Nast in 1909, Vogue has been setting fashion trends and writing cutting-edge social commentary for over a century. Described as ‘the world’s most influential fashion magazine’ by the New York Times, Vogue pioneered the art of fashion, publishing timeless classics by acclaimed photographers such as Irving Penn and Erwin Blumenfeld, iconic imagery by modern masters including Annie Leibovitz and Mario Testino, and classic illustrations by famous artists such as Salvador Dali, Erté, and Eduardo Benito. Over its remarkable one hundred and twenty years, Vogue has served as a photographic and literary authority for its readers: the stylish and culturally sophisticated women of the last century. This selection of one hundred of Vogue’s most iconic covers is not to be missed.”

Postcards from Vogue is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.

Tonight’s sunset over the Sandwich Range from Tamworth, NH – actual colors from my cheap camera…

Sunset.07.25.2013

DDRWhile browsing around the wonderful Motifs, a shop in the Old Port district of Portland, ME, a somewhat unique flask caught my eye. The flask was round and had an etching of a dog on it with the words “Hair of the Dog.” (See my snapshot below.)

It turns out the Hair of the Dog flask is from Izola, a purveyor of fine gifts items. In addition the Hair of the Dog flask, Izola offers this “Don’t Drink and Ride” flask with a bicycle motif and a large collection of other great flasks.

About the Flasks of Izola: “Living in New York City there are countless moments when a drink is necessary. Whether you’re on a broken down A Train or at an overcrowded rooftop party, a flask can be a lifesaver and is always a good conversation starter. Izola’s stainless steel flasks are available in either five-ounces or three-ounces and are engraved with eight different boisterous expressions that fit the drinking theme. As a time-honored accessory to men of all different cultures and social classes, the flask has proven itself to be a necessity of the times and we guarantee it’s a prime gift that fits any occasion.”

Indeed, flasks make great gifts – especially the kind of gift you give to yourself. Cheers!

HOD

Find all the flasks of Izola here.

See all the great products of Izola here.

TCVIt must be summer… I just finished a novel. The novel I chose was the first “adult” novel by J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame: The Casual Vacancy.

Ok, let me get this out of the way first: this book is just about as far a departure from the fantasy of the Potter world as you can imagine. The Casual Vacancy is a sober novel about contemporary English society – a genre I happen to like, in the vein of Nick Hornby or Will Self.

When I first dove into the novel it was on my mind that the author was the creator of the Harry Potter phenomenon and it was a distraction. However, once I got into the story and the well-crafted plot and cast of characters, the book carved out a niche of its own. It is clear that Ms. Rowling is a gifted writer no matter the genre.

About The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling: “When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.”

The Casual Vacancy is a story about ordinary people dealing with circumstances in their world – in other words, it’s about Muggles. I do have to say that Ms. Rowling’s seems to delight in writing about the real life of teenagers in this book. The school-aged kids in The Casual Vacancy deal with all the reality you can imagine, from drugs and sex to alienation and bullying – they are most certainly not looking for a magical spell to save wizardry.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling is available from Amazon and other fine retailers.

While out on the bike the other day I was struck by a strange realization: the grass was very green and there was a lot of it.

I know that sounds crazy, as my ride took me through the lushness that is the New Hampshire countryside in summer.  However, most years by this time in July, the grass tends to be a little thirsty and tinged with brown.  This year there has been quite a bit of rain along with warm humid days which makes for nice green grass. 

What struck me in particular was how much grass was sprouting in the dirt and sand of the trail I was riding.  It was so pretty, I just had to snap a picture:

OTR.2.7.13