Archive for May, 2014

STPSo it is the eve of Memorial Day weekend, which means it is the unofficial start of the summer games season. I found the perfect way to kick-off the season: the St. Pierre Presidential Edition Horseshoe Set available from Hay Needle.

The St. Pierre Presidential Edition Horseshoe Set is made by St. Pierre USA, the last company still producing this great American summer pastime right here in the good old United States.

About the horseshoes of St. Pierre USA: “The St. Pierre family has been forging Authentic Pitching Horseshoes since 1938. We are the only remaining manufacturer of pitching horseshoes still in the USA. Our highly recognizable, trademark designed horseshoes are all Made in the USA and forged of solid steel for balance and control. Our horseshoes are coated with a special non-slip finish that is superior to high gloss finishes and helps prevent chipping and corrosion.”

The classic St. Pierre Presidential Edition Horseshoe Set can be found from fine retailers like Hay Needle.

TBPMy sister is a great photographer. She has turned her hobby (mostly taking pictures of her wonderful children) into a thriving niche business taking picture of other people little bundles of joy. Through the years sis has become infamous in the family for her epic panoramic pictures of stunning sites from Machu Picchu to the Vatican. Although we make fun of her for taking the pictures, the results are amazing and they carry on the grand traditional of a century of panoramic photography – which is document and displayed in the wonder book The Big Picture: America in Panorama by Josh Sapan (Author) and Luc Sante (Illustrator).

About The Big Picture: America in Panorama by Josh Sapan (Author), Luc Sante (Illustrator): “At the turn of the twentieth century, photographic technology and an American culture of optimism and self-celebration combined to create what Luc Sante calls the ‘strange and compelling medium’ of panoramic group photography. Organizations famed and obscure—from the Anti-Saloon League of America and the troops at Camp Sevier during the Great War to the members of the Midget Swing Review—commissioned photographers to produce images that sometimes encompassed a full 360 degrees. No public event—a circus, a train wreck, or the Army-Navy football game—was too grand or eccentric to deserve its own wide-angle commemoration. The photographs compose a portrait of a society on the cusp of sweeping change, as their details preserve the enduring humanity of their subjects: a bathing beauty tosses her curls; a group of cross-dressing women smile enigmatically at an off-camera friend; children at play on a summertime lawn appear only as blurs behind an Ohio town meeting. The Big Picture gathers nearly one hundred of these fascinating images, most never before published, bringing the shared experience of American history from the late nineteenth century to the WWII era to life.”

The photographs in The Big Picture are amazing and a treasure trove of images that tell the story of America over the past century. Spend just a few minutes flipping through this book and you will decide to sit down in a comfortable chair and spend hours marveling at the images and subjects committed to film in days gone by.

The Big Picture: America in Panorama by Josh Sapan (Author) and Luc Sante (Illustrator) is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.

JAKEvery now and then I find a place that is the perfect fit for my sensibilities. Today’s find, Red Clouds Collective of Portland, OR is a perfect example. Red Clouds Collective brings us a full line of quality products that give a wink to old school craftsmanship updated for the modern world.

About Red Clouds Collective: “We believe in creating products with an honest approach and practical design. All functions and fabrics are considered in creating a lasting life for our products. We are designing for the people who want quality exceeding the standards and needs of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. As a collective of makers and adventurers, each piece is an extension of our lives. We hope our creations help you along your path. All products are handcrafted in Portland, Oregon USA.”

Red Clouds Collective has many awesome products (things like ‘backpacks, belts, briefcases, sketchbooks, lighter holsters, knife sheaths, magnetic koozies, guitar straps, beach gear, t-shirts, hoodies, tool rolls, aprons, pencil cases, utility bags’) but I love their Journeyman Art Kit.

About Red Clouds Collective’s Journeyman Art Kit: “The word ‘journeyman’ comes from the French word journée, which means a day’s work or a day’s travel. A journeyman has a broad field of experience and this product was inspired by the working days and nights of Seth Neefus in his many areas of discipline and always having a sketchbook and pen by his side. The Journeyman Art Kit is made with Herman Oak leather and is available in Walnut or Black. 1 notebook and 3 micron pens (01, 03, 05) are included for a complete traveling art kit.”

Learn more about Red Clouds Collective and see all their cool products here.

SNE2I am not a big jewelry fan – I mean for me… for men… well, other than watches and cufflinks.

But every now and then I see something that is just so amazing I covet it – like the really cool See No Evil Ring from Amedeo.

About the See No Evil Ring from Amedeo: “Sardonyx hand-carved shell featuring the 3 monkeys See-no-evil Speak-no-evil Hear-no-evil, set in a sterling silver ring with white diamonds. Each piece is hand crafted and one of a kind.”

Find the See No Evil Ring from Amedeo online here.

See all the great products of Amedeo here.

kcmIt promises to be a lovely May afternoon and evening here in Kansas City – the perfect time to breakout the grill for my first outside cooking of the season.

Kansas City is known as one of the top areas for barbecue and there is no shortage of local hotspots touting their barbecue as “Kansas City’s best” and folks here are happy to debate the topic.

I have tried a few of the local barbecue establishments and they are all fine, but I still prefer to cook my own at home with the help of a fine barbecue sauce. I found the perfect fit for tonight’s dinner: KC Masterpiece Barbecue Sauce.

About KC Masterpiece Barbecue Sauce: “KC Masterpiece® Barbecue Sauce, with its perfect blend of rich tomato, molasses and spices, was originally created by Dr. Rich Davis. A physician and barbecue aficionado, Dr. Davis introduced his sauce in Kansas City in 1978. The rich taste of KC Masterpiece® Barbecue Sauce grew in popularity and has since become one of America’s favorite barbecue sauces.”

Learn more about KC Masterpiece Barbecue Sauces here.

I am still finding my way through my new home, Kansas City, MO and there is plenty to discover, like these great finds…

FF: Zebedee’s RPM

KC1I love poking around old school record stores (vinyl rules) and there is a great one right here in Kansas City – Zebedee’s RPM.

About Zebedee’s RPM: “Zebedee’s RPM is a store for vinyl enthusiasts staffed by aficionados of all ages with diverse genre preferences. There are thousands of new, used, and reissued records and CDs. We maintain a reputation for the unique and eclectic as well as the traditional. Our sales and discount LP sections are legendary. We also stock vintage magazines, books, posters, and t-shirts. We buy and trade vinyl and CDs. Please give us a call or stop in if you are interested in having us look at your collection!”

Zebedee’s RPM is located at 1208 W. 39th St. in Kansas City, MO.

FF: Fresh Air Farm

KC2Meanwhile, KC’s Fresh Air Farm is an oasis in the buzzing metropolis, where you can host a perfect event that transcends the location. If that makes sense…

About Fresh Air Farm: “Take a breather at Fresh Air Farm, where you can create unique events that match your vision and dreams. Fresh Air Farm offers endless possibilities to showcase your wedding, corporate event, rehearsal or retreat that reflects your style, whether classic elegance, rustic romantic, eclectic modern or homemade vintage. It is the ideal space for the imaginative client. A creative stylist, more than a decade of experience and a genuine love for sharing this special venue envelope you and your guests at Fresh Air Farm. Let our professional and friendly staff help you with event recommendations and logistics. We strive to provide you with planning details that ensure your special event exceeds your expectations.”

Fresh Air Farm is located at 9555 N.W. Hwy N. in Kansas City, MO.

FF: The Brimfield Show 2014

brimSo all the cool kids are off to Brimfield this weekend – the Spring 2014 Brimfield Show continues today through Sunday and it is the granddaddy of all the great American antique and collectible shows.

If you can’t make it to Brimfield this weekend – mark your calendar: the Brimfield summer show will be held July 8-13 and the fall show will be September 2-7, 2014.

Learn more about the epic Brimfield Show here.

FF: The 32nd Annual Walnut Antique Show in Walnut, Iowa

WALNUTMeanwhile, for us Midwesterners, we can get our big antique show fix coming up in June with the Walnut Antique Show in Walnut, Iowa.

About the Walnut Antique Show in Walnut, Iowa: “The 32nd Annual Walnut AMVETs Antique Show will continue the tradition. More than 300 dealers from across the United States will set up their booths, restocking daily with newly displayed items. If you haven’t attended the Walnut AMVETs Antique Show, you will discover that this is the show to ‘find it and buy it.’ Walnut’s turn-of-the-century buildings, brick and tree-lined streets, country hospitality and existing malls and shops are the perfect setting for the show.”

The 32nd Annual Walnut Antique Show will be held Father’s Day Weekend: June 13-15, 2014.

FF: Country Living Fairs

clfMeanwhile, the fine folks at Country Living magazine host a few Country Living Fairs every year and they are fabulous.

This year’s fairs will be held:

  • Rhinebeck, New York (June 7-9)
  • Columbus, Ohio (September 13-15)
  • Atlanta (October 25-27)

Learn more about Country Living’s Fairs here.

FF: Chicago Gourmet – Sept. 26-28. 2014

CGGAh Chicago in the summer… the city is full of festivals just about every weekend and they are all great. But there are Autumn festivals in Chicago to look forward to as well. Plan to visit Chicago in early fall to attend the Chicago Gourmet Festival.

About Chicago Gourmet: “Chicago Gourmet, presented by Bon Appétit, is a celebration of food and wine showcasing more than 150 of Chicago’s finest restaurants and chefs, as well as hundreds of renowned vintners, spirit makers, and premium breweries. Enjoy live cooking demos, expert seminars, gourmet tastings, and book signings by internationally renowned chefs, master sommeliers, and winemakers.”

Learn more about Chicago Gourmet here.

libI love visiting smaller museums and attractions when I visit other cities. I haven’t been to Philadelphia for a while, but on my next trip there I am definitely going to stop into The Library Company of Philadelphia, which specializes in early American history.

About The Library Company of Philadelphia: “The Library Company of Philadelphia is an independent research library specializing in American history and culture from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Open to the public free of charge, the Library Company houses an extensive collection of rare books, manuscripts, broadsides, ephemera, prints, photographs, and works of art. Founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, the Library Company is America’s oldest cultural institution and served as the Library of Congress from the Revolutionary War to 1800. The Library Company was the largest public library in America until the Civil War.”

To hold me over until I get to visit in person, The Library Company of Philadelphia has an extensive collection of Online Exhibitions, like Ardent Spirits – the Origins of the American Temperance Movement.

Visit The Library Company of Philadelphia online collections here.

Learn more about The Library Company of Philadelphia here.

OCAPERichard Russo is one of my favorite contemporary novelists. Mr. Russo’s prose is literary yet accessible and he creates characters and situations that reek of authenticity. His novel, That Old Cape Magic, is no exception. With That Old Cape Magic, Mr. Russo brings us perhaps his most mainstream novel to date – but don’t let that keep you away – it is still really good.

About That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo: “For Griffin, all paths, all memories, converge at Cape Cod. The Cape is where he took his childhood summer vacations, where he and his wife, Joy, honeymooned, where they decided he’d leave his LA screenwriting job to become a college professor, and where they celebrated the marriage of their daughter Laura’s best friend. But when their beloved Laura’s wedding takes place a year later, Griffin is caught between chauffeuring his mother’s and father’s ashes in two urns and contending with Joy and her large, unruly family. Both he and she have also brought dates along. How in the world could this have happened? By turns hilarious, rueful, and uplifting, That Old Cape Magic is a profoundly involving novel about marriage, family, and all the other ties that bind.”

I love that That Old Cape Magic is a celebration of past summers spent on my beloved Cape Cod, which makes this the perfect summer reading novel – remember summer unofficially starts next week with the arrival of Memorial Day.

Even if you have no connection to the nostalgia of past summers on the Cape, in That Old Cape Magic the masterful Mr. Russo creates a world of characters instantly relatable to just about everyone – especially men of a certain age.

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.

JPVOne thing that is hard for a lifelong New Englander to grasp out here in the middle of the country is how diverse it really is. We tend to think of the Midwest as flat and full of miles and miles of cornfields. Well there is a lot of that, but from where I am just outside of Kansas City, I am just a few hours away from Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas and of course Missouri and Kansas.

And oh yeah, there is so much more than just corn and wheat fields out here. A case in point: George Paul Vinegar – “Italian quality” balsamics from, wait for it… Nebraska!

About George Paul Vinegar: “George Paul Vinegar is the culmination of many years of hard work, patience, and perseverance by the Johnson family – George and Karen and their three children Eric, Adam, and Emily. As far as we can remember, this all started with a few scrawny grapevines George planted back in 1999. The Sandhills region provides a unique and challenging environment for grapes. The varietals we grow must withstand our long harsh winters and manage to ripen before the end of our very short growing season. Before we’d even made our first harvest of grapes, George and Emily were experimenting with making wine from local wild grapes and other fruits. So by the time our own grapes were ready to harvest, we were capable of making a pretty good wine. It might have been the unique taste of our wine that inspired our dear friend Noah to suggest we might try making balsamic-style vinegar with it.”

Try George Paul Vinegar’s Prairie Red Vinegar: “A blend of red wine vinegars, our Prairie Red has incredible flavor complexity with elements of fresh fruit backed by rich pruney depth. Each ‘vintage’ is a new blend of varietal red wine vinegars, with its own personality. Nevertheless, you can always count on Prairie Red to make a fabulous vinaigrette or add pizazz to cold salads or warm tomato dishes. Our red wine vinegar is made from our rich and flavorful St. Croix, Frontenac, and GR7 grape varietals.”

Learn more about Nebraska’s George Paul Vinegar here.