Archive for June, 2014

HAPPYI stumbled upon this great bottle opener the other day – the Happy Monkey Bottle Opener from Atomic Garden. I love the design and love how the fine folks at Atomic Garden describe it:

“…will happily open bottles for you without complaining.”

Upon further inspection, I found that the fine folks at Atomic Garden offers a ton of other cool products as well.

About Atomic Garden: “Atomic Garden is a boutique located in Oakland California. Inspired by beauty in everyday life, Atomic Garden is a repository of all things handcrafted, thoughtful and made with purpose.”

Learn more about Atomic Garden and see all their fine products here.

SHPI went to the wonderful Farmers Market in Overland Park, KS yesterday and bought some fresh spinach and herbs. I remembered a recipe I wanted to try – this recipe for Spinach-and-Herb Pastatta I found in Southern Living magazine, and whipped it up last night.

About the recipe for Spinach-and-Herb Pastatta from Southern Living: “Introducing the past Atta: a comforting, hearty casserole that’s a cross between baked pasta and frittata.”

The recipe calls for frozen spinach, but my fresh spinach worked just perfectly. I also replaced the TEN eggs with egg substitute and it worked out just great. Now I can add Spinach-and-Herb Pastatta to the long list of perfect summer comfort food.

Find the recipe for Spinach-and-Herb Pastatta from Southern Living here.

See the recipe for Spinach-and-Herb Pastatta from My Recipes here.

Check out all the cool find from Southern Living Magazine here.

I’ve been on WAY too many planes over the past few months.  The good news is I have a ton of frequent flyer points and priority access on Southwest – not my favorite airline but the only real option in and out of Kansas City from Boston.  Anyway, I love looking out the window down on out great country.  Every now and then I snap a picture or two out the window – here are a few of the photos I’ve captured recently.

Somewhere over Colorado in early June on the way from Kansas City to Las Vegas.  I love the lush green in the valley mixed with the snowy peaks:

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That’s Manhattan from high up on my way from Portland, ME (PWM) to Baltimore (BWI) – kind of hard to see the detail that is the great metropolis – but you can definitely make out the swath that is Central Park:

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That is the great city of Boston, MA (BOS) as seen from the sky on the same trip from PWM to BWI last week:

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Random shot – but I like the colors – waiting for a delayed flight at Kansas City (MCI):

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Finally, this shot from this past winter – on the way into Kansas City at dusk – I love the mix of colors with the snow:

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I have been able to get out to explore my new city a little more now that the summer weather has finally arrived. I have to tell you, there is a lot more to Kansas City than may meet the eye at first glance. Today, I present a few of the local attractions that I have enjoyed and that any visitor to this neat little city might want to check out.

FF: The American Jazz Museum

AMJMThe Smithsonian-affiliated American Jazz Museum is everything you would hope for in such a museum – truly a great experience that makes you appreciate the true American art form that is Jazz more than ever before.

About The American Jazz Museum: “Located in the Historic 18th & Vine Jazz District in Kansas City, MO, the American Jazz Museum showcases the sights and sounds of jazz through interactive exhibits and films, the Changing Gallery exhibit space, Horace M. Peterson III Visitors Center, Blue Room jazz club and Gem Theater. Since its inception in 1997, the Museum hosts thousands of students, scholars, musicians and fans of the arts for over 200 performances, education programs, special exhibitions, community events and more each year, providing an opportunity to learn about the legends, honor their legacy, or simply enjoy the sounds of modern day jazz.”

The American Jazz Museum is located at 1616 E. 18th Street in the great city of Kansas City, MO.

FF: City Market

KCCMNo visit to KC is complete without a visit to the bustling City Market, especially on a weekend. More than just a Farmers’ Market (and it is one of the biggest you will ever visit) the City Market is “an eclectic mix of dining, shopping, entertainment and attractions.”

About City Market: “The City Market offers visitors a variety of fresh produce, meat, specialty groceries, flowers and gift items from nearby farms and around the world. Steeped in over 150 years of tradition, the City Market offers shoppers the region’s largest farmers’ market and the opportunity to purchase the best of the heartland direct from producers, every Saturday and Sunday, year-round. The City Market has an extensive calendar, hosting concerts, festivals and other special events.”

The City Market is located at 20 E. 5th Street, Suite 201, in the great city of Kansas City, MO.

FF: The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial

WWIFirst there is The American Jazz Museum, and then there is the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial – which is a fitting tribute to the Great War which is now being marked as starting 100 years ago this year.

About The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial: “The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial inspires thought, dialogue, and learning to make the experiences of the World War I era meaningful and relevant for present and future generations. The Museum fulfills its mission by: Maintaining the Liberty Memorial as a beacon of freedom and a symbol of the courage, patriotism, sacrifice, and honor of all who served in World War I; Interpreting the history of World War I to encourage public involvement and informed decision-making; Providing exhibitions and educational programs that engage diverse audiences; Collecting and preserving historical materials with the highest professional standards.”

The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial is located at 100 W. 26th Street in the great city of Kansas City, MO.

FF: Maker’s Mark Bourbon House & Lounge

MMBWhen you have had your fill of touring markets and museums, you can rest and revive at the Maker’s Mark Bourbon House and Lounge – seriously, any restaurant named after one of my favorite bourbons is ok by me.

About Maker’s Mark Bourbon House & Lounge: “Southern hospitality rises to a new level at Maker’s Mark Bourbon House and Lounge serving Certified Angus Beef prepared to perfection and the world’s freshest seafood, making every meal an experience. Comfortably elegant, warm and satisfying, Maker’s Mark Bourbon House & Lounge redefines the classic steak house and celebrates the marriage of Bourbon and Steak. It’s the true union of Kentucky’s most heralded export and a great Kansas City tradition. Creative cocktails and an alluring wine list ensure that all of our guests’ palates are gratified. The Bourbon house is open six days a week for lunch, dinner and late night bites.”

Maker’s Mark Bourbon House & Lounge is located at 1333 Walnut Street in the great city of Kansas City, MO.

prepI went to prep school. There I said it. Yes, a New England prep school back at the height of the preppie invasion known as the 1980s.

So yeah, I may be an aging hipster, but definitely a hipster with preppie tendencies. Which is most likely why I fell in love with the fine folks at Ivy Prepster.

About Ivy Prepster: “Ivy Prepster is a lifestyle brand committed to creating unique apparel for the preppy wardrobe, such as its successful collection of distinctive, smart knit ties. Inspired by the resurgence of the tie in the male wardrobe and the modern prep movement, Ivy Prepster neckwear reflects the past, present and future of knit ties. The Ivy Prepster team has combined knit sweater inspiration and whimsical design to produce a knit tie line that is youthful and classic, yet modern distinguished by its patterns, points and preppy features.”

Ivy Prepster offers many fine accessories for preppies and wanna-be’s – but you can’t beat their line of bow ties.

Hey, you gotta love a company whose website features a section on “Prepster Etiquette.”

Learn more about the Ivy Prepster here.

tgwThis Saturday will mark the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Crown Duke Ferdinand in Sarajevo, an event that every school child of a certain age knows was the event that led to the First World War.

The centenary of this event will surely start an arc of remembrance for what was once called “the war to end all wars” and I for one am pleased about this. Not pleased to relive this horrific chapter in our history, but to bring attention to a war that has been long overshadowed by later conflicts. The stories of WWI deserve to be told.

Anyway, the wonderful new “book” – The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme by Joe Sacco – goes a long way by brilliantly bringing one of the Great War’s most epic events to life for a new generation. Mr. Sacco depicts the great battle without writing a word, yet conveys the emotion, the horror, and the futility of war with his stunning artwork.

About The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme by Joe Sacco: “Launched on July 1, 1916, the Battle of the Somme has come to epitomize the madness of the First World War. Almost 20,000 British soldiers were killed and another 40,000 were wounded that first day, and there were more than one million casualties by the time the offensive halted. In The Great War, acclaimed cartoon journalist Joe Sacco depicts the events of that day in an extraordinary, 24-foot- long panorama: from General Douglas Haig and the massive artillery positions behind the trench lines to the legions of soldiers going ‘over the top’ and getting cut down in no-man’s-land, to the tens of thousands of wounded soldiers retreating and the dead being buried en masse. Printed on fine accordion-fold paper and packaged in a deluxe slipcase with a 16-page booklet, The Great War is a landmark in Sacco’s illustrious career and allows us to see the War to End All Wars as we’ve never seen it before.”

Not quite a book, not quite a graphic novel, The Great War is just simply a work of art that tells a story as compelling as any novel or work of history.

The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme by Joe Sacco is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.

I was back in New Hampshire this past weekend, just in time to spend the longest day of the year (the first day of summer) at one of my favorite spots – looking across Lake Chocorua at Mount Chocorua from Tamworth, NH… At dusk no less… Pretty in pink…

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I figured that eventually I would find out what attracted me to the prairies of Kansas. Well I think I may have discovered it at long last: there is a big movement here to produce small batch whiskeys and bourbon. I’m in!

Back in the Wild West days, Kansas was a hotspot for whiskey. You know all those saloons in old western movies? That’s Kansas – as in Dodge City which was known as “the town to be born from a barrel of whiskey.” At some point Kansas became very conservative, perhaps to escape the image of whiskey-fueled gunfights, and became one of the driest states in the union.

Although still way more conservative than most of the country, Kansas is not nearly as dry as it used to be and there is a renaissance in the distillery business here these days.

DCDFor example, the fine folks at Dodge City Distillery have a wonderful locally produced spirit: Dodge City Distillery’s Double Barrel Bourbon Whiskey.

About Dodge City Distillery’s Double Barrel Bourbon Whiskey: “Double Barrel Bourbon is one of the most labor intensive bourbons made in the U.S.A. Each batch is carefully aged for a minimum of 3 years, then re-barreled by hand for a second time to give it a very distinctive taste and color. Each bottle is hand-washed, hand-filled, corked, sealed, labeled, and hand-packed … done in the same manner used by our predecessors in the days of the Wild West. Bourbon in the 1800′s was worth as much as gold, and was traded as such as one of the “finer luxuries of life”. Savor the taste and the passions that goes into each bottle! Savor every precious drop! Lose yourself in this luxury!”

Visit Dodge City Distillery online here.

Learn more about Dodge City Distillery’s Double Barrel Bourbon Whiskey here.

DHDMeanwhile, the fine folks at the Dark Horse Distillery (just across the Missouri River in Kansas City, MO) has been producing their own brand of locally distilled beverages since way back in 2010.

About Dark Horse Distillery: “Founded in 2010, our story is not a long one. But all traditions have a beginning. Dark Horse is a young upstart, mixed with a bit of maverick and a splash of daring. But don’t confuse our fresh faces for a lack of commitment. We’re committed to our craft. Family owned and family operated, we started Dark Horse Distillery to bring something to Kansas City: bold, pure spirits hand-crafted with conviction, distilled with tradition, delivered with devotion. And while our story may be short, our spirits and passion will leave a lasting impression. We may be the Dark Horse you didn’t see coming, but we are the one you’re sure to come back to.”

Try Dark Horse Distillery’s Reserve Bourbon Whiskey.

About Dark Horse Distillery’s Reserve Bourbon Whiskey: “Distilled from a sour mash recipe, Dark Horse Reserve goes the distance. Handcrafted in our copper pot still using only traditional methods—we distill our bourbon whiskey gently in small batches and age it to perfection in our signature barrels. From first sight to final sip, you’ll be seduced by its tender notes of vanilla, maple, caramel and smoke. Neat or in a cocktail, our reserve is a smooth reminder that some things are best enjoyed slowly.”

Visit Dark Horse Distillery online here.

It seems crazy but it has been five months since my trip to Argentina in January. It was a crazy time for me. Celebrating Christmas and New Year’s and the heading straight down to summer in Buenos Aires (where it was very hot). Then returning to New England for the coldest winter in years and then moving to Kansas City… See? A crazy five months.

Anyway, every time I travel to Argentina I am reminded of mate, a yerba tea which is a traditional drink in much of South America. I have collected a few mate gourds and bombillas, which is are very cool metal straws with a sieve at the end that you use to drink mate, and the whole ritual of the drink is fascinating to me.

I have featured a few pictures of these mate gourd (including this great shot of gourds for sale at the San Telmo market) and have been asked many times about mate and the rituals surrounding it. I always tell people what I know, but I recently came across a great primer about mate on the website of The Splendid Table, the fabulous weekly American Public Media Radio show.

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In the feature about mate in Argentina, host Lynne Rossetto Kasper interviews a couple who recently explored mate culture in Argentina and the site features some great tidbits about the drink. Definitely worth checking out.

See all the great content of The Splendid Table here.

Bos614.1Last weekend on a quick weekend trip back to New England (from my new digs in Kansas just outside of KC, MO), I had the great privilege of spending the evening with my dear friend Lynda and her husband in Weymouth, MA just south of Boston. Following a lovely dinner we went for a walk at sunset in Webb Memorial State Park which offers a great view of the Boston skyline across the harbor.

I was pleased to have been able to take a few great shots of the sunset and the red glow it cast across the Boston skyline in the distance. I had been visiting Lynda at her home in Weymouth for many years and had never been to this park before – which made the evening even more special.

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About Webb Memorial State Park in Weymouth, MA: “Located on Boston Harbor close to the Boston Harbor Islands, Webb Memorial offers quiet enjoyment and vistas of the harbor and Boston skyline. The park is a scenic peninsula that extends nearly half a mile into Hingham Bay. Recreational activities include fishing, picnicking and walking. A large pavilion with grills is available for rent to organized groups from May through October. The two glacial hills and connecting lowland that form Weymouth Neck and Webb Memorial have been sculpted by natural and human forces for over 12,000 years. The area was used extensively by Native Americans because of its wealth of shellfish, finfish and wild fruits. European settlers used the area primarily for agriculture until the end of the nineteenth century. Boats depart from nearby Hewitt’s Cove in Hingham to Boston Harbor Islands.”

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Learn more about Webb Memorial State Park in Weymouth, MA here.