Archive for September, 2014

himI think I have found something even better than seasoning my food with salt…

…cooking it on a salt block – like the Himalayan Salt Blocks from The Meadow.

About the Himalayan Salt Blocks from The Meadow: “The Meadow’s Himalayan salt blocks are the best available anywhere, hand-picked from the purest seams of 600 million year old salt deposits deep under the rugged Punjabi landscape. Suitable for freezing to -320°F (-196°C) and heating to 900°F (482°C); no other salt block has been tested to such extremes! Our Cookware Grade™ Himalayan Salt Blocks are selected for both natural beauty and structural integrity. Suitable for all uses, from salt block freezing to frying to curing to grilling. Serve fruits and cheeses, cure unreal gravlax, warm a salad of wilted greens and Roquefort cheese, sear lobster or flatiron steak or duck breast with duck fat-fried potato chips, chill tuna tartar or scallop ceviche, and for desert, try freezing some salted bitters ice cream!”

Find the Himalayan Salt Blocks from The Meadow here.

Check out all the fine product available from The Meadow here.

Today’s Friday Finds are two artists discovered last week while on vacation.

FF: Artist Michael Helfen (known as ZENCAR and Eye of the Beholder)

zenWhile visiting an art show in Sandwich, MA while on vacation, my friend Lynda and I checked in on local artist Michael Helfen whose work we had admired and purchased in the past.

About artist Michael Helfen: “I feature fine art photographs and original oil paintings, watercolors, and acrylic paintings. I am a juried member of The Cape Cod Art Association, member of The Yarmouth Art Guild, Chatham Creative Arts, The Village Crafters. I am represented by Picture This Gallery in Sandwich, Mass. My work is also sold at All That Matters in Belmont, Mass and the gift shops at the Cape Cod Art Association and The Cultural Center of Cape Cod. I do many shows on Cape Cod during the summer.”

Check out artist Michael Helfen’s Etsy store here.

FF: Gravestone Girls

graveOften macabre, but always very cool, are the decorative sculptures from Gravestone Girls. These neat castings are created from gravestone rubbings taken in old New England cemeteries.

About Gravestone Girls: “We create decorative artwork using the beautiful and primitive images carved on olde New England gravestones; give lectures on cemetery art, history and symbolism as well as teach gravestone rubbing classes! Our work aims to entertain and educate on the historical perspective of old cemeteries by documenting and preserving the beautiful art they contain. To produce our three-dimensional art pieces, we perfected a casting technique which exactly replicated the original gravestone carving. The creations in our collection are derived from 17th-21st century gravestones found in cemeteries throughout the New England region.”

Learn more about Gravestone Girls here.

Pandora? Smandora!

iTunes? ShmyTunes!

This is what the internet was invented for…

Johnny Cash Radio!


Seriously folks, just listen!

wilsThis week’s book, Wilson by A. Scott Berg, is the perfect storm of books for me. First, it is a biography of one of the most enigmatic historical figures of the last century and it is written by an author whose other works I have greatly enjoyed.

So it was with much anticipation approached the biography of Woodrow Wilson by A. Scott Berg, and I was not disappointed. Woodrow Wilson’s administration in the early part of the 20th century bridged a time when our nation went from a relatively young republic still healing from the Civil War to become a dominant world power through the Great War, World War I.

A century after Wilson first took office, the story of his life, his time as a world leader and the legacy he left behind is as compelling as ever and well presented in the very capable hands of Mr. Berg.

About Wilson by A. Scott Berg: “One hundred years after his inauguration, Woodrow Wilson still stands as one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century, and one of the most enigmatic. And now, after more than a decade of research and writing, Pulitzer Prize–winning author A. Scott Berg has completed Wilson—the most personal and penetrating biography ever written about the twenty-eighth President. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of documents in the Wilson Archives, Berg was the first biographer to gain access to two recently discovered caches of papers belonging to those close to Wilson. From this material, Berg was able to add countless details—even several unknown events—that fill in missing pieces of Wilson’s character, and cast new light on his entire life. From the visionary Princeton professor who constructed a model for higher education in America to the architect of the ill-fated League of Nations, from the devout Commander in Chief who ushered the country through its first great World War to the widower of intense passion and turbulence who wooed a second wife with hundreds of astonishing love letters, from the idealist determined to make the world ‘safe for democracy’ to the stroke-crippled leader whose incapacity—and the subterfuges around it—were among the century’s greatest secrets, from the trailblazer whose ideas paved the way for the New Deal and the Progressive administrations that followed to the politician whose partisan battles with his opponents left him a broken man, and ultimately, a tragic figure—this is a book at once magisterial and deeply emotional about the whole of Wilson’s life, accomplishments, and failings. This is not just Wilson the icon—but Wilson the man.”

The only thing I did not enjoy about this book was it took me all summer to read. At more than 800 pages (in the print version) I had to read it in fits and starts over the past couple of months. My efforts were rewarded with a well-researched and documented portrait of a much under examined leader whose time in office shaped the world we live in today.

Wilson by A. Scott Berg is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.

pepIt turns out that I have been slacking in the basic seasoning department. It is well known that I have a thing for salt. Come to my kitchen and you will find dozens of different salts – many of which I have raved about on this very blog. But imagine how red faced I was when on a recent visit to my humble home on the Kansas prairie, my lifelong friend Lynda asked for some pepper and I had none to offer.

So I set myself to finding a pepper grinder and I have found many fine candidates, but none as cool as the salt and pepper mills from William Bounds’ Pep Art Mills.

About William Bounds’ Pep Art Mills: “Evenly crushing peppercorns with innovative mill mechanisms, William Bounds’ Pep Art Mills are a creative kitchen staple. Hand painted and adjustable, the entertaining must-haves in this whimsical collection complement any countertop or table setting. Choose a coordinated set or create your own combination—these eccentric essentials bring the quirk and flavor to every meal.”

I have my eye on the Eggplant & Apple PepArt Petite Tulip Set: “Designed by artist Robert Wilhelm, the new PepArt Petite Tulip Set is petite in size, but grand in style. It features the exclusive William Bounds milling mechanism, which crushes rather than grinds peppercorns to extract fresh flavor and oils. Fully adjustable from extra fine to extra coarse. Salt shaker topped with stainless steel sieve.”

Find all the cool artistic housewares of William Bounds’ Pep Art Mills here.

metIf you think about it, baseball cards are really a chronicle of American pop culture over the years. Beginning in the late 1800’s right up until today, every year, cards are printed and in addition to recognizing the game of baseball, they reflect changing fashion styles, demographics and printing and design. …popular culture all rolled up in 2”x3” pieces of cardboard.

I love that the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is currently displaying their vast collection of baseball cards with an exhibition of the Burdick Baseball Card collection now through October 5, 2014.

About the Burdick Baseball Card Exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art: “The Burdick Baseball Card collection constitutes an integral part of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection of ephemera and tells the history of popular printmaking in the United States. In 1947, after having approached A. Hyatt Mayor, the Museum’s curator of prints and photographs, the Syracuse electrician Jefferson R. Burdick (1900–1963) began to donate his entire collection of approximately thirty thousand baseball cards in large batches, along with another 270,000 trade and postcards, to the Museum. The baseball cards collected by Burdick date from 1887 to 1959 and represent the most comprehensive collection outside of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The cards on view illustrate the history of baseball from the dead-ball era at the turn of the nineteenth century into the golden age and modern era of the sport.”

The Burdick Baseball Card collection is on exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City through October 5, 2014.

Visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art online here.

You know me – I can’t pass a bike without snapping a picture.  Here are a few I spotted out and about this past week on vacation (click on the thumbnails in the gallery below to see the whole picture):

Well, my vacation to Wellfleet officially ended this morning.  But not before we enjoyed this amazing sunset last night…


Jaws1One of the first things you see when you cross over into Wellfleet on Cape Cod is the roadside marquee for the Wellfleet Drive-In movie theater. The site of the marquee is one of the milestones we anticipate on our annual drive to vacation. This year we were in for an added treat when we saw the marquee – it listed that the movie showing was Jaws, the original 1975 classic film.

Jaws? At the Drive-in? While on vacation on Cape Cod? We just had to go! And we did. It was a great thrill to see the film on the big screen at a classic drive-in theater.

About Jaws: “Directed by Academy Award winner Steven Spielberg, Jaws set the standard for edge-of-your seat suspense quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon and forever changing the movie industry. When the seaside community of Amity finds itself under attack by a dangerous great white shark, the town’s chief of police (Roy Scheider), a young marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a grizzled shark hunter (Robert Shaw) embark on a desperate quest to destroy the beast before it strikes again. Featuring an unforgettable score that evokes pure terror, Jaws remains one of the most influential and gripping adventures in motion picture history.)”


The movie held up and we spent the week quoting our favorite lines and of course looking out for great whites while at the beach. Not too farfetched, there had been many sightings of the sharks off the coast of the Cape all summer.

Meanwhile, later in the week we were thrilled to come across this little piece of folk art – Quint, as portrayed by Robert Shaw in the film, in an artist rendering of a period Narragansett beer ad. Very cool.


Having vacationed in Wellfleet every summer for the past 15 years, there are many places in this town I like to return to every year. At the top of the must visit list – right after the harbor and the beach – is Jules Besch Stationers. Jules Besch is quite simply my all-time favorite retail shop.

I have raved about Jules Besch before, but it is difficult to share as the business is just the one retail location in Wellfleet with no internet presence. But suffice to say, Jules Besch offers the most well-curated collection of stationery, greeting cards and related items that you can find and it is a thrill to visit every time.

Today, for my Friday Finds, I feature a few of the items I found at Jules Besch this week.

Jules Besch Stationers is located at 15 Bank St in historic Wellfleet, MA.

FF: The Oxford Fluorescent White Note with Bicycle from Crane & Co.

CRANEFirst up, from the always classy Crane & Co., the Oxford Fluorescent White Note with Bicycle.

About the Oxford Fluorescent White Note with Bicycle from Crane & Co.:

“Playful with classic sensibilities, our illustrated bicycle motif in understatedly elegant taupe ink on our white note is the perfect choice for the correspondent who prefers writing from underneath the willow tree. Pair with our honeycomb envelope lining for extra enchantment.”

See all the fine stationery products from Crane& Co. here.

FF: John Burke Photography

I found this great collection of cards with prints from John Burke Photography:


FF: Green Grape Press

I also fell in love with these simple letterpress cards from Green Grape Press of Essex, CT: