Archive for October, 2014

FF: The Texas State Shape Cookie Cutter from CopperGifts.com

ff1Don’t mess with my cookies made with the Texas State Shape Cookie Cutter from CopperGifts.com.

About the Texas State Shape Cookie Cutter from CopperGifts.com: “Texas Cookie Cutter measures 4-1/2 x 4-3/8 inches. Texas is the second largest state in both area and population. It was admitted as the 28th state in 1845. Texas Cookie Cutter will be 1-1/8 inches deep after one side of the copper is tightly folded over for safety and stability. Our sturdy, copper cookie cutters are shaped by hand and soldered together for a permanent old-fashioned hold.”

See the 2,000+ copper cookie cutters available from CopperGifts.com here.

FF: The EVOO’s of Georgia Olive Farms

FF2Not all great olive oils come from Napa or Tuscany, try the Extra Virgin Olive Oil of Georgia Olive Farms.

About The Extra Virgin Olive Oil of Georgia Olive Farms: “Currently we sell two varieties of Georgia Olive Farms Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Arbequina and Chef’s Blend. Both are pure, first cold-pressed EVOO with a taste described by Esquire Magazine as ‘smooth and ticks the back of your throat with a faint peppery kick, the way it should.’ Our Pure Georgia Arbequina oil is only available in limited quantities each harvest season. This oil is 100% Georgia grown, EVOO. Its Green and buttery with a fruity finish.”

Visit Georgia Olive Farms’ online store here.

Visit Georgia Olive Farms online here.

FF: Batman USB Flash Drive Cufflinks

ff3I love these Batman USB Flash Drive Cufflinks from Cufflinks Inc. and available through Manhattan-based jewelers Michael C. Fina.  Do you understand that these are cufflinks with USB drives built in and the Batman logo on the outside?  Yes, these exist.

About Cufflinks Inc.: “Cufflinks, Inc. is the world’s premier resource for fine accessories. From classic style to pop culture panache, Cufflinks, Inc. creates cufflinks that make an impression. Featuring the world’s favorite characters and most popular personalities, these cufflinks add a fun, personal touch to any outfit.”

See all the cool styles of Cufflinks Inc. cufflinks available from Michael C. Fina here.

Visit jewelers Michael C. Fina online here.

SATCHI have several bags that I use to carry my stuff here and there depending on the day. These bags range from computer bags to back packs to messenger bags. None of these bags are anything I would consider something I love – but considering how much I use and rely on them, I think it is time that I invest in something really special to, well, carry my junk. Which is why I have been eyeing the fine leather satchels of Colsen Keane recently.

About Colsen Keane: “At Colsen Keane Leather, we are obsessed with using the best hides in the world. The vast majority of our leather products are made with hides tanned and treated here in the United States. We work primary with three tanneries Horween, Hermann Oak and Wickett & Craig.”

In particular I love Colsen Keane’s No. 820 – The Classic Satchel in Crazy Horse.

About The Classic Satchel in Crazy Horse from Colsen Keane: “When I stumbled across a few Crazy Horse cowhides, I scooped up all I could get my hands on. The few items we carry in this leather are limited edition. The hue of this leather seems to evolve daily. The dilemma: you want a bag that will hold more than just your iPad or MacBook. You want to carry a few books, your power cord, your pens and moleskin journal. Or you want a really great bag for transporting your paperwork and a light sweater. You want an adjustable strap and a satchel that can withstand the rigors of being thrown in the overhead compartment and being tossed in the backseat of the jeep. As with all our items, necessity, experimentation in our shop and an abundance of leather scraps scattering the floor were our process to creating a satchel worthy of transporting MacBooks, real books and more. Like us, we’re pretty sure you’ll fall in love with its utility and old world reminiscence.”

At nearly $800 the Crazy Horse satchel would indeed be an investment – but surely one that it is worth it. I could save my pennies or hope that someone out there who may still be looking for the perfect gift for a dear friend who may or may not have recently celebrated a milestone birthday…

See all the fine leather Satchels of Colsen Keane here.

Learn more about Colsen Keane and see all their fine leather goods here.

GDGarden & Gun magazine is one of my favorite things in life. Seriously, when a new issue arrives in the mail, I put it aside to make sure I give it the proper treatment – which is a ritual where I need to be relaxed, have plenty of time and able to sip on some bourbon while savoring every page.

There are many reasons to love the magazine, and many of things I find within its pages find their way to this very blog, but one of the best features are the stories about dogs. Not just stories about dogs, but stories about dogs in the American South and the people who love them – written by some of the best writers around. Now, in the new compilation, Good Dog – True Stories of Love, Loss, and Loyalty by the editors of Garden and Gun and David DiBenedetto, we are treated to these stories all in one place.

About Good Dog – True Stories of Love, Loss, and Loyalty by Editors of Garden and Gun and David DiBenedetto: “Garden & Gun magazine’s aptly named Good Dog column is one of the publication’s most popular features. Now editor in chief David DiBenedetto and the editors of Garden & Gun have gathered their favorite essays as well as original pieces for this must-read collection of dog ownership, companionship, and kinship. By turns humorous, inspirational, and poignant, Good Dog offers beautifully crafted stories from such notable writers as P. J. O’Rourke, Jon Meacham, and Roy Blount, Jr. From the troublemakers who can’t be fenced in to the lifelong companions who never leave our sides, this one-of-a-kind anthology showcases man’s best friend through all of his most endearing (and maddening) attributes.”

The stories contained in this anthology transcend the topic. Sure, dogs are the theme, but the stories are all written by gifted writers and are entertaining and touching as anything you will read.

Good Dog – True Stories of Love, Loss, and Loyalty by the editors of Garden and Gun and David DiBenedetto is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.

Check out the coolness that is Garden & Gun magazine here.

plasti2I am one of those people that can spend hours walking up and down the aisles at big box retailers like The Home Depot and Lowes. I like seeing all the new products while I am looking for inspiration for home projects and my artwork. I have discovered all sorts of cool things over the years, but I thought I died and went to heaven when I came across Plasti Dip at The Home Depot recently.

About Plasti Dip: “Plasti Dip is a multi-purpose, synthetic-rubber coating that protects items from moisture, acids, abrasion, corrosion, skidding and slipping. The coating insulates against electric shock, vibration and heat, deadens sound, remains flexible in extreme weather and provides a safe, comfortable grip. Synthetic-rubber formula provides flexibility and durability. For application by spraying, brushing and dipping. Use in a temperature range from -30 degrees Fahrenheit to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Dries in as little as 30 minutes.”

Seriously? This stuff is really cool – and even comes in a spray can version. Now I just need to find a worthy project for this stuff. So far I have used it as a dip to add a grip to a few tools and a place setting of silverware. But I feel an inspiration coming…

Plasti Dip is available at fine retailers everywhere – including The Home Depot.

Coming from New England, I am used to living among history, most notably Colonial-era hijinks that led to the Revolution. Out here in the Midwest, there is a ton of history as well, mostly about the westward expansion as our nation grew. I have been enjoying touring around and learning more about the area and its role in history. There are two charming towns in Missouri, Arrow Rock and Blackwater, that have totally embraced their place in history and continue to bring it all alive for visitors.

Arrow Rock, MO

arrowAbout the historic village of Arrow Rock, MO: “The historic village of Arrow Rock is an ideal getaway for a day or an entire weekend. The town, a National Historic Landmark, evokes the warm spirit of the past and is full of friendly people, great restaurants and shops, and fascinating historical attractions. Begin your journey to the past with a visit to the old-time Country Store, the town’s tiny post office, and the interesting period shops on Main Street, better known to locals as “The Boardwalk.” Other highlights include the J. Huston Tavern, the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi; the Arrow Rock Station, where diners enjoy a year-round Christmas display; Catalpa restaurant, recently voted Best Restaurant in the Best of Rural Missouri reader survey; and, of course, the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre, Missouri’s oldest professional regional theatre, producing popular professional theatre from June through November.”

Visit the historic village of Arrow Rock, MO online here.

Arrow Rock, MO

blackwAbout Blackwater, MO: “Blackwater is named for the Blackwater river that flows nearby. The river was named after a Native American word that means black water. Blackwater Missouri was founded in 1887 near one of the many coal and water stops for the Missouri Pacific Railroad on the ” river route” that connected the state capital, Jefferson City, with Kansas City, Missouri. The town “boomed” to 600 residents in 1920. The local quarry supplied stone for building roads and buildings. Cattle were penned up headed for the famous stock yards in Kansas City. Farm produce was shipped to market. Supplies, farm equipment and hardware arrived daily. Today you can stand near the windmill over the original town well and close your eyes and step back in time. You can almost hear the steam whistle and smell the pungent coal smoke of the Missouri Pacific. You can almost hear the cattle bellowing. You can almost hear the music and voices from the Arcade saloon.”

Visit the historic town of Blackwater, MO online here.

While in Blackwater, you can pop into the The Bucksnort Saloon, a living museum of a classic saloon of the old west.

bssAbout the Bucksnort Saloon in Blackwater, MO: “Walk through the swinging doors and travel back into the 1880’s. The Bucksnort Saloon is an attraction like none other. A living history cowboy museum for the whole family. Step up to the bar and order a sarsaparilla or one of many old time non-alcohol drinks. On Saturdays and Sundays you can play Faro. Faro was the most popular card game in the west before 1900. This game was played by Doc Holliday and his friend Wyatt Earp as well as many other card sharps. Everything in the Bucksnort Saloon is of the 1880 to 1900 time period determined by archival research and photographs of the time period. Check your guns at the bar and talk to the bartender about a haircut in the 1890 barber chair or a Clean Water bath and shave in the back. Soiled Doves are up-stairs. The outhouse is outside the back door.”

Visit the Bucksnort Saloon online here.

MULLI eat a lot of energy bars. I try to stay away from the bars that have extra caffeine and other “energy boosters” in them. I prefer the natural boost of energy you can get from quality ingredients. I always thought one way to ensure my energy bars had the right mix of what I want in them would be to make my own. But how does one do that?

Well, I recently came across this recipe for Homemade Energy Bars in Men’s Journal magazine. The recipe, supplied by Men’s Journal contributor Seamus Mullen, is relatively simple and easily adaptable.

About the Homemade Energy Bar Recipe from Men’s Journal: “I like to make my own bars out of a combo of dried fruit, nuts, chia seeds, coconut flakes, ground coffee (one of the oldest and safest performance-enhancement drugs). I cut them in squares and wrap them in waxed paper, and I have a perfect meal on the go.”

Mr. Mullen’s recipe gave me the guidance and the confidence that I could make my own bars. Heck, it is basically a no-bake cookie. It took some trial and error – and replacing some of his ingredients for my own (no expresso or coconut and peanuts instead of almonds) I succeeded and I was impressed with my work (if I don’t say so myself). The key word is indeed “work” – so I won’t be making these too often but it is good to know I can do whenever I want.

Find Seamus Mullen’s Homemade Energy Bar Recipe from Men’s Journal here.

See all the helpful tips and advice from Men’s Journal here.

OULTI am not the first to fall in love with the fine furnishings of British designer Timothy Oulton, but I am a fan. I was reminded of Mr. Oulton recently when I came across his Bandaged Union Jack Armchair which brought out my inner anglophile and overall admiration for his work.

About the Bandaged Armchair from Timothy Oulton: “Inspired by the classic wing chair, the Manor is a chair to get lost in with its large distinctive design. We have re-sculpted the lines and added interest to the leather detailing on the seat back to give it a more cutting edge.”

This chair is just a tiny piece of the wonderful collection Mr. Oulton has developed over the years. A short tour of his wonderfully lush website is like a walk through a fine English manor or the most exquisite home design store in the world.

About Timothy Oulton: “The story of Timothy Oulton started back in 1976 with a small antiques shop, owned by Tim’s dad. Profoundly influenced by his love of antiques, his father’s military background, and an inherent affection for British heritage, Tim created an authentic, visionary brand with the deepest integrity and a passion to deliver the extraordinary. Handcrafted with only the best traditional techniques and fabrications, each Timothy Oulton piece is inspired by the past, but reconceived from a modern perspective, producing uniquely authentic collections which push the boundaries of furniture design.”

Tour Timothy Oulton’s collections online here.

Learn more about Timothy Oulton here.

FF: Dave’s Vanilla All Natural Cold Brewed Coffee Syrup

cb2OK, I don’t care for coffee, but I like a little coffee flavor every now and then. But I love vanilla so when you add vanilla to the coffee flavor it is a home run. That’s why I like Dave’s Vanilla All Natural Cold Brewed Coffee Syrup, which is treat over ice cream or soaked into pound cake (really!).

About Dave’s Vanilla All Natural Cold Brewed Coffee Syrup: “Hand crafted All Natural Coffee Syrup made with pure Madagascar Vanilla Bean! Experience the full spectrum of flavor that resides in coffee beans with Dave’s Cold Brewed Coffee syrup. Dave’s All Natural Coffee Syrup is hand-roasted in small batches, cold-brewed and simmered with natural cane sugar to preserve the delicate, sophisticated notes that are seared away by traditional brewing methods. Pure Madagascar Vanilla bean adds an extra layer of richness to the original recipe. Drizzle over ice cream, blend with milk or add to recipes to enjoy exceptional sweet, smooth aroma.”

Find Dave’s Vanilla All Natural Cold Brewed Coffee Syrup here.

Visit Dave’s Coffee Store here.

FF: Grady’s Cold Brew

CB1Meanwhile, Grady’s Cold Brew is a coffee concentrate that will help you mix up a batch of iced coffee or the classic Rhode Island treat – a coffee milk – in no time at all.

About Grady’s Cold Brew: “Grady’s Cold Brew is a New Orleans–style coffee concentrate that’s brewed and bottled by hand in Brooklyn, New York. Each batch is made by steeping a special blend of freshly roasted coffee and chicory in water overnight, then removing the grounds using a two-step filtration process. What’s left? A bold, velvety-smooth liquid concentrate that can be mixed with milk or water—served over ice or steaming hot.”

Learn more about Grady’s Cold Brew here.

tenseI have a few hundred watches. Yes, you read that right. I will admit that I have a thing for watches. I have many different kinds of watches, but I do not have a wooden watch. Yet! But that may change soon as I just fell in love with the watches of Tense, a Canadian maker of, well, wooden watches.

About Tense wooden watches: “Founded in 1971, About Tense high quality wooden time pieces is owned and operated in British Columbia, Canada, one of the most beautiful places in the world. Like most Canadians, we love to be in touch with nature and live a simple and casual life. We pride ourselves in producing the world’s most unique time-pieces that are loved by nature lovers around the world. We continue to provide the best products and excellence in customer service for all our customers. We select the world’s best natural materials from Africa, India, and many other exotic places. All of our products use one of the world’s top watch movement, Miyota 2035, from Japan. Our products are all designed and manufactured in Canada.”

I like the classy two-tone Sandalwood Kootenay – Model: “This modern yet classic sport collection is one of our favorite line of watches. Made of natural solid Sandalwood. Sizable to fit all. The crowns and automatic push-button clasps are made of premium quality stainless-steel. All bracelets are hypo-allergenic. Features calendar date and luminescent hands.”

Learn more about Tense – “The original wooden watch” here.

QuickThis week’s Weekly Read is one of the most surprising and entertaining novels I have read in a long time: The Quick by Lauren Owen.

First, The Quick is a genre novel and that genre is clearly in the vein of well, the vein of a gothic novel, a Victorian mystery, a little bit Sherlock, a chunk of Jack the Ripper, some Dickens, a little bit Harry Potter, a little Interview with the Vampire and well, just a mash up of all manner of things in a big pot of crazy cool.

What starts out as a Victorian-era story of class and manners quickly becomes a surreal exploration of a dark world. It sounds like it could be a train wreck, but in the capable hands of Ms. Owen – a first time novelist no less – we are treated to a beguiling and entertaining (and totally creepy) world beyond our own imaginations.

About The Quick by Lauren Owen: “For fans of Anne Rice, The Historian, and The Night Circus, an astonishing debut, a novel of epic scope and suspense that conjures up all the magic and menace of Victorian London. 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Alarmed, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine London that greets her, she uncovers a hidden, supernatural city populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling ‘Doctor Knife.’ But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of the exclusive, secretive Aegolius Club, whose predatory members include the most ambitious, and most bloodthirsty, men in England. In her first novel, Lauren Owen has created a fantastical world that is both beguiling and terrifying. The Quick will establish her as one of fiction’s most dazzling talents.”

I’ll be honest. The Quick did not end up being the book I was hoping it would be. I was drawn to it by reading the first chapter and thought I was in for a pleasant novel about a quirky group of characters in Victorian London. However, even though it was not what I was expecting – it was surprising and entertaining in ways I could have never anticipated. Which means it was better than I hoped.

The Quick by Lauren Owen is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.