Archive for March, 2015

I saw this sign the other day at a field in Leawood City Park in lovely Leawood, Kansas – a suburb of the great city of Kansas City, MO.

The sign announces that no organized play is allowed, presumably because you need a permit or something to use the field for your sports league or whatever. I totally get it – but is still made me laugh.

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SHELTIt makes me a little sad that there are so many organizations dedicated to saving dogs and cats – because it shows the scale of the need. However, I am glad there are fine folks out there like The Shelter Pet Project that are committed to this important work.

About The Shelter Pet Project: “The Shelter Pet Project is the result of a collaborative effort between two leading animal welfare groups, The Humane Society of the United States and Maddie’s Fund, and the leading producer of public service advertising (PSA) campaigns, The Ad Council. Our goal is to make shelters the first place potential adopters turn when looking to get a new pet, ensuring that all healthy and treatable pets find loving homes. We do this by breaking down misconceptions surrounding shelter pets and communicating that ‘A person is the best thing to happen to a shelter pet. Be that person. Adopt.’”

Learn more about The Shelter Pet Project here.

FF: Uncle Jim’s Late Night Puttanesca

UJOk, so if you are looking for a fine pasta sauce that is better than the usual supermarket fare, you can’t go wrong with Uncle Jim’s Late Night Puttanesca – if not just for the name.

About Uncle Jim’s Late Night Puttanesca: “Our Uncle Jimmy is always up to something. He’s prone to go a little over the top, even when it comes to sauce. Jim’s puttanesca is perfect for those late-night cravings when we need a hearty, tasty dish. Jim insists, “You won’t find a better sauce. I add Chablis wine and use the best-looking and freshest vegetables—and I use more than anyone else—lots of mushrooms, olives, capers and onions. I guarantee you’ll walk away satisfied!” This may be one time when we all agree with him.”

Uncle Jim’s Late Night Puttanesca is available from La Famiglia DelGrosso.

FF: The glass water bottles from BottlesUp

BOTTI am so over plastic water bottles…

…I prefer glass.

However, it is hard to find glass bottles that are practical to carry around and use every day. That is why I fell in love with the bottles from BottlesUp.

About the glass water bottles from BottlesUp: “BottlesUp’s glass water bottles are fun and safe to drink from—glass is the purest and healthiest material to use for beverages. You get clean taste without metal or plastic flavors or lingering odors.”

Learn more about BottlesUp here.

FF: The Letterpress Cowboy Postcard from Hammerpress

Finally today, I adore this vintage-inspired Letterpress Cowboy Postcard by Hammerpress I found available from Domestic Domestic.

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See all the great products available from Domestic Domestic here.

KINGI love nonfiction books about English history – specifically about the monarchy. The reason is that the antics of the kings and queens – and their courts – over the centuries is more compelling than any novelization of any reign. Seriously, the history of England’s monarchy is full of stranger than fiction stories that are even better because they are true.

Such is the case with story told in the wonderful new book, Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I by Charles Spencer (yes that Charles Spencer). We are treated to the story of those who plotted against King Charles I and the subsequent retribution they endured, all of which played out like a 17th century revenge flick.

About Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I by Charles Spencer: “On August 18, 1648, with no relief from the siege in sight, the royalist garrison holding Colchester Castle surrendered and Oliver Cromwell’s army firmly ended the rule of Charles I of England. To send a clear message to the fallen monarch, the rebels executed four of the senior officers captured at the castle. Yet still, the king refused to accept he had lost the war. As France and other allies mobilized in support of Charles, a tribunal was hastily gathered and a death sentence was passed. On January 30, 1649, the King of England was executed. This is the account of the fifty-nine regicides, the men who signed Charles I’s death warrant. Recounting a little-known corner of British history, Charles Spencer explores what happened when the Restoration arrived. From George Downing, the chief plotter, to Richard Ingoldsby, who claimed he was forced to sign his name by his cousin Oliver Cromwell, and from those who returned to the monarchist cause and betrayed their fellow regicides to those that fled the country in an attempt to escape their punishment, Spencer examines the long-lasting, far-reaching consequences not only for those who signed the warrant, but also for those who were present at the trial and for England itself.”

Charles Spencer is fine historian and uncovers a truly fascinating, and little known, corner of English history and presents it is a very readable and entertaining book. Now we just have to wait for a film version of the story, perhaps starring Liam Neeson.

Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared to Execute Charles I by Charles Spencer is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.

FILSI have long been a fan of Filson, the venerable Seattle-based purveyor of durable clothing and accessories made in the USA. Now comes some great news. Filson has partnered with Shinola of Detroit to launch a new line of watches, and they are fantastic.

About the new Filson watch collection: “Assembled by hand in Shinola’s state-of-the-art Detroit factory, these watches are built to withstand the demands of the field, for a lifetime of use. Available in three-hand and chronograph.”

I like the Mackinaw Field chronograph watch.

Check out the Filson and their new watch collection here.

See all the coolness that is Shinola of Detroit here.

afccMusic is truly a universal language and has always been a source of comfort for those in the most challenging of circumstances. The African Children’s Choir has helped children find hope by bringing their music to the world.

About The African Children’s Choir: “Thirty years ago, Ray Barnett was on a humanitarian trip to war-torn Uganda when he gave a small boy a ride from his decimated home to the safety of another village. During the journey, the child did what he knew how to do best – he sang. That simple song of dignity and hope became the catalyst for a program that has changed the lives of thousands of children and reshaped the future of the African continent. ‘When I went back to Canada and people were not very interested in Uganda, I remembered this small boy,’ Ray explained. ‘I knew that if only a group of these beautiful children could go to the West, people would be deeply moved and would certainly want to help.’ From there the African Children’s Choir was born.”

Learn more about The African Children’s Choir and how to support them here.

FF: 100% Pure Vermont Maple Syrup from Vermont’s Syrup Souvenir Shop

SYRThere is a rumor that spring is finally in the air back in New England – which means the maple sap should be flowing, which in turn brings to mind the great 100% Pure Vermont Maple Syrup I found from the Syrup Souvenir Shop.

About the 100% Pure Vermont Maple Syrup from the Syrup Souvenir Shop: “Nestled at the base of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s tallest peak, is a third generation Underhill sugarbush. From this quiet, bucolic setting flows our 100% pure, all natural maple syrup. Support Vermont agriculture and reap the sweet rewards!”

Visit the Syrup Souvenir Shop online here.

FF: The Flameware Line of stoneware from Oso

OSOI love cookware that looks as good on the kitchen shelf as well as it functions on the stove or in the oven. Which is why I love the Flameware Line of stoneware from Oso.

About the Flameware Line of stoneware from Oso: “Specially formulated to withstand extreme temperature changes much more than a typical earthenware, our unique Oso flameware line is made from a special formulated flame clay, born through a collaboration with our mentor John Toki. Since 2009 our oso line has been tested in the kitchens of our favorite chefs.”

Learn more about the Flameware Line of stoneware from Oso here.

FF: Thaan Thai-Style Charcoal from Pok Pok

POKIt is almost cookout season and I plan to take full advantage of it this year. I have been on the lookout for unique charcoals to use to mix things up from the traditional charcoals and gas grill. Which is how I came across the Thaan Thai-Style Charcoal from Pok Pok and I can’t wait to try it.

About the Thaan Thai-Style Charcoal from Pok Pok: “Thaan charcoal is natural, Thai-Style binchotan extruded log charcoal. It is a long burning, clean and natural alternative to commercial charcoal briquettes. It is made sustainably from orchard grown rambutan fruit wood, which imparts a very mild flavor, letting your grilled food speak for themselves. Thaan Charcoals consistent, even heat is easy to cook with, and is great any style of solid fuel cooking: grilling, BBQ’ing, indirect cooking and particularly good where binchotan charcoal is traditionally used.”

Learn more about Thaan Thai-Style Charcoal from Pok Pok here.

Thaan Thai-Style Charcoal comes from Portland, OR’s Pok Pok.

tin2Among the things I miss most about the old New Hampshire homestead are the little architectural features in the house. Things like the pressed tin ceiling in the mudroom. I’ve spent hours laying on the couch by the wood stove out in that room looking up at the old school pattern and wondering why no one still makes such things for modern homes.

Well, it turns out I was wrong – there are folks that still making tin ceiling patterns using classic techniques – like the fine folks I found at the W. F. Norman Corporation.

About the W. F. Norman Corporation: “From its turn-of-the-century factory in Nevada, Missouri, the W. F. Norman Corporation still operates machines as old as the company itself. Production methods remain the same as the early days with panels stamped one at a time on antique rope drop hammers, resulting in better quality control than modern hydraulic presses. Using original dies from 1898, the W.F. Norman Corp. Hi-Art® product line contains 140 ceiling design components and over 1,300 ornaments. Their growing popularity stems not only from nostalgia but from their beauty, permanence and economy. Lightweight and easy to install, Hi-Art® products are not only an authentic way to restore buildings & homes, they are also widely used to embellish new construction projects.”

tin1About the Tin Ceiling Patterns of the W. F. Norman Corporation: “We have a wide range of tin ceiling pattern designs and sizes. Panels may be used on ceilings or walls. They are fastened to a plywood or wood-furred surface. Panels which list a ‘depth’ are raised and must use a wood-furring grid. See the installation page for further instructions. Tin-plated steel is the standard metal. Galvanized steel is available for exterior use. Copper and brass may be special ordered either raw or cleaned, polished and clear-coated. Many of the ceiling panels are also available as a drop-in. Panels specified in the gallery as a drop-in can be trimmed in order to lay into a standard 15/16″ drop-in grid system. They lay reasonably flat, however clips may be used to secure the panels.”

Check out the fine tine Ceiling patterns of the W. F. Norman Corporation here.

Learn more about W.F. Norman Corporation here.

LEOIt is hard not to be amazed by the creative (and intellectual) talents of Leonardo da Vinci. The more you learn about the man the more you admire him. Perhaps no one in history has been so creative in so many realms of life than Leonardo da Vinci and it only makes sense for us to try to learn just what was going on in his mind.

That is the basic concept behind the book, Leonardo’s Brain: Understanding Da Vinci’s Creative Genius by Leonard Shlain, which will make you feel a little smarter and like a total slacker at the same time.

About Leonardo’s Brain: Understanding Da Vinci’s Creative Genius by Leonard Shlain: “Best-selling author Leonard Shlain explores the life, art, and mind of Leonardo da Vinci, seeking to explain his singularity by looking at his achievements in art, science, psychology, and military strategy and then employing state of the art left-right brain scientific research to explain his universal genius. Shlain shows that no other person in human history has excelled in so many different areas as da Vinci and he peels back the layers to explore the how and the why. Leonardo’s Brain uses da Vinci as a starting point for an exploration of human creativity. With his lucid style, and his remarkable ability to discern connections in a wide range of fields, Shlain brings the reader into the world of history’s greatest mind.”

In the gifted hands of Leonard Shlain, Leonardo’s Brain is not as scholarly as it sounds. It is definitely smart, but it is very accessible and provides the reader with a lot to consider about this great mind and what it means to be creative.

Leonardo’s Brain: Understanding Da Vinci’s Creative Genius by Leonard Shlain is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.

teeelHow will I be spending St. Patrick’s Day evening…

…sipping some might fine Irish whiskey in the form of Teeling Whiskey.

About Teeling Whiskey: “Dublin has traditionally been the heart of the Irish whiskey industry. During Walter Teelings time there were over 37 different distilleries in Dublin. The Liberties area of Dublin in particular was recognised as the epicenter for Dublin whiskey and was dubbed the ‘Golden Triangle’ due to the number of distilleries clustered in a one mile radius. During the 19th century Dublin whiskey became globally recognised as the Premier whiskey in the world. Renowned for its “smooth” and unique “character” it sold at a premium to all other types of whiskey. As a result of this success some of the largest distilleries in the world emerged from these small craft Dublin distillers. Unfortunately as Irish whiskey fell on hard times so did distilling in Dublin and the last still ran cold in 1976 until now.”

Learn more about Teeling small batch Irish Whiskey here.