Archive for August, 2015

chatThe other night while mixing up a batch of my world-famous sangria (seriously people rave about it thanks to my lifelong friend Lynda’s original recipe) I remarked on how thick and red the wine I used was. I spilled some on the counter and it cleaned up well, but I thought how difficult it must be when people spill wine on their clothes or carpet. But the fine folks at Château Spill have it all figured out with their excellent stain remover – which has some of the best packaging ever.

About Château Spill: “If you are ever clumsy, tipsy or just unlucky you know that the celebration of the noble grape can sometimes end in an ignoble, and hard to remove, red wine stain. No more. Château Spill™ is a brilliant new stain remover that has been especially formulated to make sure that a red wine spill no longer leaves a nasty hangover or mess (sadly we can make no guarantees about what wine you drink). Like a good Bordeaux it really hits the spot – be it on clothing, linens, sofas or carpets – and lets you concentrate on having a good time. We can all raise a glass to that! And if not ‘you’ then maybe the one you love.”

I will need to bring this with me on my annual vacation to Wellfeet (the charming Cape Cod fishing village) next week – as one of my traveling companion is bound to be “over served” and spill some wine all over a stage or something.

Learn more about Château Spill here.

Find my world-famous recipe for sangria here.

cc2I know you have all been waiting for an update on my container garden. It is doing quite well. Just about every plant that I transferred to a container at the beginning of the season is thriving. My yields are not the best in the world, but I am very pleased to say I have quite a few plants that are producing nicely.

It looks like I will have quite a few hot peppers in a few weeks and my basil is very healthy.

Here is my harvest this weekend – a really solid zucchini squash, some pickling cukes, peppers and some great little tomatoes:


Although my quick trip to Portland last weekend was focused on what was going on out on the streets (the art festival) there are plenty of fine shops around town to help satisfy even the most hardy of shoppers. As my final Portland post from this recent trip – here a couple of establishments that caught my eye.

FOUND: More and Co. of Portland, ME

port1About More and Co.: “At More & Co, we believe everyday objects—the ones that surround us, the ones we reach for again and again—should also bring a bit of beauty into our homes and lives. Our shop is in constant motion, taking shape every few months around a certain theme or set of ideas. These themes help us carefully curate each assortment of goods. For each, we make our own creations and partner with artists and makers alike to bring you a unique experience. We want you to have as much fun visiting our shop, whether online or in person, as we do in stocking it. We select goods based on our love of art and design, and on our desire to keep the things in our homes to a simple, thoughtful minimum. Every product in the shop is something we already use, wear, treasure and love, or something we can’t wait to have in our own lives.”

More& Co. has some great products. Case in point: the Poppy Dashes & Moons Napkin Set: “We spend a lot of time cooking with friends and family. We can’t think of a better way to set the table for those you love than with these gorgeous napkins. The only get better with wash and use.”

More& Co. is located at 112 High Street in the great city of Portland, ME.

Lucky for us, More & Co. has an online shop – check it out here.

FOUND: The Honey Exchange of Portland, ME

port2Meanwhile, the fine folks over at the Honey Exchange have all sorts of honeys and honey-related products.

About The Honey Exchange: “We want to have a store that expresses our admiration for all honeybees do for the planet. We are a central place where beekeepers can extract their honey conveniently, and buy the equipment they need for their apiaries. At the same time we recognize that managing a hive of bees isn’t for everyone. The store gives everyone an opportunity to learn about honeybees, safely see the workings of the bees in our observation hive, and support local beekeepers who sell their honey, beeswax products, and other products of the hive.”

Check out the Hand-thrown Honey Pot by artist Gail Wiley: “These honey pots are hand made by artist Gail Wiley. Each one is unique and varies slightly in size and the color of the glaze. Call for details, or we can e-mail you snapshots of the pots we currently have in inventory. If not, we’ll choose the pot that seems most amazing at the moment, though they are all beautiful.”

The Honey Exchange is located at 494 Stevens Ave. in the great city of Portland, ME.

There is nothing better than an end of summer/early fall flea market or antique show. Two of the big ones I have been to in the past have dates coming up in early September: the Sparks Antiques and Collectibles Flea Market: in Sparks, KS and the GREAT Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show in Brimfield, MA.

Sparks Antiques and Collectibles Flea Market: Sept. 3-6 in Sparks, KS

sparksAbout Sparks Antiques and Collectibles Flea Market: “Sparks Antiques and Collectibles Flea Market features more than 500 dealers. From this number, 450 sell antiques. If you are searching for the right antiques and collectibles, this is definitely the market for you. Started in 1982, this market is strategically located because it is right in the path of several other markets along the way, which are held the same weekend. Together they draw 75,000 people looking for treasures.”

The Sparks Antiques and Collectibles Flea Market will be held Sept. 3-6 in Sparks, KS.

Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show: Sept. 8-13 in Brimfield, MA

brimAbout Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show: “The Brimfield Antiques Show is the largest outdoor antiques show in the world, with over 6,000 dealers and 130,000+ visitors during the course of the week. While it is convenient to refer to it as “The Show”, it is actually comprised of 23 fields, owned by “Promoters”, who lease spaces to dealers from all over the world. The Show takes place three times a year, usually around Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day.”

The Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show will be held Sept. 8-13 in Brimfield, MA.

This week wrapping up my visit to the 51st Annual WCSH Sidewalk Art Festival in Portland, ME I present a couple of artists that caught my eye.

FF: The “Elegant and Practical Gifts in Wood” from Shorescape Design.

shoreI love the work of Greg and Meg Payeur of Raymond, Me – the fine folks behind Shorescape Design. They offer some really fine hand crafted wood items like French rolling pins and salt grinders. But it’s their signature item, the Shorescape, that really draws in the crowd.

About the Shorescape of Shorescape Design: “The Shorescape is a dovetailed wooden box with glass faces that contains cleaned sand and items that we find on the shorelines of Maine along with sand dollars and sea urchins purchased from a fisherman in Biddeford, and some commercially sold shells. The pleasant ambience and careful craftsmanship, including the same dovetailed corners as those used in fine custom furniture, enable Shorescapes to sell well in a variety of retail settings including galleries, home furnishing stores, gift shops, tourist attractions and souvenir shops.”

Check out the “Elegant and Practical Gifts in Wood” from Shorescape Design.

FF: The Fine ART Etchings of Leo Donahue

shore2Meanwhile, it is easy to see why there is always a crowd around the booth of artist Leo Donahue as his etchings are of the highest quality and feature evocative imagery.

About the Fine ART Etchings of Leo Donahue: “For more than thirty years, Leo P. Donahue has been creating a unique style of etching at his studio in central Massachusetts. His work has been exhibited at hundreds of fine art shows along the east coast, and is highly regarded by both collectors and appreciators alike. He has introduced thousands of people to his highly individualized sense of aesthetics and style. On this site you will find many of the more than two hundred fine art etchings created by the artist. All work, from conception to implementation, from printing to painting, is done entirely by the artist. Each impression is an original hand-pulled, hand-tinted etching. Every piece is unique and is signed and numbered by the artist himself. With subject matter ranging from meditative bonsai and monumental trees, to classic New England countrysides and nauticals, Leo continues to refine his craft and to contribute to the field of fine art etching.”

Learn more about – and see – the Fine ART Etchings of Leo Donahue here.

PORTMark your calendars now for Saturday, August 20, 2016 (or thereabouts) to be in Portland for the 51st Annual WCSH Sidewalk Art Festival, one of my favorite annual events.

I had the great pleasure of attending this year’s festival this past weekend and it was great.

Here are a few of the artists on display that caught my eye this year:

Jennie Blue

I love the hand illustration on the plates, bowls and trays of Jennie Blue, by artist Jennifer Sochin Connor.


Check out the colorful folk/pop art paintings of DezzArt.

Maine Photography

Then there is the stunning Down East landscapes of photographer Chris Lawrence of Maine Photography.

Danny O Studio

I also love the work of Danny O Studio – the “official and only website of Daniel ‘Danny O’ O’Connor.”

Bruce Lippincott

It is hard not to be stunned by the great photography (“Landscapes, seascapes, cloud formations and harbor views”) of Bruce Lippincott.

vpcI read a lot of books and consume a ton of other media – written and otherwise. So it is nice every now and then to be able to pick up a book and just be able to let yourself look and be transported to another place in time. There are many books that accomplish this, but I love a nice collection of vintage postcards, like the expertly curated Vintage Postcards of New York with text by Alyce Aldige, and edited by Silvia Lucchini and Stefano Lucchini.

About Vintage Postcards of New York with text by Alyce Aldige, and edited by Silvia Lucchini and Stefano Lucchini: “A delightful collection of vintage and antique postcards of New York. This book presents a rare collection of more than 100 of the best vintage New York City postcards, providing a snapshot of how much the Big Apple has changed—and how much has remained recognizably the same. During the early years of the twentieth century, postcard photographers traveled the length and breadth of Manhattan snapping images and documenting landmarks and important new architectural masterpieces, such as the Singer Building (1908), the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower (1909), and the Woolworth Building (1913)—each of which succeeded the other as the world’s tallest building at the time of their respective completion. Also celebrated were the engineering feats of the Brooklyn Bridge and the elevated trains and early subway, as well as popular amusements such as the original Madison Square Garden and the Hippodrome, which occupied an entire city block at Longacre Square—since renamed Times Square. Scenic views of the city from a distance were equally popular—and in fact led to the coining of the word ‘skyline’ in 1896. This charming keepsake volume is the perfect souvenir for architecture and history buffs and makes a wonderful gift.”

I love old postcards – fronts and backs – and there is no better way to glimpse the way people use to live, travel and communicate. I also love that there are people out there like the Lucchinis who are making sure that this history is being preserved.

Vintage Postcards of New York is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.

pf5I took a quick trip this past weekend from Kansas City to Portland, ME – to meet up with a friend to attend the 50th Annual WCSH Sidewalk Art Festival, one of my favorite annual events. It seemed like a good idea at the time – but traveling halfway across the country and back in two days is not ideal. But it was a great mini vacation and I packed a lot in, which I will share over the next few days.

First up, we started our glorious day in Portland at the great Farmers Market in Portland’s Deering Park. The market was in full late summer glory with the full abundance of the harvest. Of course I loved the whole scene and took a ton of pictures – a few of which I present in the gallery below – click on the thumbnail below to see the full picture.

Learn more about Portland’s (Maine) Farmers Market here.

The other day while exploring Carollo’s Italian Gourmet Grocery (which is worth a post of its own) tucked away in Kansas City’s bustling City Market I fell in love with Italian products all over again – as if I needed a push. Which is why as soon I got home I jumped on one of my favorite sites for great Italian groceries: Italian Harvest.

ihpAbout Italian Harvest: “At Italian Harvest we’ve been importing artisanal foods from Italy since 2000. We’ve sought out foods that are non-industrial, typically handmade by artisans and small family-run factories that still use old-world techniques. The majority of our products are made from ingredients that are organically cultivated and processed, containing no preservatives or additives. If you’re a lover of good food or Italian culture, you’ll appreciate the treasures–from many different regions throughout Italy–that we’ve sourced for you.”

Among tons of other great things, Italian Harvest has a great line of colorful pastas (above right) that just need to be seen and tasted: “Our line of award winning, certified organic colorful pastas by Marella from Puglia and Morelli from Tuscany are made with high quality grains and natural colors derived from sources such as beets, carrots, spinach, turmeric, tomatoes and red peppers. Affectionately called rainbow pasta, they are either handmade or bronze die extruded then air dried for 3-4 days, both processes which lend to their rich flavor and rough texture that holds onto sauce.”

ihfAlso, try Italian Harvest’s Caramelized Fig Preserve:

“The rich, concentrated flavor of this caramelized fig preserve starts with fruit grown in the arid soil of Calabria, in southern Italy. Its intensified flavor can best be described as smoky, nutty, and sweet all at once. Serve with aged cheeses, roasted and grilled meats.”

Check out all the “authentic artisanal foods from Italy” offered by Italian Harvest here.

Learn more about Carollo’s Italian Gourmet Grocery, located in Kansas City’s historic City Market here.

hofThere are many reasons to visit the great city of Nashville, Tenn. (as documented on my epic road trip in 2013) but if you are a fan of country music you know you will be in heaven. The only challenge is to see and do everything in the Music City. One must-visit site when visiting Nashville is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum – a treasure-trove of everything you ever wanted to know (and hear) about the genre.

About the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum: “The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum adds a strikingly modern touch to the Nashville skyline and is situated at the epicenter of the city’s rapidly growing core, a block from the popular honky-tonks of Broadway, across the street from Bridgestone Arena and Music City Center, and adjacent to the Omni Hotel. The museum, called the “Smithsonian of country music” because of its unrivaled collection, recently unveiled a $100 million expansion, doubling its size to 350,000 square feet of dynamic state-of-the-art galleries, archival storage, education classrooms, retail stores, and special event space boasting stunning downtown views.”

See a calendar of events for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum here.

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is located at 222 Fifth Avenue South in the great city of Nashville, Tenn. USA.