Archive for August, 2017

FF: The Runwell Chrono Watch from Shinola

I found the perfect gift for that special someone in your life who may or may not have a milestone birthday coming up very soon – the Runwell Chrono Watch from the fine folks at Shinola.

About the Runwell Chrono Watch from Shinola:

“Rubber meets wrist with The Runwell Chrono 48mm. Features include solid titanium case, an increased 20 ATM depth rating, sapphire crystal, Super-LumiNova printed dial details, 3 eye chrono, blue rubber strap, turning top ring bezel and screw down crown. The Runwell has been engineered with an obsessive focus to ensure the highest possible quality. Sold excusively on and in our retail stores.”

…or just about anything from Shinola makes a most excellent gift.

FF: The U.S.A. Blocks from Uncle Goose

Another great gift idea are the awesome United States Blocks from the cool folks at Uncle Goose. Part puzzle, part toy, part learning tool, and 100% fun!

About the U.S.A. Blocks from Uncle Goose:

“Fifty unique blocks with State image and name, capital, motto, bird, flower, and tree.  Everything a child needs to ace their first civics test.  Handmade in the USA as it should be, and designed by the world renowned team at House Industries.”

Find the U.S.A. Blocks and all the great stuff from Uncle Goose here.


There is no shortage of vintage and antique stores in the Kansas City metro area, but none as great as the fine folks at Retro Inferno. Retro Inferno specializes in mid-century modern pieces and only the best.

They have a ton of really great furnishings and accessories, like this very cool 1965 Vintage Brionverga RR126 Stereo (right): “Original, Iconic Brionvega RR126 portable stereo. Fully serviced and working beautifully. The turntable, with original dust cover, is mounted to the top and the speakers lift off and on with an inset handle on top. Aluminum base with casters makes the unit extremely versatile and easy to move. Comes with the original brochures.”

Or how about an original 1972 Frank Gehry Cardboard Wiggle Chair and Ottoman: “Rare wiggle chair by Frank Gehry with the even rarer wiggle ottoman/stool. Signed with paper label. Sold with the original receipt.”

Perfect style for any century’s beginning, middle, or end.

Visit Retro Inferno online here.

Retro Inferno is located at 1500 Grand Boulevard in the great American city that is Kansas City, MO.

There is something special about the iconic imagery of the American west that touches at the very soul of who we are as a nation. Of course this imagery has been buoyed by our popular culture and mythic portrayals of the romance of the range – but it still captures our spirit. Well, to prove this point, we have the wonderful collection of photographs in Mountain Ranch by Michael Crouser. Mr. Crouser trains his eyes on a way of life many of us thought was lost long ago and only seen in movies. This collection of modern day cowboys and their families is as timeless as our western iconography, and it is compelling.

About Mountain Ranch by Michael Crouser: “The mountain ranches of western Colorado preserve a way of life that has nearly vanished from the American scene. Families who have lived on the same land for five or six generations raise cattle much as their ancestors did, following an annual cycle of breeding, birthing, branding, grazing, and selling livestock. Michael Crouser spent more than a decade (2006–2016) photographing family cattle ranches in Colorado, intrigued ‘not by the ways their lives are changing but by the way they have stayed the same.’ He was, he says, ‘most interested in the traditional elements of these traditional lives, . . . what they call cowboying.’ Intimate without being sentimental about the realities of ranch work, Mountain Ranch’s duotone images capture the raw and basic elements of a hard and basic life. In the afterword, Crouser pays verbal tribute to ranch people who are ‘the real deal,’ whose seasonal round of work forms the subject of the acclaimed nature writer Gretel Ehrlich’s foreword. Portraits of eight men and women who eloquently describe their long lives on Colorado mountain ranches complete the volume.”

Cowboy up!

Mountain Ranch by Michael Crouser is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.


There is a song from the classic Broadway musical South Pacific that starts “I’m as corny as Kansas in August…” which is a thing, Kansas is pretty corny right now – but the real fun is the Kansas is now very sunflowery as well.

One of the great joys of living in Kansas – which is the Sunflower State by the way – is the annual crop of glorious sunflowers growing as far as the eye can see over the gently rolling countryside. There are tons of sunflower farms across the great rural plains of Kansas, but lucky for me, there is a great one much closer to the Kansas City metro area – the fine folks at Grinter’s Sunflower Farm in Lawrence, KS.

About Grinter’s Sunflower Farm in Lawrence, KS: “Ted and Kris Grinter’s Sunflower Farm in Leavenworth County has become a phenomenon. Although Kansas has a great many sunflower fields, those fields are primarily in central and western Kansas. These fields are in the far eastern part of the state (near the population centers) and the Grinters let the public come into the fields, take photos and take home flowers for a dollar a bloom. A great many people want to have their photos taken with the sunflowers. Professional photographers even schedule sessions here.”

Standing amongst the rows and rows of these towering flowers is really a thrill.

Learn more about Grinter’s Sunflower Farm in Lawrence, KS here.

Grinter’s Sunflower Farm is located at 24154 Stillwell Road in Lawrence, KS.

Today I finish up my dining tour of my long weekend in Chicago last week – where I dined almost exclusively on charcuterie boards and salads – and it was awesome.

FF: Bar Pastoral

About Bar Pastoral:

“Bar Pastoral is an authentic, intimate and relaxed neighborhood bistro which celebrates the finest producers from around the block and around the world along with their amazing culinary creations. From food loving libations to creative, beautifully presented and perfectly paired fare, we aim to make these gems from near and far delicious, memorable and approachable.”

The Bar Pastoral I visited is located at 2947 N. Broadway – but find all of their Chicagoland locations here.

Learn more and see Pastoral’s online shop here.

FF: Publican Quality Meats

About Publican Quality Meats:

“Evoking old-world charm, Publican Quality Meats is a butcher shop, neighborhood café, bakery and gourmet market, aptly located in Chicago’s meatpacking district. A multi-faceted property, Publican Quality Meats acts as The Publican’s private dining room by night, as well as a fully functioning catering operation. Publican Quality Meats is the collective vision of Executive Chef Paul Kahan and restaurateurs Donnie Madia, Terry Alexander and Eduard Seitan. The highly seasonal menu and chef-curated retail offerings include house-made charcuterie, artisanal cheeses, freshly baked breads, specialty coffee drinks and rustic soups and sandwiches developed under the care of Chef Joseph Frietze. In line with the butcher shop’s thoughtful fare is an eclectic and focused selection of beer and wine.”

Publican Quality Meats is located at 825 W. Fulton Market Street northwest of the Loop in the great city of Chicago, USA.

FF: Fulton Market Kitchen

Last but not least wrapping up the culinary tour of my most recent trip to Chicago is the wonderful Fulton Market Kitchen – a little more upscale than some of my other eats this trip, but totally worth a visit – great food and a stunning interior that is as tasty as the small plates.

About Fulton Market Kitchen:

“Inspired by the fresh flavors of ingredients sourced locally in the Midwest, FMK’s menu is the culmination of Executive Chef Chris Curren’s focus on the craft of cooking and use of hyper-seasonal produce. The result is an interesting yet approachable variety of refined rustic dishes that are ideal for tasting and sharing.”

Fulton Market Kitchen is located at 311 N. Sangamon St., in Chicago’s West Loop district.

With all the great white shark sightings off the coast of Cape Cod this summer, I am (slightly) relieved that we are foregoing our traditional late summer vacation to the great seashore for a mountain adventure this year. However, we can still have fun playing with sharks and recreating scenes from Jaws as is our wont on vacation – and this year we can use props, like the Blankie Tails Shark Blanket I found from the fine folks at Swoozies.

About the Blankie Tails Shark Blanket from Swoozies:

“Open wide! With the BLANKIE TAILS™ Shark Blanket will make any teen/adult feel adventurous while they are lounging about. Make it their own by adding their name!”

Find the Blankie Tails Shark Blanket from Swoozies here.

See all the great finds from Swoozie’s here.

I have mentioned before that I was not a fan of rock icon Patti Smith until I read her excellent memoir, Just Kids, a few years back which I featured as a Weekly Read at the time. I became fascinated with her early years trying to make it in the New York art scene in the early 1970s as told in her wonderful prose. I still recommend that book, and now comes a sort of companion book that adds more layers to the story, Patti Smith – American Artist, by photographer Frank Stefanko, featuring photographs chronicling the rise of the storied artist.

About Patti Smith – American Artist by Frank Stefanko:

“A stunning collection of photographs from Frank Stefanko featuring the Godmother of Punk herself, iconic musician and author Patti Smith. ‘There I was sitting in a booth at the co-op of Glassboro State College, a bucolic school in the farmlands of South Jersey. . . Suddenly, the double doors of the co-op swung open and standing there in the vacuum created was an incredible apparition, a vision in a white leather coat with long, jet-black hair flowing down her back. She moseyed in like the bad guy walking into a saloon in an old western movie. This was the first time I set eyes on Patti Smith, and I was captivated.’ So begins Frank Stefanko’s wonderfully personal photographic tale of his friendship and artistic collaboration with Patti Smith. Stefanko’s photographs and his warm, personal recollections show us an amazing young woman, long before she became Patti Smith, the cultural icon. Through images and words, we follow her search for a unique voice—from the early days of the Chelsea Hotel to spoken word at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project to the release of her seminal album, Horses, and so much more. These photographs, along with the Stefanko’s first-hand account, capture an incredible era from the mid-1960s to the late- 1970s when a whole new genre of music and art was being born. Prior to the release of this collection, many of these stunning portraits had never before been published.”

In addition to the photos, Patti Smith – American Artist includes a poem from the artist herself, an introduction by Lenny Kaye, Ms. Smith’s longtime guitarist, and an afterword by editor Chris Murray, which puts the photos into context and sets the mood for the compelling collection that this is.

Patti Smith – American Artist, by Frank Stefanko is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.

OK, well, my friends and I have made the epic decision to buck tradition this year and spend our traditional end-of-summer vacation in the White Mountains of New Hampshire as opposed to the sandy shores of Cape Cod. Way more to come on that as we approach this Labor Day week event. In the meantime, I am gearing up to secure some fun gifts for the crew – like the “What Happens in the Mountains Stays in the Mountains” stadium cups I found from the fine folks at Swoozies.

About the What Happens In The Mountains Stadium Cups from Swoozie’s:

“Bring some fun to any party or outing with these fun green stripe What Happens in the Mountains Stays in the Mountains stadium cups. Pair with the matching stemless wine glass, napkin and hugger for a complete set!”

I can tell you right now that my cup will be full of bourbon 24×7!

See all the great finds from Swoozie’s here.

I am still searching for the perfect weekend bag. However, I find a really great one every now and then but they tend to be out of my humble price range. Example: the awesome Balmorhea Bag I found from the Texas Rover Company.

About the Balmorhea Bag from the Texas Rover Company: “Available in both the Weekender for short trips and the Traveler for longer journeys, the Balmorhea Bag is handcrafted to create the perfect duffle encompassing both style and durability. The bag is made of full-grain leather rugged enough to withstand exposure to the elements and ready for everywhere.”

This may be the perfect gift for someone (ahem) whose best friend may have just celebrated a milestone birthday. I am just saying.

Find the Balmorhea Bag from the Texas Rover Company here.

See all the great products from the Texas Rover Company here.