Field Trip: Atlanta

Ah, Atlanta.  For not being city folks, we are rather fond of this place.  We visited in the first weekend in June for the Indie Craft Experience.  Since it also coincided with my birthday weekend, we decided to be all extravagant, and to just have a good time.  And so we did….

We arrived quite late on Friday (much later than planned), so we literally went to the hotel and crashed.  We were at ICE all day on Saturday.  After leaving Saturday night, we headed to Inman Park as Wayne had made reservations for us.  We arrived a bit early and walked around.  It really is a gorgeous part of town.  All big stately buildings and historic homes.

The Earle

And in the midst of it is this cute little set of buildings that includes the restaurant Wayne chose, Wisteria, and a small bar.

Wisteria - Atlanta, GA

The inside of Wisteria is just as charming as the exterior – lots of brick and an overall cozy, warm feeling.

Wisteria

The wait staff were great and the food was….well…incredible is the only word.  I tried desperately to take pictures to share with everyone, but as it got later, the light just wasn’t sufficient.  I did get this one picture of what Wayne declared to be the best appetizer he’s ever had (and I’m in agreement): A caramelized vidalia onion tart served with local cheese.

Wisteria - Vadalia Onion Tart

Wayne had fish and I had a vegetable plate that included (and I’m not kidding you) 10 different vegetables.  Each one was perfectly done.  We are hoping to be able to go back soon with my parents in tow as I think they’ll love it.

On Sunday morning we had a bit of time before we had to be back at ICE, so I suggested we head to Ria’s Bluebird for breakfast.  It is a tiny place…diner-y looking.

Ria's Bluebird

But oh, the comfort food.  Check out Wayne’s stack of chocolate chip pancakes:

Ria's Bluebird - Pancakes

And my incredible nutella cream cheese stuffed brioche french toast with caramelized bananas.  Yep, it was just as amazing as it sounds.

Ria's Bluebird - French Toast

After breakfast, we were definitely feeling like a walk was in order, so we headed up the street.  I paused at the scooter below sitting quietly outside.  Why?  Because it’s adorable.

Scooter

Just a few steps away was the entrance to the Historic Oakland Cemetery.  It is gorgeous and although the light wasn’t great (quite a bit too bright), we spent quite some time walking around and taking pictures.

Oakland Cemetery - Wayne

I loved the fact that you were surrounded by these incredibly old gravestones and all the history that comes with them, but could still see downtown.

Oakland Cemetery

The cemetery has a series of benches and furniture that look incredibly peaceful.  I could see spending hours sitting quietly communing and contemplating.

Oakland Cemetery - Bench

Close to the visitor’s center is a fountain that was simultaneously appealing and creepy.  The little girl could be cute and having fun, but she has no eyes.  I’m not sure this would be bothersome to anyone else?  Maybe I’m special.

Oakland Cemetery - Fountain

This was a typical headstone…take a look at the years.

Oakland Cemetery - Gravestone

Wayne took the shot below and I love the way that light was falling on the grave stone.

Oakland Cemetery - Gravestone

Toward the center of the cemetery are the graves of confederate soldiers.

Oakland Cemetery - Confederate Soldiers

I took this photo and then pulled Wayne over to see the person who was buried with his dog.  He giggled and explained to the total clueless sport person (that would be me) that the statue is a Georgia Bulldog.  As in the team.  Ooops.

Oakland Cemetery - Dog

And finally, the Mausoleums.  The doors were absolutely gorgeous.

Oakland Cemetery

Oakland Cemetery

Time caught up with us and we had to depart to make it back to ICE before it opened.  I would like to return to Oakland Cemetery at some point when we have more time (and better light) to wander around.   Honestly, I think it was my first visit to a cemetery…ever.  I’ve always imagined them as creepy places that one should avoid.  I think after dark I would still feel the same, but in daylight this one is lovely and peaceful.

Although we were planning to stay over on Sunday night and spend Monday playing in Atlanta, for complicated reasons we had to head home early.  On the way out of town we stopped at Tamarind Seed for a quick farewell Atlanta dinner.  We just got lucky with this one – I literally pulled up the GPS, choose Asian food, and went to the closest place.  It turned out that the GPS seems to have good taste.

We started with fresh veggies spring rolls.

Tamarind Seed - Atlanta, GA

I had the Pad Thai with Tofu that was partially consumed before the picture and Wayne had an amazing dish of Chilean Sea bass in a fantastic curry sauce.

Tamarind Seed - Atlanta, GA

We ended with a small chocolate mousse cake.  Clearly not very thai-themed, but it had (what I’m going to pretend is) a little J on top in honor of my birthday.

Tamarind Seed - Atlanta, GA

We didn’t get quite the trip we had planned, but it was definitely an enjoyable (and immensely indulgent) one all the same.  Honestly, cutting it short only gives us the perfect excuse to head back soon.  🙂

Wrap-up: Indie Craft Experience

The first weekend in June Wayne and I hopped in the fully packed car and headed to Atlanta for the summer Indie Craft Experience.  I had participated in the holiday show last year and had a great time, so it was exciting to be able to have Wayne along.  Plus, it was the first event we’ve been able to actually do together in ages AND it corresponded with my birthday weekend, so we decided to use the trip as an excuse to get all extravagant and have a great time.

As with any good event, there was food to be had.  The Good Food Truck was there serving their famous Poodles…

Good Food Truck

…while Ursa Minor provided coffee and and various drinks.

Ursa Minor

There were a few food options inside, one of which stood out hugely for Wayne and I.  Bookie Macaron served what were officially the best macarons we’ve had since Paris.  Really.  They were made with local ingredients and a slight twist, and were so awesome that they sold out part of the way through the first day.

Folks definitely came out.  Wayne and I were impressed with the fun mix of customers…

Crowd at ICE

…and vendors.  Some we knew from other shows, but lots of new folks as well.

Here’s the required photo of our setup.

Whispering Willow

In a happy accident sort of way, our lip balm containers apparently didn’t make the trip with us.  We substituted an antique wood tray instead and I rather liked the look.

Whispering Willow Lip Balm

Enough about us though…how about the other vendors?  This is only a quickie version of all the incredibly goodies that were available at the show:

I love Beautiful Briny Sea.  Not only is the owner absolutely the sweetest person ever, but her salt is amazing.  I’m a lavender fanatic, so anyone who wants to add lavender to salt is okay in my book, but the truffle salt is also highly recommended.  Try it with eggs or (if you’re feeling a bit naughty), just sprinkle it on some fries.  Yum.

Beautiful Briny Sea

At the last Indie Craft Experience, I spent a while chatting with Brooke from So She Sews.  I was excited to see that she expanded her line to include clothing.

So She Sews

I loved all the skirt fabrics and gorgeous colors.

So She Sews

Ester Lipscomb‘s soap dishes were fun.  The picture doesn’t do them justice, but each had a slightly different shape and design imprinted.

Ester Lipscomb

Another artist that I visited with at the last show was Jeanette Zeis.  She had small bowls this time that I loved.

Jeanette Zeiss

If you’re like me, you can never have enough canvas tote bags.  Really.  I use them for everything.  Moon Mud has some fun ones.

Moon Mud

A Stitch of Whimsy (another great name!) was present and selling their creations.  Something about them was just appealing.  Can’t tell you why…I just liked ’em.

A Stitch of Whimsy

Platypusfile was selling a variety of items, but I was attracted specifically to her drawings.

Platypusfiles

I also wanted to take home at least one of the adorable drawings from Katie Coleman.   Or how about a Kitty Unicorn?

Katie Coleman

 Blue Eyed Yonder sponsored a craft swap during the show.  Much fun…people brought a piece they didn’t want/need any longer and took something home in its place.

Blue Eyed Yonder

Several artists were creating during the show.  One of these was Noosh Studios who was printing t-shirts as people ordered them.  I wish I could have stayed to watch the whole process start to finish, but his booth was incredibly busy and I wanted to stay out of the way.

Noosh Studios
Noosh Studios

Fernworks jewelry is gorgeous and her display always makes me jealous.

Fernworks

My one (somewhat guilty) purchase at the show was a pair of earrings from Cameoko.  Wayne insists I own enough earrings.  Clearly, I disagree.

Cameoko

And our neighbors.  We had a few minutes to talk with them and quite enjoyed the experience.  On one side of us was Two Cardinal Day Press.  Her display was pretty genius – a huge fold out covered in chalkboard paint.  She put up her goods, and then draws/writes around it.  Infinitely flexible.

Two Cardinal Day Press

Plus, her stuff is fun!  The middle book (which came home with me) was entitled “Trade Secrets, Plans for World Domination & Probably Some Grocery Lists.”  Perfect, right?

Two Cardinal Day Press

The other side of us was Meg + Milo.  It was her very first show, and both her product and display was beautiful!

Meg + Milo

I was amazed by the colors of her hand painted silk tops and scarves…so very pretty.

Meg + Milo

And now, on to the slightly less grown up section.  I always love to check out the plush toys.  Such imagination!  Cellardwellars and Such was no exception.

Cellardwellars

Not sure why I love baby stuff so much.  No babies here and absolutely no plans for babies in our lives, but little baby garb still makes me smile.

Lil Fishy

Check out the onesies from Lil Fishy.  How adorable are they?!?

Lil Fishy

And the hand dyed socks from Willaby.

Wallaby

Finally, for the bigger little ones (or Wayne, who also took home a shirt) Chalkboard Tees are just kinda awesome.  You can write, erase, and start again.  They even have a tiny pocket to hold you chalk…

Chalkboard Tees

…and they come in these cute little containers.

Chalkboard Tees

But the cutest thing at the market?  How about this little one?  With hair like that, it seemed like the fitting final shot for the post.

Baby Hair

Hope to see you again soon Atlanta!

Checking in on the Bees

Although we keep bees, we have (mostly) allowed them to keep themselves this season.  We had a few extra hours on Saturday and decided it was about time to take a quick peek and see how they were faring.

Below is the hive in our back yard.  We added an extra super the last time we inspected and left the feeder on the top in case they are in need of water.  Last year when it got so hot, the girls chose our neighbor’s pool as their water source (not the best idea for anyone!), so we want to do our best to avoid those complications this year.

Our Hive

I had my trusty camera, so Wayne did all the heavy lifting (good excuse, huh?).  First things first, we removed the cover and located just a few (hundred) ants.  Ugh.  We’ll have to work on that a bit.  Next we remove the feeder to find the girls buzzing around and none too happy to see us.  I firmly believe the less you inspect, the less tolerant of inspections the bees become.

Here’s where the fun begins.  Wayne commented that he was hearing the girls rather loudly.  That’s not surprising if they are aggravated, but something about the way Wayne said it made me pause.  Two beats later, Wayne goes running (literally) across the garden in his bee suit (yep….our neighbors were outside…of course), through the garden gate, directly to the hose.  He turned it on, took the nozzle, aimed it at his face, and pressed.  He was left wet and gasping a bit.  After making sure he was okay, I almost collapsed giggling.  Other beekeepers will likely know what happened.  For those who have not been in a bee suit I’ll explain: there are zippers.  A collection of them.  If you forget one or two (like the handy ones around your hood), bees get in and often get ever so slightly frustrated when they can’t get back out.  Wayne had been collecting “friends” inside his hood while we were out there.  They were becoming less friendly the more time they spent with him.

Thankfully Wayne’s quick (and comic) reaction meant that he ended the experience with only one sting, and it’s in his beard. So, although it is painful, it’s not noticeable at all.  After double checking for bees in his suit (and finding one other rather aggravated bee), we carefully zipped him up and returned to the inspection.  My guess is that he’ll double check zippers next time.

Super

The first super from the top was FULL of honey.  Totally and completely.  It’s great news as it means the girls are thriving and collecting; however, it means that they are likely honey bound.  We’ll need to either harvest, or add an additional super.  Otherwise they may start storing honey in the brood chamber and there will be no where for the queen to lay.

Honey

Speaking of which, here’s one frame from the brood section.  The capped cells all contain developing brood.  The pattern is a bit strange.  You would normally see the whole middle filled in – almost in a football shape.  Wayne suggested that maybe those were newly hatched and/or the queen is making her way there now.  Who knows.

Brood

We didn’t pull out any additional frames as the girls were rather grumpy and had been open a while because our of detour   to the hose.  Wayne will be poking around again on Monday to add a super if nothing else.

As Wayne closed up the hive, I wandered around the garden a bit.  It is a total mess right now and needs weeding and training of the vines that are trying to take over.  Our bee balm is one plant that I’m glad is getting a bit out of control.  Not sure what it is that I adore so much, but I just find them gorgeous, and (bonus) the hummingbirds love them too.

Bee Balm

Atherton: A Shopping Destination

We love farmer’s markets.  Really.  We are aficiandos (aka snobs) of sorts.  It seems strange, but market visiting is what we tend to do as our touristy thing in almost every city we visit.  Out of the markets we visit, we also prefer the locally-focused, producer markets.  No resellers, most everyone tends to know everyone else and in general folks are friendly and quick to chat even with strangers.

The details above may explain why Wayne and I have been so excited to be a small part of the growth of Atherton Mill and Market in Charlotte.  The market manager, Lynn, has clear ideas about the focus of the market and aims to build the space into a one stop shopping location for area residents as well as building a reputation as a tourist destination for all the other farmer’s market aficiandos like us.

A few weekends ago, Wayne and I were able to attend the market together to work our booth.  This rarely happens, so I took quick advantage of the situation and wandered off with my camera.  I wanted to provide an example of the variety of goods one can find at the market on any given day.

First and foremost, there are plenty of farmers.  Produce brings people to markets and the selection at Atherton is always gorgeous.

These little white cucs are my all time favorite:

cucumbers

Swiss chard has such vibrant colors

chard

Lovely onions

onions

Kohlrabi

kohlrabi

Radishes

radishes

Leeks

leeks

Vidalias onions (this photo was perfectly put together by John who saw me poking around with the camera and decided to participate.

Vidalia at Atherton Market

Need some wine to go with dinner (or lunch)?  The Vinmaster Wine shop is usually on hand and is happy to provide samples and make recommendations.

Vinmaster Wine Shop

The Chosen Roaster sells a variety of nuts and has a make-your-own trail mix setup.

The Chosen Roaster

Eggs abound all year.  I prefer local eggs.  The taste and nutritional content just doesn’t compare with grocery store options.  Plus, farmers markets eggs are always prettier.

Farm Fresh Eggs

Duke’s Bread always offers an amazing selection of breads and accompaniments.  Come early as they frequently sell out.  I’m a huge fan of their tomato oil.

Duke's Bread

Simply Local offers a variety of items that can’t be found elsewhere in the market.  Everything is local, and has been vouched through the owner before being sold.  We’ve bought yummy crackers from them several times already and next week we plan to try out the rice that was grown just around the corner in Morganton.

Simply Local Crackers

Ohh-lio Express offers yummy wines, vinegars, and a selection of other treats.

Ohhlio Express

And, a requirement for most early morning shoppers, Monks always has a yummy blend brewing.  They sell iced coffee and teas this time of year, and offer their beans for sale as well.

Monks Coffee

A few of the foods not pictured?  How about sweets from Cardais Gourmet, meat from Windy Hill Farm, Seafood from the Charlotte Fish Guy, honey from Cloister, various teas from Urbana, and loads of milk & dairy products from Simply Local.

Of course, there are non-food related items of interest as well.  I got lucky and caught a quick picture of someone playing the violin.  He was awfully good and made me quite jealous of his talent.

Violin

Outside Clothesline Candy can be found selling adorable aprons, dresses, and skirts most Saturdays.

Clothesline Candy

And the balloon guy!  Between him and the kid’s zone at the back of the market, there is a  never ending source of entertainment for all the kids who are wandering through.

Balloon Man

Oh, and you can buy soap too!  🙂  Here’s my Wayne in all his smiling glory.  Our booth has recently changed, but I had to include this picture all the same.

Whispering Willow

Did I tempt you?  For all the locals, we hope to see you at Atherton soon.  For those not around our area of NC, I hope you use this post as inspiration to visit your local farmer’s market.  Get to know your farmers and small business owners. Talk to them.  Ask them questions.  Support them.  You’ll make new friends around every turn, and your community will be stronger for it.

Wrap-up: Freshly’s May Market

Wayne worked Freshly in May while I was off on other adventures, but I showed up just in time to take a few pictures with my new (as in very lovingly used before making its way to me) camera.  It’s a Nikon D70 and was a birthday gift from my parents and Wayne.  So far, I adore it.  I doesn’t hurt that Shelli’s store always looks amazing and there are photo-worthy shots at every turn.

We are so very sad to report that in the past few weeks Shelli has made the decision to close the shop and their very last day was June 16th.  If you love the aesthetic though, Freshly will still be participating in local festivals/markets and they will be building custom pieces!  Keep up with them on facebook for details.  For more pictures, check out our previous Freshly post.

Freshy's Outdoor Market

Whispering Willow Liquid Soap

Patina South's Flying Pig

Freshly's Hidden Bird's Nest

Freshly's Dress Form

Freshly: Drawer

Freshly: Hanging Plant

Wrap-up: Spring Bada Bing

Back in April I had the lovely experience of vending at Spring Bada Bing in Richmond, VA.  The Richmond Craft Mafia holds two events each year – this one and a holiday market.  It was my first visit to Richmond, so we made the most of it.  My mom & dad drove up from NC, one of my sisters came with me, and my youngest sister who lives in DC drove in.  It was a rare occasion to have everyone together just for fun.  We had a great weekend hanging around the city, and ended it on Sunday with an awesome event.

First of all, I must say that the Richmond Craft Mafia knows how to spoil their vendors.  When we arrived, we were promptly met by several volunteers who unloaded our car.  Yep.  All of our product and displays pieces just magically appeared at our table.  After parking we walked inside to find that breakfast was available for us while we set up.  Vendors were invited to pre-order lunch at registration so it (again) magically appeared at our table around lunchtime.  Last (but definitely not least), the space was gorgeous!

Planet Zero, the location of the show, is an event space located in an industrial/former industrial section of Richmond.  It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the inside is amazing.

Planet Zero - Richmond, VA

Toward the front of the building is the Planet Zero Cafe.  They provided all the ridiculously yummy food we ate during the event.

Planet Zero Cafe - Richmond, VA

The show itself had a great vendor mix.  I had the opportunity to visit with a few people that I’ve seen at several shows this spring including Metamorphosis Metals:

Metatmorphisis Metals

And Matt Butler (don’t you just love that print?!?):

Matt Butler

I also got to meet tons of new folks.  After wading through the million and one pictures I took, below are the standouts.

Just a few booths down from us was the Runny Bunny.  I was totally fascinated by Robin’s ceramic pieces and each time I looked, I found something else that made me smile.  I was surprised to find she’s from Asheville (one of our favorite places on earth).

The Runny Bunny

A few booths to the other side was Monkey Dog Studios peddling their Dangerous Animal Notebooks.

Dangerous Animals

TurnerBots are just fun.  ‘Nuf said.

Tunerbots

 Illegible Ink‘s prints are beautiful and fun and I adore the back story of her name.   According to her blog, her fourth grade teacher gave her a C+ on her report card and noted that she was “taking liberties with her cursive, making it too creative and therefore, illegible.”  Oh, to have that level of creativity that it was shining in fourth grade?  I’m jealous.  🙂

Illegible Ink

The whole idea of Articipe is just plain awesome.  Basically, she makes recipe prints and they are gorgeous.  You can purchase from what she has in stock, or send along a favorite recipe and have her create a print just for you.

Articipe

I saved two of my favorite booths for last.  The first is Terrariums by Rich.  I love the look and idea of a terrarium.  My youngest sister bought one for me for my birthday many years ago and it is still living happily on my mantle inside an antique canning jar.  It requires on a few drops of water periodically and still looks amazing – the perfect plants for people who tend toward plant neglect.

Rich takes terrariums to a new level.  They range in size from very small to the very, very large one in the middle of the table and each one is beautiful.

Terrariums by Rich

Here’s a close up of his creative display at the front of the booth.

Terrariums by Rich

And, last but definitely not least, is Found Studio.  I was drawn to the booth by the colors and simplicity of the designs.  Each piece could easily find a place in our house.  While I was admiring, I noticed a small sign that said “please touch.”  I was surprised, as that’s the last thing you normally see at a booth of paintings, but I am an instruction follower (just ask Wayne), so I did.

Found

This close up shows it a little more clearly, but each piece is a mix of materials – a collage of sorts.  And each has tons of texture making it even more appealing for me.  I gazed for a while and am still slightly sad that I didn’t pick one to take home.

Found

Oh, and I can’t forget us.  Below is my sister, Sara, who kindly stayed to help me with the show.

Whispering Willow

Out of all those amazing things, one of the highlights of the show was definitely meeting Sherry & John from Young House Love.  They stopped by for a few minutes to visit with various vendors and I (quite literally) squealed with joy.  They were incredibly nice, down to earth folks, and were even kind enough to include Whispering Willow in their post about the show.

The whole trip to Richmond was a great experience and one that I hope to be able to repeat in the future.

Field Trip: Richmond, VA

Sadly, it is rare for our small family to get together on our own for anything.  We’re all busy folks and my baby sister Jen lives in DC, so it’s just hard to arrange.  A few months ago we used my trip to Richmond for Spring Bada Bing as a great excuse to make it happen.  My mom and dad drove from NC, Sara rode with me, and Jenna drove from DC to meet us.

Per the recommendation from the Richmond Craft Mafia, we started the day with breakfast at Millie’s Diner.  It is a slightly funky & fun little restaurant in Richmond.  The brunch menu is written on a chalkboard on the wall and boasts amazingness that includes Huevos Rancheros and a Veggie Mess.  We arrived early to beat the crowd and were seated immediately.

Millie's

I ordered the Heuvos Racheros.  It’s a HUGE plate of food and is wonderfully yummy.  The pretty sauce on the side?  Sriracha.  How’d I find out?  The hard way.

Millie's Food

After breakfast we decided to walk a bit and headed back up the road toward the farmer’s market we passed on the way in.  I was fascinated by the industrialness of area.  I don’t much about Richmond and just didn’t really expect it.  Several of the brick buildings have murals painted on them.

Painting

Painting

I had to include this sign.  Because it is awesome.  You can see Sara in the background quickly loosing patience with me and my camera.

Yeah, We have it

And look!  The Poe museum has evidently been watching Portlandia and decided they would put a bird on it.  🙂

Put a Bird on It

It turns out that Richmond is a greener city than I imagined.  Take a gander at the solar trash compactors.

Solar Trash Compactor

And the rain barrels at the market.

Rain Barrels

I had a great time visiting the Farm Bus.  Not only was it wonderfully decorated, but it was filled with produce, honey, meats, eggs, cheese…it is basically a mobile farmer’s market.

The Farm Bus

The proclamation on the bottom of the bus door.  If only we all followed their sage words of advice…can you imagine how different the world would be?  Well, one day a week at least?

Be Kind

After finishing downtown, Sara suggested we headed to Maymont Park.  Originally the park was a 100 acre estate owned by James and Sallie Dolley.  The property includes their former home, a collection of historic buildings and carriages, and a variety of gardens.

When we entered the park, I was more than a bit surprised to find that many of the trees were skirted.  Not in the way you’d like, but in actual skirts.  Like clothing.  Strange right?

Maymont - Tree Skirts

It turns out that each year, Virginia Commonwealth University’s sophomore draping class takes on tree skirting as a project and the results (aka fashion show?) takes place at Maymont.  This was one of my favorites:

Maymont - Tree Skirts

We walked throughout the park during our visit.  No particular goal in mind, just walking.  Here’s Jenna and I standing in front of a carved tree.  The roots were amazing, but you had to feel bad for the poor thing with all the names and sayings chiseled into its trunk.

Maymont - Julia & Jen

Here’s the view heading down the hill of the park into the Japanese garden.  Even with all the people milling around, it was an extraordinarily peaceful place.

Maymont - Path

Here’s Jen and Sara standing on the walking stones in the Japanese Garden.  The huge pond is filled with koi and there are several trails leading different ways from here.

Maymont - Sara & Jen

I found this old tree a short walk away from the main house.  It’s still hard to see in the photo, but I swear it looks as though someone could be living inside.  I dubbed it the Fairy Tree although I think more likely it would hold an elf or dwarf.

Maymont - Fairy Tree House

There is a whole side of Maymont that we didn’t even enter as we were all getting a bit tired at this point.  The Nature Center focuses on Virginia wildlife and boasts bears, bison, and various birds of prey.   We also didn’t make it to the mansion, visit the Wetlands, or the Cactus garden.  Next time?

We had a great time hanging out as a family again although the trip was fairly short.   Jenna was off on an adventure to Brazil shortly after our trip and Sara and I stayed for Spring Bada Bing on Sunday and then returned to real life.   Hopefully we’ll have an opportunity for another family trip soon.