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Archive for October, 2009

Boo!

Scare you? No? Well, we’ve got a few other tricks and travel treats bubbling away in this week’s Three-fer Friday cauldron. Here, some places and experiences that left us with chills (still multiplying). Happy Halloween!

We’re joined by one of our most frightening–and we mean that in a good way–friends. Hilary Davidson, a very nice and kind person who writes about travel and gluten-free dining around the globe, also happens to pen some of the most unsettling short stories you’ll ever read. Her debut crime novel, The Damage Done, will be published by Forge in October 2010.

Newport

Photo by Hilary Davidson

Before visiting Newport’s famous Gilded Age mansions, I got acquainted with its graves at the Common Burial Ground and the Island Cemetery, adjoining but separate final resting places. Some of the headstones and markers are illegible, not surprising given that the Common Burial Ground dates back to the 1600s. It includes a colonial-era slave cemetery and a sequestered plot of Jewish graves. The Island Cemetery holds the remains of many of the area’s notable families. It’s a gated community of death: a private cemetery that has welcomed the wealthy for two centuries. There are other cemeteries in Newport, but none so clearly illustrates the separation between the classes. What haunts me is the idea that even in death, some people hold to a faith in a velvet rope.–Hilary

scary manikinsI don’t do scary stuff because I’m a weenie and I get scared. So the spookiest thing I have to offer here is photos of some of the creepy mannequins I’ve encountered at small museums. I love little offbeat museums but sometimes they’re like going through a haunted house for me—I turn a corner and EEK! a scary mannequin! Sometimes they’re dusty, sometimes they’re off-balance, sometimes they’re missing appendages or have rotten bits. Sometimes they’re just … creepy. Where do they get those things? Halloween stores? (For the record, Texas Prison Museum in Huntsville, Texas; Greater Southwest Historical Museum in Ardmore, Oklahoma; and Geronimo Springs Museum in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.)–Sophia

1880 Newbury House

1880 Newbury House

After a day scouring tables along the World’s Longest Yard Sale, I settled in for the night at Historic Rugby, Tennessee‘s Newbury House Bed and Breakfast. Built in 1880, it was the first boarding house in the utopian community foundeded by Thomas Hughes, author of Tom Brown’s Schooldays. On my bedside table: a thick anthology of ghost tales and a ledger filled with past guests’ stories of haunting encounters experienced in my austere but comfortable room. That night, after all the other guests were clearly asleep, the hallway remained busy. The light through the crack under my door flickered as people, silently, paced the hallway. For the rest of the night, I slept with the bathroom light on.–Jenna

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hands on entryI’m an artsy-craftsy kind of person. I like to knit and sew and if you sit me down at a table with crafting supplies, I can usually come up with something. And around this time of year, I tend to spend a lot of time crafting this or that, to give as gifts.

Sure wish I lived in Wisconsin, ’cause I’ve found a kind of artsy-craftsy nirvana: Hands On Art Studio in Fish Creek, Wisconsin.

Owned by Cy Turnbladh and his fetching bride-to-be Karon Ohm (actually, hands on couplethey’re both fetching—such a cute couple), this rambling compound of studios allows guests to plunge into a variety of crafts: mosaics and ceramics (painting pots or throwing them); glass beads and fused-glass plates (that’s what I did); silver jewelry or metal yard art. You pay a daily $7 studio fee and the cost of your project (prices are posted). My six-inch square fused glass dish cost $25) hands on craftingAnd this is not just for kids; in fact, Friday nights are adults-only. The whole scene is fun, from the sunny pottery studio to the llamas hanging out in the back.

Door County is an artists’ colony, so the air is imbued with creativity. Breathe deep and exhale here. Oh, and Hands On is open all year, so if you live anywhere nearby, a pilgrimage for holiday gift-makery would be a lot more fun than a trip to the mall. hands on pottery

I promise that whatever you make will come out looking better than you think it will. With the right tools and supplies and the Hands On staff’s patient assistance, anything is possible.

hands on glass dish I wonder if these two would consider franchising not just their business, but their whole scene. It looks awfully nice.

(See what I made? Sorry, I’m not giving it away. I’ll make something for you next time.)

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Manhattan
Some days a slash of hot pink light on the wall was my cue to grab the camera. Other days it was an oppressive storm cloud that started me shooting. No matter the reason, I’ve spent the last five years convinced that the best shows in New York City aren’t on Broadway. The best shows are free–and they’re through my kitchen window in Queens. The sunsets, the morning light, the pigeons swirling in formation, that famous skyline. They held me.

Though I couldn’t see the half-drawn window shades on the buildings way across the way, I liked to dream up the lives of the people working in those offices or cooking (ok, choosing the evening’s delivery menu) in those apartments. While some people think NYC gets too much attention, that it’s not really part of America, my daily watch over it always reminded me how many stories go untold. There’s a lot of Flyover America in the midst of NYC. It’s a living Edward Hopper painting.

But, just as I’ve had to pull myself away from Hopper’s Early Sunday Morning when the Whitney was closing for the evening, it’s time for me to leave my window project behind. After 17 years living in NYC, I’m heading out. It’s time for a new view.

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The Halloween season is nearly behind us and the shopping season is just about upon us. Shopping can be odious or delightful, depending on the who (Jenna is an enthusiastic shopper, Sophia would rather not) and where. So for today’s three-fer we present three shops in which we could happily do all our holiday shopping.

Our guest contributor is Chicago-based writer Lisbeth Levine, one of our most stylish friends. Among other things, Lisbeth writes about style and travel, and she’s co-author of The Wedding Book: The Big Book for Your Big Day.

Photo by Lisbeth Levine

The aroma is comforting, tantalizing and exotic. It reaches out to greet you, inviting you inside. The Spice House in Chicago is one of my favorite escapes and one of my favorite places to buy gifts. It walks the line between decadence and necessity.

Buying the best cinnamon from Vietnam feels like an indulgence, even at just $5.29 for 4 ounces. So does trying to decide between French artisan salt smoked over Chardonnay oak barrels and red sea salt from Hawaii. Chicago spice blends include Hyde Park Seasoning, which contains ingredients from Hawaii and Africa in a tribute to President Barack Obama.

A clerk scoops out and weighs your order, giving you as much or as little as you need. The other day I left only $7.32 poorer, but the half hour I spent there enriched my entire day. – Lisbeth

By Von der Lende

There was almost too much to look at inside the Tamarack Gallery in Omena, Michigan. Almost. But owner Sally Viskochil fill the walls and the tables and the pedestals with pieces that really make you stop, look, enjoy (and think). So it’s not just a giant swirl of color. Though the artwork itself is just 3″ by 3″, I got pulled right into this piece by painter I-don’t-know-her-first-name Van der Lende. A gentle world in there, eh? I also snagged two wacky paintings of fishing scenes by folk artist Wesley Merritt. Mine mine mine! Happy. Can’t wait to shop there again.–Jenna

Photo by Sophia Dembling

The giant ice cream cone out front was the mother of all impulse purchases for Heidi Chapman, owner of the Cloverleaf Boutique in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Appropriately, since the Cloverleaf is crammed with potential impulse buys: vintage this-and-that, kitschy the other thing, purses and penny candy, toys and t-shirts, sunglasses and a cat named Sophie (not for sale) among other quadrupeds. Animal loving customers also may donate to help feed the feral cats that hang outside. To reach the Cloverleaf, turn at the giant pink ice cream cone, drive along painted-bicycle way, pass through the yard-art portal and enter the land of impulse. You will smile. — Sophia

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The Halloween season is nearly behind us and the shopping season is just about upon us. Shopping can be odious or delightful, depending on the who (Jenna is an enthusiastic shopper, Sophia would rather not) and where. So for today’s three-fer we present three shops in which we could happily do all our holiday shopping.

Our guest contributor is Chicago-based writer Lisbeth Levine, one of our most stylish friends. Among other things, Lisbeth writes about style and travel, and she’s co-author of The Wedding Book: The Big Book for Your Big Day.

Photo by Lisbeth Levine

Photo by Lisbeth Levine

The aroma is comforting, tantalizing and exotic. It reaches out to greet you, inviting you inside. The Spice House in Chicago is one of my favorite escapes and one of my favorite places to buy gifts. It walks the line between decadence and necessity.

Buying the best cinnamon from Vietnam feels like an indulgence, even at just $5.29 for 4 ounces. So does trying to decide between French artisan salt smoked over Chardonnay oak barrels and red sea salt from Hawaii. Chicago spice blends include Hyde Park Seasoning, which contains ingredients from Hawaii and Africa in a tribute to President Barack Obama.

A clerk scoops out and weighs your order, giving you as much or as little as you need. The other day I left only $7.32 poorer, but the half hour I spent there enriched my entire day. – Lisbeth

By Von der Lende

By Van der Lende

There was almost too much to look at inside the Tamarack Gallery in Omena, Michigan. Almost. But owner Sally Viskochil fill the walls and the tables and the pedestals with pieces that really make you stop, look, enjoy (and think). So it’s not just a giant swirl of color. Though the artwork itself is just 3″ by 3″, I got pulled right into this piece by painter I-don’t-know-her-first-name Van der Lende. A gentle world in there, eh? I also snagged two wacky paintings of fishing scenes by folk artist Wesley Merritt. Mine mine mine! Happy. Can’t wait to shop there again.–Jenna

Photo by Sophia Dembling

Photo by Sophia Dembling

The giant ice cream cone out front was the mother of all impulse purchases for Heidi Chapman, owner of the Cloverleaf Boutique in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Appropriately, since the Cloverleaf is crammed with potential impulse buys: vintage this-and-that, kitschy the other thing, purses and penny candy, toys and t-shirts, sunglasses and a cat named Sophie (not for sale) among other quadrupeds. Animal loving customers also may donate to help feed the feral cats that hang outside. To reach the Cloverleaf, turn at the giant pink ice cream cone, drive along painted-bicycle way, pass through the yard-art portal and enter the land of impulse. You will smile. — Sophia

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I’ve been goofing around in Door County, Wisconsin this week, getting a good dose of autumn everything—colors, weather, pumpkins, apples, autumnal scarecrows-and-sheaves-of-wheat displays. Good golly, it’s everything you want autumn to be–so perfect, it’s hokey. Wonderfully so. Here, take a look:

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Lonnie and Twyla Money

Lonnie and Twyla Money

After reading Sophie’s phrase “super-personality faces,” a slideshow of people I’ve met started running in my brain. Lonnie and Twyla Money, a Kentucky folk art duo, popped in to say hello several times.

I visited the couple two years ago while touring Berea, a town that could easily take the title of Folk Art Capital of the U.S., and the surrounding area. While the whirligigs and sculptures outside the Money house signal something good going on inside, there’s no way to imagine the joy that sits just inside their front door.

Together, Lonnie and Twyla create some of the most charming sculptures you’ll ever come across. Even their chickens have big personalities. Could be the polka dots. But charming as they are, the Money pieces are also highly prized (yet, to my great delight, fairly priced) art. Museums have them. Collectors clamor for them.

crowsI think the magic may come from the joy the Moneys take in creating each piece. A bit of laughter punctuates almost every sentence when they talk about their work. Then again, how could you not have fun when your life’s work is creating howling hound dogs, stick lizards, and spotted toothy pigs?

pants bagsBut their humor doesn’t just apply to the finished products. Lonnie’s even got a sense of humor–blended with true Kentucky ingenuity–in his workshop. Once upon a time he was on the hunt for a good way to store all the wooden pieces he carves. How would he keep the chicken legs from getting mixed in with the dog ears? His solution? Pants bags. He bought big pants cheap and sewed them up to create bags. To borrow a line from Martha, it’s a good thing. And one more reason the Moneys are pure gold.

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