Yearly Archives: 2008

FLICKR: PROJECTS FROM THE ALABAMA STITCH BOOK

There was a question over the weekend about a Flickr site for finished projects from our Alabama Stitch Book. I went to Flickr and found this site which was started by betty_whoosh:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/alabamastitchbook/

I have joined the group too & look forward to seeing everyone’s projects.

Thanks Betty!

And check out her blog: http://www.bettyninja.blogspot.com/

 

SCREEN DOORS AND SWEET TEA

I met Martha Hall Foose when she came to cook strawberry cobbler with the Southern Foodways Alliance at our 2007 Alabama Studio Weekend. The cobbler was served on pie tins from the Mockingbird Bakery, topped with Martha’s homemade Buttermilk Ice Cream and is one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. Ever.

Now, Martha shares her community, recipes and love for the good things in life with us all. I just received my copy of Screen Doors and Sweet Tea. It reads like a steamy southern, summer afternoon and makes me hungry for more.

THE WAY OF THE FUTURE

From the Associated Press:

MCMINNVILLE, Tenn. – High gas prices have driven a Warren County farmer and his sons to hitch a tractor rake to a pair of mules to gather hay from their fields. T.R. Raymond bought Dolly and Molly at the Dixon mule sale last year. Son Danny Raymond trained them and also modified the tractor rake so the mules could pull it.

T.R. Raymond says the mules are slower than a petroleum-powered tractor, but there are benefits.

“This fuel’s so high, you can’t afford it,” he said. “We can feed these mules cheaper than we can buy fuel. That’s the truth.”

And Danny Raymond says he just likes using the mules around the farm. “We’ve been using them quite a bit,” he said.Brother Robert Raymond added, “It’s the way of the future.”

 

LIFE IS IN THE DETAILS

There have been some questions recently about why I want the world to know that “I AM NO LONGER PART OF PROJECT ALABAMA.” While there is a long and delicate history behind this statement, the crux of the situation is this:

Project Alabama started one day in the year 2000 as I hand-sewed a t-shirt for myself; however, the concept of making t-shirts goes back to about a year before that fateful day. That first hand-sewn shirt hatched a company, a concept, a clothing line and ultimately brought me back to my family, childhood home and community. The concept of Project Alabama was to make community-based fashion by-hand, focusing on recycled and sustainable materials, using traditional techniques with an American flavor. It is my feeling today that we did those things and we did them very well. I am proud of the company that I started, ran and loved with all my heart and soul.

As happens, things change, people, companies and concepts grow and take on their own lives. The Project Alabama that I started closed in September of 2006 and the company that I loved grew into what is now Alabama Chanin. Continue reading

WEEDS

This post from Blair Hobbs reminds me of why I love gardening. Just this week, Blair agreed to become one of our regular contributors to share her views on being mother, creator, business person, lover of food, gardener and woman of the new south.

I know it’s spring when Mrs. Gary’s field is a snowdrift of little white flowers. Up close, these weeds are star-shaped, and they blanket the lazy lawns of our neighborhood in Oxford, Mississippi. But there are lawns on South 11th Street where these weeds don’t wake. There are yards that are not lazy and are tended by hoards of gardeners from places like Azalea Happenin’s nursery. These gardeners show up after the first frost and get busy on whatever is trying to sprout. These gardeners-for-hire crank up with their loud mowers, weed whackers, and ghost-buster leaf blowers. They prune the Crape Myrtles and Knock-out roses; they blow brown-and-fallen holly leaves from beneath the trimmed boxwood. They also show up with birth control for the Zoysia, and the growing grass remains pure and green and perfect.

Come spring, what grows in my family’s yard does not grow in those more manicured lawns of our neighborhood, and this makes me sad. I like weeds. I like the craggy dandelion leaves, the fragrant stronghold of honeysuckle, the pom-pom clover, and this little yellow flower that now feathers throughout our rain-sodden grass. I don’t know the name of this weed, but the blossoms are precious. They remind me of the small woolly balls that peel up from my favorite cardigan’s sleeves after a long winter’s wear.

Here is Blair’s Bio:

I was born in Oxford, MS in 1964 and moved to Auburn, Alabama when I was three. My dad was dean of Arts and Sciences at the University and my mother was an art professor. I am married to John T Edge, and we have a fabulous seven-year old son, Jess. I teach writing at the University of Mississippi (have an MA in Creative Writing from Hollins College and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan). I am a collage artist and painter, and I always weave words into the content of my canvases. At home, I enjoy cooking, eating, patting the cats, reading, writing, laughing, tending the window boxes, and watching some trashy television.

CONSUMPTION PART 2 – EIGHT BELLES

I grew up riding horses with my father and grandfather on our family farm in North Alabama. And although I still bear the scars from my first pony, to this day I have a deep, spiritual love for these majestic, beautiful, powerful creatures.

An excerpt about Eight Belles from “The Last Lap,” Time Magazine, (May 19, 2008), Page 13, by David von Drehle:

…”But it’s only fair to point out that breeders aren’t a solitary priesthood. They flip horses the way real estate speculators once flipped condos. With dollar signs in their eyes, they savor 2- and 3-year-old horses, exactly the way the fashion industry looks at long-stemmed 14-year-old girls, exactly the way the celebrity culture gazes on Britney and Lindsay and Miley, exactly the way shoe-company reps scrutinize boys on basketball courts. Horses, fashion models, teen stars–they’re all produced for maximum profit.

Every market needs buyers as well as sellers, and that’s where the rest of us come in. If horse breeders have stopped raising animals that are sound for the long run, it’s because the audience for mature racehorses–like the audience for maturity in general–has vanished. Seabiscuit, over his 89-race career, drew huge crowds season after season. By contrast, this year’s Derby winner, Big Brown, will command the public eye for two months at best, retiring after the Belmont Stakes in June. Provided he lives that long.”

TUSCAN CHEVRE

I briefly mentioned Belle Chevre in a post from a few weeks back and feel compelled to talk more about this company today.

I had the opportunity to meet Tasia recently and fell in love with her story, her passion and the Tuscan Chevre that she so kindly left at our studio.

Last night, in a hurry to eat, read books to Maggie and generally manage life with a two-year old, I threw together a dinner from the fridge which was one of the best I have had in awhile. It literally took about 15 minutes and serves 4.

NATALIE’S TUSCAN CHEVRE SALAD

4 handfuls fresh green salad mix from the garden
1 cup cherry tomatoes– our local farm has a greenhouse and already has delicious tomatoes
2 left-over grilled chicken breasts
Tuscan Chevre from Belle Chevre
One-half lemon – juiced
Salt and Pepper
Crackers

Place jar of Tuscan Chevre in hot tap water to warm. Slice cherry tomatoes in half, lightly salt and set aside. Slice chicken breasts into one-eighth inch strips and set aside. Wash and dry greens.

Fill one-half of a plate with greens and add salted cherry tomatoes. Fan chicken slices on other half of plate. Spoon warmed goat cheese on to top of each slice of chicken centering the cheese on each slice. Remove remainder of goat cheese from jar, leaving oil and place the cheese in bowl to be eaten at the table. Spoon oil & “goodies” from the jar and drizzle over the chicken and cheese slices

DRESSING

Add juice from one-half lemon and pepper to taste to remainder of oil in jar. Close lid and shake. Pour dressing over salad and eat.

Put crackers on the table to enjoy the remainder of your Tuscan Chevre.
Enjoy

*Photograph from Southern Living – April 2008

TONI MORRISON

I first became acquainted with Toni Morrison in 1987 when my childhood friend Wendy sent me a copy of Beloved in the mail. Throughout my life, this book remains one of my favorites. The image of “one off-centered orange square” in a quilt on a bed haunts me from time to time.

Other Morrison stories that I read over and over (and over) again: Sula and Song of Solomon

How can you not love and cherish a woman who has won the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes and recently received the PEN/Borders Literary Service Award?

The current Time Magazine features a reader interview with Ms. Morrison in their “10 Questions” section which reminded me why Toni Morrison continues to be an inspiration and a hero:

http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1738303,00.html

I love this question and, her answer:

Out of all the novels you’ve written, do you have a favorite?
—Sarah Henderson, Loma Linda, Calif.

No, I always am most deeply impressed with the one that’s going on at the moment.

Her new book, a non-fiction, “collects three decades of Toni Morrison’s writings about her work, her life, literature, and American society:”

What Moves at the Margin

Photograph: Gregg Delman for TIME

MEMOIRE LIQUIDE

Recently at Fred Segal in Santa Monica, I had the joy of learning about Memoire Liquide (thanks to Jeannine).

It is an amazing and somewhat overwhelming experience to stand before their counter of hundreds of smells, beautiful little bottles and expert sales staff. I was asked questions about my favorite perfumes: Shalimar, “the flagship perfume of the House of Guerlain,” and about my favorite smells: vanilla and cinnamon, two kitchen staples.

I felt at once exhilarated and terribly intimidated standing at the Memoire Liquide counter. I wanted to smell and try all. I wanted to have the entire day to start over and experiment with building my own scent. I wanted to take the entire counter home. But, truthfully, while I have always been drawn to certain fragrances, I am really not knowledgeable about the bases and ingredients.In December, I was lucky enough to meet Michelle Krell Kydd and discover Glass Petal Smoke. My experience of Memoire Liquide reminded me of my many conversations with Michelle and filled my mind with memories of life. I was suddenly reminded of being a little girl in the bathtub and mixing all sorts of lotions, shampoo and cream to formulate my own “perfume.” I told Michelle that I was once asked if I had to “choose only one sense, which one would it be?” My answer, at that time, was the sense of “smell.” And while I am no expert, I know immediately my likes and dislikes. Michelle introduced me to the Tonka Bean by mailing me my very own with the instructions to” place in a sealed glass jar and smell only after two weeks.”

Thinking of scent always reminds me of the beautiful short story from Anais Nin’s, Delta of Venus, about the lover who lost his love because he changed his scent. I believe that smell is so ingrained into our whole being that such a simple thing can change a person forever. Point in fact: I once broke up with a boyfriend because I woke up one morning unable to bear the way he smelled.

I love this quote:

Memoire Liquide Bespoke Perfumery
Remember….Be Remembered….

Standing before the counter at Memoire Liquide, I finally settled for a beautifully packaged set of 3 scents:

Sensual
Joie de Vivre
Fleur de Coton

Flower of Cotton indeed.

ALABAMA STUDIO STYLE

I am happy to share that, due to overwhelming support of our Alabama Stitch Book, we have just
signed a contract for our follow-up book: Alabama Studio Style.

Published by Stewart Tabori Chang and due on the shelf for spring 2010, you can expect more stories, more projects, more patterns, more techniques and, this time, more recipes. I am looking forward to working again with Robert Rausch, the addition of Angie Mosier to our team and to explore all of the stories and techniques we have collected since finishing Alabama Stitch Book. It was exciting to start writing yesterday. I am inspired to imagine where we will be going, the new stories we will hear, and the people we will meet along the way.

Thank you to Melanie and all the folks at STC for believing in our work.