Category Archives: BEAUTIFUL LIFE + INSPIRATION

SEED BOMBS

Living in a community that has an abundance of farmland and agriculture, one might not think that ‘guerrilla gardening’ is exactly required. However, like any community, The Shoals is dotted with the occasional abandoned lot and neglected space in our downtown area. And we are of the opinion that most any space can benefit from the addition of colorful flowers.

During my visit to Berlin for the Hello Etsy conference, I noticed an abundance of green spaces and gardens that were situated on vacant lots throughout the city.

Continue reading

MARIA MOYER + PLANKTON

Having seen Maria Moyer’s recently-released collaboration with West Elm, I can’t help but visualize which surfaces in my home and at the Factory will best display the porcelain vases and tea lights. I’m certain there will be quite a few.

As a sculptor, Maria appreciates the ‘craft’ behind the design, which translates beautifully into her work. There’s a lovely purity of form paired with incredible attention to detail in each piece.

Continue reading

MARKET BULLETIN

After our fall visit to the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium, we learned about the South’s Forgotten Locavores, market bulletins, and how these newsletters helped heirloom varieties of vegetables and plants survive generations.

We subscribed to Alabama’s Farmers and Consumers Bulletin shortly thereafter and are happy to report that we received our first issue just in time for spring cultivation. Old- timey Tennessee Red Cob Corn and Cow Horn Okra will be great additions to my garden. Continue reading

CEREMONIALS OF COMMON DAYS

I have on my desk a small, simple book: Ceremonials of Common Days, by Abbie Graham. It has been there for several months. The little antique volume was given to me as gift from one of our very sweet Weekend Workshop guests. Published by The Womans Press in the 1920s, it smells the way an old book should smell, but I can tell from the pages and cover that has been handled with care over many decades.

The sections of the book are divided into ‘Ceremonials’ for each season. The old-fashioned passages describe the passing moments that make up any ordinary day, but it is each of these exact moments and objects that make that day so very special.

Continue reading

THE HEART: RICK BRAGG AND “THE CHOICE”

When I returned to Alabama over a decade ago to start the project that has become Alabama Chanin, I had NO IDEA that this simple project would surround me with stories of cotton, mill work, and, quite honestly, the history of the small community where I grew up. This blog is proof to the fact that I am STILL learning – each and every day.

While researching the post about Sweetwater Mills and reading William McDonald’s books a few weeks back, I came across Rick Bragg’s book, The Most They Ever Had. As an avid reader and, quite honestly, a Rick Bragg fan, I was surprised that I’d never read this book before. I have followed his work for years: from Anniston, Alabama, to The New York Times, through all the novels, the Pulitzer, to the controversy surrounding his departure from the Times. (Full disclosure, I know some of the parties attached to The New York Times scandal and have a few thoughts on that myself – we will save that for a later day or a face-to-face conversation.)

Continue reading

MORE PAISLEY

Over the last weeks (and months), we have been introducing our new patterns, stencils, fabric designs, plus patterns from our newest book, Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. Hands-down, our Paisley has been a favorite new design and I was excited to see that EcoSalon even did a feature on this iconic pattern last week. As we just finished a round of world-wide fashion weeks, we witnessed the classic paisley in some new interpretations.

Continue reading

THE HEART: BETTER JOYS

I feel so honored and happy to introduce Jessamyn Hatcher as a new contributor to this blog (soon we will add a face to the name). Jessamyn has been a source of inspiration for me as I continue to learn how to frame the work that is so easy for me to DO, but so difficult for me to EXPLAIN in words. My conversations with Jessamyn have taken place across several states, drinks, emails, and phone calls. I am so excited to expand upon those in-depth conversations here with you—beginning today. Please show a big, hearty, and embracing welcome to Jessamyn—our newest contributor and a part of the growing heart and soul of Alabama Chanin. Continue reading

SHAKERAG WORKSHOPS

Shakerag Workshops have been taking place on the campus of St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School for some eight years now. Among the rolling hills of the Cumberland Plateau, Shakerag operates as a community where artists + those eager to learn a craft come together in a creative learning environment. Similar to our sewing workshops, the instructors work closely with students in a full-immersion studio course. This summer, I am eager to travel here with our studio Directress, Diane, to teach sewing, to learn, and explore the Sewanee Hollow.

We will be teaching Open Design: Sewing and Construction during the week of June 17-23, 2012, as part of the second session. This is how I intend to spend my days at Shakerag: coffee + breakfast, sewing, delicious lunch, more sewing, and a relaxing yoga session or a hike on the St. Andrew’s-Sewanee Perimeter Trail. To end the day, a locally-sourced dinner- featuring adapted recipes from A New Turn in the South- followed by enrichment + faculty artist’s lectures. And of course, Hugh Acheson’s lecture, Wednesday evening, June 20, 2012, is a welcome interruption in the schedule. Continue reading

THE UNIVERSE

As I flip through the pages of this gorgeous book, I am captured by the beauty and magnitude of the universe. It makes me feel small.

However, I know in my heart that the work that we are doing makes a difference. I am grateful that through the workshops and lectures, we are able to travel and share our stories and ideas.

More importantly, we meet so many people who teach us. Because of the book series, website, and this blog we are able to share that wealth of knowledge and to connect across the globe. Maybe we are not so small.

As Einstein said, in so many words, “It’s all relative.”

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS + THANK YOU

Congratulations are due today to Chris Hastings, Rob McDaniel, and Sedesh Boodram for championing last night’s Iron Chef America. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Chris over the last few years and sharing all that the Southern Foodways Alliance holds common for us. Chris, chef and co-owner of Hot and Hot Fish Club, is a guest speaker at many events across the South and is the Alabama spokesperson for Wild American Shrimp. A giant round of applause for all that Chris does – aside from winning Iron Chef.

And another round of applause for Rob – the gracious host of our One-Day Retreat at The SpringHouse Restaurant this past January. We ate beautifully that weekend- shrimp and grits with cured bacon, miniature fried sweet potato pies, and a sampling of classic Southern dishes from SpringHouse’s menu.

And, finally, congratulations are in order today for Octavia Spencer. Originally from Montgomery, Octavia won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar last night for her role in The Help. In her acceptance speech, she first thanked her family- then the state of Alabama. Yes, Alabama love…