The Memphis, Tennessee-based Shotwell Candy Co. produces delicious, hand-crafted caramels, soon to be some of your favorite things. I learned about the company from John T. Edge of the Southern Foodways Alliance. The company was launched last year in the home kitchen of Jerrod Smith – a corporate lawyer and, now also, confectioner. Jerrod was inspired to create his business by his great-grandfather, L. Shotwell George, also known as “Grandpa Shot”. Grandpa Shot owned a general store in Kentucky, which was always stocked with candy bins full of chewy caramels and other sweets. Jerrod (who admittedly has a sweet tooth, especially for caramels) has recreated timeless flavors through experimentation with complimentary ingredients, such as beer and pretzels, espresso, whiskey, and salt.
We love the Original Salted Caramels, featuring buttery, soft caramel infused with house-made Tennessee whiskey, vanilla extract, and finished with flaky Celtic grey salt. Purchase them in our café or through our online store here.
This holiday season, as part of our Handmade Holiday collection, we are offering a DIY tree skirt kit that features our Anna’s Garden design in a negative reverse appliqué, and coordinates beautifully with our Natural Appliqué Stockings.
Our do-it-yourself kit was inspired by the custom tree skirt we created for the official White House Christmas tree in 2009. The tree skirt, which measured 14 feet in diameter and was embellished with our Magdalena stencil, was completed in three weeks by 22 Alabama Chanin artisans. I can’t believe it has been four years since we designed the blue and white skirt for the Obamas’ first winter in the White House. Now, the skirt is archived with other previous White House holiday decorations in the Smithsonian Institute.
Our Anna’s Garden Tree Skirt Kit comes ready-to-sew and includes all fabric and thread. The skirt measures 48” in diameter and can be customized to match your style and holiday décor.
The Alabama Biscuit Company is changing the way people perceive (and eat) biscuits. Jonathan Burch of Birmingham, Alabama, has developed a delicious and healthy recipe for biscuits using organic sprouted spelt flour, aluminum-free baking powder, and organic Celtic sea salt.
The biscuit mix is now a favorite of the Alabama Chanin team. We made biscuits with it at the Heath event this past August and are now using and selling it in our café.
This stuffed bunny rabbit is Alabama Chanin’s version of the old-time childhood favorite, the sock monkey. My grandmother used to make sock monkeys for all the children in our family. Each one she made took its own personality and looked different from the others. Our DIY Bunny Rabbit doll is an easy project to complete, and is a perfect handmade gift for the little ones this holiday. And each time you make this project, your bunny will take on its own unique personality, much like the well-loved sock monkeys from my childhood.
Get creative with your bunny rabbit – you can customize the fabric colors and embroidery floss, change his face to reflect any mood, or even turn him into another woodland creature. (One of our studio team members recently made a little stuffed bear by altering our pattern a bit.)
All of the instructions for this bunny, along with the pattern, are available in Alabama Stitch Book. The pattern is also available for download on our Resources page.
As part of our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide, we are featuring a selection of our favorite magazines in our online store. We all enjoy time spent browsing the internet on our laptops and tablets, but sometimes it is nice to have something tangible in your hands to read while enjoying coffee, on a plane, or at home. Plus, you will find that one (or all) of these magazines makes the perfect stocking stuffer this holiday season.
Heath Ceramics is celebrating 10 years of design by showcasing interpretations of time in the form of one-of-a-kind clocks designed by friends and collaborators. I was honored to design and contribute two clocks, featuring Alabama Chanin’s etched Camellia pattern.
It’s really common in my family to hang plates on the wall, and I was inspired by this tradition. I remember all the plates on the walls at my grandmother’s house, and I have continued the practice by hanging Heath + Alabama Chanin plates on the wall in my own kitchen. It made perfect sense to design clocks that reflected that tradition.
The Alabama Chanin clocks will be available at Heath’s Design in Time show this weekend, along with several other collaborations and interpretations. The show opens this Saturday, December 7 from 5:30pm – 8:30pm at both the San Francisco and Los Angeles showrooms. More details and RSVP info can be found here.
xoNatalie and all of us @ Alabama Chanin
Photos courtesy of Heath Ceramics.
As seasons change and the holiday rush begins in full force, Christmas carols seem to appear earlier and earlier each year. Once upon a time, Thanksgiving was considered the unofficial date when radio stations began to play holiday music. This year, I heard my first Christmas carol when picking up Halloween candy at the grocery store.
But, regardless of whether you love or avoid holiday music, many of the seasonal songs have been around for hundreds of years. Some have social or political messages and many have a colorful history.
December’s Desktop of the Month highlights an elaborate modification of a traditional embroidery technique, negative reverse appliqué.
Negative reverse appliqué looks much like traditional appliqué, but is worked slightly differently. Here, we stencil the top layer of fabric, then place it on top of the backing fabric. We then use a straight stitch to attach the top layer of fabric to the bottom layer, and cut away the top layer of fabric, leaving a 1/4” sliver of top-layer fabric beyond the stitching line.
Thank you to everyone who graciously showed their support for Alabama Chanin over the last few weeks. Your purchases, emails, and love are the things that keep us going. It has been an incredible year and we appreciate your amazing show of kindness and loyalty as we move towards the holidays and the end of the year. You make a difference.
Our studio staff and artisans are working overtime to fill all of the orders, wrap beautiful packages, and get shipments out in the next days and weeks. Our timeline for production of garments is currently 4 to 6 weeks and while some may be completed before the holidays, please keep in mind our brand practices sustainable and Slow Design, producing our goods in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. (Learn more about our production methods here.)
If your order included any gift items that might not arrive before the holidays, let us know and we will be happy to send you a note card to give to the recipient, letting them know an Alabama Chanin garment is being created just for them and will soon be on its way.
Just email office [at] alabamachanin.com or phone us Monday – Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm CST at +1.256.760.1090 and we will get the holiday note card mailed to you as soon as possible.
xoNatalie and all of us @ Alabama Chanin
For many Southerners, ambrosia salad is a dish often associated with holiday potlucks or aunts and grandmothers. It occasionally gets a bad rap, along with the often-maligned fruitcake, but when prepared correctly it can be light and delicious. The dividing line between love and hate seems to be one ingredient: coconut. But, this much is clear – ambrosia salad absolutely must include coconut.
Ambrosia salad also has a bit of an identity crisis. Depending on your family’s prerogative, it might be considered a salad, but it may also be considered a dessert. It is a fruit dish so, depending on preparation, it can be light, like a salad. Other recipes are sweeter and include layers of whipped cream or even marshmallows, placing it clearly in the “sweets” category. My family always placed it in a different spot in the buffet line, depending on which aunt had prepared the dish.