THE HEART: STEVEN SMITH

About a year after beginning my work with what is now Alabama Chanin, I was managing the company operations in Alabama with one employee, Abbie (after whom our “Abbie’s Flower” stencil is named).

We were still working in the little three bedroom brick ranch house at Lovelace Crossroads.  I was actually living in one side of the house and running the design and production out of the other side of the house.  And when I say running, I really mean undertaking the whole production. I spent my days sorting and washing t-shirts, cutting garments for orders, stenciling them, packing them for sewing and sending them out to our sewers – all of this with a head-set permanently in place for the constantly ringing phone.  At that moment, I could barely keep up with all of the artisans that wanted to sew, communicate with customers and still manage the production deliveries.

April, one of our very first sewers (and soon to be highlighted here), kept saying to me that she knew this man named Steven who would be perfect to help me. For whatever reason, it seems that I never found time to get him into the office.  He finally arrived one gray December day wearing a suit and his University of North Alabama football ring. I was in my Alabama t-shirt, skirt and a work belt made from a pair of old jeans.  He seemed like a gift from heaven and I asked him if he wanted to “go home, change clothes and come back to work.” I remember him smiling and answering that maybe he could “start tomorrow?” He reminded me recently that he was our “1st Male Employee.”

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THE COOLEST PLACE ON EARTH

The Museum of Electronic Wonder & Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour is exactly as the name implies: part museum, part sandwich shop. Brainchild of Adam and Krista Bork – of Food Shark fame, this is the place for late-night gatherings in Marfa, Texas.

 

Open from 9:30 until “thirty minutes after the last bar closes,” the menu includes grilled cheese offerings like the Classic with Bacon and Tomato options, Brie with Spicy Cherry Chutney, and Gruyere with Brussels Sprouts and Caramelized Onion.

 

Originally conceived as a kitchen for the Food Shark, the museum has become an extended living room for the Bork’s – hosting locals and visiting art and music enthusiasts for late-night eats.

Why is it that small towns often have the coolest places?  Every small town needs one of these.

See more pictures here.

The Museum of Electronic Wonder & Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour
300 West San Antonio Street
Marfa, Texas

 

REFUELED + TEXAS TRAVELS

One of our favorite places to visit - Refueled – has a beautiful new look. (And we are thrilled to be shown as a sponsor at the bottom of the page.)  While we were working on a project last month, I had a chance to catch up with Chris Brown – Refueled’s creator and creative director:

I know very little about you.  What do you do when you aren’t doing Refueled?

Refueled, Inc., encompasses a number of things: publishing, design and film. As creative director behind all three entities of the company, I keep quite busy on a daily basis. Refueled magazine is published bi-yearly, spring/summer and fall/winter. Developing features, working with contributors, collaborating with photographers, and hitting the road for ideas and inspiration never stops. Once an issue drops, I am knee-deep in the next.

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PICO DE GALLO

I arrived back from Berlin to find that tomatoes are still dropping off the vines in my backyard.  I just can’t seem to keep up with them this year.  In a situation like this, the best thing to do is to make Pico de Gallo.  A great dish for the heat of summer, it’s also known as Salsa Fresca, a name that can cool you off just by saying it. If you have a small vegetable garden there’s a good chance that you can get most of the ingredients right outside your back door.

Assembling the ingredients reminds you that the garden knows what flavors do well together.  Or, as my friend Angie reminds me, “What grows together, goes together.”

Even the colors are beautiful together. What better way to prepare for my trip to Texas?

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3 APERITIVI

I thought a lot about what I would drink once my cleanse was over, and I could have alcohol in my life again. I’m a lover of white wine, but just before my cleanse started I was introduced to the world of vermouth cocktails by a talented barkeep at Blackberry Farm. In July, he served me up a simple drink so light and summery that I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’ve always kind of thought of vermouth as that terrible stuff in some grandmother’s liquor cabinet that no one ever touched. But it turns out there are lots of delicious vermouths that, when mixed with fresh fruit juice and soda, compose a cocktail more refreshing (and sometimes lower in alcohol) than the lightest white wine. Perfect for cooling off in the evenings.

Because I’m new to these, I got a primer from a friend of mine in the booze business. Here’s what I learned:  Vermouth and many other “aperitivi” almost always come from France or Italy. They are usually fortified wines infused with herbs, roots and barks. They can be sweet or savory; every house has a different style. And because they are so flavorful on their own, you usually only need very simple mixers to create a complex tasting cocktail. Oh, and one more tip: for best results, store in the refrigerator and drink them within a month or so. They are not that much stronger than wine, so they will spoil.

Here are some recipes I’ve been playing with. Don’t be too literal with them. Just trust your gut and blend to taste.

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SOUTHEAST X SOUTHWEST

Packing my bags this morning in Berlin to head home – and later in the week on to our events in Marfa and Austin!

Hello Etsy was amazing, inspiring, reassuring and _____ – fill in the blank as you can watch the entire conference here. I had every intention to live blog my time here but have found that I need time to process all of the great ideas that were presented.  Over the next weeks – and after our Texas excursion, I will be catching up with some of the great folks we met at Hello Etsy.

Here, a few of my favorite moments from Berlin!

Gluckskind = Darling of Fortune – perhaps tagged here at the entrance to the subway as a reminder to celebrate the small moments in life.

I feel very lucky and honored to have been included in the first Hello Etsy. Thank you to everyone (Matt, Emily, and all!) for such a beautifully organized conference.  I heard a rumor that this will become an annual event and I am already looking forward to the next round!

WABI-SABI CLEANING CUPBOARD

A perfect list from page 67 of Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House:

The Wabi-sabi Cleaning Cupboard

Hydrogen peroxide to remove mold and disinfect

Club soda to clean and shine fixtures and windows

Vinegar to cut grease and lime deposits and soap buildup, deodorize toilet, remove film on floors

Baking soda to scour and remove smudges or scuffs

Lemon juice to remove grease and tarnish

Salt mixed with water to destroy bacteria

Baking soda with vinegar rinse for stainless steel

Olive oil to polish furniture (mix 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar for a cleaner shine)