Friday, July 31, 2009

BYOB Providence

I'm a big fan of BYOB restaurants and think it's definitely a niche in the Providence dining scene that is seriously lacking. We're in the middle of a recession and Providence has been hit especially hard. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that eating out has been a place I've cut back a lot. Maybe it's the Jersey girl in me, but I'm dying for a good Italian place (like an Angelo's) that would let us bring our own wine. (Are there any out there?)

Here's my small list of the places I know about, which all seem to lack a little in the ambience department, I wouldn't mind something a step up in vibe.
  • Pho Paradise and its sister Phonatic: Vietnamese cuisine with the best pho in town. (Pho Paradise is on Broad Street and Phonatic is on Angel Street, a few steps off of Thayer.)
  • Tina's Caribbean: Right on Federal Hill, this place is a gem. Wednesday nights all entrees are $9 and you can bring your own Red Stripe. You really can't beat it.
  • Tokyo: Japanese food on Wickenden Street.
  • Meeting Street Cafe: Located on Meeting Street, just off of Thayer.
  • United BBQ: Relatively new place on Ives Street. Tasty food, but I'd prefer to bring it home and enjoy it from there.
  • Fellini's: Again, Wickenden Street.
  • Sakura: Wickenden Street. I've never been here, but it's been recommended.
  • Los Andes: Chalkstone Avenue. I've never been here either, but I'm dying to try it.
Please let me know any suggestions you have!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Custom Order Extravaganza!

Just had to share this super cool custom order I delivered today at the super cool Coffee Exchange. It's a collection of 6 journals made for a year long, around the world trip. It's a gift from a daughter to her parents, and I wish I was going too! The books include Thailand, Chaing Mai (Thailand), Egypt, Berlin, Italy, and China.

I get excited for custom orders. I like knowing that places I can't get to at least have one of my books going. This collection of books is going on such an exciting adventure, I'm jealous!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Craftland . . . Year Round!

Have you heard the awesome news? Craftland will be opening as a full time, permanent store! If you don't know what Craftland is, then you've been missing out on some awesome handmade, glittery fun that pops up every December in downcity Providence, only to go away after Christmas. Well, thanks to all the shoppers who enthusiastically buy handmade, and the team of Craftland artists who make awesome stuff, it's now going to be open all year long. Its permanent residence will be on the corner of Westmister and Union Streets. For fellow Rhode Islanders, that's where Lupo's used to be. (I've lived here 10 years, that means I can officially act like a proper Rhode Islander and start giving directions based on landmarks that no longer exist.)

Check out Craftland's site for the official news and stay tuned for more posts on when they open and when they throw an official opening party!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

D.S. Brennan Photography

A couple of months ago, I bought these 4 prints from fellow Arts in RI member, Diana Brennan. She was having an overstock sale too good to pass up. I bought a print for me and one for each of my college girlfriends I visited with over the weekend.

I kept the nest image for myself since it was perfect for my new home. The other three I slipped inside some cool origami cards and had them each pick one, since I couldn't decide who should get which print.

They were a hit! Check out Diana's shop to see what else she has. I really appreciate her color sense and natural images, and I'm a sucker for square images.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Out in the Wild

Just got back from a long weekend visiting a friend in South Central New York state. Two more friends joined us on the weekend for some fun girl time. We all were textile design students together in college, and always get together each summer for some fun.

One of my friends brought with her a journal that her husband had bought from me a while ago that she keeps in her bag to take notes on projects, things to do, or just anything she doesn't want to forget. I remember her as having the best sketchbooks when we were design students together, so I was excited when she broke out the journal to show me and let me take some photos for the second installment of my Out in the Wild series.

What I like so much about her use of the journal, is that it's just for every day things. People sometimes tell me at craft shows that they love blank books, but wouldn't have anything important enough to write in it. I always try to tell people they don't need to be Oscar Wilde to keep a journal, that your everyday musings, lists, or just things to remember are just as worthy of a nice book. I also can't help but think if you're going to keep something with you all the time, why not have it be beautiful and something that makes you happy to use?

I love how she added a little ribbon to the binding to help her keep her place in the journal. Looks so pretty! Enjoy the photos and special thanks to Kara for letting me share the photos!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Road Trip

I'm off for the rest of the week to Conklin, NY to visit my roommate from college. She and I get together once a year with two other college friends for some girl time. I'm so excited. It's hard work getting 4 people from 4 different states together, but we somehow manage to do it every summer. Not sure if I'll be blogging or not from the road, but I'll be back to my usual routine next week.

For now, I've got the books on tape packed, the podcasts loaded and I'm off for the 5 hour drive!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I had a good weekend, both busy and relaxing and spontaneously extended into Monday.

Saturday I spent at the Indie Arts Fest in downtown Providence. I was a little worried at first that it might not be the crowd for my product, but in the end, I had a good day. I had printed out a "test" of what I want my new banner to look like. It ended up being too windy to actually use it, but I think it looks good, so I'll order a real one.

Sunday D and I decided to go to our favorite lake for some relaxing and ended up camping there into Monday. It felt so good to unplug for a day and relax. It's so important for me to get out of my element to relax. If I were home, I would inevitably check email, do laundry, or do some other task I'd been putting off. Getting out forces me to chill and unwind. I brought my journal, and three books to read. Read one until I finished it, and then had a delicious dinner. We moved our chairs right up to the water so we could have a gorgeous view while eating. It was just what I needed. Enjoy the photos!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Indie Arts Festival

This weekend in Providence is the super cool Indie Arts Festival. I'll be there selling some handmade goodness, so come on out and say hi! There will be an artists bazaar selling all kinds of cool stuff, plus live music all day long (check here for the official schedule), and even a beer garden featuring local brews.

It's located in Burnside Park, which is right next to Kennedy Plaza, across the street from the Biltmore. That's General Burnside pictured above, in his honor there will also be a facial hair contest.

It should be a lot of fun. It runs from 12:30 - 11:30, but the artists and crafters will only be there from 1 - 8. I don't see a list of other artists who will be there, but I'll be sure to do a post-show blog posting on Monday to show you who else was there.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bag the Habit

I'll confess, I have a new favorite toy. It's my Bag the Habit bag. It was part of a housewarming gift we got when we moved, and it has become my new essential accessory.

I've used tote bags at the market for years and have always kept them in my trunk and was good about remembering to bring them in and out of Eastside Market. If I was walking around town though, or forgot to grab a bag, I'd end up with a crappy plastic bag.

This bag solves that problem. It lives in whatever bag I'm carrying around, and it folds up all neat and tidy to be unveiled as the need arises. It can carry a substantial amount of weight and I love the padded shoulder. I now rarely get a bag anywhere, I seriously love it.

From their website:
"A lot of thought and care goes into creating Bag the Habit’s bags, like the use of premium recycled fabrics, smart design details and high-quality/low-impact ethical manufacturing."
Pick one up here, trust me, you'll love it!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Get Over Being Crabby

I'm feeling a little crabby today, so I thought I'd look through Etsy for some inspiring, handmade prints. I think any of these would work well in my studio, a nice reminder to stay focused on what I'm doing. The last one is for the kick in the ass we could all use every now and then.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Boston Handmade Review

Saturday I was at the Boston Handmade show in Somerville, MA. I had a good time. It was fun to meet some Boston artists and see lots of great handmade product. The show was in Union Square which made for a steady stream of foot traffic and a diverse crowd. Here are a few photos of some of my faves.

Cozy Cottage Creations

Also, ate two super good meals while up there. First, Peruvian lunch at Macchu Picchu. (Forgot the camera in the car!) After the show, dinner and a beer with cousin and fellow blogger at Redbones. I went for the pulled pork, good times.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Boston Handmade

Tomorrow I'll be at the Boston Handmade Marketplace at Union Square in Somerville, at the intersection of Washington, Prospect & Somerville Avenue. It's happening from 3-7pm. Check out the official website for more info. According to their press release:
"The Boston Handmade Marketplace is an outdoor art and craft exhibition featuring work by Massachusetts area artists, craftspeople and artisans associated with the arts group Boston Handmade and helping people make a living making things. This exhibition promotes local independent businesses and individuals creating one-of-a-kind and limited edition handmade works in small studio environments, not factories."
I'll be there with plenty of one of a kind, handmade journals. Other Rhode Island artists (and fellow Arts in RI members) include Suzanne Tanner of Tanner Glass and Lisa Calabro of Crooked Moon Mosaics. See you there!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Gorgeous & Handwoven

I don't know what inspired me to do a quick handwoven shawl/scarf search on Etsy today. Maybe it was the unseasonably (ridiculously) cool weather we're having here in Providence.

My loom has been assembled but quiet since my move. I need some inspiration to get something started. Found some gorgeous things on Etsy today.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What is it about maps?

Sometimes I wonder how it is I ended up making (almost exclusively) map journals. June had a lot of craft shows for me where I found it really fun to talk to people about why they love maps so much. Anyone with a minor map addiction, felt the need to tell me about it.

It's gotten me thinking, what is it about maps people love so much? I always intended my books as travel journals, but I'm learning that people buy them for more reasons than just traveling.
  • People like maps that shows where their home is. (It's almost a guaranteed sale if someone's street is on the journal, or if their very small town is on it.)
  • People like maps of their home town, when they're far way from it.
  • People like maps of far away lands they want to dream about going to, and foreign cities they have been to and loved.
  • People like maps for an actual planned trip and I love when they show me "I'm going to be right there." As if pointing to the name will transport them there. (I do feel a twinge of jealousy at some of the places my journals have gotten to go.)
  • People like maps to see how the world has changed. How Africa has freed itself from colonizers, how Berlin has returned to one city or how Vietnam has become one country.
I did a quick map search on Etsy to find some other super cool map inspired products. Enjoy! (I was the lucky recipient of one of Anne Holman's necklaces of one of my favorite cities, Portland. See a photo here.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thoughts on Living with a Foodie

"The Sandwich"one of my favorites & often made for picnics. Look at the layers of goodness.

Weekend breakfast at home.

My favorite fancy pants wine. I'll spare you the photo of me hugging the bottle.

Fiddleheads, short season, so a treat when they're here.

The antipasto at Venda, best I've had anywhere (and I grew up in NJ).

The Public Market in Seattle. Yum, fava beans!

The best strawberry shortcake I've ever had, at the Tea House in Santa Fe.

Chicken pho at Pho Paradise. Miracle cure for all that ails you.

By no means do I claim to be a true foodie, but living with one is starting to have an effect on me. This recent trip to Portland has brought to light a few habits I've picked up since spending most of my time with a full blooded foodie.

For starters, I now take lots of photos of food. I do this at home when D has cooked an amazing meal, I do it if I'm out to eat without him and want to show him what I had, and I do it under the direction of D (or just pass him the camera) if he was struck with inspiration. Looking back through photos later, I'm really glad I picked up this habit. A photo of a meal in Costa Rica brings me right back to the fun and happy night I had it. The many (many) photos of dinner cooked right here at home reminds me of just how lucky I am that D likes to cook.

Another habit I've picked up is talking to my food. A meal used to be put down in front of me and I'd . . . you know, start eating it and keep right on chatting. Now I stop and look at it, smell it, often take a photo, and after the first bite find myself saying things like "You taste good."

I also am much more in tune with flavors. Whether it's tasting a wine, or tasting some slowly cooked pork (yum) I've gotten a lot better at being able to articulate what I taste, what I like and find myself making comments like "These gnocchi are like little pillows of heaven." (Those would be at Gracie's, if you're interested.)

I also find myself in a lot of markets and wine stores. In Portland I couldn't help but ask "Do you think other people go grocery shopping while on vacation?" Granted, I'm often known to wait outside, or when the stars line up, go to the used book store two doors down, but I do have a new appreciation for the freshness of a good market. The colors and smells of the produce, free samples in the cheese area, and the different local items that I don't see in Rhode Island are all good things. (Yes, we travel with a small cooler, just in case we can't pass up something.)

I used to consider myself a boring eater, I just didn't know how good food could be, it just didn't excite me. I never knew the genius of slowly cooked pork, morrel mushrooms, or a crisp Sancerre. Of course, I used to be a pant size smaller, but if that's the price I pay for this great appreciation, I'll take it.

I can't help but wonder if D sits around being thankful he knows things like: what a warp is, why handmade letterpress cards are superior to Hallmark, or why polypropylene on a couch is just gross. I can only hope.

I'll leave you with a silly video of us enjoying Kalua pig. Really, do other people get this excited about slowly cooked pork?