April 2013 archive

Farmers Market Season!

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A few things: 1. We’ve actually been to the farmers market several times now 2.  I only remembered my camera the first time 3.  I took terrible pictures that day. Apologies in advance. For instance, the sign above was hung over an awesome food stand (Super Fresh Carts – s’mores and grilled cheeses) and at one point a gentleman was wandering around the market dressed in a head-to-toe suit of armor made completely of these recycled bottle tops. And I didn’t take a picture. Ugh.

Which brings me to the point of this post: Farmers Markets and why everyone should patronize them (and I mean patronize as in the “Frequent as a customer” definition, not the “Treat with an apparent kindness that betrays a feeling of superiority” definition). Richmond has no shortage of great markets, but most people tend to choose the ones closest to home and we are no exception, so we head over to the South of the James Market. They hold a smaller winter market and next week switch over to the larger summer market, held in Forest Hill Park. Here’s a link for Richmonders who want to check it out.

IMG_5999The first thing I saw walking in was this food truck. See the slogan? Let Them Eat Crepes! I’ve never met Monique from Monique’s Crepes, but I’m fairly certain we’d get along smashingly.

IMG_6000Here’s the general gist of the winter market. It’s a smaller affair with just this main stretch of vendors and a little cul dec sac at the end. We decided to just stop in each tent to have a look, then come back and buy our favorites. If you are a Farmers Market rookie like we were, learn from our mistake. We passed the Bonnyclabber Cheese Company from Sullivan’s Pond Farm and tried a variety of delicious artisan goat cheeses. One was coated in charcoal that was handmade on site. It tasted like a million creamy campfires dancing in your mouth (or something), but when we came back just thirty short minutes later, they were completely sold out. Not just of the charcoal goodness, but nearly their entire stock. Every trip since, we bee-line right to Goat-Cheese-Man (as I call him) and then to Forest-Pig-Man (also my naming. It doesn’t sound offensive until I write it down, I swear), as they seem to be the ones who sell out fastest. While we’re on the subject of Forest-Pig-Man, here is why I call him that:IMG_6018I mean, he literally sells pigs from the forest, so I think it’s an aptly given nickname. Especially because there are other meat vendors as well and I prefer to think my dinner had a happy existence before ending up on my plate, so I always differentiate which Pig-Man I want to shop with. As if you needed more convincing, they even have a poster showing one of the pigs enjoying his forest life: IMG_6017Well, now I feel a little guilty admitting that might have eaten that happy piggy, but in all seriousness, the treatment and respect of animals (food sources or not) is important to me, so I feel good about buying our meats here.

Also on our dinner plates? Fresh produce:

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Ryan made some of those Brussels Sprouts with some sort of bacon balsamic reduction.

Local Honey and local pollen (a few grains a day will combat spring allergies):IMG_6007All natural steaks and ground beef: IMG_6016Virginia Wine (but of course!):IMG_6013And something really special. Yarn (I secretly love to knit), wait for it…….:IMG_6009Made from THIS sheep!:IMG_6010It was the first time in my life I got to meet the sheep who created my yarn. So now when I’m feeling all cozy in my knit cowl, I can think of this guy and smile. I really should have gotten a picture of him the week after this, because he had been shaved down quite a bit and his owners gave him a Mohawk. Coolest sheep in the Richmond city limits.

There were also lots of great jewelry artists there: IMG_6001

By Half Past Noon

By Half Past Noon

And at the end of the day Ryan bought me a necklace I was drooling over: IMG_7951Market Days are the best. The only thing better is coming back home with our haul and hanging out in the kitchen while Ryan cooks dinner:

I'll bet you can tell I took my studio pictures the same day as the farmers market! ;)

(I’ll bet you can tell I took my studio pictures the same day as the farmers market)

..after opening a bottle of Virginia Wine, natch!

Studio Tour

IMG_6626Well, obviously my studio isn’t the kitchen, but I thought it was important to lead off with this photo for a few reasons. One is that Ryan gets home from work while I’m still wrapping things up and he usually opens a nice bottle, pours me a glass and sets to work on that evening’s dinner. No, he not a Stepford husband, he just happens to be an amazing cook and the entire family prefers his grilled duck breast with balsamic reduction over my boiled pasta noodles & Prego, hands down. I also started in the kitchen because that’s where the door to my studio is.

The entire house is sunlit and bright, with the exception of the finished basement. That is my lair. As you descend the steps from the door in the kitchen, you can look up to catch your last glimpse of natural light… IMG_7255The basement is divided into two sections, the finished area where I work, and an L-shaped unfinished area that surrounds it, where the washer/dryer and storage is. Coming down the steps and looking to your right, you’ll see this: IMG_7256See my little window up there? That’s it for light, but I’ve got space for days which makes up for the miniscule Hopper window.

If you come down the steps and turn to your left, you’ll see this: IMG_7257My stamping area and supply room. I’ll admit, I vacuumed the floors and tidied loose papers before taking these pictures, but there is no tidying the supply area. Boxes, bubble wrap, mailing tape, packing peanuts… it just takes over despite my best efforts at shelving and organization. The butchers block is where I do all my metal stamping, wearing those highly fashionable pink earmuffs. When I started in stamping, I didn’t bother with them, but after walking around with ringing in my ears for a week straight, I realized that they were a must.

My collection of steel stamps are on the shelf to the left, and if you were to turn around from where you are looking in that picture, directly behind you is my silver closet. To some it may look like something off of an episode of Hoarders, but to me it is a thing of beauty: IMG_7258This is the current haul in a constantly rotating inventory. And yes, every last one of those boxes is full to the brim. I Love (with a capital ‘L’) vintage silver. I would roll around in it, but I’d probably injure myself, so instead I just open the closet and sigh happily.

Closing my magical silver closet and heading into the main section of the studio, you would look back and have this view: IMG_7259The two doors you see lead out into the unfinished L-shaped portion of the basement. My work table gives away my not-to-subtle fabric addiction as well as a peek at some coffee-sack totes I’m working on for an upcoming craft show.

If you walked over to the work table and all that delicious fabric, then turned around, you’d see this: IMG_7260Yes, more fabric of course, but also a comfy velvet couch which is the best upgrade I’ve ever added to the studio. In our old house it was an isolated area. But now that couch is usually home to my children, who keep me company by reading or playing video games there. Also in this picture you can see my knitting basket by the couch. I put that there because I had the notion that in my down time I could curl up on the couch and work on knitting (something I do just for me, not for the shop). But that cream-colored cowl peeking out of the basket was supposed to keep me warm this past winter and sadly it’s not even halfway complete.

Turning slightly to your right, you’ll find my desk, which is also where I do much of my packaging. I keep my finished pieces in the bookcases along the adjoining wall, so it’s easy to find someone’s order, print the label and wrap everything up right there at the desk. IMG_7261Speaking of those bookshelves… here are the rest of them:IMG_7262In addition to my ready-to-ship silver, the bookshelves are a monument to nearly every crafty idea I’ve started and keep thinking I’ll return to. I could probably stock a craft store with the contents of the far right unit. Now, if you look to the very right of that picture you’ll see one of the two doors that leads to the unfinished area. This is where I do my messy work, like polishing silver (the smell is…. pungent) and etching glass. In the main area here there is white carpeting, but out there, its bare concrete, so I can safely rinse down the area after etching  (breathing glass dust is not a good idea). But I’ll warn you… this is an unfinished space: IMG_7263Yeah, not quite as cheery out here, but I adore my antique butchers block and it is great to keep the messy work separate.

And that’s it (for now). I have some new things in the works that will likely lead to some re-arranging and reconfiguring, but for now this is where I go to work. At the end of the day I go upstairs and close the door. And when I hear the click as the lock catches, it’s like the sound of someone turning off the “Open” sign.