Top Picks for 2018

I go through a ton of content when I’m in the studio. I’m rarely just sitting there working in silence (although on occasion it can be nice). I have absolutely no idea how many hours of audible books, podcasts, movies, or music I’ve consumed over the last year, but I do know what I keep coming back to. Here’s a look at my top picks for 2018.


Albums:

White Noise by Noah Gundersen

A Black Mile to the Surface by Manchester Orchestra

Nothing But Thieves by Nothing But Thieves

Sparrow by Jump Little Children

Loma Vista by Family of the Year


Movies:

A Quiet Place

Captain Fantastic

Bohemian Rhapsody

Leave No Trace

Wish I Was Here

Books:

A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Get Well Soon: A History of Plagues and the Heroes who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright


Podcasts:

How I Built This with Guy Raz

Etsy Success Podcast

From the Front Porch

Creature Feature

The End of the World with Josh Clark

TV:

The Nineties Miniseries

Handmaid’s Tale

Queer Eye

Downton Abbey

Dark Tourist


Books Books Books (My 2015 Goodreads Challenge)

I'm a little late posting this, but I finally curled up with a cup of tea and my Goodreads dashboard this morning to see how I did in 2015, rather than finishing either of the two books I'm currently halfway through. I didn't meet my Goodreads challenge for last year (which was 35 books), but I really enjoyed just about everything I read. The majority of the books I spent my time with were fiction, and I'd say over 75% of them were audible books (my favorite way to read while I'm at work in the studio!)

Below is my Year in Books. I couldn't decide on a favorite this time. It's a tie between Althea & Oliver, and My Heart and Other Black Holes. Both VERY good, and I'd definitely read them again in the future. 

For 2016, I'm setting my goal at 24 books. I feel like 2 books per month should be doable, so we'll see how it goes! What are you planning to read this year? I'd love some recommendations if you have any.

If we're not already connected on Goodreads, lets change that! Find me here

Best French Fries in Greenville

Attention health nuts: read no further!

A French fry is a glorious thing. These salty wonders made from something as unassuming as a potato are amazing enough to be their own food group. No matter how you slice, season, or dip them, there is no greater sidekick to your entree.

I’m a lifelong fan of pommes frites, and I can still remember my parents bugging me to eat the rest of my meal, because all I really wanted was the fries. Although I do make an effort in moderation these days, I enjoy those little sticks of Heaven whenever I can. Since I’m very serious about my fries, I recently embarked on a research mission here in Greenville, SC, to determine which restaurant was responsible for producing the valedictorian of local French fries. Let me just say that I’m not a licensed fry expert, I have no food critic creds here, just an intense love of fries, and I simply wanted an excuse to try them all (in the name of science, of course!!).

Let’s start with the runner’s up, a group of extremely tasty and respectable fries that almost took first place in my book.

Truffle Fries: The Lazy Goat

Sweet Potato Fries: Nose Dive

Shoe String Fries: Tupelo Honey Cafe

Crinkle Fries: Culver’s

Tater Tots: Southern Culture

Waffle Fries: Firebirds

Curly Fries: Como's Pete’s #4

Fast Food Fries: Freddy’s

There was a clear first place winner for me, and that was The Green Room. This Main Street favorite has won the triple crown of best French fries in Greenville, in my humble opinion. Try their truffle fries, sweet potato fries, and classic shoe string fries (notice I said “and” and not “or”). The texture is perfection, the flavor exquisite, the size, shape and texture are exactly what a French fry should be. You won’t find a better fry in all of the upstate.

Soup: A Personal Obession

I’m no foodie. In fact, I’m so picky about food, I’m often only able to find one item on a restaurant’s menu that I want to order. Soup, on the other hand, has been a lifelong love of mine, ever since I could operate the can opener. So I guess that makes me a soupie?

To me, there’s nothing better than a steaming bowl of flavors, something that takes awhile to eat and warms me from the inside out (although I don’t want to dismiss the amazing-ness of a nice chilled gazpacho in the summertime). I could survive on chicken tortilla, tomato bisque, miso, potato leek, French onion, white bean chili, she crab, beer cheese, butternut squash, corn chowder, wonton, classic chicken noodle...and the list goes on and on. I’m obsessed with soup, it’s my absolute favorite kind of food, as unimpressive as my foodie husband seems to think that is. You can keep your medium rare ribeye, your 25 pound lobster or whatever. I’ll have the soup with a side of soup, please!

I’ve been thinking about all the soups out there, and which ones are in my book the best of the best. For now, until I go on a soup tasting tour of the world (which would be awesome if someone wants to sponsor me!), I’ve limited my Best Soup list below to the Greenville, SC area.

#5 - Cauliflower and Gorgonzola Soup from The Green Room: It’s almost as thick as hummus, topped with curried raisins, and is a rich and flavorful soup that steals the show in a restaurant where that’s no easy thing to do.

# 4 - Fire Roasted Tomato Bisque from Babaziki Mediterranean Grill: chunky tomato soup, add a side of hummus and pita, plus a cool casual atmosphere to enjoy it in, and you’re all set. I always skip the feta cheese on top, but I’m sure some less picky people would enjoy that. I’ve got big problems with feta!

#3 - Chicken Pho from Pho Noodleville: not just for sick days! I always add extra lime juice to the broth (like ¼ cup or more, no joke), and use every last basil leaf on my plate of extras to perfect this Vietnamese favorite.

#2 - Posole from Tako Sushi: bring a handkerchief because this one will make you sweat. It’s the kind of spicy that sneaks up on you. A giant bowl of New Mexico hominy soup with pork comes with a huge platter of toppings that rival any taco bar to add in as you please. Don’t be shy, dump ALL of that sour cream in there and then ask for more!

#1 - Sopa de Pollo from Compadre’s: it’s the broth that gets me. Whatever’s in it, whatever those spices are that tint the clear stock slightly orange, they’re amazing. Perfectly pulled chicken, an abundance of cilantro, rice at the bottom, avocado at the top, onion and diced tomato floating in between, it all makes for one of the heartiest, most flavorful soups I’ve ever had.

Honorable mentions:

  • Tomato soup from Tupelo Honey - with a grilled cheese, of course!

  • Wonton soup from Oriental House - a bowl of liquid comfort

  • Southwest Chicken Soup from Chili's - a surprisingly good tortilla-style soup you can get in just about any city in the USA

  • Roasted Red Pepper and Gouda from Schlotsky’s

  • Autumn Squash Soup from Panera - even chain restaurants have tasty soups!

Recap: Indie Craft Parade

Last weekend was the 5th annual Indie Craft Parade here in Greenville, SC. This is a top notch festival of all things handmade, and is always my best show year after year. With a record number of attendees this year, nearly 7,000 people, it’s no wonder it was a huge success for all involved.

A lot goes into preparing for a major show like this. I worked all summer making inventory and still felt like I didn’t have enough by the time September rolled in. The week of the show, I mainly focused on tweaking my table setup, and finalized some new additions to my display to ensure my booth would look it’s best and function well for the crowd of shoppers. I always do a mock up prior to this show (that’s what the dining room is for!) and that, plus carefully packing up what is essentially a miniature store, is a several day-long endeavor. The checklist is never ending!

The day before the show, I got an unexpected opportunity to appear on Studio 62 with Jamarcus Gaston to talk about the festival and my handmade business. This was my first time on TV and I was shaking like a leaf, but I’m thankful for the chance to plug this amazing event as well as share my work. Here’s the video clip

Friday September 12th was the day of set up. All the vendors showed up at assigned times to unload, and the anticipation was there from the get go, long before the VIP Gala kicked off that evening. I did a series of live posts throughout the day Friday to give a behind the scenes look at what all goes on before the doors are open. Click here for photos.

To say the show was a success would be a huge understatement. I’m not just talking record sales or attendance. Everything about the event was extremely well organized, widely publicized, and I felt energized even though I was utterly exhausted by the end of it. Below are some of my stats from the weekend, but I’ll just point out, this show is a complete anomaly - I DO NOT sell almost 800 items at every craft show I do!

Not only did I sell a lot, but I bought a lot too. That’s half the fun, right?      Here’s a peek at my Indie Craft Parade loot from some of the most talented regional artists. I could have bought something from just about every vendor. I had a hard time narrowing it down to these awesome items!

Not only did I sell a lot, but I bought a lot too. That’s half the fun, right?  

Here’s a peek at my Indie Craft Parade loot from some of the most talented regional artists. I could have bought something from just about every vendor. I had a hard time narrowing it down to these awesome items!

1. Ring from  January Jewelry   2. Print from  Chris Koelle   3. Felted Flowers from  Muncle Fred Art    4. Brass Earrings from  Olivia de Soria Jewelry   5. Bone Pendant from  Exterra88   6. Turned Walnut Bowl from Turning South  7. Trivet and Feather Ornament from  Crave Studio   8. Owl Print from  Joe Engel   9. Turned Muddlers from  Slab   10. & 11. Paintings from  Candy Pegram   12. Bowl from  Bean & Bailey   13. Tiny Vases from  April Swhingle   14. Porcupine Pendant from  Spectrum Handcrafted   15. 2015 Calendar from Paperform

1. Ring from January Jewelry

2. Print from Chris Koelle

3. Felted Flowers from Muncle Fred Art 

4. Brass Earrings from Olivia de Soria Jewelry

5. Bone Pendant from Exterra88

6. Turned Walnut Bowl from Turning South

7. Trivet and Feather Ornament from Crave Studio

8. Owl Print from Joe Engel

9. Turned Muddlers from Slab

10. & 11. Paintings from Candy Pegram

12. Bowl from Bean & Bailey

13. Tiny Vases from April Swhingle

14. Porcupine Pendant from Spectrum Handcrafted

15. 2015 Calendar from Paperform

Thanks to everyone who made this event so special!

Thanks to everyone who made this event so special!