If you've been following Sweet Peach you know I've been waiting for the first day of spring since the first day of winter. I abhor the cold and am overjoyed at the return of light, of sun, of warmth, of flowers here in the South.
For the past few weeks, I've also been waiting for the right post to show up for today. It always seems to do so organically- and it did this time too. Last week, I discovered Brown Parcel Press' instagram account and it was there I saw these lovely pics of spring flowers taken with an iPhone.
When I saw that picture taker, Megan Fowler, was a letterpress printer and an illustrator from Sparta, Georgia, I knew I had my post. I just didn't realize until today what a gem she is.
Megan lives in the small rural town of Sparta along with her husband and child. Her mother, Gaelle lives closeby too and the two together run their letterpress studio out of a 1920's general store... on a farm. It's just as charming as it gets.
Check out their shop, here, where you'll find pretty letterpress cards and calendars. Megan has truly learned to love the arrival of spring as is signifies renewal- on the farm and for herself. Megan, "This is the time of year where I do a lot of my drawing and planning that in turn sets the tone for the rest of the printing year."
I'm still enamored by her pretty pics and am grateful that I found her on Instagram. Megan, "I've been inspired by floral designers for a while and have collaborated with a few (like Sarah Ryhanen of Saipua for a calendar last year), but this year I wanted to see if I could articulate some of my own floral ideas. Some of the flowers I source from my favorite small floral shops, but I try to use as many flowers from around the farm as possible." I think sometime this year, I need to make a road trip to Sparta...
In the meantime, we can get a steady dose of their southern charm, here. (click on the video link to learn more)
Photos: Megan Fowler, Brown Parcel Press Content: Sweet Peach
Sweet Peach subscriber, Erin Reid, reminded me yesterday of a place I've been meaning to blog about, The Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, Mississippi. I was supposed to be there last summer for my friend Lyn's wedding, but alas, I was off shooting some reality show somewhere. The more I see these pics, the more I realize I missed a great thing...
The accommodations are exactly what it sounds like- shacks. These sharecropper shotgun homes were built in the early 1900's to the mid 1900's, and some have been added fairly recently as the Inn has grown in popularity. (The Tinth, above, was recently constructed with eco friendly materials) There are rows of shacks, spaced over 2 1/2 acres that rent for just $70-$90 a night. There's also a series of hotel suites in the original cotton gin.
They proudly state on their site, "The Ritz We Ain't." The owners refer to their setup as a B&B, which stands for Bed and Beer. As one of the owners, Guy Malvezzi shared with me over the phone, "People are just looking for something different. You can stay at a Comfort Inn any place in the world. You wake up and can't tell which Comfort Inn you're at. You stay out here and it's a whole different ballgame."
The old shacks have been renovated to include heat, AC, plumbing and electricity. There is even internet. Inside the office, you'll find coffee and a box of doughnuts in the morning. Don't expect a buffet...you can get that at the Ritz.
This land was once the Hopson Plantation. Guy admits people have a tough time with the word plantation (primarily outside the Delta), but it's important to note these shacks were built way after slavery was abolished. It was here, with the invention of the first mechanical cotton picker, modern cotton farming was born.
With cotton picking, came the Blues. Now, the Blues began in the North Mississippi Delta after the Civil War. The Blues is a mix of African music, spirituals, work songs, field hollers and simple narrative ballads. It's origination is here in Clarkesdale as just down the way from Shack Up, you'll find the Delta Blues Museum. If you like the Blues, there's a wealth of incredible history here. (And when you're hungry, you can visit another town landmark at Abe's Bar-B-Q, serving since 1924)
So when you're staying at the Shack Up Inn, don't expect high end luxury. Do expect a cool experience and the chance to hear lots of good stories on the front porch. There are no matching sheet sets here but a mish mash of things bought and found over the years. Some shacks even have old pianos inside that are tuned and ready to play. You won't find chocolates on your bed at night, but you may just find a freshly made moon pie...
One of my favorite features on the grounds is the Juke Joint Chapel which combines music and religion themes here in the Bible Belt. They have some incredible live music here- hopefully you'll experience it if you stay.
I had to ask Guy about the swing, pictured right. Guy, "Oh that's a satellite dish we had sitting out here forever. I was always trying to figure out what to do with it so I drug it up under that thing and put a swing under it." They added the windmill later as it just looked cool.
Many of the old relics found on the grounds Guy found at The Mid South Fair in Memphis. As it was going out of business, they got tons of cool stuff for cheap. Guy and his business partners started Shack Up Inn as a place to kick back, tell stories, drink beer, play music. They haven't spent any money on advertising and people the world over come to knock on the Lobby door. It's often sold out. I think Guy's right, people are looking for something different.
Photos: Shack Up Inn; stlblues.net; Vickie Stanton Photography; friendfortheride.worpress.com Content: Sweet Peach
I have a few friends in California who wish I'd move back. They don't understand the allure of the South. It's hard to explain sometimes but it's just a feeling you get when you walk along a still, southern river at dusk, hear the spring peepers call out in the forest denoting the change of season- or getting lost on all the dirt roads, finding remnants of years past. I guess it's the stillness I like... all the rich character (and characters) that inhabit the land here, every one with a story to tell. There's something very soulful about a sense of place.
Originally from Roanoke, Virginia, Julia Lynn now resides in Charleston, South Carolina, where she tells the tales of the South through her gorgeous photography. I found her first through perusing her home interior photographs and then, as a nature lover, I discovered her outdoor work that captures the feel of the South, specifically the Low Country where she calls home.
A successful photograph, to me, is one that tells a story- it captures a scene and our imagination, all by clicking at the exact right split second of time. Julia, "Each photo should tell a complete story, like a movie in a single frame."
Julia admits she likes to photograph places that feel forgotten, that fade away with time. As she has that documentary bone in her body, she's attracted to the story that lies within. This photograph engages because of the perfect composition, the various straight lines- it draws us in and makes us wonder too, what was?
I've had the pleasure of doing some tv work (and a fair share of lounging) on Little St Simon's Island in south Georgia and I miss that island every day I'm not on it. This last photograph reminds me of my favorite piece of the world. That place where I can wake up early, not hear a soul, begin to feel the hot, stickiness of a southern summer day. It's just me, surrounded by marshes and island critters who wake up with a bout of energy and relaxed activity before settling in for the heat of midday. They, like I, find peace in the stillness.
Learn more about the lovely work of Julia Lynn, here.
Photos: Julia Lynn Content: Sweet Peach
A couple of years ago, I posted about a manly trend of wearing beads. I have to say, I loved it then and I love it now. It's nice to see a good bracelet or necklace on a guy, which is why I was a quick fan of ByJodi based in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Jodi Gonsman creates some really beautiful pieces for men. Like many an artist, she is very particular in her craft, the materials she sources and works tirelessly to get it 'right' each time. Jodi, "I spend more time than most making sure that every detail is perfect."
What I like too is how men can mix and match, as these bracelets go so well stacked together.
The men's bead gemstone bracelet may just be my favorite. The masculine matte hematite is a great feature. As Jodi explains, "I have never seen anything like it. Normally hematite has a shiny, silver-like metallic look to it. This is just cool." And to make it even cooler, she added a nuts and bolts style, sterling silver bead to give it focus and added texture. These beaded and braided creations are part of a manly trend that I hope continues for at least a couple more years. Check out the ByJodi shop, here, which includes hundreds of gorgeous jewels for the women too.
Photos: ByJodi Content: Sweet Peach
I have to say, it's always fun coming home to a package at your front door. It's even better when you have no idea what could be inside. This is just one of many reasons to love Box South, a monthly subscription service that delivers small batch, southern artisan foods to your home. And as stated on their site, don't expect "sweetened tea and any deep fried nonsense around here." This is the good stuff...
When I received my first package from Box South, I uncovered seven tasty treats made in Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
And that's the idea. Each month, you'll receive between 5-8 small batch products that range from companies you may have heard of to at least a few that you haven't. Creator Robert Mooney explains it this way, "We look for artisans who make interesting, high quality products. We have no real criteria regarding what that product may be, except that it's made with love and care." Just a sidenote, since I've received the box, every day I take a spoonful of the Spiced Apple and Beer Jam and mix it with a spoonful of the Peanut Sorghum Butter. It's heaven...
Like any proprietor who supports local businesses, Robert has a passion for each of these products and their makers. And these relationships are vitally important for the Box South brand to become a respected household name. Robert, "Truthfully, we only work with people and artisans whom we actually like and who understand what the company is about." And another sidenote, I was very grateful for the tasty chocolate bar (via Asheville) in my box. I can't go a day without a little nibble...
One month's food box is $52. (and coming soon, Robert will offer a mini box option too) These make an excellent gift to yourself- or that someone you love. It's especially a great idea to send to our friends and relatives who don't live in the South and could use a little southern soul. After all, southern food is enjoying a long overdue renaissance at the moment and is the focus of conversation among many acclaimed chefs throughout the US.
Box South just recently launched so it's fun to share it with all of you as it begins to gain momentum. I hope y'all give it a chance or at least bookmark it for that rainy day when you're feeling down and out and could use that surprise package at the front door. One where you'll discover unexpected treats to savor and try. And maybe, if you're lucky, some chocolate...
Photos and Content: Sweet Peach
Last night I came home from work to find my fridge leaking. So after cleaning up the mess, scheduling a repair, transferring food to a cooler and answering emails, I was tired. A bit too tired to do a full on blog post for today. Lucky enough, I realized I have some great pics saved in my inspiration folder on my laptop. So I'm keeping it short and sweet today- letting some pretty home pics do the talking.
Photos: My Paradissi; amazine.com; Decor8; imgfave.com; dailycrush.net; Anna Kern; style-files.com; sfgirlbybay; mosamuse.com Content: Sweet Peach
I love a good Kickstarter project, like this one from Johnathan Yeman who combined his love for graphic design and historical figures into a series of thought-provoking, black and white prints.
Johnathan, "The idea for the series of posters sprung out of two desires. One, to explore a long standing passion of mine and two, to connect my work with a larger audience." This photo, and subsequent print above, is from the Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in March, 1965.
Johnathan has created 18 prints in all and hopes to raise money through Kickstarter to cover the costs of printing as well as to purchase the finest papers and archival inks for the project. To note, the photos above inspired the prints adjacent.
Johnathan has picked voices that were poignant, important and deserving of a spotlight. These include Abraham Lincoln, Fanny Lou Hamer, John Muir, Ida B Wells and more. Some you've heard of, many you have not. Johnathan, "All thoughout history, incredible voices, great and small have shaped the world around us and have inspired individuals to become difference makers in their own communities. However, too often these voices go under-remembered and un-heard. My hope is to change that."
I love the modern and clean look of these prints and the meanings they share. Johnathan extensively researched each one and he includes the source of each quote on the print- in hopes that others will be inspired to continue reading the words of these important historical voices. To support his efforts, check out Johnathan's Kickstarter page and make a pledge. His intention is to share and inspire, to remember and respect....I have to say, I like that in an artist.
I admit, I have a chocolate addiction. But I blame it on all these startup companies making superior, super tasty, small batch chocolate with stellar packaging. And fyi, any candy bar made with dark chocolate, candied ginger and popping sugar is instantly put in front of a cash register along with my debit card. I can't fight it.
John Eric Battles grew up in a small Alabama town but after moving to Charleston and working in restaurants, he decided to try his hand at making chocolate. His truffles were featured on the dessert menu at EVO Pizzeria and then, with more and more positive feedback, he was motivated to start his own company in 2008, aptly named Sweeteeth.
By far, John's biggest seller is his Sea is for Caramel bar. I had the chance to grab one of these at Star Provisions in Atlanta and I swear, this candy bar stops you in your tracks. It's just the tastiest combo of 65% dark chocolate, a bit of sea salt and gobs of incredible caramel. From someone who fought with my siblings for the caramel chocolates inside Russell Stover boxes growing up- it's safe to say this is a chocolate lover's experience like no other.
Other scrumptious flavors include peanut butter and chipotle, port wine caramel, dried apples with candied pecans and cinnamon, and a white chocolate bar with ginger snaps.
The great thing is, once you become addicted to their caramel, you can have a whole jar of it. John offers a Salted Caramel Sauce and a Port Wine Caramel Sauce. Just stick a spoon in it and call it a night. (click here to commence your addiction...)
Photos: Sweeteeth; Peter Miller Photography Content: Sweet Peach
Every now and then, I like to check in with the guys at Prospector Co. in Savannah to see what they're up to. They recently introduced new shaving products to their fantastic line of men's skincare, including these pure bristle brushes. My dad has always relied on one of these and I just love it for its classic design and practicality. These shaving brushes are made with boar hair for a firmer, more rigid sensation to the shave. The bristles will soften with age...
They're offered in three different handsome handles; a plastic black, acacia and birchwood.
A good razor is important. The guys at Prospector Co. were discerning in picking the right line to carry in their shop, searching for one that was superior in both design and engineering. They found it in the German company, Merkur. These are high performing razors (recently voted Razor of the Year), with a chrome plated design that work well for the novice to the seasoned pro.
I love a leather pouch with accessories- this one is for the Merkur travel razor that breaks down nicely into three parts.
There's something about a straight razor I can't help but love. It's old school and cool...plus, has a hint of danger. This one is made from a non stainless-steel carbon steel blade with gold etching. Its handsome handle is made from maple wood and is smooth to the touch- enhancing the quality of the blade. See the entire shop of grooming goods, here.
Photos: Prospector Co. Content: Sweet Peach