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Entries in Atlanta (83)

Tuesday
Jun242014

Aster + Bay

As I get older, I'm finding myself a bit obsessed with bath and body care products that use high quality, all natural ingredients. Like Aster + Bay, based in Atlanta and founded by husband and wife team, Erin and Glen Hammond. 

As stated on their site, "We believe in the healing energy found in nature, in the ritual of self-care and in the mind-body connection possible through botanical scent. Essential knowledge lives on in the apothecary traditions of Europe, Native American herbal medicine, English kitchen gardens and the lore of old Appalachia." 

Erin and Glen craft small batch, hand-blended infusions and oil blends with organic and wild-harvest ingredients. Their shop includes an ever expanding line of face serums, body oils, therapy oils, hair products and lip stains.

In the market for a good exfoloiator, I think I need to try their Dandelion Face Grains made with clays, resins, roots, flowers and grains. You can mix the grains with six different options, depending on the need. For instance, mix with water to detoxify, yogurt to cool and calm or whole milk to nourish and hydrate. 

Each formula is rooted in history, experimentation and an intention to nourish and treat skin naturally. It's fun to read about each product on their site with highly beneficial ingredients like sea kelp extract, hazelnut oil, Moroccan lava clay, sweet fennel essential oil, tumeric or marshmallow root powder to name a few. 

Beet root + hibiscus lip stain just sounds so tempting and lovely, doesn't it? I like how their stellar packaging matches the quality of their ingredients. Treat yourself to Aster + Bay products sold in seven states or through the online site, here. 

 

Photos: Aster + Bay       Content: Sweet Peach

 

Friday
Jun202014

Low Country Boil 

I love a good southern party, specifically a Low Country Boil on a nearby front porch. My uber talented friend, nearby neighbor and colleague, Monica Martino drew this lovely illustration and hosted this shindig last month- along with her husband, Chris. It was a no brainer to add this to the calendar. Yes, please!

Monica and Chris make a great team. They used to throw large get togethers when they lived in Los Angeles and have the perfect party formula dialed in. Having just moved here from LA, (Chris is originally from Atlanta) the couple decided to invite the neighborhood so they could get to know everyone. That's the southern spirit...

Now any good Low Country Boil includes crawfish. The trick is you gotta keep 'em alive until right before you boil them. It's a process for sure. As Monica shared, "I'd eaten my share of crays while working on a tv show about shrimpers in Louisiana, but this was my first time buying and cooking them. We bought our crawfish in the morning from the Crawfish Shack and kept them cool until it was time to cook." 

Monica, "While the water was boiling, we 'purged' the crawfish in the cooler with running cool water and rock salt. This makes them release all their impurities. We rinsed them until the water ran clean, then they were ready to cook." 

They bought a 40 quart pot with a steamer basket and a big wooden paddle to mix. Besides the crawfish, the boil included spicy andouille sausage, sweet corn, red potatoes and shrimp- plus a lot of seasoning, lemons, garlic and a bay leaf or two. 

And seasoning is paramount in any Low Country Boil. Zatarain's concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil has been a New Orleans staple since 1889. It adds a lot of spice. As Monica wisely shared, "Don't be afraid to go a little spicy- that's why there is cold beer available." 

It was fun watching these two work their magic so seamlessly. Monica, "Everything must be fresh and the order you add to the pot is important. Start with the seasonings, onions, garlic, lemons, pepper and sausage. Then add corn and potatoes. Then comes the shellfish. Other than that, you really can't screw it up!" 

Chris and Monica essentially followed this recipe, just adding a few tweaks like using shrimp and eliminating mushrooms. Picture perfect...

So if you're going to do this right, get a big long table and cover it in paper, adding hot sauce, fresh bread, paper towels, cold beer and small garbage pails for the shellfish remnants. Then, let the fun begin...

This has to be the very best part. I'm getting hungry just looking at this whole scene again as everything was so ridiculously tasty. Monica, "It's such a dramatic way to serve up the food and it's so fun to eat straight off the table. It's also a great way to get to know people because there's nothing like sharing a meal with strangers to turn them into friends." 

Chris and Monica hope this becomes a tradition every year. Um, yeah...it better be. 

You may remember Monica from our Christmas post where she made Mercy Gumbo with fresh Louisiana Gulf Shrimp- another dish to remember for a lifetime. Good Lord, I miss that gumbo...

 

Photos and Content: Sweet Peach

 

Monday
Jun162014

Cuff Links, by Block and Hammer

I'm always impressed by a well dressed man. So when I saw these handsome cuff links by Dean Olaya of Block and Hammer in Atlanta, I was an instant fan. They add that nice final touch to a manicured outfit. 

Dean runs this shop along with his girlfriend, Lauren Miller out of their home office in the Grant Park section of Atlanta. They started the shop after a need for a fashionable pet tag and without any luck, Dean decided to make the tag himself. (they no longer sell pet tags but check out Fetching Tags if you're in the market for one) The Block and Hammer shop now offers a variety of manly accessories, including three styles of cuff links. The first two are aluminum or copper. As Dean has mastered the art of stamping with a 'block and hammer,' either style can be personalized with initals, an icon or short phrase. 

Their third style of cuff links may be my favorite. Each of these sets of wooden cuff links are one of a kind, finished by hand, offered in walnut, shedua, cherry or oak. Dean, "I love spalted wood varieties because each piece is so unique and has so much character." 

I like Dean and Lauren's passion to create stylish, affordable accessories for the modern man. As Dean shared, "They hit a reasonable price point that makes them easy for gifting and won't hurt your wallet." Check out the Block and Hammer shop to see all the manly offerings which include tie clipscollar stays and luggage tags. 

 

Photos: Block and Hammer     Content: Sweet Peach

 

Friday
May302014

Bufala Negra

Hands down, my favorite cocktail is the Bufala Negra, created by H. Harper Station owner and mixologist, Jerry Slater. Jerry concocted the drink for a James Beard House event that he and Chef Todd Richards cooked for back in 2007. Buffalo Trace was one of their sponsors so Jerry found inspiration in their bourbon...   

Wanting to try an Italian take on the southern classic, mint julep, Jerry added balsamic syrup and basil. Jerry, "In Italy, balsamic and basil go together like peanut butter and jelly." Ginger beer is added last to lighten it up and make it refreshing. Jerry, "It seems out there at first but it's rooted in classic cocktails and traditional kitchen pairings." 

What's been fun is seeing this cocktail gain popularity throughout the US and across the Atlantic. It's been featured in the NY Times and seen on menus in New York, Colorado and England to name a few. It's just one of those tasty, complex drinks that surprises you- it's hard not to sip and say, 'wow, that's good.' Then you order another. Lucky for us, Jerry has shared the recipe too, but as his original is made from housemade ginger beer and balsamic syrup, you may just want to try this one in person. 

Find the Bufala Negra recipe, here.

 

Photos and Content: Sweet Peach


Thursday
May292014

Young Blood

A few months ago, I was delightfully surprised to walk into the new Young Blood Boutique in Atlanta. This locale has been an institution of sorts in the Poncey-Highland district for over 15 years. Upon hearing it would be closing back in 2012, local residents Rebecca Hanna and Jessie White delved right in to keep things running. They moved the shop a couple doors down, renovating a spot with great bones. This included large storefront windows and original brick tile flooring. It's light, airy and inviting...

Young Blood is all about celebrating handcrafted goods made by artisans throughout the US. They've been known throughout the years for their stellar artwork selection and that continues here. I'm especially fond of the print, How to Love Yourself by Chicago based artist, Laura Berger. 

I've blogged about Haand's ice cream bowls before but it wasn't till I visited Young Blood that I got to see these incredible pieces in person. I love these bowls, made to hold your ice cream then allow you to sip up the melted parts afterwards. I quickly fell for this cutting board too, made in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains. Each color is a different type of wood...stunning. 

These two are a talented team as I'm always blown away by the wonderful selection of goods I find inside. The lines they carry represent different retail categories in a space that never feels cluttered, haphazard or jarring. It all just flows...

I always love seeing Courtney's lovely ceramics around town- my talented friend of Honeycomb Studio...

I'm a fan of their scrumptiously good-for-you skin care offerings which include Herbivore Botanicals via Seattle and Aster & Bay from Atlanta.

I must admit, my favorite part of their shop is the jewelry section. I rarely find so many necklaces I want in one store. Rebecca and Jessie have a great eye for picking unique and lovely pieces, all at a good price point. Many of these are the handiwork of Betsy & Iya, based in Portland, Oregon. 

If you're in Atlanta, be sure to visit Young Blood. It's an exceptional spot with truly beautifully curated items for the home (or your person). It's located next to The Shave Barbershop and Highland Row Antiques - well worth a visit as well. Keep an eye out for their online shop too, set to go live, fall 2014. 

 

Photos and Content: Sweet Peach


Tuesday
May272014

Seed Factory 

Although I don't have any kids, I find myself inside Seed Factory every time I'm in the Westside Provisions District of Atlanta. The space is so bright and inspiring with gorgeous children's clothes and oodless of adorable accessories and unique toys. It's a place that celebrates imagination and joy. In other words, my happy place...

In 2002, Rachel Baba opened Sprout, a tiny shop for children. Over time it grew and grew, until she expanded into this current 4000 square foot space. In 2008, she renamed her shop, Seed Factory. Inside you'll find clothing for ages newborn to 12, books, arts & crafts, wooden toys, plus a whole nursery section with furniture, baby basics and gifts. 

Rachel works hard in curating a special mix of products that you won't see in your everyday children's shop. Rachel, "I look for something people haven't seen- items with real value and character." Many of the artists she knows personally and her makers live locally as well as throughout the US and across the globe. You'll quickly notice that each item is of high quality and showcases a sweet, simple charm. (I spy a cute stamp from The Small Object and artwork via Eclectica Kiddo


A basket of blabla dolls can only ensure happiness. When I need a baby or toddler gift, one of these adorable, super soft dolls is the first idea to come to mind. 

Rachel's nursery section in the back of her shop is full of natural light and good vibes. The bedding and pillows, not to mention the soft toys and baby basics are just the sweetest ever...

About once a month, Rachel hosts a Saturday Crafternoon for the kids as well as brings in artists to showcase local goods or creative activities. As summer is fast approaching, Rachel has stocked Seed Factory with tons of fun travel toys, arts & crafts and books. This fall she'll be carrying even more clothing by Tea Collection- a good quality, well priced clothing line that averages $25 per piece. And trust me, each and every one is adorable. 

What I'm particularly excited about is Rachel's recently completed online shop. No matter where you live, you can access her favorite finds and best sellers in just a click of the button. She's made it incredibly convenient and fun to shop for the child in your life- whether you're in her store or browsing on your laptop at home. As she continues to evolve her Seed Factory community, I'll be a big supporter. After all, it is my happy place. 

 

Photos and Content: Sweet Peach   Final Pic: Seed Factory 


Friday
May232014

Rough South Home, Summer 2014

"I'm self taught, stubborn and I won't stop until I like it." That's how Clarke Titus of Rough South Home summed up his relatively new career as a furniture designer and builder. For years, he's gone to salvage yards and forest-free lumber yards and has created some truly incredible pieces of furniture. He's dabbled as a golf pro, a cook and a writer but always came back to his workshop to take something unexpected and turn it into something cool. He just has a knack for it.  

This year, Clarke is hunkering down and trying something new by introducing his first furniture line based on his best designs. The pieces will remain the same, but the materials will shift, depending on what's available. This first batch highlights Eutree eco-friendly white oak with natural oil rubbed steel. 

 

This table is just stunning in person. It's the Circle Base Dining Table- Clarke's take on a circle base, but with a rectangular stock kerf-cut that is bent and re-welded for texture and sturdiness.

Clarke explains the unusual process in crafting the legs, which was completed by welder, Ben Vass. Clarke, "Each line was cut which then had to be filled with a weld. It's super intricate and it took forever, but it was the only way to make those legs strong and stable with the tools available. I was pumped that I kept pushing that design until it submitted."

What sets Clarke apart from most furniture makers is his obsession with wood grain. He'll spend hours, often days figuring out which cuts go where then pay just as much attention mixing the perfect stain. Clarke, "It's obvious when it's the wrong combination. But when it's right, it's easy and calm. You can't turn a piece into something it's not. It'll feel forced." 

I think my favorite trait in any artist (or person for that matter) is the ability to embrace imperfections. Clarke relishes any changes or mishaps in the wood and lets them shine. In this coffee table, metal was imbedded into the tree causing mineral stains, which in oak, turns the wood to black. Clarke, "You couldn't really use it for flooring (basically it's trash) but I love it. I left the holes so if you look at the table in person and know what you are looking for, you can see the unfilled holes in the middle of those black patches." 

Clarke's Summer 2014 line includes tables, chairs, benches and a light sconce. After this batch, he'll begin another using different domestic hardwoods like walnut, cherry and maple. All wood will be forest-free and hand picked by Clarke himself. 

All the pieces will be hand numbered and signed by Clarke. Although part of a continuous ever-changing line, these creations are one-of-a-kind with a good story to tell. Just ask him. 

This is an exciting time for Clarke. He just introduced his new line of furniture and his first baby is due any day. (His wife, Bryan took these lovely pics) Clarke has poured a lot of his soul into this venture and I'm excited to see where this next path will lead. And as a sidenote, if you're in Atlanta, be sure to pick up the June edition of Atlanta Magazine with an article all about Rough South Home, written by yours truly. Happy Memorial Day Weekend everybody...

 

Photos:  Bryan Meltz     Content: Sweet Peach


Thursday
May222014

Holler At Ya Boy

This spring and summer, I'm helping out Cathead Vodka by taking a few pics of cocktails. All of the drinks are made by mixologists here in Atlanta and all are available at their respective bars throughout the summer. I'll be featuring a few here on Sweet Peach as they can be made at home too...it just takes a little crafting. 

The first bar we ventured into was my favorite neighborhood haunt, H. Harper Station. Owner and chief mixologist, Jerry Slater crafted this super tasty cocktail he calls Holler At Ya Boy. By incorporating Cathead Pecan Vodka, walnut bitters and sassafras, each sip has a nutty taste with hints of sweetness. I'm a fan of so many of Jerry's concoctions and truth be told, this one continues to impress...

  

 

 

Photos and Content: Sweet Peach


Thursday
May152014

Back To Organic Fresh Herb Salts... 

As food allergies are a part of my daily life, it's nice to read about creators of tasty edibles who take great care in creating products that source fresh, organically grown ingredients and consider the various dietary restrictions many of us have. Julie Feagin of Atlanta began a website with the intent of sharing quality meals online. She soon began crafting various mineral rich, herb salts to simplify her dishes and to add healthy antioxidants and vitamins." 

And people loved them. So, she delved right in and created Back to Organic to sell her salts to the masses. Her flavors include Rosemary French Gray with a hint of lavender or Smoked Pacific Sea Salt with sweet Applewood. Yumminess...

All of Julie's salts are made with organic, fresh herbs, the finest mineral rich salts and certified organic citrus. Julie, "Small batches are created after we wash and remove the leaves from the herb sprigs, hand zest the lemons and limes, and then blend them with the premium salts." 

Each offering gives you lots of options in the kitchen. Besides adding the Bloody Mary salt to your cocktail, she suggests using it to season tomato stews, gumbo, potatoes, mac 'n cheese, stuffing and pasta salad.  

For gift sets, Julie uses reclaimed wooden holders and reusable glass tubes or handmade ceramic dishes. The care she puts into her pretty packaging lets me know she's someone who takes great care and pride in her product. I can't wait to try... 

 

Photos: Back to Organic site      Content: Sweet Peach


Friday
May022014

Muncle Fred Art

Every Mother's Day I try to come up with a new idea of what to get my mom. Fresh flowers are often the easy choice but they lack originality. So when I set my eyes on the lovely felted flower creations by Muncle Fred Art of Atlanta, I was a happy daughter...

These felted flower bouquets are about as sweet and original as they come. Kayla Stagnaro is the creative brain behind the scenes and she works tirelessly to craft an array of flower choices and color palettes for her customers. 

What I especially love is how creative she is with the display. Kayla, "I am able to offer a flower shop set up that allows people to pick the style and colors of each flower." I think of this as pretty genius...

Kayla sells individual stems but has a strong passion for creating beautiful bouquets for weddings and various events. Brides can pick out individual flowers to go with their theme- which would be amazing for the gal who loves to craft herself or is one to celebrate the arts. Plus, I'm now loving the idea of sending a small bouquet wrapped in her brown paper to friends and family. It's a gift to last and is just this great bundle of joy and creativity. 

As Kayla shared, "I love working with my hands and creating something I know will last in people's homes. I like to think that these felt flowers serve more than a purpose of beauty- they also serve as a symbol of memories, friendship or love when given as a gift."

If you're in and around Atlanta this weekend, you can find Kayla selling her flowers at Serenbe's May Day celebration or both Crafted Westside and Young Blood carry her work. Plus, find lots of bouquet options in her Etsy shop. And Happy Mother's Day shopping...may it be fun, inspiring and if you're lucky, original. 

 

Photos: Muncle Fred Art, Instagram      Content: Sweet Peach