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Entries in Georgia (122)

Friday
Jul182014

Pearson Farm Peaches! 

I've had the Sweet Peach blog for over 3 years now and it seems that I'm a bit overdue to write a post just about peaches. Since I live in Georgia, I recently headed down to the popular Pearson Farm in Fort Valley to learn more about how they've created some of the most popular peaches in the country.  

I had no idea what to expect and was pleasantly surprised to find their headquarters so inviting and full of energy. The Pearson Farm facilities are open to the public and you can observe their entire process, beginning with the arrival of peaches freshly picked, to them being washed, sorted and packed.  

Pearson Farms began over 100 years ago when Moses Winlock Pearson and his wife, Cornelia, moved to central Georgia and planted their first peach trees. Their son John eventually began to farm on his own and he planted even more peach trees. Years passed and John's youngest son, Lawton, took over the business and after a marriage to Laurie Lanier, they had three children- two girls and a boy. Now we're slowly getting caught up in the timeline...

In 1973, Al Pearson began operating the business in a partnership effort with his sisters. They continued to create a thriving peach business for 35 years until 2008...

...when Al and his son, Lawton (now 5th generation of Pearson Farms) took over the business together. 

Although I'm a lover of peaches, I had no idea how many kinds there were. At Pearson Farms they produce about 30 different varieties of peaches that are ready for picking between May and August. I was surprised to learn that each peach variety lasts only 10-12 days. July is peak season so they're in full production mode now.

My friends Monica and Chris joined me on the trip down to Fort Valley. As I snapped some photos, Monica, a fellow TV producer, immediately jumped in to take notes. Gotta love that girl...she looks like the perfect southern reporter too, doesn't she? So the first thing Al did was give us a taste test of the ripe peaches on his farm that week (which was early July). These included the White Lady, which is actually my favorite as the white peaches have less acid and more sugar. We also tasted the Elberta, a very popular freestone peach ideal for eating, canning and freezing with a sweet honey taste. 

After the tour of the facility I was hoping Al would take us on a short car ride to see the peach orchards. The most gracious of hosts, Al made the offer himself without us even having to ask. In the sweltering Georgia heat, Al showed us around his family farm while sharing his incredible life stories as a peach farmer. Life on a farm is multi faceted and complex and Al has lived and breathed it his entire life (starting at age six, making 10 cents an hour). There was so much we learned, so much more we wanted to know...but I think we'd have to live our entire lives on a peach farm to begin to grasp its nuances and rhythms. 

And to be a peach farmer, you gotta have tough skin. Weather is a topic of discussion all day, every day as it's the determining factor of each year's crop. Al and the over 200 workers on the farm, do their tireless work but it's up to Mother Nature to decide each year's fate. Will it rain? And if so, how much? What about frost? Hail? Drought? Al wouldn't give away any trade secrets on farming the perfect peach but I did learn he doesn't like rain all that much. If it must rain, he hopes it happens after sun up. Al, "I don't like my peaches to go to bed wet." 

At Pearson Farm, there are 1500 acres that are home to 250,000-300,000 trees. Peach trees can supply fresh peaches for up to 12 years while pecan trees (also on the farm and another important industry for the family) have been growing on the land for over 100 years and are still producing to this day. 

So how do you pick the perfect peach? According to Al, the best way is to smell it. It simply needs to smell like a peach. He advises not to put them in the fridge too long (if at all), as they will soon smell like your fridge. You want a yellow background rather than lime green. Also, look for the blush or red coloring on top of the yellow coloring. The best peach is also one that is just getting soft. On the day of our arrival, these July Prince peaches were ready for picking...

A big, heartfelt thank you to Al Pearson for his time and generosity. After our trip to the orchard, we kicked back on the rocking chairs and had a big helping of Pearson Farm peach cobbler with ice cream. Such a fun trip- and if you wanna do it, act fast as peach season ends mid August. If you can't visit Al and the team in person, or pick up a Pearson peach at a local Farmer's Market, head to their website where you can get 'em shipped to your front door. No matter which method you choose, let's just hope your next peach is a sweet peach. 

 

Photos: Sweet Peach; thebruncher.com; Pearson family     Content: Sweet Peach    


Tuesday
Jul082014

Amy Roberson 

Last weekend, I stopped in to see the ICE event in Atlanta, which celebrates local artists. There was a lot of great talent packed inside but one booth stood out. Perhaps it was the luscious colors, the pretty display or the mid century vibe...but I was instantly smitten by Amy Roberson's ceramics.

Amy is from Ellijay, Georgia and is currently a year long resident at MudFire in Decatur. It is here that she's found a home base with community support and access to all her firing needs- all the while crafting and honing her own style of ceramics. 

Amy, "With my work, I set out to make finely crafted tableware for daily use. I want my audience to use my work to brighten their day with beautiful colors and forms." 

In Amy's newly curated shop, find her mugs, bowls and tumblers. You can also find them at Crafted Westside. It's a nice way to brighten up a space - and support a new, talented artist. 

 

Photos: Amy Roberson Ceramics      Content: Sweet Peach

 

Wednesday
Jul022014

Banner Butter

Oh butter, how I love you so. Yet I never knew our love could deepen and evolve the way it has over the last couple of months. Because of you, I'm more open to receive and feel gratitude...

My love for butter has evolved because I never knew what I was missing. Our popular American versions pale in comparison to how its been done for centuries in Europe. At Banner Butter, based in Doraville, Georgia, a talented team is creating quite the buzz by getting back to basics and crafting small batch, cultured butter. They are just one of a few retail cultured butter companies in the whole country.

As owner Elizabeth McBath explained, "Sweet cream butter (your standard grocery store variety) is pasteurized and immediately churned to kill both good and bad bacteria. Cultured butter is left to sit before churning so good bacteria grows and adds that rich butter taste. The butter you're used to eating, they artificially add that butter flavor back in."  

Elizabeth, along with her husband Drew, hired executive pastry chef, Kat King to help them develop their recipes. They now focus on three compound flavors, plus a lightly salted, sea salt and unsalted butter, then of course, seasonal compound varieties for when the inspiration strikes. 

Like the day of my visit when Mary Ellen Yupari, the Manager of Operations, just so happened to be trying out a new seasonal flavor of Georgia peach with local, organic honey, cinnamon and sugar. It smelled divine. I picked up the final result at the Grant Park Farmer's Market a few days ago and I have to say, although I may be partial, this is my new favorite. 

Chefs, Catherine Weaver and Jennifer Weissman work beautifully as a team mixing, churning, washing, molding, weighing and packing Banner Butter rounds. They love working with cultured butter and talking about their process. It really makes a difference when you know your food is crafted with this much care and passion. 

Cultured butter is so creamy and tasty, you often find yourself eating it like frosting from a cake. Elizabeth and Drew source their cream from Southern Swiss Dairy Farm in Georgia- from cows that are hormone free and grass fed. Each small batch at Banner takes 20 hours to make. It's a labor of love- can't you just tell? 

Elizabeth is passionate about her butter and the way she works with her staff (whom adore her) lets me know even bigger and better things are on the horizon. Both her and Drew have found a new passion through their foray into the food world which has received rave reviews and incredible support. Elizabeth, "I feel more connected to community. We're making something really traditional and it grounds you in a special, beautiful way." Oh butter, who knew our love could get this good? 

Check out the Banner Butter site to learn more and follow their ever so lovely Instagram account, produced by Ruthie Weil. 

 

Photos: Sweet Peach; Whitney Ott; Garnish & Gather     Content: Sweet Peach


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

 

Wednesday
Jun182014

willaby 

I love a good looking shirt, especially on a tiny tot. Atlantan, Kim Woods does too, which is why she has created willaby, a clothing and accessories line with a modern touch. Kim, "I believe in dressing children in a way that is simple and quiet, yet current. I think that small people deserve demure prints and streamlined design." 

Kim has been sewing and designing since she was 12 years old and loves executing everything at willaby from concept and design to overseeing all the local production. As comfort is paramount, all of the pieces are made with 100% natural fibers and meant to be versatile and unisex, which I really love. The dotted and checkered bloomers are just the sweetest....

 

Kim finds inspiration through a myriad of experiences. As she shared, "I tend to look at vintage baby clothing and old family pictures. Both of my parents come from farming families. And although I'm not sure if it's apparent in the designs, I often think about those homemade, simple, functional pieces of clothing they wore as kids. At the same time, I love Japanese design and I think that influences me as well."  

Check out the entirety of Kim's shop, here. And if you live in Georgia, Kim now sells at six fantastic kid shops that you'll want to visit if you have a child- or need a gift. Kim is also teaching a Sewing Craft Camp in Atlanta next month, which is a really incredible idea. Find out more, here.

 

Photos: Willaby       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