Monday, November 22, 2010

Maker Monday: Making Memories in the Kitchen

Photo from Foods For Long Life Blog which has some excellent info on the healthiness of pumpkins!
[Charles] This week with Thanksgiving coming up, my thoughts have turned to the tradition of making something from scratch in the kitchen with family. We lost my wife's Grandma yesterday and with her a lot of amazing homemade cooking knowledge. Some of those recipes were passed along but many of the best were never written down and apparently her Chocolate Pie recipe yielded a legendary dessert that tasted like a gigantic Hershey's bar had been melted down and poured into a pie crust.

It makes me think of how important it is to really enjoy those times when we can all be together and cooking in the kitchen at Thanksgiving is probably the single best time of the year for that. I'd like to encourage everybody to spend some time in the kitchen this week and take a few moments and maybe an index card so that you can record your mom's thoughts on how to get the turkey perfect or what exactly your grandma sneaks into the cornbread stuffing. Also, this is a great time to drag the kids into the kitchen and get them stirring, or pouring, or whatever they can handle. The memories of being in the kitchen, the smell of pumpkin pie cooling on the counter, the arguing over which casserole should go where in the oven, and the table that sags with the weight of all the well-loved platters and dishes all get recorded by young eyes and will be the memories that comfort after the other people at the table are gone.

I set out to write about making things and the one thing I'd like to try this year is to make a pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin. There was a fun story on this in Creative Loafing this year that was shy on details but at least inspired me to start looking for where to buy a Sugar Pie Pumpkin in my area. Apparently they are the best for making pies with and they are smaller and denser than the ole Jack O Lanterns I'm usually in search of. I'm guessing our daughter could at least help with scooping out the pumpkin this year. I'd like to start a tradition of cooking something like this with her and maybe someday when she smells pumpkin pie she'll remember the year we made one from a real pumpkin!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Forecast: Pulleys, Bricks, and Toots

Inside Cafe Hey Photo from Brett F on Flickr
[Charles] Looks like this weekend isn't gonna slouch and stay inside watching Ghost Whisperer, so you've really got no excuse.

First off, let me say thanks to Cafe Hey for the shout out on FB professing their love for this blog. I've been really working to keep my regular posts coming and worth reading and I'm glad they've noticed. I've had a thing for Cafe Hey since I first hesitantly parked my car on the part of Franklin street that most Tampa residents can't locate even with Google maps. Cafe Hey is everything that you want in an indie coffee shop/cafe/art space/hangout spot.

Somewhat hidden location so that you can brag to your friends when they say they have no idea where it is? - Check.

Amazing coffee and food (preferably healthy and veg options) - Check.

Tiny tables to encourage cozy mingling, chatting and noshing - Check.

Engaging staff that is equal parts hilarious, smarmy, and confident - Check.

Rotating art shows of affordable and cutting edge work - Check.

Did I mention that their Cafe Con Leche kicks your BigBucks cappucino's a$$? - Nuff said.

Okay, on to the forecast!

Tonight at Jannus Live will be legendary Toots and the Maytals rockin the reggae vibe. Toots Hibbert is a legendary performer who some people credit with coining the word reggae back in the day. I don't know about that, but I do know that he has been a consistent hitmaker and performer that has outlasted many of his contemporaries with songs like "Pressure Drop" and "54-46 was my Number". I really got re-hooked into Toots when he did an album called True Love in 2004 and won a Grammy for it with a lot of other singers like Bonnie Raitt and Ryan Adams pitching in on his hit songs. Everybody I've heard from says he puts on a great show and really exudes the joy and love of great reggae music. I just visited the new Jannus this week and it has really cleaned up nicely. If you've only heard the Clash do "Pressure Drop", you should really check out the godfather of reggae's version in person.
Forecast: 35% chance you'll fail your next zero tolerance test at work if you get too close to the stage at this show.

Tonight also is the opening of the new art show from the Bricks of Ybor and Kickstart My Art called "Not Playing with a Full Deck". This one has brought out local and non-local artists to contribute art created from and on broken skateboard decks. I've enjoyed the other shows at the Bricks like the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" show recently so this should also be a lot of fun. I'm glad to see them getting some good shows together. The food and drinks at the Bricks are definitely worth checking out when you get some time too. I'm adding them to my list of pre-New World Brewery spots for dinner. I've been there a few times since they opened and really enjoy the chilled out vibe and punk rock jukebox. I'm glad to see another spot that folks who want to hang in Ybor but not hit the clubs can find a home.
Forecast: 25% chance somebody is going home with a skateboard painted like the Abominable Snowman

On Sunday, you'll have a hard time finding a better spot to chill out and nurse a hangover than Ella's with local singer/songwriter Rebekah Pulley on the stage in the afternoon. I won't work too hard to convince you that she is awesome because we all know I've been following her from gig to gig for years anytime she's on this side of the bridge. She says that she's working on some material for a new album coming out soon, so I'd get by there for a preview. It won't hurt that you'll be munching on some of the best barbecue in the city from Mr. Ernie Locke. Finally last weekend I tried the Chicken and Waffles and it's definitely one of those flavor combos that gets under your skin and builds to the kind of craving that you'd sell the gold in your fillings for.
Forecast: 75% chance somebody's gonna settle in to a corner booth at Ella's and have to be pried out of it 4 hours later...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A little harmonica with your Avetts?

Just had to share a little from the G.Love collab coming up with the Avetts. I was skeptical but I like this - see what you think...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Maker Monday: Etsy Instruments

[Charles] Photo from Etsy InBloom Designs Shop
I was looking for a gift for my daughter last night and was thinking of musical instruments. I like the idea of something simple like a tambourine or xylophone that she can beat on and at our venerable Big Box retailer all of
the kids offerings are ridiculous
amalgamations of plastic junk. There are tons of cheaply made drums and kazoos and harmonicas and something called an ocarina? There wasn't a simple wood shaker to be found.

Today my lunchtime surfing took me into the world of acoustic guitar construction and I learned a lot, but then I thought what about Etsy?! And sure enough there are lots of makers out there making all sorts of cool instruments just for people like us. So, here you go... if you want to buy yourself or your little ones an instrument I suggest you check a few of these out and support a handmade DIY person just like yourself!

Try All Natural Acoustics Shop and find cool items like this beat box called the Knuckle Knocker

How about some Claves from Ile Tambour's Shop?

These just scratch the surface of what is out there - There's even kid-specific drums

Beat Creatures are what is really fun about Etsy - strange and imaginative!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Forecast: Lucero Turner Distortion, 615 Souls, and Market Sunday

Photo from Elawgrrl shots of Frank Turner
[Charles] This weekend brings a lot of choices, but I believe you can fit them all in! Tonight brings a bada$$ group of bands together on the same bill at Jannus Live in St. Pete. Any one of these bands would be worth the price of admission which explains why the show has been sold out for weeks. First off, you can see Frank Turner who has wormed his post punk way in to the hearts of many of us that cut our teeth on hardcore but now can appreciate a nice rebellious sing-a-long mixed in to our rock soup. This is the kind of guy that you would follow out the door of his concert and across the street to a parking lot just to get to spend more time with him. Don't believe me? Read about his Fest show here from the excellent first person account of none other than Andy Stern whose Beard rating system should be applied universally to most of the shows I attend. "Frank Turner’s fest performance encompassed everything you expect from a Fest show. Sing-a-long songs, drunken celebration, crowd surfing, and surprises." After a bar-raising and bar-drinking opener like Frank Turner, you can expect a hell of a show from Lucero and Social Distortion. I hope they bring it because this opener is no slouch and is really developing a following in the area.

Forecast: 95% chance of some bearded dudes clutching beers and getting their faces melted off!

Saturday, after you've risen from the dead in the late morning hours, I would recommend a big greasy brunch at somewhere like Nicko's and then I'd send you on down to the Independent for an easy relaxing bit of beer sipping. Before you head out of the hood, definitely check out the art show over at Tempus Projects - Calling (615) with a group of artists from Nashville bringing a little show round that you won't want to miss. Tempus has really taken no shortcuts in bringing terrific new art to their space and I'd really like the neighborhood to turn out and take notice.

You'll want to be ready when you start making your way to New World Brewery for The London Souls a rock band from NYC that's been called "amazingly tight" and "swampy rock music". I suck at all those kind of cool music descriptors but I know good music when I hear it and trust me, this is really good. Check 'em out for yourself.

Forecast: 50% chance of needing a designated driver on Saturday - where'd those electric taxis go anyway? Oh yeah the City of Tampa killed those - make sure they don't kill Cigar City Brewery in the same way... take that link to read about it and be sure to send an email along to our wishy washy City Council.

Sunday is the Sunday Morning Market at Hillsborough High School. Dry out, buy some local honey, find some organic produce, and maybe even shake your hula hoop a little that day. It should be fun and the weather will be perfect. Winter in Florida means a rain jacket is your heavy coat...

Forecast: 40% chance some fancy coffee will be sipped while perusing the local wares and catching up with the neighbors - Enjoy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Maker Monday: Finally a bookshelf that works...

Photo from Core77
[Charles] It seems like bookshelves have it pretty easy. They sit there against the wall and just wait for you to pull a book down. They might allow room for other stuff on the shelf but they consist of a lot of space that is sort of off limits to dual purposes. The bookshelf that Raw Edges' designers made for their own uses finally gets those books out and doing something while they lay around waiting for your interest. The simple wooden piece has grooves that the wooden slats drop into with books wrapped around them. The little slats can serve as bookmarks and the spines line up to make for an interesting table surface. Shelf gone - just like that! I like it, and I'd like to start building one of these for all the ridiculous magazines that we seem to amass.

You can see the original photos at Core77 in their post.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Forecast: Vodka, Bash, and Films

[Charles] Tonight should usher in a nice chilly breeze to help motivate those brave souls that are biking the 40 miles roundtrip out to Flatwoods on Sunday morning. If you are going to bike it from Seminole Heights then plan to leave from the Garden Center at 8:30. The Bicycle Bash is a huge bicycling event and has a new location in Flatwoods County Park which apparently has some really nice bike trails and a large (car-free) loop. Expect tons of bike vendors and groups, lots of other bicyclists, and a couple of my favorites - Cafe Nola and Buddy Brew Coffee to warm up and motivate you for the ride home. You can park and ride from Branchton Park and bike in from a closer distance if you want. Forecast: Chances that I'll be biking all the way from Seminole Heights at 8:30 am are maybe 20%. I'm thinking I'm still a ways off of a 20 mile hungover ride... More info here

The reason for that hangover will most likely be the band playing tonight at Ella's Folk Art Cafe in the hood. The Vodkanauts are a self-described "lounge rock" band which always promises a good time. They feel a little like if a young band invaded Vegas and kicked out Wayne Newton and performed his playlist for the night with a little Rat Pack and 80's mix thrown in. They effortlessly jump genres in their choices and don't take themselves too seriously while promising a seriously good time. Forecast: 80% chance that martinis will be shaken and not stirred at Ella's tonight.

Last of all is a small but well-stocked film festival over by the University of Tampa. I don't know much about the films at the Tampa Independent Film Festival, but judging by the awful state of Hollywood movies these days, I'll drop $20 to see some new talent and open my mind. It sounds like you buy a day pass and get in to all of the movies that day. Friday is the Florida Film Showcase and then Saturday is the Best of the Fest Awards and movies - that's what I'm thinking. Check out their site and see if there is something that interests you, or better yet, just buy a ticket and take a chance on somebody's dream of making movies that still matter. Some of these are from students at USF and Ringling so it's really a chance to see some local talent as well. Forecast: 70% chance you'll see a movie that you'll be talking about for years.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Maker Monday: Big Banquette Build from Core77

Photos from hipstomp on Core77
[Charles] Here's a re-post from Core77 on how the process of building a huge built in banquette can go. I especially like that he includes all of the screwups and lessons learned in the process. Hopefully next week I'll have some photos of my platform bed build that I can share.