"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
_ William Morris
, 19th century craftsman, designer, writer

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Friday, December 19, 2014

MADE: in Long Beach

My friend and I steered the sleigh over to the new pop-up shop, MADE, in downtown Long Beach the other day to browse the work of local artisans. The loft-styled space featured everything from handmade jewelry and knits to gourmet olive oil, granola, coffee, pottery, candles, t-shirts, tote bags, handmade furniture, bird houses and beyond -all of it made in the LBC!
All is bright!
 Gatsby Books represented.

 LBC Home Kitchen! Just like we would make...if we were crafty like that, and had the time, and weren't just the teensiest bit afraid of canning...
The folks from Long Beach Creamery were also on site, and this weekend (Dec.20-21) they will be heading over to MADE for a final Kickstarter fundraising push! The gourmet ice cream enthusiasts are trying to raise enough capital to open a storefront creamery in Bixby Knolls -seems like a perfect fit for a town ranked first as the Ice Cream Loving Capital of America! To donate towards this very worthy goal, check out their Kickstarter video here.

 Ho! Ho! Ho!
 I caught owner Rachel Potucek restocking her shelves for The People's Soap Co.
Good clean fun!
 Stocking stuffer perfection! 
These shortbread cookies made by local baker/artisan Traci De La Torre for Saints & Sinners Bakeshop were absolutely darling -and looked delish too!
Got milk?
Localvore shopping...that's a thing, right?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Field Trip: Bauer Pottery Showroom

Located in a corrugated metal warehouse in an industrial area of Glendale, the Bauer Pottery Showroom borders the Forest Lawn cemetery on the far side of a dead-end road -the perfect pilgrimage for bargain hunting pottery lovers. I finally made the trek myself last weekend...just in time for the holiday sale.

In addition to browsing shelves full of slightly imperfect seconds, I also met, Janek Boniecki, the clever entrepreneur who purchased trademark rights to reproduce Bauer Pottery in 1998. 

While staying true to Bauer's original aesthetic, Boniecki has introduced a few new designs as well as several new colors. Another change: he uses glazes free of the lead and uranium once used to achieve the collection's happy signature colors -making the new pottery food safe. 
Good idea.

Boniecki uses vintage Bauer pottery to create molds for new production.

 Prices were dangerously reasonable...also, I found that tags for the same item varied depending on the imperfection --so be sure to look around. 
For December, the showroom is hosting their annual holiday clearance sale every weekend until Christmas. Last weekend, everything was 20 percent off. Next Saturday/Sunday 13-14 everything will be 25 percent off; and on Saturday Dec. 20 pottery will be 30 percent off.
After that seconds will be for sale online Dec.22-January 9.
Warning: shopping may result in unexpected purchases for your-very-own-self. Gifts? Ooops...

 In many ways, the spirit of J.A. Bauer, the original founder of the pottery company lives on --in fact, you can almost feel his presence. Literally. As fate would have it, J.A. Bauer is buried in the cemetery next door to the showroom and they say if you look, you can see his final resting place from the second floor window.
 Coincidence? Maybe.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Literary Inspiration: Great Expectation Scones (spoiler alert!)

 A few weeks ago at back-to-school night I signed up to bring scones for a wake the English teacher was planning to give on the occasion (celebration?) of Miss Jo's demise in Great Expectations. It sounded like a good idea at the time...

I decided to check the blogosphere for a good scone recipe and found The Best Scones Ever on Karlynn Johnston's  Kitchen Magpie blog. For my purposes, I have renamed them, Great Expectation Scones - but the rest is all Karlynn - and she's pretty cool.

She has done a terrific job of walking us through the recipe with step-by-step photos and tips, including her endorsement of the pastry blender: a handheld gadget that slices the butter into the dry mixture in lieu of using two knives in a scissor technique. 
I went out and bought one on her recommendation and am happy to report she was spot on. Worked like a charm! 

I also appreciated her suspicion that her husband married her for her baking...after trying her recipe, I wouldn't blame the guy.

Now bring on the literary luncheon...
I sprinkled a little sugar on top before baking...

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