Perambulating in Memphis

Just returned from a fantastic road trip with my husband:  we drove from Ohio to Memphis, TN where we stayed for 2 nights, then on to New Orleans, LA for 3 nights, then to Nashville, TN for 1 night and then on back home.  We saw Leonard Cohen in Memphis and in New Orleans, plus all sorts of other great stuff.  Here’s a taste of Memphis:

Statue of Elvis on Beale Street

Statue of Elvis on Beale Street

 

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A bit about the history of the Blues in the American South

 

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Outside of the Crystal Shrine Grotto

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Outside of Graceland

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Sun Studio in Memphis

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Stax studio/museum

Much more to come!

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Plates, Plates, Plates

As I’ve mentioned, I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to dishes/china/plates/pottery/and the like.  Perhaps because they combine beauty with functionality, I am a magpie about them.  When the price is right?  I can pretty much always justify adding to my collection. One of my favorite patterns?015

Free Form, by Metlox PoppyTrail California.  This pattern was produced in the 1950’s in 3 colorways: Free Form, Mobile, and Contempora.  (Same design, but filled in with different colors.  Contempora used gray, black, turquoise, and fuchsia; Mobile used turquoise, purple, yellow, and fuchsia; Free Form used the combination of brown, chartreuse, turquoise and yellow you can see above.)  All are pretty awesome, but I particularly love the color combination used in the Free Form variation.

My collection actually started with a few pieces in the Mobile colorway that I found for a song at a thrift store.  Lucky find, because this stuff isn’t usually super cheap*.  Here and there, at a positively glacial pace (maybe a piece every 2 or 3 years) I’ve added to my collection, tightening my focus to Free Form version.  I drool and dream about the carafe, the pitcher, and the boomerang bowl from this line.  Very rarely, they turn up on eBay, but always with starting prices ranging from $150-$400.  Ouch.  I hope that someday the yard sale gods will smile upon me!  Until then, I quite enjoy the few pieces I have.

007Here’s a cup and saucer in the Free Form pattern, and an amazing teapot from the late, great Kahiki.  The Kahiki was an old-school, compeletely fabulous , kitschy, themed-out Polynesian restaurant in Columbus, OH.  Sunday brunches there were really something special.  It opened in 1961 and closed in 2000.  RIP, Kahiki.

* A caveat concerning my definition of “expensive”.  I am a frugal collector.  The Mobile pieces with which I started my collection? $2.50 a piece at the thrift store.  So, for me, when the combined price and shipping for a plate or bit of china on eBay or whatever goes over about $15-$20, that gets to be awfully hard to justify.

Half-Moon Splendor

Half Moon Cookies

Half-Moon Cookies

Last November I was lucky enough to have the chance to visit a dear friend of mine who now lives in  upstate New York, in Syracuse.  I meant to blog about the trip, but honestly I was way more focused on catching up and enjoying my time seeing her than I was on taking pictures.  I wish I’d taken more, but alas.  But somehow a few of them remained on my camera and I rediscovered them today.  One of the great revelations on that trip?  The splendor of the Half-Moon cookie!  (In upstate NY, I guess they’re know as half-moons, in NYC, they’re known as black-and-whites.)

I’d never had one before, and, knowing this as a fellow Midwesterner, my friend Liz made sure to address this deficit before I left.  Yum!  We got some fresh from a lovely tiny bakery in nearby Skaneateles, a village on the eastern-most lake of the Finger Lakes.  She also sent me home with some so I could share with my husband.  That I didn’t devour them all as I drove home clearly demonstrates how fond I am of my husband.

I love finding regional specialties, no?  In the midst of the ever-more blandifying impact of franchise restaurants, there’s something great and special about savoring a cookie that I can’t easily get where I live.  (I mean, maybe they’re available outside of NY, but they aren’t sold in the grocery store bakeries here like they were out there, and I’ve not actually seen them in any specialty bakeries out here, either.)

The one downside to discovering a delicious cookie not sold where I live?  I wish I could chomp into one of these right now –it’s like they cut the top off of the best cupcake ever and then iced it with the best chocolate and the best vanilla icing out there.  I am not much a baker, but I may have to track down a recipe and attempt to perfect making these myself.  They were that good.

What regional specialties do you love to enjoy when you travel?

Sprung?

Happy Vernal Equinox! (Yes, darn it, even though it feels way more hiems-ish than vernal outside just yet. Astronomically speaking, it’s now Spring!)  I’m torn between savoring the signs that Spring is springing and wanting to tell the buds to go back to sleep for a little bit.  Yet my heart leaps to see the crocuses croaking and the daffodils starting to surge upwards.  This year, there’s a new sign of spring in our yard:

Cornus offincinalis 'Kintoki'

Cornus offincinalis ‘Kintoki’

At last year’s Dawes Arboretum plant sales, we picked up a new-to-us type of dogwood, a Japanese cornelian cherry or Japanese Cornel Dogwood.  The variety we got is supposed to be particularly suited to small spaces (great for our packed  yard) and should provide a brilliant Spring show with its early yellow blooms, plus the exfoliating bark has winter interest and the fall color is supposed to be good, too.  Last fall was too dry for anything to have good color, and this tree isn’t mature enough yet for the bark to be doing much exfoliating, but look at these buds!  It’s not even properly blooming yet, and it’s already a sunny happy bit of punctuation in our backyard.  Hooray!

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buds nearly ready to bloom on the cornelian cherry…