Friday, October 28, 2011

Home, Sweet Home

This is why I was in such a Tiz to get back to Atlanta:

 The Coast is beautiful in October, and it's a non-stop party, but then there is Fall in Atlanta...

The air turns sweet, and smells like acorns and leaves.  You start to think about red plaid wool, fires in the fireplace, the gleam of woodwork in the library, and slow-cooked stews. 

The Pond is going more Snapping Turtle Battles, no more Geese with Bad Behavior.

We'll miss sitting on the little Boat House porch with our evening cocktails...

But there is always the fire pit off the kitchen deck, where we only build fires in the Winter.  It gives such a cozy feeling to prepare dinner with that warm glow in the background.  

Seasons change, and Winter is near.  Squirrels are busy gathering nuts and fluffing their blankets.  All the children are starting to think about Being Good and the upcoming Holidays, while all the adults are planning meals and polishing up our nests. 

Don't you just love that?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Selling Handmade Products Online

For the past two weeks, in between packing up the Ocean Isle Studio and moving it (drive, drive, drive) back to Atlanta, I've been muddling my way through setting up a shop on Etsy.  Because I'm so darn curious, I spent my usual amount of Probably Too Much Time Researching sites that sell handmade on the internet.   And Fellow Humans, I am impressed.  You are simply Amazing.

Handmade Chocolates by Fleurir Chocolates, out of Virginia.  Found them on Foodzie.

 Screen printed napkins from Fisk and Fern:
Their handmade items are sold on Supermarket - another site for Handmade.

These Palm Tree Napkin Rings made by The Fortunate Home are sold on Artfire.

During my research, I found an article posted on October 17 in the Wall Street Journal that was about Etsy's new CEO, Chad Dickerson, who took over in July and is taking the website global...first stop, Germany.  You can read the article in its entirety HERE.  If you are thinking about selling your products online, you should read this article just to get some perspective about the community you are in.

To get your head around of all the work going on in back bedrooms, bonus rooms, and on  kitchen tables out there, as of this morning, Etsy has over 8 MILLION Handmade items for sale.  

Stuff like this:
from Isla's Garden Bowtique.  I'm seriously thinking about ordering one of these amazing Handmade Hair Bows all for myself.
And this:
A Waxed Canvas Tote from Peg and Awl

And this.

Pear Platter from Romy and Clare.

I decided that because of the depth and breadth of Etsy, it was best to set up shop there...I can not only sell finished products, I can sell components from the studio like Fabrics, Trims, and Findings in Etsy's Supplies Category.  

Once you learn how to search for products on Etsy, using their re-vamped search applications, it isn't the jumble it used to be.   Artfire and Supermarket are still on my radar screen, and I may set up over there, too. 

But for now, I have to quit admiring all you other artists, and GET TO WORK!

Thanks for visiting with me today, and for all your support!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

This One's for Toad

Okay, Folks.  I, along with hundreds of others, follow the Blog of  "Toad" at  To The Manner Born.  You can learn all manner of things just by pouring your morning cuppa caffee and heading on over to see what he's talking about on any given day.  Since he is such a voracious Fact and Story Gatherer, especially about the South, this one's for Toad:

This photo was posted by Stephen A. Nicklas in 2005.

This is a monument at Colbert County, Alabama's Coon Dog Cemetery.  It is the only Coon Dog Cemetery in the world, and is only a few miles from the house where I grew up.  It's on a mountain top that we passed by every time we went to visit my Grandparents, and is legendary.  

From The Encyclopedia of Alabama

Only Certified, Champion Coon Dogs can be buried there, and there are over 250 graves, at last count.  I only went there once, and was impressed by the emotion and love directed to these deceased Coon Hounds.

You can visit the cemetery website and view all the Coon Dog Grave Markers HERE.

For your edification, this past Thursday, October 20, 2011, over 400 mourners gathered to bury Coon Hound Bo,  from Southern Illinois.  The funeral procession spread out to almost a mile from the cemetery...which is not far from the cemetery where my elders are buried.  You can read the entire story - you MUST read the entire story, HERE.

I'll leave you to your reading...

October Festivals on the Carolina Coast Continue...

Yesterday, I traveled down to Myrtle Beach to go to Market Commons, a particularly pretty shopping center that has all the shops I love. 

Had to take a picture of this so that I could capture the blue October sky!

Isn't this a pretty place to shop?

I particularly love browsing through Williams Sonoma  - makes me want to have a party!  And, I've always loved their table linens...

After finishing my shopping, I walked down into an area I'd never been in before, and saw...

what looked like another October Festival!  I got closer and could see a happy crowd of people, sipping wine and enjoying some VERY GOOD music.

Turns out, it was the Myrtle Beach Wine Festival!!  I was in.  All of you know how I love wine and music.

Check out these hand-blown wine bottles.  The booth owner said they contained aged Port Wine, and each bottle was uniquely shaped.  

Selecting a wine to sample, I had my glass filled and moved closer to the music.  The band had Everyone's Attention, and I was captivated by these two little boys - who leaped up from their seat on the grass and began dancing with abandon...

They were oblivious to the crowd, and were just Grooving to the Music.

With that happy scene in mind, I left to go to the next Festival...The Annual October Fall Brawl Fishing Tournament.   When I got there, Husband was on duty as the Official Weigh Master, with cousin Brenda standing by to Tag.  Here's a photo of last year's winner - a monster King Mackerel that tipped the scales at nearly 57 pounds!
Image from Fishermanspost.

This year, the leading fish is right at 30 pounds...but the Tournament is not over yet!

Tonight, the final October Oyster Roast, hosted by the Ocean Isle Fishing Center, as they will hand out Thousands of Dollars in prize money for the largest King Mackerel, along with prizes for Lady, Senior, and Kids Anglers.  

What an October it has been!  But I'm missing Atlanta and the hardwood trees...I want to see yellow and orange and red leaves drifting down to the lawn, smell the acorns, and hear the wind in the Oak Trees.  Time to go home.

Thank you, Carolina Coast, for another beautiful October Festival Season!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Coastal Cottage Crab Bisque Recipe - Yumm!

Okay, folks.  Usually we are all about "Catch and Eat", but this time, I couldn't help myself.  Lowes Foods had a Great Sale on pasteurized Crab Meat, and I loaded up!  With a cold front moving in, my sinful Coastal Cottage Crab Bisque and a Boule of Olive Rosemary bread, hot out of the oven, was a lock.

I knew I had to make it Chunky and Rewarding enough to get away with serving this as the entree to a Husband who is all about a full plate at Dinner.

In a flash, standing right there in the grocery store, I visualized sweet corn, sweet onions, half and half, and, well, I was off and zooming up and down the aisles...

Doesn't this make your mouth water and your brain churn, thinking of Crab Bisque, Crab Cakes, Crab Stuffed Mushrooms, Crab Omelet...etc., etc.?

So, first, I rough chopped a Sweet Vidalia Onion - I only use Vidalia Onions in seafood, because their sweetness melds right in without overwhelming the fish, crab, or shellfish in the dish...

and caramelized the onions in a heavy pot with Salted Butter and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Always keep the heat Really Low when don't want the onions to scorch before the sugar comes out.

Then, I added lots of fresh corn cut off the cob, with the milk that I scraped out of the cob,  and then the Crab Meat.  I didn't want the corn to be overcooked and loose its sweetness. 

The Bisque had to be rich, so I added about two cups of Half and Half, along with about a cup of 2% milk.  Right behind that,  the seasonings:

The above seasonings are pretty basic in my pantry, but of course, you can mix and match to your own taste.  I think a dash of nutmeg is always necessary in a bisque!

I didn't add salt because the Old Bay, Worcestershire Sauce, and Tabasco already have salt in them.  I also added a squirt of Ketchup, right at the end.  At this point, don't let it boil, keep your heat medium low so the milk doesn't separate.

Now, here's the most important ingredient, besides the Crab:

Don't be shy with the cuts the richness and brings it all back together under a different blanket.   Get your bread out of the oven when the crust is crisp and flaky, and you are good to go!  Sublime.

Picked up this Olive and Rosemary Bread Boule in the Bakery, and popped it in the oven at 400 f.  for about 7 minutes.  Perfect for sopping up the last bit in the bowl!

And Husband LOVED it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Meeting, Greeting, and Eating at The Oyster Festival

The NC Oyster Festival is over, and what a Festival it was!  On Saturday, we had over 45,000 attendees, an all-time record. 

The response to my new Wall Art Collection was  so  gratifying, after all that hard work.  It pulled hundreds of Lovely Folks into the booth.  Can you imagine how that made me feel?? 

I took orders to customize the canvases - lots of people wanted their own Cottage Name on the, lots of work to do this week!

The Sailboat canvases got lots of questions about the coordinates on them...those are the coordinates for Ocean Isle Beach.  I can put the coordinates for anywhere in the world on the image, but thought it was appropriate to mark where the Festival was being held.  One man who came in the booth murmured to his wife, "She probably doesn't know what those numbers mean."  Well, I do.

Many, many customers bought Stationery.  So good to know that people still value the hand-written note!  I sold Tons of Stationery, and took orders for more.  Happy, happy.  Here are a few of the designs:

When the crowds thinned out on Sunday, I took some snaps of my booth with my Iphone - here is the Hand Bound Journal Rack...

The blank Journals attracted lots of attention, but overall, seemed to puzzle most folks.  Don't people Journal anymore??  Maybe they just Blog??  One Lady zoomed in and grabbed up the Coral Bouquet Journal and flipped it open.  She paused, then riffled through the pages.  Turning to me with almost indignant puzzlement, she said, "It's Blank!".  I had that happen more than once.  Tell me, What was THAT all about?

The Festival ran out of Oysters mid-afternoon on Saturday, due to the HUGE turnout!  

Roasting Oysters on Saturday.

Bummer.  But there were more offerings on the table:  sublime Shrimp Gumbo from Causeway Gourmet.   Oyster Stew from The Boundary House.  Shrimp Rolls.  Scallop Rolls.  Shrimp and Grits.  Seafood Platters.  Apple Dumplings and Homemade Ice Cream.  North Carolina Barbeque.  Smoked Turkey Legs.

You haven't seen anything until you've seen a Lean and Mean Southern Boy walk through a crowded Festival, gnawing on a gigantic Turkey Leg.  Makes me grin, every time.  

So it's a wrap.  Now, back to business and to getting my house back in order!  

Order.  Holy Cow, I've got to fill all those orders!!  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A North Carolina Visit...

I'm in the trenches, getting ready for the Oyster Festival, but just had to share last weekend's North Carolina Family Weekend with you.

Is there any doubt who this is REALLY all about??

This is Grandson Brayden, flirting with his Aunt Megan's (from Atlanta)  camera.  After he'd had Grouper Dogs by Grandpa Rube.  And had a carpet Takedown with Uncle Jeremy.  And eaten Uncle Jeremy's Apple Crisp - two fisted.  He's the reason we didn't get leftovers...

Read all about it at Meg's Blog:  Not Just Meg.  October family get-togethers, on the North Carolina Coast.  Can't beat it with a stick!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

October On the North Carolina Coast

Two words for October in Coastal North Carolina.



The sky turns a gorgeous shade of blue, and the sun slides to a more Southerly position, making the shadows turn to shades of violet and magenta.  Sunsets are almost surreal as they flash orange, pomegranate, and purple lights all over everything...reflecting beautifully off the windows in all the quiet houses.

Lavender Sunsets.  Only in October.

The bees busily gather the last bit of nectar

The pampered Plumeria Tree begins to wind down, producing some of the final buds of the year.  She knows that we will pull her into her cozy Winter Home in the basement soon, and she'll take a long nap.

Fat Roe Mullet get roasted on open fire pits...

Granddaughter Caroline, thinking of the Winter to come, is worried about our solitary squirrel (we still don't know how he got on the island), and has built a Fall feeding station for him, complete with directional arrows:

It is totally appropriate that she has spelled his name "Mr. Scwirl"; after all, she is only 6 years old, and is worried about the "Scwirlliness" of his lonely situation.

Meantime, we are enjoying an October visit from my niece Megan and her husband, Jeremy...who cooked up a fabulous Apple Crisp out of perfectly beautiful Fall Granny Smith Apples last night.  Which disappeared out of the large pan he baked it in within 20 minutes flat.  We thought there would be leftovers!  Didn't count on everyone eyeing that dish and going for seconds...

In between all these adventures,  I am working on my products for the Oyster Festival, which starts next Saturday here on the island and runs for two days.  And my studio doors are open to the Fall breezes... No Air Conditioning necessary now!

October in Coastal North Carolina - gotta love it!


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