Shopping Santa Fe

The June issue of Conde Nast Traveler has a small feature on ‘shopping cities’ that are really good values, and one of them is Santa Fe. Av and I went to Santa Fe in 2001 – we were going to Denver and decided to drive rather than fly so we could see and do more things along the way (and out-of-the-way). Some of the highlights were: being touristy and having lunch at The Big Texan in Amarillo (although Av didn’t try to eat the 72 oz. steak); ‘catching’ a giant tumbleweed in Dumas and putting it in the back of the car so that when we arrived at our hotel in Denver, the bellmen just looked at each other like we were crazy (we still have it – it hangs high above in the set of stairs that leads from the first to second floor of our house); driving on Route 66; Av finding the best country fried steak in the universe in Tucumcari, New Mexico; spending a few days in Denver; the day we spent in Cheyenne, Wyoming; and the couple of days we spent in Santa Fe.

In Santa Fe, we stayed at the Hotel St. Francis, which Conde Nast recommends in this month’s issue. We had wanted to stay at the Eldorado Hotel, which is a 4-diamond hotel with kivas in the rooms, but if I remember correctly, they were booked and we hadn’t tried to make reservations in advance. Anyway, the St. Francis was great – it was right at the Plaza, and the room was just fine. We did eat supper one night at the Eldorado’s The Old House restaurant (which on their website mentions that Zagat rated them ‘best in NM’ and is also 4-diamond) – it was *soooo amazing*…we loved it. We also spent lots of time at the Plaza, and also did some gallery shopping, which was really, really fun.

One of things we didn’t do last time but was mentioned in the article is the Friday-Sunday Tesuque Pueblo Flea Market where it says that “nearly 500 artisans offer their handcrafted pieces tax-free.” That sounds wonderful! I’d also like to see the Museum of International Folk Art there the next time we go. Fun!

Folk School

I’m not sure where I heard about the Folk School last week, but I wrote it on a note and looked it up today. It’s called the John C. Campbell Folk School, and it’s located in Brasstown, North Carolina.

The really neat thing is that they give week-long classes in several different folk crafts – like making dolls and bears, gardening, glass, jewelry, leather, quilting, spinning, lace, etc.

I’m not huge on lace, but Av’s maternal grandfather owned a schiffli factory from the 1930s until the 1950s or 1960s, and I’d like to learn more about and that sort of fabric art more.

It seems like it would be so much fun to go for a week with a friend or two in that kind of setting and come back home knowing how to do a traditional craft.

Kennedy Prints

I mentioned Kennedy Prints last year when we went to the Kentuck Festival and Amos was showing some of his posters and allowing people to come make their own. I was instantly in love with them, and bought two posters.

His website is up now, and it’s great. Any of the posters that are in stock are $15/ea plus shipping and handling, and of course they offer their services to make custom posters for any event, with a minimum run of 100.

Under the ‘printing specs’ section of the site:

is what we do. You send the text and a check, and go home and pray. We do not know what will happen until we are at the press. The design of your poster is determined in real time. Sometimes we produce beautiful posters and at other times we produce BEAUTIFUL posters.

White Barbecue Sauce Potato Salad

My great-grandmother was a wonderful cook, and ‘wonderful’ doesn’t even do it justice. I was really young when she died, but I do remember many of the things she made, one especially being her potato salad. Oh! It was so good. It was a traditional style, with white potatoes and celery and onion and hard-boiled eggs. There’s not a written recipe for it, but I always think of her whenever I make a bowl.

In the summertime especially, it just seems right to keep a bowl of potato salad (and coleslaw, to me they always go together) around to enjoy. I love it when Av gets outside with the grill and makes us some nice snapper or steak or lamb chops. He makes the hot food, and I make the cold food.

I noticed the other day that the website for Big Bob Gibson’s in Decatur, AL has their recipe (just click on ‘recipes’ after the cute flash animation) for potato salad – theirs is nice and really different, because they add their white chicken sauce to it – it’s probably my favorite restaurant-served potato salad. I had all the ingredients for it already, so I made a big bowl of it this week with just some very small changes.

BTW, you can buy white sauce online at their site if it’s not carried at your grocery store.

3lb. red potatoes (this recipe makes enough for eight or ten servings)
4 hard-boiled eggs, diced as large or small as you like
3/4 c. Mayonnaise
1/3 c. Sweet Pickle Relish (I use Wickles – it’s sweet and hot)
White Onion (I used a nice sweet Vidalia) – dice the whole onion, add as much as you like
1/4 c. Big Bob Gibson White BBQ Sauce
1 tbsp seasoning and dry rub (I used a creole seasoning – Tony Chacheres)
1/8 tsp celery seed
salt and pepper

First, wash the potatoes thoroughly and dice into bite-size pieces (which, for the size potatoes I bought, was about four pieces/potato). Add the potato pieces to salted, boiling water. Let boil for about 15 minutes until tender but not mushy. Drain and let cool some (you can speed this up by running cold water over the potatoes in the colander).

Add the potatoes to a large mixing bowl. To this bowl, add the diced hard-boiled eggs and the onion. I added about half the onion at this point, reserving the rest to see if I needed to add any more of them later.

Add dry seasoning and celery seed. Mix well.
Once it’s mixed well, you can get an idea of how much mayonnaise and white sauce you’ll need. Add about half of each and mix, then continue to add more until you have the right consistency.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and add any more onion if you like.

Refrigerate so it’s nice and cold for when you want to serve it. It turned out really great!

Sheraton Tel Aviv Hotel and Towers, Tel Aviv, Israel

I think the last time we were in Tel Aviv, we stayed at the Renaissance, but this time we tried the Sheraton. Both are on the beach – actually, I think all the hotels that say they are ‘on the beach’ are actually across the street from the beach. This hotel was fine, and we were upgraded to the club level. See how the beds are singles? This is very, very common in Israel (I won’t go into why just now) but the beds are always on wheels so you can just move them together.

Here’s the view from our balcony:

The hotel was nice, but isn’t one of my favorites. I think next time we’re in Tel Aviv we’ll try the Dan.

Wingate Inn, Atlanta (Buckhead)

Our trip to Atlanta was with a group of other people, and so all our reservations were made for the Wingate Inn in Buckhead. I don’t think we’ve ever stayed at a Wingate before.

It wasn’t bad. In fact, the room was pretty large, and I liked the floors especially. The bed was very comfortable.
Wingate Inn, Atlanta GA

The hotel is right on Piedmont Road, so the location is good. It wouldn’t be my pick for another stay in Atlanta because there are some really great hotels there (we stayed at the Westin Buckhead a couple of years ago that was nice…and I really want to try the R-C and the Four Seasons there), but it wasn’t bad at all.

Kinetic Art, and our 1864 Flying Spy Automata

One of Av’s professors from high school opened a rare and first edition bookstore a few years ago, and inside amongst all the books, he featured a couple of kinetic sculptures on the walls. They really fascinated me, because I’d never seen anything like them – they were beautiful and calming and….just one of those things to just hang around to watch for a while.

The artist – David C. Roy – who made those pieces, has his website here.

(updated with a new video:)

I also really like Tom Haney’s artwork – he makes these really original pieces that move or dance with pushes of a simple lever. I’ve seen him at a few shows, and he’s always really good about showing everyone how everything works, etc. Very nice. He’s going to be at Kentuck later this year.

A company in the UK sells these very simple kits to make animated pieces from paper – some of them are *so* cute!

About four years ago, Av and I purchased this piece from Bud and Suzi Richards (from Springville, AL) at the Bluff Park Art Show. It represents a 1864 report that Bud found about a spying soldier during the War who was wearing a flying contraption. It was the first automata piece they’d made, and we didn’t waste any time getting it.
1864 Flying Spy Automata



Hilton Garden Inn, Montgomery AL

About a week or so ago, we stayed one evening at the Hilton Garden Inn in Montgomery. This was our first visit there, and the hotel seemed nice. We were upgraded to one of their suites and the basic breakfast was included.

This hotel is situated inside one of Montgomery’s corporate parks, and it was pretty empty the weekend we stayed there (since I guess most of their business is M-F).
Hilton Garden Inn Montgomery AL 2006

JW Marriott, New Orleans LA

This trip, we stayed at the JW Marriott in New Orleans – it’s the hotel that was formerly the Le Meridien. We had a really nice stay.

J.W. Marriott, New Orleans LA

Our room:
J.W. Marriott, New Orleans LA

J.W. Marriott, New Orleans LA

The beds are soooo comfortable, and they had robes hanging in the closet (I love that!). The bathroom was pretty small, but that was okay.
J.W. Marriott, New Orleans LA

The lobby is pretty:
J.W. Marriott, New Orleans LA

J.W. Marriott, New Orleans LA

J.W. Marriott, New Orleans LA

One thing I also liked was that it’s one of the hotels where you dial one number and that person will take care of everything (valet, late-night room service snack, etc.). BTW, the valet was pretty quick, too.

While Av was working, Leslie and I walked all over the Quarter. Overall, the hotel was really nice and we wouldn’t mind staying here again.

Jerry Brown Arts Festival

We had a nice time at the Jerry Brown Arts Festival this weekend. It was small – probably only 20 or so artists – but we met some really nice people, and brought home three things…

This is a pretty different-looking vase (the inside vase part isn’t full-length – it goes down about halfway) made by Ron Morris, who teaches at Bevill State. Ron and his wife are both **really** nice and fun to chat with.
Ron Morris Pottery

Ron calls it his ‘pie plate’ vase, because of the nice detail along the edge – that made me like it even more:
Ron Morris Pottery

This little birdhouse was made by Mark Williams from Bogart, Georgia. I’m going to hang it up outside this week:
Mark Williams Pottery Birdhouse

Mark also made this:
Mark Williams Pottery

I know, she’s a little….different! I say she looks like she has stage fright, but Av’s not so sure (heh!).

Mark also does a lot of face jugs (there’s a little about the history behind face jugs here).