National Treasures: Kids Vendors at Renegade Craft Fair

This year was my second attending the Renegade Craft Fair’s Brooklyn stop. Both times I’ve come away wildly impressed at people’s ingenuity (and a general malaise about my total lack of craftiness). Luckily for less-artistic folks like myself, this fair offers the perfect opportunity to browse and purchase the marvelous work of these artists. This year I noticed an uptick in the number of vendors with clever toys, clothes and accoutrements for kids. Here are a few of my favorites:

Noli Noli

NOLI NOLI 

New York-based Noli Noli takes sustainable, regional or up-cycled wood and turns it into durable, timeless toys like sailboats and racing cars. Here’s a very sweet desk organizer.

Goose Grease peg dolls

GOOSE GREASE

I met a family in L.A. who had a tradition of having their portrait created in a different medium every year. I’ve always loved the idea, and think these custom peg dolls hand painted by Brooklyn-based Goose Grease are a great way to get started.

Mermaid Meadow

MERMAID MEADOW

Not for kids strictly speaking, but I love the whimsical sensibility behind Bevin Holmberg’s illustrations. Based in Maine, she repurposes barn wood as her canvas for paintings of animals like whales, elephants, otters and more.

Cheeky Monkey pillow

CHEEKY MONKEY HOME

Textural, vibrantly colored pillows perfect for decorating a kid’s room with. Artist Holly Johnson also creates custom silhouette pillows in a variety of colors, which make for very sweet keepsakes.

Toy elephant By Yivvie

BY YIVVIE

Charming felt animals like this elephant all handmade in Philadelphia by Yvonne Valenza, who began her business just two years ago (I walked away with one of these adorable Narwals. Because who doesn’t need a Narwal?)

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Glorious Eats: Outstanding in the Field Dinner

Outstanding in the Field Blooming Glen Farm

Ever since I heard about the traveling Outstanding in the Field dinner series a few years back I’ve been wanting to attend, and this Sunday I finally got my chance. We packed our camera and our appetites and traveled two hours from Brooklyn to Blooming Glen Farm in the heart of Pennsylvania’s beautiful farm country.

Blooming Glen Farm

Blooming Glen Farm

Blair Vineyards

Outstanding in the Field

Outstanding in the Field

Started back in 1999, OITF’s mission is to reconnect diners to the land, with regional chefs preparing meals created from ingredients sourced from local cheese makers, farmers, winemakers, ranchers and foragers. Dinners are served outdoors at their signature family-style table, and they now host over 35 dinners all around the United States. Here is the table before the diners arrived at Blooming Glen.

Outstanding in the Field

The evening kicked off with passed hor d’oeuvres like fried chicken on buttermilk biscuits, grilled flatbread with squash, sage and house cured bacon, and chilled gazpacho with avocado mousse and smoked trout. Guests sipped Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir from Berks County-based Blair Vineyards and explored the farm’s gardens. OITF’s founder Jim Denevan and manger Eden Riley stood up on farm crates to welcome everyone and give a bit of history about the event.

Jim Denevan

Jim looks like a real, old-fashioned cowboy, and his enthusiasm for the project and for showcasing America’s local farms was palpable and got everyone excited for the meal ahead.

Beyond the food, one of the best parts of the event was getting to hear from the farmers whose land we would be eating from and on, Blooming Glen owners Tricia Boneman and Tom Murtha. Tom joked about the challenges of farming life, but said that “It was the only thing he and Tricia could imagine doing,” because they feel so passionately about farming and creating quality, organic food. Tom also, hands down, wins for best beard.

Bloominglen Farm

DSCF8660

Afterwards guests took a tour around the farm to learn more about what it takes to run 35 acres.

Bloominglen Farm

Guests were invited to bring their own plates for dinner (an OITF tradition) and the result was a colorful, eclectic table of china patterns.

DSCF8602

One of the coolest things about the dinner was the guest list, largely composed of chefs and farmers. We sat next to John and Amanda Place of Keepsake Farm who had provided the milk for the mozzarella in the first course, and Jeff Frank of Liberty Gardens where the greens for the salads throughout the dinner had been sourced. There was lots of laughter, great stories and, of course, excellent food.

Outstanding in the Field Bloomin Glen Farm

Outstanding in the Field

Outstanding in the Field

Outstanding in the Field

There are still tickets available for OITF events in Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and more. See the full list of 2014 dinners here.

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Glorious Check-In: Lake Austin Spa Resort

Welcome to Austin sign

Austin has to be one of my favorite cities. Friendly locals, stellar live music and BBQ served by the pound around every corner. What’s not to love?

Earlier this year I took a drive 30 minutes outside of downtown to spend two night at Lake Austin Spa Resort, situated on 19 lake-front acres in Texas Hill Country.

Lake Austin Spa

As you’d expect from a place with “spa” in the name, Lake Austin is all about relaxation and rejuvenation. At check-in, you’re given your own water bottle with your name on it (hydration is important!) and encouraged to wear your plush robe out and about around the hotel, even to the dining room where health-focused meals are served day-round. It’s easy to find a cozy space to yourself both indoors and outdoors here. This hammock on the water (above) was my favorite reading spot, while the library (below) was my spot of choice for coffee in the morning.

Lake Austin Spa Bird Room

There’s a walking path that makes a little loop around the grounds. The gardens here are just gorgeous, with herbs, vegetables and flowers that are used in the hotel’s seasonal menus and organic spa treatments (you can read the interview with the resort’s “Director of Flora & Fauna” I wrote for Jetsetter here). There’s a pool in the midst of it all, the grape-scented aroma of the Texas Mountain Laurel perfumes the breeze around you as you swim.

Lake Austin Spa Gardens

There’s a long list of daily activities to keep guests busy, too. Sign up for dozens of fitness classes from yoga to dance, or take advantage of the resort’s waterside location with options like kayaking, standup paddle boarding, and sculling. Here I am doing my best tree pose on the lakeside yoga deck.

Lake Austin Spa Yoga Deck

They also offer themed weeks and guest instructors on a regular basis. In September, they’re running a culinary week with cooking classes and a Green Chile Festival and a Meditation week in November. Check out the full calendar here.

And, of course, there’s the spa where, besides trying one of their hundreds of treatments you can take a swim in the lap pool housed in a beautiful barn, lounge in a cabana by the outdoor pool and have lunch at the Aster Cafe. The spa is open to visitors as well as guests, with day packages available as well as a la carte options.

Lake Austin Spa

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From Around the World Wide Web

Kinfolk Swimming Holes

image via Kinfolk 

Here are some bits and pieces I’ve enjoyed reading this week. Have a glorious weekend!

Exploring swimming holes in upstate New York with Kinfolk Magazine 

A road trip from Wenatchee, Washington to Portland, Oregon on Hither & Thither 

Incredible old houses you’ll recognize from the movies on Country Living (the house from Money Pit is for sale!)

A roundup of the best spots to eat and drink in San Francisco’s Tenderloin in the New York Times

Drooling over this story from Garden & Gun on the best Southern breakfast joints (here’s a slideshow with more photos of the dishes)

Lots of great finds from Design Tripper‘s adventures on the road, including Manka’s Inverness Lodge

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