Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Emerson Creek

When I was younger, I used to wander through Toys R Us wondering how adults could ignore the bliss of dolls, play sets, and games. Since I've become an adult (technically) I've realized you don't discard the old toys as much as you start to prefer new ones.

One of the items I cannot resist are dishes. The more artistic, the better. You're probably aware I like to cook and entertain, and what better way to flare your way into the hearts of foodies than than to serve up their risotto on local pottery?

Oxide Pottery offers some of the more unique selections, while All Fired Up allows you to create your own one-of-a-kind dish or bowl. However, my favorite place to purchase dinnerware in the area is Emerson Creek Pottery.

Located in Bedford, Virginia, Emerson Creek Pottery. The almost 200-year-old building houses 10 lines of ceramic pottery along with my favorite dining room accessories: tea pots for afternoon teas, shortbread pans for your tea biscuits, honey pots, dip coolers, cookie stamps, apple bakers--the list goes on.

You can stop reading now if pottery bores you. It excites me because it's the foyer into a lovely evening of entertainment and true dedication to hosting and serving.

Ok, I'd like to start with their patterns. The enduring Field of Iris design remains a classic and is an inspiration for a spring brunch littered with periwinkle blooms and Japanese cuisine.

Their local collection is my personal preference. Summer Peaks, Smith Mountain Lake, and my all time favorite--Blue Crab--are all reflective of our beloved Commonwealth. I would love to indulge in a seafood luncheon with this whimsical set of dishes:

Emerson Creek also makes plates for baby and personalized gifts. 

If you like, we can get to my favorites. I own a shortbread pan (it comes with the recipe), a tea pot, holiday cookie presses, and an oval serving tray. I love all my pieces, but I can't wait to get more to add to my collection.

There are so many more items on my wish list including the dip cooler, trivets, onion soup crocks, cookie jars and drizzle bottles.

Emerson Creek is the kind of company that makes you fall in love with the idea of tea parties, iced tea on the porch in May, and hosting cozy, intimate gatherings. 



Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pendants with a Purpose

Many of you know I have partnered with and for many local businesses to support their products. Last year, we met Linwood Hoffman of DarkWater Jewelry. My friend Caren and I made the trip to Bedford, Virginia where we perused a couple of pieces until inspiration struck with this prehistoric piece I modeled last October. It sold within a few days and Linwood has grown his collection since.

We all know how things can change in a year. Unfortunately for my friend Caren, it has changed to include a legal battle in which her ex husband is fighting for full custody. DarkWater Jewelry is partnering with Caren to offer a large portion of the proceeds of jewelry sales to help Caren pay for her increasing attorney's fees.

You can click this link to become a supporter, donate, or offer encouragement. Here is Caren's testimonial:

Why should you donate?

I have had full custody of my 7 year-old son since his father signed it away in 2009. Despite his long history of substance abuse and a history of violence against me and verbal cruelty to me and to others, he has recently filed a petition for full custody- and my attorney's fees are racking up - right now, I owe about $11,000 in legal fees, and now have to retain a NEW attorney. I was recently laid off. PLEASE help in any way you can, even if that is only to spread the word to others that might help, or to pray for us.

 Linwood has offered five pendants and I'm certain that by getting the word out we can do what I've encouraged businesses and individuals to do hundred of times over the years--partner together to increase profit and awareness and above all community. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Lowly Peaks of Otter

Upon learning that the Peaks of Otter Lodge had reopened for the remainder of the summer, I felt it my Screw duty to mosey on up there to Bedford and see what I could see. With the promise of WiFi and cable, I felt certain a nature get-away was just the thing for a invigorating, overnight stay.

We're going to play a fun new game in which, when I'm about to be disappointed by something, you'll know by the precursor statement "oh, look at that." When you see the "oh, look at that" you'll know it's your clue for finding issues with any number of things. It's kind of like a game my mother played with me as a child when reading Richard Scarry's books. Mom, with a lofty excitement in her encouraging voice, goaded me to find Lowly worm with his cute little boot and hat and his mischievous, yet innocent countenance (that's right--he was my inspiration). Later on in Bible College I discovered by way of The Message (it's kind of like the hipster of Bibles) that his real name was Jacob. Only a select amount of people will get that joke and that's ok because it has nothing to do with anything we're talking about.

                                   (Lowly and his friends take the Sharp Top Bus Tour)

We arrive and wait in line for five minutes before I decide that I want to look in the gift store. Way overpriced, but that's to be expected. At least they had a few creative items like a cutting board and a few pretty ornaments.

I rejoined the line to learn that, oh, look at that, WiFi is not working and they cannot access or confirm any reservations. But that's ok because the people smart enough to know this would happen within the first few weeks of reopening stayed home to scoff at the News and Advance article on their laptop while watching their cable television.

Speaking of television, there was none. Either that or they are now so high tech that the wire sticking out of the wall was connected to an invisible television that only Lowly and his friends can see.

I'll take this opportunity to, with no apologies, make fun of you smug folk who make fun of people like me. You'll say something witty such as,"Why yes, that cable WAS connected to an invisible TV and it's called nature! Who would go to an establishment that is obviously nature centric and watch television? What have we become when the opportunity to breathe fresh air, commune with trees, challenge our physical, mental, and spiritual beings and to go back to our origins are compromised and sloughed off for the Kardashians? We need to turn off our cell phones and realize what we've become."

To that person I would first suggest they go find their proverbial lowly worm and second would confirm that I realize what I have become. I have become that person who enjoyed the quaint and rustic accommodations in theory until I realized the promise of electronics was bankrupt. The mountains are pretty and the vintage, campy room with the bottle opener on the bathroom door and the razor disposal built into the wall tile are super quaint but it gets dark at night, bugs are loud, and I'm not great at vandalism although I'm fairly competent in the field of petty theft. We have no cable at home, there's no television at all in the bedroom, and my ideal vacation evening is eating crackers and squeeze cheese in bed, in my underwear, while watching Nick at Nite.

Don't sit there in your condescending way and tell me that I could read, either. I am considerably well read. If you've been paying attention you'll note the Lowly Worm nod near the introduction.

We walked around the grounds for a while as I had already had a bottle of wine in an attempt to negotiate my feelings about the significant loss I experienced in coming to terms with the thought of paying for a hotel with no cable. I had convinced myself that we could procure an elderly couple that would come over to our room, eat squeeze cheese and crackers, and teach me some really quaint and charming old people game, but Erik said the way I get loud and thrash my hands about after drinking an entire bottle of wine would be a bit off-putting and regardless, oh look at that--no real games of any kind in the lodge except checkers and, oh look at that, I suck at checkers.

The next morning we made our way to the restaurant which was actually, very nice. It's very open and wooden with big windows and a lovely view of the mountains I wouldn't be climbing because of a combination of a hangover and a potential stomach ulcer. If you visit in autumn (which I may very well do as a second chance effort) I will say the bedding is very warm. I was hot all night, even though the air conditioner was working smoothly.

Breakfast was very affordable but I can't comment in length because, due to said stomach issue, I only ordered a bagel and yogurt although, oh look at that, they were out of grits. No Southern restaurant should ever be out of grits unless it's due to force feeding them down the throats of Yankees by the hundreds yelling,"YOU CAN'T PUT SUGAR IN GRITS YOU IDIOT!"

I'm just messin' with you, Yankees. You can put sugar in your grits. If you're a total chode.

This trip gets a Screw Lucy, "we'll try again." I do think it's an affordable local getaway for a number of ideals--let's say a new couple who enjoys nature and lots of physical activity, a women's church group getting together for worship and community (they have a small amphitheater with church services on Sunday), or a guy in his forties who egotistically poo-poos others for being too dependent on technology but then, oh look at that, can't stand himself after an hour alone.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Screw: Extra Virgin and Custom Oiled

Aren't you sick of my misleading blog titels? I mean, titles. Sigh...why is The Screw so mischievous?

Anyway, The Screw is headed to a different type of tasting room the last weekend in August when headed to Richmond for some fine tasting and slipping around (I think I might be imagining that part, but then again, I'm very clumsy) at The Olive Oil Taproom. Upon browsing their olive oil I thought that it's probably best that I'm going back to school since the explanation of their products is reminiscent of science class. I suppose it's really almost an educational experience. But I'm fine with educational as long as it involves eating.

Now their infused oils were more like a menu: all herbs and lemon and butter and mushroom. I get the idea it's like a wine tasting except afterwards you don't get pulled over hours later by an Amherst County cop for a breathalyzer that will put you way under the legal limit yet require you to call a friend to come get you. That never happened to me.

Apparently there is some sort of scandal surrounding olive oil that I was too disinterested to read (Why do I feel so guilty saying that? Man, I guess it's good I'm going back to school) but I AM going to post this video of olive oil scandal guy because I fancy myself a dialect expert and I would put money on this guy is from Los Angeles or has lived there a long time. I could be wrong but I can't find out where he's from so we're going to assume I'm right.

So now I'm all sorts of off to read about what an olive oil tasting consists of and what kind of costume I should wear.

Bread and Breakfast

The Screw attempts to keep things local, personal, and chocked full of bacon, syrup, grits, and orange juice. That's why when I travel, I do my best to book by B&B.

I've been using BBOnline since I was in my mid-twenties (in other words, yesterday) and I've enjoyed their casual and comfortable approach to bed and breakfast marketing. It's sort of like being in your grandma's "full-yay" (foyer): you can take your kick off your shoes and take a load off before you settle in for an evening.

That's probably why they decided to highlight my wise and insightful observations about local bed and breakfasts for their blog this month--that and the fact that I'm The Screw and I'm as chock full of awesome as a homemade breakfast with biscuits, gravy, scrambled eggs, and Cap'n Crunch.

I obviously haven't eaten breakfast.

You can read the interview here

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Screw the Weekend Edition: Bad Boy Botetout Trail

The Botetourt County Wine trail will lead you on like a bad boyfriend this month as it prepares for events that are unfathomably reckless in a excessively safe and elemental fashion.

Blue Ridge Vineyard is getting down like a bunch of barefoot hippies with the Fat Daddy Band August 10th. You can get down with my fave from the vineyard--Cab Franc--or Solstice in the painted bottle. Stay at the Santillane Bed and Breakfast for $110 and enjoy a large bedroom with working fireplace or stay at Fincastle Bed and Breakfast and Vineyard for $135 a night. Linger the next day if you like--I recommend the chardonnay and playing stick with the German Sheppard. There are also coasters that are a "must have" for any true wine lover.

Enter the next day and what you have is the opportunity to re-tree-hugger yourself with a Yoga Relaxation experience at Virginia Mountain Vineyard. A stretch, a breath, a taste--a 10% discount. Please purchase a bottle of the Holiday Spice and relive my favorite movie, It's a Wonderful Life, as Clarence orders mulled wine--heavy on the cinnamon, light on the cloves: