Tuesday, December 14, 2010
2030 S. 900 E. #6
Salt Lake City, UT
Is the Christmas season stress getting to you? Has the inversion caused your sinuses to swell or your inner chakras to misalign? Seek soothing relief in Sugar House at the Tea Grotto on 9th East.
Each tea house you visit is a different experience. The Tea Grotto specializes in Eastern atmosphere, complete with at least three Buddha’s—one of which presides over their vast menu board. This is an herbalist’s paradise.
I chose the chamomile myself; I needed the soothing. Everyone I spoke with at the Tea Grotto was friendly and happy—customers and staff alike. It must be that Zen thing they’ve got going on.
While you’re seeking refuge from the shopping storm outside, you can do a little Christmas shopping of your own inside the Tea Grotto. Upstairs there’s a small Indian boutique with beautiful scarves, intricately woven sari’s, brightly colored Indian jewelry and amazing shoulder bags—all genuine imports.
On the walls of the Tea Grotto, you’ll se gorgeous photography by Jeremy Arndt. Pick up one of his cards and a complimentary 4x6 photo. His images of West Africa are stunning, and 10% of the sales go to charitable causes there.
Monday, December 6, 2010
147 E. 600 N.
American Fork, UT 84003
Studio 5 was playing on the television in the other room while I was washing dishes in the kitchen, and I overheard the words “ junk yard” and “Christmas crafts.”
I dashed into the room, sudsy dish in my hand, just in time to hear the guest say “…and I got all of this great junk at Star Mill.”
A little internet research yielded an address in American Fork, and a few hours later I drove up to an old historic structure with an ancient fire truck parked out front. The eclectic assortment of windows, birdbaths, baskets, and ironwork on the front steps let me know I was in the right place.
Star Mill is far too nice to call a “junk shop.” It’s also way too rugged and real to call an antique store. (No disrespect to antique stores intended.) I prefer to call it a “treasure trove.” If I were looking for old doors and window frames for a restoration project, I’d find them here. If I were looking for a collection of old LDS titles and historical novels, I’d find them here. If I were looking for a full set of vintage china, I could find it here.
My favorite room in the Star Mill is the Jar Room. The walls are lined with large glass jars filled with bits and bobs: marbles, hinges, game pieces, springs, corks, and clothes pins.
I treated myself to some old bingo cards and a few medicine bottles. I think I’ll turn these into some creative Christmas cards.
(Note: blogger is NOT a professional crafter. Please try this at home.)
A few days later, I persuaded a friend to return with me, and I asked her to choose an odd piece of “junk” for me to present on my blog.
“But not too big,” I said cautiously, eyeing an old iron stove.
And so, dear readers, I give you…this. Whatever it is. It’s a black, iron scroll-work, vaguely bowl-shaped thingy with some kind of iron protuberance at the end. And I ask you, what shall I do with it? What can I turn this in to?
Please give me suggestions in the comments section. I’ll take the most interesting suggestion and post my…er…artistic endeavor…on the blog. Additionally, there will be a prize for the person whose idea I select.
I could create an entire photo journal of just the nooks and crannies in Star Mill. Many photographers do choose Star Mill and its surrounding property as the backdrop for their portraits. For just $40 photographers can shoot around the barn and the mill as well as the field and the lane lined with trees. The famous green doors of the Mill itself make a fantastic rustic backdrop for family members grouped on the old weather-worn steps. Or imagine a photo of your family walking down the snowy country lane. This is the perfect setting for your family Christmas photo. Just call Star Mill at 801-756-0464 to make arrangements and let them know you are coming.
Please leave a suggestion in the comments section as to what I should make with the iron piece. --Thanks
Monday, November 29, 2010
Central Book Exchange
2017 S. 1100 E.
SLC, UT 84106
Remember the 1998 movie “You’ve Got Mail” in which Tom Hanks plays the CEO of a large corporate book chain at war with Meg Ryan’s character who owns a historic, individually owned bookshop? Whether you sympathize more with Tom Hanks’ character or Meg Ryan’s, you’ll find what you need on 11th East in Sugarhouse. Since I identify more with Meg, I bypassed Barnes & Noble on 23rd south and walked down a block or two to Central Book Exchange, the original used book source in Sugarhouse since 1968.
When you walk into a well-tended used bookshop, you know you’re entering the inner sanctum of a true booklover. There’s no need to present your official bibliophile identification card; your initiation and acceptance is immediate.
Used bookstores always have the most unique titles on display, and Central Book Exchange is no exception. One of the first books I spotted had a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger on the front and was entitled “Terminator & Philosophy: I’ll Be Back, Therefore I Am.” I was also seriously tempted by a gorgeous coffee table book in the Foreign Language & Travel section, "This Spectered Isle: A Journey through Haunted England.”
Another great thing about used bookstores is that they cater to a local audience. In the Nature/Adventure/Outdoors section, I spotted “Best Hikes with Children in Utah” as well as the national bestseller “Into the Wild.”
In the children’s section I found a gorgeous illustrated version of the children’s classic “Wind in the Willows.” I couldn’t leave without it. It appeared to be brand new, but I got it for a steal at $9. I also treated myself to the first in a recent detective series entitled “Maisie Dobbs.” Original cover price: $15. I paid $8.
Lastly I chose two books on tape (both mysteries) to listen to while I paint my living room. One of the workers saw me squatted in the audio book section, sorting through their piles, and offered to bring out still more audio books they had in the back. This is one more thing I love about used bookstores…the owners are always glad to assist and offer personal recommendations.
At Central Book Exchange, I found books in almost every category to satisfy anyone’s literary appetite. Avoid the madness of holiday lines and pseudo sales. Make your shopping experience a satisfying one; visit your cozy Central Book Exchange in the historic Sugarhouse shopping district.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
The following are a sampling of responses:
"I do nothing. It's my favorite things to do."
"I will fight for my freedom, the right man, the underprivileged, but will not risk life and limb to fight for a piece of plastic and metal."
"I have participated in all aspects of Black Friday at some point...except the tradition which strangely allows one to chop a tree from the forest in order to decorate for the holidays."
"...chocolate calculators--the only kind I would want to buy!"
"Two words: online shopping"
...and yes, C, you can hop on a plane and come and visit! I made my annual trek to the bookstore this year. I managed to get out with only 3 books and basket full of sweets, but sadly, no chocolate Texas Instrument calculators.
But whether you dodged Black Friday or not, odds are you still have some Christmas shopping to do. So I'm going to re-double my efforts to bring you the coolest, most unique spots to buy a one-of-a-kind gift. Stay tuned. Next week, I'll feature a used bookstore in Sugarhouse and the unique antiques/junkyard in American Fork.
I know there are a lot of festivities going on throughout northern Utah. Do you know of a great concert/festival/event/party, etc. that you'd like to promote? Let me know and I'll try to at least make mention of them on the blog.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
It sounds so grim, doesn’t it? I feel it ought to be said in funereal tones with a somber bell tolling in the background. Around the corner comes a man pushing a wheelbarrow and staggering under the weight of its grim contents while he cries “bring out your dead!”
Enough of that.
Black Friday is the happiest day of the year for those in retail because it means their bank rolls will finally be “in the black.” The day after Thanksgiving is the biggest—and most stressful—shopping day of the year, and most people have their own unique way of observing/surviving it.
I’d like to hear yours. How do you observe Black Friday? Do you see the first rays of pale morning light through the slit of your tent outside the Best Buy? Do you rush through the aisles of Joanna’s Fabrics, pinking shears in hand, fending off frantic fellow crafters? Or do you roll out of bed around noon and munch on sandwiches made of leftover turkey and cold cranberry sauce while loftily considering the sad state of our materialistic society.
If you tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine.
Ever since I was eight years-old, my mother and I have hit the BYU Bookstore annual 20% off sale the day after Thanksgiving. The memories I have from these shopping trips are a stronger incentive to me than any discount could be. This is where mom always went for books and art supplies for the little crafting kits she used to make for us.
Christmas gifts I’ve received from these outings include my first (abridged) copy of Little Women as well as Ballet Stories and my favorite childhood book A Very Young Dancer. All of these treasured items are still on my bookshelf.
I made some of my earliest purchases here too. I couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 when I bought my mom a cheap blue plaque with a puppy on it, wagging its tail, with the inscription “I can't make ends meet without your end.” Don’t ask. I’m don’t know either. I just liked the puppy dog, and I was sure my mother would love it. Apparently she did because it’s still on her wall in a corner of the room.
My brother and I used to be dazzled by the array of chocolate and candy the bookstore always stocked this time of year. I still am. When I was 10 or so, they had chocolate computers! Yes! Little Texas Instrument-type computers (about the size of a calculator) entirely made out of chocolate! I knew that this was the perfect gift for my father. When I was 14, I bought my Dad a mug with the slogan “How ‘Bout Them Cougars/Football Champs.”
I am planning to go again this year. My mom and I will troll the tables of books, peruse racks of calendars, and size up the sweaters. We’ll stock up on chocolates and toffee for friends and neighbors, and I’ll get my favorite lebkuchen cookies from Germany.
What will you do this Friday? Leave a comment and tell me about your traditions (or air your views on the degeneracy of a society that tramples for toys). And next week, I’ll post some of the most unique ones on my blog.
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hunting.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Bro, I'm so glad your home. I'm so proud. And this is coming from your flower-loving sister with slightly hippie-ish tendencies.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
It seems that the world is divided into two groups of people: those who love Halloween and those who hate it. Now, these two groups can be divided into further sub-categories like those who like to “glam it up” and those who like to costume themselves as tins of ham (you know who you are), but I want to concentrate on the latter group of Halloween haters. I suspect that those with Samhainophobia(fear of Halloween) have experienced traumatic Halloween-related events in their past. It may have been a premature exposure to a haunted house, an older sibling with a propensity for jumping around corners wielding rubber steak knives, or the mistaken idea that gory equals scary.
May I recommend a course of treatment? Visit a graveyard at night, and bring a child. No, this isn’t shock therapy. This is an exercise in tapping into the imagination, creativity and sense of fun that makes Halloween a treat rather than a terror.
I stumbled upon this course of treatment by accident. I was the host of a Halloween party with 15 children who had already eaten donuts from a string, completed a Halloween craft, explored the vast extent of my two-bedroom apartment and who had finally resorted to loud swordfights in the spare room. I happen to live across the street from a historic cemetery in Pleasant Grove so, in a voice of increasing desperation, I cried “who wants to walk through the cemetery?” This brought a complete halt to the clash of plastic swords. After a millisecond of silence, I experienced a chorus of enthusiastic, “me, me, me, me’s.”
The children’s parents had settled into my living room with food and drink and had no intention of going anywhere until they’d had some serious “adult-time,” so I distributed lighted lanterns to the oldest children in the group and we set off.
The graveyard tour was, without a doubt, the hit of the party. The participants ranged in age from 6 to 13. As we crossed the street, the littlest one holding my hand informed me that he was not afraid of ghosts because he knew “they were just pretend.” With this healthy attitude, the children had a riotous time running from tombstone to tombstone, searching for their own names and trying to find the oldest dates. The Pleasant Grove graveyard is a pioneer graveyard, which means it has inhabitants dating back to the 1800’s. The children practiced their math skills by calculating how old each person had been when he or she died. They were particularly moved by the sight of the tiny tombstones with lambs on them because these were usually the graves of infants.
Lest you think that I happened to be accompanied by a group of particularly macabre children, my friend and neighbor tried the same kind of adventure a few nights later with a new batch of children. The verdict was the same. Even the very young kids had a great time.
So here are a few tips for making your graveyard tour successful and safe.
1. Get children in the right frame of mind with age appropriate ghost stories. Some vintage children’s classics include “Georgie” by Robert Bright and “The Ghosts’ Trip to the Loch Ness” by Jacques Duquenney.
2. Remember that the children will take their cue from you. If you are excited and cheerful about your graveyard visit, odds are your children will be too. When they see that you are not afraid, they know there’s nothing to be afraid of.
3. Take lanterns and flashlights. While flashlights are convenient, a lantern is a lot more poetic. I recommend the inexpensive “Rotera” tea light lantern from IKEA for $3.99.
4. Be prepared with some interesting graveyard facts. For example, in the 1800’s, when someone died from an illness, they were often buried with a string tied to their finger which was attached to a bell above ground next to the grave. That way, if the person had accidentally been buried alive, the unfortunate soul could yank on the string and ring the bell, signaling people above ground that they needed to be dug up.
5. This kind of activity seems to work well in groups. Children feed off of each other’s enthusiasm and give each other courage.
6. Dress in light colors. It’s much easier to see each other this way.
Monday, October 25, 2010
During the month of October, Gardner Village is over run with witches: witches playing baseball, witches riding flying bicycles, witches having hoola hoop contests…they’re everywhere.
During the month of October, Gardner Village has a petting zoo, pony rides, and Halloween themed adventures for kids including “Ride to a Witch” and “Breakfast with a Witch.” Gardner Village has also created several optimal spots for family photographs.
My oldest two female fellow adventurers (ages 11 and 13) were more interested in the shops (like the gorgeous Anastasia’s Attic) and the glitter eye treatments available outside of the shop Purse-onality. Extremely affordable witch makeovers are also available at the Cottage Retreat Day Spa.
You can check the times for “Ride to a Witch” and “Breakfast with a Witch” at http://www.gardnervillage.com/. Tickets are required for "Breakfast with a Witch."
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Odyssey Dance Theatre
Playing all through October
Click here for showtimes, tickets and venues
Have you ever watched a well-trained formation line of Irish folk dancers--feet flying, smiles rigidly affixed--and thought, 'I bet a graduate of the U.S. Army sniper school could pick those dancers off, one by one.' Derryl Yeager, founder and artistic director of Odyssey Dance Theatre, has.
You don't have to be a dance fanatic (like myself) to enjoy this show. I saw Thriller on its opening night at the Provo venue, and the audience nearly brought down the house. The dance numbers are interspersed with comedy sketches and short films which give the dancers time to change in between numbers.
Monday, October 11, 2010
thru Oct. 30th
Tue.-Thurs. 7:00 p.m. & 9:00 p.m.
Fri.-Sat. 6:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m. & 9:00 p.m.
Tours start behind the Rio Grande building in SLC
(300 S. 500 W.)
Thursday night, I figured I’d crash at home, curl up on the couch and watch an episode of Fringe. But Clem had other plans.
As evening approached, I began to feel restless, so I headed for the Rio Grande station in Salt Lake City. I wasn’t the only one in search of adventure. A small group had gathered around a bus behind the building. The bus driver sidled up to me and asked me if I had bought a ticket. Much to my surprise I found that I had.
“I can’t believe people actually choose to do this,” he said to me. I pointed out that he was driving the bus.
“Yeah, but I’m staying safely inside it,” he replied.
I went into the station to use the restroom before boarding the bus. Old-fashioned sinks, circa 1910, were lined up in the center of the room. Facing each other on opposing walls were two massive mirrors. I dried my hands, smoothed back a few stray strands of hair, and adjusted the brim of my hat.
Wait! I’m not wearing a hat!
Another glance in the mirror showed me it was simply a fleeting reflection of something that had moved just beyond my range of vision.
I rejoined the group of intrepid explorers of the supernatural and boarded the bus. Our tour guide told us stories about the Alta Club, Hotel Victoria, the suicide saloon, and leaving a tribute at the end of the bar for the ghostly barkeep. But all of this seemed like only a precursor, an overture before the curtain went up. We tramped through Salt Lake City’s dark and haunted graveyard and heard the story of Lily Gray, and all the while, I could feel him just beyond the edge of existence, waiting impatiently.
When the bus made its way past the Marriott Library—where he had been known to pick-up a coed or two—and headed toward Fort Douglas, the impatience became mine. He was drawing me closer, and even though he had a reputation as an incorrigible ladies’ man—in both of his lives—I knew I would answer his call.
The bus gave a hydraulic hiss and lowered itself to the curb. I disembarked with the rest of the crowd, hurried up the wooden steps to the porch and paced the planks. He was nowhere to be seen. I walked around the corner and peered through the metal gates at the artillery guns. Not so much as an orb of ectoplasm. I lingered as long as I could, and finally joined the last of the stragglers as we boarded the bus.
Had I displeased him in someway? Had he sensed a shadow of doubt in my mind? My transcendental tryst was not to be.
By the time, the bus returned to the Rio Grande station, I the felt master of myself once more. I bade my fellow travelers farewell and headed back to hearth and home.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
October 1-30, 2010
3606 W. Center Street in Provo
$7 per person or $28 per family
Mon. – Thurs. 6:30-9:00pm
Fri. and Sat. 6:30-10:00pm
Rainstorms whipped through Provo during the day, but by nightfall, the clouds had cleared and it was a perfect night to navigate by starlight, so we three intrepid travelers ventured down to the Provo River to take the Halloween Cruise sponsored by CLAS Ropes course. Cruises leave every half hour, and we’d just missed the 8:30 boat, so we settled down on the wooden benches to wait for their last cruise at 9:00. While the outdoor set up is fun and festive it is not heated, so we were grateful for the lap blankets we’d brought along.
By the time our pirate captain came stalking down the tree-lined lane to fetch us, it was evident that we’d be his only cargo. However, he was more than happy to take us out on the river for a private ride. The real attraction of this cruise is its amazing ambiance. This isolated stretch of the river is overhung with tree branches and is practically pitch black, but strings of Halloween lights and one hundred lit pumpkins keep the ghosts at bay.
Our captain regaled us with a recitation of The Cremation of Sam McGee. He also warned us that the river was guarded by a fearsome pirate who didn’t care for trespassers. Right on cue, our pirate made an impressive attempt to board the vessel by swinging down from a tree on a rope. However, he failed to clear the river, so he quickly jumped into a canoe and came after us. Turns out he simply wanted to share some candy and a few pirate jokes. (Hint: a pirate’s favorite letter is not “R.”)
The 25-minute cruise is mild, enjoyable entertainment, perfect for young kids. This would make an excellent family activity. The atmosphere is slightly spooky without being scary—no werewolves jumping out from behind trees or chainsaw-wielding drama students. Floating down a dark river lit with pumpkins is a novelty that most children will enjoy, and it’s a variation from the usual land-locked Halloween activities (i.e. trick or treating and haunted houses).
I’d recommend going around 7:00 or 7:30. The later it gets, the darker it gets, and little children might get spooked by some of the Halloween decorations. Dress warmly, and if you have individuals prone to getting cold, bring along a blanket. It’s cold on the river, so having a thermos of hot chocolate or apple cider waiting in the car would be ideal.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a big Halloween buff. Anyone who knows me also knows that I tend to cringe during fight scenes in movies and particularly brutal pile-ups during football games. So in other words, I’m not a blood and guts type of gal. I’m a harvest season enthusiast who loves carving pumpkins, donuts on a string, excuses to wear costumes, mysteries, and chills and thrills that tingle your spine but don’t keep you up at night. (The Others: yes. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: no. And check out the original Japanese movie Ringu—but have a pillow or a loved one with a high tolerance for pain nearby.)
In the month of October, I also recommend reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula, observing one really good rainstorm, listening to Night on Bald Mountain, and fixing yourself the first hot chocolate of the season while you unpack your sweaters. (To my friends in So. Cal. I amend that last sentence to read, “while you unpack your long-sleeved T-shirts.)
If hot chocolate is not your thing, I recommend a cup of Republic of Tea’s Cardamon Cinnamon tea. It smells exactly like autumn.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Pioneer Book (CHAPTERS)
858 S. State Street
Orem, UT 84097
Store Hours: 10am - 8pm
My mother says that one of the joys of motherhood is reading to your children. I think I can trace my love of language back to those early story sessions. I learned rhythm from “Drummer Hoff fired it off” and “to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street.” My brother and I used to howl with laughter every time my mother read the line, “you are not my mother! You are a SNORT!”
I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. I even have a vague memory of playing library and “checking out” my books to my stuffed animals. So imagine my dismay when I saw that the historic Pioneer Book had closed their doors in downtown Provo. But fear not intrepid bibliophiles! They have re-opened on State street in Orem.
Pioneer Book experimented briefly with a name change. They are currently known as CHAPTERS, and that is the name you will see on the outside of their store…for now. The owner tells me that they will be reinstating the name Pioneer Book in the weeks ahead. Their reputation as the premier seller in Utah Valley of rare LDS titles is well established, and apparently many people like myself panicked when Pioneer Book appeared to have disappeared from the scene.
Pioneer buys, sells and trades books, which means they have a large inventory on a wide variety of subjects. Are you looking for the latest Barbara Kingsolver or Sophie Kinsella for book club? They’ve got it.
The Kite Runner? Check.
Tom Swift and his Triphibian Atomicar? Check.
They’ve also got a wide array of college textbooks, the obligatory paperback section, and an impressive vintage collection.
Allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy a good romp through the stacks. I found old friends like Nancy Drew and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. I recognized classics I’d been forced to read in college, like Henry James. (Wings of the Dove was the only James I could stomach.) I saw topics I’d avoided in college, like Gregor Mendel and Heredity, and books I’ve been meaning to read, like Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. (At least I say I’ve been meaning to read it.) I even backed away nervously from Sigmund Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams.
This week (Sept. 27-Oct. 3) all LDS and general religion books are 20% off. Did I mention that Pioneer Book specializes in rare and hard-to-find LDS titles?
While at Pioneer Book, if you see me hunched over a dusty and venerable tome or huddled in a corner with a stack of Anne Perry paperbacks, say hello. It’s always nice to meet a fellow fanatic.
You can follow Pioneer Book on Facebook and visit their blog at http://pioneerbook.blogspot.com/.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Date: Sept. 25th 2:00 p.m. til dusk
Location: Historic Sandy Garden at 8880 S. 500 E.
I’m no expert in Cucurbitaceae. I tend to classify my pumpkins as “orange, green and white.” But at Pumpkin Fest, you’ll find gorgeous gourds in exotic varieties—all at practically half what you’ll pay at the grocery store. Smooth-skinned, red blush, mottled green, knobbly or veined, your unique pumpkin will make your porch the envy of the neighborhood.
Pumpkin Fest is an ideal family activity. Kids can pick out their own pumpkins from the patch and get their faces painted. There is food and drink, live music and a variety of crafts (including some wicked Halloween Tie Dye).
This event is on my “must list” every autumn. My advice is to go in the afternoon rather than the evening. Word has spread, and this annual fest gets a lot of visitors. Go in time to get the best pick of the patch.