a labor of 60’s love

Our friend Jessica does things her own way. So when she told me she was buying a foreclosed, run-down, atomic ranch house in one of Atlanta’s most historic neighborhoods, well, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. What did surprise me, however, was how fast I, too, fell in love with the place. Designed by noted architect J.W. Robinson, her home, located in Collier Heights, was once owned by a Motown Records executive, in a neighborhood that became a symbol of Atlanta’s rising African-American middle class in the Civil Rights era. Collier Heights gained status on the National Register of Historic Places a few years ago — primarily for three reasons according to local historians: it served as home for many Atlanta Civil Rights-era activists, it had the distinction of being an African-American community planned and developed by African-Americans, and for the architectural significance of its many different examples of Mid-Century houses. In Atlanta Magazine writer Betsy Riley noted, “The heyday of ranch architecture was an era of optimism and experimentation. Whimsical flourishes such as sunburst steel doors, decorative brick or concrete screens, hidden built-in panels and drawers, and ribbon windows abound in Collier Heights.” Jim Auchmutey in AJC Homefinder added, “Collier Heights is an expression of the city’s vaunted black middle class every bit as much as Auburn Avenue or the Atlanta University Center colleges.”

“When I bought the house, so much of it was still original I decided to restore it back to 1962. So every appliance, sink, toilet, light fixture, piece of furniture or accessory I’ve bought or found has come from the 1960s. I have a complete encyclopedia on decorating from the ’60s and it’s my bible — and a bookshelf filled with vintage decorating books.”

Jessica gave us a tour of her loving restoration project where she let us snap a few photos. Mike got so excited walking through the house that he was tempted to run back home and grab his toolbox.

Double-sided fireplace that soars to the vaulted great room ceiling and extends down into the huge basement.

Surveying the acre-plus wooded lot.

Orange chair and dresser designed by Milo Baughman, and Jessica’s prized Eames Lounge Chair.

Pink GE oven and stove (note the pink pot her mom found), purchased off Craigslist.

So cool. An original Frigidaire Flair found in Alabama.

The Flair Motto: It’s the happiest thing that ever happened to cooking… Or you!

Fabulous pink fridge pulled from an old house in Flowery Branch. Absolutely love those fonts!

Pink flower cafe curtains made of fiberglass. Made for Woolworth and bought on Etsy.

They arrived in their original 1960’s packaging.

And that pink sink? She traded a toilet for it (from a cute Olympic cyclist).

Jessica’s favorite bathroom, with all original yellow tile and fixtures.

NuTone intercom system (still working!) with tube radio, built-in record player and a speaker in every room.

Mod green sofa, complete with decorative plants. Found at Highland Row Antiques‘ monthly market.

Sectional sofa bought off Craigslist from a hipster.

Image of Audrey from Jessica’s favorite film, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” are featured throughout the home. Showcased here on a wall painted Holiday Turquoise from Sherwin Williams’ Mid-Century paint color line.

The sputnik light above was a housewarming gift to herself.

Bookshelf filled with vintage design books for future projects.

 P.S. Here’s a great blog that Jessica recommends, focusing on Mid-Century design and ideas:  http://retrorenovation.com/.


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old recipes get new life

I’m not exactly sure when Monica Kass Rogers came into my life. She’s a food writer based in Chicago and we met through work many years ago, and by some good luck, we’ve reconnected in the last couple of years through work again. When Lisa B., a mutual friend, described Monica’s project, Lost Recipes Found, I took an immediate interest and began following her. When she re-launched her website with lots of new bells and whistles, I shot her a note of congrats. Monica was gracious enough to chat with me this week about this personal endeavor and why lost recipes matter. Plus, we discovered a shared passion for all things pear. Good luck, Monica, on your quest to build more foodways in the Midwest, and to giving wonderful old recipes new life again.

Catching up with Monica Kass Rogers

How did you come up with the idea of Lost Recipes Found?

I started it because everyone has recipes they’ve loved and lost — and I wanted to figure out a way to find those recipes, tell the story that goes with them, and get the best of them back into current kitchens so they wouldn’t be “just memories.”

How did it begin?

It began as a column for the Chicago Tribune two years ago and then we spun it into the current webmagazine.

You recently updated your website. What changed?

With the May 2012 re-launch of the site, it now has  a “Swap Shop” forum to let people post recipe requests and share the recipes they have that fit other requests. People can also share food memories, stories behind the recipes and lore of the long-gone restaurants that used to feature them.

What’s next?

I love testing the recipes and taking pictures for the site and there’s always something new to learn around that. But just as exciting, I’m starting to record audio podcasts of people talking about noteworthy recipe, restaurant and food memories, and will be making mini-documentaries (video podcasts) about some of the more interesting stories in the Midwest. I’m not on the road with this aspect — yet! But I’m hoping all of this will prove helpful to the foodways groups.

Have you heard of Southern Foodways Alliance?

The Southern Foodways Alliance food historians are my heroes! I’m really hoping that the work we’re currently doing at LRF will help as Greater Midwest Foodways follows in the Southern folks footsteps — albeit, those are some big footsteps to follow.

Read more about Monica’s food-love project at www.LostRecipesFound.com. And be sure to check out the Green Pear Pie recipe. Now we know just what to do with all our hard green pears this summer!

Green Pear Pie


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More Cucumber Inspiration: Tzatziki

Our friend Betsy took a cue from the cucumber theme this week and did a wonderful account of her time spent in Greece 12 years ago for her honeymoon, where she fell in deeply in love with Greek life…and Tzatziki, particularly when the classic cucumber-yogurt sauce is served with Souvlaki.

“Every time I eat this, it transports me back to that small taverna on a mountainside, smelling the fragrance of pork, thyme and garlic, eating Al fresco, and drinking locally made Retsina wine from a pop bottle, and all the while watching the shepherds herding their Kri-Kri (Cretan goats) across the peaceful mountain terrain.”

Read her memorable account, “Glorious Greece: Part 1, Tzatziki,” on her new blog, Bits & Breadcrumbs.

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Blog-Spot: DallasWineChick

Last fall I met this great gal, Melanie Ofenloch, who’s one of the newer members of our PR Advisory Council at Auburn. When I needed a vice chair for the council, she stepped right up (and she’s been cracking the whip over me ever since). Later, I found out that in addition to her PR job in Dallas and life as a mom, Melanie is a pretty well-known wine expert, although she’d probably be quick to argue that point. But if not an expert, then at least an aficionado…big-time. Her blog, DallasWineChick, gets thousands of page views a month, and she’s got 3000+ followers on Twitter who share her zeal for the grape. Here’s more on Melanie.
What’s your day job like?
My day job is EVP of a large global public relations firm. It’s high intensity and keeps me on my toes 24/7. I get to work with some of the best brands in the world, so it’s a lot of fun.
What’s your blog life like?
My blog life usually involves at least one wine event a week – whether that’s a wine dinner, sampling wine sent to me by wine companies, trying a new wine bar or attending an industry event. This week, for example, I headed to Fort Worth to taste a line-up of Texas wines and have a portfolio tasting for a company distributing wines into Texas. Today I have a dinner with the winemaker of Red Car Wines. Last week I hosted an event for eight where we tried “wines off the beaten path” at the Fairmont Hotel.
Why’d you start DallasWineChick?
I call myself the “accidental blogger.” I first started on Twitter and went back and read my Tweets after the first 90 days. I was terribly boring and didn’t have any new take on the subject of marketing or PR. I decided to talk about wine – and my following grew from 30 to almost 1,000. I said that when I hit 1,600 followers I’d start the blog. That happened a year ago in February.
Was there a particular wine “moment” that turned you on to this hobby-passion?
Another accidental circumstance. I was on a business trip in San Francisco for a client and we were asked to come early. The client realized she didn’t need us so we made our way to Napa. My life was literally changed by one sip of a Stag’s Leap Cask 23. I remember being overwhelmed by the moment – absolutely astonished that the wines I had been drinking tasted so different. Later I was overwhelmed by the price of purchase as I prayed my credit card would go through (I was young). Several days later, I had to use all of my marketing skills to convince my husband that paying that much for a special bottle was worth it. And, several months later on our anniversary, I was validated as I saw he enjoyed it as much as I did.
Most memorable trips to vineyards?
My trips to Napa and Sonoma have always been memorable. My goal is to find the family-owned, estate wines that haven’t been discovered yet. Some of my favorites are Larkmead, Ladera, Lancaster, Sojourn, Failla, Michel Schlumberger, Pina, Peju, Frank Family, Vincent Arroyo, Goosecross and Barnett Vineyards.
Fav wine picks for under $50? Under $25?
This is going to probably be an exercise in frustration because we buy a lot of our wines from the vineyard or a wine club.  
  • Under $50 – Failla Viognier, Failla Phoenix Ranch Syrah, Vincent Arroyo Petite Syrah Reserve, Larkmead Firebelle, Ladera Cabernet, Goosecross Cabernet, Va Piano Cabernet, Alexander Nicole Rock Star Red
  • Under $25 – Summers Cabernet, Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir, Groom Syrah, Sacre Bleu Cabernet and Lancaster Sauvignon Blanc.
“Experiment, enjoy and figure out what you like.”

Blogging. Why do it? How do you find time to post?
I like to blog because it gives me a reason to talk about wine. It’s opened so many doors in the industry and I’ve even landed my first wine/spirits-related account – the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America. I get to help promote an entire convention dedicated to the subject of wine and spirits. I also attended my first wine blogger conference in Walla Walla, Washington last year.  I’ve committed myself to post once a week and daily on Facebook/Twitter (@melanie0). That way it’s manageable with the real job and provides an outlet for my passion.
Any parting thoughts?
Just want to reinforce that wine should be about the experience. No one should be told what to drink or trust their wine decisions to a critic. Experiment, enjoy and figure out what you like. Becoming a “wine expert” is knowing what wine is good for you and what wine is not. It’s the journey that’s the fun part. Cheers!

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Blog-Spot: Lost in Harlem

Last year, I met Andrea Collins through a mutual friend. I believe that “meeting” was over a few free margaritas in Manhattan (right, Andrea?).  Anyway, we’ve kept in touch and now Andrea has a blog called Lost in Harlem, which chronicles her life, friendships and adventures in (and sometimes outside of) New York City. “I’m a happy traveler who is currently lost in Harlem,” she writes. 
What: Lost in Harlem Blog, Online Journal and NYC Resource by Andrea Collins
History: From my perspective, when blogging began the media and industry experts took to the stage voicing their opinions for everyone to hear.  As the blogging space became more popular, the audience became more varied and the need for broader content became relevant.  So, students, socialites and pretty much anyone who could write (or thought they could write) began posting on blogs.  I was instantly drawn to bloggers who were willing to share their personal stories and life dreams.  Not because I agreed with them or strived to achieve the same goals, but because the best stories are always the ones closest to the heart.  Most individuals’ life stories, completely uncovered, are more interesting than any Hollywood blockbuster.  So, when I hit my quarter-life crisis I decided to start my blog and share my stories.
Why: I have moved from coast-to-coast and country-to-country over the last 10 years.  The most important “assets” in my life are my family and my friends.  So, it’s disturbing to me when I lose touch with a good friend or a family member due to distance.  Since it’s hard to keep up with everyone via phone and email I write up stories about my everyday life, my travels, books I’ve read or restaurants I’ve reviewed for everyone and anyone to read.  I certainly don’t have the most exciting life but the places I’ve lived and traveled are filled with excitement and energy  which I try to share and recreate in my postings.  I had hoped my blog would not only bring me closer to my friends afar but help me define who I am.  I used my neighborhood in the title to help me identify with my current place in the city and my ability to learn and discover new territories.  Although I’m no longer feeling “lost” I like the sound of the title it keeps me searching.
When: I strive to update Lost in Harlem a couple times a week and set aside 2 hours every Sunday to take a “blog adventure,” snapping photos around my neighborhood or trying out a new recipe to post about. 
Success?: So far, my blog has kept me in touch with important family and friends but hasn’t helped me make many new connections.  Perhaps the more I write, particularly about broader topics, the more people I can draw in.  But, my topic choices come to me on the subway trains and right before I go to sleep which makes writing each and every post so much fun.  I’m not sure I’ll ever change that, unless of course I could blog for a living.

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