look who’s back

In case anyone was wondering, I’ve spent the past year living on a lake in a small Vermont hamlet. When I tell that to most folk, their jaw drops. “Aren’t you a city girl?” Maybe. But to wake up to the spectacular view of rolling green hills dropping off over a vast lake, surrounded by mountains in the distance. Let’s just say, it’s been special. For the few months of the year it was green, anyway. Today the ground is snow covered. It’s c-c-c-cold outside. And I’m reconsidering this journey. But that’s for another day .  .  .

In the meantime, I’m hoping to get back to posting about my travels and more on a semi-regular basis. What do you say, we start with a little day trip to the Northeast Kingdom here in Vermont:

It’s about a two hour drive to the NEK from the general Burlington area. Through the Stowe resort town and beyond into seemingly nowheresville. Miles of winding roads and endless trees — take the drive in the Fall and you won’t be disappointed!  Know where you are going and there are treasures to be found .  .  .

STOP 1:  The Museum of Everyday Life, 3482 Drypond Road, Glover, VT

IMG_0060This place is a one of a kind marvel. A self-service celebration of the mundane things you and I might, otherwise, not give a second thought to — everything from lowly dust, to safety pins, to scissors — the main exhibition during my visit.

Turn on the lights, view, read and listen your way through a selection of items from the permanent collection and highlights from past exhibitions into a series of spaces dedicated to a single subject. Objects, activities, artworks and uniquely curated experiences await. Above all, don’t be afraid to trust your instincts. One curious girl in my crew saw a record player behind what we thought was a curtain of netting to keep onlookers away from objects on display. Only her willingness to crawl under this fragile barrier revealed it was actually a musical curtain of bells powered by said spinning turntable. Magical!

Give yourself a good hour here. There’s a gift shop in the corner with an honor box for cash payment. And don’t forget to turn the lights out as you leave.

 

STOP 2:  Bread & Puppet Theater Barn, 753 Heights Road, Glover, VT

This carefully organized warehouse of giant papier mâché puppets, is far more impressive than the theater they are made for. The Bread & Puppet theater is a traveling troop of performers putting on political & historical puppet shows around the country. I personally found one of the cult-like shows extremely difficult to sit through but was truly mesmerized by this barn housing 55 years of puppets, so carefully arranged on the walls and ceilings that they beg you to create your own stories to match their grandeur.

The Bread & Puppet “Family” also supports themselves through the sale of printed posters, cards and books based on the founder’s original works. Affordable, colorful and powerful artworks that make nice souvenirs if your into that sort of thing. And don’t miss the bus full of crafty treasures for sale parked along the road across the street. It’s hippy-ville Vermont at it’s finest.

Note: Stops 1 & 2 are just down the road from one another and it’s no coincidence — they share minds & resources.

STOP 3: Parker Pie Company, 161 Country Road West Glover, VT

Pie as in pizza pie with a selection of local craft beers on tap for lunch. The local watering hole/general store/gallery. But you are going to have to stop and ask directions because it doesn’t show up on any GPS — if you can even get one working up here — and is far off the main drag. Worth the detour, however, and chances are it will be packed to the gills.

 

STOP 4: Red Sky Trading, 2984 Glover Street, Glover VT

An honor system little barn of a shop with kitchy knick-knacks, local cheeses (pick up some award-winning Jasper Hill cheese — while nearby, they don’t offer tours or have a shop of their own) and home-baked sweets. If it’s a nice day, pull up an Adirondack chair and enjoy a bit of dessert while taking in the scenery. If sweets aren’t your thing, make this stop 3 so you don’t have to back-track after lunch.

Stop 5: Hill Farmstead Brewery, 403 Hill Road, Greensboro Bend, VT

Voted the best brewery in the world five years running, it is a worthy stop to pick up a growler, a bottle or a few cans as it’s not available to purchase in stores — only on tap in select Vermont establishments and here onsite. There are limits to the amount you can buy, especially for limited releases. But the beer is GOOD, you can hang out on the grounds and during the summer, there are often food trucks and music on the property as well.

Note:  The brewery is closed Sun-Tues so plan your travels accordingly. This is not one to be missed. Prepare to queue.

Loaded up with local cheese, beer, artwork and kingdom culture, you are ready to head out of the NEK and back to civilization.

giving 2016

holiday-2016This year of all years, give the gift of a donation to causes that need our support like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Union of Concerned Scientists, The Sierra Club, NPR, etc… If our government is not going to protect what’s near and dear to our hearts as caring citizens, then it’s up to us to make a difference. Friends and family will understand if donations are a priority and gifts are small this year. With that in mind, here are just a few small gift ideas to help take minds off our worries:

1. No holiday season (or stressful time) is complete without a little chocolate. This bean to bar chocolate company weaves social responsibility into everything they do so you can feel good about this guilty pleasure.  Askinosie Chocolate Peppermint Bark  $30  |   2. Pizza solves all woes. Where to Eat Pizza from Phaidon  $20  |   3. Maybe the future holds something better. Here’s Hoping!  Tea Leaf Reading Kit  $23  |   4.  A little humor goes a long way even if hidden from view. Cheeky Knickers by Naja  $22 each   5.  YOGA!!  Two Toned Mat by Stella McCartney  $71    6. The ultimate mind-numbing puzzle challenge.  500 pc. Gradient Puzzle  $20, avail in 3 colorways.

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pizza hot spot

Mulbury Street PizzaPizza Hot Spot: Mulberry Street Pizzeria                                                                      Where: Beverly Hills, California                                                                                             Type: New York

What’s hot: Huge and perfectly thin pies. This is the best New York style pizza in Los Angeles. The ultra thin crust is topped with a layer of chunky tomato sauce and just the right amount of cheese. Due to the thinness, the very large slices fold automatically in your hand and disappear all too quickly. Rumor had it, once upon a time, that they imported their water for the dough from the Big Apple. But we all know that’s not true. It’s just good pizza done right. Eat in.Take it to go. Grab a slice or a whole pie. I’m actually glad they don’t deliver east of Fairfax or I’d eat this good stuff far too often.

pizza hot spot

Mozza PizzaPizza Hot Spot: Pizzeria Mozza                                                                                          Where: Los Angeles & Newport Beach, CA                                                                          Type: Wood Burning Italian Perfection

What’s hot:  When Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali get together sheer magic happens, that’s what. This is simply the best pizza in the world — hands down! You can only order the combinations they make, no substitutions or omissions. If in doubt, go for the Mozzarella Di Bufala a ramped up Margherita Pizza. I promise, your taste buds will thank you. And just because, order a Chopped Salad to start and Butterscotch Burdino to end. Your soul will thank you.

pizza hot spot

&pizzaPizza Hot Spot: & Pizza
Where: Washington, DC (multiple locations)
Type: Flatbread

What’s hot:  This may not be the best pizza but I am diggin’ the concept. Like your local burrito bar, just step up to the counter and choose your crust, your sauce and your toppings. No limits, no rules and a plethora of items to choose from. Ingredients are fresh and locally sourced and your pie costs just under $10 fresh from the oven in a quick 2 minutes. It’s super thin crust accounts for the fast cooking time making it the perfect fast food meal (that’s not nearly as heavy as a burrito). And the best part of all — the oblong graphic boxes that change out seasonally with different artwork and sayings. Anything & pizza are a beloved pairing in my book!

pizza hot spot

Uno SpinachPizza Hot Spot: Pizzeria Uno                                                                                          Where: 29 East Ohio Street, Chicago                                                                                    Type: Deep Dish

What’s hot:  This is the original Chicago-style deep dish pizza. The stuff I grew up on (we literally used to fill the trunk with half-baked pizzas and drive them back to Detroit). Back in the day it was sausage & mushrooms. While that classic combo is their signature, today I prefer spinach & mushrooms for a slightly lighter meal — although deep dish pizza is never light especially with Uno’s oil slicked crust which sets it apart from all the others. And don’t think you are getting the same stuff at one of their chain restaurants around the country. It’s different (and waaaaay better!) in Chicago. Only Pizzeria Due, their spillover joint across the street, serves up the same deliciousness. Order ahead as it takes 45 minutes to cook.

pizza hot spot

pizza appPizza Hot Spot: Your Kitchen                                                                                                 How:  With the pizza making app from Pizza A Casa, NYC                                                   Type: Surprisingly Good

What’s hot:  With the right ingredients and the right technique you can make good pizza in your own home oven. Trust me, I’ve taken the class at Pizza A Casa in NYC, renowned for the best pizza instruction around. The class was full of tips and tricks and really good pizza right out of a home oven. And now you can get the same instruction right on your iPad for $9.99. Download the app, buy yourself a pizza stone and a pizza peel and in no time, you’ll be cranking out homemade pizzas that rival any restaurant — thin and crispy and truly delicious!

pizza hot spot

cheeseboardPizza Hot Spot: Cheese Board Pizza Collective                                                                Where: 1512 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, California                                                               Type: Vegetarian

What’s hot:  Each day (Tuesday – Saturday) one and only one pizza combination is made and served from 11:30 am to 8 pm with a small break from 3-4:30 pm. Toppings can vary but are always made from fresh local vegetables mixed with cheeses from the standard to the unusual, no tomato sauce ever, atop a sour dough crust made in house from a 30 year old starter. Buy it by the slice or by the pie, pull up a chair outside or sit on the grass along the median in the middle of Shattuck Avenue. It’s bohemian style at it’s finest going on 30+ years of deliciousness.

Pizza shown:  Heirloom tomatoes, onions, mozzarella and French Raclette cheese, garlic olive oil, and fresh herbs.

pizza hot spot

Pizza Hot Spot: Two Amys                                                                                                   Where: 3715 Macomb Street, NW  Washington, DC                                                            Type: Neapolitan Pizza

What’s hot:  Everything on the menu but especially the authentic D.O.C pizza made with soft-grain flour, fresh yeast, water and sea salt for the dough topped with Italian plum tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh basil and oregano then cooked to perfection in a wood-burning oven. And don’t stop at the pizza. You must also have suppli a telefono, the best deviled eggs ever, home made charcuterie, and traditional desserts like cannoli and almond cake to die for. On the weekends only, don’t miss the fresh donuts. This is amazing pizza and then some.