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During a recent trip to Chicago to visit our daughter, we mastered Uber well enough to get us anywhere we wanted to go in the city. And I wanted to go to Eataly, Mario Batali’s 63,000 square foot Italian food emporium.  Just inside the front door was a dedication to Ernest Hemingway that reassured me we were probably going to like the place.  Of course, I am a fan of Batali from my daily, treadmill-time watching of  The Chew, which he co-hosts.  Also, David gifted me with a copy of Batali’s new America Farm to Table cookbook from Christmas.  I had read enough about Eataly to be intrigued and, I must say, it exceeded my expectations in a way that any store as large as five Trader Joe’s might!

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The motto above the door is one I certainly approve of!  If we had know that we could have gotten a glass of wine and walked around with it, we probably would have.  As it was, we really didn’t have any intention of eating a meal at Eataly, but the power of suggestion overwhelmed us.  Inside the two-story building are eight Italian themed restaurants, the largest of which is La Pizza & La Pasta, where we eventually took a seat at the counter so we could watch the daily pasta dishes being prepared.

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Lucky for us, there was no waiting.  Probably because it was still Sunday morning, but David and I used the “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” justification for ordering a glass of wine to go with a “pizza of the day”, which happened to be prosciutto!

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Our very friendly server started us with a plate of oil and a brown paper package of freshly baked bread before helping us select a Valle Reale Montepulciano d’Abruzzo to go with our pizza.

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We had a great time watching the preparation of the Daily Pastas and had no problem finishing the pizza, which had been perfectly baked in a stone pizza oven, also in view, and generously covered in fresh mozzarella and prosciutto.

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Fortified and ready to shop, we walked around for the best part of an hour taking in the fish counter and it’s corresponding restaurant,  Il Pesce, as well as the meat counter.  I understand there is also a meat-centric restaurant called La Carne, which is in  a remote corner of the second floor and a vegetarian eatery called Le Verdure, as well.

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If you to to Eataly, I would probably suggest starting the the center of the second floor, La Piazza, which is the busy Italian city center where you can order a glass of wine and stand at one of the tables to enjoy items coming directly from the counters or production corners located right behind them: La Mozzarella, Il Crudo, I Salumi & Formaggi and Il Fritto.

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We were off to investigate Italian wines!  I have a new interest in Nebbiolo, red Italian grape variety that is being grown at Quarry Hill Winery, where I work part-time.  Nebbiolo is most commonly used in Barolo and Barbaresco wines.  I though perhaps I could learn a little more about the grape from the young guy working in the wine department.  He was initially very interested in talking to me, but when I began asking some specific questions that were out of his range of knowledge and explained that I work at a winery in Ohio, he admitted he was also from Ohio – an OSU grad.  He suggested we could sample some wines at the nearby Vino Libero counter, where 6 casks of wine were “on tap” and, once again, you could stand at a tasting counter and enjoy your wine with a selection of marinated olives, or salumi, or prosciutto di parma, or even spicy tuna.

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I must say, the whole Eataly experience was a feast for the eyes.  Even the signs for the Toilette were clever!  We decided our trip home on Amtrack would allow for a small bag of groceries which we chose mainly from the selections of First Anniversary Celebration Sale bins that were prominently placed throughout both floors.

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In addition to a particularly flavorful Provolone that we found in the cheese shop, we brought home some a small jar of a white truffles and mushroom sauce, a tube of Triplo Concentrato dei Comodoro tomato paste, and a box of Barilla Bucatini n.9 – my new favorite pasta!

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Next time, and there will be a next time, we will plan on eating our way through both floors.  Mario Batali may have created a culinary circus in Eataly, but who doesn’t enjoy a culinary circus?

The First Bad Man by Miranda July

January 18th, 2015 | Posted by Lackey in My Reading Life - (0 Comments)

I love Miranda July.  I hate Miranda July.  I was totally amused by her collection It Chooses You a few years back.  I was drawn to her new novel, The First Bad Man, like a car wreck that I knew I probably didn’t want to see but couldn’t look away from.  Mostly, I admire Miranda July.  She puts it out there a little bit like Lena Dunham, another brash, young artistic voice I can’t entirely ignore.  And I didn’t hate this book as much as I thought I might.

The title comes from the role of “the first bad man” attacker in the self-defense videos produced by the non-profit that Cheryl, the protagonist, works for.  Cheryl lives alone, is infatuated with a creepy board member named Philip and obsessed with the connection she felt with a baby she met when she was six that she named Kubelko Bondy.  When her boss asks if her 26 year old daughter, Clee, can move in with Cheryl temporarily, the book becomes sexually charged and borderline surreal.  In her review of the book, Lena Dunham wrote, “Miranda July’s ability to pervert norms while embracing what makes us normal is astounding”.

I almost stopped reading this book.  When I saw where it was headed, I wanted to stop looking through the keyhole at bizarro-world.  But the New York Times review of the book had already cautioned me that “challenging work tends to incite readerly resistance”.  I stayed with it until the end, shaking my head but a little in awe of the risky freshness that July makes her readers confront.

My Year in Etsy – A to Z

January 5th, 2015 | Posted by Lackey in My Creating Life - (0 Comments)

The past year – 2014 – was a big one for my Etsy shop – Linda’s Other Life.  I went beyond baby steps to realize how much fun managing my shop like a business and treating sewing like a job could be.  I decided to compile my progress A – Z as a way of motivating myself to be even better in the new year.

A – Aprons         Vintage feed sacks, oilcloth, Christmas aprons, many custom orders

B – Burlap          Table runners, embroidered VW bus pillows, my first wedding order, fish shaped perch pillows

C – CLE               Local stores, even the CLE Clothing Co., starting carrying candles, key fobs and hand sewn items

D – David           Because D is always for David, and it was his idea (inspired by Bono) for me to make this list

E – Etsy              Little did I know when I opened my shop two years ago that Etsy would open so many doors for me

F – Fabric           I’m obsessed with fabric!  I dream of fabric!  I have too much fabric and I don’t see it as a problem.

G – GBT              Girl’s Best Friend in Lakewood has become a new best friend and creative partner in retail

H – Hangers      I have actually gotten rid of clothes from my closet just so I could steal the hangers for aprons!

I – Intuition       I am learning to trust my intuition – about what will sell, about how to design, about styles and colors

J – Joann’s         I love going to Joann Fabrics!  I can spend too much time and money there.  I am there too often.

K – Keepsake     I have reconstructed keepsake items for customers and sewn items I hope will become keepsakes

L – LOL               My “brand” is truly becoming my “other life” and life is good

M – Mess            My sewing room is frequently messier than my desk at school used to be and I am fine with that

N – Network       I am enjoying networking with people at craft fairs  and making connections with retailers

O – Oilcloth        Fun and easy to sew, colorful oilcloth is one of my new obsessions

P – Pandora        My sewing music easily changes with my moods and Pandora makes it easy

Q – Quilt Shops  New Quilt Shops in every town we visited this year.  Favorites are always Amish country, OH

R – Repurposed  I love repurposing fabric!  Feed sacks, old pieces of lace and trim, burlap bags, vintage fabrics

S – Salty               Salty Not Sweet in CLE has been good to me and even led to an airport retail opportunity

T – Tables            Table runners, placemats, pub mats – everyone has a table that needs dressing up

U – USPS             Our jolly postman frequently trades postmarked packages from the box for fabric deliveries

V – Vacation        I actually allow myself  “vacation” days from time to time and have enjoyed taking the holidays off

W – Wonder Fair   An in-home craft show was the best – and most profitable – idea of the year!

X – Xtras             I try to make my Etsy packages special by including little extras – candy, buttons, gift tags, etc.

Y – Yarn               I stitched some sayings in yarn on burlap to make some pretty cool pillows this year

Z – Zero               Pleasant year end surprise – cash to spend to bring my profit back to zero!

 

Time to start over!