Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Livin' La Vida Local, no. 1: Little Freshie

Known for its many fountains, a ridiculous number of barbecue restaurants, stellar live jazz and blues, and a well-established art scene, Kansas City, Missouri, provides plenty to experience. I thoroughly enjoy livin' la vida local in the Flyover Zone. Join me as I explore new finds and old faves in this big small town I call home.

Left: Outside Little Freshie. Right: Don't you just love those striped straws!?
My friend Kate suggested we go to Little Freshie last Saturday night, and I am so glad she did. Before we left, I knew it was the perfect place to feature in the debut of my new blog series, Livin' La Vida Local. Nestled beside Füd on West 17th St., this li'l sweetheart of a soda fountain offers handcrafted sodas and snow cones, as well as locally sourced coffees, cookies, macorons (not to be confused with macaroons), and a few well-made gift items. Little Freshie has been located at its storefront on the Westside since May of 2012. If you haven't been there yet, I recommend a visit ASAP.

Lindsay Laricks, creator of Little Freshie, was kind enough to let me photograph her as she crafted a soda.
A couple years ago, Lindsay Laricks, owner of Little Freshie and mastermind behind her establishment's sophisticated soda syrups, began serving snow cones from a Shasta trailer on a whim. Her business Fresher Than Fresh Snow Cones gained a loyal following, and she decided to devote herself full time to her new craft. Kate and I admire Laricks' gumption; she said she was just crazy enough to quit her day job and go for it. Laricks admitted leaving her longtime career in graphic design was the most frightening part of growing her business. 

The pay-off that resulted from confronting her fear was clear in the smile on Laricks' face Saturday night as she talked about her brand new brick-and-mortar shop and shared her ideas for upcoming products. She mixed innovative flavors into seltzer water and ice with confidence and chatted up the clientele with ease. Her new vocation clearly suits her, and Little Freshie fits snugly into its neighborhood.

Not only that, but Little Freshie also had a steady stream of customers on Saturday night, including us. Kate tried a grape and orange blossom soda, and blackberry lavender was my soda of choice. My drink was delicate, fragrant and just a tad bitter, and I enjoyed every last slurp. Speaking of slurps, the striped paper straws offered an unfamiliar sensory experience. But look at how cute they are!

Perfect pairing: handcrafted slippers and sodas, from Fervere and Little Freshie, respectively.*
Adding to our delight, the nearby bakery Fervere had a Saturday night special going on. It was selling individual-sized bread "slippers" slathered with a variety of toppings. Because Fervere doesn't have seating, several area restaurants welcomed those eating slippers into their establishments for seats and drinks. Fancy sodas and refined yeasty goodness suited us perfectly. Kate's slipper was spread with onions, mushrooms, gorgonzola and provolone, and she said it might be the most delicious thing she had ever eaten. I agreed with a sigh, as I bit into my cheese and egg topped slipper. Mmm, paradise chased by a swig of heaven.

A closeup of my egg and cheese slipper. ::sigh::
Thanks again, Lindsay, for your generosity! And expect to hear more about Fervere at some point... What local establishments, events, movers and/or shakers are you keen on these days?

Alison :)

*Thanks, Kate, for capturing our food from this angle.

A Load Off My Shoulders (Cart?)

I'm going to feel so much better once I admit this: I shop for groceries like a mother of three. Now, this could be because I actually am the daughter of a mother of three, and she was my primary grocery shopping role model when I was growing up. Then again, it could be because I have poor meal planning skills. Either way, could you guys help a girl out!? What can I do to keep from going to the store far too rarely, buying far too much food at once, and then wiping out all my fresh food only to subsist on cereal and granola bars for the weeks - yes, weeks - in between my grocery store runs, er, staggerings (under a million pounds to my car and then up three flights of stairs)??

With sincerest thanks,

Alison :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Around the World in Two Hours

A cute little Japanese kokeshi doll with a blonde bob.
My friends Conor, Kate, Alex and I traveled around the world this weekend via Kansas City's 33rd annual Ethnic Enrichment Festival. The Ethnic Enrichment Festival presents food tents, hand-crafted objects, heritage groups, and performances derived from many different cultures. My main goals were to eat a plantain and purchase a kokeshi doll. As you can see, I brought home a sweet li'l kokeshi doll with a blonde bob and a red kimono. In addition to eating an Ecuadoran fried plantain, we also tried the following: empanadas from Ecuador; Brazilian beef skewers served with a corn-based dipping powder and a really yummy tomato and onion relish; a Lithuanian (I think!?) bacon bun; Israeli falafel platters of generous proportions sold by a gentleman so gregarious, we just couldn't say no; and delicious Kenyan beef sambusas.

My boss is on the Ethnic Enrichment Commission and was working the Kenyan booth, as her husband is from Kenya. I am not just saying this to win brownie (sambusa?) points, but my friends and I agreed the sambusas were the best treat we tried. Conor also gave the plantains a rave review, based on facial expression alone. Kate, Conor and I also decided we had a far better time this year as compared to last year, not only because Alex was there, but also because we tried many different foods, instead of complaining about our bodies while denying ourselves the taste-testing in which we actually desired to participate.

After touring the world, Kate, Alex and I took Conor home, at his request, and then met our friend Tashina at The Recordbar for some live music. Tashina knew the members of one of the bands, and I feel appreciative that she wanted us to hear them. I see Tashina too rarely but always enjoy her company when we do get together.

I also enjoy seeing live music. It makes me feel engaged and connected with other fans. I LOVE The Recordbar as a music venue (plus, they serve the BEST bbq chicken pizza), but here's a story that seems to sum up the majority of my experiences there. I went to The Recordbar to see a show with my friend Brooke a few years ago. We were waiting in line for the restroom, and Brooke asked the girl ahead of us what the next band up sounded like and that she had heard some guy say he thought they kind of sounded like The Who. The girl hemmed and hawed and finally said, "Um, I don't really like to label things." Um, that's an obnoxious response. We all label things. Otherwise, the girl wouldn't have been dressed like a hipster, trying to fit in with the typical weekend Recordbar crowd. Anyway, on a semi-regular basis I use that poor girl as an example of how humans like to fit in with each  other (and exclude outsiders) and thus label themselves through actions or visual signals, even if they can't admit/don't know that's what they are doing. Nor am I immune. It's not a diss on the Recordbar at all. I love the place. I just never seem to fit in while wearing my boot cut jeans and semi-professional tops (cuz, you know, I don't like to buy shirts I can't wear to work). The lovely thing is that I usually have a fun time and end up running into cool people, and oftentimes friends or acquaintances, no matter how I dress. And thank goodness I bought some skinny jeans this weekend. It was about dang time.

Kansas City hosts tons of festivals throughout the year. I think Irish Fest is next up, but there could be something else in between EEF and IF... If you are a Kansas Citian, what's your favorite festival of the year? If you're not from here, what festival should I visit in your hometown?

Alison :)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Blowing Bubbles

Some of the bubble prints my bff and I made last weekend.

Oh, what's that you say? You have no idea how you're going to spend the afternoon? Might I make a suggestion? Grab a buddy and the instructions for a creative technique you've never explored, and get to it. That's what I did when Lara and I met at her place last weekend to make bubble prints. Neither of us had ever tried out the technique before, but Lara was interested in using it to make wall decor for her living room. 

A pile o' prints.

Lara met me well-prepared. She had covered her kitchen table with a drop cloth and provided dish soap, tempera paint, aluminum pans, straws (for blowing bubbles!), heavy paper and plastic cups. While we referred to instructions we found on the internet (this is an easy technique to find - just do a quick search), we actually ended up mixing together approximately a 1:1 ratio of paint and liquid soap and just enough water to blow bubbles. All you do is pour your mixture in a pan or a cup, take a straw, and blow. After you get a good heap of bubbles, gently lower your paper onto the bubbles. The bubbles will pop and leave their impression on your paper. Lara and I ended up blowing bubbles in plastic cups, rather than pans. That ended up working better for us, although it did take longer.  

Some of Lara's inkblot paintings. The print in the center reminds me of a Green Man.
This was my favorite inkblot print of the day. It reminded me of a Corinthian column.

I found the the process to be relaxing and fun. Blowing bubbles and summer just go together! I became a little lost in the process - blow, press, slide, blow, press, slide. After completing many bubble prints, Lara began making inkblot images. I tried some, too. Lara had a lot of success with her inkblots and even decided to frame them, instead of the bubbles prints. I am not sure what I will do with my bubble and inkblot prints. I think they would make a good base for drawings or good raw materials for cut paper projects. 
What new art/craft techniques have you learned with a friend recently?

Alison :)