Objects of Our Obsession
Although none of the items on this carefully curated list of obsessions is necessarily edible, we wanted to take a look at some of the other artisan products created, produced, and distributed locally. We see them at farmers’ markets and in local stores, and in one case we’ve found a locally produced item that’s nothing short of an international sensation. Each of these products is tangentially or directly related to a consumable item, such as Terry Waggoner’s hand-crafted wooden spoons or Jennifer Meyer’s hand-sewn aprons, and each is a product we believe that you, too, will find yourself obsessing over.
THE BLUE PEONY
We caught up with Jennifer Meyer over the phone while she was visiting a fabric convention in Houston, her “annual pilgrimage to food and fabrics.” Jennifer hand-selects every fabric that she uses in her hand-sewn aprons and accessories and her passion for her work is evident in every aspect of her life. “My mom, Barbara, used to sew for me based on patterns and ideas that I dreamed up. Once I learned to do it for myself, I couldn’t stop.” Everything made at The Blue Peony is used and tested before being reproduced and sold. “The oven mitts and aprons aren’t just fun or pretty, they’re functional.”
LolaBlue began because of Jamie Lovern’s love for candles, and her aversion to the toxic byproducts generated when burning traditional paraffin candles. Jamie, a graphic designer, did her research and sent away for a soy candle kit and before long found herself experimenting with packaging and marketing. Soon, Jamie began to make healthy, natural alternatives for other everyday products such as soap and deodorant. Thanks to word-of-mouth, farmers’ markets, collaborations with other local vendors, and her extremely supportive family, LolaBlue is now a thriving local business with a loyal following.
We’re crushing pretty hard on the beautiful tasting room at Calusa Brewing over in South Sarasota and we can’t resist getting a growler, or three, to go every time we visit. A growler is a glass, ceramic, or stainless steel container used to transport draft beer—like that Chinese takeout box in your fridge but it’s filled with fresh locally brewed draft beer instead of day-old noodles. The growlers at Calusa can be filled with any of the rotating brews on tap. If you can’t choose, we highly recommend trying a flight and relying on one of the incredibly knowledgeable and friendly tasting room employees to be your guide.
We’re half in awe of the ingenuity and craftsmanship displayed by Betsy Laskowski and Kimberly Knight of Half Full. They gather empty wine and beer bottles from local restaurants and turn them into visually arresting and practical art pieces. We love the beer glasses and the wine chimes and we’re veritably obsessed with the wine gardens, which are hydroponic and self-watering so even the least gifted gardener on your shopping list should be able to keep them alive. Turning trash into treasure is a theme that we’re particularly fond of here at Edible Sarasota and we’re delighted to see this kind of local initiative.
TERRY’S TOY, HANDMADE WOOD CREATIONS
Terry Waggoner remembers the first time he carved a spoon and a fork out of wood: “I was in the Boy Scouts and I needed utensils.” Terry is a carpenter by trade and he’s currently making large wooden portholes to adorn the outside of Captain Curt’s on Siesta Key. He showed us a beautifully crafted adjustable-height end table made from glossy maple wood, and a suitcase full of spoons, forks, and other utensils made from interesting blocks of wood that he’s collected over the years. Each spoon is a labor of love that takes two hours to make and Terry takes requests such as carving specific names or messages into the handles.
Courtney Lauderdale’s own sunny disposition and discerning tastes are reflected in the contents of each hand-packed gift box ordered from Sunnyday Mercantile. She developed the gift boxes as an alternative to the sterile and cheerless “care packages” on the market. Courtney recognized a need to make gifts for awkward moments such as recovering from surgery or from getting fired as well as the more traditional hostess gifts and Mother’s Day packages. “I use local products whenever possible and I choose things that are purposeful as well as beautiful. If I wouldn’t personally use an item, it doesn’t go in the box.”
OVERNIGHT OATMEAL BOWLS
Mary Chadsey and Nancy Morris make overnight oatmeal bowls perfect for storing in your fridge, stacking, and sharing. The pottery bowls are adorned with hand-carved art using a technique called sgraffito, which involves scratching through the surface to reveal an underlayer of contrasting color—like a sophisticated version of the scratch-art etchings we used to do as kids. The bowls are available at The Cottage Art Gallery in Nokomis and through an online Etsy store; recipes for delicious, nutritious, and perfectly on trend overnight oatmeal are included.
Tervis Tumblers are pretty much an international obsession. The insulated drinkware was invented in Detroit in 1946 and has been American-made ever since. So, what makes a personalized beverage container invented in Detroit one of our local obsessions? Tervis moved to Osprey in the ’60s and as of 2005, Tervis Tumblers are manufactured right down the street in Venice, FL. Personalized Tervis Tumblers make excellent gifts and cool corporate giveaways.