Friday, October 29, 2010

From the I {heart} Rhody Flickr Group

Newport Bridge, RI - 2
"Newport Bridge, RI - 2" by nelights

Church Tower
"Church Tower" by SteelToad

"Untitled" by siriusthinking

"IMG_1672" by katie47n

Narragansett Glow
"Narragansett Glow" by alamodestuff

"Windows" by mizzbritta

The Breakers
"The Breakers" by scottdunn

"IMG_2312" by SecondEmpire

Castle Hill Light, Newport Rhode Island
Castle Hill Light, Newport Rhode Island by Brett Cohen

Harriet Hoxie 1
"Harriet Hoxie 1" by Perpetual Twilight Photography

Providence, RI
"Providence, RI" by LeKriz

Old Pier
"Old Pier" by mmerc

Light and Mystery
"Light and Mystery" by MattJohnston401

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rhody in the news ~ Roger Williams Park Zoo Jack O'Lantern Spectacular on the Today Show

Sights ~ Octogon House, Georgiaville (Smithfield)

Octogon House

Bear and I stumbled across this great octogon house while out on a fall foliage drive over the weekend. I haven't seen it on any list of sights to see, but it seemed very unusual to me, and worth stopping to photograph.

An architect friend of mine was able to identify the style and give me some information:

"The style was popular from about 1850-1870, but there were probably only a few thousand built and, of those, few remain. A guy named Orson Fowler is credited with popularizing them, although Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest is one of the better known and was designed and built in the early 1800s. Most are on the east coast."

After digging a little, I discovered this is building is called the J.S. Sweet octagon house, built circa 1865. I haven't yet found any information on J.S. Sweet, however.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Design ~ Jessica Ricci Jewelry on Apartment Therapy

Jessica Ricci Jewelry
Hope Artiste Village
1005 Main St.
Pawtucket, Rhode Island

photo: Apartment Therapy
Another Rhode Island business was featured recently at Apartment Therapy. Jessica Ricci's Jewelry, in Hope Artiste Village, Pawtucket.

AT was impressed with the design of her shop as much as the design of her jewelry.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sights ~ 755 Westminster Street, Providence

755 Westminster Street
Providence, Rhode Island

755 Westminster St.

Formerly a furniture store, and possibly before that a jewelry store, 755 Westminster has a snazzy Art Deco facade.

755 Westminster St.

I haven't been able to find out much about its history, except that it was previously a Herman's fine furniture store (you can still see the outline of the old signage behind the 755 on the facade). It was restored in 2002 and now houses storefront space and condos above.

One of those condos is for sale and if I'm reading it right, is 2 bedrooms, 2 baths and a $525,000 asking price.

I wish I had more information. I really like the detailed facade of the building.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dining ~ Annie's, Newport

176 Bellevue Ave.
Newport, Rhode Island

Annie's exterior
Annie's exterior
We stood outside Annie's waiting for a table for at least 20 minutes. We took it as a good sign, since it was a Sunday morning, before the after-church crowd, and the place was already hopping.

It was not what we'd hoped. Once we were seated, the waitress took our drink order promptly, but we didn't see her again for about ten minutes. When she returned, the drinks were very small. Off she went again with our breakfast orders, and stayed gone for thirty minutes. 

I ordered the Eggs Bellevue, which is a take on Eggs Benedict, but with steak. Dad had huevos rancheros, Bear tried the ham and eggs. When we finally got our silverware, most of it was dirty. I had to request a fork three times, and my meal was cold before she brought it over.

Annie's interior
Annie's interior
The food was decent...neither the best nor worst I've had. Certainly it wasn't exceptional enough to come back for, in spite of the slow service and dirty silver. Mom, Dad and Bear agreed. Our next visit to Newport, we'll skip Annie's.

Heritage Restoration Pumpkin Launch

Event announcement ~ Halloween Iron Pour, Steel Yard, Oct. 29

The Steel Yard
27 Sims Ave.
Providence, Rhode Island
Fri., October 29 (rain date Sat. October 30)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Food ~ Clam "Chowdah"

A prime example of Rhode Island quirkiness is its chowder. Most Americans are familiar with two types of clam chowder: New England (cream and potato based) and Manhattan (tomato based). But did you know that Rhode Island has not one, but two clam chowders of its own?

Rhode Island Clam Chowder by Michiey
1. Traditional Rhode Island clam chowder is made with a clear broth. According to the recipes I've looked at, it's flavored with quahogs, potatoes, onion and bacon.

2. But according to Wikipedia, there's another, even less-known type of Rhode Island clam chowder, that's tomato-based. It's mostly served in the northern part of the state, and is a variation created by  Portuguese immigrants. In fact, it's the precursor to Manhattan style clam chowder.

Bear loves clam chowder and is trying to find her favorite. We've been reading through Don Bousquet's Rhode Island Cookbook to try to make our own as well.

Early in 2010, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives visited the Liberty Elm Diner in south Providence and tried their chowder. There was a viewing party at Everyman Cafe, and I finally found the video online. It's great exposure for an excellent local business.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sights ~ C. C. Baldwin Mansion, Newport

C. C. Baldwin Mansion
420 Bellevue Ave.
Newport, Rhode Island

We came across this beauty during our walk along Bellevue Avenue a couple of weeks ago. Built in 1880 for the president of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, the house bears the nickname "Chateau Nooga," a whimsical take on the Chattanooga Railroad Line. A whimsical nickname is only appropriate for this house, with its colorful half-timbered exterior in the "Quaint Style."

Chateau Nooga
Here's the best shot I could get without trespassing
Chateau Nooga detail
and a detail shot of the front door
The architect was George B. Post, who also designed the New York Stock Exchange, the Wisconsin capitol building, the Arts & Industry building at the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893, among many others. I love the details of it, like the flowers framing the front door. The house also has stained glass by John LaFarge of Newport, who made windows for many American churches and invented opalescent glass.

a real estate broker's shot, who didn't have to worry about trespassing
Apparently, the house is for sale, with an asking price of $2.5M. It has 12 bedrooms, 7.1 baths and boasts 8700sf of living space.

The real estate listing has great shots of the interior as well.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Events ~ Roger Williams Park Zoo Jack O'Lantern Spectacular, Providence, October

Roger Williams Park Zoo
Jack O'Lantern Spectacular
1000 Elmwood Ave.
Providence, Rhode Island
October 7 - 31, 2010

Since my birthday is exactly three weeks before Halloween, my birthday adventures often involve some kind of autumn/Halloween theme. This year I opted to check out the Jack O'Lantern Spectacular at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence.

A word to the wise: the park is open until 10, and the trail closes at 11. Arrive at 9:00-9:30, when people with small children are already gone and the lines are shorter. Also, not going on a weekend night will probably speed things along as well. We waited a good two hours to go through the trail, and we could have spent less time on line if we'd planned a bit more strategically.

Once we got near the ticket booth, there were snack booths and a juggler who was very good, and very engaging. He interacted very well with the young kids in the lines and helped to keep them interested.

Once on the trail, it's all about the pumpkins. There are all sizes and descriptions, with some stenciled in intricate detail. I liked that they grouped the pumpkins together in themes.

There was a whole Charlie Brown section, with carved scenes from the three major holiday specials.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
A dinosaur section had close-ups of different dinos, and a volcano pumpkin. There were awesome dinosaur-ish sound effects to go with it.

Here, along with pumpkins carved with number symbols and clocks, they were playing Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album.

Out on the pond, stands and rafts of pumpkins were piled amid lit fountains and looked beautiful.

photo: Roger Williams Park Zoo
There were scenes from American history, world history, the Wild West, zoos, and my favorites: generally scary pumpkins.

Just as at the end of a fireworks display there is a barrage of light and color, they did much the same with the pumpkin display. 
pumpkin finale big scary pumpkin
pumpkin finale
The spectacular boasts 5,000 pumpkins in the display. I think 1,000 of them were there at the end. It was a phenomenal effect, with orange fog and pumpkins literally up to the tree-tops.

pumpkins in the trees
pumpkins in the trees

It was well worth the wait, especially since the night was clear and not too chilly. We'd definitely go again.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rhody in the media

Last night on 30 Rock...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book review ~ Witches, Wenches and Wild Women of Rhode Island, M. E. Reilly-McGreen

Witches, Wenches and Wild Women of Rhode Island

An interesting book chronicling notable women in Rhode Island history, Witches, Wenches and Wild Women of Rhode Island tells some well-known and some obscure stories.

Anne Hutchinson, the woman who started a colony of separatists from the Puritan colony. She and her followers founded the English settlement at Portsmouth.

Evelyn Nesbit, an original Gibson girl and center of an early 20th century scandal.

Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, American socialite and suffragette, co-designer of Marble House in Newport.

And perhaps a dozen more accused witches, bitches, vampires, pariahs, poets, heroes and ghosts. It's a quick read, written in an ironic, winking style.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Shop local ~ Apple picking at Jaswell's Farm, Smithfield

Jaswell's Farm
50 Swan Rd.
Smithfield, Rhode Island

From their site: "Jaswell’s Farm is the oldest operating apple orchard in Smithfield and currently being run by the fourth generation of the Jaswell family."

Jaswell’s Farm was started in 1899 by Nicola Gesualdi, an Italian immigrant. Nicola eventually changed his name to Nicholas Jaswell. In the 1930's the farm passed to his son, Joseph Jaswell. In 1967, Joe’s son and daughter-in-law Richard and Patricia took over the farm.  Richard and Pat focused on the fruit and vegetable growing,selling the harvests at their own farmstand and adding a cider mill in 1970.

Jaswell's Farm

Bear and I spent a lovely September afternoon picking Macouns at Jaswell's Farm in Smithfield. The weather was perfect, and we both had a great time darting from tree to tree, picking those apples that looked the ripest, the reddest, the roundest and tastiest.

apple picking

It's a far more interactive experience than choosing from a crate at the supermarket, or even the farmer's market. The fruit goes directly from the tree to your hand. It's just not possible to get fresher. It's the perfect activity for a weekend afternoon, and the staff at Jaswell's was friendly and informative, which made it even more fun.

Into the orchard

Of course, apples aren't the only crop at Jaswell's , and we saw lots of lovely eggplants on their way to market outside.


Inside the farm stand you can smell fresh pies baking and choose from bushels of other farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, jams and other treats.

Jaswells Farm store

We had a good time and I know we'll be back as other varieties of apples ripen. Later this month we'll be looking for a pumpkin as well.