I've been listening to the radio station Dave FM since they took over 92.9 here in Atlanta back in 2004. It used to be a fantastic radio station, a phrase that I typically consider to be an oxymoron, but over the past couple of years it has gotten worse. However, they recently introduced an HD and streaming internet radio station called Dave Roots. I've got to say it is really good, and definitely something to consider if you want something to listen to while sitting at your desk. Some of their featured artists include the Avett Brothers, Neko Case, A.A. Bondy, Monsters of Folk, and Son Volt. Hard to go wrong with that. If you want to check it out, click on the link above.
With New Years Eve quickly approaching, and being in possession of a stud and cufflink set that had a couple of studs that were MIA, I went to Jos. A Bank last week and picked up a set there. I was actually just going to get the basic black or mother of pearl set, but I saw these and they were an easy choice. And you won't believe this, but they were on sale! (I hope that you picked up on the sarcasm) Only $40; I feel that that was actually a pretty good deal.
I am not usually a big fan of ties associated with a particular holiday (Christmas, Halloween, Easter, July 4th), but I am a fan of club ties, and this one falls more into the category of the latter. It is a Robert Talbott tie that I picked up a thrift store somewhere for a paltry sum a couple of years ago and is dedicated to one of the most annoying Christmas songs of all time. It is pretty fun, though, since one must get fairly close to see the details of the individual characters and then they have to figure out exactly what they mean, but it is rewarding to put it all together. It's a good tie for once-a-year wear, and I'm planning on wearing to the Christmas Eve service tonight.
I will admit that I was not familiar with Miss Stallings' blog, Miss Magnolia, until she started commenting on some of my posts, but I am quite happy to have found it.
Hailing from Montgomery, Alabama, and currently a student at my alma mater, Samford University in Birmingham, Miss Stallings' blog has the Southern prep thing down to a tee, but not in an obnoxious way. I think that I'm mostly just jealous of her blog's excellent layout (and with Blogger, nonetheless), so hopefully some of her design and formatting skills will rub off on me. I am adding her to my blog roll and think that her blog will add a good, but feminine, perspective. I hope you'll agree.
For New Years, I am heading back down to Charleston for a black tie party that some friends of mine are hosting. Last year's party was fun, but this year's party will be at our friend's house South of Broad and I think it should probably be even better. In thinking about the party, it reminded me of some pictures that I saw on the LIFE Photo Archive a few months back.
The pictures were simply labeled "Charleston party" and they were from 1949. Given the lack of context, it was difficult to tell if they were from an actual party in Charleston or from a party based around the Charleston dance. After looking at them a bit more, it looks like they were actually taken in New Jersey, and based on the tiger costume in some of the pictures, I'd put money that they were students from Princeton. It is a bummer that the pictures aren't actually from Charleston, but they are still awesome. Here are just a few: Is there anything nattier than a raccoon fur coat and a straw boater worn with a tuxedo?
If you have had the pleasure of reading the unbelievably hilarious (but often offensive) Foggy Monocle, you may have noticed that they have not had an update since September 18th. After that post, the site lay dormant for the past three months with no explanation as to why, or when or if it would be updated again. There were rumors of a book and/or television and/or movie deal, but nothing from any official sources. However, on a whim of procrastination tonight, I decided to pay the page a visit, when what to my wondering eye did appear? but a new post! Definitely not the funniest, but it is good to see that they are back.
I should note that if you are unfamiliar with the Foggy Monocle, it is essentially a website where people submit their IM/Gchat conversations recounting their "gentlemanly" (and gentlewomanly) adventures. Most of the time these adventures result in severe hangovers and/or a trip to get tested for an STD, but they are nearly always hilarious. I should note that if you are easily offended by coarse language or tales of debauchery, you will probably not be a fan. While the exchanges on the site are certainly not reflective of my own behavior, it is very enjoyable, nonetheless, to read about others' adventures.
I've been somewhat surprised that in the course of all of the talk about bags and US-made goods on various blogs, Arizona-based Custom Hide has somehow been overlooked.
While I have not had the good fortune of trying one of these bags out personally, they used to be the talk of the town on a particular men's clothing forum that I used to frequent, specifically the 1945 US Army Briefcase. From what I've read, though, they are very well made, use good leather, and offer a number of customization options on orders. Those options include several leather colors, the overall size on the bag, the number and placement of pockets, and the style and finish of the hardware used. And, as I mentioned earlier, they are made here in the US, but their prices are really quite reasonable (which is a lot more than can be said about some other companies/collaborations lately).
Be sure to check out the website as it offers at least a dozen other styles, including a backpack and duffle bag. While they may not be breaking any ground in the style department, Custom Hide is making classic, well-made, leather bags for reasonable prices, and they come with a lifetime guarantee. If I was in the market for a leather briefcase, this would definitely be my first stop.
Also, be on the lookout for the A Trip Down South x Custom Hide briefcase (I wish it was true, but this is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek).
OK, I understand that some of you may be sick of me talking about reproofing my Barbour jackets. If so, you may want to check back for an update tomorrow. If you're not, here is the review of my experience with Green Mountain Reproofing that I first mentioned a little less than a month ago. I'm providing a time line to give you an idea about my experience with the turn-around time.
I mailed my jacket off on Saturday, November 14th and got a call from Ken Bissonette at Green Mountain the following Friday. Ken went over everything that he saw on my jacket, gave me prices, and asked what I would like to have done. I had a hole on the front, a hole on the left sleeve, and several holes and a tear on the right sleeve. Ken quoted me $8 per for the holes on the front and left sleeve, and then $15 to fix the whole right sleeve. I thought this sounded pretty reasonable, and was not nearly as bad as I had thought that it might be. I also had them reproof the jacket as it sorely needed it. Ken said that it would probably take around two weeks and that I could go ahead and send a check.
With the following week being Thanksgiving week, things got pretty crazy and I never got a chance to mail the check. Ken followed-up with an email on the 29th and said that my jacket was ready and that as soon as he received a check, he would ship it to me. The total, with repairs, reproofing, and return shipping, came out to $72.90. I finally got a check mailed that Monday, and received the jacket the following Monday, December 7th. All-in-all, it took about 25 days from the time I shipped the jacket to the time it arrived at my house. This could have probably been shortened by at least a few days (if not a week) if I had mailed the check when Ken initially called so that the jacket could have been shipped as soon as it was done, so that's on me. Overall, though, I'm pretty pleased with the turn-around time, especially after hearing horror stories about people shipping their jackets to Barbour in the fall and not getting them back til December or after the New Year.
Below are some pictures of the jacket after about a week of wear. I've got to say, when I first pulled it out of the box, I was blown away by the reproofing job as it looked like a brand-new jacket (much better than my DIY job). I then looked to see how the holes were repaired. You can see how the holes on the front and left sleeve were stitched up. I had no idea what they would look like when they were repaired, but I'm pretty pleased and they are fairly unnoticeable unless someone is really looking. Now when it comes to the repair of the tear and multiple holes on the right sleeve, when I first looked, I wasn't sure how they were repaired as there was no trace of them and I was a little dumbfounded. Then, upon closer inspection, I realized that they actually sewed a patch onto the sleeve to cover all of the holes and the tear. The matching was pretty impressive, and really, this is something that is hard to notice, and the patch-up job gives the jacket a bit more character and history. So what is the final verdict? I am most certainly pleased, and definitely feel like it was money well-spent. One can always reproof their jacket themselves, but repairs are best left to the professionals, and the folks at Green Mountain clearly know what they're doing. Even still, the reproofing costs $32.95, and combined with return shipping of $8.95, your jacket comes back looking brand new for just over $40. If you're on the fence, it is my suggestion to go for it. Ken was great to work with and I think that they're doing a great job up there in Vermont. I would really love to see how the process is done and how the professionals get are able to do that perfect reproofing job.
On a bit of side note, while my Bedale was in the "shop," I wore my Beaufort on pretty much a daily basis. After about four weeks of this, though, I realized that I really prefer my Bedale over my Beaufort. While the Beaufort is certainly a good jacket, especially if you are actually out hunting birds, since I am on the shorter side, the Bedale is really a much easier jacket for day-to-day wear for me.
You may have seen my post last week about the Southern states flag belts being sold by Traditional State. Well, company founder Mason Jones emailed me yesterday to pass along a 25% off code that you can use on any orders placed now through the end of the holidays (I don't know if that means until December 25th or December 31st). When you place an order through the website, enter the code "christmas09" in the Apply Promo Code box. With the code, belts come out to around $22, which is a steal. I believe that Greg from Manifold Destiny already took advantage of this yesterday.
Unfortunately, Mason did confirm for me that there are no plans for a Virginia belt in the foreseeable future, but hopefully they'll get to it someday.
For the rest of you, I hope that "Santa" is able to take advantage of this deal.
About a month ago I wrote about the Bowery drafting tote at J. Crew and compared it to some similar bags that are currently available. In the process, I concluded that in spite of its $98 price tag, it really was a pretty good value.
Well, this past Saturday, my wallet a little heavier with money that I made from house/pet-sitting, I went over to J. Crew to take another look. When I got there, I found that the bag wasn't where I had originally seen it, but was in the back with the sale items. When I looked at the price tag, I saw that it had been marked down to $50, and when I took it up to the register, it rang up for $30! I don't know if this was some sort of mistake or not, especially since the bag still costs $98 on the J. Crew website, but I'm certainly not complaining.
I have to say, while I think that bag was a pretty good value for $98, for $30 this thing is an absolute steal. Here are some additional pictures, in case you're interested. As for thoughts on the bag, I don't really have any complaints. As you can see from the pictures, the interior pockets are plentiful and useful--something that is too often lacking on a lot of tote bags. Its also large enough to fit my laptop, along with a textbook or two, so it certainly versatile. While the bag is promoted as being waxed, it's not like someone took a Barbour jacket and made it into a bag. However, I am somewhat tempted to give an application of Barbour wax to see how it would look. Regardless, it seems pretty well-made and the materials seem like they are going to age really nicely.
If you're interested in the bag, I suggest getting on the phone with your local J. Crew to see if they have marked them down in the store as I suspect these things will sell out quickly once they get marked down on the website.
Over the Rhine is really a fantastic band, and their most recent Christmas album, Snow Angels, is a great one to pull out this time of the year. It came out in 2007, but hasn't lost any of its charm (nor has Karin Bergquist's voice). "All I Get for Christmas is Blue" and "Darlin' (Christmas is Coming)" are two of my personal favorites, but Linford Detweiler's piece "Goodbye Charles" is definitely a stand-out. It's a tribute to Charles Schultz that is played in the style of the Vince Guaraldi Trio and sounds like it could have been on the original A Charlie Brown Christmas album. I was even fortunate enough to hear them perform a few songs from this album at their concert that I went to in Athens last year.
One of the major points of this post is to let you know that you can currently stream this album for free on Over the Rhine's website. You can go there and look for the Over the Rhine Record Player image on the right side of the page, or you can click here and open the player directly. Merry Christmas.
Cheese straws are, quite simply, a classic Southern snack. Equally at home with a glass of sweet tea on the porch as they are being served at a cocktail party, cheese straws are an unpretentious but delicious choice. And while cheese straws are fairly simple in concept, the ingredient list is basically just cheese, flour, butter, salt and cayenne pepper, it is in the execution that things become tricky.
A proper cheese straw is light and dense and should have a good snap to it. It should not be too gummy or crumbly, nor should it be crispy like a potato chip. The two keys here are proper density of the dough, the proper texture/shape.
My mom (who is a frequent reader of A Trip Down South and will probably be excited that she is getting a shout-out) makes, in my opinion, the best cheese straws in the country (pictured above). They are just the right texture, which is due in large part to the use of a hand-crank cookie press. She has an electric cookie press that she tried once, but they just didn't turn out right. Whenever she makes them, it's usually only a matter of days, if not hours, before they are gone.
Unfortunately, getting your hands on some really good cheese straws can be somewhat difficult. While they do sell them at stores like Publix, they are usually quite expensive ($6 or $7 for a pretty small bag), and even those aren't as good as homemade ones. If you've got a suggestion for readers as to what some of the better store brands are, I'm sure others would appreciate it.
This is a little late, but if you've been reading here for a while, you may remember last year's post on our family's 3rd Annual Day After Thanksgiving Sporting Clay Shoot. Well, this year, we added a few more family members and went back to Brush Creek Sporting Club for the 4th Annual Shoot. Here's a picture of our whole crew: Here is last year's picture of my brother and I and the one from this year. If Barbour is looking to endorse us, we're open to discussions. Oh, and I won for the fourth year in a row. Hopefully I'll be able to hang on again next year as the competition is getting stiff.
I've known Greg from the blog Manifold Destiny since back in high school. We even played lacrosse together back on the ramshackle team that myself and another guy started at our school. While our paths have crossed on several fora and other blogs, Greg decided to start his own blog a couple of weeks ago and so far he's off to a great start. While it's still fairly new, Greg's got a good eye and is doing a good job of finding the best of the best around the blogosphere. Be sure to give it a peek, and look for it in my "Curriculum" blog roll on the right.
You may have noticed the new logo up top. I had designed this logo and then my friend Sarah Margaret hand drew it and painted it in watercolor to give it a more organic feel. She's pretty awesome. I'm pleased with how it came out and hope that you like it.
As a sort of a follow-up to Lawrence's post the other day about O'Connell's in Buffalo, here are some photos that I took of the inside of the store when I paid a visit (made a pilgrimage?) three years ago. Even these pictures don't completely capture the sheer volume of stuff available there. Really quite staggering. Plus there is an upstairs. There are approximately 48,000 sweaters in this picture. Note the college mufflers near the ceiling. Note the wall of ties and sweaters crammed in above the suits Need a suit? Need some pants? Sorry this picture is fuzzy, but please note the stacks of Alden boxes on the back right wall That is a wall full of shetland sweaters behind those coats