Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

ShelfDig aims to support buying local by making it easier to browse and search Providence stores online.

ShelfDig aims to support buying local by making it easier to browse and search Providence stores online.

I didn’t want to start another company.

But then it occurred to me. Why is it so easy for me to find things like balloons or coffee mugs or journals online, but I am often clueless where I’d find these items nearby? Wouldn’t it be great if a website could help me shop in my own neighborhood?

You might say I spend too much in front of my computer, and not enough time in person at the stores near me. Apparently, I’m not the only one. Hence, ShelfDig was born.

A group of us came together to create the website at www.shelfdig.com, and we launched it just this month to the public. We currently have partnerships with over 60 stores in Providence from Stock Culinary Goods to Army/Navy to Creatoyvity to Cluck! to Homestyle.

You can do a search on the site, or if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, we created gift guides for children’s, babies and pet items, as well as gift guides for cooks & foodies, geeks & techiessports & recreation, and the ultimate ‘buy local’ guide with locally-made items. You can even browse by neighborhood.

If you’re curious, come stop by our table at the Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers’ Market. Our team members (Geoff, Allan, Frieda, and I) will be there to meet-and-greet, offer demos of the site, answer questions, and hand out swag to all passersby (kids are welcome to pick up stickers too!). We’ll be in the market entrance to the South Hallway from 9 am to 1 pm on Saturdays November 21, December 12, January 9 and February 6.

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farm-dog-and-veg

Music at the market…

Guest post by Nancy Caronia, a Lecturer in the Honors Program at University of Rhode Island. Check out her blog at http://ncaronia.wordpress.com/

fennel

From the bounty of the market: fresh fennel.

I’m from Brooklyn, NY, but I lived in Central New York for ten years. In New York City, I would frequent the Union Square Market, and in Central New York, I happily shopped at the Rochester Public Market. I love farmers, I love the food they grow, and I love supporting them and eating their food.

That’s why I appreciate the Coastal Growers Market near my current home in South County, Rhode Island. The four-season farmers market is like both of these markets, but actually reminds me more of the market when I lived in Cassis, France during a semester long writing fellowship with The Camargo Foundation. The vendors in the open-air market would teach me French and I would bring home the loaves of hot olive bread, fresh greens, rabbit, olives, cheese and fresh eggs. Each vendor was kind, whether I was buying two heads of lettuce or a bouquet of mimosa that was large enough to make me feel like a beauty pageant winner. They were patient and funny as I made a mockery of the French language. At the market, I met the people with whom I would soon be hiking buddies and purchased ingredients that meant I made excellent meals without ever stepping foot into a supermarket.

zephyr-customer

A customer browses at the Zephyr Farm stand.

The Coastal Growers’ Market takes me back to the market in Cassis. The farmers and vendors are kind, patient, and caring—towards their customers and about the food and products they provide. In the summer, when the market is located at Casey Farm, I meet up with friends and we sit all morning on picnic benches and listen to music by different local bands each Saturday morning while drinking iced tea or a cold-pressed iced coffee from The Coffee Guy and eat the most amazing tacos in New England by Chef Jake Rojas of Tallulah’s Tacos.

In the winter, the market moves indoors to Lafayette Mill and we still listen to great music and drink—only it’s more likely to be an apple cider that’s been freshly pressed by Barden Family Orchard or a juice from Fully Rooted. There’s Seven Stars for croissants and fresh crusty bread and Bravo Wood Fire Pizza. We meet up with our farmers and buy our groceries for the week as well. I get my greens from Mark, the hydroponic farmer of Abasaloma Greenhouse. I buy my fresh eggs from Zephyr Farm. And I indulge in nitrate-free bacon from Pat’s Pasteurized, where I’ve gotten to know Deb and Annie, aka Santa’s Elves, who do service work feeding the homeless throughout the year.

I get my fresh seafood from The Local Catch and Matunuck Oyster Farm, where the young children love to hear Gabe’s stories about bivalves and watch as he opens an oyster just to watch their eyes light up in delight. There’s also Yorerganics where I purchase my laundry soapbuds and Susannah of Susannah’s Ice Cream and Sorbet, who makes the best darn Meyer lemon sorbet no matter what the season.

Coastal Growers’ Market has made my transition to Rhode Island simple. I’ve made new friends and I’ve become part of a community of people who care about food and healthy living. If you need holiday gifts, the market is the perfect stop. And if you just want to meet up with terrific people and have a relaxing Saturday morning, the market folks will greet you with open arms.

Coastal Growers’ Market
Lafayette Mill
650 Ten Rod Road
North Kingstown, RI
Every Saturday from 10am to 1pm until May 2, 2015

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Geoff and I both grew up with the tradition of Christmas and have continued it with our girls despite the fact that we are not religious. Although our daughters know that Santa Claus isn’t real, we all love pretending during the holiday season. Here are some ways we’ve celebrated Christmas in Rhode Island…

1. Pick Your Own Christmas Tree

It’s the ultimate ‘paper versus plastic’ debate — we’ve chosen a real tree because ultimately it’s more sustainable (another tree can be grown) and so much more festive to have the smell of pine in the air. This year, we once again got our tree from Lockwood Tree Farm. Trees get collected after the holidays in Providence — don’t make the mistake of one over-eager dad who tried to burn his tree in the fireplace and nearly set his house on fire.

2. ‘Christmas’ Waterfire

Tonight (December 13), there will be a special (and as always, free) WaterFire lighting to enjoy. It really is much warmer by the glowing fires, although you’ll still need a coat, and a hat, and gloves, and a scarf.

3. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

The Providence Ballet also will put on a performance tonight (December 13) at Rhode Island College of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

4. Christmas at a Mansion

Somehow seeing someone else’s house decked out in holiday spirit can be as satisfying (and a lot easier) than your own. Christmas at The Newport Mansions continues through January 5. I personally love to visit Blithewold, a 45-room English style manor house adorned with holiday decorations. Don’t forget to stop in the Carriage House where the “Gingerbread Wonderland” features mini-gingerbread houses of all styles made by area children. And right in Providence, you can visit the John Brown House Museum‘s Home for the Holidays.

5. A Christmas Carol

The Trinity Repertory Theater has certainly perfected its performance of the classic Dickens tale. The show has moments that can be scarier for children, although of course we were brave (or stupid) enough to bring our two-year-old one year. Let’s just say, it was a good thing we packed plenty of lollipops. Anyway, the show kept all of us mesmerized. I also recently discovered there’s another production of A Christmas Carol featuring Big Nazo puppets, which is definitely on my list to check out.

6. The Nutcracker

Festival Ballet's Nutcracker

Festival Ballet’s Nutcracker

Festival Ballet puts on a stellar performance of The Nutcracker at the Providence Performing Arts Center. For next year, you might also consider the Island Moving Co.‘s performance at one of the Newport Mansions, Rosecliff.

7. Gingerbread Houses and Holiday Cookies

Of course, a great way to celebrate is to make your own or build a gingerbread house (or village as the girls did this year) at home. There are also several decorating events and contests (everything’s a contest apparently) throughout the state. Check out the Decorate Your Own Gingerbread Man event on December 21, 2013 at the Smith-Abbleby House Museum in Smithfield, RI. The Ocean House in Westerly also hosts a Gingerbread Village Competition and Reception on December 16, 2013.

8. Ski, Skate and Sled

There are plenty of indoor and outdoor skating options throughout the state, including the Kennedy Plaza rink in Providence. If we actually get enough snow, you’ll probably find us sledding on the East Side. We still haven’t been, but there’s kid-friendly skiing in Yawgoo Valley Ski and Sports Area in Exeter, RI.

9. Shop Local

Two years ago, I came up with a list of great places to shop locally for children’s gifts. There are also guides to Shop Downcity and the Shops at Hope Street, which includes stores like Kreatelier which has wonderful hand-made items for adults and children.

While you’re shopping, get into the spirit by donating gifts at any one of the local toy drives: Children’s Friend or Toys for Tots (Whisky Republic in Providence is accepting gift donations today December 13), for instance.

10. Holiday Pops

Last but not least, tonight the Boston Pops comes down to Providence Performing Arts Center for a special local performance. We went years ago without children when we were living in Boston. I think older children (especially aspiring musicians) certainly would appreciate the performance.

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Some of the furniture currently available at House Resale Gallery.

Some of the furniture currently available at House Resale Gallery.


Last weekend, we stopped by the new House Resale Gallery where we met founder and proprietor Kate Keizler who was busy setting up shop. In her store, currently open only on weekend afternoons, you’ll find a great collection of lightly used and restored items–tables, chairs, couches, rugs, cushions, lamps, dishes, art, etc. In our first visit, we bought two Danish modern chairs with red fabric and a red-painted iron lamp–both of which were in her “to be finished pile” but that didn’t stop us. And here’s a revolutionary idea: she’s planning on updating her website with new images of items weekly.

House Resale Gallery
46 Dike Street
Providence RI
Saturday & Sunday 1-5 pm or by appointment
www.housegalleryri.com

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Antiques, handmade crafts, clothes and plenty of food trucks at the opening day of Providence Flea.

Antiques, handmade crafts, clothes and plenty of food trucks at the opening day of Providence Flea.

It’s exactly what Providence has been missing — a weekly flea market. Held every Sunday from 10 am til 4 pm (extended through September 15), you’ll find hand-crafted jewelry, lightly worn clothes, antique furniture, housewares, and the like. And there’s no need to wonder where to find the food trucks on Sundays. You’ll find them at Providence Flea.

Providence Flea
www.providenceflea.com

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One of the many stocked shelves at the new Gourmet Heaven on Meeting Street.

One of the many stocked shelves at the new Gourmet Heaven on Meeting Street.

It feels like we willed it into existence. The new location of Gourmet Heaven on Meeting Street near Thayer had formerly been occupied by a string of lousy restaurants, in which no one ever ate. Upon their most recent vacancy, Geoff and I agreed it would be a great space for a little market. And, just a few days ago, that’s exactly what it became. Gourmet Heaven, which has another location in Providence (as well as two in New Haven, CT), recently opened its doors with a full line of convenience store items, a salad and hot food bar, a deli counter, and a small produce section.

salad

A hand-picked salad of arugula, romaine, roasted brussel sprouts and onions, string beans, almonds and fresh mozzarella.

Gourmet Heaven seems to model itself after a New York convenience store/deli — rather than just a place to get a package of eggs or some milk, you can find that and everything from shelled chestnuts, Patsy’s tomato sauce, natural candies, and plenty more. I am generally strictly against salad bars, although I’ve found their line of freshly washed lettuces, grilled vegetables, and tomatoes and mozzarella too tempting. I’ve already eaten there twice. And perhaps the best part: they are open 24 hours.

Next on my wish list: a pharmacy near Thayer Street.

Gourmet Heaven

173 Weybosset St. Providence, RI
(401) 536-9000

Note: Meeting Street location has closed.

www.gourmetheaven.com

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The proud owner of a handmade doll–that is, made by her very own hands.

Soccer, gymnastics, piano — these are the afterschool activities that may typically come to mind. But sewing?

Since Geoff bought himself a sewing machine last year, our five-year-old daughter has taken an interest in a new type of arts–the material kind. So for her birthday, she received a private sewing workshop from Kreatelier’s Alexis Cormier. When I left her there with Geoff, I figured she’d make a little hand-puppet or something. Instead, I arrived an hour later to discover she had nearly completed a doll in her own likeness, down to the curly hair.

Of course, in addition to the sewing workshops for children and adults, Kreatelier is also a store selling locally handmade bags, pillows, fabric jewelry, clothes and other items. And for anyone not interested in making a doll from scratch, those are for sale too–complete with custom clothes and shoes.

Kreatelier
804 Hope Street
Providence, RI
www.kreatelier.com

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