Tag: Art

I Tried The AtmosFlare 3D Drawing Pen #Sponsored

I received this sponsored opportunity to try the new AtmosFlare 3D Drawing Pen through the Missouri Women Bloggers and RedwoodVentures.

Here at Jeni Eats, I don’t pursue a lot of sponsored content. However, I’m open to opportunities if they seem like they’d be a good fit, offer travel opportunities, or pique my curiosity. This post falls in the latter.

Soon after moving to St. Louis, I joined the Missouri Women Bloggers group. I’ve connected with some friendly bloggers and received opportunities to apply for some local travel and networking opportunities. When I saw the coordinators mention trying this new 3D Pen, I threw my hat into the ring. 3D printing is a fascinating concept and I wanted to see what it was like to use a 3D pen.

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A Long Minnesotan Goodbye: The Viking, The Landing & The Lady #FarewellTour2015

My farewell tour to North Iowa was like a Minnesota goodbye. It was long and drawn-out in the best possible way.

Beth and I said many of our farewells together. As we unpack in St. Louis, she packs for North Carolina. Here are some highlights from the final leg(s) of our Farewell Tour:

I visited Amy Hild’s gravesite with several North Bloggers. After we paid our respects, we convened at The Viking Drive-Inn where she used to speak fondly about working many summers ago. It’s a tiny restaurant that serves summer treats like soft serve ice cream, corn dogs, and burgers. If you weren’t specifically looking for The Viking, you might not know it’s there, except for the people milling around outside with ice cream cones. There didn’t appear to be a sign. Customers can sit at several outdoor tables a small or find a stool at the small dine-in counter.

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Small ice cream cones really aren’t that small and large cones are behemoth. The Viking’s chocolate ice cream hit the spot, but I did notice many people enjoying their most popular flavor, black raspberry. I can see why Amy enjoyed working at the Viking so much.

  • River City Sculptures On Parade

I’ve had my eye on Humpty Dumpty since the new River City Sculptures came to town in May.

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His real name is Mr. Eggwards and he’s one of 40 sculptures sprinkled throughout downtown Mason City. River City Sculptures on Parade partners with SculptureOne, a nonprofit that also brings a similar public art program to Sioux Falls, SD, Mankato, MN and Eau Claire, WI. Artists allow the cities to borrow the sculptures for one year. In September, residents can vote for the statue they want the city to keep, while they’re all available for purchase. The entire River City Sculpture walk is 1.6 miles long.

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I crashed Beth & Donna’s sculpture walk long enough to meet Mr. Eggwards. It appears that he has his eye on Beth.

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I’m not sure if you are supposed to ride this bird. Beth and Donna made me do it.

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  • Enjoying a meal with house vinaigrette, red sauce & calamari at Pasta Bella.

Pasta Bella opened in Mason City about one year ago and it’s the only Italian restaurant in town. Fortunately, we really enjoy their food. I am especially fond of their intriguing house vinaigrette, which is thicker than most and red-hued, and like their well-balanced red sauce. It’s not too sweet and not too tangy. Pasta Bella serves generous portions of their fried calamari (rings only) with a lot of lemon. On our last visit, the calamari was fried perfectly and tasted fresh. The 1910 Grille at the Frank Lloyd Wright hotel serves delicious fried calamari (both rings and tentacles), albiet the portion is a little smaller. 

Pasta bella farewell Collage

A basket of warm garlic knots come with each meal and staff pack carefully them in to-go orders. In fact, the last to-go meal we ordered here was packed immaculately so that nothing dribbled or tipped. The pizza here is delicious, too.

Strangely enough, there aren’t that many lakeside restaurants located along Clear Lake, Iowa. I’ll always remember The Landing because it’s where I tried my first Moscow Mule. This cocktail is typically made with ginger beer, vodka, and lime juice and served in a copper mug.

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Moscow Mules aren’t Iowa specific, but they seem to be more popular in North Iowa than any other place we’ve lived. The Landing also offers a concise menu and dishes are served in big metal baskets lined with newspaper. The sweet potato fries are especially delicious and worth the swap.

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If it’s sunny, don’t forget to bring a hat or sunglasses. The sun shines bright onto the patio. Live bands often play on the patio in the evenings and it’s really a relaxing location to watch the sun set.

Lady of the Lake
Our final farewell tour event embarked on a cruise on The Lady of the Lake, a paddle wheeler boat that circles Clear Lake. Many of our friends who have lived in the Mason City-Clear Lake area have ridden the Lady of the Lake many times. People often rent the boat for weddings or work functions while public cruises are offered daily.

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You can only pay for admission and snacks/drinks with cash or checks. Don’t forget to bring your own water bottle on board if it’s a warm evening, otherwise water costs $1.

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This evening was perfect for a cruise. We enjoyed the clear skies and slight breeze.

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  • Ritz Onion Rings at the Clear Lake Farmers Market. 

The Farewell stop I made before driving to St. Louis was at the Clear Lake Farmers Market on Saturday morning. I heard about the famous Ritz Onion ring food truck and craved a taste. The Ritz was a famous Clear Lake supper club that opened in the 20’s and operated until a fire destroyed it in 1999. Their onion rings were beloved and I’ve heard the version from this food truck taste the same.

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So hot coffee and onion rings might not be the best combination at 9 a.m., but it was totally worth it for a taste of Clear Lake history. One portion of onion rings ($7) is huge. The batter is shiny like lacquer and very crisp and the onion is tender instead of sliding out of the shell. If onion rings is not your thing first thing in the morning, you can also order donuts and breakfast sandwiches from the food truck.

Now that our farewell is over, it’s time to get acquainted with my new home of St. Louis, MO. Thanks you for joining me on this crazy Midwestern journey! More to come after I unpack a few more boxes. 

I Went To One Of Those Painting Parties

Painting parties. You know what I’m talking about.

You’ve seen them all over your Facebook feed. Groups of ladies possibly sloshed on wine, gleefully posing in that standard school picture formation (two rows, one standing, one kneeling), holding their version of the same painting.

These parties are all the rage around here. They’re blowing up my Facebook newsfeed and I’ve heard rumors that in bigger cities, they’re so popular that they have waiting lists. When a North Iowa Blogger offered us an opportunity to join a painting party, I knew I had to experience it.

Crafts and painting projects typically aren’t my thing. I’m impatient when it comes to making things that aren’t food and I like to create things I can eat. However, I do like to spend time with my friends and try new experiences. Pus, I had a jolly time at the wreath-making class even though I couldn’t eat my wreath. It’s still hanging on my front door and makes me happy every time I see it.

This particular painting party occurred at Country Heritage Bed & Breakfast in Hampton, Iowa. The company Creative Spirits of Ames, Iowa facilitated the class. Beforehand, our blogger group browsed through their gallery of paintings and voted on recreating a farmhouse on the prairie.

We arrived at the bed and breakfast and found it transformed into an art studio. After we chose a spot with an easel, we paid our $35 admission and the Creative Spirits staff outfitted us with an apron and a paper plate pallet dotted with squirts of paint.

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I felt a little apprehensive while I waited for the artist to begin. I remember sending out a tweet that said, “Help, I’m at one of those painting parties and I don’t know how to paint and I don’t have any wine.”

With my limited art skills, I wondered if I could actually create a painting that resembled a real object. Would I spend $35 and end up with a blob? Barn or blob, barn or blob, I wondered. And about that wine. . . seriously, where was it!? It could either help or hurt my painting abilities. Bottles of Iowan fruit wine were available by the bottle, so we shared.

Time to begin. Our artist guided us through two versions of the barn painting one small step at a time. For example, her first instruction was to draw the horizon line with a medium brush dipped in green paint mixed with a little bit of black. Then, she walked us through painting the outline of the barn.

For a moment I got behind. I considered tossing in the towel and painting a giant smiley face. The thought of revealing a smiley face at the end of class cracked me up, but then I remembered I paid $35 and did my best to catch up.

By the time we began painting the prairie, I had sipped half a glass of blackberry wine and felt slightly footloose and fancy free. “Have a flappy wrist” the artist suggested as she demonstrated how to draw big green X’s.

Barn ex marks

Already there.

Barn almost done

In the end, my little prairie farmhouse did, in fact, look like a little prairie farmhouse. Totally not a blob. Donna and I took a sister photo with our finished paintings. Someone once thought we were sisters so now we roll with it.

Donna and Jeni Painting Party

Concluding Thoughts:
From start to finish, we painted for about two hours.

I produced artwork that resembles an actual “thing” and hope this encourages even the most hesitant of painters. The artist walked through the two versions of the painting slowly enough that everyone in our group really did create pieces that looked close enough to the example. Of course, our paintings varied and some added their own flair such as wind turbines and tractors. My barn looked like a barn, so there was no way I was attempting a wind turbine without step-by-step instructions.

The $35 price seems fair. The Creative Spirits team sets up all of the easels and makes sure that everyone has what they need like refills of paint or fresh cups of water to rinse off paint brushes. Country Heritage provided a relaxing location, beverages, and snacks. Because of liquor license laws, the B&B could only sell wine by the bottle rather than glass, but each bottle was about $12 making it an affordable share. If you attend a class at one of their locations, you can BYOB. They’ll also travel offsite if a big enough group RSVP’s.

Participating in this class taught me that I’m in the company of perfectionists which made me feel less neurotic. Because I struggled with wanting to make each feature perfect, I can’t say this experience was relaxing, but it sure was fun. Obviously, a glass of wine helped with that whole perfectionism thing.

Have you ever taken one of these group painting & wine parties? What was it like and what did you paint? 

Webster City (Part I): Kringla, Mug Cake & Creating Magic Out Of Small Towns

Disclaimer: Deb Brown, the Executive Director of the Webster City Area Chamber of Commerce invited me to spend the day in Webster City as part of the “Seven Bloggers on a Saturday” tour. All opinions are my own

There is no road trip too near or too far to thrill me. This weekend, I joined six North Iowa Bloggers on a road trip on hour south to Webster City. Deb Brown Executive Director of the Webster City Area Chamber of Commerce was instrumental in coordinating Hampton, Iowa’s first Franklin County Harvest Bloggers Tour which I participated in this past fall. As a blogger, she is no stranger to participating in bloggers tours, either.

Like Franklin County, I was humbled by the hospitality we received from everyone who hosted us during the tour. Deb coordinated visits with owners of ten unique businesses, lunch at the Grid Iron Grill, tours of the historic Jane Young House, Kendall Young Library, and a drive through the holiday light display at Briggs Woods Campground, all within the span of seven hours.

Strangers entrusted us with their stories. They hoped we would share with our readers and I feel honored to do so. Near the end of our tour, Deb stated something that’s echoed in my mind ever since:

“We create magic out of small towns because we have to.”

I realize no community is perfect, but it’s evident Webster City is home to people creating magic. The individuals we spoke to repeated time and time again that they invest their resources in their hometown because they want to create the type of community in which they want to live. No matter if you live in a large or small community, within or outside of Iowa, I hope you enjoy my three-part series about Webster City. This city girl has a lot to learn from those who create magic in their small towns.

Here’s Part I:  

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Webster City, a town of 8,000, has an attractive main street with few vacant storefronts. Living in Mason City, I’m finding myself without a Mexican, Hispanic, or Asian grocery store for the first time in my life. I gleefully shouted out loud when I  noticed a Mexican and Asian grocery store along the main street. When I expressed enthusiasm about finding an Asian grocery, Deb mentioned Webster City has a large Laotian community and added that a Laotian family is preparing to open an egg roll and spring roll shop soon.

We began our tour by gathering at SOS Vintage, a new shop that offers refurbished and vintage items. The only antique stores I’ve visited felt chaotic and dingy, but SOS feels elegant, just as owner Denise Smith stated she wanted it to in a newspaper article published before the store opened in April.

SOS Vintage Exterior

Denise kindly welcomed us to SOS with freshly baked scones and kringla. I was mesmerized by her front counter that was decorated with keys and coins.

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Mayor Doug Getter took the time to personally welcome us to town. He described some of the city’s latest economic development efforts, including an indoor barramundi operation, and recommended Webster City Meat Locker’s which sells some of his favorite bacon.

Of course, we broke kringla, because that’s the cordial thing to do when you meet someone new and there’s kringla.

Kringla Collage

I liked how SOS sells a combination of old and new products. This print caught my eye and I bought it with a gift certificate Denise generously gave to each blogger. Anyone that’s attended a Lutheran college is familiar with the word “vocation”. This screamed vocation and so I bought it because it makes me feel exceedingly happy.

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Denise Mendenhall who owns Relax the Bath sells handmade bath products at SOS. I was over the moon when I saw she included soap and kumquat body butter in our goody bags. Jake and I like stocking our bathrooms with locally-made soaps which don’t irritate our skin.

SOS Vintage shares their shop with Timothy and Denise Morgan who craft handcrafted leather goods at Ti-De Creations. They caught me admiring the two purses on the top left shelf and brought them to the counter. Timothy described how he creates the intricate etching by hand. The tubular bag decorated the pink roses is designed for motorcycles. These bags are popular among motorcyclists because they craft them in many colors and sizes larger than the typical motorcycle bags

The Morgans gave us with our choice of key chain. I’m sure no one’s surprised I chose a paw print.

Leather Collage A second local business that features handmade artwork is Produce Station PotteryProduce Station functions as a store, classroom and founder and artist-in-gallery Maureen Saunder’s pottery studio. She founded the studio in 1990 out of the community’s need for a space where people could create and purchase local art.

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Maureen reminded me of a mentor I had in the Twin Cities and I felt very much at home.

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The station’s first artist-in-residence Man Ho “Billy” Cho creates much of the beautiful pottery and raku. Cho originally traveled to Iowa from Hong Kong to attend college. He is currently completing his Masters in Fine Arts degree on a full-ride scholarship at the University of Iowa.

Maureen described how she can identify one of Cho’s pieces because his lids always fit perfectly, which is no small feat in the pottery world. Learn more about Cho at Billy Cho Ceramics.

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We followed Maureen on a tour of her studio. I was enthralled with the shelves of paints and dyes.

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I was also smitten with this painting.

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Even though the weather was cloudy, the sun shone just enough to illuminate the stained glass window.

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An art garden in the back of the studio features a bonfire pit and, if I remember correctly, a raku kiln.

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After our tour, Maureen treated us to our choice of a chocolate or red velvet mug cake served in their beautiful pottery. She described becoming inspired to build a bonfire pit in the pottery garden after attending a bonfire at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis where she enjoyed a similar mug treat.

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We had to leave for our next stop along the tour soon after we enjoyed our mug cakes. The only downside to the tour was that weren’t able to leisurely browse each store, but Deb wanted to collaborate with as many business owners as possible during our short visit. We all left Webster City wanting to return soon for more in-depth exploration. Sometimes, building curiosity is an underrated accomplishment in itself.

Coming up next: Part II (Small business visits & lunch at Grid Iron Grill), Part II (Jane Young House & Library)

Participating bloggers: Sara of All in an Iowan Mom’s Day, Beth Ann of It’s Just Life, Donna of Donnahup.com, and Amy of Modern Rural Living & Alicia of Fit & Farm

Thanks again to Deb Brown of the Area Chamber, Denise at SOS Vintage, Mayor Getter,Timothy & Denise of Ti-De Creations & Maureen of Produce Station Pottery.

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