our blog

Be sure to check back regularly to see just what chips have been falling in our "slow studio".

Just completed. Crow walnut trunk coffee table

This one will be hanging out here in town - in a beautiful modern home on the Tennessee River.  Kinda new age FLW design.  The delivery was rained out this afternoon. 

Walnut root coffee table just out of finishing room.

Walnut root coffee table just out of finishing room.

Driftwood in the River

Frassie found a couple of nice pieces of driftwood in the river during our afternoon swim Wednesday. 

One of my all time fav sandwiches - Banh Mi

This was my first visit to the nice but small Chinatown in Las Vegas.  Although fairly small, comprising of only a couple of large shopping centers (for the most part).  I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my fav sandwich shops of all time - Lee's.  

Linda and I found Lee's in LA a decade or so ago.  There's one near the airport.  So we made it a regimen to stop by on the way to our return flight, pick up a couple of sandwiches (always on freshly made french baguette)  for the flight.  Not sure if there's much better really.

Looks like the franchise is growing, as of course it would.  This sandwich is at the top of my list, along with - Central Grocery's (and other New Orleans french quarter) muffaletta, 

Lee's Vietnamese Sandwich - One of my all time Favs

Lee's Vietnamese Sandwich - One of my all time Favs

Main Street Hotel & Casino - refreshing change from the strip

After staying at Bill's Gambling Hall for years (right between Bellagio and Paris) on the strip, I was forced to find an alternative, when I saw that Bill's had closed.  Looks to be standard practice of demolishing the old and replacing with new and shiny.  

Main Street - i love this hotel!  This is the first time I've stayed downtown in Vegas, and I really like - maybe love this place.  Really nice (although not exactly the Wynn or Trump) but what's wonderful is the pace and the other patrons.  For the most part, they are older Hawaiians.  

I knew that the number one vacation spot for Hawaiians was Las Vegas.  What I didn't know is that they seem to all stay at these two adjoining sister properties downtown, Main Street Hotel & the California. 

The interesting thing is these two properties really cater to the Hawaiians.  They have Hawaiian travel personnel on staff.  And across the cross walk to the California they have a couple of amazing and inexpensive hawaiian/asian restaurants, and a couple more that do an amazing job with fresh fish.

What I like about this hotel.

1)  the pace

2)  didn't see a single prostitute

3)  cool old hawaiians everywhere you look

4)  4 blocks from the World Market Center

5)  2 blocks from the "Freemont Experience" 

6)  Every employee I met had worked there for a decade+. 

7)  $32  Yup, this cool, clean very nice, hotel in great location was only $32 a night.  I'm pretty sure this will be my home away from home for the two market's each year for year's to come.  Really love this place.


Main Street Casino Stained Glass Ceiling

Main Street Casino Stained Glass Ceiling

Main street urinals paneled with pieces of the Berlin Wall. 

Main street urinals paneled with pieces of the Berlin Wall. 

There are interesting details throughout the property.  Even the Urinals are cool - paneled with pieces from the Berlin Wall. 

Obviously doesn't have the cool modern vibe of the new Aria or Cosmopolitan - but at $32 bucks this ones hard to beat.

Obviously doesn't have the cool modern vibe of the new Aria or Cosmopolitan - but at $32 bucks this ones hard to beat.

Las Vegas Market 2013

I just returned home last night after a week at this year's Las Vegas Market ( as well as two days at the AWFS Woodworking Show that's held every other year. 

Really a great show for us this year.  Made a couple of new business relationships that I hope to be sharing quite soon.

New Installation pics - Walnut & acrylic coffee table

Walnut & acrylic coffee table

Just received these pics of a brand new installation.  Collaborating with master designer Judy Fox on this one was really fun, and I think worked quite well.  

The top is solid walnut.  The two legs are natural edge walnut slabs sandwiched between two slices of .94 thick plexy.  304 stainless bolts.   

Great work Judy!

Her contact info:

Judith M. Fox, ASID, of Markham Interiors, Fayetteville, NY.

Modern acrylic walnut coffee table

Modern acrylic walnut coffee table

Modern walnut and  acrylic coffee table

Modern walnut and  acrylic coffee table

Local Jason Isbell on NPR's Fresh Air today - again

Our little town, and/or member's of the community seem to be on Terri Gross' A-list.

I continue to be pleasantly shocked driving down the road, and hearing about something or someone from our community.  Today, it was Rocker Jason Isbell, on NPR's Fresh Air.  He told a great story of how the name of his first band, "the 400 unit" was originally inspired.

For decades our little town - Florence, and the area "the Shoals" wasn't exactly something to be singing about.  Well, certainly it was back during the recording studio days at Fame and Muscle Shoals Sound, but in the mean time, I have to admit that there was probably more to be embarrassed about than proud of. 

So much fun, now that times have changed.  There's not a week that goes by that another little jewel is revealed here.  And even better, I think most of us have gained confidence, and have significantly increased their vision of just where we are/should be going. 

I look forward to sharing these tidbits and jewels about the town I'm again, proud to call home.  There's lots to brag about, and even more in the pipeline.

* I have to admit that I actually have never met Jason.  Something else to look forward to. 

Florence Alabama local Jason Isbell's new album "southeastern" on NPR's Fresh Air with Terri Gross today. 

Florence Alabama local Jason Isbell's new album "southeastern" on NPR's Fresh Air with Terri Gross today. 

Do you know your corn farmer? Maybe you should.

There's nothing sweeter than fresh Alabama corn.  Typically there's a 10 day window (each year) that some big decisions must be made.  Well, that is if you are best friends with your farmer.

The best corn farmer in North Alabama, Jordan Hammer, called and shared that it was time.  He had just harvested his corn field, and if we wanted in, we had to move quick.

We arranged for our annual allotment of 12 dozen ears, met him just off the road in Killen, and made our annual transaction.  My gosh, I think Jordan outdid himself this year.  Possibly the best, sweetest corn ever.  Linda spent several hours each night after work shucking and creaming.  -- Not surprising that each night for dinner, just what we end up choosing for dinner.  yup, corn is a big part of it, if not the complete meal.  Monday night i gorged on nothing but four ears of corn.  Last night friends joined in on the fun, in a celebration of "corn, corn, and corn", well, there was also a tamale in there that Estella made (which are also quite amazing).

Corn may not be the best of summer, but it's gotta be in the top five. 

Just like almost all food choices, the best corn begins with our relationship with the farmer.  Building a friendship and trust (as well as cook, chef, restaurant owner)  with the farmer might just be the most important key to amazing southern food.  Well, that's the way we (not always successfully) try to do it.  

One more little rule that's worked for us is when dining out, if the owner is usually in the kitchen, there's a dang good chance the food will be exceptional.  We see this in the best restaurants in the country, as well as our local Chinese or Thai restaurant, or mexican taco trailer.   

Ah, one more that works for many, particularly when out of town, hungry and didn't do my restaurant home work - If there's a line get in it.  Usually works.  Sometimes presents some  - unexpected surprises. 

I'm fortunate that some people feel the same way about their furniture maker.   


By the way, Jordan has a second crop of corn started, that should be available in October or so. 

alabama corn season.

alabama corn season.

Museum of Alabama project

Just beginning to set up for the huge (for us) Museum of Alabama bench project.  This is the template the Washington DC design team provided.  Might just be some mods before we proceed. 

This is going to be fun one. 

Preparing for the amazing Museum of Alabama solid walnut bench project. 

Preparing for the amazing Museum of Alabama solid walnut bench project. 

new design with a history

Hoping to have pics to share of this one, all finished and assembled by the weekend.  It's in the finishing room being professionally sprayed with our earth/people friendly super beautiful, super durable water based finish.

new table design - pic of parts just before it was moved into the finishing room. 

new table design - pic of parts just before it was moved into the finishing room. 

Willow Fly Report

Although day temps are in the 80's , Fall is on it's way.  Days have been getting shorter for three weeks or so.  And now the Willow Flies are here again in mass.  Most afternoon's just as soon as I get home, my golden, Frassie, joins in on a cool down plunge and swim down river and back along the limestone cliff's and caves.  This is the South side (Florence side) of the Tennessee River - directly across from Dunnigan Slough.

This season I didn't observe the typical millions of flies seemingly everywhere in the air.  Only dozens flying.  But flies in the millions were floating along the river's south side, at a pretty brisk clip (looks like TVA is still dropping river lake levels from last weekend's rains.  On Wilson Lake it appeared to be a ribbon of floating willow flies approx 10' wide by possibly the length of the lake (13 miles or so I think).  I did receive a report that the flies were levitating in full force just a mile or so east.  


Google reminds us - it's Rembrandt's birthday

Just performed my first google search of the day, and was welcomed with a reminder that today is Rembrandt van Rijin's 407th birthday.   

Let's celebrate Rembrandt's 407th birthday.

Let's celebrate Rembrandt's 407th birthday.

Previous resident amazed with progress of the Shoals

I was honored with a brief visit yesterday by previous resident Steve Ainsley.  Locals will remember Steve as the publisher of the TimesDaily back in the late '80s, and proceeded to eventually become publisher of the Boston Globe.  He and his artist wife Ann have recently retired to Santa Barbara.

Steve is on a whirlwind driving/visiting/camping tour of the US.  He pulled up in his Volvo with bike mounted on top and camping gear, and several pairs of running shoes plus plus,  crammed in the back.

It appeared that he had zero room left, but we somehow managed to force a couple of small RWF pieces to add to his and Ann's growing collection.

We visited over lunch @ the new fab downtown Thai restaurant "Yumm".  He couldn't have been more impressed with his sushi lunch and the super cool interior and vibe.

Steve was instrumental in leading our community in a progressive and thoughtful direction decades ago.  Although he and Ann are firmly grounded in Santa Barbara,  I planted the seed of taking on some type of advisory role for the community's continued  supercool growth and direction.  His only comment is that we were doing just fine without his help.  I'm thinking we could do even "finer" with it!

I have a feeling Florence will be seeing more of Steve now that, for maybe the first time, he has time on his hands.   As everyone who knew Steve from our past, don't be a stranger!  We'd like to become your home away from (your new beautiful) home.  


Steve Ainsley, past Shoals resident - retired publisher Boston Globe

Steve Ainsley, past Shoals resident - retired publisher Boston Globe

steve ainsley road trip 2013

steve ainsley road trip 2013

Steve Ainsley road trip 

Steve Ainsley road trip 

Our own Rick Hall and Fame on NPR yesterday

Great surprise to hear our town Rick Hall and Fame documented on NPR yesterday.  Although I run into a few folks out of town that are "aware" of our little town's amazing music history, for the most part we've done a great job of keeping it a secret. 

Alabama's Tim Cook aced it yesterday at WWDC

I've been following,  working with as well as benefiting from Apple products since the Mac was introduced in '84.  I've only attended one WWDC years ago, but follow it, enjoying seeing what's around the corner each year.

I'm sure I could, but can't imagine running a business centered around Apple products as well as third party software. 

So much speculation that Apple can't continue their forward thinking products as they have in the past.  Probably can't maintain this momentum, with or without Steve.  But if yesterday's announcements and demonstrations of coming products is any indication, we will have plenty of amazing advances from Apple for quite a while. 

Alabama rarely get's good press or attention, many times rightly so.  It's great to see that one of Alabama's most glowing shining stars, Tim Cook is leading the entire outfit at Apple.  And the funny thing is most (here in Alabama) aren't aware of it.  

Alabama's own Tim Cook @ Apple WWDC 2013 Keynote.

Alabama's own Tim Cook @ Apple WWDC 2013 Keynote.

Jony Ives Apple Product demonstration @ WWDC

Steve Job's genius was often (and continues to be) manifested thru Jony Ive's product design.   Maybe not only his design, but his ability to communicate his design and inspiration.  Here's a bit of Jony's genius yesterday at WWDC:

I think there is a profound and enduring beauty 
in simplicity
in clarity
in efficiency
True simplicity is derived from so much more than from just the absence of clutter and ornamentation.  It's about bringing order to complexity.  

Cherry and sassafras rounds last week

Many beautiful spring mornings you might catch us finding outside work at the top of our list.  Last week, we spent several mornings planing these sassafras and cherry rounds.

A little metal can reek havoc with our carbide planing head.  Fortunately, we found this before our planer did.