Posts Tagged: the goods

Cool New Places in the Driftless!

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RockFilter Distillery

Hey – We love whiskey, and that’s just that. Local, hand crafted, organic whiskey and bourbon in the Driftless? Why, yes please! As they say at RockFilter, “No barn nor glass should be raised alone.” Nor spirit crafted, one could add. The RockFilter crew, just up the road in Spring Grove, Minnesota, have been hard at work creating unique whiskey and bourbon – beautifully bottled and sold in small batches, as well as served in their extremely well-designed tasting room just off the park in downtown SG. Local grain – and local talent – are playing out well for this start-up distillery. And we couldn’t be more excited to have (another) reason to visit this cute little town. Currently, the distillery and cocktail room are only open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, so check their website or Facebook for hours before visiting. www.rockfilterdistillery.com

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Kickapoo Coffee Viroqua Café

While you’re in Viroqua for the Harvest Parade October 14 (or any day, really), we also highly suggest that you swing in to the new Kickapoo Coffee Café. The Kickapoo Coffee kids have been hard at work upping their – already pretty amazing ­– brand the past couple years, with a successful partnership launch of a Milwaukee Kickapoo Café. So it only makes sense that they bring the good stuff to the masses at home in the Driftless. The space, on the corner of Terhune and Main St, is a clean, beautiful building with indoor / outdoor communal seating and simple, beautiful décor. Delicious baked goods from Crumb Bakery fill the case, in addition to simple, delicious, local café fare. Kickapoo has been “farmer focused” since the beginning of their coffee roasting adventures in 2005. They’ve come a long way from the old train depot they started in, and we couldn’t be happier for them (unless we drank even – more – of their delicious coffee…). Swing by the café next time you’re in Viroqua, or make the trek just to check it out – it’s worth it!  www.kickapoocoffee.com

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Pizza!

High, Wide & Handsome

Word on the street is that there is some tasty pizza flying out of High, Wide & Handsome in Calmar, Iowa these days! That would make sense, since it’s the Sparrow family dishing up the pies. Jason, “Mr. High, Wide & Handsome” Sparrow is realizing his take-out pizza dream at 117 E. Main St. Call ahead – 563-562-9029 – to order a Three Little Pigs, or a Bacon Cheeseburger (pizza, that is…). Kudos to Calmar – with the new PIVO Brewery set to open in Calmar sometime later this year – it seems like this awesome community is ever-reinventing itself as the crossroads of NE Iowa! Like High, Wide & Handsome on Facebook to stay in the pizza-know.

Luna Valley – Pizza Farm Nights 

While we’re on the subject of Pizza (we could do this all day…), you may recall a “loving” write up from our Spring 2017 issue about the start-up of our friend Maren and Tom Beard’s Luna Valley Farms Pizza nights. Well, tick-tock, and guess what? They’re slinging farm fresh pizzas out of the wood fired oven every Friday night through October. Here at Inspire(d), we are big fans of the “pizza farm” concept, where local producers use their own and other local ingredients to put out tasty pizzas for you enjoy picnic-style on Maren and Tom’s gorgeous Driftless farm. Find details on Facebook or at www.lunavalleyfarm.com.

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New Downtown Decorah Digs!

There’s been some grumbling amongst the coffee klatch crowds this past year about empty storefronts in downtown Decorah – but huzzah, we’re here to say never fear! While our favorite stores and restaurants continue to breathe new life into our community, Decorah is in the midst of a slight renaissance, with some new and relocating businesses just on the horizon! A duo of buildings in the middle of Water Street have recently been transformed into new office spaces for Thrivent Financial and Midwest Group Benefits, Inc. Just down the street, adjacent to the Hotel Winneshiek (in the old Hallmark) our friends Lisa Lantz and Scott Bassford are busy beautifying the space to become “The Getup” – a cool new shop that will buy and sell quality used children’s clothes, gear, and maternity ware in-store and online (www.getupdecorah.com). Meanwhile over on Winnebago, Gabi Masek has been busy at Wildcrafted Acupuncture and Herbs – check out the community acupuncture and personally crafted Wai Ke Botanicals. Across the street from there, find Cardboard Robot (in the old StoryPeople wood shop), self-described by the legendary Eric Sovern (owner) as a “supply depot for makers, artists, kids, former kids, goofballs, and nerds.”

Back on Water Street, Decorah artist Paula Brown has opened a retail shop for her work ‘The Goods’. You may remember reading about Paula in Inspire(d) before – she’s offering some really cool art and services downtown now! It’s so exciting to watch Decorah continue to grow! Now if we can just figure out what to do with that old JCP building…

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Fat Pat’s BBQ Truck

Well, well. If it’s not the craft whiskey distillery gussying up lil’ ol’ Spring Grove, then it’s a kick ass new BBQ food truck! That’s right, Patrick Longmire Jr may have cut his teeth bagging groceries at his Pop’s IGA (read about Red on pg 42), but it was several years on the road playing music in Texas that brought him into the world of BBQ. When he and his family circled their wagons for Spring Grove, his love of BBQ led him to explore the idea of a BBQ truck – and it was an excellent idea! The menu is simple BBQ, the sides are beans, slaw, or potato salad, and the customers are raving. The best part is that you don’t ever know where Fat Pat’s may be pulling up next – recent favorite spots have been the new RockFilter Distillery (Spring Grove), Karst Brewing (Fountain), and Turtle Stack Brewery (La Crosse). Keep an eye on www.fatpatsbbq.com or instagram @fatpatsbbq, or Facebook to see where you can catch some killer BBQ next!

Paula Brown – The Goods

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By Kristine Jepsen • Originally published in the Fall 2015 Inspire(d)

If you spend any time in or around Decorah, you probably know the incurable creative behind The Goods by Paula Brown.

Paula works her main magic – amazing jewelry, purses, and knitted wear – out of an eclectic gallery/shop in her rural Decorah home, but you’ll also find her behind the bar at the Hotel Winneshiek in Decorah – her part-time gig – several nights a week.

Toward the holidays, you might catch her standing on a chair, styling the displays in the hotel lobby for the annual Gift of Art artisan craft show, an event she founded and sponsors.

PaulaBrownOr maybe you’ve seen her throw back her blonde head of hair and laugh, revealing a stack of hand-knitted scarves that fit together like bangles, or a riveting necklace of hand-selected turquoise. Ask for her card, and she’ll dig it out of a hand-knitted, felted, and dyed tote. Yup, of her own design.

“I make things,” the Dubuque native says with a shrug. “I don’t fit in a box creatively. It’s what people need or what people want,” – she often takes cues from the folks she meets tending bar. “I can get lost in the process” – for example, spending a whole day crafting a wallet of upcycled corduroy to match one of her purses – “how do you stop?”

Paula (pictured, right – photo courtesy Paula Brown) creates her own designs for goods, and then, even when something sells well at craft shows or in her shop, she’ll modify and remake the designs, turning always toward something new. “I want to make things accessible, whether that’s the value of small earrings or a shoulder bag,” she says. “People change. Their interests and tastes change. It gives me a chance to change and evolve, too.” Take the scarf bangles, “Nec Lux,” as she calls them. “I had customers asking me about different textures and colors of yarns, and I thought, ‘Why wear just one at a time?’” And so, the idea of mixing and matching the narrow bands was born.

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It’s the same with her purses and tote bags, which she hand-knits or cuts from unique or vintage clothing scavenged from thrift stores. Each bag features a natural emblem – a tree, a bird, or a palette straight out of an Iowa sunset – but the sizes and shapes are unique. “I had moms ask me for a backpack purse – something unique but durable, that would stay put when you have a kid by the hand and bag full of water bottles and snacks.”

She’s big on this kind of function, noting that quality fasteners, clasps, zippers, and finish stitching mean her pieces will live up to living. “My work is meant to be worn. And washed. And worn again,” she says. Any problems? She’ll repair it.

And while running a shop from her country home might seem removed from mainstream commerce, it’s a deliberate step toward making a living from her artistic tendencies. (Below photo and bottom hat photo courtesy Paula Brown.)

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Since starting at a flea market her first year of high school, Paula has traveled thousands of miles and hung thousands of handmade goods on her 10-foot-by-10-foot display at art shows across the region, even as her family grew to include her husband and two sons. She’s also built a website and shipped items to customers, but none of those outlets afforded the joy of watching art transform someone in person, she says, having them see right where it was made, amid her hand-drawn design sketches and scraps of fabric on her cutting table.

“I love seeing customers touch a fabric, or feel a smooth pendant or handmade button, or try something on – and then there it is – that joy,” she says. “That’s why I do it. It’s me saying, ‘I made this just for you.’”

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Kristine Jepsen understands the compulsion to ‘make things,’ as evidenced by whole drawers in her home of light-gage wire, glitter, beads, fabric scraps, papers and, especially, writing instruments. She’s proud to call the Driftless home, where creatives are far from the exception.

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Want to see more?
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You can visit Paula Brown’s The Goods Studio Store Saturdays, 10am-3pm or by appointment.

The Goods is also a stop on the Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour October 2-4, 2015

The annual Gift of Art sale, organized by Paula and featuring six local artists, will be Saturday, December 5, 10 am – 7pm in the Hotel Winneshiek lobby. She also manages the local artwork on display throughout the hotel year-round, including a new collection of her own paintings. Visit The Goods Studio Store on Facebook for details.