The Lakeside Life Blog
Lewis Smith Lake Alabama | Smith Lake Alabama
Did you know March is National Craft Month? We have many talented crafters right here in the Smith Lake area, not to mention all over the State of Alabama. Spring craft shows will be in full swing soon. We hope you find time to get out and enjoy a few festivals this season. You will LOVE what they have to offer, unique custom products made lovingly by hand, and with a talented artistic eye for detail. Hard to come by in an age of mass production.
In fact, one particular local festival will have MANY regional crafters in attendance very soon - The 34th Annual Bloomin' Festival on the grounds of gorgeous St. Bernard Preparatory School in Cullman, AL. Mark the dates, April 21-22, 2018, and plan to attend. It's a must-do in our area. You can get more information about the festival on their Facebook page: @bloominfestival
We also want to take a moment to shout out at least a FEW of our Smith Lake area crafters as well. There are many - but these are a few in particular that we have noticed on social media just recently. We have found they are extremely talented in their niche, and fortunately for us, they are accessible and convenient - right here in the area - lakeside!
Meet John & Jill Strickland - Cullman area residents - Jill is a wife & mother, a crafter and so much more. Not only can Jill sew all kinds of beautiful custom items, but she and her husband John also build small wooden furniture such as adirondack chairs, benches, picnic tables, swings and bedswings. John enjoys the wood work, and he puts a lot of hours and love into each piece he creates. They have a special personal reason behind much of their work, it is a loving grief therapy for this incredible family. Look for an upcoming article in The Lakeside Life magazine about the Stricklands, their little growing company, and their family journey. Proceeds from their work benefit the WSCC Future Foundation Scholarship Fund in the name of John Connor Strickland. Contact them now, and they can help create you a one-of-a-kind piece that you'll treasure for many years to come. You can find them on Instagram: @johnwjill - please look them up very soon!
Meet Sandra Heaven "Heaven & Earth Pottery" & Diane Sharron "Creations in Clay" #brushycreekpotter - These two lovely ladies are residents of the Arley community, and they are volunteer pottery teachers at Meek High School & Middle School. Sandra has been an art instructor most of her life, having taught art classes at Wallace State for over 25 years. A few years ago, not long after moving to Smith Lake from Mississippi, Diane signed up for a class as a student with Sandra, and became a quick study. The two ladies formed a bond and a pottery partnership.
They enjoy different styles, Sandra primarily enjoys turning clay pieces on the pottery wheel, and Diane enjoys free form clay design. All of their pieces are so unique and detailed. The glazes are painstakingly hand mixed - there's an art just in the chemistry of these mixes. They can obtain glazes from traditional colors & types to deep, rich, rustic tones and styles of "dipping" - the possibilities are endless with these artists. It seems there is nothing they can’t do with the glazes that help take the pieces to that next level of beauty. All pieces are lovingly designed with the artists' fine eye for detail - incredibly beautiful! In addition to the classes they offer for the Arley school system, they also offer private group lessons as well.
Obviously you can request custom pieces, but even better - sign up for a class very soon - no better therapy in the world than "arting" - AND you get to take your very own handiwork home. Their shop is located on the school grounds, and they offer very reasonable rates, with class times that are sure to match your schedule. Contact them any time - Sandra Heaven @ 205-384-4332 www.heavenandearthpottery.com and Diane Sharron @ 601-260-9697 or on Instagram: @dianesharron - be sure to watch for a future article in the magazine on this local studio, you'll be amazed other awesome things these ladies do for our community!
Christine Williamson - a spicy Cajun transplant in our midst - originally from New Orleans, but now, luckily for all of us, she made her way to this area and is now a part of our Smith Lake family. She still has family in New Orleans, and it will always be “home" as well, but home is where the heart is, and she's definitely got a soft spot now for the lake community. Christine is an incredible seamstress, we think that she could execute nearly any item you can imagine involving sewing. She is currently completing her new sewing studio as we write this. She'll finally have a designated space all her own so her creativity has room to breathe. We can't wait for our studio visit soon, she's very close to moving in all her supplies right now, and getting everything nicely organized.
As she awaits the completion of the new studio, she is excited to plan new projects for the future, and has already taken on some custom quilt designs. She obviously makes quilts for sale, and builds commissioned quilts, but also sews custom items like tote bags, coasters, ornaments and stockings. Custom orders are always welcome! Her artistic goal is to combine function and beauty, she is always looking for vintage and unique fabrics, and will advise you what can be done with your own materials upon consultation. Make plans to go visit Christine as soon as you can. Find her on Instagram and Facebook: @upclearcreek - or try email firstname.lastname@example.org
McFee's Wodshop is the creation of Bryan and Carol McFee in Crane Hill, AL. They are both wood turners. Carol is a "spindle" turner. She makes bud vases, handles for bottle openers, ice cream scoops, pizza cutters, back scratchers, and similar items. The vases are all sizes, and we recently did a giveaway for a matched pair that were hard to let go. They were small, dainty and so beautifully detailed. We fell in love. Bryan primarily turns bowls. GORGEOUS bowls with veins of surprising colors in the wood grain, each one unique and precariously turned and polished to perfection. He also makes coffee tables and end tables. He takes special orders if it is something that he feels he can "do justice to."
They use only local hardwoods that they harvest themselves. Most of the trees that they use are dead, dying, or already on the ground. Occasionally they will remove a tree when asked to. As the trees die, decay sets in. In wood turner parlance this is called spalting. It creates the beautiful colors and lines that are so prominent in their work. Bryan jokes "We throw the wood out in the front yard until it starts to grow mushrooms, then we know that the wood is ready!" This does sometimes create problems if the decay goes too far. Then it gets "punky". This means that it is too rotten to work with. It is always a fine line between "just right" and "too far gone."
They love for people to drop by and visit them in their shop. In true southern fashion, they have a lot of extra chairs for company. They are a beautiful couple, you will love every second of time you get with them. Check them out on Facebook today: @McFees Woodshop and you may contact Bryan by email: email@example.com or phone: 205-541-0658.
Again, please look up ALL of these fine artisans on social media, and make sure you tell them you were sent by The Lakeside Life Team. We love our local crafters and artists - all of them - far and wide throughout Alabama! If you know of someone we haven't met yet, please send them our way by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a PM/DM on Facebook or Instagram: @thelakesidelife .
Also, be on the watch for more information on these fine Smith Lake people in future content from The Lakeside Life Team. It's fun for us to learn more about the talented folks in our midst - but take it a step further - reach out to them for some custom unique pieces that will become treasured family heirlooms in years to come.
See ya lakeside!
The Lakeside Life Team
As seen in our October issue, here is the recipe for a favorite Fall dip!
1. Cut cheese into small cubes and set aside.
2. Remove chorizo from casing and brown in a skillet. Drain well.
3. Reduce to medium heat, adding cheeses, milk, and garlic salt.
5. Cook and stir 8-10 minutes or until well blended.
4. Drain corn and rotel, adding both to the mixture.
5. Cook 5 minutes and serve from skillet.
Each Friday during the month of October, a member of The Lakeside Life Team has been sharing their favorite Fall memories on our beautiful Smith Lake.
This week, Partner & EIC, Syndi Hanna, shares a favorite Fall memory on Smith.
SYNDI'S FALL MEMORY:
After 20 years on this lake, there are too many great memories, and it is impossibly hard to narrow them down to only one. But... a particular very early and mild Fall stands out.
In late 2007, we had been given the opportunity to spend some long days on a large ranch, connected to the lake, owned by friends of ours. My son, Tylar, was 2 years old at the time, and always wanted to ride around with me on a Ranger while his daddy was working at the property on a home theater system for our friend and customer. One special weekend, the property was particularly gorgeous, it didn't even feel like Fall setting in - it was unusually mild - the sun was bright; and there was still plenty of greenery all around, only tiny hints of Fall arriving soon with slightly cooler nights. There were these millions of tiny weeds with yellow flowers everywhere, it seemed there was a blanket of them as far as the eye could see.
Tylar enjoyed the abundant flowers, butterflies, warm sun, and endless blue sky, with the lake constantly glistening through a spot at the bottom of the property below us. It was shining like a diamond, inviting us down for one of those special late evening boat rides for stargazing. I watched Tylar from a safe distance that day, determined to allow him the freedom to explore to his little heart's content.
Tylar kept his eye on me too, as I sat quietly alone in the Ranger admiring the landscape, and taking pictures of the scenery all around. All on his own, he walked over to the biggest bunch of little flowers he could wrap his tiny fingers around, and pulled them up and brought them straight over to me, with dirt hanging off the roots, and said "I love you, Mommy"! It was a first of many flower-picking for gifting triumphs since.
That had to be one of my favorite days/weeks lakeside. We enjoyed warmth & fellowship by the fire pit at night until well after dark. It was foggy when we left that night, and I recall how hard it was getting his sticky fingers clean from the s'mores & soot before the evening boat ride back home, and how we all wrapped up in towels to keep warm as we'd forgotten warm jackets. We found those little flowers on the dashboard of the boat that next morning, they had made a big mess with dirt & marshmallow still clinging in spots. Feels like it was just yesterday!
See you lakeside!
Each Friday during the month of October, a member of The Lakeside Life Team is sharing their favorite Fall memory on Smith Lake. This week, Partner & Creative Director, Haley May, shares her favorite Fall memory on Smith.
Haley has the ability to wave her fingers in the air, and like a magic potion, creativity pours from them onto whatever project she is working on. During the day, Haley is a real estate agent with Lakeside Real Estate, so her take on Smith Lake is extremely valuable to our team! She also brings a background in internet marketing and a degree from the University of Alabama, so needless to say, Haley is truly a shining star to our team. She and her husband, Justin, have twin boys; Cash & Camber. The May family is loads of fun, and they live in a Smith Lake community in Cullman County.
HALEY'S FALL MEMORY:
Being known as a lover of Smith Lake, people are often shocked when they learn that Fall is my favorite time of the year. But, once you have experienced the Fall here, you quickly learn why.
Fall is for family. From boat rides viewing the changing leaves, to smores by the fire, the season is even more beautiful in the reflection of the water. For us, it seems like the cooler weather puts some brakes on our fast-paced life, and we find ourselves focusing on one another around a campfire, or underneath the softest blankets for movie night.
I have pondered for weeks trying to pinpoint my favorite Fall memory. It is so hard to choose just one, so I decided to just choose my most recent one. We are fortunate enough to live in the most beautiful neighborhood with the sweetest people. When we bought the house, I was instantly excited for Halloween because I knew it would be amazing living here. This year, we started a new tradition. All the kids in the neighborhood gathered together for a Trick or Treat hayride.
Living in the country my entire life, I always dreamed of going door to door in a neighborhood trick-or-treating. But in the country, there was always miles between each stop. This year I was able to experience that awesome sense of community, with neighbors, with my own kids. Justin, Cash, Camber and I had a blast on the hayride and going door to door. Granted we ended up with enough candy to last us a lifetime, and the boys' sugar high will likely be the product of a few gray hairs, but it was an experience I will never forget. I look forward to many more years starting traditions and making memories with Justin and our boys.
See you lakeside!
Each Friday during the month of October, a member of The Lakeside Life team will be sharing their favorite Fall memory on our beloved Smith Lake. Memories on Smith last a lifetime, and are something we believe should be documented and preserved just like a family heirloom!
We look forward to introducing you to each of our team members this October! First up is watersports enthusiast and "get-it-done" lady of our team, Partner & Managing Editor, Beth Rigg. Beth is willing to jump in and help The Lakeside Life team regardless of the task! Her love of Smith Lake shines through in all that she does.
Beth is a Cullman native. She and her family live in Gardendale during the week, but can be found lakeside on any given Saturday. Beth's husband, Tim, introduced her to watersports when they were first dating. Together they have shared their love of the water with their three children; son, Ty or "Ty Man", and twin girls, Marlee & Aubree.
When I think about Fall on Smith Lake, I think of smooth water, a perfect water temperature, and that nice cool breeze that brings chills once you get out of the water! One of my favorite Fall lake memories happens to be of my son, Ty, about four years ago. He had just turned 2 years old, and got up on a wakesurfer with his Daddy for the first time. It was priceless! The smile on his face was pure excitement. We knew he was hooked at that point.
Today Ty is 6 years old and demands to be skiing behind the boat at all times whether it is on a wakeboard, wakesurfer or kneeboard. He loves it and so do we! Seeing him progress year after year delights us as family.
See You Lakeside!
Fall might quite possibly be my favorite time of year on Smith Lake. Don't get me wrong, spring and summer are fabulous and, like most, my family and I fully enjoy all the things Smith Lake has to offer during those seasons; but fall brings sweater days, harvest candles, pumpkin spice lattes, homemade soup, and long nights by the fire!
Unlike many lakes, our lake doesn't shut down due to the changing of season, we simply embrace it in different ways. Afternoon kayak rides are still taken, fishing continues on, some adventurists even continue their watersports well into late November, and many years we are still cruising in the boat in December! We ARE in Alabama after all.
The Lakeside Life is excited to be launching not only our magazine, but also our eCommerce site, bringing Smith Lake the PERFECT items that will help you stay lakeside as long as your heart desires. Stay tuned as we unveil those in the coming days. For a first look at Smith Lake's newest line, be sure to enter your email below.
The Lakeside Life team has an exciting "Fall on Smith Bucket List" blog series prepared, just for you! But, for now, sit back and look forward to all the colorful things fall is certain to bring!
Lake Living at it's best!
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