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 email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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
Often at the lake, a breakfast needs to serve as a great source of energy while being super quick but also healthy. For a fast paced lake lifestyle, our plan is usually that during the week we try to keep it quick, but make wholesome substitutes in normal recipes to cut calories, fat, and sugars, and other BAD things from our diets so there is less guilt to splurge a little on the weekends for BBQs with friends and neighbors and not fret the expected s'mores around the fire pit. So, below, find a couple of GO TO options for a quick healthy breakfast option.
Start with coffee! Trader Joes and Aldi have excellent selections of coffee, either ground or whole bean which can be fresh ground in the store or at home. Skip the cream and sugar, and try lightening up your beverage with some almond or coconut milk instead, or even better, learn to love a great coffee black - naked with no additives, which can help you learn to appreciate the actual test of a really good coffee.
Organic or whole foods are always the best, but try to make choices that align with a pre-planned budget. The following is a great easy recipe for those mornings when everyone just wants to get out the door and onto the lake.
2 eggs (either whole or whites)
¼ cup of milk
1 oz shredded cheese mix (try Sargento's mixes)
¼ cup of spinach leaves (Publix in Cullman AL has a great selection)
1 Tortilla (we used Mission)
Add your choice of bacon, deli meat, or breakfast sausage for a little more protein. A couple of slices of avocado, to top it off, makes this burrito fast, wholesome and packs enough energy to get you through a hectic morning.
ENJOY ...and see ya Lakeside!
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There are quite a few holiday traditions in our household, some that are purposely done and others, like this one...just happen year after year. When the luscious Thanksgiving leftovers have lost their luster, we find another way to continue enjoying the turkey! This recipe is sure to hit the spot! Enjoy!
1. Chop the turkey, onion, and peppers. Drain beans. Preheat a large stockpot on medium high for 2-3 minutes. Place oil in pot, then add peppers and onions, cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until tender.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Remove casing from sausage and add sausage to the pot. Cook 5-6 minutes, stirring to crumble or until sausage has browned.
3. Stir in cumin, chili powder, oregano, pepper, beans, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cook and stir for another 10-15 minutes or until thickened.
4. Stir in turkey and milk; cook 2-3 minutes to blend flavors.
5. Top with shredded cheddar, cilantro and serve!
This Apple Cider Margarita is perfectly festive for a fall night. It has a wonderful taste, and is a great way to savor the last few days of fall!
Apple Cider Margarita Recipe:
Combine the Grand Marnier, tequila and apple cider in a shaker. Next, in a small bowl, prepare the rim mixture by combining the cinnamon and sugars together. Dip the rim of each glass in a bowl of water, then press the rims into the sugar mixture to cling. Carefully place ice into the glasses, and pour the combined beverage, from the shaker, into the glasses over the ice. Garnish with an apple slice and/or cinnamon stick. Enjoy lakeside by a warm fire!
You asked and we listened! Subscriptions are now available to The Lakeside Life. Since our publication is free, your cost is essentially paying for convenience, shipping and handling - the magazines are thick and heavy, so they cost more to ship and handle than most.
The Lakeside Life is presently published tri-annually - Spring, Summer and Fall/Winter. We had previously (pre-COVID19) released traditional quarterly style - in Spring, Summer, Fall & Winter. We hope to return to a 4-times-a-year conventional quarterly magazine, but honestly we've enjoyed the larger 3 issues a year, so who knows? 3 does kind of fit our brand after all. Anyway, to subscribe, simply click here.
See you lakeside,
The Lakeside Life Team
Article originally dated 11/6/2017, updated 4/6/2021.
If you've been ready to get your hands on a copy of The Lakeside Life, but haven't been successful ... you are in LUCK!
Our digital versions are now live! You can access digital magazines in the future by using the link below. Enjoy!
The Lakeside Life
Recently on social media, the team has shared memories on beautiful Smith Lake. This week, Partner & EIC, Syndi Hanna, shares a favorite memory on Smith.
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 building and installing a home theater system for our friend and customer. One special weekend, the property was particularly gorgeous, it didn't even feel like fall was setting in - it was unusually mild, summer still lingered - the sun was bright; and there was still plenty of greenery all around, only tiny hints of autumn arriving soon with slightly cooler nights. In the fields on the ranch, 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!
Lake Living at it's best!
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