Skinny Dipping in Charleston

It’s rare these days that a new retail store opens on King Street in Downtown Charleston that isn’t a national chain, so when I heard about Skinny Dip: The Charleston Edition, a collective retail concept that already found its sea legs after launching successfully in Nantucket I was immediately intrigued. And after drinks with one of the founders and designer behind accessory line Beau and Ro – Sara Rossi – I was totally thrilled to be invited to be a part of it. The brand collective shop represents both emerging and established designers from around the country in one, chic space – brands like Society Social, whose beautiful furniture makes the upstairs “local vibes” section feel both homey and luxurious, Ellsworth and Ivey, founding partner Taylor Ivey’s lifestyle brand, and Kiel James Patrick to name a few.

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The second floor of Skinny Dip Charleston’s King Street retail space bedecked with furniture from Society Social.

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Founders Sarah Rossi and Taylor Ivey – how cute are they?!

Plenty of Charleston based designers and brands will also be represented – you can find our Charleston Rice Beads upstairs as well as Lauren Lail’s beautiful vintage inspired line Library, colorful tunics and dressed by Escapada, even Shep from Bravo’s Southern Charm’s quirky line Shep Gear and many more. You can even relax and have a glass of wine in their upstairs bar run by Rudi’s – a satellite location from their Old Village wine shop in Mt. Pleasant.

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Artist Meredith Hanson hand paints a mural of Rainbow Row in Skinny Dip Charleston at the hard hat opening.

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The official opening party is this Friday, April 7th where I am also DJing but the store is open for shopping as of Tuesday, April 4th. There are so many goodies in there you definitely want to be one of the first to check it out. Congrats to the Skinny Dip team for all of their hard work and looking forward to celebrating on Friday!

Rhode Island Sweet Spots

While my family and I were on vacation in Florida last week, I asked my friend Lizzy of The Connoisseur of Cute to take over the @candyshopvintage instagram for a couple of days and share her favorite Rhode Island haunts through the her whimsical and colorful lense. While I travel to RI frequently and have posted my own mini travel guides, it was great to see it through someone else’s eyes. Here are the spots she shared in case you missed out on her adorable Instagram posts:

One of my personal favorites, Allie’s Donuts – an amazing local donut shop with signature, brightly colored donuts, full donut cakes and more!

The Roger Williams Park Botanical Center is located in Roger Williams Park in Providence – totally lush and beautiful! And love her matching pants : )

How precious is this bakery – Sweet Indulgence – located at 2202 Broad Street in Cranston, RI

Yes please to this fruit topped custard French toast from Modern Diner in Pawtucket, RI!

Some perfect vintage finds from Lizzy’s RI vintage hunts – she recommends checking out Stillwater Antiques in Greenville, RI and Rhode Island Antiques in Pawtucket.

Almost no trip to RI is complete without visiting the stunning historic mansions of Newport, RI, many of which are open for tours and are located along Cliff Walk.

Rhode Island is famous for its beautiful beaches (and sunsets!) Narragansett beach is a favorite and open to the public daily.

Lizzy’s posts have inspired me to do a little more exploring this summer beyond my usual spots (although Allie’s is something I never miss out on!). Thanks again for taking over for us – make sure to keep following along with Lizzy @theconnoisseurofcute. xo

Instagram Takeover With The Connoisseur of Cute

As some of you know, Rhode Island is my other favorite coastal state, where much of my Candy Shop Vintage jewelry is made and where I go with my family on vacation every summer. Not too long ago I stumbled across Lizzy Colley’s instagram account @theconnoisseurofcute whose bright, playful and often vintage inspired photos always brighten my day. I loved seeing Rhode Island through her eyes so much, I asked her to take over the Candy Shop Vintage Instagram this weekend and share some of her favorite spots. So follow along with the hashtag #connoisseurforcandyshop and @candyshopvintage starting this Saturday…

The Costume Jewelry Collector’s Conference

Two weeks ago I was fortunate to attend a very fabulous, inspiring conference in Rhode Island called The Costume Jewelry Collector’s International conference. This is a bi-annual event (with smaller meetings on off years) where high-end costume jewelry collectors and dealers from all over the map come together for a weekend of selling, trading, learning and making. I only recently learned about the group, helmed by Melinda Lewis (who wrote one of the best books on vintage costume jewelry that’s ever been published) and Pamela Paschal Wiggins who are fabulous, dedicated ladies who know their vintage costume jewelry and own some of the best of it! I attended this conference with another designer, Justin Giunta behind Subversive Jewelry as I knew his talent for assembling his luxury statement pieces would put him in a position to appreciate a unique experience. We stayed in Downtown Providence in one of my favorite neighborhoods – Federal Hill. Its new England charm is enough to make me painfully homesick for the Northeast every time I visit – so I soak in as much as possible each visit I make to RI:

Everyone at the conference was dressed fabulously! This woman came from Canada to attend with her husband and literally had a different amazing vintage outfit and coordinated vintage jewelry for almost every hour of the conference. I loved seeing all her wardrobe changes…

I was fortunate to kick-off the weekend with a class with Wendy Gell – a designer who rose to fame in the 1980’s for her sculptural, over-glued cuffs (or “wristies” as she calls them), hair pieces, earrings, and pretty much anything else you can glue things on. She was so sweet and taught us, over several hours, her step-by-step intricate gluing technique. LOVED meeting her and will be following up with an interview with her in the next few weeks.

Her creative process is so different than mine – she starts with raw materials and assembles them organically. I start with an idea and figure out how to execute it and what materials I need to do so. It was good for me to have to be a little more freewheeling in my approach and less rigid. So much fun, although I think I inhaled enough glue fumes to last a lifetime.

I thought the lobster as a centerpiece was in keeping with being in New England for the weekend. It got me craving lobster and later that day I ordered a lobster roll for lunch.

Here are a few of my fellow classmates glueing away. It did take a fair amount of patience (and a few hours) to let the glue dry enough to keep working on our pieces. Wendy can do this in her sleep but we definitely struggled a bit more.

The conference provided us with plenty of “jewelry education.” One of my favorite speakers was Kris Brandriff who was kind enough to take me to lunch (and on an emergency post office run!) the first day of the conference. She is a native Rhode Islander and helmed the Quality Control at one of the most incredible vintage jewelry houses – Trifari – for a decade who once operated out of Rhode Island. Here is a picture from one of their factories – I love how elegant everyone looks while assembling jewelry. Bow ties and all!

Justin and I also had a chance to take in a little local culture and visited the RISD museum, which has both a wonderful permanent collection and had a great temporary exhibit by contemporary artist Martin Boyce – really worth seeing if you are in Rhode Island this fall/winter.

Probably the best part of the conference was the shopping. Tables upon tables of jewelry from dealers who know their stuff! I got some really beautiful pieces there – some of which can be viewed and purchased at Candy Shop Vintage in Charleston.

The “finale” evening of the conference had a 1960’s “Glam to Groovy” theme – and involved these wild centerpieces on ever table. We definitely had fun with the theme and it came as no surprise that a group who loves to collect big, bold pieces of jewelry also likes to party. There is something so fascinating and wonderful about people who collect a lot – or in some cases too much – of anything. Where there is passion, there is education, fun, and always an opportunity to learn more than what you already know. I felt really lucky that my career landed me amongst such a passionate, entertaining group of people for a weekend. Looking forward to the next one!

 

 

 

Rhode Island Round Up 2015

We got back from vacation in Rhode Island last week and I am suffering a little bit from what is probably the post vacation blues. As some of you know, much of the Candy Shop Vintage jewelry is produced in Rhode Island.  It also happens to be one of my favorite areas of New England and for such a small state has so much to offer – beach, city life, seafood, natural beauty… the list goes on. I even did an extensive mini-guide to Rhode Island on this blog last year, so I am going to try not to repeat myself too much as we discovered a few more local gems this summer. I started my trip this year attending an old friend’s wedding in East Hampton and happily found I could make my way over to Rhode Island easily via the Montauk Ferry to the The Block Island Ferry. Each ride was less than an hour and though we experienced some rain and choppy seas en route, it was a beautiful way to travel, even on a grey day and afforded me an opportunity to mediate on the traumatic events of the previous week in Charleston from afar.

For the first week we rented a house via Airbnb that is on a beautiful salt water river called the Narrow River, technically in North Kingstown but bordering the coastal sea town Narragansett. My daughter Daphne had her own little beach to play on just steps from our house… The water in Rhode Island is coooold unlike the bath-seawater on the South Carolina coast in the summer. Almost too cold for my taste but very refreshing!

We were also a short car ride to the Narragansett town beach (which is absolutely beautiful), as well as a hop skip and jump away from a walk along the Naragasett sea wall that runs along the rocky part of the coast and is considered one of the best “free attractions” in Rhode Island.

We ate dinner at one night at The Coast Guard House Restaurant which flanks the sea wall. When you are sitting inside, surrounding by windows on all sides, you feel a bit like you are on a ship.  Great sea food and amazing view.

My husband took this hilarious photo of me “working” on the new deck outside the restaurant where you can relax in Adirondack chairs and take in the view on the rocks just above sea level. This was a great addition to the restaurant since last summer and a quieter option than the sometimes rowdy local bar on the roof.  For the record, I was only booking our hotel in Providence for the end of the week, I do know how to shut down on vacation, even though it can be difficult : )

Probably one of the best new spots we discovered on this trip was the Matunuck Oyster Bar. For the life of me, I do not know how we missed this in the three years we came prior but it is hands down the best seafood in Rhode Island.  They do not take reservations so you can often expect to wait 45 minutes to an hour to be seated, but it is absolutely worth it. The local oysters were perfection and I had some amazing grilled tuna entree both nights we ate there.  You can sit outside or in and the restaurant sits on a quaint little cove where I imagine they gather most of their fish from. They bill themselves as “Pond to Table.”

After a week on the river, we spent the weekend in Watch Hill, a town I covered extensively in my post last year. One of its most charming features it it’s Flying Horse Carousel a classic, brass-ring-grabbing ride that happens to be the oldest in the country. Our daughter Daphne was simply too young to ride last year but this year could not get enough. Starting at $1 a ride you could literally spend all day there until you have to bribe you child to move on with ice cream!

Our last night in Watch Hill we went with our hosts to The Ocean House, a beautifully restored hotel above the center of town. I visited The Ocean House in high school and danced in its then dilapidated basement bar. The Ocean House 2.0, lovingly restored and brought back to its glory days by a local businessman is simply perfect. I cannot imagine a better spot to enjoy a glass of wine or lobster roll on the entire East Coast!

We ended our trip in Providence, R.I. staying at our favorite Providence Hotel, The Dean. This hip, easy hotel is centrally located and has some great features, like old school gated elevators, a lobby coffee shop and two bars and a restaurant on the ground floor. It is extremely comfortable, quiet and very well priced. They also provide valet parking if you have a car with you though you can easily walk (or Uber) to much of the city from where it is located. My white Charleston Rice Beads were the perfect go-to accessory for exploring Rhode Island this year!

Daphne and I had to take a photo in front of their painted wall.  She was a great little traveler, although after a week away she informed us she was ready to “go back to my home” in Charleston.

If you have some time to kill on an afternoon in Providence, this local cafe The Duck and Bunny is one of my absolute favorites.  It has a glamorous, intimate interior as well as a charming outdoor garden where you can just as easily have tea and cupcakes as you can a pre-dinner drink.

My husband and I also wanted to try our one of the true, local Italian gems that Providence has to offer that we’ve neglected on previous visits. Driving by Joe Marzilli’s Old Canteen in a former 1920’s speakeasy, their neon sign caught my eye.  We had a great dinner there – you cannot get more local than this place.  In fact we might have been the only non Italian-Americans in there. Also, did I mention the entire interior is done in shades of pink? Enough said.

We also spent an afternoon at the RISD Museum on Benefit Street which has an incredibly well-rounded, world class art collection, from Egyptian artifacts to Matisse to neons (my personal favorite) by Alejandro Diaz (below) and Dan Flavin. Sadly, their student exhibit was closed for the summer as I would have really liked to see that work. Fun fact: legendary costume jewelry Kenneth J. Lane is a RISD graduate.

We spent one afternoon with Daphne at her own version of a museum, The Providence Zoo. She had her face painted (very artistically I thought!) as a tiger and had fun growling at everyone we passed. The Providence Zoo is a perfect size for toddlers but I wouldn’t say it has an overwhelming number of exhibits.  We were in and out in under two hours, including a farm themed petting zoo. I noticed on our way out there were swan shaped paddle boats available for rent (!!!) in a nearby park – a must add to the list for next year!

We also managed to explore the quaint town of Bristol R.I. one afternoon, a short 30 minute drive from Providence.  Everything was decked and ready for their famous, annual July 4th Parade, which from the looks of the preparations is pretty spectacular. We did not have nearly enough time to spend their on our last afternoon, but we were so taken with it we were thinking of renting our vacation house there next summer…

Our last night in Providence or #PVD as it is hashtagged we got a babysitter and walked around downtown. As much as I should walk more in Charleston, I just don’t.  Walking is such an amazing way to appreciate a city, and you often find things you would not otherwise notice when you are driving, like this fantastic mural in the downtown Providence former “Jewelry District.”

We were even able to watch the sunset from one (possibly the only one) of Providence’s rooftop bars and it was a perfect note to end on.


2014 Round Up 2014

2014 has absolutely flown by for me.  Hard to believe that it was only earlier this year we launched our Charleston Rice Beads.  Since launch we have sold over 8,000 feet of necklaces and bracelets – more than half the length of the Ravenel Bridge! I feel so fortunate to have a growing business (one I started in the guest room of our house) and it is an exciting time as I continue to expand the Candy Shop Vintage line and to work with so many talented people to make it happen.  Here are some of the highlights of my year:

Debuting the Charleston Rice Bead collection to a fabulous group of ladies at a Charleston-themed lunch I hosted at The George Gallery in March:

Seeing the Candy Shop Vintage Space Age Bangle featured in the April 2014 issue of InStyle Magazine:

Hosting a trunk show and book signing with The Deans of the Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits Suzanne’s beautiful Downtown Charleston home.

Collaborating with some very talented ladies on our first wedding lookbook featuring both vintage jewelry and the Charleston Rice Beads. My friend Evelyn, of Evelyn’s Alterations and Design, designed and handmade the bride and bridesmaid dresses, Paige Winn did the photography, Bailey Bial styled hair, Flowershop provided the lovely blooms and hair and makeup was done by Amanda Rose and Bailey Bial:

In June, I went up north for a factory visit (and little vacation). We spent a lot of time in Rhode Island, one of my favorite states. Even though it is a small, it is fun to explore. Check out my mini-guide guide to Rhode Island for more.  This was Daphne’s third visit and she loved it!

In August, my husband John and I were featured on southernliving.com as part of a Southern Style feature. We hardly consider ourselves amongst most stylish in Charleston, but Gray Benko made us look our best:

In September, we all sadly said goodbye to style icon Joan Rivers. I recounted and remembered with gratitude swapping necklaces with her on her 80th birthday:

We also shot our A Charleston Afternoon lookbook featuring some of the hottest spots around town (Leon’s Oyster Shop, Sugar Bakeshop, mac & murphy, and The George Gallery), and the Charleston Rice Beads. I have been wanting to do this for awhile, sharing some of my favorite local spots with our clients inside and outside of Charleston and I loved how it turned out:

For the first time this year, I helped designed our first non-jewelry items. The Candy Shop Vintage x Lettermade collaboration – three unique sets of embroidered linen cocktail napkins. I loved working with the talented owner of Lettermade, Malia Dreyer on them.

Ending the year with the launch of my new Far East Collection was fantastic. These Asian-inspired pieces are based on a much loved 1970’s vintage runway necklace I own, and include the Breastplate Statement Necklace, the Crescent Necklace, and the Lu Tassel Earrings in a few different colors, as well as the delicate Lu Necklace which, like the earrings, features the Chinese symbol for prosperity. I debuted the Collection at a trunk show at HAMPDEN clothing, one of the Charleston Area Candy Shop Vintage retailers and best boutiques in Charleston.  Stacy, the owner (below) has a fabulous eye and curates a cutting edge collection of designers, keeping Charleston fashion forward.

Blogger and DJ, Jane Aldridge of Sea of Shoes, flew to Charleston especially for the event, and wowed us all with her DJ skills.  I gifted Jane some of her own Charleston Rice Beads as a thank you and later spotted them on her bog paired with this amazing vintage tweed top – they have never looked so glam!

I also took the Collection to Gwynn’s for a pre-Christmas Trunk Show – where select Far East inspired pieces are still available.

And on a personal note, we added to our family with the adoption of a furry friend, Birthday the poodle (named by my daughter).  Can you spot him in our Christmas card?

I was even gifted an ornament this Christmas by the lovely ladies of Croghan’s. She is what I imagine his future girlfriend will look like – ooh lala!

THANK YOU to everyone for your continued support of Candy Shop Vintage. It has been such a huge year and never would have happened without loyal friends and customers, old and new. So excited to see what 2015 has in store, Happy New Year!

– Deirdre Zahl (designer & owner, Candy Shop Vintage)

Rhode Island Roundup

It’s been exactly two weeks since I got home from vacation and I am already feeling the post-vacation, mid-summer, Southern heat blues. I am missing those cool New England evenings, the sort that necessitate a light sweater and even sleeping under a heavy comforter. So I thought I’d put together a few of my favorite Rhode Island haunts – a mash-up of sorts of both high-end and off-the-highway places that you don’t want to miss if you are ever in the area, with a few vacation more photos to boot.

Random Roadsides: Doughnuts & Dives

Pretty much see this post about Allie’s Doughnuts (home of the Doughnut Cake) and if I could pinpoint it, main culprit of my “vacation 5” (pounds that is). A true old-school road-side doughnut shack that shills old-school no fuss doughnuts at their best. While I captured the giant doughnut in my previous post, this down-to-business photo shows the essence of what goes on inside. And note the loud and clear “CASH ONLY SIGN” which is not a problem since you can basically get a dozen doughnuts for like $5:

For a real meal, also from my previous post, do not skip Champlin’s Seafood Deck and its downstairs sweet shop The Sweet Spot. Legit, enjoyable fried seafood and oysters.

And for an after dinner drink that’s nearby, definitely check out this view with a glass of wine in hand at The Coast Guard House in Naragansset before or after a walk along the waterfront.

On a previous trip I mentioned the incredible view that’s also to be had at Evelyn’s Drive In in Tiverton, RI. Sitting on their patio and watching the sunset over the cove while you eat fried fish is pretty much perfection. Stay true to the classics though… my husband ordered “The Lobster Chop Suey” last summer (his own fault) and left feeling a little disappointed.

Allie’s Doughnuts  North Kingstown, RI 

Coast Guard House   Narragansett, RI 

Champlin’s Seafood Deck & The Sweet Spot   Narragansett, RI 

Evelyn’s Drive In    Tiverton, RI 

The City Fix: Providence

I always need an urban fix on vacation, just that little bit of city. Because no matter how picturesque or relaxing a vacation spot may be, there is something invigorating about exploring a new city. We stayed at The Dean Hotel in Providence.  I cannot say enough good things about it. That is me, above, entering The Dean… almost double-entendre, since a mere three years ago it was a fully functioning brothel. But the level of fun sophistication that the hotel has achieved since it’s two-year renovation was complete is first rate. I would have stay here above many hotels in many other cities. Plus, its affordability, tongue-in-cheek marketing, and in-house coffee bar were the icing on a great hospitality experience:

Attached to the lobby of The Dean is FAUST, an excellent Germanic restaurant with a killer pretzel. Add to this The Magdalenae Room, a moody, Moroccan-influenced craft cocktail bar behind the main lobby and the more hipster Karaoke Bar in back called The Boombox and you basically don’t need to leave the premises. And, neon art. The two photos below I snagged from my good friend Kelly’s instagram. She works for Kyla Cobern, the woman who designed The Dean and many of Providence’s most innovative spots and is responsible for all the finishing touches, down to the incredible framed fashion illustrations in the bathrooms.

If you do leave, a place to venture for brunch is The Grange. Think healthy, locally sourced with vegan undertones. Conveniently across the street is a treasure of a vintage shop called Hall’s On Broadway. Sooooo many good things, and great prices. For a post-brunch coffee and baked good, you can go right up the street to Seven Stars, an insanely yummy artisanal bakery with two locations. And for an evening cocktail at another Kyla Cobern spot in the same neighborhood, check out The Avery. It is an incredible Deco-inspired bar that sits unexpectedly in the middle of a residential square in Federal Hill.

Side note: we were traveling avec toddler so the children’s museum piper had to be paid. But the Providence Children’s Museum, if you have to spend mind-numbing hours somewhere like that, is a good spot to do it. A manageable size, but enough variety to keep your child engaged and keep you from the inevitable children’s museum malaise.

The Dean Hotel / Bolt Coffee Co. / FAUST / The Magdalene Room / The Boom Box

The Avery

The Grange

Seven Stars

Hall’s On Broadway

The Providence Children’s Museum 

Also, not visited on this trip, but two places I’d reccommend from past visits:

The Duck & Bunny

White Electric

The Old School Classic: Newport

Newport, like Charleston, seems to hold a good bit of intrigue and port-city-allure for those outside the area. The name conjures up images of nautical New England, sailing races, strolls along piers and cable knit sweaters. In our three brief visits, I’ve enjoyed walking up and down Thames Street which is one of the main shopping districts, although still a charmingly historic and intimate road. As for culinary and cocktail gems, the first is “The Lawn” at Castle Hill.  Castle Hill is an old house that has been converted into a hotel and perches on a peninsula just past the city’s center. “The Lawn” is simply its outdoor lawn where you can sit and boat-watch with a drink in hand. As of this year, they started serving food there as well. Sadly/ironically there was this CRAZY fog the night we went so we ended up at the bar, surrounded by grey mist but no visible ocean.  A good reason to try again next year! Funny side note, when we told the bartender we were visiting from Charleston he seemed confused why we would ever leave our great city to go on vacation elsewhere! Three words: Southern summer heat.

We also went to The Clark Cook House which has what is probably one of the best logos I’ve ever seen. This old school seafood gem is in the center of the city with yachting themed decor, on bannister’s wharf and has several tiers of dining, including The Candy Store at street level that serves freshly made sushi. There is a semi-private rooftop Skybar and an amazing looking, old school lounge in the basement called The Boom Boom Room that has wicker and striped cushions and is lined with vintage photos of racing boats (only open Saturday nights).

A classic Newport Activity (other than eating seafood) is meandering along The Cliff Walk, something we’ve done on previous visits.  On one side, the path drops off to the ocean on the other are rows of breathtaking historic Newport homes. My feeling about Newport is that it’s sort of the Charleston of New England.  In fact there were many Newport natives that moved down to Charleston at the turn of the century, and vice versa, including the Nathaniel Russell,  whose former  Charleston home I toured recently.

The Lawn at Castle Hill

The Clark Cooke House

Cliff Walk

The Hidden Gem: Watch Hill

We ended our visit in Watch Hill.  Located in Westerly, Rhode Island is it kind of like Newport’s demure, waspy cousin. I have a life-long friend whom I’ve known from grade school and I visited her and her family in Watch Hill a number of times during high school and college.  It was always a special place – a perfect specimen of a New England Beach town. Now, going back with my husband and my own daughter is even more meaningful. The classic and most charming feature of Watch Hill is perhaps the vintage The Flying Horse Carousel at the edge of town.

You ride around and grab rings as the horses (literally) fly by the rides attendees. We tried to convince Daphne to go on it (she’s two and a half) but the horses move pretty fast and she hightailed it out of the ring just as she was about to get on.

Just around the corner from the carousel is a The Candy Box (above), a perfectly classic candy store and fudge shop. You could not dream up a better vacation spot for sweet treats and bin candy. If I ever open a brick-and-mortar jewelry shop it will look just like this!

The main, and grandest spot in Watch Hill (aside from Taylor Swift’s humble abode ) is the incredible Ocean House. The Ocean House was built in the early 1900’s and in 2002 was torn down and completely rebuilt from the ground up. During the restoration, it was thoughtfully modernized yet still retains its old-world grandeur, with many of the original fixtures, furnishings and signs. And with a croquet lawn over looking the sea and dining deck you almost expect women with parasols to be strolling around the gardens. You can read a lot more about the hotel and the restoration process spearheaded by Chuck and Deborah Royce in this month’s issue of Conde Nast Traveller, it even graces the cover.

Two things you must do there: visit the gift shop (that carries a few pieces of my jewelry) and have a lobster roll on the main deck at The Verandah. I think it is the BEST lobster roll in the state, maybe it has to do with the spectacular view. Side note: pre-restoration while it was still operational in 2000 or so, I visited Watch Hill with friends and we danced the night away in its rambling, former basement bar. Magic! Also, my husband is an Episcopal Minister and while we were there he led a service at the charming, nondenominational chapel just across the street that is worth a visit, even if you just step inside to oggle the beautiful woodwork.

Finally, the best evening stroll in Watch Hill is to the lighthouse. The entrance to the semi-private (but open to the walking public) drive that leads there is discreetly marked by two brick pillars. Just a few yards south of Taylor Swift’s bodyguards outpost and up the hill from the carousel, I promise the walk is worth the hunt for the entrance.

The Flying Horse Carousel

The Candy Box

The Ocean House

The Watch Hill Lighthouse

These three local places are also have wonderful food, sea and otherwise.  The Olympia Tea Room is in downtown Watch Hill and the other two are in the outskirts of Westerly:

The Olympia Tea Room

The Cooked Goose

The Sea Goose

Rhode Island is a special place to me, not only because it’s part of the New England region I grew up in, but because it is still such a huge part of my life.  I manufacture and produce all of my Candy Shop Vintage Collection jewelry out of factories there and I’ve enjoyed the talented people I get to collaborate with along the way.  This, and my (obvious, over-sharing) love of the state keeps us coming back summer after summer, the perfect antidote to the muggy, Southern climate.

The World’s Biggest Doughnut, I Found It

There are two things I seem genetically and possibly geographically disposed to like: potato chips and doughnuts.  I cannot reasonably incorporate either of these things into my regular diet but I like to treat vacation as a guilt-free zone.  We are currently in Rhode Island, just off the coast and near a saltwater river having a very relaxing time.  I have made the most of my downtime, googling things like “best doughnuts in Rhode Island” and voila!  The doughnut cake:

I experienced this culinary gem at Allie’s Doughnut Shop and had to ask them to take it out of the case so I could photograph it properly.  I left my feet in there for scale.  It was already spoken for (apparently to secure one you do need to order several weeks in advance) but I did sample Allie’s regular sized doughnuts and I can honestly say as far as good old-fashioned doughnuts go they are the best I’ve had.  It is well worth the trip, probably about 30 minutes from larger cities like Newport and Providence.

We also spent Father’s Day at a great seafood spot called “Champlin’s“.  I’ve tried a lot of places like this in Rhode Island and a lot of them are pretty touristy and only decent.  But there are a few real gems and Champlin’s, pictured below (along with their perfect lobster salad roll) is one of them:

They also sell these ridiculously adorable felt lobster hats.  Daphne snatched one off the rack as we were waiting in line and we couldn’t get it off her head the rest of the night.  Future Halloween costume?

Also, conveniently located just below the restaurant is The Sweet Spot, a perfect way to sate your after-dinner sugar craving (fudge, ice cream, etc.) without having to make another stop.  The Block Island Ferry terminal is just steps away so it is worth eating here even if you are just passing through on your way there.

Since we are staying just outside Narragansett, we ventured into town for a drink at this waterfront bar/restaurant – The Coast Guard House .  We just had a drink on the upper deck and did not sample the food, but a sunset view doesn’t get much better than this.  And once it got dark, you could see the bridge into Newport glittering in the distance.  Pretty magical!

Thursday night my husband I will head into Providence to spend a night at The Dean Hotel which I am really looking forward to.  And I can’t mention Providence without acknowledging it’s rich history as the costume jewelry capital of the U.S.  Pre-1980 almost all costume jewelry sold in America was made there and Providence still has a neighborhood called The Jewelry District where old jewelry factories have since been converted into lofts.  And speaking of jewelry, my Charleston Rice Beads were just the right amount of the South to bring along with me up North:

It’s already been a great (and much-needed) vacation and we still have exactly seven days left, which makes me feel kind of like this: