Joe’s Place – Literary and Community Hub

As a long-time bookworm and former English major, bookstores have a special place in my heart.  As I’ve been scouting out exemplary bookstores in the upstate SC area, Joe’s Place Bookstore has marked itself as a must-visit, must-support, must-love location.

sunny window

There were lots of cozy rooms at Joe’s Place, but this sunny room with the window seats completely won me over.

Let’s not sugar-coat it: bookstores often struggle to stay in business.  In my hometown, two used bookstores I visited frequently both abruptly shut down due to patrons doing more browsing than actual buying.  However, I’ve noticed several small bookstores beginning to revamp their business by pairing book selling with using their space for social and educational opportunities.  Joe’s Place is a great example of this store/community center hybrid, and they’re hitting it out of the park.

outside

Benjamin bought a stir-fry cook book from Joe’s Place, and we enjoyed picking recipes while sipping cappuccinos on the porch.

You’ll find Joe’s Place’s new location in a beautifully transformed home on Williams Street.  I was absolutely smitten with this place not just because of the incredible variety of books, but because the owners at Joe’s Place have maintained a true homelike feeling in their new space.  In every room, there are comfy chairs and sofas or spacious tables where you can spread out your bookstore finds.

coffee station

All the snacks, coffee, and yummy teas you could want after you’ve selected a good book.

Downstairs, you’ll find a little cafe with pastries and local chocolate treats, plus excellent coffee drinks using locally-roasted Due South coffee beans.  Directly across from the coffee station is Joe’s Place’s beautiful wine bar, with rows of gleaming bottles and plenty of vintage charm.  Whether you have a glass of wine or a steaming cup of java, the outside covered porch is a serene place to sip, chat, and enjoy flipping through a book.

wine bar

Joe’s Place’s wine bar; just look at that beautiful architecture, plus those poofy armchairs–perfect for leisurely sipping.

Joe’s Place also hosts a variety of weekly events, anything from topical crash-courses, introductory classes on wine, book club meetings, and trivia nights.  They’ve formulated an excellent business model that blends merchandise, food and beverage, and resources for the community.  Their comfortable environment and spacious rooms offer the ideal place for coffee dates and study spots, and they’re filled to the brim with excellent books–a true delight to discover.  Follow them on Instagram, and definitely go visit…and when you do, browse AND buy!

City Scape Winery – Local Wine with Innovative Twists

Benjamin and I have only recently been introduced to wine, but we’ve come to enjoy an occasional glass after work.  At the same time, we were painfully aware that we knew almost nothing about wine and had only tried (very) inexpensive brands from the local grocery store.  We’ve mentioned several times that we ought to actually attend a class or wine tasting, and when I discovered that Greenville county has a winery in Pelzer, I knew right away that we’d be making a visit.

inside

The staff at City Scape are all friendly, informed, and passionate about the wines they sell.

City Scape Winery was originally owned by Wayne and Anita Tamm, but they sold the winery to a young couple, Josh and Deb Jones, in 2015. Josh and Deb had first experimented with wine making as a mere curiosity, but over the years they began to really hone their craft, even making 125 bottles of wine for their own wedding.  Since the Tamms had been acquainted with the Jones over the years and had followed their rise in expertise, they had little reservations in passing the baton.

patio

The outdoor area is so lovely that it’s become a popular venue for intimate weddings.

Since then, Josh and Deb have traveled to wine-making heavyweights like Italy, Spain, and Portugal, as well as US wine hubs like the Napa Valley.  At City Scape Winery, you’ll find an intimate establishment that feels more like a home than a stuffy winery.  The shop is cozy yet stylish, with a beautiful patio outside overlooking the vineyard.  The atmosphere is laid-back and inviting, with City Scape’s favorite pet, Pinot the Pig, and a group of friendly goats available for visits.

goats

Just beyond the vineyard is a pen with these friendly guys–who have been known to sneak into the vineyard to snack on tasty grapes.

City Scape specializes in incorporating local fruits into their wines, and you’ll find seasonal wines such as the Blackberry Merlot or the Strawberry Sauvignon Blanc (so delicious that Benjamin and I brought a bottle home).  You’ll find other unique blends like the Carolina Nights, featuring local Carolina muscadines, or the Müller-Thurgau, a mild German wine with a nectar-like taste.

City Scape is more than a producer of wines–they are a community hub.  The place was brimming with people during our visit, some popping in for a quick purchase, some lingering for a tasting, while others wandered the grounds with a glass of their favorite wine.  City Scape hosts regular events to promote community; coming up soon, they have a “Girls Night Out” event (Oct. 19) as well as a Farm-to-Table dinner (Oct. 6).  Josh and Deb also offer one-on-one wine making classes for those who, like them at the beginning of their wine career, have an interest in making wine at home.

city scape

We were able to try a wide variety of wines, including a scrumptious port-style wine.

You can find City Scape wines at The Fresh Market (S. Pleasantburg and Woodruff locations) as well as many Greenville restaurants.  Whether you’re local or not, you can always purchase their wines online, as well, though I would recommend stopping by the winery itself for a tasting (starting at only $6.95, which gives you about 9 wines to sample–a great deal!).

Sunny Mullarkey – Monumental Details in Stunning Prints

It takes real talent to fuse together opposite elements in a piece of artwork, but Sunny Mullarkey manages to do just that in her linocut prints.  In Sunny’s art you’ll find mountain ranges and raging rivers, all traced into the delicate pattern of a moth’s wing.  Combining the monumental with the intricate is Sunny Mullarkey’s specialty, and I’m so excited to share her work with you!

moth

Through her creative outlook Sunny manages to capture both the universal and the minuscule in her prints.

Art has followed Sunny all her life, from attending the Governor’s School for Arts to studying Fine Arts in college.  Through both her education and her own experience, Sunny has explored different mediums and multiple art styles, but nowadays you’ll find her chiseling out prints on linoleum to create her breathtaking pieces.

“I love how [printmaking] is such a physical art form.  The tools make their own kind of mark that makes the print different from a painting or drawing. Being able to see the chisels and texture of the work is something that you can’t recreate in anything else. ” -Sunny Mullarkey

When Sunny moved her artwork out of the privacy of her home and into a studio space in 2013, she knew it was a big step forward that would signify turning a hobby into a career.  As it turns out, the studio space became a huge motivator for Sunny, and she enjoys sharing the space with other creatives who support and inspire her.

Nat Geo 1

The Station, a studio space used by Sunny and a few fellow creatives, was featured in National Geographic…how cool is that??

The signature look behind Sunny’s prints is the theme of nature: combining the grandeur of a landscape with the fine details of an insect’s wing or a feather.  Sunny’s love for nature and hiking infuses her work and urges the viewer to become a more keen observer, too.

Sunny balances her career as an artist alongside her life as a mother and wife, and speaks passionately about the significance of support from your spouse and community.  Like many of the makers I interview, Sunny emphasizes the importance of finding fellow makers to receive feedback, encouragement, and inspiration.

Warbler1

It’s so hard to sufficiently describe Sunny’s work–it’s both earthy and modern, elegant and playful, imaginative and controlled.

There is so much charisma in Sunny’s work, both in the details and even in the beautiful textures of the paper she prints on.  Sunny gave me no shortage of striking phrases to quote while discussing the artist’s perspective:

“I want to fill the world with beautiful things.  As artists, that’s our duty.  There’s nothing in this world that wasn’t touched by design. Writers, photographers…we’re all here to use our creative gift to make our world more beautiful.  That’s a wonderful gift to have to give to the world.” -Sunny Mullarkey

feathers

Another example of Sunny’s method of combining landscapes with the creatures that inhabit them–mesmerizing.

Sunny’s passion for both nature and art is captivating and speaks to the mission of all artists, both new and experienced.  I hope you’ll take time to explore her Etsy shop and website, and be sure to follow her on Instagram to keep in touch with her amazing work.

The Lazy Goat – Riverside Dining

I make no claims to be a food writer–I’m not good at taking fancy food photos, I’m not a wine connoisseur, and I have no professional training–but I DO love food and love sharing great restaurants!  Which is why, on the heels of my last post that was primarily discussing restaurants in Charleston, I want to share my favorite Greenville restaurant: The Lazy Goat.

the lazy goat dining

The sunny windows combined with the tabletop candlelight, plus the mismatched wooden chairs, all make The Lazy Goat both elegant and playful.

I’ve tried many items off The Lazy Goat’s menu over the years…the crispy Brussels sprouts with Serrano ham, which will radically change your opinion of sprouts; the Moroccan lamb, deeply earthy and swirled with cool yogurt sauce; the “Lazy Paella,” a piled mound of chicken and seafood over fragrant rice; not to mention their constantly rotating seasonal dishes, which include mouth-watering desserts such as Mexican hot chocolate ice cream with churros (spicy ice cream with crispy doughnut sticks…it’ll knock your socks off) and a lemon-berry cake that tastes of pure summer.

sangria

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve even tasted alcohol, but on my birthday I splurged on a white wine sangria, made with grapefruit juice and Triple Sec.  It was a taste of summer!

Knowing how much I love The Lazy Goat, my husband treated me to a birthday dinner there this past Friday, and I could not have asked for a more enjoyable gift.  My favorite thing at The Lazy Goat is actually an appetizer, and one they’re famous for–fried goat cheese balls, drizzled with vanilla honey and sprinkled with bits of pistachios.  Naturally, we started off with this delicacy, followed by the “Duck, Duck, Goat” pizza.

goat cheese

I could eat these fried goat cheese balls for the rest of my life and never tire of them.  Absolutely addictive.

If, like in my description of the gourmet hamburger at Cru Cafe in Charleston, you think that pizza is a humble choice for a classy restaurant–allow The Lazy Goat to change your mind completely!  The Duck, Duck, Goat pizza–with duck confit, goat cheese, arugula, caramelized onions, and a sour-cherry reduction–has incredible, flavorful finesse all presented in the familiar vehicle we all know and love: pizza.  Each bite was mouthwatering, with a perfectly crispy, chewy crust.

duck duck goat

This is why I could never be a real food writer…I always dig into the food before remembering I’m supposed to take a photo.  The Duck, Duck, Goat pizza was incredible.

The Lazy Goat’s menu items all lean strongly toward Spanish-inspired cuisine (such as their “Graze and Nibble” dishes, which are similar to Spanish tapas), as well as flavors all along the Mediterranean.  In addition to their beautiful and exotic food, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more lovely atmosphere.  Built right alongside the Reedy River, the large windowed walls of The Lazy Goat give you countless views of the beautiful river, as well as pleasant outdoor dining options.

Convinced yet?  Personally, I think the fried goat cheese on its own is reason enough to head over to The Lazy Goat…but don’t take my word for it!  Hop on over and experience an unforgettable meal.