V-Day 2020: Cultural References and All the Fixins

Huzzah and Hello, weirdos! Today marks the fifth annual Weird Valentine Gift post here at WriterJax, and this year is a good one. It’s almost as though society in general has, somehow, become more accepting of the fringe.

I kid. Still, as we head toward VD 2020, I give you five contenders for holiday gift-giving. Go forth and browse to your heart’s content!

Don’t Torture Yourself, Gomez.

Send your favorite horror-file, or least-favorite-person in general, a bouquet of Dirty Rotten Flowers this year, like The Morticia arrangement below. Bonus: the testimonial page on this website is gold, Jerry. Gold.

You Had Me at Au Gratin

For the pun-tacular person in your life who’s all ears, I give you the Potato Parcel. This item was actually featured on Shark Tank and has been sending spuds around the world ever since, including those adorned with photos of the recipient.

Couple Goals

No one knows ’til death do we part like Jack and Sally. Let’s celebrate that love with gaudy-ass jewelry.

Put Some Pink in your Drink

This is too pretty not to share: pink chai tea from Lee.

The Rest is Gravy

No Valentines Day is complete without something unctuous, and when it comes to unctuous, I always vote gravy.

butterfly in net

A Whimsical Wonderland

Festival of Trees 2017

We’ve cultivated a bit of an annual family tradition taking in the Berkshires’ Festival of Trees. Every year, there’s a theme – this year’s was Whimsical, Wonderful and the entire exhibit was augmented by an accompanying fine art show of Morgan Bulkeley’s 1-,2-, and 3-D art.

Ten different rooms were filled with trees decorated by various area organizations and businesses. Some of the favorites are below, including Interprint’s tiny universe-in-a-tree-trunk, the tree-sized Grinch, a nod to the Berkshire’s literary history by Arrowhead (which includes Ilvermorny atop Mount Greylock), and a diorama of the solar system called Cosmos, made out of ball ornaments and sponsored by Berkshire County ARC and Zip N’ Sort.

Juli’s favorite was ‘the blue one–‘ actually a mermaid tree complete with tails poking out of the branches. We also played a little ‘I Spy,’ finding hidden objects in each tree as listed on our programs for the first time this year, like ‘a whisk’ or ‘a girl on a swing.’ There were both simple and harder objects to find, to cater to kids of all ages.

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Truckin’ at Wahconah Park

With a Memorial Day forecast that left a lot to be desired, we didn’t have particularly high hopes for our outdoor-itinerary this weekend. But the clouds parted around lunchtime on Saturday, so we jetted down to historic Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Mass. for their First Annual Food Truck Feastival and gathered some tastes, sights, and sounds to share.

There were a few familiar trucks on the grounds, but also some new trucks and a great breadth of choices, from Asian to Mexican to American and back again. Several musical acts were scheduled throughout the day — enough that we heard three different acts in a two-hour period — and plenty of arts, crafts, clothing, and vendors of other sundries that I think add to a food-truck fest as long as they don’t overtake the food.

I also really love this park. We’ve attended games and other events here before and it’s a family-friendly destination with a chill vibe and a lot of cool things to see and do, no matter what the occasion. It’s one of the last ballparks in the U.S with a wooden grandstand, more than 200 “Pittsfield Players” have gone on to play in the Major Leagues, and it’s surrounded by decidedly historic looking signage, service buildings, and snack stands.

On to the food, though: because she had a “big girl” breakfast and lunch, Juli was able to start off with a super-fancy French vanilla sundae from the Krispy Cones soft-serve truck.

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Kid ate just about the whole thing, then went on to share Ben’s hand-cut fries and pulled-pork sandwich from The Chuck Wagon.

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I went off in search of something new while they were noshing, and ordered some fried beef gyota from the aptly named Nom Nom Hut, and a local brew (“brown“) from Bright Ideas Brewing.

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Let me know if you hear of any food truck fests in New England this summer that we might want to hit up!

In Apple Blossom Time…

It’s Apple Blossom Time here in the Berkshires… not as well known as the harvest season, maybe, but no less quaint and New England-y.

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This weekend, we were able to attend the Second Annual Blossom Fest at Bartlett’s Orchard, right in our hometown. This isn’t an event teeming with crowds, vendors, bouncy-houses and beer tents — although there was, in fact, one beer tent — but rather, a gathering space that felt very community-minded, welcoming, and calm.

With the apple trees nearing full bloom, the orchard at Bartlett’s was opened to the public for strolling and picnicking. Burgers and dogs on the grill were offered up for a few dollars each, plus soft drinks and a few selections from Wandering Star Brewery – an awesome, local craft brewery with a great team of folks at the helm. I’ve seen its founder, Chris, a few times at nonprofit events and he’s not only always friendly, he’s always got a new IPA on tap for me (this time, an 8.9% ABV brew called Loopy Juice.)

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Local (and a little legendary) musician David Grover, with special guest Linda Worster, was on hand to provide chill tunes — a lot of James Taylor, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and a few kids’ selections that Grover is known for in the Berkshires.

We’re hoping to attend the third Blossom Fest next year, but if you’re keen to visit Bartlett’s before then, apple-picking season starts as early as August and the farm store is open year-round. (Two words: cider donuts)