Saturday, September 17, 2011

Chippy Old Farm House Discovery

Deserted, Beautiful Farmhouse Facade Near Greenville, NC
A picture is worth a thousand words, you've heard that saying probably what, a thousand times right? Today I present a picture to you that I took just a few hours ago. This sort of thing happens to Susan and I all of the time here in Eastern North Carolina. And it's one of the reasons we moved here from Chicago. Often times we'll be driving along on a country farm road trying to make good time by cutting through an unknown area and we will stumble upon an old house like this one. When we do, we just have to stop the car, take it all in for a moment and then take a picture.

I'm always dumbfounded by empty old houses like this. Isn't it just gorgeous? Doesn't it kind of remind you of Gone With the Wind? A house like this would not sit long in Oak Part or Wilmet or even in the Bucktown area of Chicago. Are you kidding? Don't you just wonder who lived here? What story would this house tell you if it could talk? Wouldn't you just love to step inside and see it? Wouldn't it look great with a new coat of paint and possibly a new roof? Not to mention central heat and air?

Sprawling additions added over the years are very common in NC homes.
There are hundreds, if not, thousands of old homes like this all over Eastern North Carolina. They are tucked away between farm fields, forests, creeks and streams. Many of them come with barns, pack houses and tenant houses. Many of them inhabited by bats, raccoons, mice not to mention ghosts. A few of them even have men that live in them who pay no rent and do not own them but are just allowed to live on the property to keep looters away and to just be there for what ever reason. Others come complete with their own family grave yard and even other may have a slave grave yard too.
Preserved filling station near Maury, NC

This is the Coastal Plains of Eastern North Carolina. If you look on a map, it's the part of NC that is jetting out into the Atlantic Ocean. It's mostly flat with occasional hills. There are a lot of farm fields, streams, creeks and an occasional river. It's warm most of the year. It's farm country and has been for hundreds of years. The family who once lived here, who I know nothing about, are long gone. The descendants from the original farmer who worked this land have multiplied and scattered to the four corners of this country to pursue their dreams and careers in the trades, technology and liberal arts.

I've always had a passion for history. Houses like this are one of the things that inspire me to create things that look old, distressed and weathered. Pieces like my Large Wooden Letters have been sanded and distressed to look great sitting in a freshly painted living room. Especially in newer homes because it gives you a historic accent item in your space. It makes you ask similar questions about the piece like I did about the house above. Where did you get that? What was it used for? And it links our lifestyle to the lifestyles of the past.

There is a society of folks, like Susan and I who are interested in saving this little bit of American History. They are folks that purchase properties like this to  restore and preserve these great old structures. Here in our state, Preservation North Carolina is a great resource if you are interested in seeing more homes like this that are actually on the market.

If anyone reading this blog happens to know the history of this particular house I'd love to hear about it, please leave a comment or contact me.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Halloween Signs Y'all

I know it's the middle of August and you're getting the kids back in school still y'all, but before you know it, those same little hobgoblins will be ringin' your door bell. So I've been working feverishly on some creepy signs that I think you'll have fun decorating your living spaces with this fall. Here's a brief run down of my All-Hallows-Eve treats:

Witch on a Stick
Nothing says creepy like a black flying witch y'all. And she's a big girl too, allmost waist high, perfect for the front of your house.

Boo, word sign
This word says it all doesn't it? It's the simplest of decorations for the scary night. This would make a great hostess gift too.

Vampire Bat
This guy is just menacing, don't you think? This piece was inspired by old book illustrations of bats from the turn of the century.

Pumpkin Head
This is inspired by those vintage paper machie pumpkins you find in antique stores. This would be a great piece for your front porch or to put next to your treat bowl.

Moon Face
This is a fun piece that comes straight from the corner of a Ouija board. You southerners will recognize it also from the Moon Pie box.

Shown with my random starts, see below. Stars are not included with Moon Face.

Star Set
These go great with the Moon Face. They are just quick cut random starts. They are also available in larger sizes. These are 4" square in size.

Email me if you want a larger size at

Bite Me Vampire Fangs
With Vampires being all the rage these days I could not resist making this y'all. This is a totally funky and fun image & word sign. It's loaded with different meanings.

Black Crow
This handsome fella comes from a vintage BB-gun target practice poster. Just luv'ed his shape, minus the target naturally.

Dead Skulls
I've always loved "Day of the Dead" imagery so I took the typical halloween skull and "Dead-Headed" it. It's shown here with 5 hot colors perfect for this unique holiday. But you can choose from any of our 16 colors.

Voo Doo word sign
What Halloween wouldn't be complete without looking to New Orleans for Voo Doo inspiration? This is in my usual Slippin' Southern style word sign. If you have another great Halloween word idea just let me know, I'd love to hear about it! (Email me at slippin'

I have two more items that I'm finishing up, pictures coming shortly, they are:

Spooky Owl--This one is understated, a simple image of an owl, quietly sitting on his branch... watch it--he's watching you.

Menacing Raven--This little Poe-esque Raven is looking over his shoulder, with his classic curved beak.

All of these are available Now in my Etsy Shop y'all, just click here:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First Friday for the Monkey Man

Downtown Raleigh, NC

Last Friday Susan and I ventured west of our studio in Snow Hill to Raleigh to meet Beth who has included our signs in her gallery space at Design Box, which is a workspace, art gallery and design shop all rolled into one. And last Friday was First Friday. I know that makes no sense so I'll explain. In downtown Raleigh, on the first Friday of each month all of the downtown galleries, museums, and art studios feature an open house event where art enthusiasts are welcome to drop in and take a look around. Many of the local restaurants, bars and clubs also join in by offering specials too. And there are a lot of restaurants and bars downtown y'all.
Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh
When we arrived in the warehouse distinct, I dropped off Susan in front of the Contemporary Art Museum to find parking since they have great benches for sitting outside. Parking was my next challenge, I later found out that there were several lots just up the street but I spent 20 minutes looking for parking on the street, something I'm totally used to coming from Chicago.
Art enthusiasts gather outside during First Friday's
On the street, there's so much people traffic. There's tons of pedestrians walking from venue to venue, mostly couples and groups. There's also lots of people like myself trying to find parking. Many driving vintage cars and scooters which I thought was very cool. This too reminded me of mine and Susan's days in Chicago gallery hopping on Friday nights, something we used to do when we were in college, you know, before we had kids. 
Art lovers easily get around via Raleigh Rickshaw Company

Oh, and here's something you don't see in Chicago on a Friday night, bicycling art enthusiasts. A group of about 20 cyclists all of a sudden peddled up in front of Design Box, parked their bikes and all wandered in. Another great way to get around First Fridays is by Raleigh Rickshaw Company which operates till 3 a.m. Remember my parking problem? This is a great way to get back to you car at the end of the night.

Slippin' Southrn signs hanging at Design Box

Once I made my way back to Susan we walked over to Design Box. Inside it was pleasantly crowded, we sort of had to weave our way through the crowd to try to find Beth, who we have never met. The gallery space is small but jam packed with many artists and interesting things to look at and buy.

Then all at once I looked up above all of the heads of the visitors and I saw my little signs, just before you enter their work spaces. This was the first time I've seen my work hanging in a store. Like old friends, each of them I knew personally. Peanut, Howdy, Hey Y'all, the Monkey gang was all here. And folks were really looking at them, studying them, touching them. I felt very pleased, I tried not to stare at them too much. I tried not to let anyone know that "I did them".  As if by me looking at them in some way, someone would figure out that I created them. Then I made my way past them. I tried to look interested in other things and other artist's work. And there were a lot of other artist work on the walls.

Barrel of Monkeys by Slippin' Southern
Then a woman approached me from behind and gently asked, "Excuse me, are you the Monkey Man?" I smiled and said, why yes I am, and then I extended my hand. She went on to explain that she had just purchased my Barrel of Monkeys and she just wanted to meet me and say hello. For me, this was the crowning moment of the trip. The thought that someone wanted to meet me was exciting and made me feel so complete. Like I was doing something right. Like, hey, this Slippin' Southern thing is actually going somewhere. Thank you lovely customer, where ever you are, you made my evening! I truly hope you enjoy your Monkeys.
Coquette Brasserie in North Hills
After our First Friday experience we left downtown and went to North Hills to have diner at Coquette Brasserie. I know we should have stayed with the whole First Friday theme but that's not how we roll, we always break with the plan and do something different. By now the diner crowd was thinning out, yet we managed to be seated next to a couple that had a 10 year old boy with them that banged on the banquettes like Ringo Starr during our entire dinner. Other than that, our diner was decent but I wouldn't go back.
Beth told me on last Friday that she needs more signs so we are definitely going back for another First Friday next month and I think this time we'll stay in the neighborhood for diner and drinks.  If you see us, ring your bike bell and say Hey Y'all! 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Slippin' Southern Explores Wilmington

Wilmington boardwalk near our hotel
Last weekend we decided we needed a little getaway from the farm fields of Snow Hill so our family drove down to Wilmington to hand-deliver a lovely order to one of our newest retailers that has just started carring our signs in the downtown historic waterfront district. We blew into town around 2:00 pm, very exhausted since we had just spent the last few days producing three new large retail orders plus getting out many of our lovely Etsy customer's orders too. And we've done it all during this fabulous heat wave we've been having on the East coast.

A Proper Garden, a great place to shop y'all
 Once we arrived downtown, which we knew little about, we went straight to Ann Street and into our newest retailers great brick and mortor location, A Proper Garden, which  is very charming. It's a little garden, a little historic, a little artsy and Lotta cool. After exchanging introductions with Peg, the owner, a great fun lady, and wandering around her cute shop then popped across the street to Elijah's and took a table at the bar which overlooks the beautiful Cape Fear River. We were starved, hot and wanted to take in the waterfront for a moment and this was the place to do it. While sippin' martinis we sampled their wonderful oysters Rockefeller, Oysters Elijah's (over flowing with crab dip) and some nice, chilled. peal-n-eat shrimp. While I was relaxing here I felt totally relaxed and that there must be so much to explore here. I wanted to jump up and see it all and at the same time, just sit right there all afternoon.

A little further down the boardwalk near Elijah's
If you are a water-lovin', southern crab like me, yes, I'm a Cancer, you'll love the downtown waterfront. I was totally in my happy place here. All of the shops, hotels and restaurants in Wilmington sit right on the river and are connected by a very nice dock-like boardwalk. It would be possible, but not on a hot day like ours, to walk from any of the hotels all the way down to any restaurant you wanted. On this weekend, there were several weddings going on so brides maids and groomsmen peppered every establishment we went in to.

I love staying in hotels. I love the crisp cool sheets, the quiet seclusion and the fact that no one in the world knows where I am when I'm there. Across the river from our hotel room sat the majestic USS North Carolina, a WWII battleship that was totally restored with proceeds from the school children of NC along with the help of a few investors. We didn't bother to tour the ship on this visit since the heat was unbearable but we do plan to come back when the weather gets cooler this fall. I also love touring battleships, the USS Alabama in Mobile is a great ship to visit too, I went there many times as a kid.

The Dixie Grill, a great place to get grits in the city
On Sunday morning we got dressed and did what Susan always wants to do in a new town, get a good cooked breakfast. And in Wilmington, look no further than the Dixie Grill on Market street. The experience begins as soon as you drive up to the door. The look is very 60s throwback. There is a huge Peter Max 7-Up sign just inside and all of the walls are covered with kitchy paintings for sale by local artists. The service was phenomenal. We loved that we were seated in the kitchen so we could see the cooks making everything. This place is atmosphere on steroids, booths, lots of vegetarian items on menu too, Plus, on top of everything there was live music too! I felt like we were in a hip eatery or diner in Chicago, it was one of the most surprising places we've seen in NC, no offense Bojanles'.

NC Aquarium Aligator saying Hey Y'all
Our plan for this overnight trip was to see a little of the town the first night and then go out to the beaches the next day. But it was so hot that we decided to do something that was a little darker and cooler.... so we went to the NC Aquarium. And just as I had hoped, it was cool, dark and very interesting. It's located out on Kure Beach at Fort Fisher. Among the many exhibits we saw, I was most impressed with the alligators in the atrium entrance including an albino alligator. Also on the inside, there was an Open Oceans Exhibit that let you actually hold live sea urchins, star fish and touch horseshoe crabs.

Susan and me enjoying Sweet Tea at the Dixie Grill
I have to say, since our home is in the middle of a corn field, Wilmington is now added to my list of new happy places to visit in North Carolina. It's got water, food, drink and so many things to see y'all, we will return for more very soon, heck, I'm even thinkin' of a second home here.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Greetings From New Orleans!

My wife Susan purchased a cute little vintage item the other day from a shop on Etsy called Ginger's Girl ( It was a fold-out picture postcard book from the City of New Orleans from about 1950. It's an item that back in the day you would have purchased and mailed to someone as a very fancy postcard. It folds out to reveal 18 landscape scenes of the Big Easy, it's kinda like getting 18 postcards at once. 

I have a sentimental connection to New Orleans or the Crescent City as they call it. I grew up near Pensacola, Florida which is about a 3 hour drive. As a kid, I went there with my parents once to see my aunt and uncle and my cousin who was my age. We spent the day with them driving around in the car, seeing the sites and so forth. This was back when you could drive down Bourbon Street in your car. It's only walkable today. My father and uncle were so impressed with Bourbon Street and its eye-candy that we drove down it twice! Of course my cousin and I were reminded that we were tired from sight seeing  and should lie down in the back seat for a few minutes to take a brief nap. 

Through the years I've made many trips back to New Orleans. My high school marching band, the Pace Patriots, marched in a Mardi Gras parade one year. I went to an all day concert in my twenties called A Day of Rock & Roll in the Super Dome and saw, Heart, Cheap Trick, Boston and Foreigner. Susan and I honeymooned there when we were married in 1987. A lot has changed in New Orleans since we've been there last. Hurricane Katrina has made sure of that. 

This little postcard book is really special though. It reminds you that this old city has been here a long time and can take a lot. The photos are very detailed. So much so that you can take a magnafying glass and scan over the image and see even more details of the photos. (OK, I'm over 50, maybe that's kinda creepy.)

On a technical note, these photos were taken before color photography were even available. Black and white photos were shot and then hand colored by the lithographers to achieve color plates for printing. The end result is an image that sort of makes you wonder at first whether it is a photo or an illustration.

The booklet, which by the way has a very vintage smell to it which is very cool, contains scenes that include downtown, Loyola University, boats on Lake Pontchartrain, Audubon Park, Margaret Square, lake at Metairie Cemetery and of course Mardi Gras Time on Canal Street. These images are so neat, I think we are going to enlarge them and have them framed. They will look so lovely in our old farm house here in North Carolina.

Anyway, I just want to give a special thanks to Angela Homan of Ginger's Girl for helping us to trip back down memory lane one more time to old New Orleans. If any of you have never been there... just go, you don't know what you're missing y'all. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Night Live Specials

My favorite TV show has always been Saturday Night Live. Well, that's not really truly, I really got into Batman when I was 6, then Gilligan's Island through high school and then there was the Rockford Files. Anyway I find SNL's irreverent humor and clever sketches to be fascinating and sometimes disturbing all at the same time. I don't watch it every week or even the entire show when it's on. I'm a wimpy fan, I usually fall asleep before the credits roll. Susan usually falls asleep before it even comes on. But I always look forward to watching whoever is hosting, who the musical guest is, the political satire sketches and anytime Christopher Walken is hosting I try to drink Coke or coffee and make it to the end. His franchised sketch, The Continental just kills me every time.

I remember watching if not the first episode, the first season as a, I don't know, 14 year old? I was sitting in my parents house on a Saturday Night, we were eating in the kitchen and this crazy show came on that was really funny. I think my dad was at work, he was a shift-worker and sometimes worked nights. And that was great because I'm sure his Southern, Pentecostal upbringing would have made him change the channel as soon as Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner or Dan Akroyoid began some "off color" skits.

As for Southern related comedy sketches, there have been many that have poked fun at the south of the mason Dixon lifestyle including Colonel Angus Comes Home, Appalachian emergency Room and Suel Forrester Southern Lawyer. And who can forget Dana Garvey's Church Lady who came back a few weeks ago and gave us a mini revival by interviewing Justin Beber and the Kardashina Girls. I know, I know, Church Lady is not really a Southern sketch, but I spent a lot of time in Southern churches as a kid and I can "testify" there's a lot of church ladies in the South y'all.

In celebration of my life time love for SNL, we here at Slippin' Southern have decided to offer a "Saturday Night Live Special" in my Etsy shop every week this summer. And here's how it works. Starting next Saturday night, 7-25-11, during the SNL program, I'll offer a percentage off your purchase when you make it during the program that night. Discount amounts will vary from week to week. During the week, leading up to Saturday night, I'll be giving hints via Twitter, Facebook and in my Etsy shop as to what the SNL discount code will be for that week. Finally at the beginning of the show each week, I'll offer a 10% Off code on my Etsy shop.

So enjoy SNL this week. It's going to be hosted by Jim Carrey and the musical guest is my wife Susan's favorite, The Black Keys (really, she has the CD and everything y'all). So that's where I'll be. Enjoy the show y'all! And to really kick things off. I'll give you 20% Off of your order TONIGHT if you email me at or convo me on Etsy. Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Who do you call Big Daddy?

A couple of weeks ago I put up a new sign in my Etsy shop called "Big Daddy", It's sold several times now that Father's day is at hand and it's the one item in my shop that customers lovingly volunteer the reason they are purchasing the sign and many of them are quite charming. Here are a few...

- "I call my step dad big daddy so this is soo perfect! Thanks so much!"

- "Thanks so much ~ this will be hubby has been Big Daddy since our first kiddo was born".

- "I love this! We've called my father Big Daddy ever since I can remember. I had to get this for Father's Day.

In case you didn't know, Big Daddy is a character from the 1958 film Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that was adapted from the Tennesee Williams play by the same name. It was directed by Richard Brooks and starred Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, and Burl IvesIt's a story about Brick, an alcoholic ex-football player who drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie. His reunion with his father, Big Daddy, who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son.

Another more recent Hollywood film (1999) staring Adam Sandler was titled Big Daddy where he plays a lazy law school grad who adopts a kid to impress his girlfriend, but everything doesn't go as planned and he becomes the unlikely foster father.

My personal brush with the name Big Daddy has happened two times in my life.  Back in college at School of the Art Institute of Chicago I was the head resident at the Herman Crown Center Dormatory. That was in 1983, I was called Big Daddy by many of the residents on my floor. Actually they called me Big Daddy Bunny because my girlfriend at the time who is my wife and creative partner today had drawn a picture and pasted it to my door of a large Easter-ish bunny wearing jeans and a plaid shirt. At the top she wrote "Happy Birthday Big Daddy Bunny". Everyone on the floor saw it, got a big kick out of it and it kinda stuck for the rest of the year.

The second time was at a job I had in Washington D.C. at a publishing company. I was a creative director and my boss often called me Big Daddy since I was in charge of a staff of 10 people. It was kind of charming and an endering name.

Being called big daddy is a powerful title. When folks call you that, it is a sign of affection, respect and power. So who ever you call Big Daddy, give 'em a big hug when you do it and let them know you love them. Happy Fathers day to all of you Dad's and Big Daddys out there!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Nehucky Farm: Slippin' Southern's Studio & Home

Susan and Me at Tryon Palace, New Bern, NC last summer. 
One of our  favorite historical places to visit in NC.
Have you ever visited an American historic home like Monticello or Mount Vernon and imagined what would it be like to actually live there today? Here at Slippin' Southern our family lives and works in our own historic 19th century farm house called Nehucky Farm, located along the Contentnea Creek in Snow Hill, North Carolina. We purchased this house a year and a half a go and are in the process of a full rennovation to bring her back to her original condition.
The rear portion of the farm house dates back to 1880 and was purchased by G.W. Mewborn in 1903 and has remaind in their family for three generations. Mr. Mewborn was a hard working, promenent planter as well as a cattleman, livestock man, dog and pig breeder. As his family and farm grew he added on the front section in 1905 as seen in the picture below.

Nehucky Farm, home of Slippin' Southern and the Havens-Morris family
sits in the middle of 300 acres of coastal farmland in Snow Hill, NC.

Along with the farm house, other structures at Nehucky Farm include a chicken house, two pack houses (tobacco barns), smoke house and silo. The farm house and it's outbuildings sit on a 2 acre plot with an additional 2 acres in the rear for gardening. We only purchased the homestead portion of the farm, Nehucky Farm today consist of 300 acres that are still farmed. The structures however are a mere shadow of what his operation once was. Mr. Mewborn at one time farmed over 3000 acres in several neighboring counties. He had many more barns here as well as at other fields. There was also a dog kennel, pig farm, pastures for cattle, water tank and stables for mules.
Follow along with our son Greyson as he renovates one of our two pack houses
at his blog "a boy and a barn"

The farmland around the house today is leased to a local grower. This summer tobacco is the crop being planted. As I write this I can hear the workers planting in the fields with their tractors and other equipment. It's really quite an operation. Below is a picture taken from our studio window of field hands hard at work planting sweet potatoes last year.

Much of todays' farming is still very labor intensive and requires
many hands at planting and harvest time. These farm laborers
are preparing to plant sweet potatoes from the back of a tractor.

There's another significant historical story at Nehucky Farm that dates back even farther than G. W. Mewborn. In 1713 the Tuscarora Indians constructed a fortress on the Northeast corner of the farm which was the site of the deadlyest battles between U.S. forces and Native American Indians in U.S. history. Not much has been done to memorialize this event because of its delicate subject matter. However, Archaeologists affiliated with East Carolina University excavated the site here a few years ago and collected thousands artifacts. To this day there is still discussion within local government on how to further memorialize this significant historical event.

Many Tuscarora Indian artifacts have been excavated from the Nehucky fields. This is an arrowhead I recently found while jogging along one of the farm roads on the property. 

As I create and sell my signs and letters here and sell them on the internet, I often wonder what Mr. Mewborn would think if they could see his historic house today being transformed and preserved as an artists studio and home instead of its origianal agrarian operation. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to live in a historic house, it would be something like what goes on here everyday at Slippin' Southern's Nehucky Farm.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tornado Rips Through Slippin' Southern's Snow Hill, NC

Tornado passing by the front of our house about 3 miles away.
All is quiet now, it's Sunday night with a full moon, clear skies and a cool 55 degrees but it was a different story here in Slippin' Southern's quiet little town of Snow Hill in Greene County, North Carolina just 24 hours ago. 

We had been watching a line of storms moving across the middle of the U.S. for the past few days and the local media had told us that it would most likely come through our area on Saturday afternoon or evening, and this is one of those times they totally got it right. Here at our studio and home we spent the first half of the day completing a few orders, shipping and picking up supplies for the week ahead plus getting something for dinner from our favorite grocery store in Greenville, Fresh Fields for the evening ahead since we knew we might be kept in by the storm.

A downed power line we encountered on our way to see the tornado aftermath.
By about 5:20 p.m. it all of a sudden turned very cloudy and dark. I walked out on our front porch and just watched the violent rain and wind, then it started to hail. I was also thinking to myself, in the movie Twister, isn't this when the tornado comes? At first the hail balls were about the size of your thumb, then they got larger, doubling in size. Then moments later I looked to the southeast horizon and noticed a funnel cloud that seemed quite large coming down from the deck of dark clouds above it. It was far enough away that I could not hear it but from all of the videos I've ever seen, it looked like the real deal.

It moved quite quickly across our eastern horizon. About the speed of a quick moving cloud. No sound, hardly any lightening or thunder either. I called to my family who were indoors to come out and see it. My daughter came out first, then Susan, our son was in route coming home from work in Goldsboro. We were worried about him too. In about 5 to 8 minutes, the tornado managed to move across the horizon and finally out of sight to our northeast. By now we had lost power for about an hour. When it came back on we started watching local news to see what they were reporting.

Andy's Restaurant on Monday after the tornado.
By now our son arrived home safely and we were preparing diner and discussing the events of the evening when our daughter received a phone call from a school friend who told us that a tornado had just passed through town, took out a popular restaurant, Andy's, and that the middle school's roof had caved in. It was at that moment that we all looked at each other at once and said "Let's go see it!"

The four of us all piled into our Blazzer that I had parked in one of our barns which I never do unless a storm is eminent. We pulled out and headed south on highway 58. As we got down to Route 13 the local sheriff had a roadblock so we had to take a roundabout way around our town to get near the impact area. We had to weave all around many back roads to get into town. Along the way we were traveling down one particular road when we came across a downed power line. As we drove over it we passed a wooded lot that had been stripped of it's leaves and many large trees were on the ground or snapped in half about 10 feet up their trunks. In the distance what looked like a barn was totally flatted. We then drove just 100 feet further and saw a very old large house that had half of its roof torn off. There were many cars and people that had arrived on the scene to help these residents.

One of the houses near Green Co. High School, many of these homeowners suffered considerable property damage.
 As we arrived near Andy's, there were people everywhere. Just like us, many locals had driven, walked and biked into the parking lot of the local stores near where an EF2 tornado had came came through a thick wooded area, hit a small strip mall, lifted a couple of new homes off of their foundations, damaged several others, totally demolished a historical farmhouse and pack-houses that were slated to be Snow Hill's new Farmers Market, leveled the local softball field and park, demolished a new small used car dealership, leveled a fruit stand and took out the roofs of several houses and business in the near area.

We then decided to go the the middle-school and see the damage there. We easily passed through a police roadblock and made our way to the school. I noticed that I had a low fuel light so we made what I thought would be a quick fuel stop. It turned into a 20 minute ordeal since credit card machines were not working making everyone get cash first. Finally, we went on towards the school but never made it, as we got close police roadblocks were set up which turned us back. Along the way however, we saw many homes with downed trees and damaged roofs.

This home just of of Route 58 in Snow Hill was lifted from its foundation and moved about 100 feet.  The homeowner rode the storm out in her bathroom thinking how painful it was going to be to die, she was on the local news.
At this point the sky was looking dark again so we decided to head home since we did not want to get caught out in our truck in case another tornado came through. It took some time to get home since our normal way was littered with road blocks, traffic and debris. Throughout the evening each of us commented as we watched the storms move northeast away from our area on our local news how lucky we all were to not be effected directly by this terrible storm. The whole event wasn't scary like I thought it would be, it was more surreal, you just could not believe it was happening as it was happening. I'm 50 and this was the first time I've ever witnessed a live tornado.

At the time of this posting there have been 30 deaths and many more injuries by this line of deadly tornadoes that hit North Carolina Saturday night. The cost of the devastation is still being tallied. In our town of Snow Hill officials estimate the damage to be over 7 million dollars. I've seen pictures of the damage to our middle school and I believe that it alone would be over 7 million dollars to repair so I'm sure these numbers will rise in the days to come.

School has been cancelled for this week in Green County and Spring Break was scheduled for next week giving the local children a two week vacation. Which works out pretty good because it will take some time to sort things out here in our little town of Snow Hill. Our hearts and thoughts go out to all the unfortunate folks all over North Carolina who've been touched by this terrible spring storm of 2011.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Slippin' Southern Finds Success at Three Months

We hit a milestone the other day with our new Etsy shop, Slippin' Southern. We have now sold more items than we have listed in our shop. And that's quite an accomplishment if you have ever been in retail. It's tough to come up with an idea and sell it to another person. It's even tougher to keep coming up with new ideas and continue selling them to others. But we've managed to get this bird off the ground and we are lifting off with 39 sales since we opened in mid January of this year!

The name Slippin' Southern comes from a conversation that my wife and I had when we first moved down to North Carolina. I grew up in the south. Over the years as a professional artist and art director I've tried to sound professional and tame my southern accent and phrases as much as possible to sound intelligent and be persuasive to others. But once we got settled here before I knew it I was "fixen" to go to the store and asking if Y'all know where something was all over again. So as my wife says "I'm "Slippin' Southern."

The initial concept of our shop is to create signs that were based on sayings that folks in the South say in their daily conversations. Examples include affectionate names like "Shug" and "Darlin" as well as names things you say to the one you love like "Luv-Ya". Of course we've received requests for several custom signs which we are very happy to do. Food is another category that is unique to the region. Grits, collards and shrimp are also staples on the Southern table.

Just a few of our Southern expressions in wood!
In addition to words we thought some shapes would be fun eye candy for the shop too like our Trophy Buck, Blue Marlins, Flying Pigs, Rabbits, Horses and Labrador Retrievers. These are great Folk Art style silhouettes we would hang in our house.

Another popular item has been our wooden letters and ampersands. Who doesn't love to see the first letter of their last name enlarged and on the mantle, bookshelf or over their bed? It's like having a modern day family crest for your castle. And ampersands, I believe, say to the world, hey, I read, I'm smart and I've made it.

My latest wooden letter was created just this week. It's from a typeface I created called Deep Fried Doughnuts. It is based on vintage advertising sign-age from Krisy Kreme Doughnuts which have always been very popular in the South. I offer two sizes of wooden letters that customers can order from this face. They are available in all of our 16 colors.

Our studio is inside the front parlor of our historic farm house in Snow Hill, North Carolina which we purchased a year and half ago. We also have two other shops which also offer our unique brand creativity and style, Middleburg and The Barn Of Middleburg. Both are at

Of course we've got big plans coming soon so stay tuned. And Thanks to all our Southern friends near and far...we'll keep bringing those soft notes of the the South to you.