There are some days – nay, every day – where nothing beats a great sandwich. Crusty fresh bread, salty cured meat, with a little bit of acidic greens; a simple equation for the perfect pick-me-up. Toscano & Sons is my new go-to spot for this carb-craving cure. Having recently relocated to the Virginia Highlands neighborhood, Italian-inspired happiness is just a bike ride away.
I’m thrilled to share with you the enviable and mouth-watering talents of a delightful creative entrepreneur that I’ve had the privilege of working with, Shellane Pickett of Apple Butter Bakery! Three years ago she took me under her wing as an intern – teaching me the basics of cake decorating and always putting a smile on my face while doing so. After a brief stint on the west coast, Shellane has returned home (thank the heavens) to realize the dream of opening her own brick-and-mortar bakeshop, serving up everything from mini pies to brownies to custom designed cakes.
I’ve never been more aware than I am now of how difficult it is to do that, to choose a path you love and follow it no matter the obstacles. I remember when this girl had only daydreamed of this moment and to see her finally have it is so uplifting, so inspiring. With her husband, Daniel, and her family by her side, Shellane serves up an array of sweet treats that taste like home. All these delectable creations are imbued with the spirit of the Pickett family; their warmth, optimism, and capacity for love lines every cupcake, cookie, and cup of coffee.
Where did your passion for baking originate from? When did you realize this was going to be your life’s work?
My passion for baking started when I was about 4 or 5 years old… old enough to hold the bowl steady while helping my mom bake some brownies or coconut cake. From then on, I was hooked. I had an idea that this was going to be ‘my thing’ during my junior year in high school. I wanted to go to culinary school, but I took an alternative route and ended up in the same place anyways. I remember I was in my mom’s kitchen decorating a cake and saying to myself “I wish I could just live in a little cottage and bake cakes all day”… I’m still working on the little cottage part!
Remember when I introduced you to Kelly and Rod? It was quite a while ago, so I forgive you if you never saw it. Long story short, they’re my uber cute friends who live in Grant Park and I love them to death (you should too). Usually I’m doting on Kelly’s adorable outfits and faces, but today I devote this blog post to Sir Roderick. In addition to being a crazy talented chef at Wrecking Bar, Rod fronts his own homegrown band, The Stacktone Slims. With a guitar and mic in his hands, he writes songs that are musically and emotionally raw, striking nerves in you that you might have forgotten existed.
If you needed any further convincing that this band is a force to be reckoned with, I’ve got the video to prove it! Unfortunately the sound isn’t as full as it was live, but it’s obvious how passionately these guys play and they will no doubt ignite something within you (as long as you have a soul). Be sure to check them out on Facebook and keep an eye out for their next show so they can rock your face off!
One can never have too many cafes in their back pocket, right? Sometimes I worry I will run out of things to try here in Atlanta and then I remember.. it’s Atlanta. There’s always a hidden gem somewhere I haven’t had a chance to try and by the time I try them all, there’s sure to be a handful more that have popped up in the mean time!
Parish Foods and Goods is a lovely little rustic restaurant (can you really get enough of those either?) in Inman Park that serves a delightful brunch, lunch, and dinner. But for the more casual pick-up-and-go order, head downstairs to their little market. With well-portioned sandwiches, soups, and snacks, it’s the perfect place for a quick quality bite.
I’m going to stop pressuring myself into writing clever copy for every single post. Sometimes, pictures are enough. Sometimes, words cannot accurately describe a lovely experience. The Atlanta History Center is a severely underrated local landmark that houses beautiful gardens, educational museum galleries, and 19th century farm house. If you’re running out of things to do in the A, consider moving this to the top of your to-do list.
I’m not one for cheesy puns, but I’ll certainly forgive any business who houses antique treasures like Desperate Housewares. This little secondhand shop sits conspicuously at the corner of Freedom Parkway and Boulevard, taunting me every time I visit Old Fourth Ward. I’m not really in the market for new home goods, but I can still survey the stock!
Yet another reason why I love this Southern metropolis; it’s just overflowing with unique pieces to be passed down to the next generation of homeowners. From mid-century to retro 80s and lots before and after, this small shop is sure to pique your interest no matter your fancy. I can happily spend a whole weekend looking at old found objects. So much so that sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t open a shop of my own!
In what feels like a former life to me, I was completely enveloped in the world of weddings. Working at one of the best custom cake bakeries in town, For Goodness Cakes, I had the opportunity to collaborate with a number of talented wedding professionals who exemplified all the things successful business owners should be: motivated, creative, organized, driven, and each with their own unique voice. Sarah Chancey is one such professional and has remained someone I truly admire to this day. As the head of Chancey Charm Event Design, this sweet and saucy southern powerhouse leads a team of planners who ensure that their brides get the fantasy wedding they’ve always dreamed of, and more. In order to craft these custom events for her brides, Sarah goes back to the drawing board. Like literally, the drawing board. And this is what sets her apart from the myriad of other wedding planners; the creativity and love that comes straight from her hand, pen to paper, paper to life.
How did you stumble into the world of weddings? Is this something you always envisioned for yourself?
I often look back and realize that I did somewhat stumble into all of this. Like any great wedding vendor, I started helping with weddings and events for family, friends, and local organizations. I loved it. Then, I got a job doing Marketing and Events for Chick-Fil-A in Denver, CO. I think that is where it clicked for me. I enjoyed the marketing, but loved the event nights. I think that in the end I enjoyed seeing how happy the events made people. It quickly became a side venture that has now grown into what you see today!
I’ve been living in Atlanta for over three years. Doesn’t sound like long when I write it, but it feels like this has been my home forever. I’ve still got so much to experience, so much to see and so much to eat! I’ve been to my fair share of cultural landmarks and city events, but sometimes you just gotta take a walk in the park.
Piedmont Park, to be exact. The biggest park we have and right in the heart of the city, this is the site of some wonderful memories – dog watching, picnic-having, and playground merriment. On this day, we found our joy in the park through a scavenger hunt provided by Clue Town Books. Here’s my scavenger-hunting outfit for the day:
I could really eat Vietnamese food every. single. day. Perhaps that’s because I really did eat Viet everyday while I was growing up. I can’t say that hasn’t influenced my culinary palette, but you just can’t deny the beautiful rainbow of variety Vietnamese cuisine has to offer. The flavors are fresh yet full-bodied, and never leave you with the stomach pangs you associate with Chinese take-out. Sure you know about pho and bánh mì, but did you know about co’m? In other words… rice!
At most Vietnamese restaurants you’ll be able to find some simple co’m dishes, any various assortment of grilled meats with “fragrant” or “broken” rice. Since I’m not expert on cooking technique, I can’t tell you what makes this rice different than regular jasmine rice. All I can tell you is that it’s delicious.
Sometimes I find it quite difficult to explain how or why I love certain places. After initiating a restaurant into your regular rotation, you rarely think about those things anymore. It just becomes a part of you, a part of the things you like, and a part of your regular experiences. Remarkable things turn into habit, almost like eating a bowl of cereal. Growing up on home-made Vietnamese food myself, I took for granted how great it is until I left home and couldn’t have access to it anymore. Luckily, I ended up moving to a city that is more than plentiful of places serving the exact things my inner child craves.
Quoc Huong has been my go-to place to knosh on the beloved Vietnamese treat known as the bánh mì sandwich. Its ingredients are so simple yet so satisfying; nothing really beats a warm crunchy french bread loaf paired with marinated meat and pickled vegetables inside, right? I mean, right.