The Blog Squad

Friday, February 23, 2007

Good Week for Bad Luck

Luck, it seems, is king. Pure chance, a coin toss, a roll of the dice. And because luck is king, we are its subjects and we court its favor no matter how much we profess to be followers of sober logic and reason. Why all this philosophizing? Because of the dude in the samurai outfit at UVA.

OK -- so this guy, a Darden graduate business student named Hideki Inoue got lucky. So lucky he was actually dubbed Darden’s Luckiest Student when he was randomly chosen from 335 first-year graduate students to take part in a weird real-life risk assessment experiment involving two suitcases and a big sum of money. (The samurai outfit was all his idea.)

I’m sure you’ve heard about it by now. In one case -- $17,500 (the cost of one semester of in-state tuition). In the other, zero American dollars. But there was another piece to it. Inoue could have chosen a third option -- walk away free and clear with a lesser amount -- $5,679.

Now I have no idea if Inoue stayed up all night calculating complex equations or studying risk assessment theory but I do know this: When it came down to it, he put on a samurai outfit. He says he wore it to psych himself up but probably somewhere deep down he did it for luck. Anyone who has, say, stayed up until 2:30 a.m. into the third overtime of a hockey playoff game refusing to take off a jersey because her team won every time she was in that jersey or who has worn the same underwear to a series of medical tests as long as everything continues to check out OK can tell you that we say we don’t believe these things make a difference but we secretly do. We believe in luck. And you can be sure that the next time Hideki Inoue finds himself needing good luck, he won’t be dressed as a samurai.

Just curious, friends. What choice would you have made?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Taking a road trip

You’ll forgive me a little shameless promotion, won’t you? I lived in Charlottesville for seven years, and my favorite annual event there is the Virginia Festival of the Book, a huge (and growing) conference of writers and publishers, geared toward readers’ interests. It’s happening March 21-25.

One of the reasons I love this festival is that every event (with the exception of a few) is free to the public — just come a little early to nab a seat. A couple of this year’s highlights include crime writer George Pelecanos (who also writes for HBO’s The Wire) and the doggedly determined White House reporter Helen Thomas. If previous years’ experiences hold true, there probably will be a couple more well-known authors announced before the festival.

Richmond has its own coterie of writers who will be discussing their works at the festival, including J.B. Stanley, a frequent contributor to Richmond magazine’s sister publication R Home and the author of two antiques-themed mysteries. She’ll be on hand for Crime Wave day, which brings mystery and crime writers to discuss their craft. Stanley will be part of the “Small Towns are Murder” forum on Saturday, March 24.

Accounting consultant Sonnie Beverly is the author of Saved Folk in the House, which her teenage twins have adapted into a screenplay and a stage play. She’ll be a panelist for a forum on new African-American writers, also on March 24. Times-Dispatch reporter Chip Jones won the top biography prize last year from the Military Writers Society of America for Boys of ’67, his book about three Marines who fought in Vietnam and Iraq. Jones will participate in a Vietnam panel March 26.

Cathy Maxwell has written more than 15 historical romance novels, some of which are bestsellers. She’ll be part of a romance panel March 23. Kendra Bailey Morris, author of White Trash Gatherings (about West Virginia mountain cooking), will join other writers of specialty cookbooks March 24.

Journalist and University of Richmond professor Steve Nash will participate in a program about the environment March 22. He’s the author of Millipedes and Moon Tigers: Science and Policy in an Age of Extinction. And you can find David Wojahn, director of Virginia Commonwealth University’s creative writing program, at a poetry reading March 23.

Of course, you should check the complete schedule before you drive down I-64, because it’s always being updated.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Master of Revenge is at it again

There are those who subscribe to the notion that living well is the best revenge. Then there are those for whom isolating your enemy, excoriating and belittling them in the most public way possible and making sure they take the blame for a completely unrelated but unacceptable situation is the best revenge.

I don’t suppose I’m going out on a limb in suggesting Doug Wilder falls into the latter category.
The Emperor’s latest gambit is to link the Richmond School Board (whom Wilder clearly detests) with the rising real estate assessments that have Richmond property owners concerned, if not up in arms. Wilder barely made a logically tenuous link suggestion that wasteful public schools spending is related to inflated assessments, yet the Richmond Times-Dispatch unwittingly gave Wilder the most delicious gift in its lead on the story Wednesday: “Is there a link between rising property assessments and spending by Richmond Public Schools?”

And also, senator, when did you stop beating your wife?

The suggestion, now out there -- no matter how “out there” -- can’t just be yanked back, which, I submit, pleases Wilder greatly. Wilder has taken these two seemingly unrelated issues -- rising assessments and wasteful spending by RPS -- and fused them together, hoping they will stay that way in the minds of Richmond residents.

This has the whiff of another stink Wilder raised last summer when he suggested that he might be forced to cut trash pick-up service to punish City Council for cutting 1 percent from the budgets of city agencies, amounting to $600,000 from the department of Public Works. While Council said the cuts were clearly meant for administration and office supply-type costs, Wilder used the opportunity to blindside Council by setting them up as the bad guys for cutting one of the city’s most basic services to Richmonders. (He never did it, by the way.) Then to twist the knife a little more, he also suggested that cuts in Parks and Recreation might mean reduced hours for neighborhood recreation centers. Oh, no, not the children!

Really, you’ve got to hand it to this guy. He is like a surgeon of revenge -- focused, precise and cutting -- and woe be to anyone who lands on his bad side.


Making Scenes On Park Avenue

What celebration of whimsy is this in the window of 2223 Park Avenue? In this former barbershop, technology consultant Steve Applegate and his partner-in-art Mary Lynn are exerting their artistic side and giving to the world themed experiences.

Paintings, assemblages and odd props are arranged in tableaux that receive explication by little stories typed on an old Underwood, which to those under 40 must seem as quaint and exotic as a dinosaur bone.

The first window that caught my eye was a New Orleanian scenario, with a display box containing an antique mannequin head of a woman, a bottle of Virginia Gentleman, a light bulb, a classic ‘40s style phone with the receiver off the hook. The hard-boiled story began, “Nancy waited nervously by the side window. What time was it? Time seemingly stood still. To a faint clock’s ticking in the background her mind began to wander…”

This window, from a few days ago, was inspired perhaps by the unseasonable warm temperatures. “My business meeting at Wrightsville Beach ended early,” it begins, “twenty minutes to spare.” He wonders what to do with the time: “A small window for a walk on the beach. Ten minutes up, ten minutes back.” During this return to Raleigh, the narrator is haunted by the question, “Why do I settle for only slivers of my dreams.”

The Applegates now have regular gallery hours and you should drop in when you seek a shot of aesthetic experience.

You can see more of Steve’s work at

Fan Mystery Art

During my perambulations to and from work I’ve noticed wood panels painted with words and figures affixed to the metal supports of street and parking signs. I managed to capture this one during the few days it was on Strawberry Street, but another was removed before I caught it. The one that got away featured a portrait of poet Larry Levis (1946-1996) on a backdrop of words from his writing. Levis, raised in Fresno, Calif., during his career earned three poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He taught at VCU from 1992 until his death, and he was beloved here, and I often saw him at art openings and events.

I’m not sure if this is a quotation from him, but perhaps readers can get back to me on this matter.

Artist and blogger Martin Bromirski referred to these as "street boards." He preserved a few for posterity and also linked to another "anonymous artist" named Larry Lorca who has a masive flickr compilation of these now-you-see-them-soon you-won't artistic efforts.

I enjoyed the art because it provided aesthetical interruption to the photocopied-and-stapled thrum of the community talking to itself, about lost cats, drummers needed, garden apartments for rent and a VW van for sale. And unlike other forms of urban expression, these street boards don't leave marks or stains that require expensive acid baths or paint over jobs.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Big Barkin’

My sister’s a dog. Really. After a lifetime of cat ownership, my parents took in a dog named Belle. She’s an English Lab, like a regular Black lab but smaller.

And she’s taken over all of our lives. As a result, I pay a lot more attention to dogs, especially this time of year, when the Westminster dog show airs on TV. Tonight’s the last night: who’ll be best in show?? (And more significantly, how many David Duchovny-voiced ads about shelter dogs will it take to make me cry?)

Closer to home, we have a couple of doggy events coming up. If you act fast (before midnight tonight), you can vote for the Richmond Animal League’s Valentine Dog and Valentine Cat.

And although it’s a few weeks away, the Richmond SPCA Dog Jog is already a topic of conversation in running circles. The March 24 race (we mean that loosely) starts at the Hermitage Road headquarters of the SPCA. It’s a mile. Your dog must be on a leash and behave well around other canines and people, plus follow a couple of other rules, but it’s a fun time, I hear.

If you don’t have a dog of your own, you can call the SPCA and borrow one.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Last-Minute Valentine's Gifts (That Don't Look It)

Just in time for last minute Valentine’s shopping, the Sara Sue New studio (2319 W. Cary St., Studio A) will be open on Tuesday night starting at 6 p.m. In addition to the Sara Sue New line of purses, mini backpacks, belts fashioned from old ties and hat adornments, two local jewelers will be selling their designs.

Yes, Sara Sue New is available elsewhere in town, but the selection at designer Kathryn Aiken’s studio will blow you away.

If your flame has a penchant for antiques, she’ll love Cannon Ashby’s line. The most recent collection incorporates sterling silver St. Christopher’s, St. Catherine’s, St. Ann’s and other medals from all over the world. Other pieces utilize hand-painted porcelain pendants, vintage glass beads, antique keys, vintage lace, velvet and whatever else strikes designer Ashby Sanderson Payne’s fancy.

Jewelry By Jean has a more contemporary twist. Designer Jean Berry uses lots of colorful glass pendants and beads.

With the three designers’ distinct personalities, there are choices ranging from delicate and dainty to bright and bold. You’ll be sure to find something for your significant other, whether she’s understated or audacious. All three designers can also create custom pieces. The show will run until the last shopper leaves.

Music of Love

Sometimes flowers don’t always get the point across the way you want. If that’s your dilemma, you might try a singing Valentine from the Richmond Virginians Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society. On Feb. 13 and 14, members of the Virginians Barbershop Chorus across the region (Richmond, Henrico, Hanover, Chesterfield and eastern Goochland) will be hiring out their talents. For about $50, a tuxedo-clad quartet will show up with a red rose and sing two love songs for your paramour. For about $90 they’ll throw in a dozen roses, instead of the solitaire.

“Performances” are available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. both days. It's too late to make a reservation for tomorrow, but reservations for Feb. 14 will be accepted through tomorrow at noon. Call (866) VA-SINGS or visit to schedule your singing Valentine.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Calling All Brides-to-Be

If you’re getting married or engaged soon, we have an event that you definitely don’t want to miss. An Artful Wedding on Feb. 18 at The Jefferson is a high-end bridal event with a fashion show with more than 40 looks by Saks Fifth Avenue and Nicole Miller, expert wedding advice, authors and artisans (author Jason Tesauro — The Modern Gentleman — and Quirk Gallery, to name a few), gift bags, and awesome grand prizes.

And this year, Austin Scarlett, head designer for Kenneth Pool Bridal and formerly of Bravo’s Project Runway, is our special guest. Scarlett will mingle with the guests for a bit before introducing dresses from the Kenneth Pool line during the fashion show. The fun begins at 3 p.m., but make sure you reserve a seat beforehand as tickets won’t be available at the door. Speaking of tickets, the price is $25 for one and $40 for two. But, if you call us at 355-0111, ext. 322 by Feb. 14 and mention our blog, we’ll extend a special offer. There’s a limited number of seats left, so don’t delay. Glamour, gowns, goodie bags, grand prizes and great food. What more could you ask for?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Valentine's Vittles

If you’re looking to wow someone with a great dinner this Valentine’s Day, there are plenty of options around town. Here are a few that we’ve heard about.

To satiate your appetite and your comedy craving, head to The Funny Bone. Dinner starts at 6 p.m. and includes a choice of New York strip steak, herb-stuffed chicken in a Merlot sauce or vegetarian pasta as well as “Chocolate Decadence” cake for dessert and a champagne toast. Then at 7:30 p.m., Kevin Brennan, a former writer/performer on Saturday Night Live and current regular on late-night shows (i.e. Conan O’Brien, David Letterman and Carson Daly) will take the stage. Tickets cost $70 per couple. Call 521-8900 for reservations.

Acacia will be offering up a four-course tasting menu, dishes yet to be determined, along with its regular dinner menu.

Café Gutenberg will also be offering a special dinner on its second floor. And, if you don’t have a date, head downstairs for drink specials and the Valentine Schmalentine Party.

To go exotic, try reservations for a three-course dinner at Nile Ethiopian Restaurant. It’s only $18 per person. Call 225-5544 to reserve a table.

Manakin Grill is serving up a three-course pre-fixed menu. The first course is a choice of appetizers ranging from vine-ripened tomato bruschetta with feta, diced olives and fresh basil to coconut shrimp with Thai chili sauce. For the second course, guests will have a choice of she crab soup or one of two different salads. For the entrée guests can choose from six different dishes including tiger shrimp pasta, filet mignon and pecan chicken. Dinner costs $42 per person. Call 784-0544 for reservations.

La Petit France’s new executive chef, Abel Lucca, has developed a special five-course meal for Feb. 14. For the main course, guests can choose between brown butter-bathed Maine lobster over saffron-English pea risotto and truffle velouté (sauce) or pan-roasted veal loin with lump crab in two sauces. And for dessert there will be a choice of chocolate mousse mille-feuille (puffed pastry with chocolate mousse) topped with white chocolate crème anglaise or chocolate-dipped strawberries with an orange and grand marnier sabayon. Dinner costs $75 per person. Call 353-8729 to make reservations.

In addition to the normal menu, Pasta Luna will be offering a special menu with items like crab luna with linguini (lump crabmeat sautéed in brown garlic sauce with a splash of hand-squeezed pomodor) and costa alla Milano (veal or chicken topped with organic baby greens, Roma tomatoes, diced fresh mozzarella and a balsamic vinegar dressing).

Impress your beloved with a stroll though Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s conservatory and a French-themed dinner at the Robins Tea House. The four-course meal will feature a choice of coquilles St. Jacques (a gratin of large sea scallops in a chardonnay-shallot cream sauce), magret de canard au poivre (duck breast pan-seared with peppercorns and topped with a Calvados sauce) or steak Diane (thin tenderloin steak sautéed with shallots, thyme-dijon mustard, cream and cognac) for a main course. Tickets cost $40 each or $80 per couple. Call 262-9887, Ext. 329 for reservations.

If you want to treat friends or coworkers, order the Valentine’s dessert buffet from Food Fanatics. For $7.50 per person (minimum of 10 people), they’ll bring cookies, brownies, cheesecake, dipped strawberries, candy and soda to you. Plus, they’ll throw in red or white tablecloths, utensils, plates and cups.

Looking for the quite Valentine’s dinner at home? Have Food Fanatics bring dinner to your door. A few of the dishes they’re offering up include filet mignon, chicken chardonnay, Fan surf and turf (New York strip steak and shrimp), and an array of Italian dishes. Most include a salad, sides and dessert.

On the takeout front, Strawberry Street Market is serving up a choice of sun-dried tomato soup or cream of crab bisque; beef Wellington or crab cakes; a side dish and “chocolate lovin’ spoonful cake” for $49.95.

Tastebuds is also offering a dinner special that you can eat there or take out for $39.50. The first course is one appetizer. Couples can choose from roasted beets with melted blue cheese or a goat cheese torte with mango and country ham. Then for the second course each person can choose from petite filet and scallops with asparagus and red bliss potato sauté; lobster ravioli in a light cream sauce with grape tomatoes and crab meat; or half a Cornish hen with herb-mushroom stuffing, sautéed mild mushrooms and truffled mashed potatoes. Dessert will be chocolate mousse with berries to share. Call 261-6544 by Feb. 12 to order.

What's In Your Kid's Lunch?

This year’s Sourcebook issue, now hitting subscribers’ mailboxes, is all about food. On page 196 we asked several area kids and teens about their midday meal. We learned that most area school systems don’t allow trading of food (too many kids with allergies these days) and that a lot of kids are hip to the unhealthiness of school lunch. What do your kids think?

Alyssa Provo
Age: 7 Grade: Second
School: Clover Hill Elementary

What does your lunchbox look like?
It’s black and gray and it matches my book bag and it’s from Target.
Who packs your lunch?
My mom packs my lunch usually, but my dad will pack it if my mom doesn’t feel like it.
What’s usually in your lunch?
A juice box, two snacks and a Lunchables or a sandwich.
Do you always carry the same thing to school everyday?
I switch it up.
What’s your favorite thing in your lunchbox?

Usually my Lunchables — hotdogs or chicken. I used to get nachos.
Do you trade anything from your lunch with the other kids?
No, I’m not allowed.
If you could pack anything you wanted, what would it be?
A brownie for snack, a juice box, and for food I might pack a peanut butter and fluff sandwich.

John Blackwell
Age: 18 Grade: Senior
School: Freeman High School

Who packs your lunch?
My dad.
What does he pack your lunch in?
A brown bag, but he does give my sister a plastic grocery bag.
What’s usually inside your lunch?
A sandwich and a couple of chips.
Do you augment your lunch with something purchased at school?
I usually pick up a Gatorade at school, and sometimes I’ll buy fries if I’m really hungry.
If you packed your own lunch, what would it contain?
Peanut butter and jelly, a bag of Doritos and maybe some cookies. I’m not much of an eater.
Why do you choose to bring your lunch instead of buying it?
We’ve only got 20 minutes to eat lunch … so it’s pretty tough to buy it and eat it. … And the food’s not that great.

Alex Sims
Age: 11 Grade: Fifth
School: William Fox Elementary

Who usually packs your lunch?

My stepmother, Lisa.
Do you carry your lunch in a lunchbox?
I used to do it in a lunchbox, but I actually lost it so she just puts it in a bag now. It was a purple [lunchbox] with a flower.
What’s inside your lunch?
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, peaches or some kind of fruit, pudding and a little sweet. … I usually just go to the water fountain [for a drink].
If you could pack anything you wanted, what would it be?
Probably the same things because I’m used to it.

Kathleen McCarthy
Age: 16
Grade: Junior
School: Douglas S. Freeman High School

What's in your lunch?
I have the same thing every day: half a turkey or tuna sandwich, a Special K bar and sometimes Jell-O or mandarin oranges. We only have 20 minutes to eat. By the time you’ve bought your lunch you have five minutes to wolf down your pizza or your sub.
That's a healthy lunch. Is that on purpose?
I don't drink soda. I mean, I — I just choose not to. I pretty much drink water and milk. I'm not a health nut, but I'm conscious of what I eat.
We heard that you sometimes pack your brother's lunch.
Sometimes I'll make his sandwich .... because I'm nice like that.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Grammy’s Virginia connections

First things first: Don’t jump all over me if I miss someone. Just stick it in the comments section.

But let’s pay homage to Grammy nominees with Virginia connections. There are some, you know, and you ought to be rooting for them Sunday night.

First, we have Bruce Hornsby of Williamsburg, who’s nominated for best pop instrumental performance (“Song H”). I met him years ago at a University of Virginia basketball game, where he autographed my ticket. Pretty cool!

Tidewater, of course, is a musical powerhouse, with Portsmouth’s Missy Elliott, Virginia Beach’s Timbaland (the producer behind JT’s “Sexy Back” and Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous”), Pharrell Williams and Tappahannock phenom Chris Brown. They’re all nominated.

To the west are perennial Grammy warriors Dr. Ralph Stanley (best traditional folk album) and Charlottesville’s John McCutcheon (best spoken word album for children).

Finally, we have Richmond’s Lamb of God, nominated for best metal performance for “Redneck.” Listen to it here. It’ll rock you to the core!

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Spiciest Tour In Richmond

Me, Mark Sauer and Ze Franch Chef. This is one of the oldest animated, incandescent advertising signs in the country. Photo by Demetrios.

Before I go any further, I’d like to caution anyone who reads this: do not write, call or e-mail me, or anybody associated with the C.F. Sauer Company to get this tour. The opportunity was extended to me via my friend Demetrios Tsiptsis (co-owner of the New York Deli) and his friend Karen Windsor, of UNOS, who both prevailed on Mark A. Sauer, the Sauer’s vice president of sales.

Mark is one of five brothers involved with the firm — directly related to Conrad Frederick Sauer Sr. who, upon turning 21 on Oct. 31, 1887, founded the flavoring and extracts firm at 17th and Broad streets. The signature building at 2000 W. Broad with its Willy Wonka-esque mystique (including a clock that on occasion keeps its own time) became Sauer central in 1910. Since then, the company expanded into the former Sears building a block east, putting its packaging and distribution there.

The Sauer Building from the adjacent roof. Reminds me of the library in Back To The Future, especially with that flag staff, pediment and clock. Would the pole conduct 1.2 jigawatts?

On my tour, we started on the roof to view recent restoration of the animated incandescent sign. It was saved in 1978 from the demolition of a flatiron Sauer building that stood at Hermitage and Broad. The tour then wended among narrow corridors, ladders, steps, vats and large rooms of humming, whirring machines and man`y people wearing hair nets sorting, stuffing, hauling and checking, and wafts of cinnamon, vanilla extract, oregano, and pepper. I started humming that Looney Tunes cartoon “factory music” by Carl Stalling/Raymond Scott called “Powerhouse” (da dum DA da deedy-de dat-um-bum BUM bum bum bum…)

Oregano in a hurry…

I learned that 14 pounds of vanilla beans go into a gallon of vanilla extract. Through one door come sacks of India peppercorns, California paprika, vanilla beans from Madagascar that exit in company-made bottles and plastic spice shakers. Sauer also makes Duke’s Mayonnaise at their Greenville, S.C., plant, still without sugar — just as Mrs. Duke used to.

Why the Fan smells like cinnamon this morning.

This visit was a unique and surprising glimpse of a style of manufacturing that you don’t see much anymore.

All together now: “Hassenfeffer Incorporated!”

Friday, February 02, 2007

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

My husband and I disagree.

He feels Virginia does not need to apologize for slavery. He believes the eradication of slavery and the change to the U.S. Constitution reflecting it were the most concrete acknowledgement of wrongdoing a country can offer. Game over. He's an "actions-speak-louder-than-words" guy in all areas. But of course I am a word person and I say, let’s go ahead and apologize. Words and gestures are meaningful and they can help heal us all, even those who have no connection to slavery whatsoever. At the very least, I don’t see how apologizing could hurt anything. Reasonable people can certainly see this in different ways and I do consider my husband and myself to be reasonable people. (There are times of course when he puts that to the test, like the other night when … oh, well, never mind.)

Anyway, the problem with an issue like this one in which the great Commonwealth of Virginia is on the brink of making history by becoming the first state to ever apologize for slavery, is that it is so filled with emotion that reason must fight to be heard. Emotion belongs in this argument; it does. But if you read some of the comments coming out about the slavery apology it’s clear that emotion also dredges up a lot of awful stuff -- prejudice, indignation, resentment, bitterness and weary apathy.

Slavery may be a dead institution but you needn’t look any further than Sen. Joseph Biden’s bone-headed remark about Sen. Barack Obama to know that we still have a tremendous race problem in this country. He can say he meant “fresh” instead of “clean” all he wants, but to me that exposed the worst kind thinking that some white people still hold about black people. And Del. Frank Hargrove’s remarks just show a blinding ignorance to the world around him. And on the other end of the spectrum is the fact that in this presidential campaign, Obama is likely to receive a pass by some of the harsher critics -- and by that I mean the late-night comics and Jon Stewart -- partly because he is black. And in the midst of all this parsing of Biden's comment you have Al Sharpton being held up as a former presidential candidate who is highly articulate. Meanwhile, I'm watching him last night on MSNBC butcher the English language (including saying “conscrew” for “construe”) but who, exactly, is going to call him inarticulate? Who’s got the guts to say, “That guy is inarticulate. It has nothing to do with his being black. He’s just inarticulate.”

We have a problem, friends. It is not something one group or another can just “get over.” And no one thinks an apology is going to fix anything when there is inequality at nearly every level of American life. Of course, I wouldn't want an apology if it came from someone with a stone in his throat. There are a lot of people out there who echo Hargrove's remarks -- I've done nothing to apologize for. Well, no one is asking you to apologize. No one is asking me to apologize. This is coming from the Commonwealth of Virginia for the wrong it did. Where is the harm in that?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Guide for the Love-Struck Shopper

Valentine’s Day often sneaks up on people and delivers an arrow of panic — not affection — when a paramour is pressed at the last minute to find that perfect token of love. Lucky you: This year, there are a handful of vendors with one-of-a-kind to help your search start and end early and successfully. Check out A Valentine Craft Affair this Saturday from 12 to 5p.m. at Art 6 Gallery (6 E. Broad St.). The Richmond Craft Mafia is sponsoring the event with their Raleigh, N.C.-based sister group, Raleigh’s Handmaidens.

Some of the fun things you’ll find will include necklaces made from painted flower charms and antique keys by Twist Style. You’ll also see delicate chain and bead necklaces by Keen Designs. If your sweetheart has more exotic tastes, there’ll be handmade sushi sets from Pottery By Tasha McKelvey.

The same vendors will be in Raleigh next weekend for “Raleigh Loves Richmond: A Valentine Craft Affair” on Feb. 10 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Vintage 21 (209 Oberlin Road).