Category - Lifestyle

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Agave Pantry- Tucson’s Hidden Culinary Gem
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Safe and Sustainable Cleaning with The Hoot
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Birdytell Delivers Love and Thoughtfulness Throughout Phoenix

Agave Pantry- Tucson’s Hidden Culinary Gem

After biting into the saffron and cardamom rose amaretti, I immediately sat back in my chair and savored the beautiful flavors as I chewed. They were rich, yet subtle and exotic. Have small cookies ever put you in such a state where you have not a care in the world? Well, these did; and Shazieh Gorji is, pardon my language, a fucking genius.

Shazieh is the sole owner behind the Tucson-based cottage industry brand- Agave Pantry. I had recently heard of the brand on social media, but then had the pleasure of meeting her during this past Cultivate Tucson market. Earlier in June, we met up and she shared some insights into her world of small batch and handcrafted pastries, infused salts, spirit pots, and an AirBnB.

She has always loved baking, even before she graduated from culinary school in 2014. While in culinary school, she did an externship at Acacia. After having her son, she decided to take a step back, and while at home with him, was baking and honing recipes and skills. She knew she wanted to still be in the food industry, and had heard about the cottage industry license (cottage industry means that you can make goods in your own kitchen, however, you cannot make anything that needs refrigeration).

So she worked on getting her license and figured out what she wanted to create, as she wanted to find her voice and do something that no one else was doing. She experimented with an amaretti, which is normally a crunchy Italian almond-based cookie with no flavor. She used the same ingredients, however, changing it up a bit and made it more marzipan-like. She then added flavors that are typical of her Middle Eastern background (she grew up in Pakistan to an Iranian family), such as cardamom, rose, and saffron. The mainly gluten-free menu has since expanded to other goodies, such as Lemon Tea Cake, Carrot Cake (also comes in non-GF), Chocolate Almond Torte (also available are Spicy Chocolate and Cardamom), Raspberry Lemon Cake (non-GF), Rosemary Cookies (non-GF), Vegan Chocolate Cardamom Brownies, and much more! All of her baked goods are made from non-GMO flour, free range eggs, and organic spices. She will start incorporating more locally-sourced ingredients after this summer. She grows her own rosemary, but will be adding Hayden Mills flour and dates and citrus from Urban Grove.

It was December 2018 when she officially launched Agave Pantry- the culmination of her baking, travels, and experiences. Her first market was the Fourth Schmourth Handmade Market, followed by Cultivate Tucson and other little pop-ups around the city.

Aside from the edibles side of her business, she also creates functional pottery that includes: platters, dipping/salt bowls, small spoons, as well as jars to hold just enough coffee beans so that they won’t go stale. “The act of using coffee helps you to slow down a little because you don’t want to be too rough. Making things that let you slow down and just appreciate little moments. For me, scooping out coffee from something handmade is beautiful… Creating beauty of the mundane of every day life.”

Another best-seller is the spirt pots. She considers them “food for your soul because they are affirmation pots. They are very intimate and personal. You don’t share your pot with somebody else, and using it adds the emotional and well-being of where you are, and that adds to the emotional well-being of everyday.” Be sure to check out her Spirit Pot Workshops , which you can book on Tucson AirBnB Experiences.

Be sure to also check out her Tucson AirBnB listing- Purple Desert Heart Guesthouse if you are in Tucson and need a place to stay and don’t want to be in a hotel. Also, check out her Instagram and Facebook page for new events and such!

Look for Agave Pantry at the MSA Annex Summer Night Market in September!

Have you been fortunate to try one of Shazieh’s amazing goodies? If so, what are your favorites?

Safe and Sustainable Cleaning with The Hoot

One of my fondest childhood memories was when I would go to my dad’s house for the weekend. Seeing that he hardly had time to really clean up around the house, I took it upon myself to help out. I really enjoyed showing him a cleaner house after I was done. In those days, the thought of a natural, chemical-free cleaning solution was pretty much unheard of. But fast-forward to the 21st Century, we now live in a society where it’s almost a given to have healthier and more sustainable household cleaning products around.

I had heard about The Hoot All-Natural Cleaning Solution through my Facebook feed, and I wanted to check it out. The Virginia-based small company was launched by Tonya Newsome. Throughout her lifetime, she had always spent most of her time cleaning homes, including her own. Over time, however, she would notice that her hands were aging faster than her face, and that she was having many respiratory issues. That led her to start investigating the ingredients behind common household cleaners, most of which turned out to be harmful. Empowered with the newfound information, she set out to make her own safer cleaning solution, which (since 2014) is now known as The Hoot.

The Hoot wasn’t the original name for her product, but unfortunately, the name she wanted to use was already taken. Tonya goes on to explain, “Because our logo design was completed before we named ourselves, I was 100% set on keeping the logo and finding a name that was befitting of the design and our mission- to introduce an all-natural cleaning product that is safe, effective, and AFFORDABLE. “The Hoot” was actually suggested by my daughter one day while sitting on our porch, and it immediately reminded me of my youth. In the first grade, I was in a play titled, “Give a Hoot.” I could recall a popular song from the seventies called, “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute.” I thought to myself, ‘Perfect! This is a sign!’ The name “The Hoot” stuck.”

While you can pretty much clean just about anything with the solution, it does not polish wood…Yet… Did I also mention that they use bottles that are crafted from recycled plastic?!

Tonya sent me a bottle to try, and I must say… I’m impressed! It does everything a “normal” cleaner would do. It also smells fantastic! It comes in lavender, lemon, orange, peppermint, and pine. I received the lavender, and boy do I love the way it gives off a calming scent when I’m cleaning the kitchen, floors, bathroom, etc. I also use it to clean the tiles in the shower, where the soap scum builds up. I spray it, let it set in for a minute, and use a good scrubbing sponge, and it’s pretty good at getting most of it off. What’s also great about this product, is that I don’t have to use gloves. I have the reassurance that it’s safe to use around myself, my spouse, and my three cats. “The Hoot ingredients are easy to read. We are affordable, and our product contains no SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) or SLES (sodium laureth sulfate) like a lot of natural products on the market today. These are both common additives used mainly to produce foam in cleaning products, but are also known skin irritants and cancer-causing agents. The Hoot All-Natural produces the same (or even better) results without the harmful effects,” Tonya said.

The Hoot All-Natural cleaning solution, natural ingredients

I also love how Newsome is all about helping out and giving back in her community. “At this time, our main focus is introducing and getting the word out about The Hoot All-Natural. In the future, we also hope to expand our mission to include providing information and access to other healthy alternatives, including community gardens to low-income areas.”

You can find/shop The Hoot All-Natural online, in six local health food stores in Virginia (and plan on getting into more), on Facebook, and Instagram.

Tonya leaves us with, “Give The Hoot a try on things outside normal house areas that you need to clean. We have had customers use it on their shoes, car rims, car seats, and even as a glass cleaner!”

The Hoot All-Natural cleaning solution, natural ingredients

It really does work on car rims!

 

Birdytell Delivers Love and Thoughtfulness Throughout Phoenix

Birdytell, curated gifting, phoenix, arizona, gifting

“A little birdy once told me…. ”

Lisa Morrow was five when she moved to Arizona. For a while, she traveled around; but always found herself back in Arizona. She’s always had a fondness for the state, as well as entrepreneurship and creating. She owned a coffee shop in Phoenix for a bit until becoming a parent. She then got her Master’s in counseling, and worked as a crisis counselor. It was during that time that she realized how disconnected and lonely people were, especially since technology has gotten more prevalent in our daily lives. It had her thinking about how to connect the future as our society becomes more plugged in.

Birdytell was largely born out of a moment of frustration. Lisa kept getting asked, “What do your kids/husband want?” as it neared the holidays. “I’m going to be buying all these gifts, and trying to take care of all these needs, and I won’t have time to spend with my children because I only have a few days off to do what I love to do… It’s the idea that we are purchasing things, but we don’t really know people very well anymore…There’s got to be a way for people to be more thoughtful to one another. I think there are ways to connect with people through celebration, and even connect them within their community. All these feelings just bubbled up in this moment while I was at the office… I just started thinking about how we can know and connect each other better and do that through celebration,” Lisa explained.

Birdytell, curated gifting, phoenix, arizona, gifting

So one day, she came home and told her husband about the idea. “I wanted to eventually leave my job and start this whole team and company, and he was very supportive. The next morning, he said, “you’ll have to come up with a name,” Lisa was telling me. “I just didn’t want the word, ‘gift’ in the name. I wanted it to be something sweet and a little more meaningful, like a ‘little birdy told me…’ So the husband wrote ‘a little birdy told me,’ and changed the configuration of the words. He came up with ‘birdytell.’ I love birds so much, but it had nothing to do with that. It was just a phrase that came to mind. It’s like if a little birdy could tell you a little bit more or remind you that we want to be thoughtful…People have a deep need to connect and the intention is there..there’s just a mismatch of how it plays out. So if you just had a birdy to tell you, then we could all be a little more thoughtful, so it’s a play on that.”

Birdytell, curated gifting, phoenix, arizona, gifting

Throughout the years, entrepreneurship has risen in Arizona, especially in the Phoenix area. Due to that, Lisa thought that the community would be a perfect start for this bespoke business. She found a quaint office space in the heart of Downtown Scottsdale, based upon its vicinity to the different communities around Phoenix. She wanted to source everything as thoughtfully as possible. “We wanted to know the people that made the items in person. We didn’t want things coming in boxes. If we were going to buy products, we wanted to support small businesses. We want to champion people that are trying to create great things and make their dreams come true. We also do things that don’t make sense. We don’t ship. We’ve had to turn away business, as it doesn’t fulfill the experience of us really wanting to be something special and unique.” With that being said, they only hand-deliver within a 25-mile radius of the Phoenix Metro area. They also give their clients a choice of stopping by the Scottsdale office to pick up the gift.

As far as vendors are concerned, they offer quite an assortment, though they are always on the hunt for new and exciting brands. “We encourage vendors to come in, or we go meet them. We can talk a little bit about market needs/desires. Or have you thought about making this or that. That dialogue really helps shape our business and connect with people and understand their products better… We want to create collaboration instead of competition, so we try to take a few items that would be unique to an experience. We can fit people in different places where they can shine, and are unique.”

Seriously, who wouldn’t want a cute box of goodies from local artisans?! Birdytell offers most of my favorite local brands, including:  Paige Poppe, MAME Soy Candles, Oxford Dogma, Ruze Cake House, Iconic Cocktail Co., Teaspressa, M+A Naturals, Crooked Cactus, Iron Root, Enlightened Candles, Boyfriend Candles, Burn Candle Co., XO Confections, The Simple Farm, Black Rock Engraving, Citizen Home Decor, Stone Grindz Chocolate, Tea Time Scottsdale, wooden toys made by a 2nd generation toy maker, Fynn Baby, Be Good, See Salt, Passport Coffee, Bluehouse Coffee, Lafayette Avenue Ceramics, American Mule, Happy Tails Barkery, and Lua Skincare.

The curated gifting experience had a soft launch during Mother’s Day of last year, and has had an amazing response.

Birdytell, curated gifting, phoenix, arizona, gifting

Birdytell, curated gifting, phoenix, arizona, gifting

Birdytell, curated gifting, phoenix, arizona, gifting

Birdytell, curated gifting, phoenix, arizona, gifting

Be sure to check out their Instagram, “We feel like we can tell a visual story better, and celebrate more people that way. We try to highlight makers every week, as well as show new things that we have.”

Birdytell, curated gifting, phoenix, arizona, gifting

Birdytell, curated gifting, phoenix, arizona, gifting

Birdytell, curated gifting, phoenix, arizona, gifting

Birdytell, curated gifting, phoenix, arizona, gifting

“There’s something lovely about getting a gift that’s been made by, hand packed by, and handwritten by people in their own community. It’s just this nice circle… We’re all here for you on your special day.”

Birdytell, curated gifting, phoenix, arizona, gifting

The holiday season is soon approaching. If you are local to the Phoenix area, what better way to show your love, or appreciation of your friend or significant other, then to get them a personalized or curated box from Birdytell.

Birdytell, curated gifting, phoenix, arizona, gifting

Thank you, Lisa!

 

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