June 29, 2006

Round Two

Today's craft project was a tomato pincushion, from an old issue of Martha Stewart. I had to take it apart halfway through and put more stuffing in it, andI still didn't put enough! But it turned out ok and I've already got pins in it- ready to use for my next sewing project.

June 28, 2006


I need to take a break from constantly working on the computer so I'm setting myself up for some crafting this week. Since I'm determined to get better at sewing this summer, my first project was to make a Log Cabin patchwork square with my new fabrics from Purl Patchwork.

It is so much fun! I'm hooked. Must practice a few more times with pillow-sized squares, then maybe I'll plan to make a quilt! Log Cabin is the best because it is so easy- just cut the strips into smaller pieces as you go.

I got a great used book recently by Singer, called Quilting by Machine. That, coupled with the Denyse Schmidt book for fabric and color inspiration, should be a good start for my first foray into the world of quilting.

June 27, 2006

Queueing up the Eames'

We've loved the work and spirit of Charles and Ray Eames for many years now. A truly inspirational "Renaissance Couple", everything they made or did was absolutely beautiful: from their industrial and textile designs, to their photographs and films. I just found "The Films of Charles and Ray Eames," on Netflix and added all 6 disks to our queue. They're unbelievable. Here's one of their more famous films called "Powers of Ten."
Check out www.eamesoffice.com for more info.


As someone who is constantly collecting magazine clippings, newspaper articles, postcards, business cards and other bits of paper, I've found that it's helpful to have a folder where I can toss all my scraps of paper until it comes time to go through it all and either read it, file it, make note of it, or get rid of it.

Today was the day to go through my overflowing folder, (it actually grew to 2 folders in the past couple months) and here are some of the more inspiring clippings I found:

My obsession with giant dahlias continues! In addition to this article, I found a write up in a local magazine that mentions a farm where we can go pick our own giant dahlias later this summer. Can't wait!

Yummy slice of neopolitan cake on a beautiful plate and polka dot background.

Converse ad featuring a painting by our friend Hisham.

This boy was wearing a cute sweater that is going to be the inspiration for my next knitting project. (Sweater for Derek)

Beautiful silkscreened card from Kate.

Postcard from Vik Muniz gallery show. These photos are made up of bits of trash and other detritus that have been arranged to look like classical paintings.

Am I the only one who thought the "before" example in the Martha Stewart Dream Kitchen Contest looked better than the remodeled "after" kitchen?

Interesting photo of lounge chairs and their shadows.

June 23, 2006

Design Torget

We were watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" a few weeks ago, and in this particular episode he was touring Sweden (eating all kinds of exotic and fairly disgusting looking foods of course).

Along the way, he stopped at a great looking store called Design Torget, which has so many great items that I wish we could get here! It's definitely on my list of places to visit if we ever make it to Stockholm. The site is in Swedish, but if you click on "Produkter" you can look at the pictures and practice your Swedish as well. So far I can only guess what "Accessoarer" and "Keramik" mean....

Here are some of my faves:

June 21, 2006

Nerd Alert

We have been knee deep in all kinds of technical mumbo jumbo this past week, trying to learn new design programs, figure out some more advance HTML as well as RTML (which is even more confusing!) etc, all while trying to maintain a healthy attitude that we can and will design and run our own website and online store!

One fun thing I learned about are favicons, the little icons that appear in your browser window next to the url of the site you're visiting. Most of the time it's a little globe, but sometimes people post their own icons but I never knew what they were called, or how to do it. Turns out it's easy!!

Here's how:
-Create a .gif file that is only 16 x 16 pixels in size (which is soooo small that you can really only do very basic shapes if you want people to be able to tell what it is.) One color dingbats and letters seem to be good choices that don't degenerate too much when they're that tiny.
-Save the file as "favicon.ico". This is the default icon name that your web browser will be looking for when loading up the page.
-Upload your file to the root folder of your website (via FTP or however you choose to do it) and it should work!!! You may have to empty the cache on your browser if it's not loading up right away.

I wasn't able to upload one to this site, of course, because we don't have an FTP for this url. But check out the favicons at The Curiositiy Guild and The Curiosity Shoppe!

More info how on to create favicons at:
and favicon.com

June 19, 2006

Weaving Weekend

I just got back from a fun weekend of hanging out with parents and crafting. I visited my loom (which made the cross-country trip relatively unscathed and is now living at my parents' house) and began a new project. Fortunately, with the help of my trusty books and a fairly easy pattern, I was able to thread the warp without any major problems. It's always a little scary but once the loom is all set up, it's so much fun!

Here are some pics:

Winding the warp onto the warping board.

Spreading out the warp in the raddle.

Threading the heddles.

Sleying the reed.


June 15, 2006

June 14, 2006

Fun with Trees

The other day we were walking home from somewhere or another, and we came across the most beautiful and bizarre tree we had ever seen. It was loaded with clusters of small red, orange, green, and yellow fruit that looked straight out of Willa Wonka's backyard.

Coincidentally, (and luckily for us!) I had just bought a tree identification book from the thrift store the day before. It's the greatest thing ever...
It asks you a series of simple questions that you answer as you would in a Choose Your Own Adventure (i.e. "Does the tree bear cones? If YES go to diagram 7A, OR "Does the tree have scale-like leaves? If YES go to diagram 10D, etc, etc...). Following along, I identified the tree—with a novice/enthusiast's degree of certainty—as a Pacific Madrone.
Yay me!!
Looks like I may have let my enthusiasm get the better of me in my first foray into tree identification. Our friend Anton pointed out the possibility that this may in fact be a Strawberry Tree, and not the Pacific Madrone as I first reported. Strawberries?! On trees!?!?! Well, we know Anton's a smart guy, and word on the street is that he knows his trees, so I did a little research, and I think he's right!
Thanks Anton!

Business Cards in a Pinch

Since we moved, I've had to give people my new contact info every so often, and have usually ended up writing it on a scrap of paper or promising to email it (and then forgetting to).

The other day I was browsing some crafty sites and I stumbled across this great fill-in-the-blank business card PDF from The Small Object. (click on StenoPad and scroll down to the Downloads button at the bottom of the page.)

They are simple, cute and hand drawn, and very easy to download and print. Such a great idea!

I printed mine on some heavyweight paper, trimmed them on my new paper cutter, and wrote in my info (only the necessary stuff: name, email, website and phone) and now I'm all set!!

Also on the site are many items for sale, including paper products, totes, pins, dolls and many more "small objects". In addition to the free business cards, you can download mailing labels, gift tags and "thumb wrestling champion belts", which are adorable!

June 09, 2006

Mein Deutscher Lieblingsspeicher!

If I were from Germany but living in the States, I would LOVE Lehr's German Specialties! Heck, I love this store and I'm not even from Germany. They carry so many specialty items imported direct from the homeland, including magazines, tons of food, beer steins, cuckoo clocks, lederhosen, etc. I ventured in recently and bought a box of Spaetzle and some chocolates shaped like horseshoes.

The candies and sweets aisle is chock full of interesting things, and if you have a craving for black licorice, this place is for you.

Unfortunately, Lehr's doesn't have a website of their own, but I did find a good online store that sells a lot of the same items found at Lehr's. http://www.germancorner.com/

P.S. Please forgive the German title, as it was generated in the computer and I know it isn't correct...it's supposed to say "My Favorite German Store" but when I translated it back into English, it said "My German Favourite Memory". Good enough, I suppose.

June 08, 2006


Man, I love a diorama. I don't care if it's a 4th-grader's Play-Doh replica of the Alamo or a herd of gazelles traipsing through the Serengeti at the Natural History museum, I love them all. I'm not quite sure what it is about them that moves me. Is it the attention to detail? The ingenious use of materials (a toothpick reborn as a treetrunk, a sugarcube igloo dusted lightly with "snow")? I guess what I love most about them is that they can be about anything. They can be about nature, history, space, the future...there really is no limit. Proof of this can be found in a very small sampling of some pictures of dioramas I found online...

"Septic Tank Installation"
For an interesting article about Stephen Christopher Quinn, the senior project manager (aka Diorama Maestro) at the Museum of Natural History in New York, click here.

Crocheted Snacks

I am about to start working on a huge crochet project (100 cupcakes!) that is guaranteed to keep me busy all summer, and before I do, I thought I should get a little inspiration from some fellow crafters who specialize in crocheted food.

There is a home for retired people in Strathaven, Tasmania, where the residents have knitted and crocheted themselves an entire kitchen, complete with dishware and food! The cakes, donuts and hamburgers and amazing. And what about the loaf of bread with two slices cut off?!?!? I can't even stand it. Here is a link to the entire piece from ABC Tasmania.

I also have an old magazine clipping (from the Summer 1999 issue of Flaunt Magazine!) with pictures of some crocheted food by Clare Crespo, which are so beautiful and perfect. Her slice of pie on a plate is to die for! And the bacon! Her recent books on creative food stylings and cupcake recipes are totally awesome. Love her!

June 07, 2006

Awww, Nuts!! (Coconuts!!)

OK. I am in the process of making a recipe for dinner that involves toasted coconut. Admittedly, this is my first time cooking with shredded coconut, as I only recently discovered its yumminess when I became an adult. (Hello, macaroons!) I am embarassed to say that it took me three tries to get it toasted just so...

Round One:
The directions on the recipe say to spread it out on a cookie sheet, throw it in a 350-degree oven, and toast it for 8-10 minutes, which I did. Result: coconut that was burnt on top and still raw underneath, probably due to my lack of stirring.

Round Two:
I read the toasting directions on the back of the bag, which says to leave in the oven for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. So I waltzed in and out of the kitchen every couple minutes to stir, not wanting to open up the oven too often, for fear of letting all the heat out. I quickly learned that once the coconut starts turning color, it gets toasted REAL fast. Result: pretty toasted and perhaps edible, but I'm looking for results that look like the pretty picture in the Martha magazine, which is a light golden brown.

Round Three:
This was about when Derek came home from tutoring, to find me sitting on a chair in front of the stove, oven mitt in one hand, spatula in the other, keeping track of the time so I could stir the coconut every 30 seconds. It ended up taking 4-5 minutes of stirring a couple times a minute and pretty constant opening of the oven during the last minute or so. Result: perfection! Light and crispy, without the burnt taste.

It was during this third attempt that I wondered whether or not taking pictures of this process and documenting it would turn it into an "experiment" rather than a weak attempt at doing something that should be super easy!! But now I know. So be prepared when I make a batch of mean macaroons in the near future. (Because I have to do something with the rest of this huge bag of coconut!)

Raiders of the Lost Ark, mon.

Last night we went to the Castro for a 25th Anniversary screening of one of our favorite movies of all time "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Needless to say, it was freekin' awesome. The movie was as exciting as ever. Seeing it on the big screen was a huge thrill. And seeing it at the Castro, with a live organ player getting us all in the mood by bustin' out the theme song on the mighty Wurlitzer...Ridiculous!!

We were so inspired by the whole experience that we came home and got out our treasured copy of "Raiders of the Lost Dub" a 1981 dub album that pays loving, Rasta-rific tribute to the film. With contributors like Black Uhuru, The Wailers, and Burning Spear and titles like, "The Monkey is a Spy", "Pit of Snakes", and "Who's in the Tomb" you've gotta love it. Click here if you'd like to hear some samples...

June 06, 2006

A Fungus Among Us

The current obsession with adorable spotted toadstools and mushrooms is now spreading to the world of street art, as proven by these 2 examples we noticed, first during our vacation in Italy last Fall and more recently in front of Morrow's Nut House on Union Square. Please note that we are talking about cute woodland toadstool art and not trippy psychedelic mushroom art, which is all I could find when I did a Google Image Search for "mushroom graffiti". I swear I saw another good one recently.... will post a picture as soon as I remember where it was.

Cellphone Call of the Wild

I was recently forced to replace my beloved cellphone, and with the particular model I chose I was having a hard time finding a ringtone that I could live with, or more to the point, that didn't make me burst out in a cold sweat everytime it went off. Luckily I was hanging out with my lovely friend Christina who has a ringtone on her cellphone that is actually pleasant. Who knew?! Turns out it's the call of a Screech Owl, which sounds better than it, um, sounds. She had downloaded it from a site called GreenTones, which in addition to a number of different "wildlife" calls offers "habitat" and "culture" ringtones as well. Even better, they donate a portion of every sale to the World Wildlife Fund.


Of course if that's too hippie-dippie for you, there's always RingToneJukeBox, where today's most popular download appears to be Buckcherry's "Crazy Bitch". Sounds delightful!!!

June 05, 2006

Feeling Inspired by Craftiness!

I spent this morning perusing my favorite crafty blogs, and from there I started clicking around on some of the links from those blogs, which lead to discoveries of many more new favorite crafty sites! There are so many talented crafters out there who make the most beautiful things, and I have definitely gleaned much valuable information from craft blogs in the past, when stuck on knitting patterns, when figuring out how to apply for my seller's permit for the Renegade Craft Fair last summer, etc. (Mom has even become a regular reader of not martha, and she sends me cute links that she gets from that site all the time!)

To cap it off, I listened to a couple episodes of craftypod, and after being inundated with all types of craftiness online, finally had to spend some time away from the computer actually working on a craft, so I picked up a scarf I started last winter and started knitting. (I'm finding that in San Francisco, you can actually wear hand-knit items all year round, whereas in New York I couldn't even think about touching yarn from June through September.)

So in the spirit of the craft blog, here are a couple of my most recent projects. (more to come!)
Here is a stuffed squirrel made from corduroy scraps and little pieces of the prettiest plaid which I had been saving for years! I knew they would come in handy some day. The pattern came from Felissimo, (which I heard closed recently... is that true?) and I shrunk the size a bit for extra cuteness. Next up- more stuffed animals from my Woman's Day Book of Stuffed Toys and Dolls. Can't wait! Such a good way to use all the small pieces of fabric I can't bring myself to throw away.

Origami flower ball. This took FOREVER, but I like the way it turned out. The trick is to get all the same color paper, which I found in Japan Town. It would be so pretty to have lots of these in different sizes hanging from the ceiling, but I just don't have the patience to make any more!

In addition to these projects, I have been making lots of envelopes with my new envelope templates from Paper Source. It is just too much fun. No pictures, as I've already sent them all...

Corndogs & Car Crashes!!

We love fairs!
There's just nothing like a warm summer evening spent chomping down corndogs, chili-cheese fries, cotton candy, and pink popcorn bricks (last nights actual dinner, yikes!) while enjoying a sugary lemonade and some of the best people watching around.

Our main reason for going to the Contra Costa County Fair last night (aside from the delectable cuisine) was to witness the Demolition Derby, which was 3 rounds of loud, muddy, stinky, vehicular mayhem. It's surprising (and slightly embarassing) how thrilling it is to watch colorfully painted, horribly mangled cars with cute names like "Sick Puppy" and "2 Ugly" ram into each other over and over and over and over. When they finally flew the checkered flag at the end of it, the outdoor arena was littered with the crushed corpses of dozens of cars, each spewing all sorts of fluids and fuel and smoke and exhaust—and flames too(!) which made me nervous but didn't seem to bother the fearless drivers in the least. It was a lovely warm-up for the California State Fair which hits Sacramento later this summer. The website wasn't quite working today, but in addition to performances by Rick Springfield, Boyz II Men, and Loverboy, a press release from another site for the fair promises:
"[a] wide range of activities on the schedule, including: body building, amateur boxing, live harness racing, monster trucks and demolition derby, Motocross and Street Bikes, food and wine tastings, cultural demonstrations, and much more!"
We can't wait!!!

June 03, 2006

NY's Greatest Hits

We just got back the other day from a week long visit to NYC, and although we only moved away 3 months ago, we had such a long list of people and places to visit! Fortunately, we were able to squeeze it all in, in addition to working the Stationery Show at Javits with our friend Kate and her wonderful card company, Saturate. Here's to visiting good friends and sightseeing in New York during a beautiful week in May...

Card making and crafting supplies for last minute additions before the tradeshow... see the real thing at www.saturatedesign.com.

Fun treats from some of our favorite stores, both old and new!

Light up Empire State Building snowglobe and cutie mushroom box from Daily 235.

Purl Patchwork on Sullivan St. is the best ever! I could spend all day looking at all the beautiful patterns and making fun combinations of fabrics. But the half-yard combos are so perfect that you don't even need to bother making your own.

Our old neighborhood in Park Slope has changed so much, and I'm bummed that we don't get to hang out at fun stores like Rare Device, which carries lots of local designers and I met Rena, the owner, at the stationery show and was able to visit the store on a quick run through the neighborhood the day before we left. We picked up this beautiful melamine plate by Lena Corwin, another person who I have become a fan of in recent months. My favorite part is the spiderweb on the tree!