Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Polaroid.

People really love their polaroids. I feel like I keep seeing them everywhere. Maybe it's got something to do with where I'm looking. Now an application called Poladroid just became available (for free) to download. It's really pretty cool. You drag your picture on top of the camera icon on your desktop, and then you can watch it slowly develop from the solid dark brown square to the image itself – just like a real polaroid! It also develops each one differently. I think there are about 3 different looks, one kind of reddish, one washed out, etc. It also vignettes it and borders it with that textured white frame. Neat.

I guess the film stopped being produced for the real cameras, which obviously devastated a lot of people. I mean A LOT of people. Well turns out some eccentric Austrian artist-business man is bringing it back. Yay for all the people obsessed with polaroids!

That image up top is an actual polaroid shot. Isn't it incredible? Look at it again and remind yourself how a polaroid camera works. Seriously how did he take that?

It is by photographer Jordi Gual, and you can read about it on his flickr page. Browse through his other images. WOW. I hadn't done it until now and WOW. Look at how great this one is:

Well now I am in love with Jordi Gaul. He's got a whole flickr set called "swimmingpool". How great.

Here's one I made with the Poladriod application.

Note: I think maybe I'm supposed to capitalize "polaroid" but for some reason, I can't.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Difference Between ["word".] and ["word."].

Some of you may have noticed that when a word or phrase is in "quotes" AND at the end of the sentence, I do not put the [ . ] within the quotes where it belongs. This is not because I don't know better. It's because to me, it looks "wrong".

When you are writing out dialog or quoting full sentences, yes, the [ . ] does belong within the quotes, and I put it there.

Example: "No," I said, "Please don't go there." (Perfectly normal).

But for some reason, when the quotes are used to highlight a specific "word" or to convey an "idea" – and are at the end of a sentence – the period just does not belong within the quotes. The [ . ] just really has nothing to do with the emphasis of how you are using the quotes on the word. Plus, aesthetically it just doesn't look "right".

just doesn't look "right."

See what I mean? That period is way out of place tucked in there, tagging along with "right". (Much better).

If you're a real stickler for punctuation, you probably don't agree. But I tend to lean toward what "looks right", rather than what "is right", sorry.

Same goes with a comma too, I guess, as illustrated above.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Since just about all the blogs I read regularly wrote about Domino Magazine closing it's doors, I feel like I should too. Unfortunately I got on the bandwagon for this one way too late. I think I actually only purchased three* of them in the past year. It's been my go-to magazine at the airport, for sure, which is probably why I have the issues from May, August and December.

I'm pretty devastated, too, because while I wasn't an avid reader, I really loved it when I had a new one to look through. And now I have a house to decorate, which made it that much more fun. It was truly well on it's way to being my favorite magazine, and a subscription and gift subscriptions were on my list of To Do's. Everyone who read it regularly agreed. I swear to some of the bloggers it was like a death in the family. It feels odd to me that with such an avid and expressive love for it's contents, it didn't do well. Bummer.

Make sure you get the final two issues, February and March 2009. You know February is going to be awesome – look who's on the cover!

You might also like to add the book to your library. If you go to this "flipbook" the last page offers a coupon for 35% off an online purchase at Barnes & Nobel.

So not to be a total downer, here's a little story:

Last night I left the office with a friend of mine. We were walking down the stairs and I said, Did you hear Domino went out of business? And, dead serious, she grabs my arm in shock and she goes, WHAT?!!... ALL OF THEM!??

She thought I was talking about Domino's Pizza.

*These would be the three in my collection.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

25 Things About Me.

This thing is making the rounds on Facebook. I don't really feel like posting a bunch of personal stuff about me on there. Facebook already has enough information about me (see #25). I'm putting it here for the 2 of you who care.

The (FB) Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged*. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you. (To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish).

1) After I shower in the morning, I go back to bed to have my first cup of coffee and read. I get up about an hour earlier than I have to for this luxury. I've been doing this for about 17 years. When I lived at home, my Mom would bring that first cup to me in bed. I believe she is responsible for starting this habit.

2) My parents have been married for 44 years. I am very thankful and consider myself extremely lucky that they are the people who raised me.

3) We got our summer home in Lake Geneva when I was 8 years old. When I was 28, my parents retired, and sold it and my childhood home at the same time. I never realized how great it was to have a lake house to go to and how that experience influenced who I was until it was gone. I still miss it all the time.

4) The summer after my sophomore year in college, I spent about a month in Japan on an exchange program with 11 students and the college professor in charge of the Graphic Design program. I feel confident that to this day, I could plan a trip and navigate myself around Tokyo. I regret that at the time, I didn't eat sushi. Dang!

5) When I was Japan, I left a packed shopping bag full of all the gifts I'd bought for my friends and family on a subway bench by accident. The rate of crime there is so low, and the people so noble, that by the time I got back over an hour later, it, and everything in it (including an emerald ring) was still there.

6) The Royal Tenenbaums is my favorite movie, and I think Wes Anderson's attention to detail is extraordinary.

7) I need my thermostat and my stereo volume to be set at an odd number.

8) I love to fish. I can bait my own hook with live leeches, worms and minnows if necessary, and I know how to choose a lure depending on what I'm fishing for and where and how I'm fishing. I can also release my own fish, and skillfully maneuver an outboard motor.

9) Everything about being in and around a pool feels comfortable and relaxes me. The sites, the sounds, the smell. I have been a swim instructor, coach and lifeguard. When I was 16, I was the 12th fastest 50-freestyler in the state of Illinois, and for four years I was an All State water polo player, and finally, a member of the state championship team in 1990.

10) Just looking at a picture of Italy causes a physical reaction in me that I feel as a longing in my chest.

11) All of my boyfriends have been "working men". Landscaper, paver, roofer and painter in that order.

12) My brother and I fought like crazy, physically and verbally, until I went to college. He paid for a $100 underage drinking ticket I got when I was 18 without telling my parents, and we've been friends ever since. He's without a doubt one of my favorite people on earth, and the best brother and friend a girl could have.

13) I am always considering different place to live. Everywhere I go, I think about what it would be like to move there. My friends and "family" keep me rooted in Chicago, despite the unbearable winters that I HATE. I'd love to live on Dawson's Creek, and yes, I realize that this is fictional place.

14) I'm planning to throw a party this summer for all the kids I know. I just realized recently that this could mean hosting over 30 little people in my backyard, and secretly hope not all of them will be able to make it.

15) I share a birthday with Shiloh Jolie-Pitt.

16) I believe in reincarnation, synchronicities, alternative life forms and that when you are on the right path, the Universe works in your favor. Likewise that when you are on the wrong path, things just don't work out quite right. You just have to look for the signs.

17) I have a strong sense that I lived on a southern plantation in a past life. My favorite weather is in the 90s and humid (as long as I'm near water, of course), and I avoid air conditioning almost always.

18) While the movie The Notebook isn't the best, and even maddeningly cheesy, when Rachel McAdams wakes up in that incredible house he built with his bare hands, and she follows that path to find the art studio he created for her, well, that would be like the most amazing dream come true.

19) After a few wrong turns (that lasted I'm sure too long), I finally feel like I am working on, with, and toward what and who are right for me.

20) I am terrible at managing my money. I hope to reverse this situation completely by the time I turn 40.

21) Over Labor Day, the summer before I started Jr. High and the 6th grade, my family was out on an incredibly packed and wavy Lake Geneva in basically a row boat pulling my brother on skies with a 10 horse. I was in the bow of the boat, and after hitting a huge wave, landed on an anchor. I can still see the face of my father while it was happening, and picture my brother's face as he sank, inexplicably, into the rough water behind us. To this day I can't imagine what it was like for my parents, dealing with me in the boat and my 8 year old brother floating alone in this crazy environement. Then, after a LONG drive to an emergency room, my 11 year old self had to sit with my feet in stirrups, with my Mom in the room! while I got stitches "down there". Not only did I have to wear pads for the first time (un-period related), I had to miss the first few weeks of gym class without explaining WHY I had to miss.

22) The best sandwich I've ever had came from a closet-like storefront, across the cobblestone street from a falafel place, called Noe in Florence, Italy.

23) I've sat alone in a box at Orchestra Hall with the composer of the work being performed.

24) Every Tuesday when I was in the 2nd grade, my mother taught a tumbling class for kids and I was responsible for making the family dinner. My specialties were Greek chicken with rice and spaghetti.

25) I think Facebook started this thing to dig for and collect even more information about the members. I wonder what the motives are, what "they" will use this information for, if they will sell it, etc. Yes, I realize at times I can be quite paranoid, and yes, I know Facebook can probably find this post without even trying. But really, when you think about it, Facebook is kind of crazy.

*I'm not "tagging" anyone, but I will send those who tagged me to this post.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Like This Image.

Maybe you can guess one reason why. Guess two. There are several. I found this on the blog Bliss. According to Mrs. French, Cyril Auvity is a French photographer that fancies toy cameras and his beloved sx-70. This was part of dyptic, but I really just love this one.

Robert Longo.

SF Girl by Bay did an Unexpected Guests post recently and interviewed a woman from Austin, TX who named Robert Longo as one of her favorite artists.

It's been so long since I've thought of his work. I think I was a senior in high school when I was first introduced to him on field trip to visit some Chicago museums with my art class. I remember being blown away by the larger than life portraits on the wall from Men in Cities - 1979. They were so realistic. I loved the contrast of the black and white, and the incredible detail and shading.

I bought three postcards of my favorites (including the one up top) in the gift shop, and though I couldn't tell you where they are now, they hung in every dorm room, apartment and house I lived in through college.

I wouldn't bet real money on it, but I think I was at the Terra Museum of American Art. It was closed in 2004, but it looks like I might be able to visit some of his work locally at the Art Institute here in Chicago.

If you happen to live in New York, consider stopping in either the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum or the Whitney Museum of American Art to see if you can view one of these drawings in person. It would definitely be worth it.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Rachel Austin.

I was just reading about crop circles in 2012, and it reminded me of these "aerial farm" paintings I'd found on Etsy. When I looked I was surprised to see they were by Rachel Austin, who also does some very memorable and recognizable paintings of crows, poppies, lanterns and paper airplanes, that I have also admired.

The synchronicity of remembering and finding these paintings and her blog Paper & Planes again today comes in the fact that it appears Rachel has just sold her 1000th item on Etsy. So until January 31st, she's offering free shipping and kicking in a magnet with orders. Unfortunately I am on a spending moratorium indefinitely, so I can't take advantage of this sale. But, my birthday is coming up! You can get my gift now and surprise me later!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

If you, like me, are missing some heat.

My friend Katy sent this to me the other day. I physically feel a lack of warmth and sunlight in my being. Some call this Seasonal Depression. I have to say that there was a physical reaction within me when I saw this picture. My heart actually "swelled". Maybe if you, like me, are missing the warmth of the bright strong sun, this will help you feel some heat, or at least remind you that summer and all it's goodness will return again.

My Friend Lois.

This morning I was putting on my make up and I started thinking about a friend's mom who passed away recently. I've actually spent a surprising amount of time thinking of this family since she passed considering it had been years since I've seen or spoken to any of them.

The thought that really choked me up was, "Eighty-five years!" I remember part of the service that spoke to the fact that we should not be sad for a life cut short or not lived – she lived fully and completely!

In another little part of the ceremony, we all raised imaginary glasses and toasted her life. I thought this was a nice touch.

Here's to Lois!

It's strange how death affects us, what it makes us think about. We all go through different experiences in different ways and feel them differently – but it's the same, too. Although I hadn't really planned on putting this kind of personal post on the blog, I really wanted to say farewell somehow, because even though it's been years since I've seen her, she made an impression on me throughout my childhood and young adult life that I continue to remember clearly today.

Also, I found a sympathy card to send her daughter and I thought it was perfect. I think it's hard to find a card for these occasions. This one is by Snow & Graham - Chicago. They make all kinds of engraved notes, cards and invitations. The texture of the engraving and paper stock add dimensionality and originality that actually make them feel special, like little pieces of art. And, with your own message inside, they let the recipient know that you care.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Whore's Pasta and Underpants.

My friend Ruth asked me this morning if I'd ever made puttanesca. I'd never heard of this before, but a quick search told me that it was a pasta made with anchovies, capers, olives* – and was also commonly known as "Whore's Pasta".

I thought this was kind of funny. It also led us to photographer Brian Eden's blog, Walk a Mile in My Underpants, and this image. I find it oddly appealing.

*This does not sound good to me. I never thought I'd say it, but this is a pasta dish I don't think I'd like.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Missing Summer.

I love this image. The colors, the worn weathered deck, the pose of the girl, her tan skin and bare feet. It just makes me think of those long summer days of childhood that go on and on and on. She looks bored but content. I have no idea how many days we've been below freezing here, but looking at this just makes me long for summer and youth.

It's by "Bigshots" and I found it on Getty Images.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Japanese-Style Chicken Curry (Wafuu Curry).

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. It's from Saveur (No. 99). I love looking at Saveur, but find that a lot of the recipes are pretty labor intensive or require ingredients that aren't easy to come by. This one's an exception. It is perfect for cold winter nights. From the magazine:

We're crazy for Japanese-Style Curry. Traditionally known as wafuu curry, the dish was born during Japan's Meiji period (1868-1912) and started out as an adaptation of the Anglicized Indian curries brought by the British. The Japanese have relished it ever since. Why it hasn't caught on much outside of the country is a mystery, though. Served over rice, wafuu curry is a creamy, belly-warming delight and, like so many Japanese foods, a winning combination of simplicity and subtlety. While a lot of cooks today use premade curry roux, many traditionaists still make the dish from scratch. It's comfort food in the first order. – Chikara Kakizawa

Wafuu curry has a cult following in Japan, where many fondly remember eating it at home and at school functions. The recipes vary from cook to cook, and often include a host of "secret" ingredients like chocolate, milk, miso, and dashi (a stock made from seaweed and bonito flakes). Unlike most curries in other countries, this one is thickened with flour, which creates a smoother texture.

I've definitely altered this recipe a bit, which I will note. Trust me. Try it. Delicious.

Serves 4.

3 cups Chicken Stock
1 tbsp. canola or peanut oil (I skip this part – see next line)
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1" chunks (I poach three chicken breasts, and cut them into bit-sized cubes)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. butter (I use olive oil)
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh ginger (I use more)
1 medium yellow onion, 1⁄2 finely chopped, 1⁄2 cut into
1" pieces
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (I use more)
3 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. curry powder, preferably S&B brand (I use Dean & Deluca's Hot Curry Blend)
2 tbsp. crushed tomatoes (I usually just halve cherry tomatoes, like a handful)
1 dried bay leaf
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut crosswise into
1⁄2" rounds (I use a bunch of baby carrots, halved)
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into 1" chunks (I just tried it with a sweet potato, I think I like it better)
1 small fuji apple, peeled, cored, and coarsely grated (I don't core it, I just grate it up until the core)
1 tsp. honey (generous pour)
1 tbsp. soy sauce
Steamed short-grain white rice (I use brown)

1. Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a medium pot over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season chicken thighs all over with salt and pepper to taste, add to the skillet, and cook, stirring and turning frequently, until deep golden brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, transfer the chicken to a large plate, and set aside.*

*I skip this whole thing. I poach three chicken breasts and cube.

2. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and melt the butter. Add the ginger, chopped onions, and garlic and cook, stirring often to scrape up any browned bits, until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is evenly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the curry powder and the tomatoes, stir well to combine, and remove the skillet from the heat. Add 1⁄2 cup of hot chicken stock and whisk vigorously to combine, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of skillet. (The browned bits will contribute greatly to the taste and color of the curry.) Whisk the curry mixture into the pot of simmering chicken stock, then add the reserved browned chicken thighs, onion pieces, bay leaf, carrots, and potatoes. Bring the curry to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.**

**I heat oil in a large dutch oven and follow these instructions although I don't use two pans. It all stays in the same one. I heat the chicken stock in the microwave, add 1/2 cup to blend the ingredients in the pot and then add the rest of the stock, chicken, potato, onion, bay leaf and carrots. Boil and reduce heat to simmer, stirring occationally, about an hour.

3. Add the apples, honey, soy sauce, and salt to taste to the curry and stir well to combine. Cook the curry, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat, until the flavors meld, about 5 minutes more. Serve the curry with steamed rice.

Make this. Seriously.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Like to Read.

I just added another link to the side bar, What I'm Reading Right Now. I am always reading something. Here are some of my favorite books:

A Farewell to Arms
- Ernest Hemingway
A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
The Power of One - Bryce Courtenay
Where the Red Fern Grows - Wilson Rawls
Franny and Zooey - J. D. Salinger
Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion
The Way We Lived Then - Dominick Dunne
As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
Life of Pi - Yann Martel
A Gathering of Old Men - Ernest J. Gaines
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safron Foer
The Known World - Edward P. Jones
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
The Bone People - Keri Hulme
A Separate Peace - John Knowles
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Philosophy of Andy Warhol - Andy Warhol

If you haven't read any of these, I highly recommend them.

You can see from this list that I'm not really into non-fiction, philosophy, self-help. I do like history and especially historical novels – set in a real time and place but with fictional characters, and memoirs quite a bit. I will enjoy an occasional biography.

So you might realize that what's posted under "What I'm Reading Now" is a definite stray from my norm. It usually takes me between 1 to 3 weeks to finish a book depending on my schedule and interest. I started this one a week ago, January 11, and I am only on page 40.

A few of my friends and I have gotten in some pretty (fairly: uninformed) intense discussions about topics I could place under the collective title "2012". Aliens, Global Issues, Environment, Conspiracies, End/Change of the World, Spirituality. These kinds of topics always seem to end up totally relating to each other as we talk. There are so many different theories, and so whenever I hear or read something about It, I end up spreading the word around. I would give two of my friends credit for knowing more about what they are talking about than most people, while I fall in line with the majority in that we just like to talk about It and probably misinterpret and misrepeat as often as we get It right. We fall just slightly above the people who simply aren't talking about It at all.

So after a surprise discussion with another friend who it turns out knew something about "2012", I got myself and a few people this book she recommended.

Frankly, for me, it's like reading a text book – something I never enjoyed – with the exception that I am interested in actually learning about the subject. Plus, it's delivered a little autobiographically (at least so far) which I like. But there are a lot of references to things I don't know about and vocabulary I don't recognize slowing me down considerably.

This guy is putting into nutshells, into bags and into bushels A LOT of the things we've all been discussing. One friend even said, Don't think it was a coincidence you gave this to us all NOW. And it's strange because I know it is resonating with each of us differently and for different reasons but those are the same things tying us together. Coincidence?

So I am struggling through it, but I'm not going to stop until I've read the whole thing.

Also I'd like to point out that if I hadn't liked the design of the cover, I probably wouldn't have bought it in the first place.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Habitually Chic posted about designer Grant K. Gibson earlier this week. I love this wallpaper he put in a bathroom. I love the tile in the bathroom, too. I've been looking for a black and white pattern like this for my bedroom closet. This is my favorite so far.

I went back and read the comments wondering if anyone had asked or written about it. The designer himself had written not only that he considered removing this room from his portfolio (!), but also that is was from Farrow & Ball. At almost $300 a roll, I might just have to use it as a reference. I mean, it is for the closet after all. I like their other patterns, too, and I think this is one of the nicest wallpaper websites I've come across.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Field Trips.

I live near a quarry. Every day I drive past it to and from work. This morning I remembered something to add to my "To Do" list for 2009. See if I can (I can!) and take a field trip of the quarry. I don't know why this seems like a cool idea to me, but something about the way you can sometimes catch a glimpse of just how massive this hole in the ground is through the bushes? To see it close up and be able to really look at it in all it's hugeness, as opposed to these little ideas of how it looks, makes me want to go.

Anyway, that led me to thinking about maybe adding a section called Field Trips. And since a lot of my 2009 To Do's so far seem to fall under a sort of "Field Trip" feeling, maybe the goal should be to plan and execute a field trip once a month. Field trips, added. Now I just need to pick the first one.

Note: I stole this image off Flickr. This is a problem. I don't know the rules. If I credit this image is that enough? Am I supposed to contact this person and ask permission to use it? To the 3 of you who may be looking at this page, what do you think? I'm going to try to find out myself too. Viv? Can I use your image?

*This image was found on the Flickr photostream of Viv | Seattke Bon Vivant. It was taken in Ueno Park, Tokyo.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Daisy Mae Designs.

Every year, a group of my girlfriends and I have a grab bag at our Holiday Party. We tend to do different methods of the gift exchange, and this year, we all brought 10 of the same gifts to stuff each others stockings. I thought it was going to be hard to find something affordable that would also be cute and special, until I found Daisy Mae Designs magnets on Etsy. They came packaged 6 to a set in wonderful little silver tins with clear lids. Each one was adorable! They're tiny (about the size of a dime), but super strong so they can actually hold stuff. I ordered an extra set for myself and honestly couldn't decide which one I wanted to keep.

I plan to place another order just to have them on hand when the need for a little gift or special surprise comes up in the future. They're also a great way to get rid of all the lame magnets on your fridge and replace them with mini pieces of art. Contact Kristy at Daisy Mae Designs if you're interested in a "little" something special.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Things that will happen here.

The more I think about it, I basically want to organize the things that interest me. I'm an obsessive list maker. They are everywhere. I've got loose notes, notebooks, drawers – all filled with things I need to do, things I want to do, places I want to go, groceries I need to buy. Then when I added a mortgage about a year ago, it opened me up to a whole new slew of things to collect and look for and add to. There are now additional lists and collections of pictures and just general ideas all over the place, and it bugs me that they are not all easy to find when I want to remember that one chair I liked or print I'd found.

I added categories to my navigation bar, Inspiration, Reading Blogs, Home, Recipes. These are getting hard to manage, and it's really annoying when I add something to my work computer and then I can't find it at home.

I also started regularly reading certain design blogs. Certain because it seems like I can find a new one every day, but I always go back to a specific few. Not surprising, they are the ones that are uncluttered and organized and well designed by people who have a similar taste. They have led me to Etsy shops and home interiors and beautiful photographs and everything is so pretty all the time I find it calming and provoking.

Some of them focus on the things you make, or interior design, or pretty pictures, even food. A lot of them overlap. My interests overlap. Here's a list of the things I plan to post about:

Home Improvement

I am sure this list will grow. If this kind of stuff interests you, maybe the things I post about will too. I am by no means any kind of expert or even necessarily an enthusiast. I just know when I like something. Sometimes I know why. I like to look at stuff and I like it when it looks right.


I guess today I start this thing. I couldn't think of an appropriate image to help announce the big day and settled on this. It's a painting I did on some canvas board years ago. It's been framed and now hangs in my "dining room".