Saturday, February 28, 2009

For Dave.

We had breakfast at a place next to this sign when Dave and Jane were in visiting. Dave was obsessed with it.

List of a million things to do this weekend.

UPDATE: In addition to doing laundry, framing the botanical print, trimming the "stays" under sheepskin, watering plants, napping and drawing Mao, this is what ALSO got done:

Get white and black quarts of paint and sample paints for guest room.
Browse Kane County.
Edit the gallery page layout for TTK.
Rearrange guest room.
Make Pad Thai.
Take a picture of the sign at La Grange Motel sign.
Pick up free sample at Sephora, get new shadow and eye make-up remover* at NM, pop in Anthropologie.
Visit Boden chair and get sample swatches, standard and red/navy velvet.
Wash the car.
Update software.
Paint dresser.
Transfer files.
Deposit check.
Look for an orange velvet-ish option for boudoir chair at La Grange upholstery.
Price out having print made of Vic Zhang photo.
Read, read, read.
Watch Out of Africa.
Listen to new Adele album. (4 times, I like it)
Try to find just one antique mirror for bathroom that's under $10 and in one of the 3 antique stores on the corner. (1/3. I only made it to one of them. They didn't have anything)

It's 11.47 am Saturday morning. So far I've watched 57 minutes exactly of Out of Africa. I will give you an update Sunday night of what all got done.

*Katy, I tried the cheap stuff you can pick up at Target. I can't deal.

The sweet image is a bathroom designed by Nate Berkus via Habitually Chic.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Olivia Bee.

I have no idea how long ago, or what prompted me to bookmark Olivia Bee's Flickr page, but I did. It's on my work computer at the bottom of a not-so-long list of basically my friend's flickr pages. I barely ever visit it, but every time I do, there's something new. I'm always blown away by how many views and comments she has, but I never really investigated too far until recently.

I think these pictures are very well done. They aren't exactly my "style" but I appreciate what goes into them. They remind me of fairy tales or dreamlands. They're so charming and beautiful, soulful. The colors are amazing. I love the pretty dresses and vintage feel I get looking at them, like I'm looking at something in the past. The "sets" are unique and well thought out. I could go on and on.

Anyway, like I said, it's usually a quick, sporatic look to see what this woman is up to, and I take away something pretty. Then I realized something. Get this: The photographer is FOURTEEN YEARS OLD. If you go to the earlier pages, she's talking about being nervous to START HIGH SCHOOL and GETTING HER BRACES OFF! Uh, what was I doing when I was that age? Honestly I hope this kid keeps it up because I can't wait to watch what becomes of her.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

All-time Fave.

*click to enlarge*

This is a pic I have framed in my bedroom. My parents and Katy's. There are so many reasons why I love it.

For one, it's at 3917. This is probably the most familiar place I know, even though I don't really know it anymore. The brick work is different than any other homes I knew or know.

All four of them have their feet up, relaxing, on the same bench.

My Dad is looking right at me, taking the picture, and he's thinking something about me. Katy's dad is just looking at me. Both our mothers are looking at someone else. Probably either my brother, or Katy's future husband, whom she hadn't even started dating when this picture was taken.

There is a cordless phone on the table. This phone in particular will forever date this picture in history, fitting somewhere in between about a 10-year time period, even though for me it feels like it could have been yesterday.

There's a cooler in the background we haven't been able to find to this day.

I am fairly sure who's not in this picture. I think it's a pretty good guess we're playing jarts. I think it was taken the last summer we had this home. I would have guessed it was my birthday, and secretly imagine it's the prelude to the night we all ended up at Jus' Fun... our parents riding go-carts and sliding down enormous inflated slides...

...except for one thing: The lilacs are blooming. This happens over about 2 weeks, a week or so before my birthday. Which is confusing, because I remember Steve (or his parents – probably Steve via his mom) bringing me those flowers in the background "for my birthday". Only, this can't be my birthday because the lilacs are no longer blooming by then.

So it's a bunch of memories all tied up in this one image.

I think the french doors actually worked at this point. For almost my entire life they didn't, and it was fun when they finally did. And I love the color of the trim, which migrated throughout my childhood from different variations of this slate blue to a yellow, my entire time living there. It makes me wonder what made my parents decide to make the change.

All four of these people look happy, looking at the "kids" in their life.

My Mom made the pillows. And painted the furniture that green. And positioned the vases on the baker's rack. We had a normal looking table umbrella for the first time, EVER, that most likely Brad and I gave our parents for an anniversary, but I didn't help pay for, even though it was my idea, and I just signed my name to the card.

This is the replacement deck of the one we (the same people not pictured) burned down (on purpose) the summer before.

The bathroom window (left) is pictured, and it was how I always knew I could "break in" if I had to without actually breaking anything.

It makes me remember "Pinky" and the WSSC and cranberry and currant. Also the wallpaper, carpet, toilet and sink in the powder room. Thanks Steve.

Oh. Another thing I love is the natural line and brilliant green of the ivy on the brick. When this house was covered in this ivy it was at it's best.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I want to try using these Plywerks wood panels as an alternative to canvas. I can't remember how I came across them? I'm going to order a couple and experiment. I'm pretty excited because I just decided who my first subject is going to be. Mao.

Christmas will be here before you know it, little Brother.

Jonathan Adler.

Katy and I took a walk over to Jonathan Adler today during lunch. My favorite thing in the shop was this lamp. Is it obvious they're boobs? Well it snuck up on me. I can't really picture it in my house anywhere – yet – but I would definitely take this vase!

On the website I found this guy. If it was in the store I don't know how I missed it. Clearly I am in need of a rhino in my life. This one is about 1/3 the cost of the Nymphenburg. Plus, it's functional – you can rest your feet or sit on it! I need it!

The pig is pretty great, too.

This Philippe Club Chair I also really liked, and I think it would work in my living room. Particularly the color combination in the store. I really liked how it's done in the combination of fabric and leather. I wouldn't plop down and read a book in this chair, but I'd have a sophisticated conversation. This gets filed under "Post Fatty and Blackie" because I would have to break their legs if they shredded it the way they did my poor sofa.

On the way there we also stopped at Hydrology, which had some of the coolest sinks and tubs I have every seen.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Attempts at Gardening, Part II.

Last year I got a "Grow your own Christmas Tree" kit. It got about this far before it took a turn.

So here's where we're at with this year's attempt. Same place.

The dirt is starting to develop some mold? I think? But still a strong showing for 2009. It's doing a lot better than some of those bulbs I have hiding in the cabinet in mini-vase-jars trying to force some roots. Fingers crossed.

I do, embarrassingly, talk out loud to this little guy every day.

I'd like to be done, please.

While I am eternally grateful to my friend Steve for "giving" me this sleeping bag in disguise of a jacket, I must say, the time for the glee over being "warm" in intolerable conditions is over. In one way, having this Everest-compatible jacket has helped me through a few winters a little bit better off than should I have coped otherwise. But the flip of that is – Enough. We are ending February this week, and I'd love for that to be the end of this enormous jacket as well.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

If I had a frivolous $3500 just sitting around.

I kind of love this. I want to touch the bumpy skin. It's called a Nymphenburg rhinoceros and it was brought to my attention by A Bloomsbury Life. Something I find interesting: It was designed in 1751. That's strange to me for some reason.

I don't know, I saw it and I liked it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Two Videos on Creativity.

Elizabeth Gilbert

Amy Tan

When Joan was over last weekend, she tabbed this website, TED and mentioned the videos on creativity. They are each about 20 minutes long, and I was never quite in the mood, so I didn't get around to watching until today. The one she suggested was Elizabeth Gilbert, who you may recognize as the author of Eat, Pray, Love. Her talk is titled, A different way to think about creative genius.

I took something away from Elizabeth's talk so I clicked on Amy Tan's as well. You know Amy Tan from The Joy Luck Club and Kitchen God's Wife. She spoke about Where does creativity hide? Hers was interesting because she attributes a lot of her insight to coming from a more spiritual world. So does Elizabeth actually.

I don't really want to warp either of these by trying to describe what they are about, so I'll let TED do it.

"Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses -- and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius. It's a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk."

"Novelist Amy Tan digs deep into the creative process, looking for hints of how hers evolved."

TED's Talks explore a variety of different themes, from global issues and arts to design and culture. I thought these two were well done, and I imagine the others would be as well. A site worth bookmarking?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Forcing Branches.

It's getting close to time to buy some pretty forsythia and "spring" up my house. I have been thinking about "Forcing Branches" a lot lately. Turns out I've been remembering it wrong. The real title was "Forcing Spring" and it was the very first post I read by Habitually Chic.

What is especially weird is that when I woke up this morning, after my shower and during my first cup of coffee, I thought about it again. I decided to search the site for the post and to my surprise it happened to be from exactly ONE YEAR AGO TODAY!

My friend Ruth had chatted me the link. I went right out the following weekend and bought forsythia branches (after learning that's what those pretty yellow flowers were called). Then I took a picture of the little set up I'd made in my "entry" and Ruth said, You should send it to her! We laughed. I didn't.

There's a strange significance to this "anniversary". It was through this nonchalant passing of a link that I was inadvertently introduced to a whole new (to me) community of bloggers, and subsequently unlimited amounts of inspiration.

I love it how one person can lead you to another, to a new artist or exhibit, to flickr pages and etsy shops, to blogs about art and life and projects, to studios, apartments and homes. I love getting lost in the links. I especially love when you arrive back at a place you've been before from a completely different path, and I love learning and seeing new things all the time.

It is crazy to me how many people share my similar interests. "Forcing Branches" seems like an appropriate way to describe what happened to me through all this. Among other things I've been reminded of things within me that had been lying dormant. The "world wide internets", and the people out there contributing to it, sort of reconnected me to my own interests in a way. And, it's opened me up to many more I didn't even realize I had. It's funny how once you're inspired one way, how it can lead to answers and solutions in others.

I'm totally babbling, but do you see what I mean? It's been a year now I've been reading Habitually Chic as my morning "news", along with a two other regulars I rarely miss, and subsequently about two dozen more that I've bookmarked under "Inspirational" and also check often-ish. Not to mention all the great new ones I'm finding all the time.

And, I now have a second set of branches in my place. Why do I love them so much?

Anyway, don't you think it's crazy that I looked up that post on the anniversary of the same day I found it in the first place!?

The first one is from Domino via Habitually Chic. The second un-styled blurry one with the dust, uh, let's say "Unknown".

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Steve Hanks.

Have you ever painted with watercolors? Remember those little sets with the 8 circular discs of color? This isn't exactly the same thing, but these are watercolors, not photographs.

Every time I visit my parents, I spend at least an hour looking through their big coffee table book of the work of Steve Hanks. Each one is more spectacular than the last. I personally find the art of painting with watercolors to be the most difficult. It's so unpredictable, seemingly uncontrollable. I have never had any sort of success at it. To do something like these, with the light and layers and shading, is a skill that I think is enjoyed by very few painters.

This work is like looking at a photograph, not a painting. How on earth does he do this? Every one is so amazing. I've posted 5 here, but look at the online portfolio for many, many more examples.

I can not even begin to imagine how much time, dedication and love for an art form and subject goes into each and every one of the paintings by Steve Hanks. He attributes his work as an expression of emotion, rather than strictly a reproduction of a subject or moment. It does evoke an emotional response, doesn't it? And all in capturing a minute in time.

They are all beautiful, simple, quiet moments in life. Look closely at the detail of the rug in the image below. You can actually feel the textures of that rug as if you were running your hands over it. Pick up a set of watercolors and revisit this art form. After you've played around with this medium for a while, look again at the works of Steve Hanks to see how truly spectacular these paintings are.

In the words of Steve Hanks, "Art comes from a deep inner sense of direction. It starts with a re-evaluation of your own life, from a search for the source of the impulses and the mystery of it all. I think of myself as an emotional realist. Emotion is what I want to portray. Realism is just my way of doing it."

Man, does he do it well.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chris Jordan.

Not to totally gank this post from Katy Elliott's today, but it was too good not to pass on to my 4 or 5 readers. This is the remarkable artwork of Chris Jordan, who creates an interesting perspective on the consumer usage of our normal every day products as well as our societies behaviors*. For example this first image "Depicts 320,000 light bulbs, equal to the number of kilowatt hours of electricity wasted in the United States every minute from inefficient residential electricity usage (inefficient wiring, computers in sleep mode, etc.)."

You have to click on the link to see this in different views. It's incredible.

This next one shows, upon zooming in, "83,000 Abu Ghraib prisoner photographs, equal to the number of people who have been arrested and held at US-run detention facilities with no trial or other due process of law, during the Bush Administration's war on terror." Man. I don't know what to say about that.

This image is made up of the tops of cigarette packages. "200,000 packs of cigarettes, equal to the number of Americans who die from cigarette smoking every six months."

What is super cool is the various perspectives drawn from the images. For example the image above "Depicts 2.3 million folded prison uniforms, equal to the number of Americans incarcerated in 2005. The U.S. has the largest prison population of any country in the world."

Honestly what I think brings it home is seeing these things from varying degrees of zoom. As a mass they look like patterned wallpapers, until you get in there and see what's actually creating them. And THEN realizing what these individual items stand for is something else altogether.

Don't hesitate to browse through Chris Jordan's website. If ONLY ONE of these speaks to you, well, that will be something.

*Please click on the link. These mere examples don't even begin to illustrate what he's done with the various topics he's investigated.

Bamboozled By Bobbi.

Oh Bobbi, you bummed me out. I got this little booklet in the mail last week from Neiman Marcus that basically was a promo for Bobbi Brown, and the last page had a bunch of giveaways for February, April, May and June from the make-up counter. Cool!

This was the image for the February giveaway. And I use it. Double score.

Cute. Little. Pocket- or purse-sized giveaway that I was all excited about because I'd just crushed my blush and needed to go to the store anyway, so, Yay! bonus to stopping by the make-up counter. I thought this would be great to stick in a carry-on or even my bag for an evening touch-up after work. See how cute this little bottle is?

Imagine my surprise when I went to collect and was given a deflated condom-sized package of a one-application amount of the product. At first I literally thought the saleswoman didn't know what "bin" to pull the giveaway from and instead grabbed the everyday giveaway any Joe Shmoe would get had they asked for a sample.

So much so that I looked it up later. I don't think this was an error. I can't wait to see how they pack a 4-colored lip palette into these little packages, but I will tell you, I will find out. I will continue to get these "amazing" gift samples every month they are offered for the sole reason that I can't believe they are so intentionally mis-advertising them. I shouldn't be surprised, but the eternal optimist in me always hopes for the best. Maybe next time I will actually get a 4-color lipstick palette? Let's hope.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I like this. It kind of reminds me of my bedroom. And here are some flowers. Lately I want to put them all over the house. I can't wait for Spring!

All of the images from Domino

Monday, February 16, 2009

Katy Elliott.

Kyle, Katy and I stopped in Mig & Tig on Friday to browse around. I was still feeling ignorant about those "cushion buttons" so I wondered again aloud about what that type of upholstery is called – while I was pointing at examples. Apparently Kyle didn't get what I was asking about before because he casually blurted out, "Tufted," without a pause.

So later that night I Googled "tufted" images, and the first one I clicked on brought me to this: Wide Awake Thinking About... Tufted. What a total fluke to have stumbled upon this new blog, Katy Elliott.

Ok, so these two pics really have nothing to do with Katy Elliott other than they were the first ones on her blog, at a quick glance, to cause me to pause. That first one? It's 3-dimensional to me. I could stare at it for a LONG time. These are QUILTS. Then glancing down this (seemingly) simple blue one had a similar effect. It's remarkable.

These quilt designs are by Liz Jaff, posted by Katy Elliot, via New York Times. I hope I am crediting everyone involved (the links aren't working and/or are getting redundent). I totally had to screen grab and remake all the images! so sorry to whoever cares.

I haven't had any time to really poke around in Katy E's blog, or even Liz Jaff's website, but a quick scroll through Katy E's posts and the titles of her side navigation (with accompanying images – brilliant!) led me to these:

Affordable Artworkbicyclepaintings: Bike Prints

ArtistsElizabeth Shuppe: Painter

And House Renovations...

...among so many others! I really like this blog and I am excited to see what else I will find here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Yesterday was fun.

My friend Joan came over. We'd pulled a bunch of recipes and were going to cook all day. I highly recommend this activity. First we picked the recipes: Cooking Light's Spicy Peanut Chicken, Williams Sonoma's Split Pea Soup with Ham, and Egg & Sausage Casserole and Skillet Gnocci with Chard and White Beans from Eating Well. Everything was delicious, and we split them and froze a bunch of servings for quick and healthy meals.

Since I had Red Velvet on my mind, and it was Valentine's Day after all, so we also made Paula Dean's Red Velvet Cupcakes*. These were the only let down. The cream cheese frosting was amazing, and they looked really cute, but they don't taste all that great or special. Putting the special Val Day toppings on was my favorite part.

Oh, and we drank Bloody Mary's while we did it, which I also highly recommend.

*Ours were actually orange velvet. Those little food coloring containers are only 1 Tbs. I had no idea that the recipe called for 2 Tbs!? That seems like A LOT of food coloring, no? So, I added the yellow one too. I guess I could have used only the red and maybe gotten pink velvet? Anyway, if you have to buy the food coloring like I did, make sure you get enough.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ways to my heart...

Next year I need to try and remember to create more fun around Valentine's Day. There are so many cute things to make, I feel like I blew an opportunity to spread some love around. Anyway, if you're looking to throw a little love my way, here are three ways you can do it:

1. Flowers – They don't have to be roses or a big bouquet. A single gerber daisy would do the trick. Whole Foods had the most amazing display of roses this week I stood for a few minutes just staring at them. The beautiful rich, deep orange and the ones with an alternative splash of color on the tips were my favorite.

2. Fannie May Trinidads – Hands down my favorite chocolate in a a box. I really like turtles, too. And the little Dove Dark Chocolates wrapped in red foil.

3. Cream Cheese Frosting – I think I had my first date with red velvet last weekend and what a lovely surprise to find out it's covered in my favorite frosting. Plus, the red velvet is RED so it's perfect for Valentine's. Making mini-cupcakes like this is not out of the question today, so if you live nearby, you might want to stop over tonight or tomorrow sometime.

The image is from Domino.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love is Lame.

I don't really think love is lame, but I've loved this t-shirt for a while. Last Valentine's I wanted to get it for myself and a couple of friends as a surprise. I swore this year I'd do it too. I'll dwell tomorrow on a few things I'd wished I'd done this Val Day, but for now the color and softness of this T and silkscreen are perfect. I just want to be able to wear this around tomorrow and watch people react to it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Abe Lincoln.

Two hundred years ago, the 16th president of the United States was born. There's been quite a little bit of media attention paid to this anniversary. There's a new penny, and I was excited to hear the USPS' plan to release 4 commemorative stamps –

For about a second. Then I remembered US stamp designs. Honestly, we have the worst stamps. It's embarrassing actually, when it's such a great opportunity to have someone design something cool. So I tried to remain positive until I looked them up, hoping maybe I'd be pleasantly surprised.

It is with mixed emotion that I bring these to you. At first glance, I have to say I was disappointed. They look governmental, they look like money. They look exactly how you'd expect them to. Here he is throughout his career, as a rail-splitter, lawyer, politician and finally the president.

I've really been stewing over whether or not to even post about this, Abe, these designs. I did some digging around. I heard on NPR this week about a store in Chicago called Abraham Lincoln Bookshop. During the interview with the shop's owner, I realized it's right around the corner from my office. They have all kinds of things in this store besides books, like artwork, maps, handwriting and statues. I kept wondering how on earth a store soley about Abraham Lincoln, and not attached to an Abe Lincoln Museum, could stay in business, but the owner described the build up to this birthday as a "frenzy". People are jazzed about Abe!

The shop, turns out, has been in business for 71 years, and carry thousands of books on Lincoln. He recommends two new books, listed here, by Clinton and White. He's so into it, it makes me curious. I'm going to have to walk over there, but I think I'll wait until all the hype dies down.

I found an article, 10 Things You Didn't Know About Abraham Lincoln. Did you know he was the first president born outside the original 13 states, in Kentucky, and did you know that he was the first president to wear a beard? Because he was advised to to soften his "harsh appearance"?

Now I'm back looking at the stamps. Three out of the four, no beard. I don't think I've ever seen Lincoln without the beard. Have you? I'm beginning to like the stamps. They are obvious, definitely, but the design is decent. I like the large black and white portrait over the lifestyle shot in color, and I love the signature. What I think I like most about them, though, is that it's a real tribute to Lincoln the man, rather than Lincoln the president. It gives perspective to how this man became president. I mean, look where he was born –

(I love looking at old homes and stuff like this. What it must have been like to live back then is barely imaginable.)

I read somewhere that he was the first to talk about same sex marriage. He was not religious, and managed to go through two inaugurations without a religious representative. He's also the only president to have a patent, for a device to keep boats floating in shallow conditions. I think he worked for some time on a river or something when he was young.

I remembered too that I have also heard an enthusiastic plug for visiting the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield, IL. The rave reviews about the "Civil War in Four Minutes" exhibit alone ensure that I will make a stop in this museum the next time I find myself in the Springfield area. (I really will!)

I think I might like to read a book on Lincoln. Or maybe I will reread Across Five Aprils. Maybe I will do both. Anyway, I like Abe.

And if you're interested, Automatism has posted about some cool stamp designs, neither from the US. One is Canadian in celebration of the Year of the Ox, the other focuses on classic British design. Wouldn't it be neat to have some cool stamps like this here?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Got Nothin.

I'm so tired today and feel like maybe I'm getting sick or ate something I shouldn't have. Here's a pic that was in my inbox this morning. This is my family, I'm guessing about 1978, standing outside the backdoor of my childhood home. If our cat, Robert, was on the windowsill behind us, this picture would be perfect.