Jessica Rust

This has pretty much become my go-to wedding gift. How much do you love Jessica Rust Designs? She does little drawings on ceramic plates, mugs, and bowls, and each piece is customized. When I bought this set... ...for our friends' wedding in June (you customize the plate to have their initials carved into the tree- how great is that?), I wrote an email to Jessica telling her that I hoped we got a set of her dishes for our wedding. Then, in July, a package came for us from one of my friends from school and her husband. When we opened it, there was this set...
...customized for us! My friend had ordered it without even knowing that I had been coveting anything Jessica Rust for our wedding. The whole thing confirmed for me the following: a) it really is great to have friends whose tastes are almost unsettlingly close to yours, and b) coffee really does taste better out of a mug with your and your new husband's names on it.
Ms. Rust came out with a limited edition bowl, about which she sent around a little email today. I love the brown on the white porcelain, the contrast of the hand-drawn feel with the sleek lines of the dishes, and the fact that these sets are classic wedding gifts that are neither stuffy nor impersonal. Just gorgeous.


Linoleum Stamps

I've been thinking a lot about stationary and paper goods, having just bought a bunch of notebooks for my classes. I used to always carry around a little sketchbook, but lately, my notebooks have been really compartmentalized (one for this class, one for that class, etc). I tend to think that the way we organize our thoughts dictates the way we think, so I've been looking for a general notebook to carry around to let myself have some space to think outside of my classwork. But ay, the journals are just not right. Some are too big, others too small, still others too busy or too blank or too lined... It's like Goldilocks at PaperSource. Anyhow. After a nice little discussion with my friend Dan, I decided to undertake a journal-making project. I knew just the thing for the cover...
I created this stamp thinking that I would use it on the paper goods for our wedding. I wanted our wedding to have a very Californian vibe- fun, organic, laid-back, and inspired by Asian and Hawaiian elements. I liked the idea of a bold hibiscus because I thought it reflected the aesthetic I was going for pretty well. However. Faced with the prospect of stamping 200 invitations, 150 programs, save the date cards, rsvp cards, etc., I decided that while the stamp is pretty, it's not that pretty. But it's just perfect for a set of little notebooks. I'm not done with the binding piece, but here is a taste of what will become little journal covers.
While I myself am not so ambitious to use stamps to personalize my wedding stationary, using this method is a great (and inexpensive) way to add a bold graphic element to a stationary suite. Not all wedding stationary has to be delicate and floral. If you're having a fall wedding, you might consider using a silhouette of a leaf or gourd; a spring wedding might call for a bold dragonfly or frog; winter goes perfectly with a pattern from some luxe wallpaper (and gold ink on a rich jewel-toned paper); and, of course, summer pretty much goes with everything in my mind. You can also mix it up- use a unifying color (or color scheme) and use different elements on your different pieces of stationary.
And, if you're making stationary for yourself, anything goes- you can easily re-create this stationary from Linda and Harriett (featured in last month's Domino):I'll post a little tutorial later, but for now, think of the possibilities!


Photo Booths

It may have to do with being raised by a super-artistic lady and a guy who will take any opportunity to make a funny face, but I love photobooth photos. I'm a sucker for photos in general, really. So when we were asked to come up with a list of what we wanted for our wedding, (seeing as how we live in an apartment the size of a suburban closet) we replied that we wanted photos. Namely, we wanted a photo booth for our wedding reception. Some people thought it was a great idea; others, not so much. Thanks to the persuasive nature of my now-cousin Emily, instead of lots of toaster ovens, we had a photo booth at our reception. As much as I love everything else that we received (some of the items I'll be writing about later), these photos are what I will save first when my house burns down. Here is a small sample of pictures from that night. I love that when there is not a photographer present, the dynamic of the people in the photo booth is completely unadulterated. Some of my most treasured pictures from the photo booth are of my aunties with my cousins' kids, but seeing as how they are kids, I want to get permission from parents first before I go posting pictures of their children on the internet. The pictures of the adults are great, too.
This is me and my little (though much taller than me) cousin/bridesmaid Molly (toward the end of the evening when people had changed into more comfy clothes). Molly and I became really close about 7 years ago- she is such an incredible person. She's in her early 20's, but is more centered than many people my age. She's a great kid, and I feel lucky to be related to her.
This is me and my parents. I think you can tell from this picture that I grew up in a really silly household. If someone were to ask about our family dynamic, I would show them this picture:
Jordy and his sister. They are both incredibly witty, though their similarities kind of end there. This series has themes for each picture. I'm not sure what the top 2 are, but the bottom 2 are "roller coaster going up" and "roller coaster going down":
And Speck and Coop (who were both groomsmen/women), Jordy's friends from high school:
Finally, me and my husband (the cardboard cutout of Jordy is a great story and one that I may share later- suffice it to say that Jordy's friends are hilarious):
If you are throwing a wedding, I highly recommend arranging for some kind of setup where people can take pictures of themselves. This can be through a photo booth rental (if you pick a digital one like I did, you avoid using environmentally yucky chemicals, and you get digital files of all of the photos), or by setting up an area with a backdrop of some kind where people can set a timer on a digital camera on a tripod. Of course, I can't find the example in Martha Stewart Weddings that I am thinking of... just think fun fabrics, a tripod, and some very happy guests.


Little Doodles

Kate Wilson, who writes the Little Doodles blog, has an Etsy shop where she's selling these prints. If I were this talented, I would just take a sharpie to my walls, because I'd never be able to part with my work. Check these birds that are on sale now.
These dogs are from her online portfolio. In case you can't read the print, it says "glasses are the epitome of doggy chic." I love it.

Red Start Design

There's an absolutely delicious magazine to which I'm afraid I am on the verge of becoming addicted. It's called Metropolis, and it's an architecture/culture/design magazine chock-full of stuff that would boost your cool-quotient by a million. Anyhow. Featured in this month's magazine is a little company called Red Start Design that makes this great ring:
How awesome is this? It's a level! Says the website, "The skewed curves of the piece contrast with the concept of balance. The two edges of the ring meet at a right angle, yet as a whole the ring appears anything but angular." I love it.
They also developed a necklace (with some engineering students at Stanford) that changes subtly with different noise or light levels. It, too, is gorgeous- made out of sterling and sapphires.
And, just in case you aren't in the mood to dork out (but why would you not be?), they also make regular old jewelry.


My Favorite Shelf

Yesterday, I talked about shelving your books by color. My favorite shelf that I put together is the black and white one.
Granted, the colors in these pics are not great due to an over-aggressive flash, but I like the way this shelf turned out. The knick-knacks (from left to right) are a baseball signed by Yogi Berra, (one of) the Super 8 camera(s) that we used to film our wedding, a series of photo booth photos that Jordy and I took when we first started dating, and a pair of birds (marble?) given to us as an engagement present by my grandpa (when he and his second wife got engaged, the people they were on a trip with gave them the birds, and he felt like he needed to pass them on to us).


If Libraries Worked the Way I Think

Most people who know me will attest to the fact that I am an extremely visual thinker. Give me a concept, a social theory, a political process, an equation (you get the gist), and my first instinct will be to draw it. (At some point, I will share a thought process for a paper with you that will speak to this.) I do programming for a professor at school, and need to draw diagrams of what I want the programs to do to my data before I write a word. I also remember things by color and shape. To me, different colors have a different feeling (not unusual), and the shape of numbers, and letters to a lesser extent, dictates their characters - 7, for example, is very sharp and curt, 8 is friendly and open, much like 0 (kind of unusual). Suffice it to say that if everything were organized by color (grocery stores, libraries, city blocks, etc.), then I would never lead wild goose chases trying to find a great restaurant, because I'd know to go to the brown block.
I don't remember where I came up with this idea (probably Domino or Blueprint), but when we got back from our honeymoon, I decided to organize our bookshelves by color. I'll post pics this weekend. Then look what pops up around the blogosphere just days ago!
This is from How About Orange: (via Superhero)
And the Craft Magazine blog also has a post about organizing your books by color and shares this great pic:

(This image is from chotda in the Rainbow of Books flickr group.)
I can't wait to get pictures up to share- look for some this weekend. In the meantime, pull your books off their shelves and get down to the dirty work of organizing them by color- it's great fun, and will force you to look at your books in a whole new light. Enjoy!



EEP! My wedding photos are ready! I picked an unbelievably talented woman, Randy Parsons, to photograph my wedding. She was incredible to work with, and a very nice lady, and I have to say that I have been looking forward to getting these pictures since... pretty much since the wedding. I hope that Randy will be making an appearance on this blog later, but I have to run off to school, so here is a teeny sample that Randy sent me just to tease me before the prints arrive here. Enjoy!

Sara Cihat

I found Sara Cihat on Craft magazine's blog. She takes old dishware that she finds at thrift shops and gives the pieces new life by reglazing them and refiring them. The result is a funky, fun set of different patterns in bold colors and motifs, with no 2 single items being exactly the same. I think that there's something so fun about having a set of dishware that doesn't match exactly (which is why we ordered different patterns of the china that we picked). You pretty much can't throw a stuffy dinner party if your china doesn't match. And having an astronaut on your plates is pretty much a hand-delivered letter pressed invitation for your dinner guests to dance on the table and swing from the chandeliers. I can't decide if I like the anchor the best or the astronaut.
I also love that her pieces give new life to old pieces- this is the height of sustainable design. Seeing as how fashion and design are so cyclical, it makes perfect sense that you can highlight the great parts of a piece (in this case, the lines of the china), and add an element that makes it modern (the big motifs) while still keeping the item's character. By doing this, you also save that item from ending up in a landfill, and you also consume an item that does not have to be manufactured instead of one that does (I hope that last part makes sense). It reminds me of the piece in Blueprint this month about giving new life to flea market finds. My favorite was a set of re-painted frames in different shades of green (shown below): the lines of the frames are classic and hip, and painting them green adds an element that makes the frames look very modern and fresh. Maybe I'll schedule a trip to the Chelsea flea market next weekend- I'm envisioning a project involving a stencil, a can of spray paint, and a vintage briefcase...


Make Way!

Here is the invite that I designed for my friend Emily's baby shower. I love the idea of a book shower, since hearing about why people chose the books they did is much more fun than playing those awful baby shower games. (Who ever decided that it is fun to taste baby food and guess what it is? There's a reason that only babies eat it.) I think that kids' books are so evocative for most of us- all of us have a book that we remember reading over and over and over as a child, and as we grow older, we associate great books with reading to the kids in our lives. One of my favorite kids' books is Make Way for Ducklings (written by Robert McCloskey, who also wrote Blueberries for Sal), so I thought it would be fun to use that as a theme throughout, since Emily lives in Boston. Enjoy!


Tord Boontje

Tord Boontje has been one of my favorite artists/designers for a while now. I love the clean lines combined with the whimsical floral and nature-inspired patterns. Natural, modern, a little industrial, all beautiful. We received his "table stories" china (and garland lights which I have not yet hung) for our wedding, and it makes me happy every time I go to have a bowl of cereal. Be on the lookout for a post about the table that we made that mimics one of his.


Save it for a Snowy Day

(Please excuse the crappy camera- that's pesto, not boogers.)

Today was the kind of day that makes you want to cut out of work (or school as the case may be) early to go sit in the park, eat an apple from the farmers' market, and watch the fluffy clouds roll by. Yes, folks, fall has arrived in New York City, although I like to call it "late summer" so as to not be depressing. The start of fall always brings up mixed emotions for me: more than January, September signals new beginnings- the chance to reorganize, the return to the ordinary in new snappy back-to-life clothes; however, donning those back-to-life clothes necessitates shoes (boo!). I was thinking this week about ways to prolong the summer a bit, especially since this summer has been arguably the best of my life, and then, just as I was thinking this, I walked by the farmers' market (although on this day, it was a farmer's market) at the corner of 10th street and 1st avenue. There, calling to me, was a mound of these gorgeous bundles of basil for pennies a piece.
To me, there are maybe 10 smells that evoke summer and basil is one of them. Luckily, the traditional basil pesto is something that keeps fairly well in the freezer, and is easy to make. Therefore, when I'm pining for summer in March (who are we kidding- I'll be pining for summer by October), I can defrost some pesto to cheer me up. Pesto is easy by default- you just take greens, nuts, cheese, garlic, and oil, and blend- a picture follows in case that was too complicated for you.
Here, I used (these are estimates- for things like this, I am anti-recipe) 2 large bunches of basil, 2 heads of garlic, 2c. pine nuts, 2c. grated peccorino cheese, and 1c. olive oil. Remember, things taste better if they are organic and/or grown locally!
Do your prep-work...
Next, blend your basil, pine nuts, olive oil and garlic (this was extra fun, thanks to the great hand-held blender that we got for our wedding- thanks Kim and Peter!). Then, scoop your pesto into small, freezeable containers (so you don't have to defrost giant tubs of pesto- remember, this has to last you until May or June!), and pop them into the back of your freezer (the temperature is more stable there, which prevents your pesto from defrosting and refreezing).
I saved a small bowl in the fridge for dipping veggies. You can also experiment with your pesto- in the early spring, I like to put peas in it; right now, you can make a squash blossom and goat cheese pesto (or better yet, stuff those squash blossoms with your fresh pesto and some ricotta cheese and then fry them). Also, regardless of what you've heard, you don't always have to put pesto on pasta- it goes splendidly with veggies and tofu, or for eating with a slice of bread. Jordy likes to eat his with a spoon. I'm not kidding. I take it as a compliment.
I hope that you all run out in the next few weeks (or sooner if you can- before you know it the markets will be all squash and potatoes!) to get some basil, and make yourself some pesto to brighten up your dinners (or lunches, or omlets) when it's yucky outside. Next up, figuring out a way to can/freeze peaches...

And We're Off!

Folks, I can't tell you what a crafty year it's been... but without any record of it. Hence the blog. I hope this will be a good space for keeping track of things I'm making, coveting, eating, learning how to do, etc. There might be some DIY wedding goodness thrown in, since I do love weddings. Here are some tidbits from mine (it was only a month ago, so the professional pics aren't in yet, but these are pretty good, too). It was a very do-it-yourself wedding, and I think it turned out to be pretty darn wonderful. Enjoy!