Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fun in a Tube

Don't the best gifts come in tubes? Tubes are so mysterious when you get them in the mail... what could possibly be all rolled up inside there? So you can imagine my delight when I received a birthday tube in the mail. My birthday isn't for a few more weeks, so it was both surprising and filled with mystery... The mysteries included not just what could be inside the tube, but who could the tube possibly be from? The tube was addressed in handwriting I didn't recognize... and although I have two good friends in Brooklyn, neither of them have the initials BCJ... and yet, it couldn't be from a company, because what company could possibly be so fun as to hand-address each package and include things like "birthday girl" on the address?
So in keeping with my impatient personality, I tore into the tube, birthday be damned. And there was such fun inside! It turns out that, in fact, there is a company that hand-addresses their packages and includes fun things like "birthday girl" on the address, and that company is Book City Jackets. True story. When I was growing up, my sister always covered her textbooks. She would sometimes use the back of grocery store brown bags. She would also use other, less common materials, which I always coveted because I was not creative enough to think of such cool book covers myself. So I would copy her. So you can imagine my excitement at the three gorgeous book covers inside the tube. Book City Jackets has done an amazing job of taking the middle school practice of covering books in brown paper bags and essentially turning them into works of art. Aren't they amazing?!
Don't they look so pretty on the books?
And they not only have designs featuring different artists like the ones I received, but they also have ones like this, featuring the words "fiction", "non-fiction" and "favorite" (they recommend putting these on the approproate books for your guest room nightstand, an idea I love):
And for those of you who don't know, this gift is not only lovely, but also timely. I am in the home-stretch of finishing up my MBA, and smack dab in the middle of my last finance class (also known as "the bane of my existence"). Now in class I will not only have the stylish book covers to look at and love, but I also have a place to doodle Zach's initials in hearts. If only Book City Jackets had existed when I was in middle school. Thanks, Shannon. I love them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pedal Power

It has been very unspring-like weather around Portland lately, and I am getting a wee bit tired of it. I am tired of having to wipe off Mesa's muddy paws every time she goes outside, most of the time while trying to balance a baby. I am tired of not being able to mow the lawn because it is so wet and muddy and so the grass in our front yard comes up to our knees. I am tired of not washing the car because I know it is going to rain and won't matter anyway. I am tired of not being able to take Tate on long walks around the neighborhood with Mesa like I had envisioned all during my pregnancy (can you just imagine me, a stroller, a baby, a 120 lb. newfoundland dog, and an umbrella? I think not). Overall, I am just tired, tired, tired of this gray and cloudy and rainy weather. So I am dreaming of summer and spring and that means I am absolutely dying over these bicycles from Madsen Cycles. Referred to as Urban Utility Bicycles, they would make the perfect summer day, farmer's market, kid-carting, dog-carting transportation device, don't you think? The details feel very Scandinavian to me, and I can imagine myself and an older version of Tate traveling all over town on the weekends. So European. And absolutely made for lazy days with warm, sunny weather and black-and-white striped t-shirts with red tennis shoes.
They also seem to perfectly fit the bike-riding culture in Portland. Speaking of which (both bikes and European culture), have you seen this commercial? I love it.
And when I think and dream of spring. I think strawerries. At least that dream has been satisfied. Here is Sunday night's strawberry shortcake.
Next to chocolate chip cookies, strawberry shortcake is my favorite dessert, so this was a fantastic way to herald in spring (in flavor, at least). It was delicious. Lip smacking good, you might say.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Market Days

The market days have arrived! Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays all feature Farmer's Markets within about 5 miles of our home, or sometimes, even within walking distance. This season of bounty makes me laugh with delight. Today the boys went out on the town, grocery shopping and hitting up the Farmer's Market. They returned with all kinds of fun groceries (including yummy chocolates from Trader Joe's) but I was most enthusiastic about all their spoils from the farmer's market. Goodies included a bouquet for Mom (so thoughtful, don't you think?), fresh asparagus, pickled asparagus, lettuce, spinach, a flat of the first strawberries of the season (soon to be turned into strawberry shortcake in order to celebrate the series finale of Lost, set to premiere in less than 3 hours, people!). and a trio of heirloom tomato plants. Isn't it all so pretty?
In keeping with the market theme, I loved this great "bouquet" idea, courtesy of Design*Sponge. Such a unique way to highlight market veggies...
And they even include a how-to:
Happy Spring! Hope your markets and veggies are brightening your days.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Shameless, I tell you...

I stumbled across the absolute best idea on the Making it Lovely blog. The best idea. And I am going to shamelessly steal it. And for those of you with new babies, I recommend you shamelessly steal it too. Here's the deal: Making it Lovely blogger Nicole Balch takes a picture of her adorable daughter, Eleanor, in the same chair, each month. She then compiles the photos into a kind of timeline portrait. Best. Idea. Ever. Not only does she dress Eleanor in a cute little pink outfit, she attaches a pin. The pin is yet another genius idea, since it gives perspective to the photo and shows how Eleanor has grown over time. So in order to shamelessly steal this idea, I would need three things: 1) A chair. Luckily, we bought Tate this adorable orange chair from Cielo. Check. 2) A pin of some kind. Luckily, while out shopping, we discovered the perfect pin at, you guessed it, Cielo. Check. 3) To go back in time a week or so. Because I discovered this genius idea approximately one week after Tate's one month birthday. Of course. I was disappointed and thought about giving up the idea, but decided that if we start one month plus a few days, we will still get the general idea. So I set out to set up a photo shoot. You can imagine how it went, with a 5 week old baby slumped on an orange wooden chair. There was a harried preparation to get him in his white onesie, attach the pin (which, at this point, looks large enough to attack the little guy), set him in the chair while he was not crying, and snap a picture before his head lolling caused him to fall off said chair onto the wood floor. Luckily, we took a number of pictures without any accidents. All in all, it was a flurry of action which led to lots of blurry pictures, but in the end, we got the shot. And here it is, Tate's Month One (give or take) birthday shot. More to come each month!
(Yikes! I am having second thoughts. Should it be this shot instead?)
Zach and I can't agree, so friends, what do you think... pic one or pic two? This is important as it will set the tone for the entire two-year series. So please weigh in!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Home is where the heart is

photo via dwell Lately a lot of friends have been buying new homes, most notably good friends Ben and Andrea. Their home is adorable- bright periwinkle with amazing hardwood floors, smack dab in Portland. We are in the planning stages of their housewarming party now, so more to come on that soon. But their new home purchase has had me thinking about housewarming gifts. Previous housewarming gifts have included peonies from Klehm's Song Sparrow , and I was so happy with the quality. We had peonies in our wedding and they are officially one of my favorite flowers. (On an aside, weren't the peony bouquets at our wedding, designed by florist and event designer R. Jack Balthazar, gorgeous?): I have also gifted roses from Heirloom Roses, which is only about 40 minutes from our house and has the most amazing show garden. Truly, if you are ever in Oregon during rose season, it is worth a visit. I love the idea of giving plants as housewarming gifts ever since Zach and I were gifted with a Julia Child rose when we moved into our home. I thought it was such a thoughtful gift; the sentiment of the gift-giver was that she had selected that particular rose since we love to cook, and the roses truly are the color of butter: The Heirloom Rose website is fantastic because you can search roses by name, so you can find something that truly represents the people you are giving it to. The other great thing about flowers as gifts- in addition to being meaningful, they are really, really affordable. That said, for Ben and Andrea I wanted something a little different. I decided on these calligraphy return labels from The Stationary Studio: They have so many different styles. I also gifted my sister and brother-in-law with something similar a few years ago. How about you, friends? Any particular housewarming gifts that you love to give?

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I am imagining this wallpaper from Cox & Cox on Tate's wall when he is older. Or for that matter, on my wall. Here's the concept: the wallpaper itself comes covered with dots, and then you connect them. Over time, as the dots get connected, designs emerge. Isn't it fun?
I also love this decorative tape from Cox & Cox. Perfect for sending long-distance care packages. And continuing on the wallpaper theme, wouldn't these Paperboy papers be fantastic in a little boy's room?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy (belated) Mother's Day...

It has been awhile since there was a new post, mainly due to a visit from my best friend Dawn, who was here to meet Tate all the way from Washington, D.C. You can read about some of our adventures here and here, but in the meantime, I want to wish everyone a happy belated Mother's Day! Hope yours was special. Mine was. Woke up to breakfast cooked by Zach (and lovingly monitored by this little guy), and then the three of us spent the day wondering through downtown Portland with Dawn. We drank wine, had a fantastic lunch, shopped, drank champagne and had dessert. All in all a very satisfying and special Mother's Day. And Zach (and Tate, of course) got me a lovely gift- a handmade burl bowl by Portland artist Paul Rasmussen. It is something I have long coveted and looks fantastic on our dining room table. Don't you think?
Also, I have started a box of things I think I will want in the future for Tate's life. So that when I see things now, I can go ahead and buy them, put them in the bin, and then use them when the time comes (instead of the time coming, and then thinking "gosh, now that it's time, I can't find the perfect -'blank'- when I finally need it"). The first thing I bought was three packs of these paper straws, one in red, yellow and blue. I think they will be perfect for a future little boy birthday party: And when we were out shopping, I stumbled across these:
I was so inspired by these little envelopes by That Sky Blue. Instead of the typical tooth pillow, the idea of putting the tooth under a regular pillow and having it replaced with these little letterpress envelopes filled with a dollar is so sweet. These were expensive ($16 for 6), and after some frantic searching on Dawn's phone, we realized we would need at least 4 packets in order to accomodate all the teeth Tate will end up losing, so I think I am going to use them for inspiration. But a great find nonetheless!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Some small things...

Still feeling a little under the weather, so just a few small things of interest today. First of all, how fun are these grass post-its? via boing boing And I love this bag, the Chester Wallace tote by Portland-based designer Patrick Long. It looks so durable and stylish and seems like the perfect bag heading into summer. Ideal for picnics or carrying beach towels or maybe a whole bunch of diapers and bottles... via canoe And though wildly expensive, I think that this changing table is absolutely genius. So modern, attractive and functional, especially for a small space.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Diem Chau

The last few days have been truly "under the weather" kind of days. Not only have I been under the weather sick with a 4 week old baby (wait a sec- a 4 week old baby?!?!?- how did that happen so fast?), so midnight feedings have also consisted of midnight sniffling and sneezing, but the weather itself here in Portland has been kind of, well, under the weather, as it were. Raining one minute, hailing the next, my garden doesn't know how to react and the weathermen tell us that we could have the single coldest day in May in the history of the city this month. Plus my mom left yesterday, which alone is enough to make me feel sad and sick, and just to top it all off, ironically, Mom was also feeling under the weather when she left (isn't flying sick the absolute worst?). She was either experiencing the 24-hour flu or the premature effects of having to leave the most adorable grandbaby ever. So all in all I think we can safely say that the last few days have been distinctly under-the-weather. It helps though to think about colorful art which I love and makes me happy. Which brings me to Diem Chau. I don't remember how or when I stumbled across Diem Chau's work, but I love it. She is particularly known for her crayon carvings, which are whimsical and fun and I want one so much. Check them out:
And I happen to know for a fact (maybe because I looked into having one made as a gift for my sister, who I know would appreciate it) that you can commission a crayon sculpture of your own. You send in a picture and Diem Chau carves the sculpture for you, based off of the picture you sent. And get this- you even get to pick the color crayon you want used for your sculpture.
The other work of Diem's that I am amazed by is her ceramic work. She attaches embroidery to ceramic pieces, and I think they are so unique and interesting. One of the hallmark's of her pieces is a fantastic use of the color red, like in these "ruby slippers":
The pieces seem very dynamic to me since she often has elements leave the ceramic piece itself, which adds dimension:
Aren't those pieces so interesting? And another special way to preserve an heirloom- if you have a special piece of ceramic, maybe a bowl or plate or teacup that was passed down to you, you can send it to Diem and commission her to turn it into an art piece. So much more special than having it collect dust in the cubboard, yes?