Friday, October 21, 2011

happy house

I absolutely love this house featured on Apartment Therapy. I'm not sure I've ever seen a happier house.

Monday, October 17, 2011

a cow named Paulina

Architect Anton García-Abril made this unusual vacation home in Costa da Morte, Spain (pictured unfurnished) by pouring concrete over bales of hay and then letting a calf named Paulina eat the hay out over the course of a year. I love the result, and I love the method even more. See more photos here.

Photo by Roland Halbe from

Friday, October 7, 2011


I loved this amusing and interesting project featured on the often-very-interesting Slate slideshow yesterday. Photographer Ari Versluis and his creative partner Ellie Uyttenbroek specialize in cataloging sartorial "types". Once they've observed enough people in a city for a "type" to emerge, they invite people with that style to come into their studio to be photographed, and they then combine their images. Great fun, and a reminder that none of us are really as creatively attired as we think we are.

The project website is here, although I had some trouble getting it to work consistently.

Photo by Ari Versluis, via

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

cold war relic

One of the things that I like so much about thrifting is that it often leads to a mini research project, since you never know what you're going to find. The run-up to Halloween is my favorite time to shop, since stores bring out their stash of hoarded vintage and ethnic clothes, so I've started making my rounds. I had been looking for a while for an olive-drab lightweight military jacket or shirt for myself (it seems like all I ever find are various camo versions), so I snatched this one right up:

It looked old, but I wasn't sure if that was just because of the wear on it. I had absolutely no idea what the patches meant, so I started to research and found some interesting things (here's the patch closer up).

It turns out that the US Air Force Security Service was founded in 1948 and operated until 1979, when it changed names (so my shirt is definitely no newer than 1979). The interesting part is that it was the cryptographic intelligence branch during the Cold War, made up of the top 0.5 % of Air Force recruits. They intercepted military information from "countries of interest" (Soviet bloc, etc.) through spoken and Morse code sources (they also analyzed US methods to find and correct weak spots in military security, although apparently sometimes these analysis jobs were really a cover for their more covert intelligence missions). To quote Wikipedia:
These jobs, which required top secret codeword clearance, were extremely high pressure and were considered essential to U.S. cold war efforts. Members of the USAFSS were not allowed to discuss their jobs with outsiders — in fact, USAFSS members could not talk amongst themselves about their jobs unless they were in a secure location. Because of their value as targets, e.g. in Cold War Berlin, the capture of a USAFSS member was worth several thousand dollars, their off-base travel was severely restricted. Many adopted "cover jobs" to more easily conceal their real work.
Linguistics-related intrigue! Way more interesting than my initial assumption that "Security Service" implied some kind of run-of-the-mill, well, security--as in guarding a base. Also, as a pacifist by nature, the idea of a shirt worn by a spy is more appealing than the idea of a shirt worn by an infantryman.

Here's a bonus factoid: Johnny Cash was in the USAFSS as a Morse code intercept operator in Germany in the early 1950s.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

more germania

I just found out, thanks to the always-interesting "daily Heller" e-mail*, that VW has redesigned the Beetle for 2012. I'm not sure yet what I think about the redesign, but so far I'm leaning toward the point of view voiced by some** that it looks a little too much like a PT Cruiser for comfort. I loved my 1969 Bug (in the picture), but always thought the New Beetle was a little bit too cute for me. In certain images of the 2012 it looks like the cuteness has been tempered a little and it's more reminiscent of the little early-60s cars that I like so much. I guess I won't have my verdict until I've started seeing them in person.

*I particularly liked his post a while back about Ethiopian monolithic architecture; those churches are on my to-visit list (of course this list presupposes massive unexpected funding).

**Although I have to note here that I take very great exception to one commenter's assertion that women don't care about horsepower!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

freunde von freunden

I was quite excited the other day to see that Freunde von Freunden, one of my favorite "house visit" blogs, has done a little revamp (I hate to use that word, since it implies that they needed improvement, which wasn't the case). I had been enjoying the pictures for a while, but wishing that my one semester of German would get me farther in reading the interviews (it got me nowhere, consisting mainly of one-liners about how the sun is shining today and how I hate myself and want to die [I have no idea where that second one came from--not from my class, for sure]).

Anyway, I'm excited about having the option of reading the interviews in English, and as a language person I really appreciate that they're also going to have the interview in the original local language too.

And thinking about those great Berlin apartments reminds me of two of my favorite German movies, widely differing in tone but both wonderful.

free pattern: mariner shirt

Over the last few years my sister has given me the most spectacular collection of old knitting books and magazines that she's thrifted. There's a wealth of great patterns in them, despite the sometimes-unfortunate (but amusing) styling, so look for more of these in the future.

Despite the fact that summer is almost over in a lot of places, this looks quick enough to finish before it's really fall, especially if it's done in the round up to the arms. It's from 1976, by the way. {Click on the image to enlarge.}

Monday, September 12, 2011

preview { and Central Texas wildfire aid }

Here's a preview of a few things that will appear in the shop this week:

For the next two weeks (through September 25), I'll be donating 25% of sales to the American Red Cross of Central Texas. We live a few miles southwest of where the main Bastrop County fires started burning, and it was scary enough temporarily evacuating due to what ended up being more caution than necessary; I can't even imagine the upheaval, stress, and sadness for people who actually lost their homes* or who are still waiting to find out whether their property is okay. Things are looking better, but it's going to take a long time and a lot of resources for everyone effected to recover.

On another shop-related note, next week will be the week for listing clothing and accessories!

*and animals--a lot of people in the area have pets and livestock that they weren't able to take with them when they left.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Photos of Big Big Ranch State Park and the Davis Mountains Indian Lodge (run by the State Park Service!) from a trip a few years ago. For anyone who hasn't been, I'd say West Texas is an under-appreciated treasure.

In other Texas news, I was very excited to hear a sponsor spot on the local NPR station saying that Big Red Sun has reopened their shop after being closed for a couple of years. That was one of the places I liked to take out-of-town visitors*, and I'm sure the new store (still not sure if it's in the same location) will be just as nice as the old one was.

*I run with a pretty laidback crowd, people who consider nurseries exciting.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

seasonally inappropriate

Because I'm so tired of the heat.

Friday, August 19, 2011


I've finally started stocking the shop. I have so many items, so look out for more next week. In the meantime, here is a peak at the most amusing [random] article on offer:

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Since it's so horribly hot, here is a seasonally appropriate selection from my collection of old photos. Since I bought these at a thrift store in Geneva*, there's a good chance that this was taken near there, which would have meant the water was nice and cool. Probably why our small swimmer looks so happy....

*I have to confess, while I'd be bereft if the internet rug were pulled out from under me, that something about the fact that a 10-second search gives me a website for my old favorite thrift store** makes me a tiny bit sad. But maybe that's just the heat making me sentimental.

**On a more practical note, I highly recommend it if anyone is ever in the area. It's big and has a nice selection of furniture (including a lot of wood wardrobes)--or at least that's how it was 10 years ago. It also had, at the time, a higher proportion of antique and vintage stuff than other thrift stores I went to in Geneva.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hiroshi Sugimoto

{ another preview }

Beautiful art by Hiroshi Sugimoto based on electrical charges. Found at Toast.

Friday, August 12, 2011


This wonderful photo reminded me of Hideous Kinky, based on the book of the same name. I wish my library had it, since that's where I usually get my movies. It's been a while, but I remember both the book and the movie as being very enjoyable.

{ Photo from here, an image from Elle Decor Netherlands edition, from a story produced/styled by Tatjana Quax and José Groot. }

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I hope to start listing shop items next week--finally!

Also, I just started knitting this beautiful shawl. Just because I can (well, that actually remains to be seen).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pendleton and the collective unconscious

Look at that sweater!

Partly because I just finished a Navajo-inspired design, Slate's slideshow on the history of the Pendleton blanket caught my eye this morning. Not only was it really interesting in itself, it led me to discover Pendleton's new Portland Collection, which is beautiful.

I especially like this quote from the slideshow (talking about Navajo weaving):

So as white Americans were making blankets that were supposed to look authentically Native American for a largely Native American market, Native Americans were making textiles tailored to white use for white people.

That dynamic reminds me of the West African wax textiles made in the Netherlands (although production has increased greatly in China...which reminds me of the interesting expansion of Chinese business in Africa).

This also reminds me how interesting trends are; the Slate slideshow pegged the recent interest in Native American (-ish) design elements as starting around 3 years ago--exactly the time I suddenly developed a burning desire for a pair of moccasins*. I still haven't figured out how it works, but I think there's something to be said for the idea of the collective unconscious**.

*Which turned out to be the most comfortable shoes I've ever had, and surprisingly durable for shoes with no conventional sole.
**I'm sure that this application of the term would make a true Jungian bang his/her head against the nearest wall.

{ Photo from the Fall/Winter 2011 Pendleton Portland Collection lookbook, via }

Friday, July 15, 2011


Preview of one of my projects for the upcoming issue of Nuno (out soon).

The colored yarn was a Kool-aid dye job, which is always so much fun (despite having to go back and redo the orange because the first try was Safety Orange).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

le rayon vert

I watched Le Rayon Vert (Summer) a while back and was slightly surprised at how much I liked a lot of the clothes in it. This is surely an indicator of age, the dividing line being between a Youngster (who would say, "of course the clothes are great, it's from the 80s") and a non-Youngster (who would either dislike the clothes or be surprised at liking so many of them).

Although it would undoubtedly tire a viewer with little patience for a neurotic heroine and/or a distaste for the French pastime of sitting around and having borderline-combative philosophical exchanges over food and beverages, I would recommend this movie to those not falling into the former two categories. It really is a sweet movie if you can get past the dithering and frequent crying jags.

By the way, the last time I watched the sun set over the ocean (which is not something I have occasion to do very often), I did not see the fabled green ray, somewhat to my disappointment.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


We've been trying to figure out a good location for a visit with my husband's family in Europe, and Valencia looks like a frontrunner, which makes me nostalgic for the city and, in particular, our apartment when we lived there.

Monday, June 13, 2011


I love the platform bed, and the whole house, in this sneak peak from Design Sponge.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


What I've been working on for the new issue of Nuno.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Katie Scott

I love Katie Scott's fantastically detailed drawings. They look like things that would show up in my dreams. She also has prints for sale in her shop.

{Found at Little Paper Planes.}

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

an evening in Key West

From a trip taken a few months ago to the Florida Keys. Highly recommended: the whole fried fish at El Siboney, a Cuban restaurant in Key West.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011


Last weekend we went to see Hanna, and although I'm normally lukewarm on action movies, I really liked it. Not one of those profound movies that's going to change your life, but it was a very satisfying watching experience [disclaimer for the violence-averse: there is some]. I tend to watch movies for the esthetic elements, and they were all done just right in this one*. Probably my favorite element of it was the locations, including this abandoned amusement park in Berlin, which leads me to this amusingly surreal tidbit from Wikipedia:
Norbert Witte* failed in his attempt to run a "Lunapark" in Lima. On 19 May 2004 he was sentenced to seven years in jail for attempting to smuggle 180 kg of cocaine with a value of £14 million from Peru to Germany in the masts of the "flying carpet" ride.
The photo, also from the Wikipedia article, is of part of a roller coaster, and reminds me of this fellow gaping-mouthed monster. Seen together, they make me want to embark on a gaping-mouthed-monster themed world tour.

*From context clues, I'm guessing Norbert Witte is the former owner/operator of Spreepark. Wikipedia is rather Sphinx-like on his identity, introducing him out of the blue as moving to Peru in 2002.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

happy girls

Another of the old Swiss pictures. I have no idea what the story is behind this, but I'm guessing it's from the 1940s. I just love everyone's expressions.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

i am love

If you're in the mood for beautiful photography (it would also get my nomination for Best Recent Use of Typography in Credits, if I were handing out awards).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

some sunshine

Since it's unseasonably cold in a lot of places, including where I am, here is the next of the old photos from Switzerland:

I don't know where this was taken (although probably NOT Switzerland), but I love everything about it, except my scan job which, try as I may with different scanners and settings, I can't get quite right (the original is a tiny photo, which I'm sure doesn't help). Here, for good measure, is version #2:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

thing one and thing two

Finally, some things in the shop! If I were a cloth-napkin sort of girl* I would have been sorely tempted to keep the vintage linen handkerchiefs. Not many people I know** use cloth handkerchiefs, but I think these would make really lovely napkins, especially after repeated washings.

*Which I wish I were, but I should try to concentrate for now on eating at the table instead of on the couch.
**Only one family, in fact.