Friday, July 31, 2009

Typographic quilt=awesome

I just found out that Urban Outfitters has released a line of home decor items inspired by the works of legendary designer Alexander Girard.

I love this reversible alphabet pattern quilt--to the point where I thought about buying it for a little longer than an instant. But in the end, it's a bit too expensive for me.

The typography is great but so is the geometric pattern on the reverse side. I wonder if I could make something like this. Or at least maybe a cover for my current comforter--sort of like a duvet cover but without a duvet. It's something to mull over for the time being.

By the way, is it just me or is Urban Outfitters getting a little out of hand, what with their trying to bottle and sell every facet of the "hipster" lifestyle right down to craft supplies and recreations of vintage tchotchkes. And yet I continue to shop there...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Homemade lemonade

One of my favorite things to make during the summer (and sometimes other seasons, but especially the summer), is lemonade. It's really simple and easy to do. Over the past couple years I've perfected my recipe (or so I think), which is as follows:

-Boil one cup water with 2/3 cup sugar (you could do 1 cup sugar if you like your lemonade really sweet, but for me 2/3 cup is plenty) until the sugar dissolves.
-Meanwhile, juice 4 lemons and 2 limes (I like a hint of lime in my lemonade). You may need to pour the juice through a sieve a couple of times if you don't like a lot of pulp.
-In a pitcher, mix the sugar water, lemon/lime juice, and 5 cups of cold water. Chill and serve.

So refreshing with a veggie burger and corn on the cob.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The High Line

On Friday after work I walked up to the High Line, the recently opened park built on a section of a former elevated freight railroad along the west side of Manhattan. It was originally built in the 1930s to lift dangerous freight trains off the city streets and eliminate the frequent fatal accidents that occurred. It was active in use until the 1980s, after which it fell into disrepair, with wild grasses, flowers, and trees springing up along the railway. Over the past ten years support for the public redevelopment of the High Line for pedestrian use continued to grow until the southernmost section was reopened as a city park on June 8 of this year.

The High Line was bustling with people on that Friday afternoon, despite the ominous rain clouds (which never actually amounted to anything). There was a constant flow of foot traffic, and nearly all of the beautiful slatted wood benches and lounge chairs (amazing!) were occupied.

For some reason I hadn't realized that the design involved preserving much of the railroad tracks and native greenery, which, though wild, looks (and is) well cultivated and maintained.

One of the most interesting parts of walking the High Line is seeing things you wouldn't normally see--the tops of buildings, for one. I'm not sure what building this is but it is certainly odd that while this window was long-ago bricked up, the window pane was left to be shattered, by weather or vandals or all or none of the above. And I'm loving the spiky purple plants, whatever they are.

Another view of interesting rooftops and courtyards, with those pretty pink flowers and wild grass in the foreground.

A closer look reveals this amazing sight.

More rarely seen angles. I love the patterned iron of the trestle (see right above the grass).

A view of the Meatpacking District (not sure what street) from the High Line.

I think this might be the Chelsea Market. Either way, I love the way the windowpanes appear to turn different colors in the light.

The park is a really interesting place, both visually and historically, with such a great variety of sights to take in. But part of me wishes I had managed to check it out when it was just an abandoned elevated railway. While more dangerous (and, yes, illegal), there's a certain appeal in that, and while the designed public park is beautiful, and does preserve much of the original, I'm seeing a sanitized version of it. I would have loved to have seen the real thing. (Further research reveals that I missed my opportunity during Open House New York 2007. Poisonous plants and creosote and lead paint, oh my.)

Regardless, I'll definitely be back. It's about a 30 minute walk to the High Line and back from where I work. I think I'll be fitting in as many trips as I can!

Monday, July 27, 2009

New knitting project

I haven't picked up a pair of knitting needles since I finished my purse in late May and I decided it was high time I start up a new project.

I found this vintage pattern for a cardigan, which looks to be an interesting enough design without the pattern being too complicated. (Sometimes I find that vintage patterns are hard to decipher.)

I already had some olive green yarn that I'd bought for a project that I've since decided not to make. If I time it right, I should have a new sweater just in time for the weather to get cooler.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Walking the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

On Saturday we drove down to Irvington, NY, to check out the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail, a footpath that runs above the Old Croton Aqueduct, a masonry tunnel that brought New York City its first supply of clean water in 1842. While the aqueduct was in use until 1955, its capacity was quickly exceeded by the demands of a skyrocketing population growth to which it actually contributed, and in 1890 the New Croton Aqueduct went into service. It currently supplies about ten percent of New York City's water. (More on its history here.)

The trail runs for 26 miles, but we explored a very small portion of it, starting in Irvington, named for writer Washington Irving. Here is a statue of his character Rip Van Winkle on Main Street.

Ventilator number 16, at the beginning of the trail in Irvington.

There is all kinds of great graffiti on the ventilator, some dating from 1978.

A tree growing through a wrought iron gate.

Raspberries growing along the trail.

The Hudson River waterfront in Dobbs Ferry, where we ended our journey. You can actually see the Manhattan skyline in the distance (though it's a little hazy).

I'm definitely interested in checking out more of the trail, which starts in Ossining and winds its way down to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. I love the diverse scenery it has to offer. Even in the brief 2 miles we walked we were treated to views of greenery and nature, rich people's backyards (almost everyone seems to have a pool), a college campus, a village center, and the Octagon House (which I couldn't really get a good glimpse of, since it is shrouded by dense trees, undoubtedly on purpose). You can hike the trail and make stops along the way to have lunch, or check out interesting historic landmarks (such as the Lyndhurst castle in Tarrytown). Many of the Metro North stations are very short distances from the trail, so you can start at one station and then take a train back after you're done, thus preventing you from having to retrace your steps, and allowing you to travel more of the trail. So, lots more to see.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My love for office supplies

The other day I decided I needed to go on a fun lunchtime excursion so I took a walk to Greenwich Letterpress. They had so many great new things in the store. I had to use a lot of restraint not to spend all my money.

But I did buy this vintage German chalk.

I love the box, and the fish chalkboard could use some stylish writing utensils.

Sadly, by the time I got back to work all of the chalk had broken in the box (I peeked inside the box while in the store so I know I didn't buy it that way). But that's okay, they'll still write.

I had actually seen this very similar product on Present and Correct not too long ago and had considered buying it. I like the paper wrappers.

They also have this chalk, in a snazzy green package. To be honest, I pretty much want to buy everything that Present and Correct has to offer. I have a real weakness for office supplies and paper products (which is funny because I tend to have really disorganized workspaces), and theirs are not only practical but gorgeous.

I love this rainbow pencil calendar set. Each month has its own pencil--you can sharpen off the days as you go. Although I don't think I could bring myself to whittle them away to nothing. Maybe I'd need to buy two sets--one to use and one just to admire. (This is why stylish supplies don't work for me--if they look too nice I don't want to use them and dirty them up.)

It might take a little getting used to, but I think I could actually put something like this to good use. Each little well is perfect for the supplies that are usually scattered across my desk--pens, post-it notes, binder clips, and so on.

In addition to Present and Correct, there are a number of etsy stores that specialize in cool and interesting vintage supplies--for instance, 26 Olive Street. Their photographs are especially nice, with artful arrangements, and the beautiful Polaroid-esque colors. I can't imagine that they're really Polaroids (what with the current rarity of instant film), so I assume that they've been stylized, perhaps with an image maker like Poladroid.

I love this perpetual calendar/pencil cup (and those binders aren't too shabby either).

Coolest hole punch ever.

Getting back to the subject of Greenwich Letterpress, they were selling the newest rubber stamp set from Yellow Owl, and I think this might be my favorite out of all of them (though I do like all of them). I have asked for one for Christmas the past two years, and no one has ever bought one for me. Maybe I'll just have to splurge and go back next week for one. Think of all the pretty city scenes I could be making.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Half Japanese embroidery hoop

After making the pillows, I've been really excited about embroidery, and inspired to try more techniques and projects. The possibilities seem endless.

I used the embroidery hoop I got from the estate sale a few weeks ago and stitched the title of a song by one of my favorite bands, Half Japanese. I suppose they make an unlikely pair, but I wanted to try embroidering words, and they've got some pretty great titles and lines in their songs. (I also considered "You cannot graduate from my school of love" but the prospect of stitching a brain was irresistible, and I think I didn't do half bad with executing all the wrinkles.) I used a satin stitch for the heart, and created a wavy border using the chain stitch (I've been trying to practice a variety of types of stitches).

I'll probably hang it on the wall but for now I like it propped up on the letterpress tray. Who knows, maybe I'll leave it there.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Montague Book Mill and Northampton

On Saturday I took a drive up to the Montague Bookmill, a used bookstore housed in an 1842 gristmill on the banks of the Sawmill River in Western Massachusetts. The grounds are also home to a variety of businesses such as a cafe, restaurant, antique shop, artist's studio, and record store.

Our first stop at the mill was at The Lady Killigrew Cafe, where this delicious iced coffee (and grilled nutella and peanut butter sandwich) was consumed outside at a table overlooking the river. (Dave had the regular coffee and grilled cheese with tomato.)

Our view from the table. You can see some of the indoor seating in those windows. Not sure which would have been nicer. While I do like sitting outside, I was visited at length by a bee that might have been in love with my chair.

A closer look at the falls, which it seems the employees of the bookstore have been known to raft down on hot days.

The view from a second-story window in the bookstore, where there are many chairs and tables inviting you to sit down for awhile and read.

Some old typewriters sitting above the staircase.

The view from outside.

The stairs up to Rick Dodge's antiques, where there were many beautiful things that were mostly out of our price range (i.e. a $750 vase).

The verdict is that I like the idea of this place more than the place itself. I did buy some books but the ones I picked up were more or less the only ones I wanted (no having to decide between too many amazing choices). Not that this means it is not a good store, just not one catering to my taste. I did like my sandwich, and it was a beautiful view, so I just might stop back again someday after all.

After leaving the mill we drove down to Northampton, a town we enjoy visiting. Every time I go there I think how nice it would be to live there, until I see all of the tie-dyed shirts (read: too many hippies!).

Above you see the railroad bridge and the faded lettering of the "Boston & Maine RR". One of the last times I was in town I tried exploring the tracks and was accosted by a bicycle cop, who told me it was "an arrestable offense."

Someone left behind this Cadbury egg for others to enjoy.

We took a walk along a path behind an apartment complex, where all of the streetlamps were decorated with this drippy silver paint.

We went into the Thornes Marketplace to use the photobooth but found it was only taking quarters for the moment, and I did not feel like scrounging up three dollars worth. I did go into the Acme Surplus Store, which offers up a weird variety of art, hardware, and kitchen supplies. Note the doll parts. (Not pictured is a display of children's gas masks.)

In addition, delicious Mexican food was consumed and great books were purchased at my new favorite store in Northampton, Metropolitan Books and Records. Everything was crowded into two cramped rooms, there were no gorgeous views, no comfy chairs, but there was much more for sale that I was interested in. They had the odd price scheme of "half off the penciled in price." I suppose there's a psychology behind the appearance of offering a discount, but why not just price it at what you want to sell it for? Either way, no real complaints, just sayin.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Reupholstered chair

Yesterday I finally got around to reupholstering the chair that I bought at a flea market a few weeks ago. I bought the new foam last weekend but had been trying to figure out what kind of fabric to use.

I really wanted to use this Eames fabric but at $104 a yard it was way too pricy for me. I debated over buying solid gray fabric and stenciling the dots on, but I couldn't find one that I liked (wanting to avoid the kind of gray fabric that you associate with the waiting room at the dentist's office).

In the end I went with this fabric that I found in the basement at P&S Fabric on Broadway. I like the hand-drawn quality of the lines.

Then I broke out the staple gun and voila--a new cushion (haven't actually screwed it into the chair yet but you wouldn't have even known if I hadn't mentioned it).

It's a little cramped in the living room right now but I am thinking of getting rid of the old Ikea couch and just having this chair and the movie theater seats for now.

Monday, July 6, 2009

New pillow design

After how pleased I was with the USA map pillow I decided to try out a variation on the idea. Because as much as I love road trips, I like boat rides...well, maybe not quite as much but they're pretty fun too.

The lino-cut of a sailboat.

A successful test print on paper (this gives me an idea for a card too now...).

I was originally planning on just having one print but the first one was a little light (guess I should do a tester on a scrap fabric too) so I ended up printing several boats.

A close-up--not bad. I think this method will always yield a textured-looking line as opposed to a smooth line.

And the rest of the design--I embroidered the imagined routes that the boats have taken (the fourth one at the top right is that of a boat that you can't see, which I did because that section was looking a little bit empty).

Stay tuned for the final product.