Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Not quite invisible bookshelves

Awhile back, I'd bookmarked this insanely simple and cheap DIY project: invisible bookshelves. This particular approach is even simpler than the ones you typically see, in that it doesn't involve ruining a book by actually screwing it into the bottom of the shelf. As a result, they're not actually invisible, but that doesn't really bother me.

A couple weeks ago I bought a collection of paperback books whose covers were illustrated by Edward Gorey, and decided that I needed a way to display them properly. One trip to the hardware store and $6 later, I was screwing a set of 4-inch L-brackets into the wall.

They'll be a little more invisible once I add another book to the stack--I just need to find a few more Gorey designs. I know they're out there!

Here's a
flickr set of Gorey paperbacks for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Kansas City haul

Before I move on to other things, I thought I'd share some of the great stuff that I brought back from Kansas City. In addition to about a dozen vintage paperbacks (not shown below), I picked up some beautiful objects around town.

One of my first stops in town was at Hammerpress, where I bought this postcard, printed on a nice, thick stock (more on the books it's resting on tomorrow).

And I couldn't resist grabbing some vintage Missouri advertising pencils. I especially like how the pink one, while primarily for a business that deals with saws, also reminds you to go to church.

The bulk of the purchases were made at the River Market Antique Mall, which consists of four floors filled with an incredible assortment of wares. I found a couple of Cathrineholm lotus bowls, in green

and orange. (They also had blue and yellow but I cut myself off.)

One of my favorite things I bought might be this antique carbolic acid bottle. I love the skulls on the label. I might have to add antique poison bottles to my list of flea market objects to look out for.

I feel like silhouettes are getting a bit played out, but for 5 bucks I decided to grab this one (labeled on the back "November 1962").

Grabbing based on bargain price seemed to be a common occurrence: for $2.95, a striped mug from Japan. Why not?

It was especially helpful that I found this locker basket (of slightly different design from the ones I got at Brimfield), which I used to hold all of the objects I picked up along the way. It's kind of a miracle that we managed to pack it all. We didn't even have to check any of our luggage!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Along the Missouri River

On our last day in Kansas City we had managed to run out of things to do (got a little over-zealous the first couple days!--that and more places are closed on Sundays). So we wandered around a bit near City Market and stumbled upon this pedestrian bridge, which crosses over railroad tracks. We decided to explore a little more, and discovered that it was part of the Riverfront Heritage Trail, which it seems was completed fairly recently.

A train passing by underway. It seemed like it went on and on for miles.

We continued down the trail and came across the remains of this brick building. The walls are more or less in tact (with flowers in the window sills!), but there is no roof (not to mention doors or windows).

A railroad bridge crossing the Missouri River. There sure are a lot of trains passing through on a Sunday afternoon.

We walked along the trail until we got to a park, at which point we decided to turn around and have dinner before heading to the airport. It made for a nice farewell to the city.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Snowcones in the garden

It may seem a little silly, but the idea to visit Kansas City didn't actually originate with a baseball game, though that was what led us to go on those particular dates. The germ of the idea came about when I read about Fresher Than Fresh snow cones.

Every Sunday afternoon this adorable 1957 Shasta trailer sets up in a garden and serves snow cones made from natural ingredients.

Blackberry lavender, green tea pear, watermelon basil...they all sound pretty enticing. But it only took about a second for me to know that I wanted the espresso Mexican cane sugar (which came drizzled with a bit of sweetened condensed milk on top). And I'm pretty sure it was the right decision.

Dave got the lime mint. Also very refreshing.

We took a stroll around the neighborhood, which contained a handful of restaurants serving fresh, locally grown ingredients (we'd had breakfast at one of them, Bluebird bistro). We also noticed quite a few amazing homes mixed in with some that looked like they were falling apart, and came to the conclusion that some artistically inclined people must be buying up these crumbling older houses at relatively low costs and renovating them. I love how the above one maintains some of the (I'm guessing) original facade, with the gray and wood additions to give it more of a modern shape.

An intriguing sign in the window of a building that looked otherwise empty.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day 2 in Kansas City: museums and baseball

I'd meant to get the rest of my pictures of Kansas City up here last week but it just never happened. You know how it is, recovering from vacations, transitioning back into your regular workaday drudgery. Anyway, I figured now is as good a time as any to start.

Friday we spent most of the day wandering around the neighborhood of Westport, with a few minor detours. We also went to a couple of pretty decent art museums, the Kemper and the Nelson-Atkins, both practically nextdoor to one another.

The Kemper is the smaller of the two, but it gets points for having this giant Louis Bourgeois sculpture out front. Unlike the one at Dia Beacon, though, you can't walk through it and under it and so forth (well, I guess you could, though there are signs threatening that the sculpture is monitored by security cameras).

The immense lawn of the Nelson-Atkins features sculptures of shuttlecocks, designed by Claes Oldenburg and his wife Coosje van Bruggen, which I like even more now that I've learned of their genesis: "They responded to the formality of the original neoclassical building and the green expanse of its lawn by imagining the Museum as a badminton net and the lawn as a playing field. The pair designed four birdies or shuttlecocks that were placed as though they had just landed on opposite sides of the net."

I also love that something I own (albeit in a different color) is on display in a museum. There were a few other iconic pieces of midcentury furniture design in the Nelson-Atkins--you almost want to just have a seat (probably frowned upon).

One of the museum's guestbooks--apparently a lot of people like unicorns.

Later that night we went to another baseball game, although it was rained out a little over halfway through. That is, there was a 2.5 hour rain delay, which we decided to leave about 30 minutes into, assuming the game would be called. They did end up finishing around 1 a.m. And we got soaked in the parking lot trying to find our car.

One of the things the stadium is known for is its fountains, which are turned on at various points throughout the evening.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What's the matter with Kansas City

I just got into Kansas City this afternoon and have already had an action-packed day--a tasty lunch at YJ's Snack Bar, gorgeous letterpress cards from Hammerpress, window shopping at the craziest midcentury furniture store I've ever seen, the Negro League Baseball Museum, and dinner at Blue Nile Ethopian. (In short, there is nothing the matter with Kansas City...just a silly reference to the Thomas Frank book.) Now I'm off to the Yankee game that was the impetus for this short vacation--action-packed!--so I bid you adieu with some photos from my day.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Touring Russel Wright's home

Saturday we also went to the Russel Wright Design Center in Garrison to tour the grounds and interior of Manitoga, the one-time home of renowned mid-century designer Russel Wright. Wright designed fabrics and furniture but he's best known for his line of ceramics, which is still in production today.

The tour guide* insisted that we weren't getting the full experience because the water level was so low and there was no waterfall due to the lack of rain. And because the hemlock trees are dying. But I thought the whole place was pretty amazing-looking. So imagine what it might look like when conditions are perfect.

Even though it looks very natural, everything has been carefully, painstakingly placed, from the trees to the rocks, to the moss. The moss, especially, is lovely, with areas completely covered in it (called "moss rooms," apparently).

The dying hemlock trees. (At least they make for really cool pictures.)

A couple of outdoor chairs for relaxing and taking in the views.

Here's the kitchen of the main house, of course outfitted with a variety of Russel Wright ceramics. I realized that we didn't really get any decent shots of the inside of the house, so I recommend taking a look at this flickr set to get a sense of how crazy it is in there. The floors are made of stone. There's a tree growing inside! And now I totally want to grow plants on the roof of my future house.

The real highlight of the tour for me, though, was the studio, where Wright actually spent most of his time. I loved just about everything about it, especially how the windows open out to ground level. The overall design is simple, clean, and beautiful. It felt very peaceful in there.

A gorgeous bedspread. I would love to wake up and look out those windows. The bookcase might be my favorite feature, though you'll have to check the flickr set for a photo.

I don't really need any new dishes but after looking at all those lovely ceramics I kind of want to buy a few. Maybe a pitcher or a lidded bowl of some kind. We'll see.

*I feel the need to mention that our tour guide was a tall, tan, bleach blonde woman wearing a rhinestone-bedecked Stooges baby doll shirt. She brought along her ten-year-old (estimating here) daughter, who wore a matching Stooges shirt and purple zebra print leggings. They were awesome.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Revisiting Mount Beacon

Last year we thought it would be fun to hike up to the top of Mount Beacon...only to find that it is a very steep one-mile climb. We made it anyway, but it was pretty grueling.

A year later, we decided to try it again. It was still pretty hard, but not nearly as brutal as it had seemed back then. Either we were just more mentally prepared, or we're actually a little more in shape than we were.

Here's a shot of the railroad ties at the bottom. See last year's post for a bit more of the history of the Mount Beacon Incline Railway.

You know you're at the top when you see the wheel house.

(As you can see, I'm posting a mix of my photos and Dave's photos. He was testing out some new lenses and film for his Hipstamatic app. )

Back on flat land. I took a photo of this same building last year, only this time the fire escape was making such an awesome shadow.

I kind of cringed when I noticed a sign posted near Beacon Falls advertising future development. It seems that pretty soon the crumbling turn of the century structures will be converted into a luxury spa, hotel, and restaurant. See this post from about a year and a half ago for more pictures of the falls--pretty soon it won't look like that any more. Some people might disagree with me that that's a bad thing, but there's something a bit magical about this place just as it is. It's one of the things I loved about Beacon the first time I set foot there. If you peek into one of the windows in the "roundhouse" building as they call it, you can see trees growing inside. I'm sure it's totally dangerous to go in there but I would much prefer that to a fancy hotel.

There's such a brief window of time when a place can really be awesome, after a bunch of creative people go there and make it cool, but before people with money take notice and descend upon that place to capitalize on the awesome.

I'm sure I'll still love it there. No luxury spas for me though.