Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Museo del Barrio + Central Park

Last weekend we went into the city and took a stroll to the newly re-opened Museo del Barrio and the Museum of the City of New York, right at the start of Museum Mile.

Right across the street from the museums is Central Park. I'd never seen the northernmost tip of the park, so that was new for me.

A bit further down past the lake is the Conservatory Garden, which is apparently the only formal garden in Central Park. I later learned that the gate you have to pass through to enter was originally the entrance to the Vanderbilt Mansion at Fifth Avenue and 58th Street (the current site of Bergdorf-Goodman). Wish I'd thought to take a picture of that.

The garden is named for a glass conservatory that was once in the same spot, where many of the shrubs and trees that were later planted in the park were first cultivated. The conservatory was torn down in 1934 due to the high cost of maintenance, and replaced with the garden that same year.

It seems that in warmer months it is blooming with many varieties of plant life, such as heirloom roses, daffodils, and tulips, but we did not see any of that.

While I do enjoy the look of these twisted bare trees, I'll bet the garden is a lovely place to visit in the spring and summer, when everything is in full bloom.

We did eventually make it to the museums, and I must report that the Museo del Barrio had some pretty awesome orange chairs in their courtyard and cafeteria. They were also serving some of the best food I've ever eaten in a museum cafeteria*. (Oh yeah, and the exhibits were good too.) It was so crowded inside that I unfortunately didn't get to sit in the orange chairs but I won't hold it against them.

*Actually, now that I think about it I recall MoMA having some pretty good sorbet in the summer.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Living room curtains

I bought this fabric at Ikea with the intent of making curtains for the computer room, but ultimately decided that they'd look better in the living room. So voilà.

They look very nice with the plants.

I'm really into the hand-drawn quality of the pattern, the black and white with hints of green.

Of course, the computer room still needs curtains, or at least something in the windows. I'm thinking about trying to make a roller shade, which seems a bit more complicated than regular curtains. But I think I'll figure it out.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Steps to a more functional kitchen

Just recently I installed two items on the wall in the kitchen that have led to much greater efficiency.

I was getting a little tired of walking all the way across the room to the pantry every time I needed some seasoning. So I bought this spice rack at Ikea (only ten bucks!) and found the vintage Griffith's spice jars on eBay.

I love the look of the milk glass. The labels were sort of yellowing and ugly so I scraped them off and made new ones with the label blaster. (Combined with the card catalog, I had a lot of fun with the label blaster that weekend.) I think they look much better this way anyway.

On the same Ikea trip I picked up this wooden shelf and hung some of the pitchers that were crowding the top of the refrigerator. Now it's so much less cluttered, and the items are better displayed. Although I must admit, if money were no object, I would have much preferred this shelf. One can dream.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Card catalog of CDs

The last CD storage item we had was a really cheap and ugly particle board construction that, while doing a pretty decent job of storing everything, we were ready to leave behind when we moved. Then of course we had to find a new and better one. I recalled that I'd seen a public library branch reusing their old card catalog to store CDs, but in my online searches I couldn't find any that were big enough or within my price range (and I was not about to let the cardboard boxes of CDs remain stacked in the hallway until I hypothetically stumbled upon one at a flea market down the road).

Then I discovered that Target is currently selling card catalogs online. While a vintage item would have been countless times cooler, what with the provenance and all that, we decided to go with this one due to its convenience of being available right now. And it's actually a pretty nice-looking item (made from solid wood, not particle board).

I labeled the drawers with my favorite new toy, the Dymo Label Blaster.

Not all of the CDs fit into the card catalog, however, so we bought a few of these CD boxes from the Container Store, which look pretty nice stacked up there.

The boxed sets don't fit inside the drawers, but they look pretty nice displayed on top.

And I of course had to add a few little tchotchkes, like my new ceramic milk bottle. (Totally useless, maybe, but I love it.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Nauga is ugly, but his vinyl hyde is beautiful.

One of the best Christmas presents I got this year was a vintage Nauga doll. Just look at those outstretched arms, like he's just waiting for a hug.

The Nauga was a promotional tool used in the 60s to sell Naugahyde, the artificial leather (many a blog claims that Charles Eames designed the Nauga monster, though I can't find any actual confirmation of this on the Eames official website, or even wikipedia). The idea behind the Nauga is that it shed its skin naturally, so that no harm was done to them while procuring their hydes for upholstering furniture. There's a pretty great history of the Nauga here, along with some ridiculously silly illustrations.

It seems that Naugahyde is selling--err, offering up for adoption--new Nauga dolls, no doubt capitalizing on the collectability of the originals. But there's something about them that doesn't look quite right. They're just not the same.

The Nauga starred in some great advertisements in the 60s. A few more can be found in this flickr set.

It even appeared on Johnny Carson (the lady in the middle is its "handler").

Finally, one of the weirder things I found while researching all things Nauga is this 1991 Michael Jackson video made by a fan. A pretty nice grouping of Naugas makes a cameo appearance around 1:37 minutes in (I recommend skipping right to that section).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Rocks and owls

I finally bought some river rocks to fill in the planter in the window. Now you can actually see the tops of the plants peeking out of the crate. And while I was at it I decided to add this little guy, which I'd bought awhile back from Mudpuppy to put into a terrarium. Both the rocks and the owl really tie the window together.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Piles in the living room

The last thing left to do with the apartment, more or less, is to hang pictures. For some reason I've been putting it off, like I'm afraid to commit to something (perhaps with good reason--no one wants a bunch of nail holes in the wall from where you hung a picture and then took it down, dissatisfied). I was standing around in the living room the other day and noticing all the piles of things waiting to be hung, and I ended up documenting these temporary spots of color strewn around.

Curtains (now actually up) and sweaters to be repaired.

Dave's photographs and some postcards.

Once I finally get around to taking down the Christmas garland, these shadow puppets are getting strung up in their place.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hand-stamped curtain ties

One of my favorite things I got this Christmas was Yellow Owl's cityscape stamp set, which I had been wanting for some time.

The first thing I did with them was to stamp some curtain ties that I made.

At first I was thinking I'd create a little scene like on the box, but ultimately decided to make more of an abstract pattern using the building and road stamps.

I think they came out pretty well. I like the resulting varied tones of gray.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Architectural planter round-up

Ever since I first saw this architectural pottery boat planter, I knew that I needed to have one. It'd be perfect in the corner of the living room, near the window--I can practically see it now! But since I'm not really up to spending upwards of $100 on a planter at the moment, I'm probably going to end up dreaming a little while longer.

The last time I was at Sprout Home, I noticed these pod planters, which I also love. While I imagine they'd set me back even more than the boat planter, I've definitely got my eye on that bright orange one on the low wire base.

Then there's also the bullet planter and the peanut planter, which are both pretty nice too. But I think I'm going to hold out for the boat planter. There are only so many large and expensive planters one yardless household can contain.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Vintage chalkboard menu

Each time we make a major grocery store run, we compile a list of all the meals we have planned, usually on a little scrap of paper on the refrigerator. When looking at all the empty wall space in our new kitchen, it occurred to me that a chalkboard on which we could write our weekly menus would look pretty nice.

So after a bit of searching I found this 1940s (supposedly) child's chalkboard on Etsy. Doesn't it look so good next to the hanging pots?

It's pretty well-loved (okay, beat to hell), which mostly adds to the charm, although I could do without the X-shaped crack that I'm pretty sure occurred while en route to me. We also need to practice our chalk penmanship. Somehow restaurants always manage to find someone with really cool handwriting to create the list of specials.

The piece of chalk balances on top, which has so far been working (that is, it hasn't fallen off and broken into lots of tiny chalk pieces...yet).

P.S. Yes, I am very excited about cookies.