Tag Archives: inspiration

A New Purpose

It’s no secret that Real Simple is one of my favorite magazines. The photographs are always so tastefully shot, and the layout really is so simple. I’m one of those people who has trouble accessing information when the hierarchy isn’t layed out perfectly clear, so this magazine had me from the get go.

The features are always pertinent, offering information on money-saving bits and pieces that really add up over time (no joke!), as well as quick delicious recipes for busy week night meals that only require a few ingredients. I recently subscribed to the email feed, and though I’m only partially regretting it (hello, slew of tips and quips in my inbox), it brought me back to a feature they add to each month.

I’ll completely admit to having read all of the tips in past issues and not trying a single one. Time to get busy implementing more resourceful ways to use the things around my apartment.

The New Uses For Old Things Hall Of Fame has the vast collection, but here are some of my favorites:

How about using vegetable oil to polish leather shoes?

Using a colander to hold ice at a party or gathering to make sure guests have direct access to ice and don’t have to fish around for it.

Using a magnet inside a medicine cabinet to hold tweezers or nail clippers? Awesome! I am always fumbling around for those things.

Shower curtain hooks used to store purses and other heavy things in a closet: this would be a great idea, were there infinite space in my closet. A gal can wish, right?

Using easter eggs year round to tote crackers and other snacks? Saves plastic bags, first of all. Probably a great way to keep portions correct, crackers from crumbling, and how much fun would it be to find yourself the only person at work eating their lunch from giant colorful eggs? Neato.

Using an empty wine crate box as a shoe organizer? This one is definitely happening. If only you could see the bottom of my closet…But it’s probably better that you didn’t.

An eyeglass case used to port beauty items could be especially handy when traveling, as I often bring a couple of pieces of jewelry that would break my heart were they smashed in my luggage.

Using rubber bands on hangers to keep slippery garments (camisoles, sun dresses, and generally hard to keep hung things) where you put them.


A Carefully Crafted Résumé

While I’m already quite tardy in posting on my South American adventures (did I even mention I was spending three weeks in Ecuador? I didn’t? Well gosh! Anyway…), I wanted to pop in and write up a quick blip about this original little ditty I stumbled upon whilst seeking out inspiration for ways to set myself apart from the rest. Turns out, design jobs in small towns are a bit hard to come by. And while my work usually speaks for itself, I’m having to market myself (something I’ve never really had much experience in doing) and create a personal identity (also, new angle for me).

I think this is a really original way to express a passion in both design and textile work and how the two may cross over on each other. You can find out more about this gal and her neat stuff at www.melissaloveslife.com.

Hopefully I’ll have an initial Ecuador/etc. post up sometime this week. Until then, have a great weekend and a Happy New Year!

My Centennial

100 posts

Hard as it is to believe that I am just now arriving at my own little sweet centennial, and wordy though I may be, I’m going to attempt at keeping this short and sweet. Happy blogging centennial to me! And in celebration of finally garnering a smidge of street cred, I’m going to top this entry off with a few things that have, as of late, made me just sublimely happy (if only for an instant).

This song

It’s positively transcendent. The album version is different than the video; a bit more refined, and with a lot more vitality (oddly enough). Her voice is old and traditional, playful and warm at the same time. The song just gives me the giddies on the insides each time I hear it. I got a tad disappointed, however, to walk into an Urban Outfitters the other day and hear it blaring from the sound system. Money for the band though, and all that blah blah blah.

Miles Davis’ Container Gardening Tips

This, coming from the king of cool and jazz, not only cements his “cool-dom” further, but also paints such a vivid picture of his imagination and the life he lived. I just plain chuckle every time I read this through.

As originally credited from Ryan Abbott

1. Don’t feed them garbage This is a pretty simple concept, so heed it. If you feed your container plants shit—polluted rainwater, cheap fertilizer, ash from your hash pipe—they will not flourish, your buds will not bloom. Like I said to my bass player Paul Chambers last night, “You got to cool it with the booze and drugs.” The same is true of your garden.

Because they don’t talk much we forget that plants are living things, organic beings that need nourishment to survive and thrive. I recommend a quality fertilizer, delivered sparingly, with restraint. Just a few drops for every quarter-gallon of water and before you know it your azaleas will be laughing with color. Literally, laughing. You got to be careful you don’t overdo it, in fact, because azaleas will take their partying to the limit, and after a few days you’ll find yourself leaning out your window at three o’clock in the morning yelling at them to shut up because their flower orgy is keeping you awake.

2. Play music to your plants Music heals all wounds except those inflicted by a hunting knife, so I like to play music to my plants. What do I play? People stop me on the street to ask me that all the time. What’s my answer? Usually it’s, “Leave me alone and go buy my albums,” or a variation thereof.

In my experience, annuals tend to appreciate the complexity of classical piano concertos, like those by Ravel or Rachmaninoff. I play records by those two over and over again, my speakers aimed out to the backyard, blaring through a hole in the screen door torn by a high John Coltrane one morning when he thought he was a rabid polar bear, which he was not.

My vegetables—tomatoes and pole beans and eggplants—like to be sung to. I think it helps the fruit ripen—sweetly sung melodies that rise and fall like crooked branches, scales that float on the warm humidity of the July sky. Like my sister Dorothy says, “Soak their roots in song and they will grow, my brother. They will grow.”

3. Don’t throw your plants down the stairs Not throwing things down stairs does not come naturally to me—it is something I’ve had to work at. That’s what life is all about: challenging yourself to rise above your essence, while staying true to your character. Of course, the hard part is knowing what about yourself needs changing, and what you should accept and embrace and blow on with the full force of your diaphragm.

Maybe you got upset by Columbia Records not giving you the $5000 advance you deserved and reacted by tossing a Blue Velvet orchid in an authentic 15th century Ming vase down a flight of stairs where it shattered on a marble landing, tossing potting soil into the shark tank. Perhaps you felt you were within your rights as an artist to do so, but in the process you have removed from this world two items of great beauty. Three, if you damaged the marble.

Like most living things, container plants prefer to be upright the majority of the time. They also need good containers with good drainage. My favorite material is terra cotta, which is fragile but has an earthy vibe that complements most urban container gardens. While throwing plants down stairs doesn’t always kill them, it rarely makes them stronger. Most often it just makes one hell of a mess for the housekeeper.

4. Give your plants space This is it, this is the most important tip, so wrap it in tissue paper and take it out of here when you go. The space around everything is more precious than the items occupying the space.

Space is what defines matter, gives it a shape, a silhouette. It’s true of music, true of art, true of container plants. Without room to move among the vines, how can you discover fruit? How can you get close enough to smell the singularity of a flower if it is among hundreds? Silence ripens our attention to sound. Negative space makes positive.

Some people pack their gardens tight: cluttered clematis and hydrangeas in noisy bands of color, herbs upon herbs upon herbs … a symphony of shit. Don’t get me wrong, color is fine; color is life. But if you can’t walk through your garden without puking, what good is it for?

The space around your plants is what defines them. Save that space, relish it, drink it in. Give your plants room to walk, to be seen and heard, to develop deep and hungry roots with their own space to explore and invent, the freedom to create new shades and shapes, arms that reach through the empty air to carve fresh pockets in which to build an entirely new kind of fruit or flower. A type never tasted, something unheard of.

This Photograph

I really can’t explain why it hits such a note every time I look at it, but more than anything I just get an overwhelming sense that everything is going to be ok- and this clear memory of a sandy beach on a warm sunny day. I also love the quality of motion that it depicts.

Fret ye not, there is so much more to come.

Simple Inspiration: Gerhard Richter

He sticks to a strict routine, waking at 6:15 every morning. He makes breakfast for his family, takes Ella to school at 7:20 and is in the studio by 8. At 1 o’clock, he crosses the garden from the studio back to the house. The grass in the garden is uncut. Richter proudly points this out, to show that even it is a matter of his choosing, not by chance. At 1 o’clock, he eats lunch in the dining room, alone. A housekeeper lays out the same meal for him each day: yogurt, tomatoes, bread, olive oil and chamomile tea.

After lunch, Richter returns to his studio to work into the evening. ”I have always been structured,” he explains. ”What has changed is the proportions. Now it is eight hours of paperwork and one of painting.” He claims to waste time — on the house, the garden — although this is hard to believe. ”I go to the studio every day, but I don’t paint every day. I love playing with my architectural models. I love making plans. I could spend my life arranging things. Weeks go by, and I don’t paint until finally I can’t stand it any longer. I get fed up. I almost don’t want to talk about it, because I don’t want to become self-conscious about it, but perhaps I create these little crises as a kind of a secret strategy to push myself.”

“It is a danger to wait around for an idea to occur to you. You have to find the idea.”

As he talks, I notice a single drop of paint on the floor beneath one of his abstract pictures, the only thing out of place in the studio.

The New York Times Magazine, January 27, 2002

(Taken from Atlas)

The only time you’ll hear me say, “I wish I were still in LA.”

Remembering: swimming out as far as I could into the deep ocean, diving under each wave as it approached-crested-and then swelled over me, and turning over to float on my back; look up at the sky, almost completely helpless in a giant sea of salt, miniscule creatures, and so much water I could definitely drown if I were not careful.

That is the feeling of peace, calm, and overwhelmed all at the same time.

Ikea, 1965.

Apparently IKEA has been around a lot longer than I really contemplated. Below are scans from a 1965 IKEA catalouge. If only their modern products had this timeless air to them.

(I would definitely be the happy owner of this sofa/loveseat combo).

Original post can be found here.

Lightness of Being

I have always been extremely fascinated with underwater photography (see here and here). So much so, that I usually keep a spare disposable waterproof camera around for the very rare occurrence that I might actually be able to use it. My most recent roll was so utterly disappointing that I’m seriously contemplating spending real money (as if the $15.99 that Rite Aid charges isn’t real enough, per disposable) on a semi-quality underwater camera body and case. Again, it’s so rare that I actually have a use for one…

The work of Alinka Echeverría investigates just what it takes to alter our perception of space, gravity, and earthly existence. Her underwater films and images of synchronized swimmers are graceful, intriguing, and reveal a space in this world not often seen, let alone contemplated. There is something so haunting about this work.

You can find the entire film here.