Wednesday, September 28, 2011

lands' end canvas boots

I'm always up for a good-looking boot. Canvas isn't glam or high-fashion, but these seem to have great proportions and classic but modern looks:

Emerson demi wedge boot
Sloan tall riding boot

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

design project: dining room

Some friends asked me to help finish decorating their dining room. Their house is a big updated colonial, with both warm and cool colors; outside it's light blue, with a red wooden door and a big front porch. The dining room already has a rectangular dark wood table and chairs; it needed a light fixture, a rug, and something for the walls. For a room that combines traditional and modern, and is appealing and comfortable, here's what I came up with:

Shades of Light shell necklace chandelier
because it's pretty, delicate, and fun
West Elm gradiated-stripe rug
to play off the round shapes and daintiness of the lamp
Prints from Perla Anne, whose work I love;
I suggested hanging three or five in a row, in matching frames
On the facing wall, they could try this Jessica Snow print
or something else big and graphic and colorful,
like this map from These Are Things
or, because one of them is from Southern California,
a motel print by Sean Finocchio

or, because one of them likes birds, this Dekanimal peacock

Not to sound cheesy, but you don't have to spend a ton of money or time to put together a nice-looking room. Everything above is inexpensive and easy to find online. You just have to know where to look, and trust your taste.

Monday, September 26, 2011

don carney on 20x200

Timid Whale by Don Carney

I've admired 20x200 for a while: the site offers inexpensive limited editions, by great up-and-coming artists like Sharon Montrose and established figures like William Wegman. I couldn't figure out at first why this artist's work looked familiar—until I read his bio and saw that he runs and designs for Patch NYC. (A former collaboration with West Elm produced a gorgeous butterfly print that's perfect in Tessa's room.)

Dapper Owl

These two prints resemble that one in their thick, swooping lines. I like that they're a little threatening: the owl's eyes, the whale's teeth.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

kids and music

It started in late spring, or maybe early summer. All of a sudden my kids love pop music. Taio Cruz, Katy Perry, Black Eyed Peas, even Britney Spears. (I can't get them to like my beloved, beloved Vampire Weekend—and believe me, I have tried.) Driving to school and tae kwon do and gymnastics is way more fun with tunes, right?

This angelic-seeming almost-nine-year-old loves "Moves Like Jagger" without knowing who Mick Jagger is.
I'm not sure what part of that situation concerns me most.

For me one of the best things about getting older is that I can admit to enjoying top-40 music. Sure, sure, we all want to stay hip, but sometimes it's nice to enjoy a good catchy pop song without irony. And I love that just as I'm opening myself to the joys of Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga and Britney, my kids are loving their music too.

Now, I don't want to overprotect. But I have to admit I cringe (or talk over the words) every time Bruno Mars' "Lazy Song" comes on, with the line about "really nice sex." It was a great summer song, super catchy and perfect for car radio, and his voice has that great sort of sob to it. But I'm not ready for the sex talk on the school dropoff run. And unlike "Last Friday Night" or "Born This Way," there's no double entendre or hard-to-hear words here.

Still, I'm not ready to censor everything either. Katy Perry, especially, is made for little kids. She has a Candyland-themed video, after all, and "Firework" sure has taken off with the elementary-school set: a worthy message of empowerment and encouragement, right? I'm hoping a risque lyric here and there won't ruin my kids' innocence. They can't quite decipher the words to "Last Friday Night." And when they do—I never thought I'd say this—it could be time for Kidz Bop.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Red fish
Omiyage sells adorable Japanese goods out of Toronto. Not only do they provide very sweet and personal customer service; they have a great selection of the Japanese paper balloons I mentioned a while back, as well as washi tape (for sweet-looking gift wrapping), paper goods, and various Shinzi Katoh tchotchkes:

I would frame this Shinzi Katoh postcard and put it on a shelf
A few strips of this tape across plain wrapping paper and you're set
String these balloons around a room for fall-colored decoration
The joke is on me for Tessa's birthday balloons, though: Somehow I thought they'd be like giant ocean-themed orbs, big enough to serve as the only decorations. These are mini, but aren't they cute?

We're going to need some bigger balloons
but they'll work as a centerpiece

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

alex woo jewelry

Alex Woo went to college with my brother. (Long-ago shared history: We once had a fun lunch in a restaurant where Dylan's Candy Bar is now located.) She's all grown up now and has been making adorable—and beautifully crafted—jewelry for years. She's got it all: flowers, animals, letters, numbers, clovers:

Little Seasons daisy necklace in silver
Little Seasons bee in gold
Silver Narissa cuff temporary tattoos

They've been blogged about a ton, most recently on Cool Mom Picks. The early editions seemed a little grubby (that's tattoos for you), but the new, especially kid-friendly tattoos, created by notable graphic designers, are worth checking out:

This robot is the same guy from Land of Nod's sheets (designed by Julia Rothman)
This cute mini rainbow comes in a pack with other sizes
Because I can't go long without posting a stylized animal, here's a happy octopus

Friday, September 16, 2011

messenger bags

Great-looking men's messenger bags are everywhere. RP especially likes these, which avoid the man-purse stigma, I think. Girly-bag carrier that I am, I'd even use them myself.

Union Street from ONA in Ranger Tan has room for a laptop and a camera—very practical and manly.
(spotted on Cup of Jo, which is giving one away)
The Classic from Cambridge Satchel looks like an old-style schoolbag;
OK, maybe it's a bit of a man-purse.
(first spotted on Cupcakes and Cashmere a while back)

The bags from Mulholland are a little spendier and definitely look it in person. We found their store on Fourth Street in Berkeley last month; it's sort of like Coach, but with a little more edge.

Angler's Bag from Mulholland
High and Mighty from Mulholland

Thursday, September 15, 2011

leo lionni

He's hardly unknown, and (since he died in 1999) he's unlikely to produce anything new. But children's book writer and illustrator Leo Lionni feels so relevant. His images get plenty of well-deserved attention:

From "Swimmy"
"Little Blue and Little Yellow"

but I almost like his words even more. Take "Fish Is Fish," the sweet story of two "inseparable friends," a fish and a tadpole. This is the fish, finally understanding that he can't jump out of the pond like his friend, who has become a frog: "The sunrays reached down within the weeds and gently shifted patches of luminous color. This world was surely the most beautiful of all worlds."

I'd been meaning to write about Lionni for a while—and then I stumbled on this post, articulating just why he's so good. I hadn't known about the Lionni videos, either: You can find lots of great animated versions of Lionni's stories on youtube. The narration is mostly straight from the books (with minor embellishment), and the graphics have an old-school, plain-but-stylized charm:

As you can see, the videos sure made a four- and eight-year-old happy.

As you can also see, my kids aren't dressed, and my desk is a complete mess

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

tiny fawn

Heathcliff moose collage
This artist makes sweet collages on canvas as well as really inexpensive prints. They all have a Charley Harper vibe: 

Theodore frog collage
Alfie bird print

They'd look great grouped on a cluttery little shelf with wildflowers in a simple little cup and some plain but well-loved objects.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

flora grubb

Talk about a girl crush: Flora Grubb has the perfect name for her work. (I first read about her years ago in the late lamented Domino magazine.) She's a San Francisco-based gardener who thinks about plants in a really creative way. 

Wedding bouquet with unexpected colors
(All images here)
Air plants in mini terrariums are kind of groovy
...and even cooler in rectangular containers
Succulents are so graphic and green

She's known for hanging gardens. I love the grid here, and the bright blue chair:

This one is for sale online

Monday, September 12, 2011

chipmunk cheeks on etsy

Beetle with flowers print here

This artist treads the very fine line between cute and creepy. But I think this beetle stays on the cute side. So does this one:

Florasaurus here

Friday, September 9, 2011

bathroom ideas

Pretty West Elm shower curtain

We're about to renovate our upstairs hall bathroom. It's old, ugly, and really really blah, with a cracked sink, a dated gold-tone faucet, a shower that doesn't get hot, an annoyingly sloped countertop (I'm always finding standing water), hideous light fixtures, and awful beige paint that just looks dirty and dim. So anything would be an improvement. I'm thinking cool blue, serene, clean, fresh, simple... 

White marble floor tile like this

White subway tile like this
If not that West Elm curtain, maybe this one from Dwell?
(kids' bathroom, after all)

Restoration Hardware towels

Land of Nod mirror

Spritz collection from Restoration Hardware

Really basic Ikea sink cabinet
Shore-colored paint
Or maybe Farrow & Ball Lulworth Blue
Or Cook's Blue if we decide to go darker