Friday, March 30, 2012



It's been a crazy, busy, last-minute, project-filled Friday for me, so I haven't had the time to write a proper post. Instead, I'd like to share photos from fantastic plant photographer and highly regarded landscape designer, Isabel Bannerman. Her incredible botanic portraits are currently featured in this month's issue of Garden Design, along with her work in the landscaping trenches. May these exquisite excerpts of her her work start your weekend off with a breath of inspiration! And if you love them, pick up a copy for Garden Design for her full story.

*All photography by Isabel Bannerman

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's Time For an Outdoor Party!

Reef Outdoor Furniture Collection ~ Crate and Barrel

As the days get increasingly warmer here in New York, I'm feeling more and more drawn to outdoor party-ware. I'm not big on corporate chains, but occasionally I'll wander into a large retailer to check out their offerings. A couple of days ago, with summer and fresh air on the brain, I decided to pop in Crate and Barrel and see what they had in store. As it turns out, there are quite a few little barbecue season finds to be had. For starters, the eco-friendly, solid teak, Reef Outdoor Furniture Collection (above) is pretty eye-catching. I like its stream-lined, mid-century design. Paired with that lustrous and durable teak, it feels like it will last a lifetime and always be in style. Plus, I appreciate that the wood is soundly harvested. Now, if only I had that sprawling patio...

Marimekko Puutarha Tablecloth ~ Crate and Barrel

I'm love the art of table decorating, so no outdoor party would be complete without the decorative fixings. How about this sunny Marimekko Puutarha Tablecloth? It's such a perfect celebration of spring. I absolutely love it.

Miguel Glasses Collection ~ Crate and Barrel

Drinks are an important ingredient to any fete, thus you need great drinkware. This Miguel Glasses Collection won my heart for a host of reasons. I took a couple of the Highball Glasses home! The lightly tinted glasses are handmade and hand-shaped in Mexico out of 100% recycled glass giving each glass have a distinct silhouette and weight. Also, I guzzle water all day long, so I love a glass that will let me sit awhile before having to get up and refill it. The Miguel Collection fits the bill. I felt very proud of my birth country as I made my purchase: A+ for design, quality, environmentalism, and practicality.

Marimekko Sukat Makkaralla Green Pitcher ~ Crate and Barrel 

This Marimekko Sukat Makkaralla Green Pitcher is a casual, cool find. It's slightly funky, but still relaxed, and its translucent green plays off the Marimekko tablecloth and tinted Miguel glasses above. With these tabletop finds, our spring, outdoor party table would be happily rounded out: The Acacia Natural Rectangular Platter for grilled goods, the Marin Green Plates for dining on, the Evelise Green Round Baskets Set of Three for bread and rolls, the Marimekko Oiva White Serving Pot for tasty sides, and (though it's really for plants) the Regatta Folding Plant Stand as a chic drink station.

Acacia Natural Rectangular Platter ~ Crate and Barrel

Marin Green Dinner Plate ~ Crate and Barrel

Evelise Green Round Baskets Set of Three ~ Crate and Barrel

Marimekko Oiva White Serving Pot ~ Crate and Barrel

Regatta Folding Plant Stand ~ Crate and Barrel

As a final touch, how about a centerpiece of fresh potted herbs in this Lilla 4" Purple Planter? The creamy lilac is a sweet contrast that will make greens pop, and the aroma of fresh herbs will add another dimension to your outdoor dining experience. Add a couple of Marimekko Lokki Pillows, a festive playlist, some Sagano Scented Candles, and the party is set!

 Lilla 4" Purple Planter ~ Crate and Barrel

 Marimekko Lokki 20" Pillow ~ Crate and Barrel

Sagano Scented Candle ~ Crate and Barrel

What are you doing to celebrate Spring? Have any great tips? Please share!

*All photos are from Crate and Barrel's website.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Must Speak of BESPOKE Glass Tile

One of my favorite weekend activities is to take a stroll to the Brooklyn Flea, the mecca for Brooklyn artists selling their wares. Though I've been hundreds of times, strolling through the aisles of vintage vendors and artists' tables never gets old. I love to ooh and ahh and discover new treasures, and two weekends ago I did just that. BESPOKE Glass Tile is the brainchild of Lesley Green and Ellen Creighton, two very talented women who met while studying Architectural Conservation at the Edinburgh College of Art. Together they run an incredible, environmentally friendly business offering handmade, ready to purchase glass tile art, as well as DIY kits to do your own glass tile projects in your home. Their handiwork is truly captivating, and as I stood in front of their booth I found myself yearning to take a piece home. Alas, I knew I shouldn't spend any money. So I didn't. Yet.

I am so attracted to the patterns and colorways that BESPOKE employs. They do such a nice job sourcing richly colored, fine quality recycled glass tile. They then use recycled wood and salvaged architectural materials as their base for their clever patterns and gorgeous craftsmanship. How remarkable are the pint-sized Helicopter Small Drawers above? It's almost a shame to put anything in them, the glass is so striking.

While at the fair, I was particularly drawn to the elegantly tiled, Reclaimed Wood Serving Tray, pictured above with the green diamond pattern on a white background called Deco IV. It was such a standout in their display. I had visions of myself hosting a Mad Men party with fabulous cocktails in glass tumblers as served from my stylish new tray. However, once on BESPOKE's Tumblr page, I found another one I loved even more (below). This blue-aqua triangle patterned tray doesn't seem to be in stock, but given BESPOKE's many ordering options I'm sure I could have something like it custom made.

Speaking of custom made, the pattern and colorway blends at BESPOKE are endless. In addition to offering a number of patterns in categories they term, "Deco," "Classics," and "Eccentricities," they also have a big selection of colorways, or color combinations, that you can elect for each pattern. For example, check out a few of the many different colorways this star-like pattern, a.k.a. Deco I, has to offer. 

If I went DIY, I would choose this swirly yellow pattern on a white background. It would make such an awesome kitchen backsplash!

Of course, I do like this one for a more understated and rustic approach.

If you do end up opting for BESPOKE's DIY route, but you've never installed glass or tile on your own, never fear. They have a such a handy website with great instructions and lots of helpful FAQs and hints. Before you know it, you'll be able to turn this-

Into this-

Into this!

To take home your own BESPOKE Glass Tile creations, visit them at the Brooklyn Flea, which for one more week will be housed at the Syklight One Hanson in Fort Greene. Or, make your purchases at their Etsy Shop. For custom DIY glass tile orders, visit their main website.

Got any great glass tile projects on your mind? Please share!

*All photos were taken from BESPOKE Glass Tile's Tumblr page and Etsy Shop.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New (Old) Music Tuesday: Sixto Rodriguez

Sixto Rodriguez, 1970

Born in 1942 in Detroit, Michigan, Sixto Rodriguez is a American folk singer of Mexican immigrant parents whose records, Cold Fact (Sussex, 1970) and Coming From Reality (Sussex, 1971), have had an enormous impact on me. I have such admiration for Rodriguez' ability to put marginalized and unorthodox stories into beautiful words with lush melodies and arrangements. His two lone LP releases boast impeccable playlists of song after entrancing song that would take even Bob Dylan to task. Rodriguez is folk music at its best, and it's a complete shame that until now he's never received the U.S. appreciation he's deserved. 

This is Not a Song, It's an Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues

Thankfully, it seems Rodriguez may be getting his moment thanks to a new documentary, Searching For Sugar Mandirected by Malik BendjelloulAs this is New (Old) Music Tuesday, I'm going to focus on Rodriguez's music, but you can learn more about Bendjelloul's documentary, which has been garnering rave reviews while on the film festival circuit at Sundance and SXSW and was recently picked up by Sony Classicshere. I can't wait to see it myself.

"Cause," Sixto Rodriguez, Coming From Reality, (Sussex, 1971)

I don't know that I can honestly pick any one song and say it's my favorite Rodriguez tune. He is truly a masterful songwriter, and anything you can drop your turntable needle is sure to blow you away. "Cause" (Coming From Reality) and "This is Not a Song, It's an Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues" (Cold Fact), (both above) are quintessential folk tunes. Rodriguez's cunning lyrics- 

"Garbage ain't collected/Women ain't protected/Politicians Using/People their abusing"
                          -"This is Not a Song, It's an Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues," 1970

- are enough to make you wonder if Occupy Wall Street wouldn't benefit from having him up front rallying the masses. He's the kind of artist that makes you question and makes you want to exercise your own voice.

"Silver Words," Sixto Rodriguez, Coming From Reality, (Sussex, 1971)

Even at his most abstract, when he slips into drug-like fantasies on songs like "It Started Out So Nice" (Coming From Reality), Rodriguez has the ability take you with him. The journey through his vision of reality and his hopes for what it could be are as tangible as the clothes you are wearing. You just want to "Slip Away" with him.

"I'll Slip Away" b/w "You'd Like to Admit It," Sixto Rodriguez as Rod Riguez, (Impact, 1967)

Despite how small his released body of work is, there is so much to glean from Sixto Rodriguez' music. I never cease to be amazed by his deft lyricism and his ability to use his voice as both a harpoon and a spring of hope. I've heard rumblings that there may be an album left in Rodriguez to record. I know there are folks trying to get his pen to paper and his voice and guitar in the studio. Based on his recent performances in Brooklyn and SXSW, at 69, I think there's still some magic left to capture.

Thoughts about Sixto Rodriguez? Please share!

Have groovy Tuesday ;)

*If you want to purchase LPs, CDs or mp3's of Cold Fact or Coming From Reality, check out Light in The Attic

Monday, March 26, 2012

Christina Romeo ~ The Story of Life As We Know It

Prime ~ Christina Romeo

I'm no art expert. I have no real understanding of technique. However, I know what I feel, I know what I like, and I know that I always gravitate towards works that have emotional resonance for me. That is why I have grown so fond of the work of Christina Romeo. Her beautiful abstracts which pair complex, and at times dark, themes with light and airy pigments unlock deep-seated, competing emotions in me. Each time I look at one of her pieces, I find myself contemplating the circle of life- the beginning, the end, and the journey in between.

No. 48 ~ Christina Romeo

D3 ~ Christina Romeo

Abloom Series ~ Christina Romeo

Abloom Series ~ Christina Romeo

Hollow Resolution ~ Christina Romeo

Romeo works with various media. Her "Abloom Series," some of which is pictured above, employs watercolor, acrylic paint, pen, and embroidery on watercolor paper. The result are ethereal botanical illustrations that on one hand feel like biological studies teeming with bursting cells- the science of life. On the other hand, the dynamic reds and pinks and oranges that punctuate each illustration resemble throbbing emotional centers- the hearts and souls of each plant. It's like seeing plants' left and rights brains splattered before you if they had any. I love them all, but I'm partial to "Hollow Resolution." I love how the two pods are interconnected and pulsating. I can feel the connection in my own heart.

Deceit ~ Christina Romeo

 Escape 253 ~ Christina Romeo
Dust ~ Christina Romeo

Escape ~ Christina Romeo

I am equally drawn to Romeo's abstract collection. Depending on the piece, I find myself slipping into stories I've concocted. In "Escape 253," above, I escape the hectic city looming in the background and disappear into the undiscovered openness. In "Dust," jazz-like organisms dance about in a kind of unappreciated underworld. In all of Romeo's abstracts I sense the emotional tensions of frenetic life forms seeking a voice, recognition, escape, some kind of peace amid chaos. I don't know if that's what she's really intending to depict, but that's what I see.

Float ~ Christina Romeo

T20 ~ Christina Romeo
Ascend ~ Christina Romeo

Christina Romeo's body of work is quite extensive and diverse. She has an entire series of portraits, mixed media portraits, and more. However, in everything I see of hers, I always go back to the theme of the rise and fall of tides. Life is a ball yarn that stretches out across time in free form. Along the way there is happiness, darkness, growth, decay, light, dark, and everything in between. Just as in "Idle" at the base of this post, I feel like we are creatures floating, finding our way through space, bound to a strange combination of choice and fate. Some people might find that dark, but I think it's a loving and bewitching thought.

Old Red Barn ~ Christina Romeo

Window to My Soul ~ Christina Romeo

Idle ~ Christina Romeo

If you enjoy Christina Romeo's work as much as I do, you can peruse her extensive collections on her website, Christina Romeo, become a fan on Facebook, follow her blog or Tumblr, and even make purchases at her Etsy Shop

Do you have different interpretations of her work? Feel free to share!

*All photos were taken from Christina Romeo's personal website and Etsy Shop.