This has been the longest holiday celebration we’ve ever had – almost a week full of dinners and family and long visits. The season was made longer by an ambitious Advent calendar and plenty of handmade gifts (like this, this, this, this, and this - yes, there were plenty more not documented). I’m not complaining – we certainly made the most of our last one-child Christmas. While we wind down, I wanted to share my family’s holiday video (in lieu of cards). Catch a peak at my huge belly, some Bowie cat, and our humble tree decor. Many thanks to my husband for putting this together… and revising it to include some my favorite ornaments.Leave a comment
- Chocolate peppermint cookies: I’ve been making this Martha recipe for years, and they’ve become my most requested recipe. Lucy helped by having fun smashing candy canes.
- Paper plate baskets: I used baker’s twine in place of washi tape and it holds together just fine.
- Final touches were bits and bobs from around the house: unbleached parchment paper, plain tags, and some greens cut from our Christmas tree.
I even got to making some more with Lucy last night, though we dressed hers up with some watercolors, pretty ribbon, and tissue paper (we used sandwich bags for her to package the cookies). With our baked goods in the freezer, we can put together a cookie basket when she’s ready to gift.Leave a comment
Canadiano (from Fishtnk Design Factory) has redesigned the standard coffee pour-over with a block of wood. Using FSC-certified timber, a series of concentric circles are carved to form a cone, and a little stainless steel filter replaces the need for paper filters. The brew method is even similar to regular pour-overs, with a slow 2-4 minute pour. However, what sets these apart from the beehives is how the wood version absorbs the coffee oils and, over time, enhances the cup’s flavor (single origin beans, repetition of the same roast, and their Raw editions are recommended to really achieve this). Canadiano‘s current production includes cherry, walnut, and maple, with each species prescribed for different roasts. Walnut’s dark hues apparently help along those darker, earthier roasts (like Indonesian coffees) while maple and cherry capitalize on those citrus and nutty notes (think Ethiopian, Guatemalan, and Columbian). Perhaps my most favorite feature – easy peasy maintenance. Just a quick rinse after brewing to let those oils soak in. Honestly, I pretty much do this anyway with my Chemex and french press because I’m so lazy.
So let’s count up the pros here:
- It’s Canadian.
- It’s coffee.
- It’s wood.
- It’s sustainable.
- It’s virtually maintenance-free.
BONUS: The advertising:
- Ezra, the Designer (note: some f-ing foul language)
- Parker, Manmade Coffee
- Helene, the Scent-Only Diet
Images & videos vía Canadiano.Leave a comment
This fall, Mica Hendricks‘ “Collaborations” post went viral, making the rounds on social media, blogs, and even the Huffington Post. For those living under a rock (or social media-challenged), Mica shared her artistic collaboration… with her 4-year-old. Having one of those myself, I commiserated with her not wanting to share her good sketch pad and artwork with some know-it-all tot:
In a very serious tone, she looked at me and said, “If you can’t share, we might have to take it away if you can’t share.”
Yeah. I’ve heard that before. As a parent, you have to walk the walk. As a designer, you have deadlines. And clients. And your own damn good ideas. However, sometimes that little voice (familiar in your own words) sends a double-dog-dare your way. In Mica’s case, the challenge opened a door to a new way of working and thinking. The great thing about what she did, and what I try to do myself, is to be open to the imagination of these little people. They have good ideas we can
take advantage of nurture:
And from it all, here are the lessons I learned: to try not to be so rigid. Yes, some things (like my new sketchbook) are sacred, but if you let go of those chains, new and wonderful things can happen. Those things you hold so dear cannot change and grow and expand unless you loosen your grip on them a little. In sharing my artwork and allowing our daughter to be an equal in our collaborations, I helped solidify her confidence, which is way more precious than any doodle I could have done. In her mind, her contributions were as valid as mine (and in truth, they really were). Most importantly, I learned that if you have a preconceived notion of how something should be, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE DISAPPOINTED. Instead, just go with it, just ACCEPT it, because usually something even more wonderful will come out of it.
The project has inspired many, with contests and charity sales furthering the good karma. I love the special limited-edition print available in the most recent The Working Proof newsletter. (If you don’t subscribe to TWP, get on it. One weekly email introducing you to new and favorite artists with limited edition prints that benefit a range of charities. Get art & help a cause. Win-win.)
“Peacock Girl” features mama Mica’s head and daughter Myla’s dreamed-up peacock body, with a little polishing from mom’s pencils and paints. Mica chose to have TWP donate to Puppies Behind Bars (15% of gross sales!), a program where inmates train puppies to become service dogs for law enforcement as well as for the disabled. C’mon, who doesn’t love puppies? Read her interview here and grab a print for the precocious kid in your life.
Images & quotes from Mica Henricks.Leave a comment
Each year, I’ve pared down the clutter of holiday decor to make way for fresh-cut branches and simple ornaments here and there. However, perhaps a few new toys wouldn’t hurt, eh? Last year I was swooning over Schoolhouse Electric‘s German holiday folk decor (my favorite is available again this year!), and these wooden pyramids from Heath Ceramics continue my desire to start collecting. I wasn’t sure what I loved so much about it last year, but I started to think about why I could validate my attraction even further…
Despite both my maternal and paternal grandmothers coming from different cultures and backgrounds (Grandma was a Philly gal born in Belfast and Mom-mom was a Polish girl from New England), I remember lingering on some folksy holiday decor in both of their homes. Each of them also had great respect for items of quality. So it is no surprise that I became an uber fan of Heath Ceramics and most everything they offer, especially these new additions to their classic holiday collection:
“Our hand-crafted wooden holiday decorations are made by a cooperative of artisans in the town of Seiffen, Germany, known as “toy village,” where woodworking has been a part of the local trade for hundreds of years. These pyramids continue a centuries-old tradition of portraying various winter country scenes that celebrate the season. Heat from the candles rises, causing the propeller to spin for a fun and quaint centerpiece.”
Of course, they will always remind me of Cousin Eddie, but that only makes it better.
Images & quote from Heath Ceramics.Leave a comment
Winter is officially here for us folk near Philadelphia. Though the heft of snow from last weekend has melted away, it ushered in the promise of a wintery holiday season. We don’t always get that in these parts, so I was happy to slow down for the snow – even making snowmen with Lucy and my 8-month-pregnant round belly.
Though our Christmas decorations have been up for over a while now, I miss our fall decor. Lucy, me, and even my husband spent most of November bringing home leaves of different shapes and colors. Then I’d dry them out with our field specimen press or, for the big ones, between paper towels under big books on the floor. Our dining room table was covered with kraft paper and paint most of the month, too, as we slowly grew our collection. Using washi tape, I created a temporary installation of the artful leaves in our living room as they were completed. (If you follow my instagram, you’d have seen our progress here, here, here, here, here, and here.) Now our Christmas tree lights up the corner, and those leaves await a home in a scrapbook. Here are some favorites:
And here is a full view of the installation with Miss L in the foreground, dressed as a pink fairy, gawking at the Thanksgiving Day parade:
All photos by HT Adjemian (thanks, hon).Leave a comment
In 2010, I was a few years into my career as a residential interior designer. It was a job I thought I’d always wanted, but it had started to feel a great lack of… something. The projects were challenging and helped to build skills, but they were not my personal style. However, the aforementioned “something” ended up being the realization that my own values for sustainable design were never going to be implemented in this particular firm. My tree-hugging attempts to “green” the office by recycling and introducing sustainable products were fruitless. Our vendors weren’t even interested in selling “green” products and therefore rarely offered sustainable options or education. I needed to find an outlet or someone to share my views with, which is when I decided to try the DVGBC. I called the committees coordinator, described my interests and goals, and she helped my zero in on a few committees to try out: Residential Circle (now defunct) and Emerging Professionals. Though I did not feel as much of a connection to the RC agenda, I became enthusiastic about the EP’s mission and goals.
With the EPs, I was with others feeling the same frustrations in their careers, each motivated to do something about it. I began to volunteer for things I didn’t know much about, like inviting speakers to the group for lectures, fundraising for events, and being in a pilot mentor program. Something strange began to happen – I was networking without even knowing it. The speakers I was asked to invite were big architects in the city, giving me a straight connection to the top of some of the city’s most prestigious firms. The Earth Day of Service event I helped with (i.e. called and begged vendors for free food) ended up involving Mayor Nutter and the Murals Arts Program for a community mural and garden. The mentor program hooked me up with some amazing and strong female professionals in the region who took great interest in my career and ambitions. I should also mention that, as a result of one of the many green happy hours (best way fellow greenies like to network), I went back to school and began my own firm. There was even a time where I led a panel at a local Best of Greenbuild event, partnering with the IES‘s EP group, and ended up being a speaker myself in front of an audience – what? Me? I sometimes think, Did I really do all of this? I just jumped in with both feet, ready and willing.
Fast forward three years, and I have a Masters of Science in Sustainable Design and am still growing my sustainable design network and portfolio with my own firm. I’m not sure where I would be professionally had I not taken the initiative to join the DVGBC’s EP committee. Perhaps Philadelphia’s sustainable network of professionals is extra friendly, because most people I’ve met in this circle are eager to have others who care about their work with a triple bottom line. Though I’m less active these days in the committee (another kid on the way, ya know?), I still am glad to share my EP story and help others find their way.
Photos via my instagram.1 Comment
Greenbuild 2013 is happening right now in Philadelphia, and I just had to take advantage of the nationwide sustainable conference since it was only a quick train ride away. I almost booked a ticket last year to GB2012 in San Francisco (after a happy hour of sustainable networking, of course – it’s how they get you). However, with the end of my thesis drawing near, I made the “adult” decision to skip it yet again. So yesterday was my first time to attend, and while I’ve followed through social media, blogs, and even local “Best of Greenbuild” events to get the skinny on the goings-on in previous years, I was really excited to be finally there myself. It was entirely overwhelming, of course. An Expo floor of almost 800 vendors, multiple educational lectures going on at once, and a steady stream of people throughout the day… so I decided to get myself together in a quiet room with others who seemed to have the same deer-in-head-lights-but-keeping-my-cool look. I sat my 7-month pregnant self down in the only non-conference chair in the room (a bright red Eames Womb chair) and heard the words of some great sustainable leaders of our time. Each presenter made the case for becoming a leader in a different way so convincingly, it was really quite powerful.
- George Bandy, Vice President of Sustainability at Interface (Flor‘s parent company), elaborated on finding strengths to propel you forward from Clifton’s StrengthFinder. His own strengths of positivity and WOO (winning others over) shined through with his commanding presence and optimistic view of actually liking your job. The audience was asked what their own strengths were and it made me think, How often do I give myself credit for my own strengths? My own value? I recently felt the familiar stab of devaluation after relating to this article, but George’s outlook was a swift kick in the pants to figure out the next chapter of action.
- Jason Dunlop, Vice President at Big-D Signature, presided over an interactive presentation session about brand and promotion through telling stories. He presented various ways of capturing the attention of an audience, whether it be a cold email to a company or a newsletter to a customer base. We then formed groups to put the methods into practice. The most fun and thought-provoking was the Pixar Pitch, which I aim to utilize in nailing down my own elevator pitch. We also created a #twitpitch (origin here) and unique email subject lines to inform yet intrigue a reader for a hopeful response. I could say that this introduced a new level of anxiety to casual tweets and emails, but I will acquiesce to say that it challenged us all the more…
- Finally, Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of Architecture for Humanity and author/editor of “Design Like You Give a Damn,” gave a casual yet stunning presentation of, essentially, grabbing the bull by the horns and just effing doing it (while concurrently presenting off the cuff when he realized he didn’t have a necessary computer cable). He openly talked about his own experiences – his naive yet driven start on international refugee architecture with the UN (inevitably the uber successful AFH), his project successes and failures, and his own mortality in the face of potentially dangerous situations worldwide. With an audience of emerging professionals, he was asked repeatedly, How can WE help NOW? His advice: call on someone bigger than you to get deeper involved, or lend whatever talent you have (big or small) to the cause, or start something on your own because you believe in it. Because that is exactly what he did – saw a crisis and responded. How often do we actually do that?
Overall, the lectures were incredibly informative and quite entertaining. Each presenter had a great sense of humor, too, which is something I always appreciate.
I should also confess that I am really at the conference to volunteer my time as an Emerging Professional at Greenbuild 2013. I want to share how the DVGBC’s local chapter committee had lifted me out of a rut and moved me forward in my career. But let’s save that for a bit later… the French press is empty and I’m off for another day!
Final note: I was feeling so inspired to write this, that I woke up before the sun (and my husband and daughter) to make a pot of coffee and write this. For those who don’t know me, this is quite an amazing feat – the early rise and the punctual post. Kudos to George Bandy, Jason Dunlop, and Cameron Sinclair!Leave a comment
Sending a big thank you to all of our veterans today. My great-grandfathers, grandfathers, and several uncles have served our country proudly, including my late Uncle Andy. Here he is commemorating his father’s honor on Ie Shima Island in Okinawa, Japan. I’m quite grateful for people like him, defending our freedom.Leave a comment
If your neighborhood is anything like mine, empty storefronts have become the norm, city or suburb.
Enter miLES (“Made In the Lower East Side”).
Founder Eric Ho discovered that NYC’s lower east side had about 200 vacant storefronts and decided to do something about it. miLES has become a sort of “airbnb for storefronts” (Fast Company) for ease of dialogue between landlord and renter. Their recent (successful) Kickstarter campaign wrapped up funding for their Storefront Transformer, a modular kit that will provide flexible furnishings for temporary spaces.
mILES aims to temporarily breathe life into display windows, driving traffic into the space and giving entrepreneurs (and many more) a taste of space. With “pop-up” shops becoming more popular, the concept of temporary retail has become quite popular and exciting. Retail isn’t the only business to benefit, either. These vacant spaces could be occupied by eateries, artists, co-working spaces, shops for classes, or events. miLES also operates as a daily, weekly, or monthly installation space, giving even more flexibility to interested parties. Even landlords benefit from this exchange, as it drives potential buyers and provides some rent in the interim.
The Storefront Transformer incorporates the idea that design really can make things better. And just because they’ve reached their goal, that doesn’t mean it’s over. You can still fund the miLES project to enable even more pop-ups with more transformers. Check out all the awesome rewards: gifts, experiences, services, or even your own pop-up! Or stop by their upcoming shows this winter (below), if you’re in town.
If not, support it anyway. I think miLES could easily be adopted in other cities and towns. Businesses and individuals are given the opportunity to temporarily try on a store, promote their work, and develop a customer base, while enhancing the local community. Give this project legs and have it come to you.
All images from miLES Kickstarter campaign here.Leave a comment