Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bird Madness

Suddenly, little birds have insinuated themselves into all my tile.
Look at Hneyr here, compleltely smitten with little bird, ignoring his favorite vegetables.
On the other hand, Harry, sleep deprived, finds little birds' incessant chatter exasperating.
Elliot T. Raccoon is so engrossed in trying to spy a fish, he is oblivious to little bird's palaver.
Albert is bewildered by the sudden appearance of little bird, but not displeased.
Elliott considers sharing his lollipop with little bird.

There is more absurd bird adorableness to be found via Lauren Alane.
Look at Dorie here, enjoying the Florida sun:

Three little birds video here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Perfect Vase

Tawanda Faye made these three little pigs in kindergarten. The big bad wolf has disappeared in the garden somewhere, along with the chimney.
Isn't Spring great? Time for a new vase.

Our bonsai-expert-ikebana-arranger-great-eye-for beauty-and-good-taste-florist friend once brought us an antique vase he owned that he deemed ‘the perfect vase’. We immediately copied it. The narrow base and lobed top edge on the vase cause bouquets to practically arrange themselves. The handles add a grace note and the cinched waist makes it sassy.

I found these gorgeous glass vases at The Artful Home website by Leigh Taylor Wyatt and Caleb Siemon.
Spring always makes me think of green, so why not a green vase? Try one of these by Lynn Cardwell or Whitney Smith. (oh, sad face, Whitney's appear to be sold out, but go look around her shop anyway I'm sure you'll find something else great and green) Whitney has a blog that I like too.
I love this asian-flavored squared vase by Michael Davis. And this pair of curvy ones by vesselsandwares.
Loosley thrown and pure white....
or whimsical, tall and skinny like these by
Karin Eriksson or Elizabeth Langsfeld from madhatter.
I love the subtle patterns and textures in these by Judi Tavill and Catherine White
Okay, I saved my most favorite for last. Thanks for your patience. I think these works by Amanda at YogaGoat are reminiscent of ancient Tsu Chou wares from China. beautiful!

I love time-lapse flower videos.

And beautiful music for spring
(Vivaldi! Nigel Kennedy!)

Oh, now I am getting hungry.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I Have a Thing for Little Birds

Every one of our blue & white pots has a little bird on it somewhere. It all started when I needed to put a signature inside the bottom foot of our rice bowls. The was no way to fit 'Jensen & Marineau' inside the tiny two inch circle, so I improvised the little bird to serve as a signature on the bottom of the pot.

This bird had already taken up residence in and on many of our pots, so it seemed natural to use it in this way.
Eventually, I ended up adding the little bird even when there was enough room for a signature.

The little bird has found her way into practically everything I do now; sending out invoices, addressing envelopes, notes to the kids, shopping lists...

Needless to say, I am enamored of other little birds that I come across. Look what I found this week:
Here is a watercolor and ink drawing by Art Esprit. The black bird beside the yellow fence just cheers me up. She also has some very charming bird paintings on vintage German book pages and sheet music. Her prices are shockingly affordable.

Buy several, make a grouping, you can afford it! :)

I love the small scale of these embroideries by stitchesandstrands.
They are so cozy and friendly, like little hooked rugs.
The Gocco notecards (below) by bubbledog combine two of my favorite images, leaves and birds. You can find stationery, bags, and felt coin purses at her etsy shop.
The tote is by Modern Radar. They make notecards too. If you want to see another cute bird go look at their earrings.
Diana Fayt, of oneblackbird, is one of my favorite clay artists. She has a nice color sense and wonderful style of freehand drawing that she refers to as 'etching in clay'. She uses lots of botanical imagery and, of course, black birds, which I love. And she takes good photos, have a look at her flickr site. Sheesh...too much talent in one place.
Pictured below is one of her large decorative oval bowls with swallows.
The second image, the little black chickadee cup, is from Kristen Swanson. There is another chickadee on the other side. You can't see it here, but she paints the chickadee beaks with gold luster. Sweet!
For more bird amazement click here. And this is funny! Wait...wait... just one more.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bread Cloche

I have been baking bread using the most fabulous method every week for the past two years. Until now, I have been an on-again-off-again sort of bread baker. But this method is so easy and delicious, the crust is so crusty and the crumb is so chewy, well... you just have to try it.
The recipe went viral sometime in 2006 when the New York Times published the recipe by Jim Lahey. It's called No-Knead Bread and it's insanely easy to make.

Don't let the unusually wet dough throw you, it should look like this^
Click here for the recipe.
This is the method:
1. Put water in bowl, add flour, salt, yeast
2. Stir together until you have a shaggy dough
3. Let rise for 12-18 hours (covered)

4. Turn the dough out onto a floured board
5. Using a dough scraper, fold the dough over on itself twice, turn, and then twice again.

6. Draw the edges up to the center to make a 'cloak of gluten'(mysterious secret technique)
7. Plop it into a bowl to rise (covered) for a couple of hours until doubled.
8. Preheat oven with bread cloche in it for 30 minutes at 450 F.
9. Turn dough into your bread cloche (or cast iron dutch oven), make a couple of slashes in the top with a razor, and replace cover
10. Bake for 30 minutes, remove lid and bake for 15 minutes more
11. The bread will miraculously pop right out of the pan; cool on a rack. Then you can store the loaf in the cloche (art for daily life!).

Cook's Illustrated has a different recipe for this bread this week, they say that kneading it for a few seconds improves the flavor. My feeling is that it is the long rise that gives the bread its flavor, kneading is more for developing the gluten for texture. On the other hand, ATK is pretty much the definitive word for any recipe they work through. Our newest addiction is their Chicken and Dumplings. While I am a big fan of America's Test Kitchen, I find the site is annoying because lots of the links lead to a subscription page where you have to pay (or sign up for a free trial) before you can access the rest of the site. Oh, man, I just went to give you a link to the Chicken and Dumpling recipe but now it is 'premium content'. Hmpfh. I'll post it here next time I make it.

I didn't show you a picture of the bread while it was rising because I don't have towels as cool as these from skinnylaminx:

Oh, I just noticed that these are sold out (sad face!) of her etsy shop. *Great News! She's not really sold out! Yay! You really should go look and see what else she has there though, she has a great sense of design and I love her colors. She lives in Cape Town, South Africa
She has a tutorial on her blog that shows her amazing paper cuts:

Really impressive!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Text Messaging with Tawanda Faye

My daughter, Tawanda Faye, sends over three thousand text messages every month. Her fingers fly over her tiny cell phone keyboard so fast they blur. I finally got my own cell phone, and now texting has become our major form of communication. It's so much better than actually talking to a teenager.

I started to send her little interesting or funny facts whenever I came across something in what I was reading or listening to. One by one, her friends wanted me to text them too.

My first rule is that I have to have come across the facts 'naturally', I don't want to burden myself with having to hunt them down on line to keep up with expectations of frequency or volume. My second rule is that I have to be asked to send texts, not wanting to seem like a creepy pedophile stalker.

While this post isn't technically 'art for daily life', if you read it in the right frame of mind it could seem poetic, which is art. (I suggest large amounts of alcohol to induce this 'poetic' 'frame of mind').

Here are a few from this week:

A jellyfish is 95% water

Making the average pc requires ten times its weight in chemicals and fossil fuels

Always use lukewarm not cold water when cleaning your emeralds

Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know when chuck norris is going to kill you

Leonardo da vinci invented the scissors

When a whale dies it falls down through the ocean slowly over the course of a day
(*I stole this one from Miranda July; I don't know if its really true)

The iraq war cost $48,000 in the time it took you to read this

A male turkey is called a jake

There are 44 million bubbles in the average bottle of champagne

Chuck Norris never gets brain freeze. Slurpies know when to back off

An ostrich eye is bigger than its brain

Chuck norris’ cowboy boots are made from real cowboys

Dolphins sleep with one eye open

Chuck Norris doesn’t sleep. He waits.

what should your pseudonym be for my blog be? i don't think i should use your real name.
rec'd: just use my real name
sent: what about all the stalkers my blog is bound to attract?
rec'd: it's all out there anyway, my space, facebook...
sent: Tawanda!
rec'd: no!
sent: tawanda FAYE!
rec'd: NO!
sent: yes yes its hilarious
sent: what should i call eli. that goes with tawanda faye?
rec'd: stop it
sent: no seriously its so funny i cant resist
rec’d: it is funny but no
sent: how about Spot then?
sent: I am really cracking myself up now
rec’d: betsy peach
sent: but that’s not funny. Betsy peach. Cute though.
sent: Boring
sent: I am really getting attached to tawanda faye
: don’t do it. you DO NOT have my permission


Sometimes, I even get good ones back. I'll post some of those another time.

But, in the meantime, look at what Stiletto Heights (notice how her name seamlessly segues from my initial image?) has in her etsy shop:

She has a really entertaining blog, an etsy shop, and is in Trunkt. She has original artwork (collage), prints, supplies (like these cool keys) and even has her own coffee table book.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Dumpster Diving

Someone in my family, who shall remain nameless, is an inveterate scrounger, junk saver, and, yes, even dumpster dives. We live out in the country with a long, lumpy gravel driveway. We don't have a regular garbage pick-up. Seriously, who wants to get up at the crack of dawn, in the dark, and haul heavy trash cans down a long driveway to await collection, and then drag them all the way back up the hill? (p.s. I know we could do it the afternoon before, psheesh...)
So we have exactly the number of thirty-gallon garbage cans (10) that will fit into our blue Ford Econoline van that we continue to own for one purpose and one purpose alone; to haul the garbage to the dump every five or six months. This system works really well with one exception. Mick (my husband, oops, I told) always finds lots of great stuff to bring back from the dump. Actually, I do approve of this. Escape from affluenza!

Speaking of affluenza, remember 'reduce, re-use, recycle'? Now there is another earth-friendly 'r' word; re-purpose. Here is a very fine example of what the word means:

“We realized that there was an excess of this used material being added to landfill and that we could repurpose the material into beautiful and unique bags,” says Eric Groff, national sales manager, Bags and Packs for Keen, in a company press release. “Since it was used to carry heavy bags of rice the material is extremely durable and perfect for everyday use.”

Hurray for sustainable products and the companies that make them!

Mick once found a very sturdy wooden clothes horse that is now in constant use by our wood stove (or outside in the summer) drying clothes from the washer. We almost never use our dryer anymore.

But the really best thing he ever brought back is this simple, cleverly designed red plywood child's chair: Isn't it ingenious? We liked it so much that I made one out of clay. I love the crusty, lichen-like glaze. (click on the photo to see how yummy it is) Mine is more sculptural than functional (for a child anyway; it's incredibly heavy). I use it as a stand for flowers in a vase, but I'm pretty sure Mick is planning on nabbing it for the garden. Here are a couple of cat dolls from my collection, sitting in a chair on a chair: The maker of these dolls, who lives in Seattle Washington, travels regularly to Japan where she collects fabric, ribbon, feathers, and other small items with which to detail the dolls. Each doll is utterly unique. The dolls have eight or nine different fabrics, including silk, embroidered weaving, and Japanese ikat. I bought these so many years ago that I have forgotten the name of the person who makes them (it's on the tip of my tongue...). I bought them from Twist, but they don't carry them anymore. But I'll bet if you called them, Lauren would remember.