Mar. 31, 2009

Toys

As a child for birthdays and Christmas, I'd ask for microscopes, books about mathematics, tarot cards and brain teaser games. For those from St. John's, my wish lists were comprised of toys and books from Carnaby Row and Granny Bates. I adored Klutz Press and Peggy Parish's Amelia Bedelia books. I spent many a rainy afternoon in my basement playing Jewels in the Attic.

At this point in my life, I find myself drawn to toys and creative books once again. As evidence, I bought Greg an Eames' House of Cards for Valentine's Day and I have just begun reading the cartoon novel, French Milk.

My internet travels have found me stumbling upon other fun toys for people of all ages. I think my attraction to these colourful confections is a way to counter the seriousness of other aspects of my life such as deciding how to invest my RRSPs and ensuring my car is tuned up regularly.

Here are some pieces I'm currently enjoying:

Alexander Girard's Wooden Dolls - Girard worked for Herman Miller, and designed textiles for the Eames'. Originally constructed for his home in Santa Fe, the dolls are hand painted. To purchase, see here. Photo via Design Sponge.


Belua Designs' Sock and Sweater Monsters - Each Saturday, Greg and I feast our eyes on these stuffed dolls at the Strathcona Farmer's Market. I love that the toys are locally made and think they'd be a fun addition to our couch. To purchase, see here. Photo via Belua Designs.

Mar. 30, 2009

Poster II


As promised, another 'pick-me-up' poster; this one from Darling Knees.

Origami


In case you too were not in the know, the Art Gallery of Alberta at Enterprise Square hosts Art for Lunch on the last Thursday of every month from 12:10-12:50 in the Atrium. While I'm often found eating at my desk, sipping soup at Soul Soup, collecting books from the library or browsing Club Monaco during lunch, this is a great alternative to add to the mix.

On April 30, AGA staff and special guests will discuss origami and show participants how to fold tessellated planes, modular dragons and the basic swan. What a fun idea! I loved playing with origami paper and owned a few books on folding techniques when I was younger. Sadly, I think I'll be out of town that day, but plan to attend Art for Lunch in May.

The photo of the classical kusudama above is from Origami Nut.

Mar. 29, 2009

Ride

This bike photo and the sun shiny day make me smile. 

MacKenzie


Here are a few snaps from last night. We had a delightful time and now have some great herbs and a tomato plant, two floral arrangements, as well as a fully stocked wine rack, to remind us of the evening. Thank you to all who made it out. 

For more photos look here

Mar. 28, 2009

Party


Tonight Greg and I are celebrating our birthdays with friends over cupcakes, white wine punch and Spanish pinxos. We're decorating with green, salmon and pink flair, and hanging garland clotheslines that spell out happy birthday in the different languages our guests speak. I'm excited! I'll post photos tomorrow, but for now I hope you enjoy these vintage party invitations. 


Mar. 27, 2009

Chaise

I am loving this Eames Chaise that you can purchase from the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. The chaise was too expensive to produce during the Eames' lifetime and has only been available in limited quantities since 1990. I discovered the chaise in a fantastic book Greg gave me for my birthday about Charles and Ray. The chronology of the couple's work is inspiring. And their matrimonial, lifelong teamwork makes me swoon too. 

Stairs


Though I currently live in a one floor apartment on the twenty-second floor of a high rise, I am loving these stairs via Desire to Inspire. One day I hope to renovate and/or design a whole house for my bustling family (one can dream!), but for now I collect images in my design file and let my mind drift to all the wonderful and beautiful possibilities of life. 

Marshmallow

After catching a glimpse of a campfire on television two nights ago, I got a mad craving for warm marshmallows. The last time I roasted a marshmallow was while relaxing with friends at Emily Murphy Park on one of the last warm afternoons of last fall. However, I cannot remember the last time I made s'mores. There was a time in high school when they were a camping staple. At Ranger camp, my friends and I perfected the art of s'mores and spider dogs. As Greg and I have begun to collect camping gear, I'm sure there will be plenty of campfires, Coleman stove dinners and marshmallows this summer.


In looking forward, I'd like to test my hand at homemade marshmallows. Greg dislikes marshmallows (how that is possible I'm not sure), but perhaps he'd like them better if he knew they were void of mystery ingredients. These marshmallows will make a perfect accompaniment to Something to Sing About and hot chocolate in a blue enamel mug. Here the recipe I plan to try courtesy of the Food Network.

Homemade Marshmallows

3 packages of unflavoured gelatin
1 cup ice cold water
1.5 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Butter on wax paper

Place the gelatin in a bowl along with 1/2 cup cold water.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup cold water, sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cool for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 7-8 minutes until the mixture is 240 degrees F (use a candy thermometer clipped to the side of the saucepan). Once the mixture is 240 degrees, remove it immediately from the heat.

Mix the bowl of gelatin with a hand mixer on a low speed. While mixing, slowly pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin. Once the sugar syrup has been added, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture is very thick and lukewarm, which will take 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla in during the last minute of whipping.

Combine the icing sugar and corn starch in a small bowl. Lightly cover a 9x13 baking sheet with butter. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the icing mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Image via Dolifelici.

Mar. 26, 2009

Poster I

There are so many fun inspirational, and beautiful, design posters out there. Think - 'Keep Calm and Carry On'. Though it might be too design blog cliche for some, Greg and I have a sunny yellow one hanging in our living room. I've decided to seek beautiful and interesting posters out and post them here on a regular basis. It is important to keep life positive!

I had French fries with my birthday dinner last night (not to mention yummy gyoza with hot mustard and sesame soy sauce): for me, the right French fries with the right seasoning are a source of happiness.

Poster available at Studio Mela.

Speaking of positive vibes, give this song a listen. Singing along is sure to put a smile on my face. Who doesn't love a mohair suit? No need to answer that one!

Mar. 25, 2009

Birthday





Goodbye 24. Welcome 25.

Twenty-five sure is a lot of candles to stuff on to a cupcake.

Images via The Small Object. I love these celebration candle kids.

Mar. 24, 2009

Read

I'm currently coming up to the back end of The Private Lives of Pippa Lee - a layered-cake novel that skips forwards and backwards in Pippa's life. Hers is a life married safely to a man thirty years her senior, estranged from her family and stuck smack dab in the middle of a retirement community at age fifty. I purchased the book in a bin at Chapters a few weeks ago. I hadn't heard of the author, Rebecca Miller, and felt safe that this wouldn't become another novel turned movie. It seems every book I've read in the past while has become a movie!

Of course my bubble bust this morning when I found out that Pippa Lee is indeed a movie - complete with a full Hollywood cast of Robin Wright Penn, Keanu Reeves, Julianne Moore, Alan Arkin and Winona Rider. Was I the only one oblivious? I think Wright Penn is a great choice to play Pippa and am now curious to watch the flick.

The next book on my 'to read' list is Manitobian Miriam Toews' The Flying Troutmans and its dysfunctional family road trip. I caught Toews on a CBC spot over the weekend that reminded me to snatch up this novel. Toews' A Complicated Kindness was a fantastic read and I'm excited about her ventures.

Mar. 23, 2009

Sunglasses

I must apologize to my friend Amy for the sour weather in Edmonton yesterday. While it is normally sunny every day, the clouds decided to come out for her visit. However, we pushed aside the slushy, grey day and maximized our fun, if speedy, visit. In true unfortunate fashion, the sun is out and bright today though. These rays are a reminder that I'd like to purchase a new pair of sunglasses. I'm thinking a retro throw back with Ray Ban wayfers might be fun? The suitability to my face shape remains to be determined!

Speaking of retro, give this older song a listen or this one. I love 90s alternative rock!

Wayfarers via Sunglass Hut.

Mar. 20, 2009

Garden

Last fall I mapped out a patio garden on my computer. On the first day of spring, my mind drifts back to those plans and thinking about putting them in action. My brainstormed ideas include:


Tall teak bar stools to ensure a view over the concrete railings and to create a place to sip lemonade, eat popsicles and munch on Foodie inspired sandwiches. This pick is from Authenteak.

Plantings of...


Hostas

Ferns and Other Succulents

A rhododendron in a planter to add soft texture.

A snowhill hydrangea for fullness.

Honeysuckle on a trellis for height.

Pictures via Hostas Direct, Shed Style, Hmptuition, and Honeysucklecott.

Hunter

After wading in puddles in my parking garage last night, it seems I've little choice but to purchase a pair of Hunters. Spring is (almost) here!

Update: These boots are quite unfortunate. I tried on a pair yesterday only to be let down that the boots get higher as the foot size gets bigger. As such, my size cuts me off at the knee. Apparently the boots were trying to tell me that my calves are too short for my foot size. Ah well, I'm on to seek other boot options...

Mar. 19, 2009

Five

In walking to work this morning, the sun was shining and the air seemed like it had the potential to be warm. I'm excited about such a prospect after a deep freeze winter with short days and long nights.

There's an American Apparel a few blocks from our place and it seems to be a great place to stock up on spring and summer basics. Their clothes comes in all colours, and fit just about any stage of life. Here are five pieces I'm contemplating for the season:


I have long loved collared shirts and this seems like a fun dress for a brunch with friends on a Sunday morning. Loose wavy hair would be the perfect accessory.


This green t-shirt dress (now on sale!) is light enough to enjoy a walk on Whyte Avenue to the Farmer's Market on a hot and sunny day.


A mustard skirt with pockets is perfect for stashing LRT tokens if you're heading downtown to catch a flick at City Centre.


This red striped flock dress is perfect for a picnic at Elk Island Park and as we confirmed yesterday, is slimming!

I haven't owned a baseball t-shirt since the 10th grade, but I'd love to wear this one while walking in the River Valley. The sugary pink is the right touch.

Mar. 18, 2009

Food


Speaking of enjoying the BBC, I am looking forward to CBC's The Great Food Revolution. From the internationalization of everyday Canadian cuisine, to competition to make it to the dinner table, to feeding all of New York City, to the world of molecular gastronomists, my interest is significantly piqued. 

Design

I've written recently on musing about alternative life paths and studying interior design at the University of Manitoba. Today I add to my list of dream schools and graduate programs - the Master of Arts program in the History of Decorative Arts and Design offered jointly by Parsons The New School for Design and Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. How exciting to study design and explore the beauty of everyday objects at a Smithsonian Museum in the Museum Mile in New York City!

Speaking of beauty in the everyday, I am loving these photos of everyday pleasures via Le Love

Hand holding can instantly put me in a better mood. 

Matching shoes are the next step after matching coats

Stripes

While living in the UK for a stint a few years back, I came to enjoy the BBC. As part of my course requirements in discourse analysis, my professor asked us to absorb UK media - popular, new and conventional. I took to reading The Guardian and watching the dinner time news on the BBC. I poured over the glossy pages of British Cosmo. I paid attention to posters and advertisements in the tube stations all around London.

Being accustomed to North American news media where hard questions are rarely raised, and partisan leanings are often too visible to suggest any neutrality in the reporting, I was impressed and intrigued by the hard hitting BBC journalists. It was abundantly clear that it wasn't their mission to make politicians feel comfortable in studio and allow them to tick off public relations goals through positive press. I felt more informed. I was impressed by the quality of reporting.

I heart the BBC. This isn't to say I dislike the CBC, in fact, I am a huge fan of Wild Roses, but I do appreciate the guts and integrity of British media. I think studying journalism in the United Kingdom would be a great education.


I support the BBC, and it seems they support some of my notions too. The namesake of this blog - Horizontal Stripes - has long been touted as unflattering. However, The University of York, as reported by the BBC, has found that horizontal stripes are more slimming then vertical stripes. The study involved asking people to decide which women wearing striped dresses looked slimmer in 200 pairs of pictures. This study was based on Hermann von Helmholtz optical illusion which shows two identically sized squares next to each other - one with vertical stripes and one with horizontal. The horizontal striped box looked taller and thinner, and so did the women.

Long live horizontal stripes!

Mar. 17, 2009

Born

Happy Birthday Gregory!

These yummy carrot cake and lemon cupcakes were showcased on Cupcakes Take The Cake. They perfectly match Greg's and my dessert sensibilities. 

On the topic of cupcakes, I am looking forward to checking out Edmonton's cupcake cafes - Flirt Cupcakes (101 Street and Whyte) and the new Fuss Cupcakes (Whyte and 104 Street), which is set to open in April. For details on the Edmonton cupcake scene click here.

I am also excited about Design Sponge's new Calgary city guide!

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

Mar. 16, 2009

J'adore

Feeling sunny, warm and positive on this chilly Monday, I would like to share some things I'm loving right now. Having an unexpected lunch with Greg downtown today put me in a great mood to forge through the week. I hope you're all having a great day!

1. Adrian Johnson's Illustrations - some of which I've printed for my inspiration board.


2. Culina Highlands - Greg and I celebrated turning a year older with two of our great friends at the restaurant on Saturday. I highly recommend the goat cheese wrapped in phyllo with red lentils and fresh greens as a main, and the olive and prune tapanade with grilled bread for a starter. Yum!

3. MGMT's - Time to Pretend - Greg and I played their album yesterday while taking a drive around some curious Edmonton neighbourhoods. I enjoyed the modern and environmentally friendly homes in Riverbend.

4. This photo of Audrey Hepburn from Now Voyager. Though I recently have had a haircut, I love her short bangs.

Mar. 14, 2009

Egg

"Oh have you seen my ghost, seen my ghost, seen my ghost..." -- Wintersleep

If you've caught this tune and the recent trailer for Joshua Jackson's One Week, you'll notice Canada is known for its large sculptures of inanimate objects. Small towns hugging the Trans Canada Highway have built massive hot dogs, geese and even Ukrainian eggs to draw passersby into their municipalities.

A few weeks ago, on our way back from Saskatoon, Greg and I stopped in Vegreville, Alberta to check out the world's largest pysanka (Ukrainian Easter egg). Built in 1974 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the egg was designed by a computer scientist, Ron Resch, at the University of Utah. In true roadtrip fashion, we snapped a few pictures of us posing with the egg. In this one, Greg tried to pose as if he was holding up the egg. The pose wasn't quite successful... though I must take blame for that as I was the photographer. 

This picture of Greg's brother, Chris, at the pyramids in Egypt, illustrates the technique more successfully. It seems my photography skills leave something to be desired. 

Mar. 13, 2009

Elevator

While popping out of my office this morning to grab a muffin, I found myself in an elevator all alone. As I stood waiting for the doors to close I began to hear two of my colleagues heading towards the bank of elevators to catch a ride downstairs to fill the coffee void. To ensure they were able to ride with me, I leaned forward and pushed the "To Close" button, though I intended to push the "To Open" button. With a quick flick of the wrist I rectified the situation, and the doors drew open and the others joined me inside. They thanked me for saving the elevator for them and we continued to chat about elevator etiquette down the twelve stories.

In thinking of today's post, I was stuck on the idea of elevator etiquette. In doing a little digging on the subject, I came across these pieces of advice from Elevator Rules. I've rewritten them but the premise is the same.

1. If you're going up or down one floor, take the stairs. Exercise is good. We all (me included) need a lot more of it. Now of course with lots of bags or a child or the like you might ignore this rule, but the frat boys who live on the third floor of my building shouldn't be taking the elevator down to the second floor to catch a workout at the gym.

2. Do not repress the call button if someone has already pushed it. This indicates that you don't trust their pushing abilities. Obviously this is insulting.

3. Do not call the elevator if you arrive as the door is closing. Those people do not want to wait for you to push on before heading to their destination. They are ready to go and you're late. This is like holding up a plane by being late to the gate. Everyone knows why they're late and they blame you. This isn't a good position to be in. You should wait for another elevator to come along.

4. You may ask someone to push the call button for you if (a) they're close to it and (b) your hands are full.

5. If you're bringing a large new flat screen tv to your apartment, or other similarly large package, wait for an empty elevator. People will offer to squeeze you in, but they're only being polite and likely don't mean it. Also, they're jealous that they're squat and you have a new tv while they're stuck with a friend's hand me down. This isn't a good way to introduce yourself to your neighbours. Trust me, I've been there.

6. Stand away from the door when people are boarding. People like space and may not want to be sandwiched into your chest as much as you'd like them to be sandwiched into your chest.

7. Always check if the elevator is going up or down before boarding and only board if it is going in the direction you seek. This is purely to avoid embarrassment.

8. If an elevator is crowded and you're not given a verbal invitation by a passenger to step on, don't. See the comment about being sandwiched above at 6.

Greg and his brother, Chris, in an elevator taking a photo. This is acceptable only if you're the only patrons on board.

9. Ladies should board elevators before men. Ladies should exit the elevator before men. This rule applies to most areas of life.

10. Avoiding holding the elevator for people unless you're the only one in it and it is a low traffic time. This is a case of having one person happy with you versus ten people upset with you. There are extenuating circumstances where this rule shouldn't be followed. Use your judgement, you can figure it out.

11. Do not press the "close" button if you hear someone coming, this is unacceptable behaviour. This is rude. Though I know sometimes you just want to ride alone or avoid a conversation with someone you've been avoiding who just so happens to be bolting from work at the same moment you are.

12. Stand as close to the wall as possible. If you're getting off at the top of the building, move to the back, if you're only riding up a couple of floors, stand closer to the front. This again is the issue of sandwiching.

13. Avoid talking in elevators, simple pleasantries are all that is required, and conversations with friends should be paused while in the elevator and resumed following exit. People might want to overhear you or they might not. Maybe they have a head ache or had a bad day. Don't assume you're as fascinating as your mother thinks.

14. If you are ill, and contagious, ride in elevators alone. People won't want to push the buttons or stand next to you. You can avoid this by taking a sick day or waiting for an empty elevator.

15. Offer to press floor buttons for patrons if you're standing close to the panel. This is polite. It makes people like you. This is good.

16. If the elevator is crowded, announce that you're floor is coming up so that people can move to the side. People do not want to be pushed, so, you know, avoid doing that.

Mar. 12, 2009

Light

Greg and I share a love of light in the spaces we inhabit. The crowning feature of our apartment is the large windows in our living room that flood the place with light and offer a great view.

On the topic of light, I am not opposed to great light that comes from unnatural sources either. Being from a foggy town, one expects to have to supplement sunlight with other light sources occasionally (or likely more accurately, frequently). My newest lust object are these George Nelson bubble lamps originally designed in 1947 and for a long time (1950s- 1979) produced by Howard Miller. They're perfect for a dining room.


Lamps are available online at Modernica. Photo via Modernica as well.

Mar. 11, 2009

Polyvore

I've recently written about inspiration walls. In the same vein of pulling inspiration from the beautiful creations of others, I am very excited about my new find that makes creating digital design boards a snap. Check out Polyvore and sign up. While browsing the web, you can collect images by clicking on an icon you install on your links toolbar. The next time you log on to Polyvore the images will be waiting for you to be compiled into a design board. Welcome to the fun world of virtual collages.

Here's my first design board - a collection of my must-have purchases for spring. Though the temperature outside is decidedly not seasonal (we're in the minus 20s in Edmonton), I am looking forward to making some new clothing purchases suited for sipping drinks on patios, having picnics, flying kites and strolling Whyte Avenue.

Spring Wardrobe


My shopping list includes full skirted sun dresses and skirts, touches of horizontal stripes, a great new black t-shirt that goes with everything, green shorts, white skinny jeans, flats in a rainbow of colours, more chunky necklaces, new casual trainers and wear-everywhere black flat sandals.

Mar. 10, 2009

Fuse

Visiting Dublin a few years back reminded me of the culture of my home, but also opened my eyes to its increasing metropolitan flavour and the regrowth happening in the city. Cranes decorated the skyline, a simple stroll required tip-toeing around road construction and there was an optimism singing around the street corners about the Celtic Tiger.

Normally associated with U2 and lush green fields (both wonderful things in my mind), Dublin is also home to one of my new favourite interiors firm - Fuse. I've written about a lifelong curiosity with a career in design, which began quite humbly while watching the Painted House at my grandmother's after school. Fuse's leading lady, Danielle Mac Innes, was recently awarded 'Best Newcomer' at Ireland's premier interior design show, Interior Design 2008. Danielle is living out my (and many other's) curiosity.

I love her use of white with splashes of colour, modern elements like an Eames rocker and the pop art. These styles seem fitting for the condominium Greg and I have long been considering purchasing. I'd love to get my hands on an Orla Walsh print. Her ketchup bottle above is a fun take on making everyday objects beautiful.

Mar. 9, 2009

Barbie

As a child, my neighbourhood friend Heather and I were inseparable. We started a summer camp for the kids on our cul-de-sac and rode our bikes around Bowring Park. We were the young entrepreneurs of Sesame Park. We watched Degressi High, built tree houses, wore lots of pink and sometimes, we played Barbies.

I much preferred my Magic Nursery doll to Barbie because her long legs and rubbery body made it difficult to change outfits. Though Magic Nursery have been forgotten and passed on for Bratz and other newer dolls, Barbie remains a controversial icon.

Today Barbara Millicent Roberts celebrates her 50th birthday. Over time she's gained a belly button (age 41) and bendable knees (age 5). She's had tattoos and nose piercings. She's made a living as an Olympic gold medalist, a Mountie, an Army cadet, and an astronaut. Many style columnists say she's an inspiration to us all to push the boundaries of what is possible and experience everything life has to offer. Others say she creates an unrealistic image of female beauty.

Barbie's looked like this:


And this:

And this:

I might buy a Barbie for a child as a toy, but I'd also encourage them to consider the fun of paper dolls. I remember many fun afternoons spent playing with paper dolls that had been passed down from my mother and grandmother. Their clothes are quite easy to change!

I once received a set of Shirley Temple paper dolls from my Great Aunt as a gift. I enjoyed looking at the book of dolls with its glossy pages so much that I didn't get around to cutting them out. I think my hesitancy to cut them out shows I was always more keen to play with books than dolls.

Photos via Brisbane Times.