Turn That Insecurity Into I’m-So-Fabulous (Meet the Misfits)!

Hey all. Is there something about yourself you’re not fond of? Maybe you’ve got big teeth or a big ol’ booty you wish was smaller. Or maybe you hate wearing glasses and are unable to wear contacts. Or maybe you don’t have much up top (or maybe you have a lot)! We all have insecurities about ourselves – things we wish we could change. And sometimes people tease us for these things. It’s not much fun to be teased about things that make us different. But then again, these things are what make us who we are. And besides, there are other people who share the same insecurities (you’re not the only one!). So why not celebrate what makes us who we are and embrace what we’ve got?

It’s interesting – other people are actually the ones who make us feel insecure about ourselves. We beat up on ourselves and react negatively because of what someone else says or thinks. But isn’t it true that people won’t generally tease or make fun of us if we acknowledge and accept ourselves with love and confidence about who we are? Who teases a confident and loving person and gets satisfaction in the reaction? Nobody.

I want to you to meet the Misfits. My friend Rayelle and her twin sister, Cayla, created this wonderful family of 30 felt dolls to help you and me embrace our insecurities and be proud of and happy with ourselves. Each doll comes with a little storybook – Using rhyme and little humor, Rayelle and Cayla tell you about the doll and why they rock. They look at the positives about things like having some junk in the trunk, a short stature, or a stocky build.

Here are some of the Misfits below. From Frankie Four Eyes to Petite Pauline to Flatty Patty, these dolls share in the all the same insecurities as we do. But they encourage us to take these insecurities and turn them into positives we appreciate about ourselves.

Rayelle and Cayla have been making these clever dolls by hand and selling them for a while now; and they are wildly popular with both kids and adults. But making these dolls by hand is limiting. Not only can they not keep up with production, but to be able to sell them to children there are safety standards that come into play. Therefore, they have set up a project design fundraiser on www.kickstarter.com, a fabulous website dedicated to funding creative projects! If they can raise $12,000 by July 5th they will be able to begin their dream of having their beloved felt dolls manufactured for them, their little storybooks published, and helping to empower children (young and old!) by teaching them to appreciate themselves. Doesn’t this sound like a company you’d be proud to support?

There are just ten days left to raise this amount! But they have gotten a great start so far. And there are rewards for making donations! Depending on the amount you choose to give, Rayelle and Cayla will send you fun Misfits treasures, from Misfits stickers and tote bags to the actual dolls themselves (and you get to pick)! See for yourself. Meet Rayelle and Cayla (and the Misfits) in this video and hear all about their incredibly honorable endeavor – I tried to embed the video on this blog post, but am unable to for some reason so click HERE.

Here’s to loving ourselves for all we are (insecurities and all!) [glasses clink]. Cheers!

H

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Excuses, Excuses. Then, a Great New Product.

Sorry. I’ve been so busy this past month that I’ve ignored this blog for 3 weeks in a row! I work a full time job in something completely unrelated to art, design, love, or food, and so I usually write this blog on the weekends. But the month of May proved to be very eventful for me, and I say this on a positive note. I had guests one weekend for a foodie extravaganza, and then the following weekend I spent time getting my container garden planted (more on that soon). Last weekend I took a trip to upstate New York for a wedding, and now…whaddya know? It’s suddenly June!

In my last post, I professed my love for local farmers markets and how fabulous the market near me is. I have been there every Saturday (except for the weekend I was in NY) and that has taken up my time as well. Not only do you spend that time picking out your produce and goodies and running into friends (so wonderful!), but when you get home you need to wash and put them away properly and then efficiently plan what you’ll be doing with what you bought. This requires research for the items you bought that you were curious about but have never prepared before, or perhaps digging out that favorite recipe that might call for a few ingredients you don’t have on hand. In any case, good food takes time and I happily dedicate mine. So forgive me for not being consistent with this “weekly” blog. I will try to keep it coming every seven days, but sometimes my life outside of the web will have to take precedence.

Now. On to something very exciting in the world of design! I stumbled across a relatively new product that I have been meaning to get for some time. I find supporting small businesses and companies that sell genuinely good products very fulfilling. It makes me happy. So I’m pleased to spread the word on the Cuppow! The Cuppow is a plastic drinking gadget that replaces the seal of a canning jar. It was designed by two guys from Massachusetts.

I use canning jars for everything from storing dry goods in my pantry to transporting lunches to work. And yes, I also drink from them and have taken them in the car as a travel mug. But I didn’t like opening them in the car with the chance of my tea spilling out. So this innovative product is going to fix this little problem for me and make my life easier!


The Cuppow is recyclable, BPA-free, affordable, and made in the U.S.A. Yes, yes, yes, and YES! Plus, their pals did the packaging design (also recyclable) of which I think is so so clever. Love the colors, the lettering, the instructions. Love it. I also think this video is well done, and markets this product so effectively.

If you use a Cuppow or buy one soon, let me know what you think! As far as I know, they are only available on their website.

Cheers,

H

Farmers Market Food Geek (and Nettle-Walnut Pesto).

I’m really into cooking lately. It happens in waves. I mean, I cook pretty regularly and enjoy it, but I have been much more excited about it in recent weeks. I mean like food-geek excited where I take photos of what I got and what I made. Like so excited that I text my friend (who is equally as excited about this as I am, by the way) these photos. And then I post them on Instagram after that with plenty of exclamation points!!! [Look!!! Pizza with caramelized onions, balsamic vinegar, canned tomatoes from our garden last summer, asparagus, fresh mozzarella, arugula, and a duck egg!!!] Whooo! I suppose we can conclude that the uber-excitement is because of the availability of delicious, organic/no spray local food right now. The farmers market here is in coming into full swing. I get so super-anxious each year come March or so, pouring over my cookbooks and foodgawker (a great food website!) and making plans and preparations and lists (plenty of lists) for when the first spring harvest shows up at the market and at the food co-op in April. Microgreens, arugula, spinach, stinging nettles, radishes, asparagus, cilantro, baby leeks, onions, oh my…sigh. Why is this so thrilling to me?

I suppose it’s because of the sense of accomplishment I feel when I make something from scratch from ingredients that were grown locally. It feels great to support local people and their hard work. Farmers markets are great fun – it’s so cool to talk to the people who grew or raised the food. Ask them questions and they’ll answer you – and honestly. I mean, how cool is that to actually get your food from people you can see each week and get to know? And to know that the vegetables were harvested within 24 hours? No fluorescent lights. No conveyer belts. No air conditioning. No plastic and Styrofoam-wrapped vegetables that have been sitting there for who knows how long. Sounds like a no-brainer to me. If you can get to a farmers market, that is.

Yes, I am completely spoiled. I am truly lucky and feel enormously grateful to have a farmers market like this where I live. Not everyone gets this wonderful opportunity to shop at a beautiful market like I do.

To celebrate spring and my farmer’s market goodies, I’d like to share a recipe with you. I know, I know. This was supposed to be a blog about art, design, love, and life. But, food can be an art. You can design it (or style it), you can love it (!!!) and it is what makes life. So I guess it fits into my categories quite well. Oh, and my disclaimer: I am not a food photographer. I did my best.

STINGING NETTLES AND WALNUT PESTO (Vegan)

I made this last week and it is delicious. I used some on pasta (I used Jovial brand einkhorn pasta) and froze the rest (some, of which I just thawed tonight to spread on a pan bagnat sandwich). Stinging nettles sort of taste like spinach. They have detox qualities, and are rich in vitamins C and B complex, iron, calcium, and other such good stuff.

INGREDIENTS

1 generous bunch of stinging nettles (Don’t pull these out of the bag with your bare hands, by the way. They are called stinging nettles for a reason – they have little hairs that create skin irritation. Now why would you want to eat these?!? Read on…)

3 – 5 cloves of garlic, pressed (Depends on your love of garlic and how big the cloves are)

½ cup or so of walnuts

Juice of 1 lemon

¼ c. nutritional yeast

¾ t. salt

Olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the nettles (I turned the bag inside out and dropped the nettles in so I wouldn’t touch them). Let them boil for a few minutes. This gets rid of the hairs and therefore the sting. Strain the nettles and let them cool.

Press the garlic into a food processor. Add the walnuts, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and salt. Process until smooth. Add some olive oil (a drizzle or two). Process again.

When the nettles have cooled, remove the big stems. Then squeeze the water out of what you’ll be using in a clean towel. Add to the food processor and process until smooth once again. Add oil as you go until you reach your desired consistency.

Easy! Which is great, because although I like good-quality food, I get impatient if recipes are too involved. I’ve got other things to do too, you know.

Makes enough for 6-8 people for pasta. It freezes beautifully. You can freeze it in cubes (in an ice cube tray) or in a freezer bag.

Be well and happy spring!

H

Gimme It.

I have a Pinterest account. Yep. I am one of those gals who “pins” images to categorized boards online (but please don’t call me a “pinner” – that’s annoying. I’m not in a club). When I see something online that inspires me with creative ideas, I want to save it. Before Pinterest came along, I’d drag images on to my computer’s desktop with the intention of putting them into well-organized folders for later. Mmm-hmm. Yeah. Never happened. I just ended up with a pile of photos in folders called “random,” “misc.,” and “stuffilike.” Messy. With Pinterest, I have several boards that are nicely organized into all the categories I care about. For example, I have a board called “Kitchen Love” which features fun and exciting ideas for the kitchen of my dreams that I plan to have in the future. Yep. I also have a board called, “Spaces,” containing photos that evoke feelings of relaxation, creativity, and happiness for me in and around the home (something that is so, so important to me). And of course I have a fashion board called, “Style Please,” showing how eclectic I truly am (it depends on my mood – I am a moody Scorpio, FYI). Oh, and I cannot forget “Food [Snob?].” This shows all the delicious food I’ll be making someday in my incredible dream kitchen. Dinner parties!

One of my favorite boards I have, however, is the one called, “Gimme.” It has no cohesiveness. Not really. It is just a pile of photos of things I find fabulous. Only on Pinterest, it’s more organized by default…and I can find the photos again! So, when I find something online that I think is pretty great, but doesn’t really fit into my other categories, I stick it into “Gimme.” Because I am not dreaming or planning for anything in this category. I simply think I should have it. Not that I’ll necessarily get it. Gimme gimme never gets. Right?

Maybe I’ll rename it “Please?”.

Take a look at “Gimme.” and all my other Pinterest boards here.

Best,

H

PS. The above photo is currently my very favorite photo on “Gimme.” I would love to have these lovely little wooden birds from West Elm. They just make me happy.

Helsinki’s Fabulous Street Style.

Need some fashion inspiration? Like looking at photos? Like people watching? Need another site to distract you from your work besides (some of my favorites) The Sartorialist, Pinterest, foodgawker, and Etsy?

[Yes, please!!!]

I have the perfect solution for you. Check out Hel Looks! Created by Liisa Jokinen and Sampo Karjalainen in 2005, it’s a faaaabulous fashion blog featuring the street style of people in Helsinki. It’s SO cool. I could look at it for hours. Seriously, it’s one of my favorite fashion blogs ever. The people on this blog have the most intriguing and unique looks. Love, love, love the expression! Creativity galore! One aspect I especially enjoy about Hel Looks is getting to read about the personal story behind each look. Next to each photo is the pictured person’s name, age, what they’re wearing, and their inspirations. Here is an example, taken from my [beloved] iPhone:

I have been crazy-busy this week and am exhausted. We have family obligations today and this week, so I will keep this post short today. But I hope you take some time to take a peek at this engaging blog. Cool, cool, cool!!

Be Well (and creative),

H

I Heart Detroit. Part I.

Hello everyone! I just got back from a fun-filled weekend in Detroit. The significant other had to attend a convention and so we made a little vacation (staycation?) out of it. I thought I’d share some photos I took of some of my favorite places I frequent in this great big ol’ city. There are many more places to talk about than what I show here (hence the title of this blog post as Part I), but there’s no way to visit them all in one weekend.

The Westin Book Cadillac in downtown Detroit is a lovely luxury hotel and I admit I took a little pleasure in pretending I was “Little Miss Fancy Pants.” It was fun. We got a reduced rate, thanks to the convention, so we gladly took advantage of it to stay here. I love looking at architecture (Detroit, by the way, has SO many old, beautiful buildings) and this hotel was recently fully restored to its Italian Renaissance style of 1924. I think this building, inside and out, is gorgeous. And I love the 3 flags representing the U.S., Canada, and Michigan flying in the wind together.

Oh Avalon. YUM! Every time I come to Detroit I have to stop here in Midtown for tea, a loaf of bread, and a cookie. This women-owned company uses 100% organic flour and whatever local ingredients they can get their hands on. I buy their bread regularly (they distribute it locally) but there’s nothing like going straight to the source and buying the bread right there, freshly sliced. My favorite is the Dexter Davison Rye – it has caraway seeds on top. It’s not cheap (the large loaves are $7), but the quality makes it well worth it in my opinion. I could easily sit in here much of the day, watching people coming in and out, drinking tea, and breathing in the wonderful smells of bakery. The atmosphere is wonderfully cozy.

When this 40-story skyscraper was finished in 1929, it was first known as The Union Trust Building. But because of the Stock Market Crash, investors who believed in the building took it over from the Union Trust Company (a banking group) and it became The Union Guardian Building, and then simply The Guardian Building. A cool thing to know about this building is that it was designed and built completely by Michigan architects and contractors. The design of this striking building is incredibly unique with its bright colors and is described as “Mayan Revival Art Deco.” The Guardian Building represents the people of Michigan who believed in the success of Detroit and like the people of Detroit today, it still stands proudly. The Guardian Building is as beautiful as ever and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. And rightly so.

Open since 1917, Lafayette Coney Island is a must for many who visit Detroit. I love the retro look, the diner atmosphere, and the fact that it’s really no different than when it opened. The funny fact about this place is that two Greek brothers who owned the place got in an argument shortly after their restaurant opened and so it split into two restaurants that sit side by side (the other is called American Coney Island). I am not sure which one was the original, but most people I know are partial to Lafayette. And going by looks, I’d pick Lafayette too. I do not eat gyros or coney dogs (hot dogs topped with chili), but I maintain an appreciation for this historic novelty restaurant. Plus, what’s cool is that both coney islands are still owned by the same family that opened them.

One thing I really enjoy about Detroit is all the art on the abandoned houses. There are many. This particular house sits in Corktown, near the old train station (one of the most famous and most beautiful dilapidated buildings in Detroit). This mural I consider to be very faithful, as it reads “The Dream is Now” and on the left in smaller letters (hard to see here), “If We Fight Together Our City Will Rise.” There is much hope and pride here in Detroit, and you can feel it all around when you’re here. It’s a precious feeling.

Another favorite food place of mine with incredible atmosphere. And soooooooooo tasty! We didn’t know until this morning that the Cork Town Race was today followed by the St. Patrick’s Parade. I am not sure why it’s a week before St. Patrick’s Day, but it was a gorgeous day for a parade – sunny and warm. It was packed all around Slows and all down Michigan Avenue so we didn’t know what to expect with wait time for food (side note: Slows wait times are often 2 hours! This shows how great their food is!).  Slows is obviously huge on the meat, but they source local and responsibly-raised meat.  And they do have some great vegetarian options too, much to my delight. I get The Genius sandwich, which is a barbecued seitan sandwich topped with cole slaw and pickles. Today, because of the parade, they were serving just a few different items and it was standing room only. But The Genius was just as delicious as it always is.

This is another beautiful piece of art work on another abandoned building near the train station in Corktown. I find it so captivating (I actually gasped when I first saw it). I just love the contrast of black and white. I wish I knew the story behind it. If anyone does, let me know.

Best,

H

PS. All photos taken by me using my iPhone. Check out Westin, Avalon, Guardian, and Slows.

New York Fashion Week Favorites – Fall 2012 Edition. [design.]

Hello everyone! Last week I talked about the quirky obsession I have with color palettes and the exciting arrival of Pantone’s Fashion Color Report. This week, as promised, I’ve selected my favorite looks from New York Fashion Week (which just wrapped up this past Thursday). See if you can spot some of the colors from the Pantone list!

Kelly Wearstler. It’s obvious this interior designer also has the ability to design hip and wearable clothing. Love the layered look, the polka dot detail, the bunched and stirrup leggings…the gloves!!! That green minidress paired with those leggings and pointy-toe shoes is fabulously minimalistic and…did I mention the gloves? Both models are wearing them (look carefully). Well done.

I have a weakness for velvet. And gorgeous retro necklines. And bold pops of color. Both of these looks by L’Wren Scott appear comfortable and easy to wear, yet they have a real chic, head-turning capability to them. And I must say, those blue strappy heels? With the model’s skin tone? Just beautiful.

A few years ago I was thrift shopping at a St. Vincent de Paul store, and I came across an original red and black printed Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress. It was in the “retro” section, a part of the store reserved for “more expensive” pieces. It was $8. Yes, of course I bought it! These two looks above, just like that iconic wrap dress, show DVF’s knack for prints and elegant silhouettes. I love a good jumpsuit – especially one draped and fitted like this one. Fabulous. With those long gloves, it looks super-sophisticated. And the red military-style jacket is beautifully tailored.

One thing I really appreciate about Nanette Lepore is her attention to detail. This look is so much fun. There’s so much going on in this bright and busy pattern, yet the muted tights and the metallic blast of shiny gold booties finish the look perfectly. And what an interesting neckline!

Did you know Gwen Stefani grew up sewing her own clothes? Sewing your own clothing helps you create your own personal style, and instead of relying on what’s available in stores, you can make something no one else has. L.A.M.B. clothing shows Stefani’s unique style that she developed for herself, and although this particular look is more on the reserved side, it still shows the fun and edgy persona that we all love about her.

I love this dress by Victoria Beckham. It’s neat. It’s tailored. It’s colorblock done well. The dropped waistline is in just the right place. And it looks like it would be comfortable to wear. This look is fabulously preppy and the boots (I am a boot lover!!) just top it off.

Another comfortable look – this one by Lauren Moffatt. This is a wonderfully vintage-looking piece, made  to be modern with the incredible print of the dress, the handsome color combination of navy and grey, and those sensational shoes. I also have to say that I love the blunt, chunky red bangs on the model – the hair goes perfectly with the rest of the look.

In my opinion, a classic, simple black dress with just one or two special details will always shine above the others. This dress, by Thakoon, is a perfect example. Besides the point of interest on the bodice and sleeves, my favorite feature is the bateau neckline – a most-flattering line for not only the neck, but for the collarbone as well.

This look, by rag & bone, reminds me of someone who enjoys camping and hiking, and who can handle herself outdoors. It must be the knitted layers, the pattern, and the colors of brown, honey, and grey. Obviously it’s a more sophisticated version of outdoorsy, but this woman is on a mission. She is strong. And she just might be wearing a little patchouli!

Michael Kors, how did you know I would be all over these art deco dresses? Gorgeous, shiny, swingy dresses in black and gold – so much fun!!! I’d probably wear a t-strap heel with these instead, but my goodness, who’s really looking at the shoes?

This look, by Theyskens’ Theory is cool and casual. Although I’d leave the bag behind, the rest is great. I am a big fan of monochromatic looks, giving attention to textures that compliment one another instead of color. The sweater features a little sweetness with the bell sleeves and when belted at the waist like this, shows shape. And of course, I love the boots!

Best,

H

PS. All of these photos (and hundreds of others from New York Fashion Week) can be found at www.nymag.com.

The Color Report is Here! [design.]

As an artist who dabbles in clothing design (and who has been hand-dyeing fabric for over ten years), I can’t help but notice how all the colors are paired in my environment. In fact, I automatically stick them into palettes in my mind. This happens everywhere for me, whether I’m at the grocery store, at a restaurant or café, driving, or at a friend’s house. I am a serious color dork and I can’t help it. Sometimes I even take photos if I want to make sure I will remember.

Imagine my delight then, when Pantone releases their Fashion Color Report each spring and fall. I so look forward to this! The Fashion Color Report is dropped just as New York’s Fashion Week begins. Right now, we are in the midst of Fashion Week (it began on February 9th and goes through the 16th) – and on the 9th I got my email from Pantone with the big news featuring THE colors for Fall 2012.

Although I do considerably enjoy giving some of my attention and appreciation to what the designers are showing, I don’t take Fashion Week TOO seriously. And I don’t rely on Pantone to tell me what colors I should be wearing either. I generally stick to my own style and color palette, but it IS definitely a pleasure for me to take note of these trends and colors (and some of them DO make it into my wardrobe, usually as pops of color). It’s all in good fun!

But these colors don’t have to be represented only by fashion; they can also be seen in home design and even food (after all, this fall’s Tangerine Tango, Honey Gold, and French Roast were obviously inspired by yummy things to eat and drink). I can guarantee that once you observe this palette of colors for fall, you WILL begin to notice them everywhere you go. Just wait and see!

1. Titanium straw – what a great idea! 2. I really want this coat. 3. Not a fan of most pinks, but I’m loving the shades of these cute little dresses. 4. This blouse from J. Crew is beautifully designed. 5. Lavender tea cakes = rhapsody. 6. LOVE these handmade travel bags! 7. Blue is one of my least favorite colors, but these stilettos are way too much fun to pass up. 8. Love the grey and chartreuse combo. 9. This handmade leather watch is so cool. 10. I enjoy this pink in very small amounts. This pillow is perfect.

Be well and enjoy,

H

PS. Next week: New York Fashion Week Favorites!

Alvar Aalto [design.]

Have you ever heard of Alvar Aalto?

Artek?

Um, Apple, perhaps? Ok, THAT got your attention. Read on and you’ll see why I asked.

Alvar Aalto (Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto, 1898-1976) was an architect born and raised in Finland. He began his career as an architect in the 1920s and designed some of the most beautiful, contemporary buildings in the world, incorporating and inspired by the elements of nature. See the list here.

After marrying Aino Marsio (also a Finnish architect) in 1924, however, he found himself spending more time as a product designer. Together, they began to experiment with bending wood (mostly birch, a very pliable wood) for furniture. This research led to a combination of veneer bonded with plywood, and some of the most innovative and modern designs of their time. This chair is one of his first designs using this process, and was originally designed for tuberculosis patients; the chair allowed for more comfort in breathing while sitting for long periods of time. Read more about this chair here.

Their work with these materials led to similar seating designs, which led to rave reviews from the public. So much so, that in 1935, Alvar and Aino started a company, Artek, to sell these pieces. Today, Artek is still manufacturing and selling Aalto’s original furniture designs. Ever sit at the Genius Bar in an Apple store? You were sitting on Alvar Aalto’s High Stool 64 that he designed in 1935.

One of the most famous designers in Finland, Alvar Aalto created beautifully simple, timeless, and functional pieces for the home and office with this wood technology. His organic, clever, and innovative designs easily make him one of the founding fathers of modern design, leading other designers to follow suit.

Pretty cool, eh? You probably thought those stools were from IKEA. *wink*

Read more about Alvar Aalto in this article.