year in pictures

I opted out of the resolution list this year. The process was helpful last year. Though the product was a bit ambitious, I feel like putting desires to words helped me remember my direction, even if it's taking longer to get there. In the last several days I've read some thoughts that hit particularly close to home about the timing of resolutions; I felt free to let go of the need to resolve anything quite yet when Brigitte Lyons reminded me how busy and often emotionally taxing the holidays can be . And when I read Holly Becker's idea of making a list of the year's accomplishments instead of resolutions for the next, that felt spot on for me. Particularly because I process life a bit slowly, taking ample time to remember before deciding how to step forward feels like a relief. At the same time, Sam and I have been in the process of crafting our own traditions for the holidays and in general. Last year we decided on a new one: make a photo album every year around New Years of the previous year. We did ours through iPhoto, and it was such a fun thing to work on together. (of course, we both needed to occasionally express that we were feeling control issues when the other had the track pad/wacom pen for too long, but those are the very conversations that make a relationship strong, right?) And this was the perfect year to start, because it included several trips, so we had plenty of photos. The challenges of the coming year will be to take more photos of every day life, and to take more of family and friends....because evidently it's easier to obnoxiously make your spouse pose for 10 different shots in front of the same cool tree, we tend to have plenty of photos of ourselves, but not nearly enough of other loved ones. We'd like to also remember the good and the hard things pictorially somehow. We did that a bit in this book with an X-ray from one of Sam's bouts in the hospital, images of pages from poetry books that helped, and with a brief introduction before the photos highlighting some of the major happenings of the year. It turns out this year had plenty of intensely good times, but also more than the usual amount of hard times too, and we've been shaped by it all. When I do get to the resolution list (or intention list, as a friend gracefully puts it), I hope to have an better perspective of 2011 through these pictures and reflections. I'm thinking this will happen come spring.

The book had 64 pages total...Here are a few. The photo on the right of us holding hands in the garden was taken by Julianna Boehm. She's incredibly talented.

Our friends Robert and Erin made this vegetable garden in our yard and sold the produce in a neighborhood coop. Neither of us were ever very excited about having a lawn, so we felt so lucky that they turned our very loud weekly chore called grass into something so beautiful, and we were even more lucky that they had an excuse to come to our house often.

Sam got us year passes to the Aquarium for my birthday...

We went to bloody England for Sam's work!

And then Italia, Bella! This had nothing to do with work (other than, of course, the fact the Italy can't help but inspire art). We were already over there, so why not? yay!

Random shots in California (another work trip)



Have you seen Carl Sagan's classic series Cosmos? A couple months ago Sam camped out for a weekend or so and pretty much watched the whole thing. I also enjoyed several episodes, but since I felt like I could chew on the content of each episode for months, I couldn't quite watch them back to back like Sam could. A nice perk to having spent so much time with Sagan was that Sam developed a pretty great impression of his distinct, awkward but endearing speaking should ask him to do his best Sagan if you get a chance.

And speaking of fantastic Carl Sagan impressions, Jen Uman made these paintings; aren't they great? The rest of her work has a similar wit and confident humility about it...a celebrated imperfection that helps me feel at home and relax enough to laugh at myself and ask questions.

I've been chatting with a lot of scientists this week, since I'm with my scientist husband in Palm Springs CA as he presents at a conference on issues in his field of environmental engineering. It turns out that my favorite scientists are really just like my favorite artists: brazenly humble, incessantly inquisitive, and full of wonder.

On that note, I leave you with Carl Sagan's incredibly beautiful reflection on this photo of our home:

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds...

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

-- Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

great food...and design that takes the cake

I just recently heard about Great Food, a new series of  Penguin books coming out April 7th that boasts selections of the "finest food writing from the last 400 years."

If the content of these books is as fantastic as the design, I think they just might be the push that transports me from being someone who tends to read about food prep. out of necessity, to one who could savor the food conversation as much as the meal or the rainbow binding of this set in my kitchen.

Designer, Coralie Bickford-Smith (also the master mind behind the gorgeous new clothbound classics from Penguin) designed the books with inspiration from ceramic tile representative of each era highlighted. She also worked closely with picture editor Samantha Johnson and lettering artist Stephen Raw. Judging from the outcome of this set, they certainly make quite the team.

For more info on the series and to see some books close up, check out creative review's write up .

Spaceships and Diaries

I fell in love with Esther Watson's work after I found her on a link trail a year ago, so when I saw that 20 x 200 was offering one of her paintings in print form recently (Denny's) I had to revisit. Growing up in Texas with a father whose hobby was building space craft machines out of scrap metal, she certainly has some interesting content to mine. She approaches her paintings from an intentionally naive brush, translating pages of her journals into scenes of childhood wonder, "through eyes not yet dimmed by disillusionment" in the words of the LA times. There is both a sweetness and a pang in her paintings, reminding me of the precarious lines between trust and doubt, stability/chaos, hope/despair we've all walked on the path toward adulthood and beyond.

For my birthday

I had an overwhelming desire to hug a penguin for my birthday this year, so Sam and I took off work/school yesterday and headed to the Newport Aquarium to indulge my birthday wish. We realized that while petting was clearly advertised as an option, hugging might be taking it a bit far. So we devised a plan for Sam to distract the biologist with his many erudite penguin questions while I went in for the hug. The rules were a bit stiffer than we expected. We weren't allowed to touch the penguins outside the several opportunities the biologist gave us while he held them before us on our allotted turn (and even that was just with two fingers, a far cry from a hug) But, there was no rule at all given to the penguins about touching us, and they certainly were not shy!  As it turns out, our penguins were particularly fond of dark gray tights, red shoes and fringy scarves. Even apart from the penguin birthing photo above, I felt much like their protecting mother bringing them two shiny red fresh pieces of meat for dinner.

Of course we enjoyed all the other animals too. Right after Sam snapped the photo of the big sea turtle above my head, he completely ran into that pole, face first (the turtle, not Sam). I think he must have had some performance anxiety. He recovered his dignity quite admirably and swam on.

Afterward we headed over to York Street Cafe where our host just happen to seat us next to the only aquarium in the house. We ate some amazing food, said goodbye to elvis and the angel and headed home.

PS Hope you don't mind my unprofessional photos. My sentimental self posted them. My professional self had nothing to do with it.

I Love my Hair

I just discovered the blog Treat by the talented designer, Derilyn Chambers. Treat has a thoughtful mix of visual and intellectual inspiration, plus some cultural critique for good measure.  The blog's on going coverage of the natural hair movement among African American women, particularly through the arts has been both educational and incredibly heartening to me.

Several years ago I remember basically accosting a women in the grocery store who had this gorgeous afro. I had to tell her how beautiful I thought her hair was (which is pretty strange when you consider that I'm enormously shy; and was even more so then). But her hair was AMAZING. And she wore it so confidently. I had no idea then about the million dollar industry that markets straighteners to African American women, didn't know about women suffering hair loss and scalp burns from the chemicals, didn't think about how that those straightening products were the outcome of a society that forces folks to look more white in order to get ahead....

Since then I learned about the artwork of Ellen Gallagher offering a critique of those pressures. And now, through Treat, I'm finding all sorts of evidence pointing to the embrace of natural hair in our culture.

The three brilliant illustrations are from the artist Andrea Pippins, also writer of the blog Fly. You can buy prints of her work over at I love my Hair.

The Sesame Street video has made huge waves, and this interview with the writer on CNN shares the interesting and heartwarming back story of the song's origins.

I love hearing about ways our culture is actually getting better; waking up and appreciating (instead of stifling) the many forms of beauty within it. And I love the artists who can show us what is truly beautiful.


With the encouragement of the lovely Brigitte via Covet Chicago, I started crafting a personal mission statement. It had been in the works for a while. Sam and I even took a little self help vacation to read Stephen Covey and figure out our lives (and hike in the mountains and pick wild blueberries for pancakes and jump off cliffs into swimming wasn't all seriousness), but hadn't yet put it to paper. I'm certainly still in the process of refining this mission business, but I think I've got a draft that feels good and used that as the lense through which to envision the big goals of 2011. I say all of this in present tense, but of course, I'm so not there. I hope my life over the years will make these words more and more true.

So here's the mission along with 2011's resolutions, in no particular order:

I receive the present moment with gratitude and honesty Exercise really helps me become aware of the present by reminding me of my body. I'm shooting for 4 days a week

I approach the world with curiosity and wonder I'd like to read at least one book a month. This month is Gilead

I embrace my vulnerability and failures as opportunities for greater insight and deeper expressions of love and contribution I'm going to do something scary, where failure is very possible. Not sure exactly what counts as being my official scary thing yet. I'll let you know.

I practice dedicated rhythms of art making and cultivate artistic community A dear art conrad and I have resolved to spend 1 day a week in the studio together. I'd also like to comment a bit more regularly on blogs that inspire and challenge me.

I create compelling art and design for intangible things (ideas, organizations, stories, philosophies, observations, feelings) that are good (honest, generous, excellent, just) I'll be redesigning my own website to update it with current work, add some user friendliness and much more info. I'm also planning on opening a shop.

I hope for and work toward the redemption of discarded, forgotten stuff, dreams, and people I really like the idea of partnering more with kiva, particularly with the profits from the aforementioned shop, giving to international entrepreneurs as an entrepreneur myself.

I cherish my loved ones and allow them to care for me too Sam and I both want to be better at pursuing our friends, together and individually

I make and enjoy food as a way to care for myself, my loved ones, and the earth We will be achieving said friend pursuit often through feeding them at our house

I create and keep an inspiring, peaceful, and nurturing home environment This is year 3 of our continued renovation of what was once a crack house. 2011: finish floor 3

I leverage my life on the centrality of divine love and choose to embrace hope This seems like the trickiest one to pinpoint, but I think one of my biggest learning curves is expressions of gratitude...positive thinking...counting one's blessings...refraining from peeing on life with my negative ever you want to put it

I revel in the gift my partner is to me and the world, and love him in a way that frees him to be more himself everyday More dates that are planned! Thankfully we get to spend a lot of time together, but often the time is on home renovation projects. 2011 will be the year of the hot date.

Phew, that was a lot about me. Do you partake in the resolution ritual? I have some friends who take a retreat every year on their anniversary (because they are friends who are married to each other) and talk through their missions and goals for the next year, all through the context of their marriage. Their partnership is beautifully deep and connected; I can't help but think practices like that have to do with it. And some folks take inventory on their birthdays...I just like to eat cupcakes then.

P.S. the wonderful yellow socked adventurer image belongs to Ivan Terestchenko and I found it via The Clutter. Stefan Sagmeister and friends launched their new website and it's brilliant, of course. The intro page is a webcam of their little office, with the navigation buttons actual stickers on the the floor. So we can all monitor their progress. I just checked. They are working now. Click on the video link to see the installation.

I have a special place my heart and my personal pantheon of design heros for Sagmeister. I didn't even know who he was till he spoke at my art school graduation almost 7 years ago. But since then I've shown his TED talks (this one and this one) to several classes I've taught and one gathering in our home....these are the kind of parties we have, where we invite friends over and subject them to our favorite TED talks. We have amazingly gracious friends!

Pretty Maps


New York


Aaron Straup Cope has made a brilliant series of city depictions, simply named, "Pretty Maps."  If I had any connection to Paris at all, that first map would be hanging in our house, it's so gorgeous. The warm translucent colors of these give me the feeling that they could be images from some kind of infra-red thermal camera of the city's life, where the heat from the ever active culture translates into shades of pinks and corals and golds. The aqua roads are an outlier for that metaphor, but they sure are good looking!

Here's what he has to say about the project:

I'd like to generate map tiles that give you that same dizzy feeling you get when you look down at a city at night, from an airplane. We've spent so long fussing over the relentless details in cartography that we've sort of forgotten what things (should) look like at a distance.

This August 2010 version of prettymaps is code-named "Isola" after the Finnish textile designer Maija Isola. At a time when the tools for making custom maps and bespoke cartographies are becoming easier and more accessible it is nice to look back at her work and imagine the maps she might have made if she were alive today.

You can find very affordable prints of this work at 20x200

EVERYTHING she eats...

Last spring I was enchanted  by a post over at Hello Sandwich all about art inspired by food, particularly Dawn Tan's devotion of weighing and drawing everything she eats. Now the idea of trying weight watchers and counting calories has been, well, severely unappetizing to me. Not because it would limit my diet, but because it would involve counting and measuring at every meal. But, funny thing, if I would have thought of this glorious idea, I think I would have really enjoyed the process, even with the extra step of weighing all the food before eating. I think this is because it's not at all about regulation (the purpose of weight watchers) but instead about acknowledgement and presence. The practice seems more like a religious ritual to slow down and attain some sort of deeper realization, as opposed to the pragmatic need of fitting into tight jeans. Speaking of religious rituals, Dawn shares on her blog that she even weighed the elements of communion during prayer before she partook. That is dedication.

It feels right to remember the beauty of Dawn's drawing and process as I approach this great big food centric holiday for the US. And on that note, Happy Thanksgiving! May you find yourself completely stuffed with enduring love, pleasantly satiated with really great food and utterly present to fully enjoy it all.

And btw, Dawn makes PRECIOUS illustrated recipes that you might want to buy for someone special this Christmas at her etsy shop

Glamorous Chickens

Ever since my friend forwarded to me the middle photo of a proud Silkie chicken, I've been collecting pictures of glamorous chickens. Isn't that a fun combo: glamor and poultry? This interest has obviously run deep because last week I had a dream that my friend and his wife renewed their wedding vows with a full ceremony, bridesmaids and groomsmen included. Except instead of bouquets the bridesmaids walked down the isle with big beautiful chickens following them. I remember feeling jealous that I hadn't thought of that for our wedding in the dream...

I thought I'd dedicate a post to these beauties, since I just recently found out that my little town is considering allowing coops in urban settings (before, in order to justify owning livestock in town you had to have some sort of physical or emotional need that made said animal(s) essential...and I just couldn't figure out which one of my emotional needs would justify having a chicken, so I'm glad this is changing)

The second two photos were found at my pet chicken (which looks like a great resource for folks interested in raising chickens.) The first photo is from the book Extraordinary Chickens.

The Principles of Uncertainty

I've been gathering images from the web of Maria Kalman's paintings/illustrations for about nine months now, ever since I read about her show last march on Steven Heller's blog. When Design Sponge recently did an interview with her, I knew I needed to buy one of her books...Oh why did I wait?

I completely adore her...her paintings, her voice, her honesty and humor. She's so beautifully vulnerable and opinionated and hilarious.

So when I received The Principals of Uncertainty in the mail last week, I read it twice by myself and then when Sam got home, he kindly let me read it aloud to him, as if I was a first grade teacher and he was in my class. (This took a lot of love, because he was tired and wanted to go to bed, as it was late.) And I adored sharing it with him, just as I adore sharing it with you!

It's delightfully stream of conscious. (I smiled when I read a couple perplexed comments on her TED talk from the extreme linear thinkers in the crowd who didn't quite know how to take her) The book seems to come back to the balance of contemplating pain and loss, while embracing life and beauty, weaving the ordinary together with the extraordinary, personal and communal, tears and laughter, rabbits and fruit's fantastic. Now I need to buy all her other books.

Friday food share: pear salad

I'm realizing that with the changing light these days, getting a quick picture of our food share goods before we bring them over to our neighbors is getting to be more challenging...hence the absence of a post last week. So I will have to PLAN AHEAD. Truth be told, this is not something that comes naturally to me, especially in the food prep arena. So I will grow to meet the blogging challenge (and ya know, for personal edification and whatnot). And I'm sure my dear food swap buddies will be happy to receive their meals a bit earlier than my usual, ahem, 15ish (sometimes longer) minutes late...(yikes) But the floret on the salad is worth it, right? The deeper your hunger, that greater your enjoyment, right? No more excuses...I will plan ahead!

So this little salad number is not what we delivered for food share (we actually brought goods from a late season grill out, one of our go-too easy peasy meals for busy weeks), but we did take it to a potluck last night where we reunited with some dear friends. The constant of the salad is no 1. GOAT CHEESE and no 2. RIPE AVOCADO and then we mix it up with variations of other tasty morsels. I realize avocado does not sit well with everyone out there (but goat cheese, I can't imagine a non vegan not liking goat cheese...I'm sure there are good folks who don't, I just can't imagine it), but I will tell you that my non avocado eating friends have enjoyed this salad. Something about the combination of ingredients makes it more palatable for those who usually distain avocado green mushiness.

The other ingredients:

greens: in this case, Spinach, but we also use romaine, white heart lettuce, etc

fruit: pears here, but fresh strawberries in the summer are really good, kiwi is a fun (but slightly time consuming) twist, fresh figs, blueberries, etc

roasted nuts: we never used to roast our own nuts until a friend taught us how to make biscotti, but now that we do, oh my gosh, we're not going back. Especially when you get to eat the salad right away with the nuts still warm. yum. We just sprinkle the nuts on a cookie sheet and roast them at 350 until toasty, usually about 10-15 minutes. super easy. Anyway, we have almonds here, but have enjoyed roasted hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts

dried fruit: this salad has dark raisins, but you could do cherries, cranberries, yellow raisins....go wild

So this is pretty much the simplest salad ever. Sometimes we put bits of chicken or salmon in it to make it more filling and a stand alone meal, but mostly eat it sans meat. I actually enjoy this without a dressing, but we've put an olive oil + balsalmic combo on it before, which was tasty. Does anybody have other ideas for dressing? I'd love to be more versed in that realm...making your own dressing still seems pretty fancy and elusive to me.

To do list item: pick flowers

I know it's gotten bad when I need to put "pick flowers" on my to-do list. The last week has been kinda blurry due to loosing a day out sick and work piling up, but if I'm honest, it's more than that...A lesson I am forever learning and forgetting and relearning is the absolute necessity of life giving rhythms. And as I type right now, I'm trying to relearn after a some stressful, non rhythmic days. I remember, probably in one of the many sermons I heard growing up, when someone felt they were too busy to pray, they realized in a time of feeling overwhelmed, they were, in fact, too busy NOT to pray. And isn't it crazy that one of the first signs of stress is impaired breathing? The moments we need it most, something in us freaks out and causes us to deny ourselves what is life giving: whether that be prayer or breathing or picking flowers or whatever. So I'm going to go (and take my little freaked out, over stressed inner child, "come on, hunny" ) and pick some of those mums before our first frost takes them all away. Then I'll come back a little more on beat, good lord willing and the creek don't rise. What is essential to your life rhythm?

TED prize 2011

From The Wrinkles of the City series, Shanghai, China

From the Women are Heroes series, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

From the Women are Heroes series, Slum of Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya

From the Women are Heroes series, Slum of Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya

From the Women are Heroes series, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

From the Women are Heroes series, Favela Morro Da Providencia, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

From the Women are Heroes series, Favela Morro Da Providencia, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

From the Women are Heroes series, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Did you hear that 2011's TED prize recipient was chosen to be JR, the first visual artist to have won? I wonder if he's also the first TED prize whose work most always involves breaking the law? (it was funny to hear a Parisian state official interviewed saying something to the effect of, "Of course it beautiful, of course it's poignant, but he has no permit")  And I wonder how he will give his talk and make his wish as an anonymous street artist? It will be interesting to see, won't it?   What I would love to see would be the people who collaborated with him, all over the world, people who became his models and later graced the sides of 5 story buildings or became the eyes on moving trains that periodically met faces on mountaintops, get up and tell their stories and make their wishes. I think that would be the best fit for his work, where the beauty and strength comes from often ignored dignity, now visually shouted from tops of mountains and throughout town squares. Thank you, JR, for noticing such dignity and translating the heroes you met through your photographs and placement in a such a breath-taking way that the world can now also see.

For a little background on his Women are Heroes project, this video is tragic beyond words, truthfully intense and deeply beautiful....

FOOD SHARE FRIDAY:food as celebration

A dear friend managed to have both a birthday and a baby in the course of a week, so I decided it was time to take a shot at her favorite dessert: creme brulee.  I've always considered creme brulee one of those fancy desserts that are better left to the pros and those with torches, but since I have Sam by my side, we had the torch part covered and perhaps enthusiasm would make up for our inexperience. We consulted a couple sources. This was our primary recipe and we also checked out this video as the brulee was baking, which was a bit late to implement the main suggestions (next time we will try a spot of salt as she suggests, just to see), but we at least got the fruit part down. It was all surpassingly straight forward, even for a cooking novice like myself. I both saw and cooked with a real vanilla bean for the first time on this adventure. (I included a photo. you can't tell much about the bean, but it has dramatic lighting to help you catch it's artful nature. right. exactly.) We tried the brulee both 2 hours after refrigeration and a couple days after, and it's best texture was after a couple days. Oh, and the part about only torching after the brulee has been out of the fridge for 30 minutes is important. Otherwise it will crack your ramekins. (we learned this from experience...) But it was worth it for that yummy smooth vanilla mixed with the crunchy sugary top.

We also participated in our normal food share and made a french peasant chicken dish along with blanched green beans fresh from the market and toasted almonds and a baguette from the aforementioned market.

So I have a bit of an ulterior motive for including food on my blog. In addition to the potential of someone getting on here, adding their expertise and saying, "oh hunny that's not how you do that, try this, it's much easier/better," it's also a good way for me to more deeply savor food. I've always been one that must be conscientious of the way I eat for weight management (I never have had the eat-whatever-you-want, natural girlish figure that so many friends speak about missing now as adults). And I've found that the seasons when I struggle with this issue, instead of enjoying food too much, I'm usually not enjoying it enough...using it to divert my attention from life stresses, focusing on other things while eating, etc. When I receive food from a posture of gratitude, presence and even celebration I tend to naturally fall into nourishing habits and food becomes a joy instead of a source of guilt (even the occasional brulee).

Old-Fashioned Olfaction

I've realized that I often feel like I need some kind of VERY GOOD reason before I ever start to make art....a provocative and deeply insightful statement about contemporary society, a medium yet to be explored in art history's trajectory...I don't know, a funny joke to base it on, at least...

But then I remember the metaphor a teacher once gave in school about the necessity of having a fridge full of good ingredients before cooking a feast.  And I think I want this blog to be part of how I grocery shop: A record of collecting inspiration, savoring deep relationships and good food and purposeful living, exploring ideas and images...and then seeing what comes of it all, both in how this kind of living shapes me as a person and how it shapes my art. Of course, I don't need a blog for any of this, but what a fantastic opportunity to flesh these things out among community and maybe even spur another on to their own form of grocery shopping! (and what a nice little kick in the butt to do the things I want to do anyway, because someone might actually read!  Lordy, I'm such a people pleaser, but whatever works).

So about these bottles...I let my appreciation for their designs and intricacies justify drawing this little collection. While I was drawing I day dreamt about a little indy perfume maker that repurposes vintage bottles for her/his potions (surely there's someone doing this). I thought about a fantastic book I read about 10 years ago now called The History of the Senses, by Diane Ackerman and how it completely increased my capacity for wonder. For example, did you know that the sense of smell is subjective to the degree that there are tribes of people who would recoil at the idea of freshening one's breath with mint, but who routinely use animal feces by products as a hair tonic? ...Or that Napoleon asked Josephine not to bathe when he would be returning from war shortly, so he could enjoy her natural scent? This is one wild and crazy world we live in.

I brainstormed ideas of where these drawing could go...paired with details from vintage inspired anatomical paintings of respiratory systems? Something to connect science with romance? Plus other scent oriented imagery in some kind of salon style hung art collection ? Or something metaphoric, something about the body as a vessel? I wonder if this is kinda what it's like to try to guess what your kids might do when they grow up? Probably not. It would be okay if these guys stayed in my sketchbook/on this blog and just taught me a little more about what it's like to see and interpret with a pen...I don't think the analogy holds with kids. I'm not a parent, but just sayin.'

Anyway, thanks for reading. And how do you fill your fridge?

Stumbling on Sacred Ground

I accidentally found these images on a google search, looking for imagery for a design job. They were posted over at Wooster Collective and found in a neighborhood of Soho, New York.  I love it. I love that an artist on a mission in the middle of the night, graffitied a manhole into a mandela with their chosen medium of  petals and seeds and rocks, to be left for discovery by wandering pilgrims on foot and by web.

FRIDAY FOOD SHARE: Wabi Sabi cooking

So first of all, let me tell you that Sam made the yummy butternut squash and sun dried tomato soup AND the Kale/apple/almond salad with hazelnut vinaigrette dressing this week (he added some honey to Martha's recipe to offset the bitterness of the kale, which worked great). I think I might have peeled a couple shallots for the dressing, but other than that, it was all him and it was SO GOOD. The soup is a favorite of ours that we like to make in a big batch and freeze for the colder months.

My one contribution was the bread. We have a rosemary plant that is going crazy these days and the whole reason I wanted to try to grow rosemary this season was the memory of this fantastic bread we shared with friends last winter. So I tried my hand at making some, following everything in this recipe with the exception of halving the flour with wheat flour to make it slightly less, uh, white floury...(can I say more healthy? is bread with any white flour ever really healthy? Aren't people saying that wheat is really bad for you now too?  I don't know. I can't keep up.  anyway) But evidently white flour has more gluten than wheat (and come to find out gluten gives bread a thicker crust, which helps trap gases from yeast and therefore makes bread rise) I ended up making bread that was flat, unintentionally. And it looks great from above! Check it out! But kinda broke my heart at first..until i decided to take it as a small lesson on learning to embrace the process and imperfection. The fact that a couple loaves of unintentionally flat bread could shake my mood for a little bit means I do in fact need the lesson.

I just read some of Brigitte's beautiful thoughts on this over at Covet Chicago.  Perfectionism (or the illusion of it) keeps me from trying so many fantastic things.  It keeps me from experiencing way too many aspects of life.  If a lesson on letting go of it happens to crop up when I'm making food for neighbors, I'll take it....and they actually did too, with a smile even and gratitude. I hope to let this blog be an avenue to share much more bold examples of imperfection and failures than this...and I hope to use it as a challenge for myself to jump in and "fail fast," as my smart businessy entrepreneur friend likes to say. In the process, I hope to stumble into beauty. And inspire some imperfect beauty making from the friends who read along too.

Tucson Favorites

Last month Sam and I went to Tucson for a conference where Sam was presenting in his field of environmental engineering. It was a bit of a busy trip, so regretfully we didn't see too much of Tucson, but here are a couple highlights: making prickly pear cactus syrup and pancakes with Sam for a house full of internationals we were bunking up with for the conference....observing all sorts of fantastic flora and fauna that looked absolutely other worldly to my south eastern US eyes (and learning not to touch much of the flora, even if it looks soft, it's probably sharp-that part doesn't count as a favorite)...seeing my husband share some of his engineering superpowers with a bunch of other likeminded folks from around the world.