paraguas / umbrella

it is very funny to think about words sometimes... the word paraguas is spanish for umbrella, and literally translated it means "stops the water"! i just love thinking about words and then realizing really what they mean, foreign languages notwithstanding. anyway, it has been rainy in illinois lately and when it rains i tend to eye other people's umbrellas. usually they are fairly boring and plain, but sometimes you get a real goody, of which here are some. just a few rainy day-inspired umbrella finds that i hunted down at etsy....

yum. what is it about umbrellas? they are delightful.


oh christmas tree.

of late, my mother has decided not to put up a real, live tree for christmas. she has opted for a silver tinselly tree instead, which she can use over and over and which prevents her from having to deal with any of the christmas tree drama. like chopping the tree down, hauling it through the front door, propping it up in the tree stand. well, on my morning jaunt through cyberspace, i discovered that there is a place that makes a different kind of alternative christmas tree (thanks to seesaw designs)!

these come from wood & wool stool. they seem like a sweet way to get around the christmas tree ordeal... or at least, an original way to decorate for the holiday. yay!

spoon fork knife

hello, monday.
this morning, over my cuppa joe, i was thinking about cutlery. in particular, i was thinking of measuring spoons... and maybe some spice spoons, and a flour scoop....

beehive kitchenware

these are things that are missing from my kitchen and whose presence i would appreciate verily. especially the ones shown above, which are made by a couple in rhode island. i would love to learn metalworking! wouldn't it be amazing to make your own eating and cooking utensils? i think so. of course i might need a larger apartment if i started to do that....



this thanksgiving, i am thankful for several things, like having a job and books and my family and all the lovely people who make my life so delightful. but one other thing i am thankful for is....

...la giralda. she lives in the wonderful spanish city of sevilla, where i lived last year. i miss seeing her around every day and talking about her like she's a real person. what weird thing are YOU thankful for?

happy travels and happy thanksgivings to yous!

and the pursuit of...

maira kalman is one of the most fun, sweet, creative artists ever—but she also makes statements with her work. she has written and illustrated a new book, and the pursuit of happiness, which, even though it examines the politics of democracy, is a delight. it's full of her creamy paintings and portraits and sketches that look like they streamed right from her consciousness onto the paper. it is like seeing an artist's sketchbook or diary. kalman's also done some wonderful collaborations in theater and fashion. i love seeing artists actively putting their artwork and their opinions into people's hands, and kalman has figured out a beautiful way to do it.

and here are some of her set designs, which she did for mark morris's production of four saints, three acts, a work of drama by gertrude stein.

i love these designs with their opulent colors. how great would it be to have maira art all over the walls of your house? and finally, a few other things she's designed, some in collaboration with kate spade, others for the museum of modern art.

from kate spade collection, 2003

paperweights from MOMA collection

yay! incidentally, i suppose any of these things might make a lovely holiday present for someone you hold dear. if you can get your hands on them, that is. teehee.


...and friday sendak.

incidentally, whenever i think of hilary knight, i also think of maurice sendak, who we all know and love as the writer and illustrator of where the wild things are. he illustrated one of the mrs. piggle-wiggle books too.

but he's done other things besides where the wild things are and mrs. piggle-wiggle....

both sendak's and knight's artwork is completely splendid. their work stands out from the vast majority of today's children's book illustrations, which are often a bit dense and bulky, which bright colors and in-your-face composition. i love the subtlety and care given to the colors and the lines of sendak's artwork, and the delicacy and ladylike quality of knight's. they are brilliant, aren't they?

i hope you have an equally brilliant weekend.

friday knight.


today is a beautiful november friday for some illustration talk. remember eloise, the little girl who lives in the plaza hotel? how about the mrs. piggle-wiggle series, which included cures for the never-want-to-go-to-bedders, the slow-eater-tiny-bit-taker, the heedless breaker, the waddle-i-doers. what do these books have in common?

hilary knight.

one of my favorite illustrators. her drawings are so dainty and detailed, and she gives her characters the best shoes (e.g. mrs. piggle-wiggle's spectators in the bottom illustration). her eloise illustrations are brilliantly old-fashioned and sweet, with a dash of sass and spice. if you haven't read the mrs. piggle-wiggle series, you MUST! or at least you should read it to your nieces and nephews, or your children, or your grandchildren.

or really anyone who will listen.


coffee and cake

two of my favorite things. let's start with the coffee.

alterra coffee not only sells beautiful coffee sustainably and locally (they are based out of milwaukee, wi), but they have some wonderful relief-print designs on their products. i love relief prints, and i love seeing them out in the open. i think these almost look like woodcut prints, which is amazing.

i covet this artwork! i want to collect all their tea tins.... for now, i'm content drinking their coffee. i buy it in a paper sack from a tiny place around the corner from where i work, called bleeding heart bakery. bleeding heart is a chicago-based, "punk-rock" bakery that focuses on using sustainable, locally-grown ingredients. incidentally, they also have some pretty brilliant, tattoo-inspired design at work for them—in their bakeries and in their cakes...!

you can buy their little book of crazy punk-rock cupcakes (shown just above) here. i'm not sure about a cupcake with popcorn on it, but there are some clever little cakes in there, and also i am down with any bakery in the midwest that sells whoopie pies.

happy tuesday!


haul-iday! celebrate!

hello and happy rainy saturday...! well, it seems that there is a holiday book haul that happens over at chronicle books every year. chronicle puts out some beautiful books—i am particularly fond of their photography and art+design volumes. thanks to maia at conundrum, i have learned all about it and now i will impart my wisdom to you.

bloggers post their chronicle book wishlist, valued at $500+, on their blog. they are then automatically entered into a drawing to win their wishlist. (yay!) in december, one very lucky blogger AND one of that blogger's readers who commented on the post will haul that wishlist home. so, if i were to win, my little commenter and i will both have identical happy additions to our libraries. (see below.)

the drawing is on december 13; the last day to submit blog entries, december 10. find out more here!

rows from left to right, top to bottom:


lands of plenty

i was just introduced to the fantastic food art of carl warner. he creates landscapes out of fruits and vegetables and fish and various other simple and/or gourmet food items. warner's original imagination brings to life the world of dr. seuss—those fields of truffula trees, an egg-filled kitchen, yertle the turtle's pond. i always thought dr. seuss's trees looked like broccoli. the artist himself likens his scapes to those of ansel adams.

fishscape (the artist's favorite!)

 broccoli forest

tuscan kitchen: mozzarella clouds / fresh pasta fields / parmesan buildings /
lasagna curtains / fresh lasagna tablecloth....

 coconut haystacks: red cabbage sky / parsley treetops with horseradish trunks /
toasted almond haystacks (in background)

 cart and balloons: balloons of strawberry, garlic bulb, red onion, banana, 
lemon, etc... / fields of bread, string beans, cucumbers, corn, asparagus....

cabbage sea: boat made of marrow, mange-tout, green beans, snap peas, 
asparagus, olives / lighthouse of zucchini / rocks, sea and sky of red cabbage

he uses everything to make these landscapes—spices for the pathways, rice for the fields, parsley for shrubs, cauliflower for clouds, marrow for boats. and only a bit of help from photoshop...! aren't they brilliant? see more of his work here. it will make you wistful to live in a world of bread mountains and red cabbage skies.


sodium chloride

i love salt—too much, probably. it makes everything taste just right, it is an elegantly arranged mineral, and it is married to pepper. when i was small, my family would go out to eat and i would sit there waiting for the food idly, impatiently, trying to think of things to do to lap up the time. and one of the things i did was pretend that the salt shaker was the bride and the pepper shaker was the groom, and i would sing the wedding march and clink their heads together for the kiss at the end.

anyway, for some reason i was pondering salt, and in my dithering i discovered some stunning salt sculpture by motoi yamamoto.

i really appreciate that he's using salt to make these. it's so basic—i mean, it's salt! everyone owns it, we all use it, we eat it, we scrape it off our shoes in winter. but he's using this workaday mineral to create these incredible labyrinths. they look like maps. they make you want to follow along.