28 January 2009

Typography Lessons

After watching recently Helvetica my eyes have been newly peeled for typographical elements. John came home from our favorite local junk store with this typeface brochure and we've both been rather taken with it.

The example phrases, strung together, form the most unbelievable poems. Combined with their mid-century typefaces, they're downright pleasing.

26 January 2009

The Shafter House

Shafter is in fact, only a street here in Oakland. But the little hand tooled sign posted over the door of a house holding an estate sale yesterday seemed to still chuckle at the play on words; I like it when a person's sense of humor can linger from beyond the grave. As the advertisement read, "Family home of an architect, shopper and foodie," and the house was only 20 blocks or so from our place, it seemed like it could be a good one. And for me, an eerie foreshadowing of what my own house might look like someday if all my current plans do hatch.

It was a great little house, full indeed of tons of kitchenwares. Sadly the accompanying cookbook collection was mysteriously absent and the architecturally relevant items were fairly out of my budget. I came away with two rather lovely pieces all the same. One, a Corningware bake & broil tray like the one pictured here which was buried under a stack of unremarkable serving platters. The other this precious tart pan, ceramic and unmarked but along the lines of what I've begun to consider the Retro NoCal chic.

They are all a speckled ceramic with brightly painted or printed flowers. My kitchen aesthetic has already shifted since moving; there's a lot more Earthenware in my cupboards than there used to be. I'm just afraid if I live here too long I'll end up with quite the collection of these, as they do beckon! We're adorable they say. I'm just not my other east coast self would agree.

25 January 2009


I think I may have finally figured it out. Why I always seem to suffer that annual letdown that comes officially on Jan. 2 but sometimes as early as Dec. 26th, the pit in your stomach, the relief wrapped in boredom that is to welcome the mundane after-party of the holiday season. Luckily this year, I had an elixir. A freelance gig that paid better than most, a newly painted living room and the active ingredient: a visit from some dear friends. Gerik and Annette were the perfect pair of guests because they were so relaxed, so happy with anything you decided to take them to and because they had some other friends around to show us fun that we sort of haven't seen since Philadelphia. Our time together involved milkshakes, people. And Brunch. But even though we did lots of things last weekend, there were these little beverages on Sunday evening made from Krupnik, a polish honey vodka, that nearly stole the show.

The flame was elusive, but these were in fact ablaze.

First of all, this honey vodka is not to be found just everywhere, which makes them fairly special. And they require a little effort, more than merely a sufficient pour, which elevates them yet further. To the husky shot, you add several beans of coffee and then light the alcohol on fire. The heat serves to mildly roast the beans, while it also infuses the drink so slightly with the flavor of the coffee. It will burn for several minutes and may even snuff itself out in time. After the flame is out, the top rim is squeezed with a wedge of lemon and then some into the drink as well. The result should be consumed while warm but by sipping, not shooting and the flavor is well, roasty. Powerful notes of a substantial proof with the caramel notes of a soft whiskey, I'd say. Though we had these on a mild January evening in California, they're more aptly suited to a colder climate.

Having them fixed so carefully at a real bang of a barbeque, amid a fair amount of bustle, made me remember what I used to really cherish about my time in Russia: the ritual of food and drink, the specific rules to be followed guiding their consumption and the absolute devotion to them shared by all. I owe my own experience of krupnik to Gerik and Annette's friend Ben, whose own time in Poland I'm sure guides this persuasion of his for ritual. I'd tell you to find some of the stuff to try for yourself, but what I would mean is, you should probably just find a Polish friend to make you one.

16 January 2009

If all else fails, I'll just collect flatware.

While I was home in Neenah, WI over the holiday, I hit up one of the good thrift stores looking for small, lightweight things that I might convince myself I could reasonably take back to Oakland with me. Flatware seemed perfectly justifiable; we're always running out of forks and spoons. Especially when I found so many wonderful pieces, it was nearly impossible to resist. And at 20 cents a piece, sometimes less, they fell well within my very limited unemployed spending limit. I used to buy all the same ones, but then found it too painful to ignore the lone knife or fork that happened to be perfect except for its mismatching. So now I have a motley bundle of silverware in our drawer and they seem pretty happy.

These are the newest bundles of joy. I happened to find an odd group of seven pieces of one pattern packaged together; a handsome set of simple, mod elegance.

14 January 2009

My Daily Purchase? A Load of Laundries.

I found out about this lady named Kate Bingaman-Burt from a youtube video I was watching recently. It turned out to be the culmination of all these things that keep recurring in my life lately: a Pecha Kucha presentation (these are so hypey right now and crazy!) given by Faythe Levine (awesome documentarian from Mil-Waukee) featuring these drawings. Maybe those associations don't make much sense to you, but they did to me. That's the point, they were all orbiting.

Anyway, they are nice little illustrations of just the stuff Kate buys everyday and they appeared in the most recent issue of Readymade Magazine (R.I.P) as well as in Faythe Levine's book, Handmade Nation. Basically she's blowing up right now, her stuff seems to be everywhere and I just finally visited her website and the whole idea of her stuff is perfect. It makes a record, which I love. And its done in this cartoony whimsical way that also calls out the enormous scope of capitalism's consumptive embrace. Reading her blog I further discover that Kate's grandmother also lives in Kenosha, WI, which wins her triple mega bonus points. As if she even needed any. She has a blog and an etsy shop which are very comprehensive.

Bottom line: Obsessive Consumption is smart, silly, super duper.

13 January 2009

John's Big Birthday

Actually it started on top of a hill with a bottle of classy champagne. And then descended from there...

...to a Fancy Belgian and a Shouter...

and then a flash of a man and a tasty dinner.

After which we were thoroughly sloshed on food and drink and went to play rummy...

and then there was cake.

The end!

02 January 2009

Old Friends

I finally got around to scanning some of the analog photos that I've taken recently. I'm a baby when it comes to knowing how to use a camera, so my success rate is still rather low. So these are nothing special probably to photo buffs, but I feel pretty happy about them. At least in terms of bringing a satisfied feeling for catching something on film, they have achieved it. These come from several rolls of film, the first several from my last dog days of Philadelphia, one from the day of my birthday and one that I've been lugging around here and there and that captured those two of Lauren and Sofi at Dolores Park.

**The ring on that is from the magnet which hangs this one to my refrigerator.oops.


Taking pictures is a new hobby, I expect to post more soon.