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How cute are these? June 28, 2010

Posted by Emily in a few of my favorite things, design, moving, new house.
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Now that my house is all painted, something I didn’t think I’d be able to do (or have done, and choose colors) in a rental, I apparently want what I can’t have and have been strangely interested in pendant lights lately. Go figure.

These caught my eye:

I can’t decide if I like the yellow or the turquoise best….

(via Remodelista)


My love/hate relationship with HGTV February 19, 2010

Posted by Emily in Blogs I read and like, design, rants.
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My name is Emily, and I’m a design addict.

My Google Reader is bursting with “homies” blogs and typography blogs and blogs with names like “Lovely Package” and “Happy Tape” (who knew cool tape – patterned, colored masking tape from Japan – could be so entertaining?) But none of it takes the place of flipping through a well-designed design magazine.

But where to go?

Domino, one of the greatest home design inspirations, closed down about a year ago.

Living Etc is a British decor magazine I love, but I can only, in good conscience, allow myself so many $8.50 issues every year.

I started subscribing to Country Living, and though it leans a bit more, well, country, than I’d like, it sort of holds me over. What Country Living lacks in cheekiness, my ReadyMade subscription more than makes up for. There’s twee urban hipsterness to spare, and sometimes interesting spaces, but it leans a bit too “look, I’m modern and eco friendly”  for my taste. Dwell is the same but even more.

The last two New York Times Habitat features have been so incredibly DULL, as Decorno and others have noted, that I find I’m throwing up my hands.

Honestly, outside of blogs and the occasional Living Etc droolfest, I get my best design fix from reading through my mom’s Better Homes and Gardens magazines.

And so we come to HGTV. Like Country Living and ReadyMade and so on, to some extent HGTV only factors in due to lack of better options. 95% of the houses they feature are blah beige suburban split levels with massive garages – not really my thing. And so few of the people featured have any sense of the possibilities of the house, what it could become. They want new, low maintenance, move-in ready. They pay way too much attention to paint color (which, I will admit, is atrocious when it’s not beige – lots of bubblegum pink bedrooms). And so their wishlists are eerily similar:

  • stainless steel appliances
  • “open plan living”
  • “room to entertain”
  • hardwood floors
  • if one of the few urban episodes, off-street parking
  • and most want a formal dining room

They tour the three houses, each of them saying “this must be the master” as they walk into the biggest room.  For some reason, most of the episodes seem to take place in Canada, so I’ll admit, there’s a little giggle value with the accents. On Property Virgins, pushy Sandra Rinomato guilt trips them into making swift decisions, as though their Canadian outposts have three houses, total, on the market. On My First Place, plenty seem to think their dads will mow their lawns (say wha?) and then they feign surprise when the house they buy gets one room kitted out with boring furniture and lame Target art on the walls.

Is this the best we can do? I remember thinking, back in the day when Trading Spaces didn’t suck, that most of these people didn’t have bad taste to work with – just no taste. Matching bedroom sets, sectional couches around massive TVs (and little else), no moldings or interesting features, berber carpet (or the ubiquitous new hardwood floors) and white or off-white paint, maybe with an awkward accent wall. It’s all such a snore. And somehow, also the American dream.

And am I solving that exasperation via HGTV? No. I’m still flipping on the TV after work some days and shaking my head at what HGTV usually has to offer. But I am looking out for some alternatives, and currently taking any suggestions you might be able to offer.

Hedgefunds December 21, 2009

Posted by Emily in Uncategorized.
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I have a list of post ideas sitting in front of me, right here on a Post-it, but with no real clue about when they might actually happen.

In the meantime, I’m trying to get all packed up and ready to go home for Christmas. My dad apparently had to use a blowdryer on my mom’s car doors this morning, they were so encased in ice, and it’s supposed to rain again tonight. Marvy. I just want to be home, sleep in, do some caroling and some visiting and some present giving and receiving and be mellow. At least until Sunday, when I’m back to town and work.

But I couldn’t help but post this.

hedgefund coin banks hedgefund coin bank detail

The coins spin around like those plastic vortexes that used to be in the foyer at KMart, where the proceeds went to the Ronald McDonald House. I could always get my mom to give me coins for them, mostly because watching them spiral around and around was fascinating and worth more than the spare change itself.

I could use a Zen moment like this today. And hey, if it facilitates saving, all the better! Considerably chicer than the electronic counting banks I’ve sort of had my eye on lately…

(via Desire to Inspire)

Blog overload (and a little daily beauty) February 10, 2009

Posted by Emily in a few of my favorite things, blog, Blogs I read and like, design.
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I must admit that until about a year and a half ago, I didn’t pay any attention to blogs. I had read about the Huffington Post and some of the other big hitters, but never actually read them. To be honest, I didn’t really understand why normal people would write blogs—most people don’t have genuinely interesting things to say about themselves on a daily, or even weekly, basis, I figured. But when I was trying to prepare to move to Spain, I started reading the blogs of some teachers who came before me in the same Spanish government-led program and enjoyed their personal take on the experience.

And so, I entered into the blogging world with trepidation, not wanting to be overly narcissistic (or worse, just boring) but wanting to take advantage of one single spot to write about my experience in Spain, post photos, videos, and other ephemera without resorting to mass emails. I figured that with a blog, people can read you (or not) at their leisure and you’re not just adding to their ever-growing unread email collection.

And you know, it’s been fun. I initially tried to post something every ten days or so—and proudly stuck with that basic schedule longer than I anticipated. I’ve been a little quiet lately, but so has life been. And when I post something, I’d like to write something I’m not embarrassed to throw out into the cybersphere. (Or whatever they’re calling it these days.)

Since I’ve been back Stateside, I’ve discovered Google Reader. And my interest in design has grown to somewhat obsessive proportions. And so, taking a moment today, I started really marveling at how many blogs I read—on topics from photography to design to Spanish politics. When I’m asked how I know that the Orla Kiely collection will arrive at Target on February 15, I can say, “I read it on a blog.” When I comment about social customs in Turkmenistan, I can say “I read it on a friend’s blog. She’s in the Peace Corps.” It’s kind of awesome.

But it’s also unsustainable at the current rate. In not too long, I’ll have to slim down my daily reads, unsubscribe from some and use the “mark all as read” button a bit more liberally with others I can’t seem to part with. But there are a few that will stick around.

One of those, which I just recently added, is called Urban Sketchers. It’s a collection of people from around the world who submit sketches, some small in scale—rough outlines on the back of a napkin—and others that deserve a frame and a place of prominence as Art with a capital A. Of all the skills I don’t possess, I think I long to be able to sketch more than anything else. How cool are the people in museums with notebooks, analyzing art with their own art? I ooze with jealousy at their talent and general chicness. It’s not in my cards—people have mistaken my attempts at “art” for elementary school projects. But I envy these people, who in their quiet ways are documenting the mundane world around them every day and making it beautiful. And in turn, adding a dose of beauty and awe to my day. I am overwhelmingly impressed.


Urban Sketchers

A few of my favorite sketchers:


Álvaro Carnicero (who lives in Córdoba…I always wonder if I might have seen him sketching somewhere and not known how awesome his croquis are.)

Cleaning up and out November 29, 2008

Posted by Emily in design, moving.
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Norman Maclean was haunted by waters. I am overwhelmed by stuff.

I am no minimalist, as anyone who knows me certainly can divine. As much as I’d like to be all Zen and unattached, I like things. I like buying things when I travel. I am a sucker for shoes. And being surrounded by my favorite books soothes me in a way knowing they are at the library does not.

But having things involves moving things. And I am sick of moving so much stuff over and over again.

Part of the issue has been time. For so long, I was busy and rushing and never seemed to make the practically endless time needed to do a full sort-through prior to my lease running out and moving day fast approaching. As such, I’ve moved lots of junk not necessarily because I am so attached to every little thing, but rather because I just didn’t find time to diligently sort through the piles and instead just bought one more plastic bin to throw it all in until I got around to sorting. Which was obviously never.

Another part of it, the biggest part if I’m being honest, is that I am a keeper, not a thrower. And it’s not such a bad thing, but it has to be kept in check.

It’s time. I’ve been reading lots of house-y versions of self help books, articles with titles generally involving “clutter” “control” and perhaps a little “De-stress your life!” for good measure. I’ve been watching more “What Not to Wear” than I care to admit, trying to push myself to be brutal to my closet, even if I don’t get a trip to New York and $5,000 as incentive. And as much as these things seem like just another form of procrastination (and they sort of are), I have started dipping my toe into the process. I’ve put together three bursting garbage bags full of stuff for Goodwill and I’ve just begun. It’s tough, in a way I can’t explain but can bet people who aren’t naturally drawn to simplicity can probably understand. It’s sort of embarrassing, really, because I don’t want to think of myself as a material person, but I find it’s very hard to get rid of things.

The worst is probably paper things. They are everywhere, they are hard to keep neat, so many serve as reminders or seem somehow necessary. Things that really are necessary, like bank statements and pay stubs, I’d gladly run through the shredder but I guess that’s the cruel way things work. Clothes (and shoes!) are also challenging, partially because I’ve been the same size in both since about the seventh grade. My sister recently told me I have the same style I had in the seventh grade, which I think is (mostly) untrue but which got me thinking about things I need to dump, whether or not they might still fit. I am not as big of a bum as I’m making myself out to be. Please don’t report me to Clinton and Stacy.

Another thing that’s spurring my possession detoxing is the frightening appearance in retail chains of Christmasland (OK, since about the day after Halloween…) It’s been creeping up in the corners of Target and Wal-Mart for a while, but the serious emergence of gaudy trees, green and red festooned checkouts, and reindeer t-shirts makes me aware that Christmas is coming. (Just not as fast as they’d like to make you believe.) And Christmas means more new stuff…beautiful gifts, I’m sure, but stuff all the same. I need to tackle some of the current insanity if I’m ever going to make room for anything new. I refuse to buy any more bins.

There’s also something cool about this phase, even if it’s sometimes hard to see. I’m stepping into a new moment, this time in which I get to shape myself and my style. I don’t need to keep the random posters and concert stubs. Most of the garage sale furniture can head straight to Goodwill. And seventh grade was 10 years ago. It’s time for it to go.