Friday, June 29, 2007

Imaginary Landscapes

Francesca Berrini (see is also the brainchild of new continents. She creates maps of these, out of collaging pieces of vintage maps together, creating new landscapes and topographies.

Need more self esteem

Searching for a job can be a demoralizing experience, so to give myself an esteem boost, I've gone back to sloganize myself again. It's like a little angel on my shoulder telling me...
"8 out of 10 Owners who Expressed a Preference said Their Cats Preferred Liasynthis." I knew it!

New Etsy Favorite

Unusual Cards I love these quirky and humorous collages made by Francesca Berrini (who apparently was raised by polar bears). See even more options on her website. Guess where Francesa is from? Portland.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

10 Things I Love About Portland (OR) -#9

Powell's City of Books

Powells "is the largest independent used and new bookstore in the world". It probably won't surprise you to read that Powell's is in the Pearl District (albeit, right on the edge but in it none-the-less). A browser can lose a whole day in this store (or be lost for days) if they're not careful. Used books are mixed in with new books which is, I believe, as it should be. The Powell's story starts in 1971 in Chicago, with a $3000 loan made to Michael Powell, to open a bookstore. After working at the store for a summer, Michael's father Walter returned to Portland and opened up his own store. you can read the rest of the story on the Powell's website. Powell's is the only bookstore I know with an actual map (pdf), and it's a map you need if you're not familiar with the layout or you're not sure you know what you want.

Here are some factoids from their website:
  • 68,000 square feet packed with books
  • Powell's buys 3,000 used books over the counter every day (the sale of my used books to Powell's helped subsidize my move from the west coast to the east coast)
  • approximately 3,000 people walk in and buy something every day
  • another 3,000 people just browse and drink coffee (speaking of coffee*)
  • Powell's stocks 122 major subject areas and more than 3,500 subsections (note the map)
  • you'll find more than 1,000,000 volumes on their shelves
You can take a "virtual" tour of the store on their site.

*When I returned to Portland, I was sad to hear that Starbucks had purchased Coffee People. Though you can still find some outlets scattered around. Coffee People used to be the coffee shop in Powell's (if I'm remembering correctly). I was happy to see that the shop in the store had not been replaced with a Starbucks, but with a World Cup. World Cup is an old favorite of mine from my days in Portland. Their home store is right across the street from the NW Portland International Hostel, where I used to work. I used to drink their coffee every morning (and make it in the hostel coffee bar).

Monday, June 25, 2007

Flight Of The Conchords - The Humans Are Dead

A Flight of the Conchords Fix. I'm starting to feel like they're addictive. It's making me a little nervous.

A visit to Salem but mostly the PEM

This weekend we went to the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, MA. We saw the Joseph Cornell exhibit Navigating the Imagination which I highly recommend to anyone who is in the area. The show has 180 of his pieces 30 of which are being shown in public for the first time. Here's a preview. The photo directly below this text is of some of the supplies Cornell used in his studio.

We also visited the Origami Now! exhibit. The most impressive examples (in my opinion) were from Robert Lang who was recently written up in the New Yorker. Here are a couple I liked. The Koi is by Robert Lang and the Armadillo (made out of 1 six ft. sheet of paper) is by Eric Joisel.

Pretty impressive stuff. You have to be a physicist.

We took a tour of the Yin Yu Tang house. Which is worth the extra $4 (then go home and rent Raise the Red Lantern to see how the rich lived)
We walked around Salem a little where we saw this lovely miniature display of pirates (in the window of the Pirate Museum).


Buy them at Swell

Friday, June 22, 2007

Who's weirder...

...the cat or the owner?

New Etsy items

We have new items in our Etsy shop, visit! Here's a taste of the prints that are available, by Michael Lewy .

10 Things I love About portland (OR) -#8

The Pearl District
When I lived in Portland (about 7 years ago) the Pearl District was basically a bunch of warehouses, some still active, some abandoned, with a few large antique stores and coffee shops mixed in. Now, The Pearl District is a destination in itself.

Here are some of the stores we visited that I would recommend (if you like the types of things I like).

My favorite store was then and still is Bernadette Breu. Bernadette chooses great items in her shop, from salvaged street lamps and building parts to a large collection of crowns (yes, the kind queens wear). You can also find vintage wallpaper, great chandeliers, etchings, jewelry and taxidermied animals. She also is a supplier for movie sets and props. Visiting her small store is like going through a really, really, really cool junk yard (really cool).
Cargo is another great place to spend time. It's a two story warehouse (20,000 square feet) full of imported antiques and items from around the world.
I think I actually gasped when I walked into Cielo Home. I went from item to item saying, oooh I want this. This store has the most amazing chandeliers and home accessories (all too expensive for me). They also carry Diptyque products which smell heavenly. The store is designed beautifully as well. They had just finished remodeling when we visited.
Oblation Papers & Press is a letterpress shop which had, by far, the best business card (as they should). Inside, Regina Spektor was on the radio, but they had a bird in the store that kept chirping. A note to Ms. Spektor, this actually improved your songs (that is not an insult, it's a comment). I'm not a paper person, I mean, I don't collect papers and ribbons and stamps and stuff like that but Oblation made me want to.

What can I say about Hive Modern? This store stocks the epitome of cool furnishings and accessories (still completely out of my reach but maybe in yours). It's worth a visit just to see the selection in person.
We have a great garden. I only wish the Dig Garden Shop was in Boston and not Portland (or at least in both places). Their website doesn't have much on it, I'm guessing that's because many of their items are too large and heavy to ship (which is what made me sad when I visited) but if you're in Portland and you have a car or something to transport your purchases with home, I recommend visiting. They have great garden sculptural items, lighting and planters.

There are so many other stores in the Pearl these a just a few. It's a interior designer's dream (or, if I was an interior designer, it would be mine).

Portlanders put on their Thursday best for First Thursday in the Pearl. Galleries and stores throughout the neighborhood are open late. Streets are closed for craft vendors (who are great by the way, some better than the artists in the galleries) and live music.

I would say, if you like shopping and browsing, the Pearl District is definitely a required stop. My suggestion (if you can work it out) is to take public transportation through fareless square on the streetcar to the Pearl during Happy Hour on the First Thursday of the month.

The Lost Song - The Cat Empire

Another great song.

KOOP live at Opera House Berlin (part 1)

Here's them live, video is better (sort of) but sound quality isn't as good

Koop Island Blues

I love this song by Koop (had to post the video to get the song on my blog...not so hot on the images so listen with your eyes closed)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

10 Things I Love about Portland (OR) - #7

Public Transportation

I know I know, not very sexy but it deserves to be mentioned, especially living in a city that just can't figure the issue out (even though Boston's public transportation system has been around longer than any other's).
The trifecta of Portland's system is the Max Light Rail, the Portland Streetcar, and the good old fashioned (sort of) Bus.

The Max runs East to West (and vice versa of course) allowing you to get off a plane at the airport jump right on the Max and take it all of the way out into the suburbs of Hillsboro if you want to (I don't recommend that unless you live there). It's the line that brings you up into Washington Park (see previous post). The Streetcar runs North and South, allowing for easy access from Nob Hill or the Pearl District to downtown and PSU (that's Portland State University). The buses run all over the place. You can bring your bike if you want, they all have racks on the front. All of the buses (as far as I know) are monitored by GPS. Each bus stop has a sign with a stop number on it. Want to know when your bus is coming? Call the toll free number and enter the stop code and an automated system tells you just how much longer you have to wait. No more wondering if walking would be faster. Now you can know for sure. The drivers are nice too!

Here's the pièce de résistance: Fareless Square. Most of downtown falls within fareless square which means, you don't have to pay for the ride. It's a ingenious way to keep cars out of downtown. It works too! Fareless Square even has it's own Wikipedia entry (which I guess isn't really that strange).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

10 Reasons I Love Portland (OR) - #6

The McMenamins Brothers

Well, not actually the brothers but their vision. The vision of drinking a beer and eating a burger while watching a $3 second-run movie (or Arrested Development for free), of sleeping in a restored elementary school from 1915 (the Kennedy School) and have a martini and cigar in the old principals office (the Detention Bar). The beauty of the Baghdad Theater. Edgefield, an old Poor Farm dating from 1911, now has a vineyard, brewery, restaurant, spa, gardens and golf course. There are many McMenamins locations and I guess, at this point, they're a corporation. As a bartender told us "as far as corporations go, they're pretty good to work for, you still have to sell a little of your soul". Don't let her words turn you off to the experience.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Keyboard Washing

Watch this entertaining and enlightening experiment by Coudal Partners.

How many of you would be able to put the keys back on your keyboard without any references...something else to think about.

Book House by Nendo

Very cool house by Nendo found by way of Coudal Partners (who always seem to find interesting stuff).

There are a lot of issues I could think of regarding this house in a realistic situation however, as a concept, it's great so let's just enjoy it as it is, shall we?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

10 Reasons I Love Portland (OR) - #5

Portland has fountains scattered throughout the city. What makes them different from other city fountains? It's legal to go in them, it's actually encouraged. Fountains are actually designed to be enjoyed in that manner. Some are made for wading in, some for swimming in, some for running through.

There are also the benson bubblers. "In 1912, Simon Benson, lumberman and civic leader, commissioned 20 drinking fountains with a $10,000 gift. He wanted to offer loggers something cold on the streets to quench their thirst. Benson once said that after the fountains were installed, saloon sales decreased 40%. "
So, if you're ever thirsty or hot in Portland, there's no reason to suffer. Some newer fountains now even have built in bowls for dogs.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

10 Reasons I Love Portland (OR) - #4

Happy Hour
Portland has so many happy hours, and when they say happy, they mean happy. Serious deals abound on great food and drinks (there was even an acupuncture happy hour). Some of our favorites (and please take note, there is only so much two people can eat and drink ) were Manzana, Blue Hour and by far our favorite Vino Paradiso.

At Manzana three of us shared some appetizers (tasty, well presented and plentiful) and had fresh fruit margaritas and the bill came to less than $25. I don't know anywhere in Boston with deals like that. The drinks alone would have pushed the bill above that.

Blue Hour had small tables on an old loading dock in the Peal District and very cool happy hour menus, which came in the form of a notepad with checkboxes next to the items available (yes I should have taken a picture no, I didn't). Inside, the place was hopping (but a little too formal for my taste).

Vino Paradiso was the best, the best experience, the best food, the best staff. Vino Paradiso is owned by Pink Martini band member Timothy Nishimoto.

During happy hour, order any item off of the food menu and receive 1/2 off a bottle of wine. We went on a Tuesday and Timothy was there meeting with wine distributors. They came in at a steady stream through our whole visit but he still took the time to tell us all about the wine we had ordered, txakoli.
It went surprisingly well with the handmade asparagus and drunken goat cheese pizza we ordered. The pizza was amazing. We sat at the bar and watched the chef make it. It was really thin and crispy. Delicious.


These wonderful usb memory sticks are by OOOMS a frankly delightful and fresh design group in The Netherlands.

Also from them, the hysterical hair hats (made from human hair, of course. Whose? I don't know).
Thanks to Guido for allowing me to post these photos.

A trip to the dentist

I went to the dentist yesterday. I'm laying in the chair, I have my blue bib on, I'm ready...and the hygienist hands me the suction tool. She says, if I feel the need to suction, I should go ahead, just flip this little switch (she shows me the switch) and the vacuum will turn on. Here's what went through my head "Go ahead? I'm not qualified for this! Don't people go to school for years to learn how to suction?" Am I right? I thought so.

Flight of the Conchords - Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros

A taste of Flight of the will leave you wanting more.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Flight of the Conchords

Check them out if you haven't. These guys are hysterical. HBO Show, Their site.

Vintage Laura Ashley

Thanks to Lena Corwin for bringing up the new Laura Ashley Vintage collection. Great stuff (they could do with some more options but I like what's there).

10 Reasons I Love Portland (OR) - #3

Byways Cafe
If your going to eat breakfast (or brunch for that matter) in Portland(OR), you may as well go to Byways. I should say, don't bother going anywhere else (but why limit yourself). This place is great. The decor is pure travel kitsch with old postcards, state dishes and towels and vintage menus from hotels that probably don't even exist anymore.

The staff are really friendly (but not too friendly). Their baked goods are fresh from the oven and everything I've ever eaten there has been excellent. They used to have view masters at all of the tables but they weren't there anymore. My one word of warning would be to expect a wait after about 9:00 a.m. any day of the week but they've got picnic tables outside to sit at and people watching the Pearl District is fun.