Friday, May 30, 2008

Over and Out

Have a lovely weekend! (And if you're local, don't forget the Alameda Antiques and Collectibles Faire is this Sunday.)

Etsy Find of the Day: Maramiki Screenprinted Textiles

There's just something so yummy about linen, and brand-new Etsy seller Maramiki has rendered it even yummier by screenprinting (with water-based inks) subtle botanical designs onto the nubby, natural fabric. Above: Screenprinted linen/cotton pillow cover (12 by 16 inches), $20

Screenprinted natural linen, $30 a yard (56 inches wide)

Screenprinted linen/cotton pillow cover (20 by 20 inches), $30

Screenprinted cotton-duck placemats, $18 for two

Screenprinted black linen, $26 a yard (45 inches wide)

See all of Maramiki's Etsy offerings right here.

Sound Off: Design Star 3 vs. Top Design 2

Season 3 of Design Star starts Sunday, June 8. Do you care?

I did Tivo Season 2 of HGTV's ratings juggernaut, and enjoyed it well enough. (Though I think winner Kim Myles' new home-makeover show, Myles of Style, is disappointing.) But I can't work up much enthusiasm for Season 3. I dunno -- the cast looks pretty cheesy, for one. And the location: Umm, Nashville? I'm sure it's a beautiful city, but I don't exactly think of it as a design center. I predict lots of has-been country singers getting their basement rec rooms re-done by the eager contestants. Zzzzz ...

Personally, I'm more excited for Season 2 of Bravo's Top Design. I love me some Jonathan Adler, and can't wait to see the atrociously entertaining hairstyles and getups Ms. Kelly Wearstler trots out this season, what sort of politely veiled bitchery Elle Decor's Margaret Russell dishes up, and what we can expect from new host India Hicks. (But I wish they had lost the painfully awkward and wooden Todd Oldham.) Oh, and we can't forget the return of Tom & Lorenzo's deliciously vicious postmortems of each episode. When's the premiere, oh Bravo gods? I am so there.

What about you? Will you watch the new seasons of Design Star or Top Design -- or give both a pass?

P.S. Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Cool Stuff: Netzwerk Skin Bowls

These Netzwerk Skin Bowls look like the most delicate porcelain, but they're actually soft, malleable, and unbreakable hand-injected thermoplastic.

Handmade by Viennese designer Hedwig Rotter (aka Mano Design), the bowls are 28 euros apiece (about $43) from Pure Austrian Design.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Etsy Find of the Day: Lauriann Wakefield Photography

These images, from Salt Lake City photographer and Etsy seller Lauriann Wakefield, are good enough to eat. Above: Summer Time

Forsythia Four

Cherry Cream

Spring Cherries

Spring Cherries IV

Spring Cherries II

Red Buds

Maples Forgotten Flowers

Morning Poppies

The photos are available in several sizes: 4-by-6-inch prints are $6, 5-by-5-inch prints are $9, 5-by-7-inch prints are $8, 8-by-10-inch prints are $20, 11-by-14-inch prints are $28, and 12-by-12-inch prints are $30. There's a great sale section, too.

See more of Wakefield's gorgeous fine art prints right here -- and check out her portrait work here.

Cool Stuff: Design Glut

Clever, witty, and useful products from Brooklyn-based Design Glut (aka industrial designers and Pratt grads Kegan Fisher and Liz Kinnmark). Above: Hookmaker glazed wall tiles with integrated teacup and hook, $30 each

Egg Pants cups, $20 for two

Suicidal Tendencies brass cigarette holder, $140 (perfect for sending a not-so-subtle message to the smoker in your life, eh?)

See all of Design Glut's offerings at Supermarket.

More eBay Finds

Quick question: Can those of you who get your blog updates via an RSS reader see this widget -- or at least see that it's here, so you can click through to the blog to view it? (I used to get at least the post title for these on my Bloglines feeds, but now even that isn't showing up.)

Please post a comment and let me know. Thanks!

How To: Make a Knitted Cushion Cover

I feel like a little kid rushing home from school with my first, imperfect art-class project: Look what I made! Now, I know all you hardcore crafters are probably laughing at just how rudimentary this little project is, but I am so not crafty that to actually make something from scratch and not have it be a total disaster is a huge accomplishment for me. So don't be too harsh, OK?

Anyway, as I mentioned awhile back, I've learned to knit. My needle skills are pretty basic at this point, but I can at least cast on, cast off, knit, and purl. With those astonishing skills, one can make ... scarves. Lots and lots of scarves. And since every member of my extended family now has a hand-knitted scarf of his or her very own (and since it's not exactly scarf weather anymore), I needed to figure out what else I could do -- without having to kick it up a level by learning how to increase, decrease, knit in the round, cable stitch, or any of those other fancy maneuvers that sound complicated enough to make brain hurt.

I've long been a fan of Lauren Saunders' absolutely gorgeous knitted pillows, and for the first time in years we actually own a working sewing machine, so I decided that I'd try my hand at a knitted cushion cover (albeit a much simpler version than Saunders'). Plus, my mom's birthday was coming up, so that was the kick in the pants I needed.

The project was easy enough and it turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. (Just don't look too closely at the seamwork, Mom! And if you do, let me remind you that this is pretty much the first thing I've sewed since high school Home Ec class.)

Here's how I did it:

* Choose two contrasting shades of the yarn of your choice. (I used a skein of Misti Alpaca Chunky in Copper Melange, plus a half-skein of Misti Alpaca Chunky in Natural Cream, because that's the color scheme in my mother's living room. Misti's baby alpaca is absolutely my favorite yarn on the planet -- because, you know, I am such a yarn connoisseur. So soft! I knitted on 14-inch, size 13 needles, but in retrospect I think I should have used size 11 so the stitches would be a little tighter.)

* Cast on enough stitches to make your piece about 20 inches wide.

* Alternate knitting and purling, switching off after each row -- umm, I think this is called the stockinette stitch -- until the skein is finished or until you've knitted a rectangle that's roughly 20 inches wide by 13 or 14 inches long.

* Switch to your contrasting yarn, and continue knitting and purling until you have a 20-inch square that's about two-thirds one color and one-third the other, and then cast off.

* Cut two 20-inch squares from a half-yard of the fabric of your choice. (I used an ivory linen that matched the lighter shade of yarn.)

* Pin the knitted square, with the "good" side up, onto one of the fabric squares. Sew them together around all four edges, using a relatively tight stitch on your sewing machine. You now have a fabric backing for the knitted portion of the pillow cover.

* Place the knit-and-fabric square on the other fabric square, with the knitted side down and the "right" side of the fabric-only square facing up. Pin them together about an inch in from the edges, and sew them together on three sides and about half of the fourth.

* Trim off the excess knitting and fabric around the edges on the three sewn sides, and turn the pillow cover right-side-out.

* Roll up a 16-inch-square pillow form (I got one for a few bucks at my local fabric store) and carefully slide it in through the opening on the fourth side. Then open the rolled-up pillow and adjust it in the cover as needed.

* Fold the excess fabric and knitting on each side of the opening in toward the center, and pin it closed.

* As for the final step, I'm sure there's a "correct" way to do this (I told you I'm not a crafter!). But I simply shoved the edge of the pillow into the sewing machine and sewed it closed, trying to keep the stitches as close to the edge as I could.


P.S. If there are any knitting or sewing wizards out there with tips for improving upon my totally improvised instructions, please feel free to add them! And if anyone has suggestions for fun variations on this pillow project, I'd love to hear 'em. (For my next trick, I'm actually attempting a three-color cushion cover -- woo hoo!)

P.P.S. Have a DIY project of your own you'd like to show off? I'd love to share it here. Just e-mail me a snap or two, plus simple, step-by-step instructions.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Etsy Find of the Day: Stephanie Levy

Awesome original collages and paintings from Memphis-bred, Munich-based artist and Etsy seller Stephanie Levy. Above: Spring Poppy, $145

As Levy writes, "I like to think of the images as 'fictional interiors.' My grandfather was a descendent of four generations of Irish carpenters. I grew up in a house he designed and built, and a favorite family activity was to sit at the dinner table and draw plans for imaginary houses. While the carpenters in my family built actual rooms, as an artist, I now create images of fictional ones."

Lila Shell, $85

IKEA Dreams II, $335

Wallpaper I, $65

Sao Paolo Jazz, $22

Green Tea, $45

Summer, $45

Check out all of the one-of-a-kind artwork in Levy's Etsy shop -- and see more of her work here.

Cool Stuff: Fragile! Dishes

I seriously love this faux-broken "Fragile!" dishware from French company La Corbeille. It's a bit spendy, but so cool. Above: Teacup and Saucer Set, 140 euros (about $220)

Mug Set, 72 euros ($113)

Dinner Plate Set, 96 euros ($151)

(Via Please Sir.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

House Voyeur: Photo-Centric in Palm Beach

A few days ago, More Ways to Waste Time reader Lena Hyde sent in these beautiful photos of the Palm Beach, Florida, home she shares with her firefighter husband and their two young sons, Ethan and Cal.

I love the soothing color palette, the simple and unusual items showcased in this home, and the inventive ways that Lena has incorporated photographs of her family into their decor -- understandably so, since she's a professional children's photographer, and the photos are her own.

Here, Lena gives us a virtual tour of her photo-filled home:

"We'd always lived in old homes with details and character. So when we moved from an 1892 San Francisco Victorian to a brand-new, almost-generic Florida house six years ago, it was quite a shock. It took us a long time to make it a real 'home.'

It's been a challenge to create a tranquil and inspiring space from a concrete rectangle. We completely renovated the kitchen, added and subtracted areas, installed wood floors and crown mouldings, and opened up the staircase. Recently, we added a wonderful pool and outdoor space that we use daily. The kitchen appliances are KitchenAid, the rug tiles are from FLOR, and I reupholstered the chair seats with repurposed fabric from an Anthropologie shower curtain!

My husband is a renovation stud. He can do everything: framing, sheetrock, plaster, tile, moulding, windows, painting, you name it! He also makes the best crème brulee you've ever tasted. The paint we used in the breakfast room is Martha Stewart's Caneware. The capiz-shell chandelier is from West Elm, and the antique buffet is from a great shop in Delray Beach called the Beached Boat.

I really love being home, especially after traveling monthly for work. It’s where I can stop, breathe, and just be. My home is filled with so many years of memories, collections from travels, and photos ... hundreds of photos.

Our style is completely eclectic and constantly evolving. I buy a lot of design books and magazines for inspiration. It's an addiction. I also subscribe to design blogs (including this one!) that give me a daily eye-candy fix. I have a loft studio in downtown West Palm Beach that I’m always changing as well. That space is very modern, white, and sparse. It gives my modern side an outlet, too! The old cameras, Scrabble pieces, and marble collection shown here are from eBay.

Our furniture comes from all over: Tag sales, Lee Industries, Williams-Sonoma Home, Pottery Barn, IKEA, Ballard Designs, and Maine Cottage. Our lighting is mostly from Target, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, and Anthropologie.

I find lots of treasures at tag sales and flea markets, as well as from shops like Anthropologie, HomeGoods, and Sea Shell City.

My favorite thing about our home is the palette, mostly pale blues and greens. This paint color is one of my favorites: Martha Stewart's Mineral Green (actually a light blue-green). I love it, and it helps keep me cool in the Florida heat!

I found an old Victorian crib at an antique shop in Berkeley, California and converted it to a little daybed. It has both pink and blue peeling paint on it, which tells a bit of the history of its original owners. I love that. The pillows are from HomeGoods, Pier 1, and Pottery Barn.

The paint in Cal's room is KILZ Casual Colors' Mint Jelly from WalMart. It's amazing. I tried it after it was ranked number one by Consumer Reports, and it was literally one coat!

More of Martha's Mineral Green in Ethan's bedroom. We got the photo lampshade from PB Teen a few years ago.

This is the boys' W.C. The window shade is from Pottery Barn.

The playroom lounger is from PB Teen.

My advice: Buy what you love, and surround yourself with images of your family."

Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful home with us, Lena!

I don't know about you guys, but I am seriously inspired. I have ten thousand digital pictures of Nick and the kids languishing on our hard drive (though of course they're not nearly as good as Lena's). But after seeing all the wonderful ways that she's incorporated family photos into her home, I'm determined to make better use of mine.

How about you?

P.S. Want to see more? Click here for a peek inside other readers' homes.

P.P.S. A huge thank you to Terri Sapienza at
The Washington Post for the shout-out in this week's "Blog Watch" column!


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