Wednesday, October 31, 2007


On the days that I work with clients on the Upper West Side, I get to visit all my favorite places I frequented in the twelve years I lived up there. One of those places was the Saint Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library. Sometimes I never made it into the main room; I’d linger in the foyer where they sell used books and magazines. There must have been a local patron or two who subscribed to Vanity Fair and Architectural Digest for years. Every time I stepped foot in that library, I came out with an issue of one or both of those mags.

Recently, while on the UWS, I spied a sign that announced a book sale in the basement of St. Agnes. Basement? I never knew they had one. They were getting ready to renovate and clearly wanted to get rid of stuff while raising funds. A steep set of stairs led down to a huge cement-floored basement that was filled with books as far as the eye could see. Heaven!

My Big Find was a book called The World of Marc Chagall, photographed by Izis Bidermanas and written by Roy McMullen. This book is incredible. It is filled with photos of Marc in action – creating sets for shows, stained glass windows, paintings, sketches, prints.

I like this passage from the preface:

"One [assumption] is that Chagall is to be taken at his word when he insists, as he often does, that his art contains a serious ‘message.’ The other is that this message is to be found in his work as a whole. There is meaning as well as entertainment in his figurative midsummer night’s dream of Vitebsk, Paris, blue moonlight, giant bouquets, weightless lovers, sad clowns, and fabulous beasts; and the same meaning emerges when we isolate fore study what he calls his ‘abstract’ colors, shapes and structures.”

I keep the book leaning against the bulletin board that sits on my desk as a constant source of inspiration.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


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Thursday, October 25, 2007


What would you rather come home to after a long day of work – (A) a letter hand-written on some brightly-colored, personalized stationery or (B) a long list of emails? I PICK (A)! Emails are fine and dandy but if ya wanna live a truly inspired life, snail mail is the way to go. And part of doing snail mail in style is picking out fabulous stationery. As someone who is always searching for great cards to send, I was totally psyched out of my mind to find an actual company on the internet called – you guessed it! – FABULOUS STATIONERY.

Let me backtrack for a sec. Every year, I search for a festive, non-religious card to send as part of my end-of-the-year mailing. It’s a fun project: I make an alphabetized list of my highlights from the year and tuck the list inside the card. I try to get an early start in October by scouring stores and the internet for That Special Card. When I went into stores this month, I mostly saw the same holiday designs I had seen in past years. On the internet, all the personalized stationery seemed to feature goofy stick people or overly-delicate graphics. So imagine my great delight when I came across Fabulous Stationery via an ad in the back of Dwell magazine. The graphics, with a heavy 60s influence, are designed by Trish DeMasi, whose “inspiration comes from so many things: fabric, fashion, nature, architecture, friends, even pets.”

Then there’s the oh-so-cool feature of the cards developed by Jay Arnold, one of Fab’s founders. Jay developed the ideas of printing the sender’s return address on the back of the note cards and matching the address so it appears in an envelope which has a clear window in the upper left hand corner. That way, the recipient can’t lose the sender’s address. When you order a set of note cards, this feature is free of charge.

The other thing that the company offers that I love are the calling cards. With their retro graphics, these little babies are for people who want to step out in style with something more funky and less formal-looking than a biz card.

So after much perusing, I picked out my holiday card. Technically, it’s a birthday card but it has that just right festive look I’ve been searching for. The only problem with the Fabulous Stationery website is that it is highly addictive. Why am I up until midnight looking at their card designs? ‘Cuz I’m a freaking stationery addict, that’s why!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 19, 2007


One night, when Mike and I were both asleep, I woke to hear the sound of a guitar strum. It came from the corner of our bedroom where the guitar sits upright on a stand. I looked over and saw that Mike was still next to me. “That’s odd,” I thought, and then: “Mike, did you hear that?” “Yeah,” he said. “I guess that wasn’t you playing.” Then we both turned to each other like “What the.....?” We got quiet and heard scuffling around the walls. Mike’s guess was that the mouse had hopped onto the guitar strap and the guitar strap fell, with the mouse, across the strings. Me, I think that the mouse got tired of roaming the kitchen and wanted to try her hand (er, paw) at music.

Fast forward to present day: the mouse is back, but this time it seems to be roaming the living room/kitchen area. We throw out our saggy mattress and get a low-to-the-ground platform bed. “Do you think that the mouse will be able to get up here?” asks Mike. “Only if it has a javelin or a cape,” I say.

As long as Mousey does not snuggle right next to me, s/he is welcome to stay at 46 First Street. Guitar concerts are gladly welcomed!

Friday, October 12, 2007


I discovered Summer Pierre through the 52 Projects website. Going to her blog, I saw that she was a singer and songwriter and that she had a great’ zine called The Artist in the Office. (I highly recommend buying The Artist for yourself and creative friends for the low low price of $10). Then I took note that she lived in Brooklyn and I thought “Hey, why not give her a call and see if we can meet in person?” She generously agreed to the meet-up so I went
out to Greenpoint one morning for tea. I present to you:

Ten Fun Facts About Summer Pierre

1. Summer is a transplant from Northern California – Palo Alto to be exact - and was raised in what she describes as a “post-countercultural lifestyle.” Her parents had been involved in the Haight-Ashbury scene and she spent the early years of her life on a commune. Pierre went to an alternative school in Menlo Park where artisty was encouraged. Put Summer in any situation as a young one and she’d start drawing.

2. Ten years ago, Summer moved to Boston and was part of the Harvard/Cambridge scene. During that time, she came out with her own album and toured both the west and east coasts. She describes her style as acoustic folk-rock.

3. Two years ago, Summer moved to New York. Whilst on her honeymoon this past August, she was visiting a small town museum in White Fish, Montana and got an idea for an illustration. Based on the info she collected about the town’s history, she would like to make a map of White Fish and send it to their chamber of commerce.

4. In addition to being a singer, songwriter, and illustrator, Summer works part time in an office setting. Since she is the author of the zine How to Be an Artist in the Office, I asked Summer how she personally goes about bringing her artist self into her workplace. She does stuff that breaks the routine and monotony without being disruptive. For example, she posts anonymous notes in between bathroom stalls and other secret places. She brings food anonymously and leaves it for people. She chalks messages on the way to work.

5. One of Summer’s proud accomplishments is her Great Gals Calendar which celebrates inspiring women. (Dolly Parton was featured in the 2005 edition. Yay Dolly!) Great Gals came out of Summer’s love of hand-making holiday gifts and it now has a sizable following! (Interesting side note: Summer’s college thesis was about women in rock!)

6. Summer sez: “The more permission you give yourself to do the things that delight you, your life goes through the roof. Start noticing what nurtures you.” What are some things that delight Summer? Watching movies alone, walking in Central Park, and going to the Algonquin Hotel to hang out in the lobby and write.

7. Summer has a wonderful honesty about her. For example, she shared the story of how she went to a week-long writing retreat led by one of the writers she most idolized. Her interactions with that person were not so pleasant, and Summer was crushed. However, it was a turning point in her life where she realized that everything she needed was in her – not out there.

8.Summer is currently working on a book with lots of illustration.

9. Summer creates one-page illustrated stories for Skirt! Magazine.

10. Her dream is to have a one woman show that includes music, art and writing.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


I have a confession to make: I love walking the aisles of Dean and Deluca, the fancy-dancy gourmet food and kitchen supply store in SoHo. Everything is so pretty to look at! Eye candy abounds. I took my friend Kate, new to the city, into D&D. Right in the entryway stood three pumpkins, each the size of a truck wheel. We spent a long time looking at items in each section: bread, candy, pies and cakes, spices, housewares. We spent the most time smelling soaps both solid and liquid in the bath/body area. Way down on the bottom shelf, I found a soap called Jardinier that eminated the scent of geranium. I just stood there smelling and smelling and smelling that geranium scent that wakes up yet calms the mind. A few days later, I went back and bought the soap. Instead of putting it in the shower where it would dwindle away, I placed it in my desk drawer so that I could pull it out and smell it any time!

I never knew about the scent of geranium till I was in my twenties and working in an aromatherapy store in Manhattan. That was before aromatherapy got to be a big thing in the US. The store owner's signature scent included lavendar, lavandin, geranium and something citrusy.....what was it called? I forget now. It was heavenly, but I discovered that geranium could stand alone as a scent to relish.