Archive for February, 2009
I’ll be honest folks…I travel & work [at my daytime job] too much to sometimes be able to post as much as I’d like to on the blog. However, I’ve found that micro-blogging on Twitter isn’t nearly as difficult seeing as how I don’t have to stress out about the photo, correct grammar, etc. It only takes 140 characters after all. So if you’re on Twitter and want to follow me, you can follow my posts HERE.
I’m loving the new Matte Stephens pillows at Urban. I ran across these the other day while looking for something completely different on their site. This particular one of a little tweeting bird is definitely my favorite because it’s just so whimsical. I also like that they’re including a feather-fill insert with the pillow cover. That’s definitely a bonus since poly-fill inserts seem to be the standard these days. (And in my opinion are way inferior in comfort & aesthetics.)
What’s the consensus out there? Do you prefer poly-fill or feather inserts in your throw pillows? Am I the only one who heads straight out to replace any poly ones that come with a pillow? Would you rather save money by just buying the pillow cover with no insert?
(Oh, and for anyone looking for cheap feather inserts…head over to Ikea. They have them at bargain prices!)
On a [much] lighter note, I wanted to take a second to pose a frivolous question about political yard signs. (I felt this was necessary since I came across as Debbie Downer in my last post.) At what point does leaving up your Obama sign [post-election] become the political equivalent of having the Christmas decorations up during the Fourth of July fireworks?
I took this picture on my block several weeks ago meaning to pose this question then. However, it’s weeks later and this person (along with several others) STILL have their political signs up. The election is over, and I’m just as thrilled as the majority of people….but why continue to leave up the sign? Do you know of anyone doing this in your neighborhood? Are you doing it yourself? If so, why? Does anyone but me find this to be odd?
First, I want to thank the commenter Sarah from my post the other day that recommended a link to Elena’s Motorcycle Rides through Chernobyl. I spent several hours looking through her images and reading her story…as well as digging through flickr trying to find more images from other photographers. I ended up discovering some work by Igor Kostin re-posted there, and was particularly engrossed by his images. Horrifying though some of them were, it turns out that he is basically the only official photographer to have taken images of what was happening in Chernobyl during the actual time of the disaster.
This led me to searching for the photography book “Zones of Exclusion: Chernobyl and Pripyat” by Robert Polidori. I became a fan of his photography after having seen some of his images up close and in person at an art show at the Armory in NYC several years back, but really became a true devotee after looking through his “After The Flood” collection about Hurricane Katrina. Anyways I received the book in the mail today, and as I guessed his images were particularly compelling. He has a true gift with a camera, and it was interesting to see the utter desolation left behind in the wake of such a large catastrophe. Not just a home here or there, but entire cities and villages. The immense scale of the area affected is what’s truly staggering. Here are two images from the book.
Showing the deserted city of Pripyat, with large apartment buildings in the foreground.
These disaster pictures of Pripyat reminded me of something more local that I’ve actually witnessed first hand. Riding through rural pennsylvania (ironically on a motorcycle as well), I came upon the coal-mining town of Centralia. There isn’t much left of it any longer except for streets that head to nowhere, one bench at an abandoned bus stop, a graveyard and about 4 houses. You feel as if you’ve stepped into the twilight zone because every visible sign of life has disappeared…and there’s terrible smelling smoke rising from the ground. All of this was caused by an underground fire in the coal mine that was accidentally started back in the late 70′s. Today it’s a ghost town with all it’s inhabitants evacuated and moved on…everything is gone except the mine fire is still burning today all these years later.
Honestly, I’m not trying to be depressing… but images like these really should serve as reminders for us to be stewards of the environment (on a macro level) and of our neighborhood & city (on a micro level). Something that provides energy & jobs for the short term, also has the potential to destroy enormous swathes of land for hundreds of years…not to mention destroy thousands of lives. Litter and broken windows may not be an obvious equivalent, but just the same can slowly erode the quality of life in a neighborhood and help lead to the increase of crime.
Let’s remember to do what we can each day while remaining hopeful for the future…and to aspire to learn from the mistakes of those that came before us.
So today I headed to the Greater Philadelphia Home Show. I’ve been looking forward to it for the last several weeks because I have a lot to start working on this spring/summer. I try to go every year, but this is the first time the show didn’t charge an admission fee! And let me tell you…nothing draws a crowd [in a recession] like the word “FREE.” The line was so long by the time I got there that it snaked around the building. I heard someone say that 10,000 people showed up. I’m not sure if that was accurate, but there was a solid 600 waiting in line to get in as I left at 2:30pm.
Anyways, I love to go every year because it’s a great resource to see home improvement products in person and meet potential contractors / manufacturers. If you live in an old house like me, you’ve got a laundry list of things to fix, so it was nice to see what special offers the vendors had. Here’s the pile of info & coupons I picked up today.
Today I was specifically looking for ideas to cut down on my energy costs…so I looked for special offers on windows & doors as well as talked to different distributors of insulation and tankless water heaters. I realize that none of these is a silver bullet…but I’m open to looking at everything. My gas bills have been outrageous this winter, so I’m hoping to not have another winter this expensive again. I ended the show by setting up a few free estimates with a couple of vendors. At this point, I’m just trying to figure out what I’m going to be able to afford to work on this year. (Isn’t that the question we’re all wrestling with these days?)
Anyways…on a lighter (and completely different) note, I stopped off at Target on the way home just to see if they happened to have the Orla Kiely mugs yet. I’ve been getting antsy because I kept stopping by the store and they never had any. But tonight…was my lucky night! The Orla Kiely ceramics had finally arrived! Look how cute they look in my mug collection!! Yay!
So lately, I’ve been noticing the onslaught of products made of wood. It seems everywhere you turn there are tables or beds that look as if they’re made of a freshly felled tree. This has been happening for several years now (and I even own a few similar side tables), but now I’m noticing “high design” items made of wood popping up. Items such as a flashlight or this radio. Here’s a pic of a little wooden radio by Areaware called the Magno. It’s absolutely the cutest thing ever.
However, in general, I’m not sure how I feel about what I’m calling the “everything made of wood trend” yet, so I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, I’m going to continue to listen to music on my Tivoli Model Two. No, it’s not quite as chic as the one from Areaware, but the sound quality is amazing…and hey(!) it’s made of wood!!
I’m not necessarily the most romantic person on earth, but I thought it was appropriate to bake brownies for N this morning as a surprise Valentine’s Day gift. Turns out that surprise brownies in bed (with a tall glass of milk) at 8am is a hit in this house. Now it’s not 10 am yet, and we’ve already eaten this many.
Prior to moving to the Northeast back in 2002, I’d never experienced very many abandoned houses before. I mean, of course, they exist all over the country…but never had I seen the sheer quantity of derelict & abandoned homes [and businesses] as I experienced here. Philadelphia and it’s neighboring areas astonished me with the number of beautiful buildings that were left to fall apart. It was inconceivable to me that art deco factories, craftsman bungalows, brick row houses, and huge colonial revival homes alike were left to suffer with broken window panes, grafitti and boarded up doors. They all [still] remind me of a poem I read when I was in junior high school by the American poet Joyce Kilmer called “The House with Nobody In It.”
Although I find it particularly sad, I also find these abandoned places beautiful in a sense. Sometimes as you stand and look at these structures, you can almost feel the environment trying to reclaim them and take back what man created. As a person that’s obsessed with architecture, design and how people live, it’s hard for me to see these houses left all alone and broken like this. But I almost feel that by taking a second to acknowledge each one with a long glance or a photograph, I’m paying homage in some way to the life once lived there and the effort put into constructing each one.
I began to go down this sentimental road today b/c I saw the post over at Charles & Hudson about photographer Kevin Bauman’s series of 100 Abandoned Houses featuring beautiful & desolate homes around the Detroit area. The photo at left is one of his gorgeous pics, and I highly suggest you head over to his site to check it out.
It obviously made me think about the many places all across the country that are hauntingly similar. Seeing as how I’ve been obsessed with this type of thing for awhile, here’s a few additional links that you might like (if you’re also into this sort of thing):
3. A selection of Robert Polidori’s Chernobyl photos.
4. And of course no collection would be complete without Robert Polidori’s book “After the Flood” featuring pics from after Hurricane Katrina.
So I’m extremely happy to say that I ventured out early this morning to my local Target store “just to see” if they happen to have any of the Orla Kiely stuff in stock. Even though the date they’re technically supposed to be set up is Feb 15th, it turned out to be my lucky day! They had a small selection of table linens, kitchen mats, coasters, aprons, dishtowels…and the organizational items. (See picture at left.) Unfortunately, what they did NOT have was all of the cute tabletop items. (Boooo!) But hopefully those items will be coming in soon.
Meanwhile, the biggest thing to note is that even though they had these items in stock…they didn’t have much left. I spoke to the sales associate working in the area, and she chuckled as she referred to the Orla Kiely items as “a limited supply.” So keep that in mind if you’re thinking about waiting. (I got the last two coaster sets at the store.)
Lastly, here are the two pics of my score! Yay!! This definitely made my day!!
Here are two of the coasters I got. Only $3.99 for two. (It’s funny that my last post was about coasters! Before I even had a chance to purchase the felt ones, I found these. And I couldn’t resist.)
I’ve been looking for a tablecloth for ages…and this one at only $19.99 fits perfectly!
I found these wool felted coasters yesterday while surfing around on Supermarket. They’re made in Boston by designer FilzFelt, and they’re so perfectly perfect. I’ve been mildly obsessed with coasters lately… (I know it’s a little weird to obsess over coasters, but N put a big white spot on the coffee table that is driving me crazy, and I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect coaster ever since.)
Anyways…for only $14 you get a set of 4 circle coasters made of 3mm thick 100% wool felt. Apparently, wool felt is naturally moisture resistant. Who knew?! I certainly didn’t.
At any rate, I think my quest for the perfect coaster may have ended.
As a separate aside, I’d never discovered Supermarket until yesterday. I have to say that I rather like it. Yet another place that is trying to get me to spend my money at the moment. (And let me tell you that I’m having a hard time parting with it due to the fact that my gas bill was ridiculously expensive for the last two months.)