Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What was Great About O Eight?

I was musing on how dreadful the past year has been. In so many areas of our lives.

Then it occurred to me. There are a bunch of things and people that made O Eight quite exciting.
The most amazing thing is that we the people managed to elect an intelligent person who speaks in complete sentences. An although he is not a woman, he is as smart as one, and probably as wise as one.

Note: The image above is an Hermes
Offrandes d'un Jour silk twill scarf. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this scarf will be donated to the charity CRY (Child Rights and You). If you want to buy me one you may. The silvery gray one if you will.

I was fortunate enough or perhaps smart enough, to ask my friend John Simoudis to design my blog. He was quite the taskmaster. I repeatedly sent him images until finally, I rolled my eyes, put a piece of Canson paper down, drew a Louis the-something chair, spread out some different sized colored pencils, sent it from my Iphone and he liked it. And he transformed it.

I met lots of great Tweople though Twitter and some people the old fashioned way. My favs are: @trishdarling, @rebeccashapiro, @juliedarling, @rorrer, @zappos. They have been generous and a delight to follow.

My non Twitter people are great also. My new friends Kathie M. and Laura M. have been inspiring and engaging. We can swap books and go to movies. Nothing better. And wannabe Twitterer @xanderNK rocks. I loved our honeymoons in Antigua and St. Barts. Anyyyyy time bud. Looking forward to Savannah!

But it's a new year and I know that somehow I need to self promote. You betcha!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Mr. Male's Christmas Mobiles

When I was a little kid, I had a most wonderful art teacher who is now a more than wonderful friend.

Don Male now makes art and helps kids for whom English is a second language. His kids/clients are amazingly talented. He feigns a serious demeanor with them but they know he's winking the whole time. He does the same with his dog named Calder -- surprise surprise. Today I want to talk about his mobiles. Like his house and like him, they are magical. He shops immediately after Christmas and hoards tons of lovely ornaments that are on sale. As a kid Don taught us the value of dumpster diving. Not something I do, but I do know that you should wear good protective gloves. At Christmas his house is particularly magical. And his community work makes us all look like lazy bums. He is a treasure to the many communities he participates in and to me. He makes me a better person.

One of the kids taught him to make the lovely paper spheres you see below.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Flowers for Friday -- Joe Marini

Joe Marini of River in Essex, CT is one of my top fav floral designers. Genius level great with living things.

I love River and the wonderful owners Joe Marini and his partner John Simoudis. The shop is wonderful and always changing; selling beautiful linens, antiques, architectural elements, garden artifacts, and other goodies. Today I'd like to focus on Joe's floral designs. I'm really excited for Monday when I pick up my Christmas arrangement designed by Joe! I know it will be super. In addition to floral design, Joe does lots of events for individuals (birthday bashes and weddings) and now the local non-profits are asking him for help. And yet, he's very practical. I asked him months ago, even before the economy tanked, how he goes about working with, say, a bride. How does he approach it? He said he considered it a requirement to set a budget and stick to it. He insists that you can, indeed have lovely flowers as long as you are realistic. He said that there might be fewer flowers, but they will be great. From all of the talk among my friends, Joe's work not only wows in the moment, but is most memorable and isn't that what is really important? Call him. There is still time for Christmas orders.
860 304 8480
Taken with my Iphone in the shop earlier this month.


MiX Design Store -- Guilford CT

I did a ton of Christmas shopping last week at MiX Design Store on the Guilford Green.

I wrote a little about MiX in a very early post on Middle Kingdom porcelain, which I love and will never have enough of. I know, bad grammar, but who's watching? I also like these placemats. The ultimate recycle (!) using old NY and LA Times newspapers that are covered with plastic or wax or something so that they can be easily cleaned. The company also makes bags that can be used as hampers or for shopping.
There is a collection of reclaimed road signs that are artfully done. Not sure if I really want to be reminded of I-95 (EVER) but it's a fun photo.
These Pantone mugs come in fabulous colors with fun names. The blue one second from the left lists: Aquarium, Sea Glass, King Tut, and Duck. Duck? I bought some of these for my artsy friends. It was impossible to choose colors. I loved them all.
The women who own MiX -- it isn't even a year old -- are wise to a fault. They are so smart (and maybe a little bit lucky considering the economy), becacause they have amazingly affordable pricepoints. I think I bought at least 7 really nice presents, maybe more and spent only $105.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Whimsical Bench Ad Designs -- Good way to start the week

I found a wonderful post on bench ads from Toxel. I have only posted a few.

Nestle's Kit Kat.
The "hot cup" Erasco bench from Young & Rubicam, Germany.

From the Calgary Zoo a special stroller. Look closely.
This Czech liquor company, Becherovka, has a slogan "Get closer".

And finally a bench sponsored by Slim Fast. I didn't even know they still made that stuff.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ann Lightfoot Jewelry at New York Mag's Best Bets for the Whole Family

Ann Lightfoot, who I recently posted about here, will be one of many wonderful vendors featured at New York Magazine's Best Bets for the Whole Family sale in NYC on Saturday Dec 6th. I'm offering $10.00 of admission. Read on. . . .

The sale is located at the Altman Building, 135 W 18th St. from 11am - 7pm. There will be more than 40 exhibitors and STUFF up to 60% off, with activities and free admission for kids! I looked at the vendors and there are some great companies. LOTS of kid stuff. They are partnering with a really great sounding charity called Room to Grow,
a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of babies born into poverty throughout their critical first three years of development. I'm excited to see the people from Greenwich Press; I love the concept of letterpress. Admission is $20.00. If you'd like a $10.oo off coupon for admission, send me a note in the comments section.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

New British Stamp designs

Di Overton maker of Ghost Furniture in Northumberland posted about these superbly designed new British stamps at Designers' Block UK. Fun, fun, fun.

The new first class stamps come out in January 2009. I, of course, love the Vita Sackville-West book cover. Admittedly, the ones they are replacing are really great too. . . . Oh well.

And the Mini!


Saturday, November 29, 2008

SoHo's Linda Derector -- Scene and be Seen

I first visited Linda Derector's Nolita shop on Mott St. (between Prince and Spring) couple of years ago.

My friend and I bought amazingly designed historic frames, but it was Linda who made the experience special. Why? Because this woman does not mince words. In a good way. I don't think she would say " honey that looks ridiculous on you", but that's sort of what she does. She is honest and would not let you walk out looking dopey. She has a huge sale here and I hate to tell her that I broke my vintage frames but wear them nonetheless. The sale is Dec. 2-7, noon - 8pm daily. To shop at Linda's store is an adventure!
These Vintage Vienna handmade Austrian spec once $395 will be considerably less during the sale.

Funk Royal Optics from Germany $450.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Domaine de Canton -- A Spirit to Lift Your Spirits

Thanksgiving 2008. We have a lot for which to be thankful. Yesterday, with lifted spirits we celebrated with loved ones and looked to the future with hope.

Speaking of spirits, I finally got my hands on something I've been reading about for some time but, because it's unavailable locally, I have yet to try. Enter house guest
extraordinaire from the big city with a bottle in tow. After a light sup and both tired we opened the bottle of Domaine de Canton, took tiny portions and loved it. It is French cognac-based liqueur infused with (and I quote) "baby Vietnamese ginger." I love ginger-anything. Assuming the cognac factor, I figured it was for after dinner. Nope. Domaine de Canton is so subtle it can be added to all sorts of drinks. It works really well in cocktails. On their extraordinarily annoying website you can learn many drink recipes, but be prepared to spend way too much time trying to track back. And it may also have recipe applications that I have yet imagined. I would recommend buying a case and giving it as a holiday gift.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lori Warner -- Open Studio Nov. 28-30

I wrote about my friend, artist Lori Warner in September, but here is an update.

On November 28, 29 and 30, Lori is hosting an open studio. She will be working -- perhaps on her press -- and demonstrating her encaustic process. My question: will there be food? The original post can be found here. Directions to her studio can be found here. You can see some of Lori's recent work below.

Time Represented in Dream:

Three Men:

April 16:


Monday, November 17, 2008

SONG -- Not Your Everyday Calendar

Actually SONG is precisely an every day calendar. What was I thinking.

.I was having lunch in a very crowded RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, CT yesterday when a woman sat down and pulled out her calendar. Its distinct shape reminded me that it was time to give Jan a nudge and get some images for my blog. My friends Jan & Peter have come out with their 16th (?) annual Calendar in a Can(nister). This year the theme is SONG. They are the talent behind Cummings & Good a graphic design firm. Each month of this limited edition calendar has art, often by Jan or Peter, that is thematically related to SONG. There are quotes -- on topic of course. A full sized image from the month of April can be seen here, but I'm not willing to anger the blogspot demons by trying to post it. The unusual format of the calendar takes a bit of getting used to (more on that later), but its distinct shape means it's really easy to find a place to hang it. Back to the format. The weekends are always a different color than the weekdays, so once you get accustomed to that little tidbit, you'll be much closer to knowing where to look. I pass this on, because it took me years to figure that out. It's available on the C&G website, at the aforementioned RJ Julia and at Landis Gifts and Stationery in Los Angeles. Note: The introduction to the calendar, is a charming poem by their son Justin, and quite the departure from past years.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


It's morning in America.

This cover by Bob Staake is poignant. Love it. So thoughtful. When I think of what could have been. Yikes.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Log Bowls from Canada

I was poking around in the gallery at Made this weekend and found these beautiful log bowls from Loyal Loot design collective.

Made for local reclaimed logs, they are then aged before applying the paint. I like the tension between the known natural aspect of the wood against the glossy, well matched paint. And what colors! Designed by Doha Chebib, they can be found at Matter in NYC and Brooklyn and Rose & Radish, San Francisco and Kit Interiors, Calgary and Made, Toronto. They are not intented to come in contact with food. Prices range in price from $55 to $245.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ann Lightfoot Jewelry -- Just in Time

My friend Ann Lightfoot creates wonderful jewelry that seems more timely now than ever.

I've admired Ann's work for years. Her designs are simple yet elegant. There is sense of nature without being granola-ish. Having worked Thailand and having traveled extensively in Asia, many of her designs
employ Asian, South American and African beads and pendants. Her work has appeared in Lucky and Bon Appetite. I love these small blue beads. Wearing it I felt like someone in Mad Men. Ann'e website is under construction, but can be found here. Glee, a small chain of boutiques in CT and MA carry her designs in addition to the Florence Griswold Museum.

While I don't wear much jewelery, this necklace reminds me of something I saw on Michell Obama earlier this year. It's also reminiscent of another famous O -- Jackie O. So classic. So in the spirit of "change we can believe in", I'll be sporting my new Ann Lightfoot loot.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Grill pan with a secret

Saw this in Gourmet recently and again today on

Not only is this
Fagor cast aluminum grill pan attractive to look at, but its even heat distribution ensures lower energy consumption and faster cooking. The pan also has a secret that makes it ideal for those of you with tiny kitchens. The handle is detachable for easier storage.


Something Fishy

Departures magazine has a feature in its Nov/Dec 2008 issue titled Necessary Luxuries. Mario Batali chooses bottarga along with Dom Perignon Rose 1988 and beef jerky. Not sure about the last one.

Bottarga is the salted roe of grey mullet or tuna from Sicily. You can find it here at Gourmet Sardinia in Houston. It is not meant to be cooked. Typically you grate it over salads, or pastas or over thinly sliced hot toasted bruschetta with olive oil. It can be added to risotto or fregola. As it is seafood, you don't add grated cheese. Thinly shaved slices could be added in a similar way. It seems expensive, but one chunk of it can last a very long time. Very. I use it with a couple of other strong flavors so there's a balance. At best, can be characterized by its strong and most surely acquired taste. Martha Stewart has a simple, quick recipe here.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Winter is coming and the steam room at my gym is broken

Saw this impeccably designed humidifier on Swiss Miss.

There are few household items uglier than the modern humidifier. I simply refuse to have one in my little 18 century home. But this one, by the Japanese firm Middle Colors is timeless and lovely. Designed by
Takashi Hiroshi Tsuboi, it is capable of producing steam for up to ten hours and if you read Japanese, you can buy it here. These colors are luscious.



Happy Halloween!

The little Ghosts are my favorites. From Burdick Chocolates in Walpole, NH and Cambridge, MA. The photo below was taken at my friend Kathie's. She's having a tag sale tomorrow and has a ton of vintage fabric and textiles. Neither of us sew, but we both think that had we ever lived previous lives it would have been as textile designers.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gilt Groupe goes in for HUGE sale

Starting today there's a giant sale at Gilt Groupe.

Gilt Groupe, the by invitation only, sample sale site is having a huge sale today. If you want an invitation, send me an email at jilnelson{at}sbcglobal{dot}net. I love GG, but take issue with some of its business practices. For example shipping is $10 per item. Pretty steep I think. So if you buy two pair of shoes on the same day, they charge 20 bucks and send them in two different boxes. Also, unlike the best shopping sites such as Zappos, Figleaves and Amazon, they expect you to pay return shipping. The aforementioned sites also often have free shipping. GG has never made any offers. That said, I admit to being a huge fan. The sales all begin at noon and items sell out in minutes. So it's sort of like a game. Tomorrow is accessories ans shoes blow out sale.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sol LeWitt at Mass MoCA

I am looking forward to the (pre) opening of the Sol LeWitt retrospective on November 15.

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective, is a collaboration of Mass MoCA, the Yale University Art Gallery and Williams College Museum of Art. It is going to be huge. The aforementioned websites have tons of information on the exhibit. In fact there is a video timeline of the process of an installation at Andover on the Mass MoCA website that is very cool (see images below). The installation will remain on view for twenty-five years, occupying a 27,000-square-foot historic mill building in the heart of MASS MoCA’s campus. so there's no hurry to get there.
If you want to stay nearby, I would suggest the Porches Inn across the street. It's a hoot.