Posts Tagged inspiration

A terrarium interlude

My friend, Johanna, has the terrarium fever – and she’s got it bad!  Any glass vessels in her vicinity will suddenly be filled with strange flora and figurine fauna.  She has even taken to the thievery of moss – something I certainly can’t judge after pilfering mulch and leaves from Central Park.  After I saw a few of her creations, I asked her if she would send me some photos to share and she obliged. They remind me of the tiny and strange worlds that were on display at MAD this summer – bucolic, yet bizarre.  I think my favorite is the one with the ponies. Or the gorillas. I can’t decide.

She has also put together a curriculum for teaching kindergarteners to build their own terrariums. It incorporates history (when did people start putting plants in jars, anyway?), biology (did you know that there are over 12000 types of moss?), organization (learning about the different elements in a terrarium and how they are layered), and creativity.  Each child will go home with their own funky living environment to keep alive. Or not.  I’m hoping to borrow the idea to use in my own daughter’s kindergarten class this spring.

All this mossy-ness has me yearning for spring – a dangerous thing to do on January 19th.  I think the reason why I am so drawn to terrariums (besides their obvious qualities) is because they are a beautiful way to bring the outdoors in. Especially if you live on the 9th floor of a building in Midtown.  Some days you just need a little moss.

You can also see some fascinating terrariums at Little Orphan Girl.



The Recipe Project

Hi there.  It’s been awhile.  A month of no posts, to be precise. Sigh.  But a lot has been happening:  kitchen cosmetic experiments,  window farming trials and tribulations, computer mishaps, terrariums.  All to be posted shortly, I hope.  But in the meantime, I wanted to share this link to The Recipe Project.  I have always had a soft spot for One Ring Zero – how can you not love a band that features the accordion in their line-up, as well as instruments like the claviola, theremin, and the cajon?  The latest in their concept album series has them partnering with well-known chefs to put their recipes to music.  Holiday gift, perhaps?

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The mouthwatering “Art of the Menu”

Sometimes I’m just looking for inspiration on a Thursday afternoon.  Today I found it by perusing The Art of the Menu, the newest member of the groovy design blog enterprise, Under Consideration.  Devoted to “the underrated creativity of menus from around the world”, this site catalogs menu images and is a delight to behold.  One of my favorites, Eleven Madison Park, is included as well as the beautiful menus produced by the Brooklyn Edible Social Club, where I had the good fortune to find myself dining in August.

The beauty of this site isn’t just in the menus themselves, but in the way they are cataloging them into a searchable database (yes, I am a librarian).   So if you like to geek out on typography and food, and love certain restaurants for their attention to this detail, you must pay them a visit.  Even cooler is the fact that they welcome submissions, so if you have a restaurant you love for their menu (as well as their food), submit it to the site and participate in building one of the most delicious databases out there.


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What would Ben Franklin do?

In keeping with the theme of To-Do lists, I can’t help but post this image of Ben Franklin’s daily schedule that has been floating around the web for some time now:

I love its elegant simplicity, but I can’t help but think how much it doesn’t look like the lists I make.  I mean, where is the grocery list, the overdue wedding and baby gifts to send, the after-school club to sign up for, or the laundry detergent? Of course, all those questions were answered when I came across Ben Franklin’s wife’s daily schedule. Mystery solved.

Elsewhere on the web, there are a few sites devoted to the art of the list.  One of my favorites is, Daily Routines, a compendium devoted to the schedules of interesting people.  The blog hasn’t been updated in quite a while because they are working on a book, but if you want to know how Simone de Beauvois, Charles Darwin, and Le Corbusier organized their days, this is your resource, and I am look forward to the book.  Pretty Listed is a Tumblr site that collects images of various lists and schedules.  It appears to be a great idea that hasn’t gained momentum yet, but I would love to see more submissions there.  And finally, I couldn’t resist the beauty of these lists featured on designer, Melissa Easton’s blog, Mrs. Easton.  Take a look.

Anything else?

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To-do lists and other things we write down on scraps of paper.

Janice Lowry, To-Do List, July 5, 2003

Once again, Domaphile has been on a bit of a hiatus due to late summer vacations, hurricanes and the back to school frenzy.  Lately the only kind of writing that is getting done is the utilitarian:  the making of lists, the filling out of forms, and the writing of checks.
I like to dabble in organization.  That is not to say I am actually organized, but I like the trappings of order.  Of course, as a librarian my job is to create order out of chaos, and in libraries there is a structure in place to make that happen.  At home it’s a free-for-all.  I happen to be a compulsive and inveterate list maker with a really specific system that involves a completely redundant combination of my planner and post-it notes. Not just any post-its, but the yellow 2 ⅞ by 4 ⅞ variety. If they stopped making that size, my world would fall apart.  I write almost everything down on said post-its, in no particular order, so my list often reads something like:

  •   marjoram
  • school supplies
  •  terrarium sand
  • moss- Central park?
  • worms!
  •  airplants???,
  • find hat
  • fix camera
  • sitter for 30th
  • red tights
  • elec. bill
  • EKG for cat

When the note gets too full and things get crossed out, I (gasp) re-write it, which I have heard is totally counter-productive to actually being organized.  But there is something about the act of making the list that almost feels like doing the thing itself… until later, when the list is long and the things are never done – that’s when the list can turn on you.

I am fascinated by the way people organize the minutiae of their daily lives.  Do they use planners? Digital apps like Priorities or Tasks or Things? I love me some Google Calendar, but I can’t quite get with the Tasks app.  I’m still wedded to the post-its.  Not long ago, I met with a fellow post-it using librarian friend (Yes, there are at least two of us out there…) and we went to the Morgan Library to see how artists organize their daily lives through the exhibit:  Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art.  It’s a small, easily digestible exhibition that gives a glimpse into the daily lives of people known more for sweeping gestures of high art than for stopping by the store on the way home.  I love that Franz Kline’s 1960 grocery list included corn flakes, eggs, bananas and V-8.  And I swooned over painter Adolf Konrad’s packing list for a trip abroad where instead of writing everything down he sketched it out. Complete with a drawing of himself in his underwear:

Adolf Konrad, packing list, December 16, 1963. Adolf Ferdinand Konrad papers, 1962–2002. Archives of American Art. Smithsonian Institution.

The exhibit includes all kinds of lists and enumerations, from Picasso’s handwritten list of recommendations for the Armory show to Arthur Dove’s list of abbreviations for the weather to Eero Saarinen’s most beautiful list of the qualities he found best about his wife.  But my favorites of all were the journals of Janice Lowry,  an artist I wasn’t familiar with until this show .  She intertwined her daily to-do lists with the journals she kept for over 30 years into beautiful collages that celebrate that mundane compulsion to write it all down.  Everything from buying stamps to listing all the people she needed to forgive. She died too young, but her lists are something to aspire to.  If you want to see them for yourself, the Morgan show runs until October 3rd.  Check it out and make a list.  Fall seems to be the season of organization – what do you use to keep it all together?

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  Domaphile has been vacationing  on the Midwestern Riviera – otherwise known as Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes.  I hail from outside the Twin Cities and it’s always nice to visit in the summertime.  This year, our trip corresponded with the grand opening of a new natural food store near my parents house.  This wouldn’t normally be of any great note, but Mazopiya – which means “a place to store things” in the Dakota language –  is much more than your local Whole Foods.

As part of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, a Native American reservation outside the Twin Cities, Mazopiya provides more than just organic produce to the community.  The project was initiated by Lori Watso, a tribal member and a nurse with a background in public health.  After moving back to Minnesota from San Francisco, she wanted to find a way to address the chronic health issues that are facing her community.  Diabetes and obesity rates are high and, on many reservations, access to healthy food is limited.  They literally started from the ground up, by planting an organic community garden on 1 1/2 acres of reservation land in April of 2010 which has already grown to a 5 acre farm that provides 50 CSA shares to members (actually, they call it a TSA – Tribal Supported Agriculture) and sells produce at a small farmer’s market each week.

  Construction on a 6,500 square foot, LEED-certified store followed that had a soft opening in early 2011 and an official grand opening this month.  Stocking everything you would normally find at your local food-coop, the store also has an array of local, native products: wild rice, Lakota popcorn, and beauty products made from sage, cedar and buffalo tallow.  The space is beautiful, like a well-curated and friendlier Whole Foods.  It has a deli and coffee bar and really operates as a community space.  Tribal members and people who work on the reservation receive discounts and there are also a variety of free classes offered on cooking and nutrition.
While the impetus for the project was to address Native American nutrition and health, anyone is welcome to shop at Mazopiya and take their classes, so the larger community benefits, too.  This has all happened in a short time in part because the SMSC has ample financial resources from their successful casino operation.  While many Native American reservations lack the capital of those that have profited from gaming, the hope is that the success of their operation will be able to be scaled and replicated elsewhere.  I found the whole enterprise extremely inspiring and am curious how it could be used as a model for other communities.  Does anyone know of similar projects going on in other places? Would love to find out more!

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Ritual Eating: Ramadan Break Fast in ‘Edible Manhattan’

A Ramadan break fast

Breaking the Ramadan fast (Photo by Joshua Kristal)

My friend Joshua Kristal is a great documentarian of rituals. Apart from being an artful event photographer, Josh has a talent for insinuating himself into exclusive gatherings, inner sanctums, and auspicious occasions, where he manages to capture people committing acts of community (see for yourself at his blog).

He also knows a thing or two about shooting food. And in this month’s issue of Edible Manhattan, you can see his beautiful photo spread capturing the communal and culinary ritual of breaking the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The shots were taken last year and show a family on the Lower East Side preparing and enjoying a feast after the daily fast. The accompanying text, written by John Kearney, includes welcome suggestions on where to get traditional items and ingredients, and some great history on Muslim settlement in New York—I love the bit about the immigrants in Little Syria who brought over laban cultures by soaking cloth in yogurt, drying it, and carrying it in their pockets. It’s a lovely piece that conveys the giddy, ecstatic pleasure of breaking a fast among family and friends.

By the way, Ramadan began August 1 and continues until August 29.

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