Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Green Demolitions - A win-win for all

I believe my husband discovered Green Demolitions at a "Green Fair" we visited at a local school.  
It is such an amazing concept that really does good all around.  If homeowners are undergoing renovations and "getting rid" of things in their household like kitchens, bathrooms, etc they can call Green Demolitions.  Green Demolitions will send out licensed contractors who will photograph everything.  They put the products up for sale on their website and in their three stores and then someone can purchase and reuse the products.  I am not talking about garage sale items, I am talking about $60,000 kitchens including high end appliances and granite that are only a few years old that resell for half that amount.  They then remove the products from the house and take them to one of their three retail locations in Norwalk, Ct, Bethel, NY or Honesdale, PA.  to await a buyer.  Many of their really high end kitchens are pre-sold before the are even removed from the donors house.  While we have put our renovation plans on hold for the short term, I check the website regularly to drool over and imagine how we could use some of the kitchens and bathrooms offered there.  Check this one out, hard to believe!  And they will ship to anywhere in the US!

Not only that, but Green Demolitions is a non-profit organization with proceeds going to Recovery Unlimited which supports All Addicts Anonymous, a 12-step program for all addicts. So by taking donations of home products they are reducing what goes into our landfills, giving a tax deductions to the donors, raising money for worthy causes and providing customers with needed reused products at a fraction of the retail cost.  Wow, I love this company.

{images via Green Demolitions}

Monday, April 27, 2009

Not your Ordinary Recycled Bags

Here is a company that is doing some interesting things with materials that would otherwise end up in landfills.

I first spotted an Ecoist bag when a friend was carrying one recently.  The way it was put together fascinated me.  It reminded me of those chains of chewing gum wrappers we used to make as a kid.  

So I did some homework and found out that they make many styles of bags out "recycled candy wrappers, food packages, soda labels, subway maps, newspapers and other waste bound materials."  They look good and are good for the environment.  Plus, the company uses sustainable manufacturing practices utilizing a network of fair trade suppliers and manufactures around the world, helping underprivledged citizens to earn a living.  

They also work with an organization called Trees for the Future to plant a tree for every handbag sold.  Hmmm, which one should I get for a fun summer handbag?

Friday, April 24, 2009

1st Dibs Friday Fun - Glorious Glass

One of my favorite things to discover whenever I have the opportunity at an antique show, tag sale or even online at 1st Dibs is vintage glass.  It always has an imperfect hand blown quality to it.  I can imagine the work that went into creating some of these pieces 50, 80 or 120 years ago.  So here is my 1st Dibs glass showcase.

Here we have a group of antique wine bottles.  

Here is a group of vintage apothecary bottles.
I could just imagine them siting on display on this fabulous old set apothecary drawers.

And the display wouldn't be complete without this on the wall above it.

What fun. 

{images via 1st Dibs}

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Doing our part

Over the past several years, we have tried to become as earth friendly as possible.  I thought if I am going to continue to talk to you about things you can do to help the environment, especially today, Earth Day, I should probably share with you all the little things we have done to help.  Some are very small steps, but every little bit helps, especially if lots of people are taking those small steps.

1. We have completely eliminated disposable products, no more paper plates, plastic cups and especially no more plastic water bottles.  

2. We recycle.  A lot.  Almost everything.  Of course working with paper, I try to recycle as much as I can.  Actually, I try to reuse as much as I can and waste as little as possible.  There is also my husbands medical supply business with warehouse space where there is no recycling.  So every two weeks he fills his car up with the broken down boxes and brings them back to the house for our recycling.  On a regular basis, I think we have the largest pile of paper/cardboard recycling in town.  

3. We compost.  You know that you are into it when friends give you composting containers as gifts.  Seriously.  We had been composting for a while and my husband would use a bowl to hold all the food scraps and make a trip to the large composting bin on the side of the yard several times a day.  Thank you to our friend Susan who noticed this and got us a cute little counter top composting bin to hold the scraps until we can get them out in the yard.  My husband just spent the better part of the day  spreading the compost on our vegetable garden.

4. We have a vegetable garden.  We are fortunate to have a fairly large yard so we have a fairly large vegetable garden.  It is great exercise to work in the garden on a regular basis and there is nothing like eating freshly picked tomatoes and cucumbers.  

5. This goes without saying.  We have switched all our lights over to CFL.

6. As much as they grumble, we try to walk our kids to school as often as possible.

7. We bring our own reusable shopping bags to the grocery store.

8. We don't use the sprinkler system, we catch water in rain barrels and spread it out over our garden.

9. We try to buy as much locally grown and organic foods as possible.  I am very fortunate to have a husband that not only cooks, but does all the food shopping as well.  We shop farmers markets as much as we can during the summer.  He is a great cook, so we don't eat out often and rarely eat any type of prepared foods.  

10.  My business.  I know fabulous letterpress stationery isn't a necessity, but there are some luxuries that we deserve to splurge on.  Especially if they are green luxuries.  I use almost all 100% cotton papers, a lot of them are from Crane.  You can see their description of their green processes here.   And with the exception of my computer and the designing and processing of the printing plates, just about everything else we do is manual labor.  I have a forty year old, completely manually operated printing press and we hand cut and die cut all our papers and products.  

If you want to hear more out the environment, food, policy and politics, you can check out my incredible husband's blog (incredible husband and incredible blog) right here,  He is an elected official, three time cancer survivor, dad and soccer coach and he likes to talk about his passions on his blog. Just make sure you sure you don't miss his dry, sarcastic sense of humor.  He is kidding some (most) of the time.  

Monday, April 20, 2009

Valley Shepherd Creamery

We took the boys on a family outing this weekend to Valley Shepherd Creamery.  What an interesting place.  It is a small sheep farm in New Jersey where they use the sheep's milk to make farmstead cave aged cheeses.  They have about 600 sheep on the farm at capacity which actually makes them one of the three largest sheep farms in the country.  Every spring hundreds of lamb are born on the farm.  The sheep are all grass fed in the fields.  For a small artisanal process, they are very sophisticated.  They do genetic testing on their animals and have imported specialized equipment from all over europe for milking.  Here is their rotary milking system. 

 The sheep are loaded into a stall, hooked up to the the milking machine, then they rotate around on the machine for about two minutes.  When they are done being milked, the harness around their necks open up and, on their own, the sheep get out and head back down the ramp to the barn.  

We got to take a tour of the barns and milking system and saw the greenhouse were they keep all the new born lambs.  Here is my nine year old holding a 10 day old lamb.  
Then we got to go to the sheep shoppe where they sell all the fresh and aged cheeses.  

All the aged cheeses spend two to fourteen months aging in a cave carved out of the side of a hill on the property.  We picked up some pure sheep's whey ricotta and pure sheep's milk Ewegurt and several aged cheeses all made from raw milk including smoked gouda, blue cheese and one called Valley Thunder which is a hand milled, crumbly sharp cheddar.  All their cheeses are sold at their farm store, farmers markets in the NY/NJ area and at some select specialty cheese shops around the country.  They sell out all the cheese they can make every year.

What an incredible experience to see how they operate.  They have farm tours every weekend throughout the summer, they also teach cheese making classes and Saturday, May 2nd is their annual sheep shearing festival.  You can check that out here.  Delicious!

Friday, April 17, 2009

1st Dibs Friday Fun - Vintage Industrial

I am going to try and make this a regular series.  With my crazy schedule, I am not sure it will be every Friday, but wouldn't that be fun!  I have a stationery friend, Kelly, from Paperstories Letterpress who is taking the very exciting leap of opening up a studio/retail space in the Chicago area.  I wish her the best of luck and really hope that she has so much success with this venture.  Way to go!  She is detailing the move to her new space here on her blog.  Wouldn't you love to have this space to work in?

It really got me thinking about the idea of opening a retail space.  That would be a fabulous dream, but certainly not something that is anywhere in the near future for me.  But I thought that if I did, how would I design it?  Right now I am all about vintage industrial and I think this would be a great look for a retail space, especially one that deals with a lot of paper, handmade and eco-friendly products.  So here are all pieces from 1st Dibs that I think would be great in a retail space. I used a lot of storage, tables for display and lots and lots of lighting.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wallpaper* and Dwell

In my quest to find a replacement for my beloved Domino magazine I spent some time in the magazine section at my local Barnes & Noble store. I picked up a couple of magazines that looked interesting, Wallpaper* and Dwell

Wallpaper* is a *designinteriorfashionartlifestyle magazine. It is published in London. There is lots of eye candy that would make any designer drool. Very beautifully done and very high end. It is a really nice mix of art, architecture, design, decor, and fashion.  A little for everyone.  Not sure it is a perfect replacement for the more down to earth and affordable Domino, but certainly is worth perusing once in a while.

Dwell is more of a shelter magazine and is very focused on eco-friendly design and California modern living. 

If you were remodeling, redecorating or just wanted more information on modern green living, this is the magazine for you. I could see myself subscribing to this one. Take a look.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Picky, picky, picky

I am starting to learn to trust my instincts more when it comes to creating my work.  We will see if those instincts are anywhere close to correct.  I have a new line coming out called "Charming Prints", they are personalized letterpress art prints for babies and kids.  I have been working with Leo a very talented illustrator from Little Lion Studios to create four different letterpress art prints that can be personalized by the customers with babies/kids names and dates.  All the background artwork will be printed in advance and the customer will get to choose the typeface and ink color of the personalized names.  I had printed three out of four of the art pieces.  Here they are.

I was really struggling with the color combinations for the fourth piece.  Of the first three, two were more girly and one was boyish.  So should I make the fourth print boyish or use colors that could work for either?  The first time I printed it up I opted for the latter.

For weeks I stared at that and it bugged me.  It just didn't feel right.  It kept me up at night.  I felt like it didn't really pop.  I felt like it didn't quite work for either a girl or a boy as I tried to make it too gender neutral.  So I inked up the press again and here is what I did.  Do you think it works now?

Friday, April 10, 2009

1st Dibs Fun

One of my favorite fantasy websites is 1st Dibs.  What an incredible selection of high end antiques in many styles from many time periods.  Antique dealers from all across the country feature fabulous pieces available to ship.  I love antiques, I love the opportunity to reuse a piece of our past rather than purchase new, although if I were to be able to purchase from this site, I think I would want to make sure it was pieces from some of the more local dealers because I think shipping furniture across the country defeats the purpose of buying old vs. new. 

But it is so much fun to look through all the eye candy on the website and imagine how I could fill my house with all that incredible design.  

I thought it would be fun to occasionally use pieces found on 1st Dibs to create a room.  Here is my first attempt.  I am going back to the post the other day about my JazzFest prints.  I thought if I could design a room around those prints, what would it be and how would it look?  I tried to imagine a sophisticated, elegant deco home office.  Completely unlike the home studio I currently use.  Here is just a taste of a few pieces that I thought could go into a room like that.  

Please note that I am not an interior designer.  I am just showing you what I love.  I may make it a regular feature to create fun and interesting rooms from the furniture offered for sale on 1st Dibs.  Let me know if you have a particular room, style, or era you would like to see featured here.  Stay tuned for more 1st Dibs fun in the future.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I have officially finished printing all the samples for my new line of wedding invitations.  Here is a sneak peek of the latest design.

Printed in sage green and navy.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Saturday was my birthday.  We went out to what I think was the most incredible dinner experience I have ever had.  We pulled a few strings and got a reservation at, Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York, just north of Manhattan.  It is on the property of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.  Which, according to their website the mission of this "unique, nonprofit, member-driven collaboration is to celebrate, teach and advance community-based food production and enjoyment, from farm to classroom to table."  They hold all kinds of classes and tours, and it is certainly a wonderful place just to walk around and learn about the food we eat.

But Blue Hill is an experience in itself.  They give you a menu which is just a list of the many ingredients that have been harvested and are available to possibly be a part of your meal.  You choose from the five course tasting menu or the eight course "Farm Feast."  They discuss with you your likes and dislikes and if there are any foods you can't eat and then they prepare your meal.  Then the food starts coming to the table.  We ended up with sixteen or seventeen small plates of food, each one fresher and more incredible than the next.  There were miniature beet burgers, squab with risotto, this mornings egg soft boiled with a crunchy crust and lentils in a broth, there was a fresh salami plate with four different types of fresh salami including vennison, a wonderful celery apple juice, a lot of vegetables including incredibly fresh spinach, beets, a display of mini carrots, radishes and lettuce.  

And the service is probably the best I have ever experienced.  We felt as if the staff was performing a choreographed dance around the dining room.  We had as many staff serving our table and there were diners at our table.  Pure heaven.

And I can't forget to mention the dining room and overall all decor of the restaurant. Beautifully done, not the really rustic farmhouse look I was expecting, but expertly refined modern and luxurious.

Just the idea that all the fabulous food prepared at the restaurant is all locally grown, fresh picked, and  in season, including a large portion of it right there on the Stone Barns property, is enough to experience this meal, but the service, style, decor and quality of the food was second to none.  Oh, and to top it off, because we had pulled those strings, (thank you Peter Kelly), we got a kitchen tour and got to meet the chef/owner Dan Barber.  The cherry on top!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Look what just arrived

I just got this email. I am thrilled to be a part of the fabulous group.

You can check out the lookbook right here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Purple Passion

My new note cards with the letterpress printed folio gift box.

Today was purple passion day as I spent a good part of the day printing in purple. It was a lot of fun, once I got past the registration issues I had. This is probably my favorite of all the patterns in my new line. Although I love them all so much, not sure if I can really make that decision.

The press is inked up and ready to go.

Ink on the plates.

Here are all the discarded sheets where the registration was off. I am going to come up with some other use for these, can't put them in the recycling bin, even with the registration off, they are too nice to get rid of.