Friday Featured Art: Lions

A pair of bronze lions greets visitors to the Art Institute of Chicago. They were sculpted by Edward Kemeys and installed at the Art Institute's Michigan Avenue entrance in 1894. They always look so solemn to me, but I know that at Christmastime they are draped with wreathes, and when the Bears went to the Super Bowl they got to wear football helmets!


Thursday Text: Barack & Michelle

I found the text for today in the recent Vogue article on Michelle Obama. When I watched the Obamas at the inaugural ball, I thought it was the cutest thing - and this quote, I think, really captures what can be so great about marriage.

"I'm extremely happy with her," he told Mariana Cook in a 1996 interview with the couple recently published in The New Yorker, "and part of it has to do with the fact that she is at once familiar to me, so that I can be myself and she knows me very well and I trust her completely, but at the same time she is also a complete mystery to me in some ways. ...It's that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong, because even as you build a life of trust and comfort and mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person."


Japanese-Motif Soaps

Here's a Martha project that I wanted to make for Christmas presents but never got around to. She uses decal paper to apply pretty Japanese prints to soaps. I really want to try this. Click here for instructions. What projects are you working on?


He's Just Not That Into You

Last night a friend took me to dinner and a movie as a late birthday celebration. We went to He's Just Not That Into You. There was a great cast, and the movie was OK, but what I loved was Jennifer Connelly's wardrobe. (I liked her character, too, and was mad about what happened to her.) There were a few questionable parts and a lot of bad words earning it the PG-13 rating. There were some cute moments and a lot of cliches, and Scarlett Johansson is the devil. As I told Tony when I got home, his look-alike (Ben Affleck) turned out to be the best one. But, seriously, Jennifer Connelly's clothes and hair were my favorite part of the movie.


Felix Doolittle

As I was writing thank you notes for my birthday I was reminded of a lovely stationery shop that I found on Martha's sources. Felix Doolittle sells beautifully-illustrated personalized cards, labels, papers, etc. I really like the book plates and anything with the rabbit design.


Blue Butler's Pantry

Did you see Eddie Ross's butler's pantry project from his new (old) house? It was so inspiring. Of course I love blue, and the silver is so sophisticated. I especially love the stacks of platters and the little drawers that he painted to match.

{My husband has a conference at a fancy hotel in Chicago over the next few days, so I invited myself to tag along! I may still be online but will definitely be back on Monday.}


Happy Darlybird To Me!

Today I am 30. The big 3-0. It's not a big deal, but birthdays always become a joke because I'm about 6 weeks older than my husband. He won't let me forget it.

After seeing on DesignMom that Darlybird was clearing out their inventory by selling grab bags, I thought that I would order one as a present to myself. It was great fun! I got some funky earrings and a square bangle bracelet, a little felt zipper pouch (made in Nepal), an apple ornament, some hang tag note cards, beautiful brown cupcake wrappers, foot scrub, and some solid perfume made in Spain. Oh! And a metal yo-yo that looks like a globe. How fun is that?


Pella, Iowa

Probably because it was so cold last week, I've been thinking about Pella, Iowa. We made a trip there in February three years ago. The high for the day was 8 degrees. We bundled up to explore the little Dutch town but had to run into a shop every few minutes to keep from crying. We stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast called De Boerderij, and it was warm and toasty. Below is the Vermeer Windmill. It was built in Holland and then reassembled in Pella. We really need to go back and see things when the weather is nice!


Friday Featured Art: 1904 St. Louis World's Fair Poster

The 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, was an almost unfathomable event. It covered acres and acres and took place over months, and I'll have to post more about it at a later date. For now I want to draw attention to the famous poster for the exposition, designed by Alphonse Mucha. He was a prominent figure in the art nouveau style that was popular at the turn of the century. I find the intricate designs and elaborate draping really interesting. I got a copy of this poster at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis, on the site of the World's Fair, and I think that I will always love it.


Thursday Text: Nathaniel Hawthorne on marriage

During our courtship, Tony sent me some wonderful quotes from Nathaniel Hawthorne to his wife, Sophia. When we were married, he again quoted from Hawthorne. Last year on the occasion of our anniversary, I found the following quote that I really love. I guess it gets you in the spirit for Valentine's Day.

Nobody but we ever knew what it is to be married. If other people knew it, this dull old earth would have a perpetual glory round about it.

{Yes, I sneaked one of Thayer's paintings into this post.}



I have really been captivated by cupcakes lately. They are easy to make and easier to frost than a whole cake. Plus it's like giving each person their own cake! I think I should get the Martha cupcake taker and cupcake tree at Macy's. Speaking of Martha - she is releasing a cupcake cookbook with 175 recipes on June 2. How exciting! In the meantime, you can find plenty of cupcake recipes on her web site. (She really should pay me...)


Missouri Botanical Garden - Orchid Show

On Saturday, we went to the annual orchid show at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The garden is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. We love visiting the orchid show each February. It is a welcome glimpse of spring. I always take way too many pictures because there are so many interesting varieties. Here are a couple that we thought were fascinating. We've tried to grow orchids on a few occasions but never have much success. Have you ever cared for an orchid?


Food Storage

Food storage is something that has always lurked at the back of my mind. We've never had the space or the money or the time or the inclination. (I know - everyone comes up with their own excuses...) Between a friend at work who got into food storage when she lived in Utah for a while and a Christmas gift from my parents, we have finally started! So far I got some big plastic buckets with fancy twist-on lids, some glass jars with lids (from Wal-Mart), whole grain pasta, and brown rice. My leftover funds are going toward flour, sugar, and oats to fill up the buckets. I also got in on a stake Walton Feed order to get some random things like refried beans and potato chunks. The Shelf Reliance web site is lovely and has beautiful cans of food (below), but seems rather expensive. Hopefully I'll figure this all out as we go along.


Friday Featured Art: First Steps

It seems that when most people think of van Gogh, they picture irises and sunflowers and him with a bandage around his head. When we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art last summer, I was pleased to see a variety of works by van Gogh. I don't remember seeing this one, but I really like it. It's called First Steps, after Millet. Millet's version was kind of a washed out pastel picture, but I think this one is so endearing.


Thursday Text: Stars

My most recent poetry class (6 or 7 years ago) introduced me to Sara Teasdale. Her poems are generally on the short side and are very descriptive and beautiful. I just learned that she was from St. Louis. This poem especially spoke to me:


Alone in the night
On a dark hill
With pines around me
Spicy and still,

And a heaven full of stars
Over my head,
White and topaz
And misty red;

Myriads with beating
Hearts of fire
That aeons
Cannot vex or tire;

Up the dome of heaven
Like a great hill,
I watch them marching
Stately and still,
And I know that I
Am honored to be
Of so much majesty.


Richard Saunders

Last February, my sister Sara came to visit me in my little town. I was so excited to have a visitor and was going to drag her to every shop in town. The only problem was that we had a freak snow storm the day that she arrived. We ended up trudging around to find every shop closed - except for Richard Saunders! He lives right on my street in a 170-year-old home and sells wonderful gifts and antiques. If I remember correctly, she found a cool old compass and a magnifying glass for her husband and son, respectively. (I later got one of the compasses for my dad, and he's now using it to teach his Boy Scouts - how cool is that?) We're glad that we can always count on Richard Saunders.


Draper Temple

The open house for the Draper Temple is going on now. I love that when there are temple open houses the Church puts out photos of the interiors. It looks stunning. I especially liked the detail of the ceiling from the celestial room (bottom), and how cute is the bride's room (below)?


801 First Street

This cute house in my little town is for sale! It started out as a church of some kind, and then it was a restaurant and then another one, and then a couple turned it into a house. It is right at the local trail head of the Katy Trail. From the listing, it looks like the kitchen is in the bell tower area. To the right is a little gazebo, and they had wonderful sunflowers through the middle of the yard last summer. I think it would be really interesting to live there!

Maira Kalman

Grace of Design*Sponge posts so much stuff on her blog that if you blink, you'll miss it. I happened to catch her link to Maira Kalman's journal of paintings from her trip to the inauguration in the New York Times. Check it out - it will brighten your day.

{On a completely unrelated note, happy Groundhog Day!}