Archive for the 'Great design' Category

Random Acts of Beauty

Posted by laura on Jun 15 2008 | Awesome, Great design, Travel

Here are some random shots from my beautiful trip to Peru. Of course the greatest beauty I encountered there was undoubtedly in the people I met. I’ll be frank – Peru seems to have an overabundance of gorgeous people, but it was their warmth, generosity and humor that knocked my socks off. I don’t have permissions to post their photos, though, so I’ll focus on a few other lovely sights.

Up in Cusco, Carmen and I went to an evening performance of traditional Peruvian dance. In the back of the theater there was a small costume museum filled with absolutely stunning pieces like this one. The color and complexity of the patterns and pieces just blew me away.

Here’s Carmen’s church – it’s such a lovely structure, with an open and clean design inside. It had great warmth with minimal fuss. Check out the fence around the church – they have a wonderful gardener who talks to the flowers and they evidently listen to him. I was really taken by the way the flowers seemed to burst out of their container.

Now here’s an interesting one. Carmen’s great friends, Marg and Eileen, are Presentation Sisters – their order was founded by an Irish woman named Nano Nagle. Marg and Eileen live not too far from Carmen, in an area called Las Flores de Villa, and there they have created two amazing centers. One is primarily for women and the other is for children. They provide holistic therapies, access to psychologists and counselors, art therapies, places to work and receive all manner of support. These buildings are beautiful because of where they are and what they provide for the great people who live nearby.

The building pictured above is their center for children. The next shots are from inside:

Above, you can see a shot of the neighborhood. The cyclamen below really summed up the inside of the building for me – in a rocky, dry environment, the center springs like an oasis, filled with lush color and growth.

This shot was from what Carmen called our ‘Pilgrim Day’ in Lima – starting here, at Las Nazarenas church, where on a busy working day people stop and buy a beautiful candle and have it lit for them while they pause and say a prayer. I liked how some people would group several candles into one holder, and others would stick with one. Some went for simple white candles, and others really went all out with the elaborate purple ones. This church is the starting point of the famous celebration of Señor de los Milagros in October each year.

From Las Nazarenas we walked up to the Santuario de Santa Rosa – Saint Rose of Lima’s home.

There’s a nice ritual at this well – people write down their hopes and intentions on a slip of paper, press them to the statue, and then drop them into the well. Carmen told me that in the past she’s seen long lines of people waiting to reach the well. We were fortunate that the day we visited was surprisingly quiet, and we were able to meander around a bit and then drop our wishes into the well. (I’m pretty sure Carmen asked for a Ferrari.)

Last stop on the tour was Saint Martin’s home.

This was a gorgeous building with incredible tile work, entirely dedicated to providing services to the poor. Saint Martin was super cool – not only was he tireless in working and advocating for the poor, but all the statues depict him with a broom in hand, because he considered all work sacred. I can get behind that.

I had to pop in this photo from Huaca Pucllana – a pre-Incan site right in the fancy district of Miraflores. According to my reading, it dates back to 200-700AD, and is an extremely significant site. We were simply floored by the excavation – particularly one demonstration of the process of collecting and reassembling the zillions of pieces to a huge smashed vessel. It was ulcer-inducing just to consider how painstaking the project was! I also couldn’t stop looking at the patterns created by the adobe bricks.

The last shot is of the coast, from the Larcomar shopping area in Miraflores. Pretty sweet view! 

no comments for now


Posted by laura on Jun 09 2008 | Great design, Tasty

Tom’s birthday continued till Saturday and we had a big barbeque with a bunch of great friends. Birthday + party = cupcakes. Right??


This year, we got all fancy with our party and actually hung decorations!


We love having a barbeque at this time of year, not just to celebrate our hope for Tom getting wiser, but to give our friends a chance to see Tom’s parents. They usually fly in from Adelaide some time around the end of May. It’s a nice time for a visit because the school year is wrapping up and there are such great events – picnics and open house and dinners in the park.

I absolutely love this time of year. I still get the same old thrill when I realize that summer vacation is close enough to touch. Just thinking about the last day of school brings a wash of memories to my mind – the hum of lawn mowers and the tick tick ticktickticktick of sprinklers, the smell of rain on warm pavement and the prickle of grass under bare feet. Summer was always such a broad, slow smile. I hope our kids will have the same feeling about it as they grow up.

After our barbeque on Saturday, we all trucked up to the Book Passage in Corte Madera, where our dear friend Lissa Rovetch was having a book signing with her mother, Gerda. They just teamed up to create a wonderful book titled

There Was a Man Who Loved a Rat  

And Other Vile Little Poems

Hard to beat a title like that. They gave an inspiring and entertaining presentation that no one wanted to end. Here they are:


Aren’t they stunning? You should have seen them – smart, funny and gorgeous. (And check out how Lissa’s dress matches the circle on the cover of their book. She’s brilliant and coordinated.)

So it worked like this – Gerda wrote all the vile little poems, and Lissa did the vile little drawings. The result is far from dull. Here’s one of my favorites:

There was a cunning little mobster

who kept a large and lively lobster.

He aimed the beast at people’s ears,

and some remembered it for years.


Gerda was a treasure chest of stories – rare and glimmering and abundant. From her family’s narrow escape from Germany under Nazi persecution, to her years as a draftsman during the war (she mentioned in an aside that “trigonometry is really nothing to sneeze at – it comes in very handy when you’re called to do war work”) to meeting her husband when she was a potter at Oxford and he was there on a Fulbright – every story had the entire room laughing and in awe. Lissa is an incredible story teller as well, and it was a treat to hear them play off of each other. What a gift.



2 comments for now

Fishs Eddy

Posted by laura on May 23 2008 | Awesome, Great design

Here is a story about a platter, a mad hatter, and some old-school customer service.

My daughter dances at a great studio here in our town. They have performances at the end of their class cycles, like many other schools. I like the performances at this school because there are the mandatory insanely cute tiny dancers all the way up to very accomplished high school dancers headed for college programs. The pieces are varied and challenging, which makes for a great show.

This spring, they are presenting Alice in Wonderland – I think the plan is to make this show a signature piece, much like the Nutcracker works for many schools. My daughter is in the performance (she’s a hedgehog) and is having the time of her life.

Not that long ago, I came across a very cool online tableware store called Fishs Eddy. I pretty much wanted one of everything on the site – but I was particularly happy to find an entire Alice in Wonderland line. This platter seemed like it would make a great gift for one of my daughter’s dance teachers:whiterabbit.jpg

How great is that?! It’s the perfect size and weight, and I love the white rabbit illustration. Here’s a closeup:whiterabbit1.jpg 

(Sorry for the image quality – I’m rushing.)

Here’s where the story gets good. When I ordered the platter, I couldn’t help but order a couple of cups from their “Birds on a Wire” line as well. Have a look…


(You have to check out the product page - there’s a cake stand that is ridiculously beautiful.)

So I put in my order, and Christmas came yesterday. The platter was even nicer than I expected, and the cups – well they were gorgeous, but they were from another product line. I sent the orders department an email explaining the situation, and this morning they wrote me back to apologize for the mixup. Here’s where I hope you’re sitting down, because they told me to just keep the cups they accidentally sent, and they’d put the right ones in the mail this afternoon.

When was the last time you had some of that good old fashioned customer service? I’m here to tell you, it’s great

no comments for now

Beautiful bins

Posted by laura on May 20 2008 | Great design

We moved our trash bins from behind the garage to the side of our driveway. More convenient, less pretty. So Tom built us a gorgeous enclosure for them. Check it out: 


[You'll find it back behind the pool, dahling.]

Here’s a close-up


Isn’t it lovely? If you’re from around here, it probably reminds you of something, though…..


[This photo is courtesy of the SFMOMA website - check it out and support them in any way you can, because as museums go, it rocks!]

So now our bins have a modern museum-grade home. (Insert junk art joke here.) Thank you, TOM!!!

2 comments for now


Posted by laura on May 17 2008 | Awesome, Great design

This is not my usual title.

But today is an exception, because I’m wearing this:


[See that metal cockatoo hanging from our garage? It's thinking, "WOW you look cool!" and I'm thinking, "Don't I know it."]

This awesome shirt was designed by my friend Austin. He’s 6. (Look out, world.)

Just because I’m ultracool does not mean I’m ultrastingy. To prove it – I’ll even post a link to Austin’s shirt on redbubble. See? I’m using my powers for good and not evil.

1 comment for now

Now Showing

Posted by laura on Mar 04 2008 | Great design

Hey all you arty people – get yourselves over to the RISD Northern California Alumni Biennial 2008 at the Oakland Art Gallery! It opens tonight, March 4 (happy birthday Mike D!) and runs till March 29. When you get there, make sure you check out our friend Peter’s photographs – they’re fantastic.

Have some lame excuse, like you don’t have time, or a car, or you live 3000 miles away? Well you’re lucky because you can still check out his work online at Peter Belanger Photography. Way to go, Peter!!

1 comment for now


Posted by laura on Feb 11 2008 | Great design

For far too long, I have been (not so) secretly coveting these amazing felted furniture pieces called livingstones.


 They’re just the most beautiful things – like oversized stones from the beach. Foam inside and felted outside, they range in size from sofa down to basketball. I just love the look of them and only wish they weren’t quite so expensive.

Check them out at livingstones - but be prepared to fall into a profound state of longing. The photos on the site are gorgeous. Wouldn’t you just love to make a pile of these in a corner of your house and jump in? All the benefits of a good leaf pile without any of the prickles!

1 comment for now