Thursday, July 30, 2009

I been chef'n!

a family member of mine is a top notch food editor & recipe developer who does work for several prominent national magazines that know what to do with food. she has a professionally trained kitchen assistant, but sometimes, when her workload is beastly, I get to help out, too. this is no walk in the park; she knows what she’s doing and what she needs done. me, i basically know where my kitchen is and the difference between it and the sewing room. but i’m learning. so, i get basic directions like, peel x pounds of apples or measure out these dry ingredients.

now, her kitchen isn’t like yours or mine. after a lifetime in food, it’s got every tool and gadget a chef could ever need. but there is a line of tools i’ve been noticing i gravitate toward, among the numerous brands she owns, that appeal to my design aesthetic as well as get the job done. when i’m peeling apples, i automatically grab the chef’n palm peeler. fits over my middle finger and lets me peel like nature intended (even though nature put most of the fiber and vitamins in the skin and intended you to eat them).

likewise when i’m measuring. chef’n makes collapsible measuring cups in silicone that lie flat in the drawer (!) and pop out to get working. simplified storage and ease of use; these people know what they’re doing. now, does she have fancier peelers and measuring tools? of course. but when the seamstress makes her way into the kitchen, it’s all about design…

she tells me that she met the design folks at seattle’s chef’n years ago and that they’re hilarious people. no, they don’t take themselves too seriously (some of the kitchen tools they make are in the shapes of animals & monsters for goodness sakes), but they hit their mark of innovative, smart tools that truly work. i’m sold.

btw, after a spin in the kitchen, there’s nothing more relaxing than snacking on some melt-in-your-mouth pecan truffles or freshly baked pumpkin bread and watching top chef masters with someone who knows all the behind-the-scenes stories: which chef did what when she worked with him, which sent her what outrageous baby gift and so on. hysterical.

man, it’s fun to step out of your world.

both the chef'n palm peeler and collapsible measuring cups are available at amazon for about $5.99 and $14.99, respectively.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

fear of felting

i've wanted to learn how to crochet for ages. i've been sewing since i was a child, but yarn scares me. my father's aunt tried to teach me when i was eight, but i was hopeless. after that i decided i couldn't do it.

well, my sister recently arranged a lesson for herself and invited me along. it was eye opening. i could do it. to supplement that first lesson, i turned to my new best friend, rachel. never met her, but she has a very cute website full of fun projects and all sorts of tutorials (including photos for lefties). i found exactly what i was looking for and jumped in. the next day, i had an adorable crocheted bowl.

the day after that, it was a felted bowl (photo at top). splish, splash, 123. now i can't stop making them. and tweaking the recipe and having fun with colors, too. i'm sure some of the better ones will end up in my shop. keep your eyes peeled. they're great for keeping change or keys or cotton balls in or any quirky things you have around the house, but no place for (like your peanuts...). i think they also make fantastic gifts. i've alerted my loved ones that they'll likely be getting these babies for some time to come...

hmmm. makes me wonder what else i've been afraid to try that i might actually be good at (or at least enjoy)?

shall we make a pact, you and i? i'll try (more) new things if you will?

BTW, if you're a fan of felting (and really, who isn't), you must see the outstanding exhibit at the cooper-hewitt museum ("fashioning felt") before it closes the first week of september. it is truly inspirational. and if you didn't want to go to mongolia before you saw it, i guarantee you'll want to go afterward. just do it quickly, before the traditions fade into "progress."

Saturday, July 4, 2009

a 4th of july for us all

despite the fact that we're still mired in war, there is a sense that more americans feel more "american" today than they did in 1969 when jasper johns created "moratorium" (offset lithograph on wove paper).

if that's true, does it change how we view our past as well as our present? (wayne eagleboy, "we the people," 1971, acrylic paint and barbed wire on buffalo hide, framed in fur.)

the obamas are changing the face of art inside the white house, but is art (beyond t-shirt design) in the rest of the u.s. changing because of the obamas? (above top, david hammons, "african-american flag," 1990, dyed cotton; above bottom, faith ringgold, "flag story quilt," 1985, cotton canvas, dyed, pieced.)

and, if more of us feel american today, what are we doing about it? are we willing to help those less fortunate feel more american, too?

here's to america and all she is and can be, when her people work together... happy fourth, everybody!

Friday, July 3, 2009

wrapping up your pride

so there i was last weekend marching in the nyc heritage of pride parade. and was i thinking about those before us who suffered (and died) for the sake of the right to love the person of their choosing without persecution in our crazy society? was i thinking about those who suffer and fight today for the right to marry the person of their choosing? equal rights/rites for all mankind? well, maybe. but mostly i was thinking about the AWESOME yellow pants on the gentleman in the ebullient buddhist group in front of me, energetically dancing his way down fifth avenue.

seriously, as i was sweating profusely wearing (fabulous, but black) pants that covered my entire leg, the design of his lightweight cotton wraparound pants that expose the sides of your legs (or the whole leg, given the right dance move) entranced me. of course, they were pretty much all he was wearing (except for a small pair of white terrycloth shorts, which were revealed when the pants were removed with a flourish). oddly enough, he looked “cooler” with the pants on… i didn’t get his photo, so I’ve attached a general image of the style: one piece pants that you secure around your waist with ties from each side (the pants being sewn together only at the inseam). i’ve seen this design before, usually at the tibetan/asian markets in the city, like do kham, my favorite of the lot. but they really didn’t speak to me until i saw them “in action.”

note to self: dance as much as possible and enjoy your body, whichever kind you’ve got…

feeling bold and want to save a few bucks? here’s a free pattern to make a quick and easy pair yourself, provided by miss kreant at craftgrrl.

too hippie, crunchy, zen, genie for you? consider the ultimate couture version (in shorts) from qasimi (the new-ish and fab line from uae-native khalid al qasimi) shown at last week’s paris men’s fashion week (via our friends at fashion 156). gorgeous, but clearly trading one kind of cool for another