Saturday, January 12, 2013

Green is Good, but Emerald, Really?

Oh my, what year is this? Have we entered some kind of time machine?

Perhaps it's the revival of 1950s Dorothy Draper designs that helped clinch the vote? Or maybe it's some kind of nostalgia for swinging fern bars of 1970s?

Whatever the reason, Emerald seems an odd choice to be named the new and inspirational color of the year. Come on Pantone can't you be a little more cutting edge?

Overlooking the strange choice of color, it seems Emerald is a hard color to define when it's not on a cocktail ring. Even the home page for Pantone looks unconvinced. It features 9 beautiful crisp lay-outs of various shades of green, many of which do not include Emerald.

A "lively, radiant and lush" green evokes for me a deep, dark and rich forest green, maybe with some variegation. But Emerald just doesn't work like that.

So how and why was it selected? Maybe it's not intended to be a stand alone color and works best when it's part of a mix, like a salad of baby greens? Or maybe we are entering the Land of Oz?

In 2013, I hope we can find our well-being, balance and harmony with a happier, smarter color of green.

For cool Pantone products and color systems, see

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My DIY Buche de Noel

Maybe because I was just back from a fabulous trip to Paris and all things French were on my mind. I decided to attempt a Buche de Noel for our Christmas festivities.

This choice of dessert was not out of the blue. I have had an obsession with Buche de Noel cakes at Christmas for a while now. But it had always been something I ordered, not created.


For the past few years I had been splurging on the Buche de Noel from one or another of our local bakers in search of the perfect cake. The French pastry shop came closest to heavenly, but the more recent past log cakes from the specialty bakers were tasting more like, well- logs.

So, it was with a little giddiness and much trepidation, that I convinced myself it could probably be made in-house at 973.
I'll be honest, the cake was indeed a lot of work. And, it didn't really look as artful as I would have wished for, but it was devoured by our appreciative Christmas gathering. And isn't that what counts most of all?

Who could politely resist a chocolate genoise cake rolled up in buttercream and covered in chocolate ganache, with meringue mushrooms on the side, in a spirited effort to resemble a yule log?
Happy New Year!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sabbatical Hideaway

George Bernard Shaw built this writing hut in his garden in Hertfordshire. The minimalist 8x8' structure rests on a base designed to rotate like a lazy Susan. Shaw could rotate the hut to follow the sun or change his view. Tours of Shaw's Corner, including his house, hut and garden are available in the summer months through the National Trust.

Dearest Readers,

Thank you, as always, for visiting. I am going to take a break from blogging here to complete another project for the next few months. I'll return in time for the winter holidays.

Although I don't have a hut or even a shed to re-purpose for my sabbatical hideaway, I can always dream! Stay well, and have a great summer and back to school season. I look forward to catching up at the beginning of December.

With love from 973

Photo: National Trust, Matthew Antrobus

Monday, June 4, 2012

Celebrating British Sensibility, Too

 Photo by David Parker

This wonderful boat was part of the flotilla that accompanied HRH Queen Elizabeth down the Thames as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebration.

Friday, June 1, 2012

English Landscape Sculpted

Image courtesy of Cowley Manor © Amy Murrell

This summer, make your way to Cowley Manor, a country house hotel in the Cotswolds, where eight graduate students from the Royal College of Art have temporarily installed their site-specific sculptures.

Strolling the grounds, you might see an eight-foot-tall wire tornado frozen mid-swirl on one of the lower lakes, or the word H-E-Y spelled out like a truncated version of the Hollywood sign at the foot of a grassy meadow. The latter, conceived by Wonwoo Lee, has won the juror’s prize and will permanently remain at Cowley Manor. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for Cradeaux Alexander’s amusing installation of “garden plaques with a twist” throughout the grounds. In front of a wooded trail is a sign declaring “A Path of Unusual Morals” and adjacent to a nearby shrub, “A Bush of Great Character.”

The RCA/Coutts sculpture exhibition will be on view until September 3rd and is open to hotel and restaurant guests as well as picnic goers.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Queen Portraits (2004)

This short video, taken from a documentary, offers a fun look at the Queen during a photo shoot at the Palace in 2004.

In 2004 Chris Levine was commissioned by the Island of Jersey to create a portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The portrait was to commemorate 800 years of allegiance to the crown by the Island. A body of work was shot at Buckingham Palace over two sittings and the title works Equanimity and Lightness of Being have been widely acclaimed worldwide.

EQUANIMITY, the first holographic portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, was displayed at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, in 2004.

Jersey Heritage Trust commissioned light artist Chris Levine to create a portrait of Her Majesty to celebrate 800 years of loyalty to the English Crown. Having originally seen his work in a British Council Touring exhibition, the Jersey Museum decided that Chris’s work was so original that they commissioned him for this historic celebration. Jonathan Carter, Director of Jersey Heritage Trust, said: “We think Chris’s work exemplifies the 21st century and the links between Jersey and the Crown. It is a tribute to Chris that he has created such a fascinating piece of contemporary art.”

To create the over-life-size three-dimensional portrait, Chris Levine took over 10,000 images and 3D data-sets of Her Majesty during two sittings at Buckingham Palace. The final hologram is mounted in glass and illuminated by a strip of blue LEDs. The work shows The Queen wearing the Diamond Diadem, created for George IV and worn by Her Majesty for the procession to her Coronation in 1953.

EQUANIMITY was displayed at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, from 17 July until 3 October 2004 with the exhibition George III & Queen Charlotte: Patronage, Collecting and Court Taste (until 9 January 2005).

The Jersey Museum, St Helier, Jersey exhibited  EQUANIMITY from 23 June until 2006, when the work went on permanent display at the historic Mont Orgueil.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Redesigns for Damaged Communities

A new type of exhibit is open at the Museum of Modern Art, through July 30, 2012.
Foreclosed : Rehousing the American Dream

Alexander J. Felson, Assistant Professor, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale School of Architecture writes about his role in the study and exhibition.

Creative design and interdisciplinary exchange were two ingredients MoMA sought to foster in the Foreclosed project. Under MoMA’s guidelines, the teams leaped into uncharted territory, investigating new economic models for restructuring suburban land allocation and radical ecological means for management and adaptation. Respecting the location of foreclosures largely on the outskirts of urban areas, the task was to work through design interventions and enhancements, rethinking human-nature relationships given the suburban adjacency to the hinterlands. Team concepts grew organically through discussions, site visits, and research—culminating in a reconfiguration concept coined “misregisration.” This was intended to tweak the suburban model to restructure relationships and take advantage of potential overlaps and adjacencies within the suburb and its surroundings for social, ecological, and economic gains. For example, rather than thinking of each component of the suburb—lawn, driveway, house, and infrastructure—separately, we sought overlaps and slippages that produced multifunctional landscapes and enhanced value.

Click here for the interactive project map with views of current and future urban concepts for each area.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Happy Birthday Ansel Adams

This week marks the 110th birthday of the late photographer and environmentalist, Ansel Adams (Feb. 20 1902 — Apr. 22, 1984). For more breathtakingly beautiful images, click here.

Follow the link below for more on the Ansel Adams photos in the National Archives.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

DIY Heart Shaped Rings

Jumping right ahead to Valentine's season, here's a project you'll definitely want to try. This red wire heart ring would be a very fun and romantic gift for your Valentine, or a sweet gift for your Mom.

Thanks to Cut Out and Keep for posting the step-by-step here.

Like fiddling with twist ties? Here is an even simpler ring idea, you can make and share with your brown-bag lunch-mates. Or tie them on your friends as a reminder that you love them!

Thanks to YellowGoat for the tutorial here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

DIY Gift Wrapping with Washi Tape

Even CB2 is onto washi tape this year. Clever inspirations from Bonnie Cauble turn simply wrapped packages into works of art with craft paper and colorful tapes.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

DIY Ornaments with Washi Tape

This season, create your own fabulous and easy ornaments with washi tape and a little imagination.

To make beautiful ornaments like these 4 from Zakka life, just follow their instructions:

Cut or rip the tape and apply it to the ornaments anyway you wish. One of the wonderful qualities of washi tape is that it's semi translucent which creates a wonderful overlapping effect. You can kind of see what I'm talking about with the Christmas tree ornament. I experimented with shapes, monograms and just random ripped squares. If you don't like what you make the first time, just peel the tape off and start again. Washi tape is low tack so it won't leave a sticky residue.

Many thanks for sharing with us at 973.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Embellish Instantly with Washi Tapes

Simplify your holiday wrapping and embellish your own crafts and decorations with washi tape, available in paper shops and art supply stores everywhere.

Please click on images for more information.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from 973

Wishing you a very Happy and Delicious Thanksgiving!

1905 menu card and illustration by American illustrator George Elbert Burr [1859-1939]

Monday, October 31, 2011

It's Halloween - What's for Lunch?

Happy Halloween! It's a day of mummies, goblins, ghosties, spiders, and lots more of spooky and scary. So go ahead - eat it, if you dare!

Lunch food images (and other inspiring brown bag ideas) from Another Lunch (top 2), Just Bento & Lunchville

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Decorating with Pumpkins

With pumpkins this pretty and decorative, why not use use them as a simple decoration and pass on the carving. I like them flanking each step at the front entrance or in a short stack by the door.

Check out the stems on these orange beauties. They are perfect for a traditional looking jack-o-lantern.

Pumpkins that are hollowed out also make great looking containers for seasonal arrangements indoors or out.

Have a Happy Halloween!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Every Doorway Has A Story

This image of a mystery door was taken by my dear friend Susan, on her recent trip to Creede, Colorado.

I'll leave the door metaphors to you, clever readers!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Letterpress Printing - an intro

Letterpress from Naomie Ross on Vimeo.

This nicely made video provides a great overview of letterpress printing in less than two minutes.

If anachronistic and custom small press printing designs appeal to you, check out this site for inspiration and free downloads.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Classic Wire Kitchen Basket

I have always been drawn to old wire baskets. I love the simplicity of their appearance and their no-nonsense functionality. Here is a favorite collapsible basket, made in France, intended for gathering, storing and cooking food. The original label is beautifully designed, too.

The obverse of the label also recommends using it whilst camping.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Seeing Ground Zero Today

Dear Readers,
I came across this beautiful NG image of Ground Zero where the Twin Towers once stood. It is the New York that survived and is rebuilding to remember those we lost. It seems appropriate to include it now as we mark ten years since the horrific events of 9/11.

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center opens to the public next week. Information on the monument and how to reserve free passes to visit may be found at their website:

More views of the rebuilding on the site are available on the EarthCam - World Trade Center Cams.

National Geographic has a thoughtful online exhibit, Starting from GROUND ZERO: Ten years after 9/11, how have the survivors healed—and what wounds still remain?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July 4th Idea to Recycle

July 4th - I admired the hostess's clever party decorations and her use of red, white and blue on the holiday buffet table. The striped grosgrain ribbons tied casually around the cutlery rolled in napkins was an idea I am definitely going to recycle and reuse for my next party.

Thank you GM, it was a fabulous celebration, as always!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Airstream Envy

Eco-think, Do it yourself, Live green, Go sustainable, Reduce your footprint, etc.
Whatever your mantra, here is some inspiration from the green redesign and renovation of a 1978 Airstream and a proposed rethink for a 1972 Airstream Tradewind.

For more images and info, please click here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Make Your Own T-Shirt Quilt

My inaugural experience creating a t-shirt quilt has been mostly trial and error, with more emphasis on the error. Thank goodness for my seam ripper!

If you are also crazy enough to think this would be a fun gift to make, please read on. Otherwise, I hope you will enjoy other entries on this blog that have absolutely nothing to do with cutting out 30+ t-shirts as a first step.

I started with 35 of my gift recipient's thoughtfully selected, favorite t-shirts from her extensive collection. Looking at the size and shape of the graphics, I decided to cut each square 14 1/2 inches. I started cutting them with a pair of scissors. (A smarter person would have used a rotary cutter on a self-healing cutting mat.) Then I created and recreated layouts on the floor until I was quite tired, but satisfied with the balance of colors.

I documented it with a few digital images and waited for approval from the recipient. Immediately, she signaled back with the green light on the layout. Next, I started cutting out 14 1/2 inch squares of soft, light-weight fusible interfacing for the backing of the cut tees. (This prevents each t-shirt square from stretching out as you assemble the quilt.)

Using my vintage Singer, I started attaching the squares in rows, with a uniform seam allowance. All seams were pressed open. When the rows were completed, I attached each to the next and pressed the seams again.

Using two lengths of 45" wide fabric selected for the quilt project, I created a backing piece that was intentionally larger all around than the finished t-shirt quilt top. For a neat appearance on the back, I centered the width of the backing fabric and pieced two half widths on either side of the centered fabric to create the overall dimensions needed. I knew enough to avoid a seam down the middle.

Starting from the bottom I created a quilt sandwich, with the backing, right side down, then the batting on that and the quilt top, placed right-side-up and centered. I hand basted around the outside edges to hold all three layers in place. Then, I trimmed the excess batting beyond the edge of the t-shirt quilt top and trimmed the backing (bottom) layer to allow a 2 inch overlay all around.

Working along each edge, I wrapped the two inch overlay of the backing fabric onto the top of the quilt, folded it under twice, pinned and pressed as a 1/2 inch binding. Lastly, I carefully topstitched the self-binding around each side of the quilt. VoilĂ !

Sweet dreams and happy graduation Coco!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chalk Lettering to Keep

With chalk in hand, Dana Tanamachi creates elegant and refined custom lettering. I recently found her work and have been absolutely mesmerized by the beauty and lightness of her artistry. As faithful 973 readers know, I am always interested in typography and lettering, but finding a simple medium as chalk on a chalkboard made exceptionally stunning is truly brilliant. I hope you'll enjoy it, too.

Here's a time lapse video of Dana creating one of her pieces.

For more examples of her work see

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Greetings from 973

Vintage card images above and more may be found here.