Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Hallo'green?

The simple beauty of the pumpkin. The color, the shape and the whimsy it evokes this time of year makes the big gourd a great looking decoration inside or out. After the Halloween party, think green and turn your pumpkin into an edible treat like pumpkin bread or pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie or pumpkin mousse or pumpkin pasta sauce or pumpkin compost!

And, when you carve your pumpkin, don't forget to pull out the seeds for roasting. This works best as soon as you've removed them. Rinse the seeds in cold water and pat them dry. Place the seeds in a single layer on a well-oiled baking sheet. Toss the seeds to coat then. Sprinkle with salt and bake at 325 degrees until toasted (about 30 to 40 minutes). Check and gently stir the seeds at 10 minute intervals. Allow to cool and serve to your carving party or store in an airtight container.

From Radio Kitchen, broadcast by an NPR affiliate, here are instructions to help transform your pumpkin:
To use the pumpkin, you'll want to make a puree. Cut the pumpkin in half, and scoop out the seeds and membrane. Place face down in a baking dish in about 1 inch of water. Bake at 350 for up to 90 minutes, assuring meltingly soft flesh. Scoop out the flesh and put it in a food processor with a little butter. Puree until smooth. You'll get about one cup puree for each pound of flesh.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bicycle Racks as Art

Bicycles Part 2: I'm still thinking about bikes and cutting down the number of cars, whether its on campuses or encouraging commuter cycling to workplaces. The increased interest in bike power, correlates to an increased demand for safe places to lock up two-wheelers.

New York City was already on the task, when it held a bike rack design contest this past summer. Guidelines and information for the competition appear on the contest web site, The city received over 200 entries from more than 24 states and 26 countries. Ten finalists were selected and their prototypes were installed at Astor Place. The public was invited to view them and share their comments on the future street furniture.

Musician, artist, and blogging cyclist, David Byrne, entered his own bike parking designs. Although his designs weren't entered as part of the contest, he did participate as a judge. His gallery, PaceWildenstein, offered to produce his designs for the city to try out for a year. They appear in the photos above.

New York City has installed nine new bike racks designed by David Byrne. Top row, left to right: MoMA, Olde Times Square and Villager. Middle row, left to right: Coffee Cup, Wall Street and Ladies’ Mile. Bottom row, left to right: Hipster, Chelsea and Jersey. (Photos: New York City Department of Transportation)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bicycles = Sustainability

Getting around campus without a car has just gotten a little easier and a lot more fun for many college freshmen this year. Several greener campuses across the country have initiated bike programs to help reduce the number of cars on campus. At least two colleges offered incoming freshmen the gift of a free bike if they left their cars at home. Several other colleges have bike loaner and bike sharing programs in the works.

The administrators want to prevent these campuses from becoming cities of asphalt parking spaces, help students keep their expenses down, and add a healthful element to students' daily schedules while offering a pleasanter and more personal college experience.

Perhaps most importantly, bike programs present a viable alternative transportation philosophy to our future generations. Imagine, upon their graduation, they'll think dark green in their choices of a new job or opportunity and select a place to live within biking distance.

See the New York Times article, With Free Bikes, Challenging Car Culture on Campus for more information.

Graphic of Bicycle District was designed by Jon Jandoc. Jon's site is The Joke is Up. Thanks also to

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tartan Tumblers

To find a set of matched retro glasses takes time - sometimes years of patience and a good sized dose of luck. At this address, many sets of glasses have been collected and enjoyed, among which there exists a fabulous set of 12 tartan tumblers in charming colors. The horizontal stripes include a band of 3 yellow, 2 black and 3 grayish green, complemented with vertical stripes of red. From the varied signs of wear they exhibit, these glasses have been admired, held, and cheered at more than one tabletop.

But in the spirit of giving green and, of course, to further appreciate their fabulous design appeal, these glasses have taken on an expanded purpose - a mission of sorts. They are no longer merely drinking vessels, but simple missionaries of good design. They will be transformed into gifts this holiday season. They may be filled halfway with little glass beads and made into candle holders for small votives or tall tapers, or maybe hold small posies of boxwood and tiny flowers. They may be filled with candies and wrapped with criss-crossed ribbon and a bow at the top. They may...

Fortunately, there's still time to experiment how best to re-use and re-introduce them. Fortunately, good design is always in style.

Monday, October 13, 2008


At Battery Park City in New York, overlooking Rockefeller Park, a lush and popular riverfront stretch, rises a 31 story, green, luxury residential tower called Riverhouse. To promote the building's eco-luxe lifestyle and the stylish interior architecture of David Rockwell, a quite convincingly family-oriented show home has been created in a beautiful, light-saturated, 3 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath duplex.

Parenting lifestyle magazine Cookie organized the event to share ideas of eco-chic family living in the new and certified green building. The 1,930 square foot apartment features such smart green choices as solid bamboo flooring, low emission adhesive and paints, filtered air and water, energy efficient appliances and double pane floor to ceiling windows in each room (with spectacular views of the Hudson River).

Cookie's designers selected comfortable contemporary furniture and accessories to create rooms that multi-task for multi-uses by multi-ages very appealingly. Upholstery in dark colors and stain resistant fabrics for the great room worked well with rounded edges for the coffee table and layers of light for playing, reading or entertaining. Some rooms were painted soft shades of blue-grays or soft whites with a hint of sunshine, while the window treatments were mostly white and simple with shades and translucent draperies. All the spaces were tempting to settle into immediately and make yourself at home. Even the stair hall was transformed into an inspiring spot for a quiet moment.

Between the master suite with a large dressing room and the 2nd bedroom with bath, a gallery of photos lined the second floor hallway. The simplicity and flexibility of the wooden laundry clips evenly spaced in a row further reflected the practical aesthetic exhibited throughout.

In the entrance hall, leading to the great room with a sleek open kitchen on the right, a mud room was established with white shelves lined with baskets on one wall and a large closet opposite. The beautiful white and black baskets were woven from rolled newspaper - perfect storage for keeping a well-organized green home.

Even if you don't live in a building generating energy from solar cells on the roof and boasting an organic bakery in the lobby, you can still take inspiration from the practical, yet chic ideas exhibited.

The Cookie Living show home is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 11-5, October 10-October 26, 2008. Further information on Riverhouse may be found at

Friday, October 3, 2008

Vintage Julia Child

I'm finally going to make real French onion soup a la Julia Child. Although my first introduction to The French Chef came from a parody on Saturday Night Live, I am a huge fan of hers. I still chuckle at the recollection of Dan Aykroyd in her style of clothes and hair, imitating her sing-songy advice, while cutting a chicken and cutting his hand.

I recently watched selected lessons from The French Chef, 1963-1973 on DVD. It was Julia's first television series and understandably a huge success. From the earliest episodes in black and white, in a studio kitchen fitted with a washer and dryer next to the oven (what better to use for counterspace), she enthusiastically introduces a series of dishes with potatoes - one of which doesn't work as intended. The camera continues to roll as she reassures her cooking audience it's okay to make mistakes and obviously make a mess.

Her exuberance and humor are refreshing and fun to watch as we learn French cooking techniques. With her warmth and helpful commentary she revolutionized cooking shows while focusing on fresh and lesser-known ingredients and a cuisine new to most Americans cooks. The mismatched pots and dishes in the kitchen and her casual scientific measurements add to the candor and appeal of her iconic style.

The French Chef is available on DVD in three boxed sets. Bon Appetite!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Women Get To Vote, Too

On a cold day in 1917, fourteen suffragists stood in front of the White House holding signs and banners picketing for the right to vote. One banner reads:


With our Election Day only one month away, and a presidential campaign that has created history for its liberation from America's obsession with white and male presidential candidates, it seems a good time to reflect on the success of the women who fought for the right to vote. In 1920, American women were finally guaranteed their opportunity to vote with the acceptance of the 19th amendment to the constitution.

To learn more and see more great photographs, please visit the online exhibition, Women of Protest, at the Library of Congress.

Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.