shopping in nyc: fishs eddy

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Did some more window shopping in NYC when I was up there recently. This window at Fishs Eddy on Broadway at 19th stopped me in my tracks. It hit a little close to home! (Zoom in to read the speech bubbles). A successful window forces you to go into the store and this one did.
I forgot how much I used to love this store. This is where I got my single gal dishes: vintage dinerware with a magnolia flower in the center. They still carry some vintage- you can tell by the incomplete sets- but not as much asthey used to.
Most of their stock is reproduction now, but it is very convincing and displayed like a general store. Or at least how you'd hope a general store would look back in the day, but probably didn't.
They really load on the nostalgia here. The emotional pull is irresistible.
You absolutely can't leave without buying something.
They are just as good at the lifestyle approach as Anthroplogie & Terrain.
An "Alice in Wonderland" vignette. Not their usual dinerware thing, but it works.
These flea market-style oil painting portraits are lurking everywhere. They must be faux, but very well done faux. They give the store that flea market feeling (minus the dust and hunting through mostly junk part).
More funny windows...
I'll miss you NYC. Until next time...

Union Square Holiday Market

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Karma Design
Last weekend when I was in New York City for the Craftacular, I came across a colorful outdoor market in Union Square. The booths were semi permanent plywood structures that stay up for the holiday shopping season. I didn't envy the shopkeepers who are there in all weather every day for weeks, but I did envy some of the displays.
Karma Design
I'd like to preface my enthusiasm by adding that most of the products here are imported from countries in Asia. None of them claimed to be fair trade enterprises, so I didn't buy anything. But there is no doubting the emotional pull of the colorful decorative merchandise. I can only hope to fill a craft show booth as compellingly one day...
Karma Design
Bara Boheme Jewelry
The red chandelier popping against the turquoise with all the crisp white makes this booth!
Cala Design
Pattern + color = yummy!
Cala Design

Tribal Home
Tribal Home

More of my holiday window shopping in NYC to come...

bust magazine craftacular 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's the height of holiday craft show season! I've missed a bunch in Baltimore and Philly, but I made up for it this past weekend in NYC by attending Bust Magazine's Craftacular held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. I arrived with my posse of friends, and we immediately lost track of each other in this 300 vendor, heavily attended show. Deep breaths, deep breaths.
I just love a good indie show. Nothing is too precious. It's all about cleverness and good design, all within reach of the average buyer. You won't find the wooden bowl man, the decoy-maker, or the blacksmith, but you will find paper goods, soft goods, jewelry, bath & body, and baked goods. You may think to yourself, "I could make that", and yes, maybe you can because many vendors have gotten smart and come up with kits. But then, who would have the time to attempt them all, and here they are all finished and ripe for the picking!
My favorite kit of the day: terrariums. I spied the inviting Twig booth from across the room and made a bee-line for it. When I was growing up in the '70's my mom made a terrarium in a big jug with a light fixture attached, so there is some nostalgia to the whole terrarium concept for me. I'm tickled that they've come back into vogue, so I snapped up a small kit for my 9 year-old daughter. The larger ready-made terrariums they had, like this Sound of Music-inspired one, were really fun to look at.  Maybe we'll work our way up to a big one if this starter one works out.
Next favorite kit: sock puppets by Tigercandy Arts. The kits come with supplies to make 3 different puppets.
 Or you can buy them ready-made of course. There were about different 20 choices!
Oh lookee here. Kits to make teensy tiny stuff by Mochimochi Land. Creator Anna Hrachovec has a book out about making these tiny collectible amigurumi.
So adorably tiny and cute! I get it now.
DIY charm necklaces and bracelets by Brooklyn Charm.
Brooklyn Charm's inspiring array of supplies. They even had things like vintage skeleton keys to use in a necklace. I'm told they have an even larger selection at their storefront in Brooklyn.
Everywhere you turned at this show, you could fine original festive stuff. Kitty Jones makes stuffed and needle felted cat toys, but came up with a gorgeous wreath using needle felted balls.
I'm always impressed with the unusual materials some of the artists are able to make stuff with. Glitterlimes uses real candy and fruit coated in something (resin perhaps?) to make cuff links, rings and pendants. Perfect for my 9 year-old girl or someone young at heart.
I thought these roses by Calamarie were leather, but they are actually dried and dyed orange peel that would otherwise have been discarded, made by female artisans in Columbia. Catalina Lemaitre is the brains behind the fair trade enterprise designed to empower women in that country.
Clever reuse of vintage bingo cards by Another Work in Progress. I'm always a sucker for anything vintage!
I've wanted to try linocut printing since reading the book Printing by Hand by Lena Corwin, but haven't had the time yet.
 In the meantime, Katherine Watson's prints, reminiscent of Indian block prints, are so detailed and gorgeous that I bought a few card sets to tide me over.
A woman after my own heart! Rosi Zingales loves appliqué, feedsacks, handkerchiefs, and vintage textiles as much as I do. I thought these hand towels with Christmasy feedsack appliqués were wonderfully shabby-chic.
And Rosi's tiny dresses of fine baby cord with appliques of vintage hankies were perfect for the colder months and definitely had that "aaaawww" factor.
Finally, the real reason I trekked up to this show, here is Amy Sedaris autographing her Simple Times book for me. Such a good time!

grandma's peanut brittle recipe

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My grandmother was here on the east coast for Thanksgiving for the first time ever this year. She was quite the cook in her day. She ran the cafeteria where her kids went to school back when the food at school was homemade and tasty. Large quantities were no big deal to her. Besides cooking at school, she made meals at home from scratch for a family of nine seven days a week without skimping on the sweets.
During the holidays, she'd pull out all the stops and make trays and trays of turtles, fudge, and peanut brittle. The whole extended family would receive a large goody box for Christmas. The boxes stopped coming a few years ago when my grandmother's eyesight began to fail along with my grandfather's health, and the two of them retired to an assisted living place with not much of a kitchen.

While she was here, I persuaded her to walk me through her peanut brittle recipe.

Grandma's Peanut Brittle
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup hot water
1 tsp salt
2 cups raw peanuts, shells removed (with the brown skins still on)
1tsp vanilla (omit if using vanilla flavored corn syrup)
3 TBS butter
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Combine sugar, corn syrup, hot water, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil & add peanuts.
It will be a scary rolling boil, but don't turn it down. Our first batch was a failed batch because we didn't get the temperature high enough. A little drip of the hot syrup into a cold cup of water should yield a crunchy thread, not a chewy glob. For the second batch, we used a candy thermometer and cooked the mixture until it reached 300° F. As tempting as it may be, DON'T lick the spoon. Any higher & it will burn, so remove from heat right away, add the butter, vanilla ,and baking soda. Stir quickly.
The baking soda makes the syrup foam up, adding air into it making the brittle pleasantly crunchy rather than rock-like. Immediately spread the mixture onto a large buttered cookie sheet to cool.
To release from the pan, twist the pan as you would an ice cube tray.

In a tin or boxed up nicely, this candy makes a great little gift. I'm thinking this year I'll take a break from my usual granola and give peanut brittle.

galbraith & paul sample sale

Monday, December 6, 2010

This past Saturday, the 4th, was Galbraith and Paul's famous annual sample sale. Galbraith and Paul produce the most gorgeous hand block-printed fabrics in a lovely old factory building just off Main Street in Manayunk, PA. I first admired their work in the Room and Board catalog but didn't realize they were nearby.
My Friend Beth is fan enough to own one of their large drum pendant lamps in the "smokebush" pattern, so of course we were going, along with my friend Liz, who is always game for this sort of thing. The sale is held right there in their light-filled work space which was so inspirational to see with its high ceilings, tall windows, brick walls, rows of long printing tables, and all the printing plates and inks out too see. Mounds of pretty pillows were heaped tables. Lampshades, rolls of printed yardage, rugs, and scraps by the pound were all for sale at nice discounts.

This is where the story gets sad. I very conscientiously remembered to put a newly charged battery in the camera for this sure-to-be-blog-worthy event. When I took my camera out to start shooting, it was dead! I was flabbergasted! (Miraculously, it worked at home later when I tried to show my husband the problem). Beth gave me hope by producing her iphone which I proceeded to NOT take about 50 photos with. Apparently I was pressing the wrong button the whole time and got not a single shot! We didn't catch the goof until the next day at which point it was too late to remedy the situation. So, because I am an idiot, you will not be seeing any cool eye-candy shots of the studio (the above picture is from their website), just shots of what we bought. Excuse me a minute while I get a new tissue *sniff*.
Each color in these prints are inked on the block by a real human for every repeat of the pattern. This takes skill, patience and time, therefor retail prices of the fabric are over $100/yard. The sample sale price was $65/yard.
The versatile smokebush pattern. I bought a few yards in gold on linen to make a padded headboard for my guest room renovation project which I will share later.

After the feeding frenzy of a sale, we worked up an appetite and headed back to the car to repark near a restaurant. TICKET! This is what I hate about Manayaunk. The parking is impossible. There isn't enough of it and the meters are not well maintained. This one was broken and so was the next one we fed all our quarters to. The side streets have one hour parking which isn't enough if you want to sit down in a restaurant, especially Le Bus which has painfully slow service every time. Not wanting to receive another ticket, I left the restaurant in the middle of our meal to move the car. I circled the block and nabbed another spot apparently not far enough from my old spot to avoid another ticket. Basically my tickets for the day ate up the money I saved by buying fabric at the sample sale instead of retail!

So the day ended with a bad feeling for Manayunk, but a good feeling for handmade business and good design.