September 30, 2009

How To: Make a Knot Trivet

Design*Sponge had directions for how to make this knot trivet a while back and I finally made it. Honestly, I wasn't really in need of a trivet but I just thought it looked so great that I wanted to try it and I'm really quite pleased with it, if I do say so myself.
The Design*Sponge directions are really helpful but here are a few supplementary pointers:
-I used cotton clothesline rope that's 7/32" thick
-Follow the pictures and keep everything loose. Then when you run out of rope, tighten it using the long end but not too tight because the slack will need to be threaded through and you need space for that
-Wrap masking tape around the ends of the rope to keep it from fraying while you are making the trivet (like they do in the pictures) but then... mark the tape on the the short end with a pen because it's easy to confuse the two ends mid-project
-I attempted the "Common Whipping" method to seal the ends of the rope when I was done, not sure I did it quite right but it doesn't look like it's going anywhere. If I do this project again, I would like to try something that looks a bit more polished.

September 29, 2009

Resource: Beer Pairing Chart

On a recent Amtrak trip, I was flipping through the publication found in the seat-back in front of me, entitled Arrive: The Magazine for Northeast Business Travelers. I found a nice little chart about food and beer pairings as well as the Brewers Association's website, (I think I met someone at a party once that was from Beertown). So, I went on down to Beertown and much to my surprise I found a chart about food and beer pairings that makes the one in Arrive look like something you might find in a plane's in-flight magazine. The chart is easy-to-read, incredibly helpful and you can buy a printed version for $1.

Methods/Systems: Japan's Female-Only Subway Cars

Paul, my buddy and seventh-grade lab partner, just moved to Tokyo. When I asked him about the systems there, the former Jeopardy! contestant told me that the female-only subway cars are his "personal fave" and kindly sent me these pictures (I especially like the one with the man in the surgical mask). Paul explained that this system, designated with a pink stripe painted the subway platform, is a tactic being used to reduce the instances of public groping and the train cars that stop parallel to the stripe during rush hour are reserved for female passengers. He mentioned that this policy has also been applied to other places. For example, areas with several photo booths might have a few booths marked with a "Women Only" sign.
Thank you Paul!

September 28, 2009

Resource: Bob Truby's Brand Name Pencils

The last time I can remember using a pencil was when I took the SAT and ever since I've thought that pens are to super glue as pencils are to masking tape. I mean, there's a reason why it's the pen that's mightier than the sword, right? However, I recently gained a new appreciation for the utensil and its design when I stumbled upon the charming archive that is Bob Truby's Brand Name Pencils.

September 27, 2009

Review: Leather Spa

Name: Leather Spa
This salaciously-named high-end cobbler is always being voted the "Best of New York."
Location: 10 West 55th St.
Price: Disproportionate
The amount I paid seemed unreasonable for the amount and overall quality of work performed.
Service: Laughable/Nervous-making
The service was a joke but my experience there is to boring to recount. Basically they couldn't find my stuff for 36 hours and it was ready 5 days after they said it would be. Here are some quotations from Leather Spa employees just to paint the picture:
1."No, that's impossible to fix."
2."Oh, ha, you're still here?! They didn't find it yet?"
3. "The computer says it's here but we can't find it so it was probably entered in wrong."
4. "We never loose anything. It's probably just not ready yet."
Wait time: 40 mins. at Leather Spa, or 5 days (if you count the time between when they said it would be ready and when it actually was ready)
Quality of Work: Unremarkable
Would I go back?: Never

September 24, 2009

How To: Learn the Boy Scout Motto in different languages

In America, the Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared" however, in other countries this is not always the case. There is a Wikipedia chart which lists the mottos from all over the world and translates them. Here are some of the more unusual ones:
Cape Verde: "Alert."
Hungary: "Be on the breach."
Poland: "Watch!"
Slovenia: "With nature to a better person."
Thailand: "Better to die than to lie." (terrifying, I know)
Ukraine: "With Strength! With Beauty! With Care! With Speed!"

September 23, 2009

Review: Royal Jewel Setting Company (Jewelry Repair)

Location: Plaza Arcade: 32 W. 48th, on mezzanine
Walk half way through the Arcade and take elevator on your right up to the mezzanine, you'll think your in the wrong place.
Price: Very reasonable, cash only
Service: Excellent and friendly
I brought in several things that needed to be repaired and Mr. Givelekian went through each piece with me methodically. He was attentive and clearly committed to solving each problem at hand and told me exactly how much it would cost.
Wait time: 0 mins.
Quality of Work: Flawless
One of the things I asked him to do was to reattach a big rhinestone cluster to an earring. I brought in the pair so he could use the good one for comparison; now, I can't tell which one was broken. Best of all, the earring that wasn't broken was missing a rhinestone but the flaw was only visible upon very close inspection (because it was covered by another cluster of rhinestones, ha!) so I wasn't worried about it and I didn't mention it. When I got home I realized that he had replaced it!
Would I go back?: Yes, and would be reluctant to go anywhere else.

Methods/Systems: Bookplates

One day, I would like to have a fancy engraved bookplate for the books that I will refer to as "my library." Here are three inspiring ex libris collections online that I like to look at when I start wistfully dreaming of my future bookplate: Pratt Libraries Ex Libris Collection, The University of Louisville's Ainslie Hewett Bookplate Collection (all of which were designed by Ainslie Hewett) and the Plattsburgh State Art Museum's archive of bookplates designed by Rockwell Kent. One of my favorites is Winward Prescott's plate from Pratt collection (pictured above).

September 21, 2009

Methods/Systems: Rosy-Part 2 of 2: Kitchen Organizing

The kitchen at my aunt and uncle's house is a well-oiled machine, thanks to Rosy's clever organizing and arranging ideas:
1, 2. A rolling caddy for plates, glasses, bowls and silverware fits perfectly under the kitchen counter and looks like just another drawer but can be wheeled around the kitchen to make tasks like unloading the dishwasher and setting the table easier.
3. A pot rack keeps pots and pans available but out of the way, when possible lids are kept with their designated pot by "threading" the pot's handle through the lid's handle.
4, 5. There's no pantry in the kitchen so dry goods are stored according to use and location. For example, tea and spices are next to the stove because that's where they are used. The best example of this method is the bread drawer under the toaster which frees up counter space. Not only is the bread drawer accessible to younger family members without a step stool but also, keeps bread out of Isa's, the standard poodle, reach.
6. In an effort to cut back on the number of dirty dishes, Rosy had everyone in the family paint a drinking glass with their initials on it so everyone would know which glass was theirs and it could be used throughout the day. Rosy said this method never really caught on but when a few of the glasses were accidentally broken the system was abandoned completely (but still a great idea).

September 20, 2009

Methods/Systems: Rosy-Part 1 of 2: General Organizing

My aunt, Rosy, is a life coach (email her, she does phone sessions:, the mother of 4 (ages 7, 11, 15, 18) and an Organizing Hall of Famer. Here are some of her techniques:
Images from left to right:
1. Keys, the dog leash etc... are hung near the back door next to a wall-mounted charging station. This allows one to drop off their keys and cell phone in one continuous motion and keeps chargers in one place.
2. Everyone in the house has their own step in the staircase which is marked with their first initial using a vinyl letter. The stuff that that person needs to remember to take upstairs is put on their step so they'll pass the item and carry it up the next time they climb the stairs.
3. A yardstick hung vertically in a narrow space just inside the door (under handrail) to the basement puts it out of sight but ready for action.
4. Ponytail holders around the door knob in the "girl's bathroom" make them easier to find and keep them from getting tangled with bobby pins, barrettes and bows.

And my favorite...a tiny "L-shaped" closet under the steps was converted into a tiny secret room for the family's youngest member by putting toys on the shelves and adding small children's chair, some pillows and small, doormat-sized rug.

Stay tuned the second part of this article: Rosy's Kitchen Organizing

September 18, 2009

Industry Standard: Braun AB1 Alarm Clock vs. Bai Pick Me Up

Braun recently started making their AB1 alarm clock ($44) again. Aesthetically, I think Dieter Rams' 1971 design for the clock is flawless. I love that it is so straightforward but the flirty little hints of yellow and neon green give it a bit of added interest. The heartbreaking thing about the AB1 is that it doesn't have a snooze feature! Unthinkable, I know. Yes, Braun makes other alarm clocks that are similar and offer snoozes but they are printed with time zone maps and other additonal features but these clocks tend to look too fussy.
Instead, let me suggest the less expensive "Pick Me Up" by Bai ($32). Although not as refined as the AB1, it's nothing to sneeze at and also offers a snooze/light feature which is activated by simply picking up the clock. A second thing that I appreciate about the "Pick Me Up" is that the movement of the second hand is incredibly quiet.

September 17, 2009

Resource: Annotated Beastie Boys

"The Beastie Boys Annotated" is an excellent model for annotators everywhere. I believe it truly enhances the experience of listening to the Beastie Boys for the trio's most devoted and novice fans alike. For those especially devoted to their 1989 classic, Paul's Boutique, I suggest: "Paul's Boutique Samples."

September 16, 2009

Industry Standard: Angostura Bitters

I was thinking of posting about Angostura bitters and then I saw Rita Konig's article* and I took it as a sign and decided it was time.

The product was created in 1824 by Dr. J.G.B. Siegert. According to the company's website, Siegert had "adventure ringing in his ears" and went to Venezuela where Simone Bolivar named him Surgeon-General of a military hospital in the town of Angostura. Siegert intended for his secret formula to be a natural remedy for a variety of illnesses. The company cites Angostura as being both a mosquito repellent and a cure for sea-sickness.

I'm not sure that I really like the taste of bitters. However, I do know that I love the design of the Angostura bottle, with it's cheery yellow cap and turtleneck label that reminds me of the small print at the bottom of a Fellini movie poster.
*Ms. Konig's article discusses her preference for ice created using an ice cube tray over store-bought ice. If you are in the market for an ice cube tray, may I recommend the Good Grips Ice Cube Tray with Lid? This tray has a lid which prevents your ice from tasting/smelling like your freezer, allows you to stack items atop the tray and keeps the ice cubes from slipping out of the mold and flying into the air while loosening them from the tray.

September 14, 2009

How to: Make a dollar bill ring

Coolio4545's video demonstration of making a dollar bill ring is both informative and heartfelt.

September 13, 2009

Is that a threat?

"Little, Texty Dingbats...": The Op-Art Column is my new favorite. Here's a great piece about improving the "threat level" graphics.

How To: Buy a Digital Camera

My friend Jessica, the high priestess of technology, mentioned a Sunday morning pilgrimage to B&H. I tagged along on her trip to this holy land of electronics and asked for her suggestions on buying a digital camera. Here's what she said:
1. If you're interested in a fancy SLR consider sensors before megapixels.
2. If you're in the market for a point and shoot camera (like me) sensors and megapixels are less of a concern because most of the point and shoot cameras available today are as well equipped in these departments as they would ever need to be.
3. Pay extra for the B&H extended warranty because it's much less than buying a new camera.
4. Get a camera that's comfortable in your hand and has an intuitive interface because the company that is committed to design is most likely committed to quality too. (Amen! That's why I want the Leica!). Thanks again, Jessica.

September 12, 2009

The Palmer Method

After reading "Op-Art: The Write Stuff" by Inga Dubay and Barbara Getty in the New York Times, I wanted to learn more about the Palmer Method of teaching handwriting. As it turns out, Austin Palmer's system made quite a splash at a number of expositions and in 1912 he sold 1,000,000 copies of his book "Palmer's Guide to Business Writing."

September 11, 2009

Sleep Better for $1.58!

What if I told you you could sleep better for one easy payment of $1.58? You'd say, "Listen Sweetcheeks, I love ya, but you've gone cuckoo." Then I'd show you how to prevent your duvet from slipping and getting all twisted in your duvet cover:

Step 1:
Sew both ends of a piece of webbing* that's about 4" onto all four corners of duvet so it makes a little handle.

Step 2:
Turn your duvet cover inside out and sew the middle of the piece of a 10" piece of webbing to each corner of the inside of the duvet. I opted to seal the ends of my webbing with clear nail polish so they wouldn't fray but that's optional.

Step 3:
Tie one of the center-sewn pieces of webbing inside the duvet cover to the corresponding loop on the duvet.

...from now on your duvet and duvet cover will get along just fine.

*I bought 2 yards of "natural" webbing at M&J Trimming and had some left over but any kind of ribbon would do so you can opt for something sassier. This is also a great way to use any little bits of ribbon and keep in mind that you can't see them so they don't need to match.

Penguin Publishing's Color Code

Arranging books according to color has become quite popular and looks great. However, it is a method that can result in placing paleontology next to poetry and novels next to non-fiction, a troubling thought indeed! That's why I adore the color-coding system that Penguin has been using 1935, wherein each genre is assigned a color and the spine (and sometimes the cover) of works within that genre are printed in the designated color. Just think of how delicious a shelf of candy-colored, color-coded Penguins would look between shelves of National Geographics with their lemon drop spines, yum!
The Penguin code is as follows:
Red = Drama
Orange = Fiction
Yellow = Miscellaneous
Green = Crime Fiction
Dark Blue = Autobiographies
Purple = Essays
Cerise = Travel and Adventure
Grey = World Affairs
For more info check out: Phil Baines' book, Penguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935-2005
(photo from Eifion on Flickr)

About Me

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I once took a personality test that told me I was a perfectionist and I thought the test was flawed. True story.