Thursday, March 31, 2011

making it big time

I have exciting news! Thanks to this little blog, I've been asked to cover the third annual Richmond Fashion Week for Last year, I was just starting to explore Richmond so I missed Fashion Week but this year I'll be front and center (or wherever press are. Step one, figure out where press belong...) I'm especially thrilled to be covering the event for, an great organization who have hosted many events I've enjoyed in the past, including the recent Fashion for a Cause. I won't be the only blogger covering the shows for them; Lindsay aka RVAFashionista will be joining me.

I'm missing this weekend's shows due to work obligations in DC but you can check out all the action starting this Saturday. Be sure to go to for your recaps!

Image from Richmond Fashion Week's website.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

more percentblog

I've been a bad blogger lately because I've forgetten my camera or forgotten to take pictures two days in a row. Sorry for the lack of images in this post. So first a shout out to a lovely evening at Sprout with wine and cheese tasting. Wine from Barboursville Winery, a Virginia vineyard I've had a bit around town, and cheese from Sullivan's Pond Farm, who I've gotten cheese from once at the South of the James Market. (Which I am looking forward to the return off. And of lots of local veggies in general.) The son of the cheesemaker, a budding cheesemaker himself, was eager to talk about the process of making the individual cheeses which added to the night.

Tonight I attended SMCRVA, the Social Media Club of Richmond, for the first time. The events have always sounded intriguing but the topic of Tumblr and fashion put the event in the must attend column. Planning on attending, I also started a Tumblr blog to poke around. Since it was a social media focused event, it focused more on Tumblr than on fashion; I would have preferred the reverse but it was good for helping me (somewhat) refine my vision of the difference between this blog and Tumblr. In fact, the speakers from Tumblr seemed to view their platform more similarly to Twitter than Tumblr.

Anyway, I have set up Check it out if you wish, it will be short posts on things I like. Some of the 'quick pic' and 'music of the day' features will likely move over there, and I will push myself to focus on new content for this blog. Like always, both will include design, food, fashion and the things that make like beautiful. Hope you enjoy!

tools for schools

If I learned anything from design school, it is that design is a process. It is a way of thinking and problem solving. But, as Aruliden design studio found after working with a group of eight graders as The School at Columbia, it isn't taught. Not that young people don't have an amazing capacity for design thinking- after all, who is more creative than kids- but the process isn't incorporated into school curriculum.

Aruliden co-founders Rinat Aruh and Johan Liden partnered with furniture company Bernhardt Design to create Tools for Schools which was "fully integrated into the School at Columbia's yearlong curriculum. It became part of math class, where students studied ratios and proportion; science, where they investigated materials; and English, where they worked on their presentations. 'The theory is, if you have deep learning, you have more hooks to attach new learning onto," says Annette Raphel, head of the School at Columbia. "When you get out of school, that's what really happens. You don't learn math to pass a test but to solve problems that require math skills. That's bigger than a standardized test.'"

The students designed around challenges in their own lives- their desks, chairs and lockers. Check out out their solutions.

Originally found on Fast Company.

Monday, March 28, 2011

weekend review: why i love this town

There was so much excitement around town this weekend. For me, Friday feels forever ago but three days ago Richmond actually had two Sweet Sixteen teams. Sadly, University of Richmond got knocked out by Kansas but VCU avenged their hometown brethren beautifully on Sunday and as for now, well, Richmond bleeds black and gold.

[Windows of Sine downtown]

[Sticky Rice after the final buzzer Sunday]

[Best one.]

Saturday, March 26, 2011

fashion for a cause

Tonight I went to Fashion for a Cause, held by GayRVA as part of their Fun for the Cause benefit for The Fan Free Clinic. It was the first fashion show part of Richmond Fashion Week, which kicks off next weekend. I have to miss the first weekend of shows for work, but am excited to make it to many of them. Here are some of my pictures from tonight's show...

[The wonderful opening act]

[There were actually several men, but few of my pictures of them turned out well.]

[This skirt is one of my favorite pieces from the show.]

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

green patriots posters

According to the editors, "the inspiration came first from WPA (Works Progress Administration) and World War II posters. During the war the United States was able to mobilize industry and its citizens with breathtaking speed. Factories were overhauled and consumption habits were transformed. Conservation (in the form of rationing) became a patriotic act. Strong, graphically compelling posters played a crucial role in the success of this campaign. In these posters, taking action was presented as vital for the good of the nation, and those who were willing to sacrifice were portrayed as dynamic American heroes. This is just what we need today." The images immediately struck me as Americana, so of course I fell in love.

I love the images created for this book, though strongly disagree with statements that seem to have no backing in reality, such as
"Younger people, who are the real stakeholders given that they will inherit an environment on the verge of collapse, are weirdly apathetic, hedonistic, and cynical. Less affluent people, who are the most likely to feel the impacts of climate change—crashing economies and starvation—can’t find enough head-space for these concerns in a world overcrowded with anxieties."

It seems the authors
believe this to be true because that's what they feel they've experienced, but there is little to actually show that either young people are apathetic or that those most impacted don't understand what they are faced with.

There is, however, a need for us to redefine both the struggle and threat of climate change, and to offer positive imagery for our future and appreciate that the editors
"generally sought posters that convey urgency and/or optimism (in a word: strength.)"

Originally found at ReNest. Information and images at

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

oxymoronic fashion

[Lily Cole in a factory in India]

"It is oxymoronic, just in terms of the name 'fashion' meaning trends... But I don't think it's particular to the clothing industry. It's a problem with the manufacture of everything. I mean, the fact that there's already a second iPad out now is 'fashion', in a similar way. I don't think this is fashion's fault. It's a broader issue to do with the capitalism, and an economy which needs us to keep buying, and creating this superfluous kind of waste. It's not that I don't believe in creativity and innovation and new ideas, and the creativity that comes with fashion, which I really respect. But one of my biggest concerns is just how cheap we expect everything to be."

- Lily Cole, on her The North Circular with the Environmental Justice Foundation

Image and quote from the Guardian profile of Lily Cole.

recipe: pasta with asparagus pesto

Sunday night at 8pm, having consumed only a bagel my roommate prepared me for the past 8 hours, I decided I wanted to use up the asparagus I had in the fridge. With dreams of creamy pasta in my head, I turned to the internets because I knew I had no cream in the house. I came up with an asparagus pesto, from Gourmet magazine, that I adapted thanks to some suggestions from comments others left.

It has enough cheese to satisfy my craving, but the cheese is merely a background player to the savory pine nuts and the bright asparagus and lemon. Plus, the dish works cold for leftovers.

Pasta with Asparagus Pesto
(Original recipe from Gourmet)
  • 1 pound pasta (I used rotoni)
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • garlic cloves (Gourmet said 2-3 medium, I used between 4-5)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 2/3 cup)
  • peel of 1 lemon (my addition)

[mise en place]

I rarely prep my ingredients first, but wanting make sure I got the asparagus right I did prep ahead of boiling the water this time, with the exception of grating the lemon.

In a 6- to 7-quart kettle bring about 5 quarts salted water to a boil. Saute the pine nuts and garlic in a small amount of olive oil.

Have ready a bowl of ice water. Trim woody ends from asparagus. Cut asparagus stalks crosswise into 2-inch pieces, reserving tips. In a steamer set over boiling water steam stalks, covered, 4 minutes. Add half reserved asparagus tips and steam, covered, until just tender, about 1 minute. Immediately transfer asparagus to ice water to stop cooking. Drain asparagus well in a colander and pat dry. Add pasta to boiling water.

In a food processor pulse pine nuts and garlic with salt until finely chopped. Add asparagus and oil and pulse until asparagus is coarsely chopped. Stir in lemon peel.

Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. When almost ready, add remaining asparagus tips and cook 1 more minute.

Reserve 1/3 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta in a colander. Transfer pesto to the now empty pot, add pasta* and stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano and lemon peel. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. I found it was unnecessary.

*The recipe has you add the reserved cooking water, I forgot to reserve any and it was fine without, but will probably try to remember next time. I don't think it's dry without out though.

Monday, March 21, 2011

recipe: mom's roast chicken

Last weekend I decided I wanted to spend Sunday making food for the week, which I knew was going to be a busy one. I was well supplied with lunches and quick dinners, though still nded up still eating out more than planned. Dinner with a friend, lunch with coworkers when I had forgotten my lunch...

To prepare the chicken:
1 chicken, 1 lemon, 4-5 cloves garlic (smashed), kosher salt

Rub garlic over the chicken. Cut the lemon in half and rub over the chicken, squeezing out some of the lemon juice. Place both the garlic and lemon in the chicken. Rub generously with salt.

For the roasted vegetables:
I used shallots, potatoes and carrots. Wash the vegetables, peel the shallots and third the carrots. Toss in olive oil and place into pan. Put the chicken(s) on top.

Roast at 450 for an hour and twenty minutes.

[An early spring feast.]

With the leftover chicken, I experimented with making a quinoa salad. Prepare the quinoa according to the directions, but chop one preserved lemon rind into small pieces and place in the water about halfway through cooking. It gives a great flavor to the quinoa. I ate hot quinoa with chicken for dinner, then for lunch make a salad of quinoa, mixed greens, chicken and dried cranberries, with just a drizzle of olive oil for dressing.

[Office lunch eaten outside in the sun]

Sunday, March 20, 2011

spring cleaning

My keys are missing. This is bad for many reasons, namely my plans to go to the office to get work done today. I compensated by thoroughly going throw the 200+ messages in my inbox and getting it down to something reasonable. In a lemonade out of lemons frame of mind, the search for my keys also prompted some cleaning that I've been meaning to do. I resorted my (ehhhmm) five jewelry boxes and re-discovered a few necklaces.

I also cleaned off my bedside table to the few essentials I'd like to keep on top- my clock, pen and notepad(s), and typically a drinking glass. Books, netflix rentals and snacks get tucked inside. Right now I have beautiful purple tulips that are in their last days. I love them once they fully open, but think I should have cut them down since they can no longer stand up.

[Closeup of bedside]

The bedside table is an old school desk I picked up at a yard sale for a few dollars and spray painted to match the mural of birds on the wall. Fabric or paper can be stuck to the wall with starch, and doesn't leave a stain, so it's ideal for decorating rentals. As you can see, the light in my room is horrible, the colors of the birds are actually much brighter.

[Full wall view]

Friday, March 18, 2011

dragon day

Today is Richmond is a beautiful spring day but a little part of me misses Ithaca. That's because today is Dragon Day.

Every school has it's own strange traditions and holidays that started long ago. At Cornell, that's Dragon Day, a long running event that started to coincide with St. Patrick's but is now the Friday before Spring Break. Students that schedule early departures miss out, as I did freshman year. This isn't a holiday that is talked about for months, like Slope Day, instead it sneaks up on most people until the weeks prior when behind the architecture building strange construction starts to happen.

The architecture students spend days building a large dragon, typically pulling an all-nighter the night before to finish. (All-nighters being the lifeblood of architecture.) They then dress in costumes, often with elaborate but non-dragon related themes, perhaps have a beverage or two and parade the dragon around campus. When passing the Engineering Quad, the dragon should be confronted with the engineering student's challenger, typically a phoenix. Sometimes this happens, sometimes not. This year, the phoenix was particularly impressive. Well done, engineers.

[From Cornell's Flickr stream]

The dragon is then supposed to be taken to the Arts Quad to be burned, but my senior year due to new environmental air regulations, burning the dragon was banned. The architecture students compensated by building a last minute fire-friendly all natural wood/straw egg to burn. It appears the burning may have been dropped from the day's event. (Possibly for the best, there were many costumed architecture students running rather close to the fire in past years.)

Though always only an observer of the day's events, I have fond memories of stopping by the coffee shop where I worked in the bottom of the architecture building on Dragon Day to serve coffee to the last few dragon-makers and make illicit beverages concealed in innocuous cups for my friends and me to enjoy while watching the parade.

Cornell has a website up for today and Wikipedia, of course, has more information on the event as well as a great photo gallery of past dragons.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

happy st. patrick's day

As a proud Irish lass, I love St. Patrick's Day. I skip the green beer in favor a (single) Guinness or (several) Jamesons. Towards the beginning of this blog's life, I posted a recipe for ginger syrup. Today would be the ideal day to make this syrup and drink whisky and gingers.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

sic semper tyrannis

50 and 50 is a collective, curated projected that invited fifty designers from different states to illustrate their state's motto. A new piece is posted weekly. Below are my two home states- North Carolina, where I was born and returned to in middle school and Virginia, where I grew up and now currently reside.

[accurate for the good ol' boys currently running the state]

[reminds me of IKEA instructions, but I never knew the motto before and like it]

links: 50 and 50
Virginia Designer/ on
North Carolina Designer

music of the day: lil red riding hood

Amanda Seyfried cover of "Lil Red Riding Hood"

I have long loved this song and it's wonderful with her sweet voice instead of the vaguely creepy of Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs.

Found on Jezebel.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

weekend review: spring forward

After working all last weekend, this weekend was wonderfully restorative. Posting as a chicken roasts in the oven. If it turns out well, I'll share the recipe.

[Friday night visit to the VMFA. Followed by dinner and wine at Secco and drinks at Can Can.]

[A solo morning return to Can Can]

[South-er of the James Market]

[Sadly didn't have the money for a pizza]

[Cleaned up shop at the closing Exile]

[Dinner out with a college friend, grande margaritas at Nacho Mamas]

[Sunny Sunday afternoon at the dog park]

[I was gifted a surprise juicer]

[Fresh grapefruit juice and vodka cocktail]

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

before i die, i want to

Finding time to blog is difficult for me right now. I'm working around the clock lately for an amazing upcoming conference and haven't even kept up much with some of my favorite blogs. But these images from HonestlyWTF jumped out at me and I wanted to pass them on.

[the corner of Marigny and Burgundy]

Public installation artist and urban planner Candy Chang took an abandoned home in New Orleans and created a design intervention that created a conversation in the community. Her goal was to make a space where "residents can fill in the blank and remember what is important to them in life. It’s also about turning a neglected space into a constructive one where we can learn the hopes and aspirations of the people around us."

[What would you write?]

[This could have been mine. or I would write "I will create a Power Shift."]

Originally found on HonestlyWTF. More from FresHome. Artist information at Candy Chang.

Monday, March 7, 2011

living art

[Improv Everywhere brings Phillip IV of Spain to the Met. More here.]

Originally found on GOOD. More information at Improv Everywhere.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

two minute lunch: habanero's taco cart

For a while, Richmond has had two main non-brick and mortar taco lunch options- Nate's Taco Truck located at VCU (now with the Truck Stop on 2nd Street) and the roving Boka Truck. Nate's serves up solid American-ized tacos with sour cream, cheese and lettuce. Boka goes gourmet with lots of sauces and fusion flavors. When I go to VCU for work, I try to make it overlap with lunch time but sadly those times are few and far between, and Boka rarely shows up in my next of the woods. Enter, real Mexican tacos.

[Habanero's Taco Cart. 10th and E Main.]

Three tacos (choice of pork, steak and chicken) with a salsa fresca and nothing else, except a lime wedge on the side is $5. I got one of each and though they were all good, though the pork may have been my favorite. The chicken, usually the blandest of the meats, was impressively flavorful. Just the tacos was filling, but I also got a side of chips and guac. Burritos also ran $5 with lots of options for fillings. Definitely a great addition to the area for downtown workers. Anyone else tried it out?