Wednesday, July 01, 2009
The Uniform Project
The Uniform Project

Brilliant idea.

The Idea

Starting May 2009, I have pledged to wear one dress for one year as an exercise in sustainable fashion. Here’s how it works: There are 7 identical dresses, one for each day of the week. Every day I will reinvent the dress with layers, accessories and all kinds of accouterments, the majority of which will be vintage, hand-made, or hand-me-down goodies. Think of it as wearing a daily uniform with enough creative license to make it look like I just crawled out of the Marquis de Sade's boudoir.

[via Teapots and Polka Dots]

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Thursday, February 26, 2009
Playmobil Security Check Point
[via a Kelley Eskridge blog post]

Playmobil Security Check Point

Customer reviews take the cake.

I was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger's shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger's scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said "that's the worst security ever!". But it turned out to be okay, because when the passenger got on the Playmobil B757 and tried to hijack it, she was mobbed by a couple of other heroic passengers, who only sustained minor injuries in the scuffle, which were treated at the Playmobil Hospital.

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Monday, February 02, 2009
An Extraordinary Home. Single Family located at 601 Dolores Street, Mission Dolores, San Francisco, California
An Extraordinary Home. Single Family located at 601 Dolores Street, Mission Dolores, San Francisco

1910. Former church. Now SFH. Check out the photo gallery. What parties I could have! I'd have room for all my books and more! Seismic retrofit. No longer on the City's Unreinforced Masonry Building list.

Formerly the Golden Gate Lutheran Church, this stunning Gothic Revival style building is now one of the most extraordinary and largest single family homes in San Francisco. This one-of-a-kind property features an enormous living area that includes the original sanctuary with soaring, coffered and hand-painted ceilings, arched windows framing Dolores Park as well as most of the original stained glass windows, custom mahogany wood finishes, four wood-burning fireplaces, a new chef's kitchen and a spacious dining room. The Master suite level features a marble Roman tub room, dressing room and incredible 360 degree views from the tower meditation room and deck. The home includes an expansive ground floor level that could be used as exhibition space, recording studio, gym and/or home office. There is also a garage that accommodates 4-6 cars.

Room for my books!

Be still my heart.

This is why every once in a blue moon I buy a Lotto ticket.

Oh, my. ...

$9,950,000 but I betcha they'd take $9m if I were paying cash.

Update: Looking at what he paid for it less than two years ago, back when it was a church. Yes, granted he did the transformation to SFH, reinforced the masonry and added all sorts of stuff, still ...

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Friday, December 26, 2008
A philosophy of life
Had a nice long, ranging chat with Hermon Baker when I stopped in at Yone Beads on Union on my way back from the library and further places afield. (Complete list of stops and purchases on the day after Christmas: Cost Plus: nothing. Even at 75% off there was nothing there I needed, but seems I needed a couple small, blank canvases and a sketchbook (all on sale -- total price <$10) at Artist & Craftsman Supply on Columbus.)

Baker and I talked about life and warm beds, the weather and the tiger sculpture that's allegedly over on the Greenwich Steps. I need to go over and see if I can find it. One of his earlier customers hadn't been able to. We wondered whether it had already been removed.

We talked about the year ending and his negative view of "top ten" lists for the year. Life is not a competition, he said. We shouldn't be ranking this or that as on or off the top ten list for the year. Winners or losers. Top ten or not. Don't.

I left the shop with two beautiful beads I will find some use for and something to think about.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008
Costco chicken from the roasting spit
On Tuesday, when I was fasting and girding my loins for the prep mix I needed to drink, his nibs was at work. He stopped at Trader Joe's and Costco on the way home for milk, eggs, gas, things we'd run low on before we left town.

At Costco, he bought a rotisserie chicken -- $4.99 -- something we'd never bought before. He needed something for dinner because he knew I was fasting and wouldn't feel like cooking, and he didn't want anything complicated. Roast chicken sounded good to him (and smelled sinfully delicious to my poor fasting self when he arrived home with it). He said the rotisserie chicken shelves, usually filled with packaged roasted chicken, were bare and a line of people (young, old, moms with kids in tow, more) waited for the butchers to take the roasted chickens off their spits and packaged them up.

Tuesday night he had roast chicken for dinner. Wednesday night we both had roast chicken for dinner. Friday night I stripped meat off the chicken carcass and legs and made chicken pot pie for dinner, setting aside enough white breast meat for two sandwiches or another meal.

Friday, while the pot pie was baking, I broke the chicken carcass into pieces and put it and the wings and the leg bones whose meat I'd used in the pot pie into a pot. Added chopped fresh garlic, ground pepper, chopped carrots and chopped onions. Covered just barely with water and let it simmer. After dinner, I fetched out some of the bones and picked the meat off, then threw the bones back in and set the pot to simmer some more.

Let the pot cool overnight on the stove. Yesterday afternoon I picked the bones out of the cooled broth. All the meat had fallen off the bones and the broth had thickened due to the collagen in the bone-ish bits. I took the hand blender and swirled the broth and chicken and carrots and onions and garlic into a thick soup and put the soup back on the stove to heat up. Meanwhile, I minced up a few cloves of garlic and browned some button mushrooms in butter and half the garlic. Tossed them into the soup. I snapped some green beans and cooked them in butter and garlic for a bit and tossed them (still crisp) into the soup. Added some hot curry powder and some fresh tarragon I fetched from the deck while we were giving the architects the grand tour.

Had the soup for supper with dead easy garlic Parmesan bread:
Slice four pieces of sourdough bread.
Lightly butter one side of bread.
Finely mince two garlic cloves. Sprinkle minced garlic on bread slices.
Top with shredded Parmesan cheese.
Broil until cheese melts and turns golden brown.

What's left to eat from our $4.99 roasted chicken after one dinner (Tues), two dinners (Wedn), two potpie dinners (Fri), two soup dinners (Sat)?

What's left is enough breast meat for two sandwiches or two dinners and enough leftover chicken pot pie for three-four dinners.

Maybe those $4.99 roasted chickens from Costco are a better deal than I realized.

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Friday, November 28, 2008
Worker dies at Long Island Wal-Mart after being trampled in Black Friday stampede
Worker dies at Long Island Wal-Mart after being trampled in Black Friday stampede.

Is Black Friday worth it? Do you really need this stuff on sale? Are you really saving enough money to make all this worth it?

Maybe it's just that I am not a fan of large pushy crowds, but I decided that getting up in time to stand in line at Cost-Plus to be one of the first hundred through the doors for a 7 a.m. opening, which would score me a free pretty little glass Christmas ornament and a chance for a huge prize, was just not worth dealing with people in mind of a Black Friday deal.

Some stores opened at 4 a.m. Macy's opened at 5 a.m. Other stores had midnight madness sales. People left their family Thanksgiving dinners early to stand in line to score deals on stuff.

More shopping news:

Gabrielle Mitchell, 28, from Rockville Centre, was out at the stores in Hicksville at 3:45 a.m. waiting for them to open. Almost four hours later, she said she had spent more than $1,600.

But did she need the stuff she spent money on? Does it make her happy? Does it make her happy even through the paying of the bills?

For me it's much nicer to stay home today and read the paper back and forth over breakfast with his nibs and let the glow of family Thanksgiving keep me warm on a grey day.

Dinner tonight with friends. Money will be spent not for durable goods but for transient pleasure.

And no one dies.

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Monday, November 24, 2008
The Dunlap Question
Item listed in an upcoming Sotheby's auction.

Item: a sheet of paper with the header, THE DUNLAP QUESTION, with typed questions and scribbled answers from F Scott Fitzgerald. (est: $8-$12K)

The basic question is followed by questions that refine the basic question and answer.

You make a quick survey of your whole life, remembering all your pains and all your pleasures, the humiliations and triumphs, the regrets and satisfactions, the miseries and the happiness. Then suppose you are compelled to make the following decision, with no alternative?

1. Live through your whole life again, just exactly as before, with no opportunity to better it by your present experience, or

2. Die instantly.

Which would you choose?


Interesting question.

The person posing the questions: Gilbert Seldes


I'm still pondering.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008
Cassius Marcellus Coolidge
You've been saving your pennies, being frugal as can be, waiting for a buying opportunity in this depressed economy.

Here's your chance.

Sotheby's auction in New York. "American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture"
Wed, 03 Dec 08

Cassius Marcellus Coolidge. The Poker Game.

Estimate $200-300K.

One of many he painted in his lifetime:

Cassius Marcellus Coolidge was well-known in the Rochester area of New York for his paintings of anthropomorphised canines surrounded by the trappings of successful middle-class life. Typical subjects included the all-night card game, a trip to the ball park, commuting to work and even arguing a case in court. A great deal of attention is paid to the dogs' clothing, details of their surroundings and to a humorous variety of facial expressions. Cigar companies, the artist's first customers, printed copies of his paintings for promotional give-aways, but the printers Brown & Bigelow made Coolidge's dog-genre familiar to the general public as advertising posters, calendars and prints.

Estimate $200-300K.


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Thursday, November 13, 2008
This is our moment. This is our time.
I'm a huge fan of Paul Madonna and his ALL OVER COFFEE work in the Sunday Chronicle.

Got this note from him today (that would be me and the zillion others on his e-mail list):

I've had an overwhelming response to this week's "Obama:Progress" All Over Coffee piece. Since the original sold within the first few hours it was published, (including a backup waitlist) I decided to make a fine art limited edition print of this particular strip to honor this momentous time in history.

The full-color print is 16x22 inches, signed and numbered in a limited edition of 100, at $195 each. Produced by the fabulous printer SF Electric Works, these prints are of the highest quality.

Follow this link to both view and order.

If you missed Sunday's Madonna, check it out. If you don't know ALL OVER COFFEE or Paul Madonna, check him out.

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Monday, November 10, 2008
A reminder: Click to Give @ The Hunger Site
Click to Give @ The Hunger Site

from the site: The Hunger Site launched in June 1999 as the brainchild of a private citizen from Indiana, with the purpose of helping to alleviate world hunger by using the Internet in a creative way. A simple daily click of a button on would give funding — paid for by the site's sponsors — to the United Nations World Food Programme.

In its first nine months, the site funded more than nine million pounds of food for the hungry — an astonishing feat. Eventually the site became too large for one man to manage, and in 2000 The Hunger Site was sold to, which today operates as the GreaterGood Network family of websites.

The shopshopshop portion of this site is superb as well. Very cool stuffs for those friends and family for whom a gift certificate to Olive Garden just won't do. Cheap shipping deals too.

Go there and check it out.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Etsy :: Oven Mitts
Etsy :: Oven Mitts

The perfect gift for your literary friends ... with a warped sense of humor.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Laughing Squid has something for you.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
PopCo, Stuff and Uncrate
Finished PopCo while I was away.

Like The End of Mr. Y, this Scarlett Thomas book had a to-me sympathetic main female character who roamed around in her head and jumped from subject to subject and landing pad to leaping-off-point in a manner I'm quite familiar with. Thomas' heroines remind me strongly of Cayce Pollard, the heroine in Gibson's Pattern Recognition.

The books are filled with consumer culture, philosophy, and weird, quirky bits of trivia. PopCo specifically has enough code breaking arcana to keep you going for a while. Alice Butler, the main character, creates sleuth kits for kids for a megacorp called PopCo (#3 in the world after Mattel and Hasbro) and finds herself stashed away in a corporate getaway with other PopCo creatives, tasked with finding a brilliant product for the teengirl market, which is notoriously hard for toy companies to crack.

I took pages and pages of notes of clever phraseology and references I had no clue to (the Riemann Hypothesis, the Voynich Manuscript), book titles I need to check our bookstash for (and buy if we don't have a copy) (Secret and Urgent: The Story of Codes and Ciphers by Fletcher Pratt) and more.

Thomas even gave a brief explanation to another character of how public key encryption works, an explanation my aunt Ethel would be able to understand!

Is this really the way toy companies are run? Is marketing really as cynical about tapping into the pocketbooks of teens and pre-teens as the book suggests? Could be.

I try not to buy stuff I don't =need=. This book made me even more aware of how you, me, and Mr. McGee are sold to.

Witness: Uncrate | The Buyer's Guide For Men Talk about cool stuff you don't really need!

We won't even begin to explore Archie McPhee and Things You Never Knew Existed.

I received an offer in the mail the other day. Because I'm a special person (because of my W subscription? because of my ZIPcode? because of the stylish, fashionable things I buy at the Goodwill?), ELLE offered me a year's subscription (normally $48! or something close thereto) for only $8!

Well, hey, yes! Of course, they'd love to have me on their subscription rolls.

But we talked about our dear mailman and all the mail he has to bring down the steps and then up our stairs to our front door. And then we talked about the bags of recycle we have to take down our stairs and up the steps to the recycle bin on Montgomery. And we decided that I didn't really need ELLE that much.

We aren't getting a stimulus check from the government. No manna from heaven $$ for stuff. I guess they figure we stimulate the economy as much as we ever will.

The younger niblet, who is doing his Peace Corps stint until June 2010, got his check, though. We'll put it in his bank account and maybe he'll be able to tap it at some point if he is in desperate need for something while he's there. At least it will still be available when he comes home.

Somehow I think his check would go a lot further there than it would in San Francisco. Be more appreciated too. Somehow I think there's less "stuff" where he is and more "Do we have enough food for dinner and breakfast tomorrow?"

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008
10 Unexpected Costs of Owning Things
10 Unexpected Costs of Owning Things |

I know this is true.

The hundreds of magazines I recycled last weekend? I know I probably would've never found time to read them. I know more come in every day. I know I don't need all the books I have. How often do I listen to a given CD?

Do I need my stuff?

But the thought of giving up my stuff gives me the shivers.

Bit by slowly bit ... maybe.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Life, love, everything shoe.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008
from Eames to civets
from Mixed Use to Kopi Luwak.

Mixed Use, a fun shop on Union at Grant that sold used everything from Dooney & Bourke bags to fur coats, to men's cowboy boots, fifties furniture and Scandinavian bookends at prices too high for my Goodwill sensibilities, closed up at the end of the year.

The store had a diverse collection of things for sale and was a wonderful place to poke around in but, as I mentioned, I never bought a thing there because I'm a thrift store girl at heart. I can get the D&B handbag that Mixed Use was selling for fifty dollars for fifteen at the Goodwill, ten dollars if the store is having a "30% off anything with a blue price tag" day. Plus no sales tax at the Goodwill. Oh, yay, Goodwill.

Granted, Mixed Use had the crème de la crème of secondhand stuff. No need to hunt pearls in thrift store oyster beds. But, for me, the hunt (and the successful pearl capturing) is the fun of it. ("Like my Ferragamo shoes? $6 at the Goodwill!")

The store's location on Union, a few buildings east of Grant, might've also been a factor in its demise. (I'm sure my not buying things there wasn't.)

Shops on Grant between Broadway and Fillmore have problems attracting a customer base. I'm not sure what the solution is. Mixed Use was not even on Grant, but off Grant and being off Grant -- on a stretch of Union that usually only neighbors walking home and hardy hill-worthy tourists use -- had to have effected its walk-in business.

Despite the sign down at the corner of Union and Grant directing people up the hill to the shop and good writeups in the San Francisco mags, I was usually the only potential customer in the shop those times I popped in to see what they had in their inventory. Their problem was their location. They would've done much better in Polk Gulch. Or Union Street in Cow Hollow. Or down on Fillmore. Their problem was there were no other nearby nifty little shops to attract like-minded customers.

I was sorry to see them go.

Who would brave the space next?

We noticed new signage last month. A new tenant had opened shop at 463 Union Street. The windows are still papered over but his nibs was able to pick up a brochure when he walked by the storefront the other day. Will this business make a success of the space?

Kopi Luwak Trading Company

Hm. Phone and email orders only at this stage.

Maybe that's the ticket: not depending on walk-in customers.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007
The Consumerist: Shoppers Bite Back
Entertaining blog with news tidbits.

The Consumerist: Shoppers Bite Back

You can find such gems as a post about Batter Blaster:

Occasionally we see products that make us wonder how we got to this late day without them. "Batter Blaster" (which is pancake batter in a Cheese Whiz or Redi Whip bottle) is one such product.

Will we be buying this? No. Are we happy the it exists? Yeah. Actually, we are.

I think the product's an abomination (How hard is it to add water to your Krusteaz mix?) but about half the comments are in a "hell-yeah, I've been waiting for something like this" vein.

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Monday, September 17, 2007
A Paul Graham essay on Stuff. (something I know something about)

Another way to resist acquiring stuff is to think of the overall cost of owning it. The purchase price is just the beginning. You're going to have to think about that thing for years—perhaps for the rest of your life. Every thing you own takes energy away from you. Some give more than they take. Those are the only things worth having.

I've now stopped accumulating stuff. Except books—but books are different. Books are more like a fluid than individual objects. It's not especially inconvenient to own several thousand books, whereas if you owned several thousand random possessions you'd be a local celebrity. But except for books, I now actively avoid stuff. If I want to spend money on some kind of treat, I'll take services over goods any day.

Comment tail has some added goodness.

via ev

Current to-do list includes

*Clean up old junk
*Minimize new stuff

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Saturday, June 02, 2007
[URL] San Francisco Herb Co.
As mentioned in the post immediately preceding this one, I came across the San Francisco Herb Co. today while searching for a source of Long Life Tea (my supply being about four mugs-worth from the bottom of the bag).

San Francisco Herb Co. is local. The 26K sqft warehouse is located at 250 14th St. The small retail operation at the front of the warehouse is open M-SA 10-4.

San Francisco Herb Company provides Wholesale prices on the highest quality culinary herbs and spices, extracts, teas, dehydrated vegetables, nuts, seeds, botanicals, essential oils, potpourri ingredients and fragrance oils.

You can browse through the available stock, which is sorted into the following categories:
  • Herbs and Spices - Baking
  • Herbs and Spices - Botanicals
  • Herbs and Spices - Miscellaneous
  • Catnip
  • Green Tea and Other Bulk Tea Products
  • Dehydrated Vegetables
  • Essential Oils
  • Extracts
  • Fragrance Oils
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Potpourri - Ingredients
  • Potpourri - Pre-Mixed
  • Potpourri - Recipes
  • Spices
  • Spice Blends

The bulk of their business is mail order. The online catalog is worth a look. I'm planning a field trip to the retail outlet. Soon.

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Monday, May 28, 2007
A Sunday walkaround
We ate again last night at bushi-tei. The younger younger guy joined us. For the first time we tried Waka's tasting menu. Superb. We added an extra dish, one I've mentioned before -- seared fresh foie gras, pumpkin pot de crème, pistachio crunch, red onion marmalade -- which we shared amongst the three of us. The description sounds weird but this is really one of the tastiest things ever. I wanted the younger younger guy to sample it because I rave about it so much. Perbacco Chardonnay with dinner. Sparkling sake with dessert. The bushi-tei staff is terrific. The food is delish.

We walked to dinner and back with a side trip to visit Sunday Open Houses at 1998 Broadway #905 and 2502 Broadway, two very different homes for sale. After visiting 2502, we backtracked through Pacific Heights and wandered down Fillmore where we stopped at the California-Pacific MC Thrift Store, Zinc Details, Design Within Reach, and the Goodwill ('natch) which was having a Memorial Weekend Sale: 50% OFF ALL CLOTHES!

We poked through the stores at the Japantown mall before stopping in at bushi-tei (with our Goodwill bag in hand) for an early (6 p.m.) dinner. Six-plus miles of walkabout in all.

Whilst in Japantown wandering around before dinner, we made a sidetrip to visit Ruth Asawa's fountains at the Buchanan Mall. Lovely work she did. The fountains remind me of her Aurora Fountain, on the west side of the Embarcadero, between Mission and Howard.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007
NY to get shoe store so big it has own ZIP code
: views from the Hill

Bertold Brecht:   
Everything changes. You can make
A fresh start with your final breath.
But what has happened has happened. And the water
You once poured into the wine cannot be
Drained off again.

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