Monday, December 31, 2007

Cardboard's 2007 Accomplishments

This has been one craZy year for me. I've snapped up some good opportunities but I've also had to face (and climb over) a few nasty obstacles. I half-jokingly describe this year as my "best worst year ever."

So as I fluff the pillows for 2007's big sleep and feel the eager breath of 2008 on the back of my neck, I find myself loosely wrapped in reflection. I spent the past few days puttering about my house, full of coffee and thought. I'm listing my 2007 feats here to help me figure things out, to allow myself to (as they say) recognize. I hope it moves you to make your own list, whether you choose to share it or not.

I turned 30 this year. My darling family sent me a gift for each year, each individually wrapped and stuffed together in one big exciting box. And I celebrated this milestone with (what else?) Meat Cake.

I also began erasing the unfinished details of a relationship gone very bad. This is part of the "worst" of my year and I'm, even now, getting rid of the evidence. I'm also still working through my feelings on the matter, as angerhurtregret tends to crave attention. But I'm proud of myself, jeez...still being here...not playing dirty...and something new every single day.

Then my sister Bamboo moved in! Yippee! For her arrival, I had to quickly turn a room that had been an office/art studio into her new bedroom. The "junk room" had plywood subfloors, no window coverings or baseboards, and was covered in paint splatter. I didn't necessarily want to "finish" the room (install flooring) because, if she moved out quickly, I wanted the option of making the room messy again. So, I dismantled the stage tech shelving, fixed the holes in the walls, and painted the room. Then, using my limited resources (money not being one of them), I made baseboards from wallpaper, commissioned curtains from our favorite seamstress, and stained the plywood to look almost rich. And I done did it all by myself. Awwww, yeeeeah.

I made some new friends this year, both IRL and in the blogosphere. I also re-connected with some lost pals and grew a bit closer to those currently in my address book. Believe it or not, I planned and/or hosted my first grown-up parties (outside of a dorm room).

I auditioned for and got a part-time editor position with the much-revered Apartment Therapy (Chicago). This is my first PAID freelance-esque writing gig. Working for AT has not only created connections and opened up avenues, but has also hinted to me that I might be able to do what I love - to write - for a living.

And so I wrote. One of my short stories was published in an anthology called Further Persons Imperfect. This project is important to me on many levels. It's my first piece of published fiction. I worked with a tremendously dedicated and talented group of writers to create the book in full. I also conceived the book's design, roping Porcelain in as the cover model and lassoing another friend of ours to take the photograph. All in all, it was a successful collaboration. Since I had spent the early half of 2007 regretting joint projects, the efforts put into this book restored my faith in partnership.

Now onto my continuous struggle with King Neptune. I certainly can't say that I've won the war against His H2O Highness and I won't even dare say that I've won a battle (without knocking on solid, firm on-land wood). But I have held my own. This year, Neptune lashed out hard and obvious with one doozy of a Chicago storm. Flooding threatened my humble abode and I held it back. Recently, Neptune moved in, cloaked and insidious, with a behind-the-wall leak from my bathtub faucet. I (thought I) had the leak figured out and fixed. I patted myself on the back for the decent albeit amateur regrouting/retiling/recaulking job. I started to (foolishly) believe I could see Neptune coming. But, after all the repair work, he came back with the same exact sneaky leak that was there before. King Neptune, you're officially a jerk but I now see the value in our sparring because I'm learning from you. Whatever doesn't drown me, only makes me stronger (and more buoyant).

Lastly, there's design boner and all you guys. Each of you reading this is one more reason to write it. Thanks for making 2007 mean something, especially you, Porcelain. You're the best friend a little ol' scrap of Cardboard like me could hope for.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Cardboard Christmas

After all my family finally made it into Chicago and after we hit the grocery store for supplies, Christmas Eve meant staying in with the heat turned way up and an impromptu Jell-O recipe. It's melon flavored Jell-O with maraschino cherries and I call it Holiday Melonjello (pronounced me-lawn-je-low). The holly-like appearance was purely accidental. Since all us kids are past the legal drinking age, Santa now gets cookies and Mistletoe Mojitos. Liquoring him up makes him even more giving.

I have yet to purchase a real life tree. Every year I say I will and end up not. This artificial number has been the stand-in for the past couple years and I think it's pretty darn cute. It's small enough to stand on a table (or, in this case, on an ottoman) and it breaks in two for easily folding and storage. Paired with a softly scented "Tree" candle by Slatkin & Co. that Porcelain graciously picked up for me, this fir is almost as good as the real thing. I found all the shiny silver wildlife-inspired ornaments on my last trip to the Brown Elephant. See a detail HERE. And what goes perfectly with a faux tree, you may ask. A faux fire, of course. I prefer the kind that plays on the TV set, the DVD on loop variety which also plays traditional holiday tunes. That's how we roll at Cardboard's house.

The main show at dinner was turkey (and Celebration Roast for my vegetarian sister). There were mashed potatoes with an amazing shiitake mushroom recipe lifted from Porcelain & Hardwood. They also gave me a deliciously modified recipe for the most intense stuffing I've ever seen or been blessed to taste. Seen above is Bamboo's Spicy Broccoli (so much of the yum) and the jellied cranberry goo, straight from the can. Sadly, I drank too large a glass of egg nog with my pie and ended up, as my sister so giddily told her boyfriend on the phone, "barfing." Merry Christmas!

My sister and Mama C headed home a few short days after the 25th. It was lovely to have them although I feel a little guilty that we we didn't get out more. But I have a feeling that hanging around the house, snacking, and playing Snatch & Bang! (I swear that's not dirty) was exactly what they wanted to do too.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bonus Bone: Darla

Darla in the Window
I'd like to introduce you all to the newest member of my knick-knack family. This is Darla. She's a stuffed felt bird who stands about six inches high, has a crooked beak, and reminds me a bit of myself.

I first saw her a week or so ago and I haven't been able to stop thinking about her bulbous rose-colored body and kicky thread-wrapped feet. A few days ago, I returned to Two-Sided, a lovely Chicago stationery (etc) shop, and adopted her.

I love having her home and she appears to be happy with her new surroundings. She stands there; sometimes on one foot, sometimes on the other; and just makes me happy. But I've noticed that she also gets lost in thought and seems a bit melancholy. Like I said, reminding me of me.

She's definitely got a jaunty fun side but she's also quite shy. Oh, oops. Okay, like now. I think she needs some alone time.

For these reasons, I, Cardboard, declare this a Design Boner.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bonus Bone: Voges Sensory Collection

I received a Voges catalog in the mail a couple of weeks ago and drooled over the descriptions of the yummy truffles and other delightful bon bons. I was in the midst of compiling my gift guide, so my brain was thinking value, but then I spotted this amazing collection that blew the $50 budget out of the water. But it sounds so cool that I had to include it somewhere.

The Sensory Collection is designed to develop your sense of smell and taste and helps you recognize and articulate those smells and tastes. The kit includes 40 pieces of chocolate, 42 aromas, guidebook, flavor wheel, notebook, and blindfold (apparently for some party-trick fun). It kind of reminds me of a scene from the movie French Kiss. Kevin Kline shows Meg Ryan a wine-scent kit he made when he was a young French lad and she is quickly able to distinguish and point out the flavors in the wine she's drinking.

The chocolate sensory collection retails for a whopping $375, which seems like a whole lot for a bunch of chocolates and smelly air, but it also sounds like a lot of fun and you'd probably learn quite a bit. I'd love to hone in on my senses like that. Pretty nifty!

For these reasons, I, Porcelain, declare this a Design Boner.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Merry Christmas from Design Boner

We feel we've gotten to know some of fellow bloggers a little bit over the past year (even though we've never actually met them). Here are a few "virtual" presents in our Santa sack:

To: Decor8 Holly
From: Porcelain Katie
Travelogue Dessert Plates, at Anthropologie

To: Making It Lovely Nicole
From: Cardboard Jessica
Something from the Polka Dots Bath Ensemble, at Bed Bath & Beyond

To: More Ways to Waste Time Leah
From: Both of us!
Erich Ginder Ghost Tree Coat Rack, at Design Public

Monday, December 17, 2007

6 & 7

Here are our weekend photos. Visit flickr to see the entire 6 & 7 collection.

Cardboard: left, Porcelain: right

Original inspiration by Stephanie & Mav at 3191

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bonus Bone: The Happy Holiday Hearth DVD

I don't have a real fireplace...yet.

For this reason, I, Cardboard, declare this a Design Boner.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Great gifts under $50: Affordable finds from CB2

Lumiere candleholders, $3.95 - $4.95, available at CB2

Longneck vases, $3.95 each, available at CB2

Money getting tight right about now? But still need to get a gift for your sister-in-law or Secret Santa? CB2 has a bunch of affordable bits and bobs that anyone would love. And the nice thing is you can afford to buy a few little odds and ends and not break the bank. Yay affordability!!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Great gifts under $50: Anything and everything from Zingerman's

Zingerman's Farm loaf bread

Whenever Hardwood and I head back home to Michigan, we always make sure we stop at Zingerman's to pick up some goodies. You seriously cannot go wrong with ordering anything from here. Here are a few favorites and treats that I've always wanted to try:

Agrodolce vinegar - This vinegar is fantastic! Wonderful on salads. When we bought it the guy in the vinegar/olive oil section said it tastes great on apples.

Italian Balsamic tasting set - Hardwood and I are Balsamic lovers. After tasting some really amazing, sweet, tangy, syrupy Balsamic, we cannot go back to the harsh, cheap variety they sell at the supermarkets. I've always wanted to try this little sampler set to see the difference in aging.

Zingerman's breads are the bomb!!! You can't go wrong with any of their loaves. We always stock up and get several loaves when we are home. We chuck them in the freezer and heat them up when we're ready to use them. Our favs are Paesano, farm loaf, French mountain bread, and caraway rye (great for making Rubens).

Cheese - I just ordered a British cheese passport (which goes over the $50 gift guide limit) for Christmas with my family. But you can order individual cuts of cheese that fit your budget. You won't be sorry. I've ordered some of their Stilton before and it was wonderful. I'm really interested in trying their raw milk Stichelton. And you can never, NEVER go wrong with some good Parmigiano-Reggiano. Hardwood is a big lover of their cream cheese.

There are so many other great items that if I tried to list them all, this post would be outrageously long!!! Try any of their olive oils, mustard, honey, coffee or sweets and you'll be the hero of your Holiday get-together!

*Note: Zingerman's web site has been running really slow, so be patient or place your order via phone at

Monday, December 10, 2007

Great gifts under $50: Prints by Nina Clough

Rooftops in Prague

I love giving the gift of art to friends and family. But sometimes it can be a little tricky finding just the right piece. Generally landscapes are a pretty safe bet. I'm totally in love with Nina Clough's work. There's a vintage-feel to her work and it definitely transports the viewer to the location. Any of these prints would be great for an art-lover or the Europe-obsessed.

Blueprint closing!

Oh I am so sad! A friend just informed me that Blueprint magazine is closing after the January/February issue. The web will now be its primary home and will occasionally appear as a special issue. I thought that their first couple issues started a little rocky, but once they got on a roll it was a great magazine. We'll miss you Blueprint!

6 & 7

Here are our weekend photos. Visit flickr to see the entire 6 & 7 collection.

Cardboard: left, Porcelain: right

Original inspiration by Stephanie & Mav at 3191

Sunday, December 09, 2007

More Than Toast

Toastabags, 2 for $10 at Firebox

This is the perfect gift for the lazy gourmet! Toastabags are "thick, plastic bags" that you can stick in your pop-up toaster. Use them to make grilled cheese, heat up a can of beans, or even cook pork chops.
I don't even want to know why the bag itself doesn't melt but there's video proof that the only thing that melts when you toast one of these bags is the cheese inside.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Great gifts under $50: Scandinavian Modern

Scandinavian Modern, available at Amazon

I bought this book a few weeks ago and absolutely love it! Great photos and some interesting background on the designers that are featured. I loved being able to peek into a few of their homes.

Bonus Bone: Brown & Gold wallpaper

Image from the movie The Golden Compass

Hardwood and I have had visions of wallpaper floating in our heads. For the past few weeks we've been emailing back and forth wallpaper patterns we like in anticipation of decoration a new home. At the beginning of this week my December/January issue of Domino arrived and I fell in love with the brown and gold Osborne & Little Foile wallpaper they featured. (Sorry I wasn't able to find an image of Foile in brown and gold online.) I didn't show it to Hardwood initially because generally he's more attracted to silver rather than gold. But a couple days later he emailed me the above still from the movie The Golden Compass saying I love this wallpaper. Ooooo, I liked it too!* So I showed him the wallpaper in Domino and he liked it as well. I love it when something clicks between the two of us and neither of us has to compromise too much.

For these reasons, I, Porcelain, declare this a Design Boner.

*(Side note, if anyone has any idea of who makes this wallpaper, I would love to know! It looks very Art Nouveau, so I'm guessing it is probably original and probably not available. But we can dream!)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Great gifts under $50: The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia t-shirt

...and that is the night the lights went out in Georgia t-shirt, available at Frugal Fashion

Cardboard and I LOVE the show Designing Women. In fact, one of our possible Halloween costumes was going to be the gals from the show. I think Cardboard would make a great Julia Sugarbaker. And with my red hair and sassy attitude, I was born to play Mary Jo Shively!

When our BBFF (best blogging friend forever) Frugal Fag told us he was designing a t-shirt inspired by one of the great Sugarbaker monologues, we knew we had to get one. And we knew that we couldn't be the only Designing Women fans out there!!! This t-shirt and DVD would make any Southern Belle swoon.

Hi-Tech Woking

Wow, a built-in wok. Now that's what I call stir-fry dedication.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Gimage: Damn You, Laundry!

"Damn You, Laundry!"*

Funny and appropriate. Sitting here and trying my best to avoid the mountain of laundry in my closet, I decided to "gimage" my dilemma and see what happens. Like I said, funny and appropriate.

Sometimes having a home just gets to be too much. I don't think it matters if you live in a castle or a shack, at certain moments, you'll find yourself buried under stacks of junk mail, misplaced furniture, and (cue enlightening ding!) piles of laundry.

The trick, I'm finding, is to just move on something. Prioritizing is great but, when you're overwhelmed, you have to start somewhere. That's why, right now, I'll be thinking about my laundry but I'm going to do the dishes.

* Gimage = Image found when stated phrase searched in Google

Denver Design: A Store Guide

Design*Sponge just published a mega-extensive Denver Guide to shopping. Compiled by Denver local, Jamie Kopke of designklub, the list tells us where to shop for modern furniture, thrifted goods, gifts, and tasties. It even highlights a couple unique Denver neighborhoods.

Denver is my hometown and bits of heart will always be scattered about Colfax or rushing down Cherry Creek. But even I don't recognize most the shops in this guide! To my credit, the last time I truly lived in Denver, I cared more about local bars than home furnishings. But, it appears Denver's got quite a bit going on. Yeah, D, bring on the homestyle.

I wasn't able to read the list thoroughly because going through it got me dangerously close to calling up United and asking for the next flight home. I mean, Chicago, you're swell and all, but you don't even know...

* I searched "downtown denver" in flickr to find this photo. What's crazy about this photo is that Las Delicias is my FAVORITE MEXICAN RESTAURANT OF ALL TIME. If you're nearby and quasi-vegetarian, order the #30 and you'll understand.

Photo credit: DulcePicoso

Great gifts under $50: Lean Corwin travel plates

Travel pattern melamine plate, by Lean Corwin

Detail of Travel plate

Travel Two pattern melamine plate, by Lean Corwin

Detail of Travel Two plate

I think these Travel-themed plates by Lena Corwin are just the bee's knees! I love the wee drawings. They would be great for picnics (they're made of plastic, so they won't break) or so cute hung on a wall.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Great gifts under $50: Prints by the Post Family

Camera Poster #2

Have a camera lover in your life? Or maybe more specific a Polaroid camera lover? Super 8 lover? Well head on over to Chicago's very own Post Family and grab one of their awesome prints for that camera/video junkie in your life.

Carrie...Mail Basket!

Lookie, lookie - sfgirlbybay took everyone's favorite Carrie Bike Basket and turned it into a mail caddy. Now that's chic re-purposing!

(I too need to make a blogging desk in the middle of a plush comforter with a steamy cup of cocoa near by...sigh...)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Great gifts under $50 : Terry's Toffee

Delicious toffee from Terry's Toffee

Terry and Micheal are my neighbors and man oh man do they make some delicious toffee!!!!! My two favorites are McCall's Classic (named after Terry's Grandmother) and Cran-Orange Passion (I love the little dotting of sea salt on top, nicely balances out the sweetness). But seriously, you cannot go wrong with any of the flavors. A box of toffee would be a great gift for the sweet tooth on your list.

6 & 7

Here are our weekend photos. Visit flickr to see the entire 6 & 7 collection.

Cardboard: left, Porcelain: right

Original inspiration by Stephanie & Mav at 3191