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Birds About Boston and Brookline

A few years ago I noticed these delightful urban art birds on the Boston-Brookline Border in Audubon Circle. Besides type, silhouette is another favorite design element of mine no matter what the setting. I think these are a fantastic way to pretty up the urban landscape.

The first time I spotted one of the silhouettes it made me smile because it was so unexpected and for the first few seconds, from a distance, I thought it was real! I think my two favorites are the cardinal because its shape makes a beautiful outline and the hummingbird because it reminds me of the hummingbirds that used to frequent my butterfly garden growing up. They are amazing little creatures!

John James Audubon (1785-1851), who I believe the area was named after, was an incredible artist who created hundreds of drawings and prints of birds that current artists continue to measure their work against. I encourage you to read the Audubon Society's short biography on John
here. From the site:

"Audubon’s story is one of triumph over adversity; his accomplishment is destined for the ages. He encapsulates the spirit of young America, when the wilderness was limitless and beguiling. He was a person of legendary strength and endurance as well as a keen observer of birds and nature. Like his peers, he was an avid hunter, and he also had a deep appreciation and concern for conservation; in his later writings he sounded the alarm about destruction of birds and habitats. It is fitting that today we carry his name and legacy into the future."

Audubon Society works to protect birds, wildlife and their habitats; to support this very worthy cause click here. And for more reading on John James Audubon visit this link. Happy birding!

Sail Around In Style

Have you heard of
Sea Bags? If you haven't, thank goodness you are reading this.

Sail Bags are fabulously awesome. The bags are designed from used sails (from canvas to Kevlar) with rope handles hand-spliced in the Portland, Maine shop. According to the Sea Bag website, "the splice is a nautical skill and what differentiates a Sea Bag."

Not only are these bags cute, functional and perfect for the summer, the owners, Hannah Kubiak and Beth Shissler, also have a
mission. They support local community efforts from working for the Portland, ME community, to supporting several causes with donations, to believing that every person has a second chance by working with the Maine Correctional Institute for Women. Style and philanthropy, you know I love it! Time to set sail...

SEI Water: Drink Up!

My friend Erin stopped by my office and pulled out what looked like a bottle of vodka. "I know you just got back from vacation," I said, "but isn't it a little early to start hittin' the sauce?" Silly me, Erin was just drinking water and introduced me to this fabulous package design by SEI:
From SEI's fantastic-looking website:
"SEI Water goes everywhere. The bottle shape, inspired by the military canteen, is designed around the principle of portability and utilization of space while maintaining a subtle harmony of form and function. The bottle is useful and fashionable; and the taste of SEI natural spring water is pure and crisp."

I think it's great because it looks different from other things on the shelf. It's so simple that in the visual clutter of stores, this stands out. I like their website because it looks clean and neat and I love the use of illustration. After clicking through, there doesn't seem to be too much information on the site, but at least it looks nice!

Overall I'm on the fence about bottled water. It seems wasteful to pay for something you can get pretty cheaply out of the tap (lots of times free if you don't have a water bill) and it saves on throwing away all that plastic. Lots of bottled water on shelves is right from the tap anyway. The debate is raging on the carbon footprint that all this bottling and shipping creates. Now that everyone is going green, bottled water is getting a bad wrap. An interesting article from Slate.com on the debate
here. I started reading articles about the amount of drugs and pollutants in public water supplies. (Note: not good to do when you get all of your water from the tap.) EEK! What am I to do when I go to my tap every day? Maybe we can find a happy medium of water that is treated, is cheap and can be dispensed to reusable containers?

*Update* While writing this article I was searching everywhere for this article, finally found it and wanted to share.

Featured Folk: Kailash and Shivana Maharaj

Summer Cover of City Style and Living

I recently heard from some new found blogger friends, Kailash and Shivana Maharaj, who are based in Calgary, Canada and publish a fantastic online magazine:
City Style and Living. You don't need to be from Calgary to appreciate the magazine though. First, I'm crazy about the idea of an online magazine. If you are at a computer often, it's great for break-time. One of my favorite features is the sound that is made when you flip the pages of the magazine, it's a nice touch. It's green too! On top of all that, City Style and Living is packed with content covering food, fashion, city life and travel. There's a little something for everyone. We sat down for chat (OK, we gmailed, but didn't that sound so professional?) and Kailash and Shivana were fantastic to answer my Featured Folk questions:

How did you become interested in magazine publishing?
A magazine is an incredible marriage of word and image. It reminds us of those beautiful old children’s books with illustrated plates. The idea for K&S Media, our production and publishing company, has been percolating for years. In our premier issue we wrote about writing the magazine for our entire lives, we have always been writing, playing and creating. City Style and Living is the beginning of K&S Media, more productions are to follow. The best is yet to come.

How would you describe your style and what do you look to for inspiration?
We see inspiration everywhere. Sometimes it is in an object, sometimes an emotion, sometimes in something intangible. There is no one source for inspiration, the process of translating the inspiration into action is creativity and fulfillment. Our 'personal style philosophy' is simple - there is no need to follow exactly what appears on runways, or on celebrities. There is nothing more pretentious than telling people about 'must haves'- everyone is unique. As the great Yves Saint Laurent said, "Fashions fade, style is eternal".

What's the strangest/most shocking thing you've ever seen while covering a story?
We were recently on assignment in Mexico. One day we went to a beach, it was not the most remote place. In fact, it was on the grounds of a large hotel. All of a sudden Kailash noticed something crawling on the sand by her foot. At first it seemed to be a crab, but upon closer inspection, we realized they were two recently hatched baby turtles. It was shocking to see these two creatures in a commercial area. Before arriving, we had researched the area and found out that turtle nesting season was over but we desperately wanted to see a turtle and then in the middle of all this activity two baby turtles just emerged from the sand, it was an amazing symbol. We then soldiered the babies to the sea, keeping the crowd at bay as many people realized that we were looking at baby turtles and wanted to touch them. We guarded the two turtles on their arduous crawl toward the ocean.

I heart this magazine even more because they feature books on cupcakes!

What stories are you working on now?
We are currently working on our Fall issue. Ideas are formulated months in advance, and require a great deal of planning and preparation. As each issue comes out, we get more excited about the content- Fall 2008 is extremely exciting for us- but you'll have to wait to see the results.

Besides City Style and Living, what other things interest you and keep you busy?

When you have something as close to your heart as City Style and Living, there is little time for anything else. Everything you see is a potential story idea, or feature for the magazine. We started the magazine because it involved all of our interests- food, fashion and travel. We love cooking, travelling and fashion styling. We also love putting together stories whether written or visual.

If you weren't an editor, what would you be?
We cannot imagine doing anything else- the diversity of our magazine allows our creativity to be used in the best ways. Apart from the magazine, we work on the production side of K&S Media.

One of my favorite writers, Ernest Hemingway was asked to write a story in six words (For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.) If you had to write a six-word story about yourself, what would it be?
K&S Media’s philosophy revolves around our company’s tagline: “Earth is a beautiful heaven.”

Thank you to Kailash and Shivana for the blog love! Be sure to check out the
current issue and get yourself to Calgary ASAP!

Catstudio: Meow!

My newest obsession that's got me purring is the geography collection from
Catstudio that I spotted while in New York. I must own something from here! I am so impressed with the look and feel of every piece. Perhaps a Colorado pillow would be well suited for my new digs:

Or a
glass set:

dish towels:


Actually, all of the above. From the
about me page:

The Geography Collection presently encompasses more than 100 states, cities, regions, parks and countries. Taking their inspiration from the vintage souvenir pillows of the 30's and 40's, the Swans have tried to keep the integrity of a locale, while featuring both historical figures and kitsch local icons, and points of interest. Of course most major cities can be found on their maps, but if they like a name, for instance, "Loveland" in Colorado, they're likely to include it.

I can't wait until they come out with tote bags! Until then, my biggest problem is deciding on which items I want most...

Hofmann Hotdog Frank and Snappy Ad

I spotted this
Hofmann Hotdog ad at a great little roadside stand and loved it! It's so kitchy and 1950s, it almost made me want a Snappy but since it was about 95 I opted for ice cream. You can never go wrong with ice cream...

Spin The Color Wheel!

While browsing about wedding websites I found this fantastic tool on Brides.com. Stumped for a color palette? No worries! This great tool does the work for you.

You can spin using all color combinations or a color family and you can further refine your search by choosing similar hues, contrasting hues or neutral undertones.

The combos that pop up have a description to help you further decide what works. For example: "...a neutral element may even allow colors that don't seem complementary to look great together." I think I'm having too much fun with this and picking colors will be challenging! Some of my favorites are here, thoughts?

Making Ugly Pretty: Superfund365

While surfing the web I came across this amazingly pretty website:
Superfund365. I love the layout and colors!

The back story, though, is not so pretty. The website

The EPA states that: "The Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country." As of September 2007 there are 1,315 final and proposed sites on the National Priorities List (NPL), but thousands more wait for approval. We would have to run Superfund365 for about three and a half years to cover all the sites that are currenlty listed as NPL.

The authors started in September 2007 and the site changes daily for a year as they travel across the country. I'm most drawn to the colorful wheel that shows everything from the responsible parties, contaminants and acres affected. There's also a key to help sort through it all. The bottom has a timeline that reminds me of old chemistry charts, perfect for this site. And if you have content you can add it to the profiles.

At the same time, as pretty and amazing as all of this looks, it's also heartbreaking! There are so many areas polluted, people affected and still it will take years to clean up. It gets me pretty riled up. Also listed are the
top 25 responsible parties that have sites, let's take these companies to task! The list includes Chevron, Honeywell, Dow Chemical, General Electric, General Motors, and many, many more.

I was, sort of, surprised to find my home town listed on the site,
day 79:

I can tell you first-hand from growing up there that the water is gross, I wouldn't drink it now but few knew any better for years. I remember it smelling like rotten eggs sometimes when it came out of the spout. This site lists John Baker as the responsible party, don't know who that is and according to the
EPA site the contamination is from "an unknown source." Are you kidding me? Maybe it was the old General Products company that, as I've heard, used to take it's waste and dump it down old wells. Classy.

It's so sad because the region is home to beautiful glacial lakes, wineries, forests and has the potential to be a top destination spot. Of course, this is not the only reason tourism hasn't completely taken hold in the area but that is too broad a topic for me to even tackle right now. I hope this site can bring more awareness to these types of situations and help to make sure the responsible parties, well, take responsibility!

Vote For Your Favorite Rose

A few weeks ago I wrote about Lord & Taylor's new rose campaign contest and the top thirty have been posted. To check out all of the finalists click here (note: sometimes the page has trouble loading). My top picks are:

And these get honorable mention from me:

The more I look at all of the submissions, I find myself drawn to the non-red and pink roses, maybe because they stand out more in a sea of pink. There will be a second round of voting and a winner will be announced July 2 (I'll keep you posted). I'm excited to see who is chosen. I absolutely love Lord & Taylor's idea to hold this contest. What a great opportunity for these artists to be recognized and, for one, be part of a million-dollar marketing campaign.

Designer Hotels- Book Me Please!

As someone who loves design and travel, this website is my new obsession. There aren't too many listings in the US but what did catch my eye was this link to the Hotel Healdsburg in California. Cool website, neat hotel design and a spa, what more do you need?

I like their double H logo, seeing as H is my new nickname. When you click items on the site and they load, there is a graphic that says aaaHH- brilliant!
What a coincidence I'll be in town in a few weeks. I wonder if I can change my reservation...

More from
Design Hotels' website:

Established in 1993, as the first of its kind, Design Hotels AG now represents and markets a hand-selected collection of more than 150 hotels in over 40 countries around the globe. Far more than just a loosely-affiliated assortment of member properties or a mere online booking engine, the company offers both its members and today’s travellers unparalleled specialist knowledge, innovative, international marketing savvy and a future-forward vision that moves in step with our shifting world.

Design Hotels also comes out with an annual book of the best-designed hotels and a great looking magazine. I'm ready to jet-set in style. (And by jet, I don't mean that new, not-so-great-in-my-opinion JetBlue ad campaign that replaces the word fly with jet.) Happy travels!

Spectra News: Spectacular!

While surfing the web I came across this amazing way to get news from msnbc.com:
Spectra visual newsreader. Wow, wow, wow. The first time you launch the application you add whatever channels you'd like news on.

I chose most of the top story cattegories to make a pretty color collage. The colored boxes float around on the screen in the default orbital mode but you can also change it to auto or color sensor. This is what the auto mode looks like:

The color sensor mode uses your webcam so you can interact with the application! I'm still working on getting that going. You can change the orbital spead, organize by the time of the story, filter the news and use the news collector feature to add stories to a bar at the top of the screen. That top tool bar can always be open too. You can see in my screen shot I've got the newscollector open:

At the bottom there is a scroll bar to go between stories. This is a beautiful, powerful new way of looking at news, kudos to the developers. One of my favorite news categories is the news of the weird. It's always good for a laugh (click picture to enlarge).