Sewing For All Seasons

by Nancy on December 26, 2013

I must confess that my sewing skills are very limited. Most of my undertakings only require stitching a straight line, so I end up with lots of square- or rectangular-shaped items. When I came across Sewing For All Seasons by Susan Beal, I quickly flipped through it and was happy to find a number of easy projects. The book is organized by season, and all of the tutorials are marked with a difficulty rating (easy, intermediate, or intermediate-advanced), so you know in advance what you’re getting yourself into!

Even though it has a difficulty rating of intermediate, I decided to try my hand at the Mason Jar & Wine Bottle Cozies because I thought they would make a perfect hostess gift for my friend’s New Year’s Eve party. Thankfully, the instructions were clearly written and included illustrations. (The section of the book that outlines materials and tools, as well as sewing techniques, came in handy.) My first project was such a success that I’m already planning to tackle more; the book includes 24 in all. Next on my list are the Porch Swing Pillows and the Picnic Quilt.

And here is the finished project! A bottle of wine and some homemade goodies packaged nicely for the hostess to kick off the new year.

{ Photos by Nancy Cho }


8 Books for Last-Minute Gifting

by Alexis on December 20, 2013

The holidays are almost upon us! Have you picked up gifts for everyone on your list yet? If not, you can spend your weekend battling hectic stores, or better yet, take advantage of quick shipping and the endless selection of books available online. There are so many amazing options to choose from, and there’s truly something for everyone.

We asked several staff members to tell us what books they’ll be giving this year, and also what they’d like to receive. If you’ve got some last-minute names to check off—or if there’s someone you forgot to shop for!—consider these.

Holiday Gifts Books

Meg Mateo Ilasco, creative director:

1. The Wes Anderson Collection by Matt Zoller Seitz
“I’m fascinated with creatives that have a singular vision like Anderson, so I’d love to get my hands on this book. It’s a rare treat to peek into his mind and learn about his process, inspirations, and influences.”

2. The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
“I’ll be giving this book to a couple of friends who are interested in writing a screenplay. This book is great for friends that are aspiring writers or artists interested in storytelling.”

Nancy Cho, sponsorship manager:

3. All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray
“After having my son, my only chance to listen to NPR is when I’m in the car. So, when I found this book at the Chronicle store, I had to get it. The recipes are fantastic, but it’s fun to also read about the little things that go on in the background at the station. I’ve enjoyed it so much I’ll be giving this book this year.”

4. Smoke and Pickles by Edward Lee
“My doctor actually recommended this book to me last week and although I’m curious about the recipes, I found idea of Edward Lee’s personal stories from the kitchen to be intriguing as well. It’s on my list this year!”

Holiday Gifts Books

Rena Tom, market editor:

5. Ivan Ramen by Ivan Orkin and Chris Ying
“I’m giving this book to my husband Derek, who does all the cooking and has a fat cookbook collection. A NYC outpost of this ramen shop opened this week, so I can’t wait to compare the homemade version with the “real thing” next year!”

6. Design Brooklyn by Anne Hellman
“Since I’m opening up Makeshift Society in Brooklyn in the spring, I’m really curious about this book of Brooklyn interiors, especially since it covers both public and private spaces. It’s received solid reviews so I can’t wait to get a copy.”

Alexis Birkmeyer, assistant editor:

7. Artisan Cheese Making at Home by Mary Karlin
“This book has been on my radar for a while now—it’s supposed to be a definitive guide—and after a couple of attempts at homemade ricotta and mozzarella this past year, I think I’m ready for more complicated cheese making experiments! I’d love to add this to my cookbook shelf.”

8. Knot Thread Stitch by Lisa Soloman
“I have a friend I’ll be gifting Knot Thread Stitch to this year. She’s incredibly crafty and I think she’ll really enjoy the non-traditional approach to embroidery.”


How to Hang a Picture

by Anh-Minh on November 20, 2013

When Jay Sacher and Suzanne LaGasa asked if I’d write the foreword for their new book, How to Hang a Picture (And Other Essential Lessons for the Stylish Home), I was so flattered. Then a bit of fear set in—I had never written a foreword before and wasn’t really sure what approach to take. But after reading the pages that Jay and Suzanne shared with me, it turned out to be a pretty easy task. That’s because this is a book that I actually needed in my life.

Hanging, framing, and displaying art is something I often struggle with—and I’m sure I’m not alone. It’s the reason why so many art pieces sat unframed or tucked away in cabinets in my house for years. Thankfully, this guide is full of helpful information, as well as lovely illustrations of interiors. And I admit: I’m a sucker for illustrated decorating books!

You can view more pages from How to Hang a Picture on the website that Jay and Suzanne started. The book came out just last week, and I’m already planning to pick up a couple of extra copies to give as holiday gifts this year.


Anthology’s Fall Reading List

by Alexis on November 14, 2013

Our market editor Rena Tom is an avid reader and always seems to have the perfect book suggestion for any situation. We asked her to start putting together quarterly lists for seasonal reading inspiration, and her first one is full of great finds. Thanks, Rena! —Alexis

There is something incredibly comforting and place-related about reading books, for me. I zip through plenty of short reading on my phone while I’m on the go, but there’s no association made or retained between the odd New Yorker or Esquire article and, say, heading eastbound on the 21 bus.

A book, though—hardcover, paperback, or tablet—is forever tied with where I first pick it up and begin to read, and when in the  season I devour it. Some books seem destined to be read at beaches, and others need to be consumed by a crackling fireplace, maybe with a glass of wine.

Here are some autumnal books for you to dive into. Some are old favorites and others are quite new. They all involve a level of discovery and introspection that seems appropriate for this time of year. Enjoy.

1. The Lost Art of Finding Our Way by John Edward Huth
If you love science writing, or if you love maps, or if you love arcane knowledge about how people managed before technology, you will also love this book. Great if you like to contemplate physically being in the world.

2. Things Come Apart by Todd McLellan
Beautiful photographs of common products broken down into their components. If you are a fan of Things Organized Neatly or love contemplating the guts of objects, this is for you.

3. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey
Short and sweet anecdotes about habits that creative people in a wide variety of fields perform in order to work. The habits are as quirky or pedestrian, sometimes both, and show that inspiration takes many forms indeed.

4. Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh
A sweet, unusual love story (disguised as science fiction) that takes online dating and social media influence to its logical extreme.

5. The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner
I can’t even describe this one. It’s a sexy, heartbreaking, smart novel about radical acts in art, politics, and life in seventies New York. Completely fascinating and a page-turner.

6. Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins
A favorite novel that somehow ties together radiation, war, the South, love, and magic over more than 20 years with beautiful prose.

7. Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon
As a parent, this book was riveting. Solomon extensively interviews families with children who are exceptional in some way, and how that affects them all as the child grows and forms his or her singular identity.

8. Black Maps: American Landscape and the Apocalyptic Sublime by David Maisel
A gorgeous book of contemporary photography who reveals landscapes altered and sometimes ruined by man that are still brutally beautiful.

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Paper to Petal

by Nancy on September 26, 2013

There is a rule at our house that we must have a floral arrangement for every occasion. It’s so important that even my son asked for flowers on his fourth birthday. But I also like the idea of bringing in flowers for no special reason, except that they add a beautiful touch to any space. Since it’s not always feasible for me to pick up a fresh bouquet, I was excited to discover the new book Paper to Petal by Rebecca Thuss and Patrick Farrell. It includes templates and instructions to handcraft 75 paper blooms.

Paper to Petal is full of breathtaking images flowers and foliage made from a variety of papers, fabric, glitter, and ribbon—all photographed by the husband-and-wife team. I especially love the painted flowers, as well as the couple’s use of markers and stamps to create patterns on petals and leaves.

{ All images above by Thuss + Farrell }

As soon as I cracked open my copy of Paper to Petal, I couldn’t wait to try my hand at crafting a bouquet. So I found some materials in the closet and got started, making two blooms fairly quickly. And I don’t have to worry about these flowers wilting any time soon!