28 February 2011

Architecture - Hundertwasser & Susanka

I am in love with architecture.  Have been since 9th grade.  I think it's hereditary, as my maternal grandfather was an architect, however, I never knew him.  Architecture, to me, is a puzzle - an awesome mind puzzle - that requires the architect to turn all preconceived notions on their heads and create something that is both aesthetically pleasing and highly functional.  The better an architect is at creating a balance between the two, the more highly lauded (s)he is.

I'm going to share with you the architecture of 2 of my favorite architects.  They are vastly different in terms of their style and execution, but globally acknowledged as among the best in their field and highly sought after.

I had the pleasure of travelling to Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 2000, and while in Vienna we stumbled across a neighborhood that took me by surprise.  The ground was paved but completely uneven - strange juts coming up here and there.  And the buildings - they looked as if they were straight off a 3rd grader's collage assignment - pieced haphazardly together with trees and bushes and vines growing straight out of the exterior walls.  Little did I know at the time that this was a neighborhood designed by world-famous architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

His name means "the empire of freedom" and "one hundred waters".  His overarching philosophy of architecture was that human misery was a result of the rational, sterile, and monotonous architecture.  And his own architecture reflects that sentiment. 

A home in Vienna.  Note the uneven lilt of the ground.

The Hundertwasser building in Germany.

An office building in Ohio.

A loft building in Vienna.  Note the trees and bushes growing out of the building - they're real!

My absolute favorite residential architect is Sarah Susanka, founder of The Not So Big Life philosophy.  She believes that homes should be sustainable, functional to their specific owners, and a joy to live in.  She spends so much of her time getting to know her clients and designing homes that cater to their lifestyles.  She doesn't build homes over 3,000 square feet, as she believes that additional space is wasted and families won't spend as much time together.  All her homes are built with sustainable or recycled resources.  AND all her homes are downright gorgeous.  Her philosophy is "smaller, but better built".

Gorgeous, yes?

Notice the attention to detail - the slats along the ceiling, the archways down the hall, the finial on the staircase.

The dining room/living room of a very beautiful house.

24 February 2011

Mozart's Sonata No. 11 in A Major, Third Movement

Ok, I'll admit it.  I'm a sucker for classical music.  I turn it on while I'm driving, while I'm cleaning, while the kids are playing or whenever I simply feel like it.  It's inspirational, it quiets my thoughts and my soul, it's beautiful and full of life, it's genius.

I was driving home a few days ago when Mozart's Sonata No. 11 in A came on the radio.  It was the first time I had ever heard it in its entirety.  We all know the third movement: da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da!  Ok, so that doesn't work as well if you can't hear me humming it.  To be clearer, it's the one on The Truman Show that is playing in the background as he's driving to work.  You know, the one with the trills and the fast, happy pace?  (If you still don't know which one it is, do yourself a favor and spend the $0.99 on iTunes to buy it!)

Well, anyway, this piece has been running circles in my head since I heard it.  I'm pretty sure this is the best song I've ever had stuck in my head.  It has long been a goal of mine to learn this piece, but it wasn't until today that I actually looked at the sheet music.  Ouch.  I'm thinking this may be a lifetime goal.  But I'm going to start.  Really, I am.  This will be like those people who decide that someday they will do a marathon.  This will be my marathon.

Do you have any odd goals like this?  I'd love to hear about them.  It helps me to know that I'm not totally crazy!  :)

23 February 2011

Bargello Attempt No. 1

At the quilt fair my friends and I attended last weekend, I bought a beautiful swath of ombre batik fabric.  It was near-white on one end and shaded into dark, dark teal on the other end.  "What to do with such a gorgeous piece of fabric?", I thought to myself.   Then I remembered one of my first posts on this blog: bargellos.
Ombre fabric.  Mine was similar to the bottom half, but sadly, I
forgot to take a picture before I hacked it into 190 pieces.
My dear sister-in-law, Jody, introduced me to this technique, if you'll remember, and it was love at first sight.  In traditional bargellos, many different fabrics are combined to create an overall pattern.  I thought, "Hey! I already had a bunch of different colors in the same print in one piece of fabric, so why don't I just cut it into small squares and sew them back together again?"

So that's what I did.  190 2" squares to be exact.  Thankfully, the inspiration and consequent action took place after the toddlers went to bed, so I didn't end up playing Momma's 190 Pick-Up.  After cutting my squares, I rearranged them into my faux-bargello pattern and sewed them together into a little something like this:

Approx. 27" x 14"
A little bit better detail.
Some of the marbling and color detail.

So let's recap.  1 piece of fabric--190 squares--less than an 2 hours of sewing--the coolest looking quilt I've ever made!   I highly recommend this process!  (Oh, and if you happen to get one of these as a gift at some point, I worked really, really hard on it! Wink, wink.)

20 February 2011

Mamma Mia!

Last October, I had the pleasure of seeing the live Broadway show Mamma Mia!.  It was nothing short of magnificent.  I was blown away with the power projected throughout a 5,000-seat auditorium by 1 person's voice, the amazing choreography of dozens of people on stage simultaneously and the visual feast it engendered. These people have devoted their lives to song and dance, and it showed.  They were so much better at their profession than I am at anything.  The whole experience left me hungry for perfection in some area of my life.

Broadway: Tanya, Donna and Rosie - Strong, Kick-Ass Women

On a much lesser scale, I also love the Meryl Streep movie version.  In fact, I just watched it tonight in memory of the Broadway experience.  I am truly in awe of how well someone (sadly, I don't know who) was able to create a story to fit perfectly around the ABBA songs without changing them.  Ku-dos to whoever gets credit for that!

Movie: Rosie, Donna and Tanya

I think one of the things that appeals to me about both versions the portrayal of strong, independent women.  They have lived, they have conquered, they have created for themselves a life of purpose and direction.  On that note, here are the lyrics to Dancing Queen.  Probably the most well-known and probably the most cliched, but also the heart-and-soul of these women.

You can dance
You can jive
Having the time of your life
See that girl
Watch that scene
Diggin' the dancing queen

Friday night and the lights are low
Looking out for a place to go
Where they play the right music
Getting in the swing
You come to look for a king

Anybody could be that guy
Night is young and the music's high
With a bit of rock music
Everything is fine
You're in the mood for a dance
And when you get the chance

You are the dancing queen
Young and sweet
Only seventeen
Dancing queen
Feel the beat from the tambourine
You can dance
You can jive
Having the time of your life
See that girl
Watch that scene
Diggin' the dancing queen

You're a teaser, you turn 'em on
Leave 'em burning and then you're gone
Looking out for another
Anyone will do
You're in the mood for a dance
And when you get the chance

You are the dancing queen
Young and sweet

Only seventeen
Dancing queen
Feel the beat from the tambourine
You can dance
You can jive
Having the time of your life
See that girl
Watch that scene
Diggin' the dancing queen 
See that girl
Watch that scene
Diggin' the dancing queen

Live!  Conquer!  Dance!

19 February 2011

Quilt Pictures, As Promised

As expected, the quilt show was INCREDIBLE!  I left feeling very woozy with sensory overload and a brain full of ideas and inspiration.  So, I'm going to pass a little of that feeling onto you!  Enjoy!

The more I look at this one, the more I like it.

Isn't it beautiful!?!

This one was among my favorites.

I LOVE this quilt!  The artist also hand-dyes fabric, which I bought some of!

Does anyone know if this qualifies as a Rose of Sharon quilt?


My favorite quilt of the day.  Entitled: Cannot See the Forest for the Trees.

Wonky squares!

This one surprised me!  Keep scrolling...
See the sheet music and letter-print fabric?

AND all the quilting was music notes and bass/treble clef.

My friend, Amy, and a quilt made from a Kaffe Fassett pattern.

The ONLY bargello I saw at the whole show.  I LOVE it!!

Amazing use of batik fabrics!

Believe it or not, this is a 9-square quilt!

Quilt Show Today!

Some friends and I are going to a quilt show today where we'll get to view some gorgeous quilts and peruse fabric from quilting-supply vendors.  I'm not going to spend any money (heaven help me!), but I'm going to have a great time!  I'll be sure to post pictures when I return!

17 February 2011

Cheese and Chocolate

No.  Not together.  That would be gross.  But sadly, these are my two biggest indulgences.  If there is cheese and/or chocolate in the house, I won't stop eating until it's/they're gone.  If I muster up all my willpower and occupy myself with other tasks, I might be able to stretch out the stash for 2 or 3 days.  But seriously, no longer.  If anyone out there is a 30 Rock fan, I love cheese as much as LL loves ham.  Or for your AD fans, as much as Lucille loves vodka.  And as we all know (or can guess), neither of these people are particularly healthy, and therefore, by the transitive property, I am no healthier.

In the spirit of focusing of life's joys, I have decided to become healthier.  Sure, I could call chocolate and cheese joys, but they are short-lived, and the way that I'm devouring them, I will be also.  I think I'd like to trade them in for the joy of endorphins, the joy of a healthier weight, the joy of a healthier body-image and the joy of being a good example for my kids.

So wish me luck and keep your fingers crossed that my resolve is strong enough to overcome my love of dairy fat and sugar!

(Sorry for the poor picture quality!)

15 February 2011

Never knew I could feel like this. Like I've never seen the sky before.

I'm not sure I've said before on this blog that I am the mother of two wonderful toddlers.  One is 2-1/2 and the other is 11 months.  Both are curious, happy little spitfires, showing so much interest in the world around them and wanting so badly to be independent.  My biggest challenge these days is guiding these little people and ensuring they learn to channel their big personalities in good, productive means.

I cannot say, though, that I am the one doing the teaching.  They see the world in a way that makes me see it again for the first time. 

Why is the ocean grey today when it was green yesterday? 

Why do we call Firs trees when they look nothing like the Japanese Maple tree in our front yard?

Look how shiny and pretty quarters are!  I could put this in my mouth!

This oatmeal would would arguably be better on my head then in my tummy!

So many of the small (and not so small) joys in my life come directly from these kiddos.  They have enabled me to see the world as expansive and beautiful and full of promise once again. 

Thank you, F & E!  Momma loves you both oh so much.

14 February 2011

Love. Love. Love.

I kind of view Valentine's Day the same way I view Thanksgiving: it's a day to reflect on those people who matter most in my life and to be thankful for them.  So I want to say a heartfelt Thank You to those of you (I hope you know who you are) who make my life wonderful and lovely!

I am also indebted to God, who has given me so many blessings.

Happy Valentine's Day, Everyone!

13 February 2011

V-Day a Day Early

In honor of V-Day, here are some of my favorite pieces of art.  Enjoy!

 And I would be remiss if I left out the best love story ever told:

10 February 2011

The Book of a Thousand Happinesses: Update 1

A few weeks ago I resolved to write down happy things in a journal given to me by my sister.  I would like to say that yes, I have been diligent about writing in it (almost) daily.  I'm up to 40-something, which averages out to about 2 a day since the inception.  I'm not quite up to the 3-a-day goal, and I'm certainly not making up for the first 21 days of January that I missed, but I'm very glad to report that the underlying purpose of this book is succeeding.  I'm beginning to truly focus on the happiness in my life!

Let me tell you, this hasn't been the easiest three weeks to focus on the good, either.  Isn't that always the way it works?  Some personal things have happened in the past few weeks that have hit me hard.  No matter how crappy the day has been, or how defeated I feel at the end of the day, I have been overjoyed when I've been able to look at my happy journal and think of the happy things that have gone on, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.  So despite whatever emotional blows I've suffered that day, I've been able to fall asleep thinking about those things that lifted my spirits.

I highly recommend this practice, and I vow to update you every once in a while on how my journal-ing is going. 
Not a great (or flattering) picture, but a happy moment when both my babies wanted to snuggle with Momma.

I leave you with a few quotes about happiness that make me happy:

"Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad." - Norm Papernick
"Some pursue happiness, others create it." - Unknown

Do you have any quotes/poems/snippets of happiness to share?  I'd love to hear them!

06 February 2011

Tickling the Ivories (Quite Literally)

My quilting projects are going to have to take a backseat for a while.  A new love has come to town: a 1904 A&S Nordheimer Upright Cabinet Piano.  My amazing gift from my husband for Valentine's Day.  Thanks to the overwhelming generosity and muscle power of my brothers- and sisters-in-law, this gorgeous piano made it's way, slowly but surely, into my home last night.

It's truly a thing of beauty.  Solid mahogany case, intricately carved wood legs and face, real ivory and ebony keys, worn edges from thousands of hours of practice through the years, and a name of a child scratched into the side.  This child is now grown and has grown children of her own.  She took pictures of the piano as we were moving it, and stood at the front window to say goodbye as we drove away.  This piano is as heavy with history as it is physically.  I am honored and overjoyed to make it part of my family's history now.

I'm off to tinkle around on the keys and think about the many sets of fingers who have tickled the (real!) ivories through the years.

Settled in its new home.

The front carvings.

The finials on the legs.

Isn't she beautiful?

02 February 2011

Love Profoundly.

In honor of the beginning of the month of love, I'm going to share the opening monologue to my favorite movie, Love Actually.  For those of you who haven't seen it, the monologue is spoken by Hugh Grant to a montage of real people meeting loved ones at the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport (hence the first sentence).  They filmed real reactions of people meeting again after an absence, and it is truly touching.

"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspision love actually is all around."

I believe love goes far beyond romantic love, and one can show love in many different ways.  For me, I best express my love for those around me by spending quality time with them and making the small things count, and conversely, I feel most confident that someone loves me when they do likewise.  

Happy month of love.  I hope that you feel truly loved by someone in any sense of the word and that you are able to love someone in return.