my little slice of heaven

my little slice of heaven
My little slice of heaven, click image to see more

Monday, April 30, 2012

Oh, What A Relief It Is...

I'm off to get my lumbar steroid injection this morning, looking forward to regaining some semblance of normalcy. Wish me luck.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Toujours Paris

I hate to bore you with yet another killer Paris apartment, but here goes...Parisian designer Frédéric Méchiche had his 18th century apartment published in the February 2008 issue of 'interiors', it has stood the test of time.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What I'm Listening To Now

I just stumbled upon The Lumineers through the sometimes genius of iTunes Genius recommendations, definitely worth checking out. And Great Lake Swimmers, an old favorite, has a new release, New Wild Everywhere, that's up to their usual standards, take a listen...
Check out the Lumineers
An old fave with a new release...

Remembrance Of Things Past

A couple of years ago,  with some misgivings, I had to take down a beautiful, mature black walnut tree. I don't like doing these sorts of things, this tree was magnificent, but sadly it was located at the mouth of our driveway. We'd been needing to redo our driveway for years, and the tree was awkwardly positioned, it had to go. This walnut had a stretch of trunk at least forty feet in length that was straight and knot or burl free- perfect for veneer. I investigated selling the tree for veneer, which could fetch a considerable sum, but there was a hitch (there usually is...), veneer companies won't buy trees from an urban location, any errant staples, or god forbid, bullets hidden in the tree can damage the veneer saw blade, costing several thousands of dollars. 
I arranged with my arborist to have the tree removed but beseeched him to have the amazing trunk milled and stickered, so it could be put to some higher use than simply being split for firewood. He was kind enough to give me several planks from this tree for my own use. I contacted our friend Brian Foster of Groundwork, to have him fashion a table from these Bunyan-esque pieces of wood. After a year in the barn and a few weeks in a kiln to further dry these 12' by 18" by 2" planks, Brian created an amazing table now residing under our pergola.

Brian Foster of Groundwork

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Armchair Traveler; Marrakesh

My wife has one of those jobs that people envy, myself included. In her role as Chief Merchandising and Design Officer for Anthropologie, she gets to travel to some of the most interesting and beautiful places on earth. Thrown into the deal is the fact that she travels with an amazing assortment of creative  people, which makes these experiences all the richer. I've been fortunate to join her on several wonderful adventures over the years, but for the most part, I'm responsible for our domestic operations. 
She is currently on a jaunt through Turkey, Morocco and the south of France. Tomorrow she leaves Istanbul for Marrakesh, and she's been checking out this amazing B&B, Peacock Pavilions, run by American  expats, hopefully the Anthro gang will be staying here;

Via My Marrakesh
And Maryam of Morocco has got a new book, Marrakesh By Design to boot, available at Amazon

Paris, The Right Way

Who among us hasn't dreamt of having a little pied-a-terre in beautiful Paris? When my wife and I were there in January, we stayed in Montmartre, that's the neighborhood I'd choose and this is what mine would look like...

Via Interiors and Design Less Ordinary

Danish Modern Elsinore

A look at Finn Juhl's personal residence in Ordrup, Denmark, now a museum.

The house where Finn Juhl lived and worked, located on a site adjoining Ordrupgaard museum park, was sold by the estate of Finn Juhl’s widow to Birgit Lyngbye Pedersen who, with the help of the Ministry of Culture, transferred the house to Ordrupgaard as a gift.

“The Post War period, which saw the golden age of Danish design, is so beautifully represented in Finn Juhl’s home. We boast of the architecture and design of the time, but we have preserved so little in its original state; here was a chance to preserve something unique.”....

The house, he designed and built as a young architect in 1942, is a unique example of Danish modernism for both architecture, furniture design and the visual arts.
A perfect example of Juhl’s long career as an architect and furniture designer the house, for which he designed all the furniture, looks almost exactly as it did when he died in 1989.

From ArcSpace.

Photos via Finn Juhl One Collection andBright Bazzar.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Getting Warmer

We've broken ground on our wood fired oven project! In a previous post, Hot To The Touch,  I told you about our decision to build a wood fired pizza oven and we've made some progress. Martin has excavated and poured a foundation pad, laid the block that will support the components we ordered from Forno Bravo. My wife and I ultimately decided on a design concept which looks like a cairn rather than the peaked roof designs which too closely resembled dog houses. Here's what we're after;
Design inspiration for our oven.

My wife, Wendy, thinking about her new pizza oven.

The sitting wall next to the existing fire pit has been removed.

Excavation for the foundation pad.

Laying the rebar for the foundation pad.
The oven components from Forno Bravo.

Open wide...the mouth of the oven.
We've settled in for a wet weekend, but once things dry out we'll make more progress and I'll post an update by week's end. Just to keep you thinking pizza, check out this Mark Bittman tutorial.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Damage Done...And The Needle

Do the terms stenosis, impingement, sciatica, L4, L5 sound all too horribly familiar? If you're like me, and evidently, millions of other Americans, lower back pain can render you virtually immobile for weeks at a go. My serious back problems started a few years ago and were the product of a morning spent behind a Troy-Bilt roto-tiller...or so I thought. Further investigation revealed that a litany of congenital conditions from scoliosis to the aforementioned stenosis had all played their part in laying me low, the Troy-Bilt was, simply, the messenger.
Now, I spend life one false move away from incapacitating agony. I had always heard people complain about 'sciatica' and thought they must be some kind of namby pambies. Not any more.  Now I don't leave home without the proper allotment of pain killers in my dop kit-'just in case', I feel like House, or worse yet, Rush. 
But trust me when I say that pills are only a stop-gap measure, real relief, of any lasting measure, comes only through a needle, as it happens, a needle the size of a turkey baster.  When I start feeling that very special kind of nervous-electric pain in my lower back, I can't get to the orthopod fast enough. That's when I'm jonesing for an epidural of cortico-steroids and nothing else will suit. I've been finding that I can get over a year out these procedures, and along with a lot of core exercises, they keep me ambulatory and medicating with ibuprofen alone.  Amen to that.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My Two Left Feet

I stumbled upon an amazing YouTube video today which caused me to ruminate on one of life's little injustices. As someone who's never been much of a dancer, someone who, when forced to navigate the hardwood, has never mustered much more than what Billy Crystal lampooned as the 'white-boy overbite',  I've been somewhat of a disappointment to my wife. My wife loves to dance, and, due to my lack of zeal in this department, she's been forced into the arms of any available biped with innate rhythm. I've got many good qualities, innate rhythm not among them. One dear old friend, a fabulous 'swing' dancer, has been known to do all sorts of acrobatics with any willing partner, my wife often among their number. She would come off the dance floor glowing in a near rapturous state. Truthfully, I was green with envy, how I'd love to thrill the ladies like Astaire or Kelly! Time has given me some perspective though, our friend, he's just undergone a double knee replacement.

Check out this video of internet phenom Nonstop, 
aka Marquese Scott

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Lamb of God

Puts me in mind of Easter dinner, bon appetit!

Boomer Much?

Recently I've been enjoying several 'tribute' albums that if you haven't had a chance to hear, you should take a listen on iTunes, as they're all pretty special. One series I stumbled upon, produced by Vega Productions out of Owatonna, Minnesota, is the Minnesota Beatles Project , these three volumes are brilliant. It's hard to imagine that a band that was together for only a decade and scattered to the winds over 40 years ago remains one of musics most lasting and seminal influences. In these volumes Minnesota artists cover the Beatles work in delicious variety. Give them a listen.

The Amnesty International tribute to Bob Dylan, I touched on briefly in a previous post, but 
Chimes of Freedom , bears repeat mention. Contemporary artists tackle Dylan's pantheon with amazing results, some quite unexpected. Michael Franti's take on Subterranean Homesick Blues is sublime, as are many, many others.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hot To The Touch

For much of my adult life, if the term 'brick oven' was used, it was likely in relation to that Greenwich Village institution, John's Brick Oven Pizza on Bleecker Street. This was, to my youthful, undiscriminating palate, the ne plus ultra of New York pizza, and a staple in my then, '20 something' ,diet.  I could never have imagined having an urge not just to make pizza myself, but to install a brick oven in my own back yard. 
Fast forward 20+ years and my wife and I are giddy with excitement at the prospect of building a brick oven, or more properly, a wood fired oven, on our back patio. I wake up a 3am and think about the possibilities. This compulsion took root after a visit last fall to my wife's cousin's home in upper Bucks County. Cousin Mike is a very handy guy to the point of having designed and built his own home, in addition to maintaining a fleet of antique Italian sports cars. So designing and building a pizza oven for his wife Judi, a gifted chef, was a delightful diversion and no small feat of engineering. Fortunately for me, he took copious notes and documentary photographs. 
This is the point at which, in the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that I will not be building this thing myself, my role will limited to that of design supervisor. Our gifted mason, Martin Smith, will be bravely undertaking this project in the hopes that the aesthetics of the finished project will be in sympathy with the rest of the stonework on our property. Martin feels confident, after studying Cousin Mike's notes and photos, that he's up to the task. The big question is whether we go with a traditional hand built brick oven, or get the components from a outfit called Forno Bravo, which sells all sorts of wood fired ovens, both residential and commercial. I'm leaning toward a kit from Forno Bravo. 
Below are some of the inspiration photos we've collected and they give an idea of what the finished product will hopefully look like.