Take a peek at my (archived) favorites.

Music:

I'll Be Lightning ~ Liam Finn
Evidently, while I was giving up secular music for Lent (see Recent Life), Liam Finn not only released an album, but came to town and made an appearance at Easy Street Records down the hill. So bummed! But, discovering the CD the week after Easter was like a gift -- it's mature, it's energetic, and I've got it playing everywhere.
And happily enough, I have seen him perform -- he's in blue (at right), last Bumbershoot with his father and Eddie Vedder.

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Crowded House at Bumbershoot
crowded house, 9/1/07

 

The Ones We Never Knew ~ Holly Williams
My sister woke me up to Holly Williams nearly a year ago, and I can't shake her music. Emotional and courageous all at once, her songs tell of longing, loss, and hope; of finding the strength it takes to fix yourself; and the strength to let go when you can't fix someone else. It's beautiful.

 

Holly Williams

 

Grand Archives
I so love Grand Archives. Sent on an errand one afternoon months ago, I discovered them on KEXP while I was jockeying for parking in Pioneer Square. What if I hadn't gone out that day?!
I like to think I would have discovered them anyway: good local band, kin to Band of Horses, etc. But few things un-crinkle my forehead like their brand of laid-back bliss. So whew.

Grand Archives

 

Carried to Dust ~ Calexico
Carried to Dust is comforting, melancholy, and passionate—and seems so closely associated with the border regions of the Southwest that it could be a Cormac McCarthy soundtrack. A masterful acoustic guitar makes the album, but exuberant horns (and accordion!) give it its soul. This is music for hot, dry days and long, orange twilights. (Cool drink mandatory.)

Calexico

     
 

Books:

Come Be My Light ~ Mother Teresa
Written mostly in her own hand, the correspondence of Mother Teresa throughout her life is humble, and stunningly honest. She spent decades feeling distant from God and the joy of His presence. It's heartbreaking to read -- but thoroughly inspiring.
A friend declines to read it on the grounds that Mother Teresa had wished her letters burned. I respect that. But my life is richer for it -- truly a shame to miss.

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Come Be My Light

 

Material World ~ Peter Menzel
How much stuff do you have? ...The answer is: more than nearly everyone else in this book. Sixteen photographers traveled to thirty countries and lived with a family for a week before snapping their photo with all of their belongings. In a few instances, gathering all the possessions into a pile was an ordeal. In most cases, it really didn't take very long. (Excerpt from Ethiopian family's inventory: "basket; mortar and pestle; frying pans (2); ...partially completed basket; clay water jar...")
This book is eye-opening, and very convicting.

 

Cooking with Fernet Branca
~ James Hamilton-Paterson
I'm not even sure how to characterize this book. If a P.G. Wodehouse character had written Under The Tuscan Sun... --that's a start, but it doesn't really do it justice. Just read and enjoy as British expat Gerald meets and butts heads with Marta, his new neighbor from Voynovia. Along the way, he creates inedible recipes ("stuffed udder in butterscotch sauce"?), crosses paths with the Voynovian mafia and a boy-band pop star, and consumes a good deal of fernet (defined by Wikipedia as "a bitter, aromatic spirit made from over 40 herbs and spices," which explains a lot).

Cooking with Fernet Branca

 

More Information Than You Require
~ John Hodgman
In this unimaginably creative follow-up to The Areas of My Expertise, Hodgman has—once again—dreamed up over 300 pages of un-true facts, ranging from the wise ("A stopped clock is correct twice a day, but a sundial can be used to stab someone, even at nighttime”) to the simply ingenious ("Individually wrapped slices of cheese...were first cultivated by the Kraft Indians of Peru”).
Brilliant and obscure references fill every paragraph; over and over again, my first reaction was not to laugh (that came second) but to be struck speechless (“someone else on the planet gets this?”). I would rescue this book from a fire and bring it to a desert island. (Two events which hopefully will not ever happen in succession.)

More Information Than You Require

     

 

Film:

Jodhaa-Akbar
The best four hours you'll spend at the movies this year!
Impeccably costumed and with a cast of thousands, Jodhaa-Akbar tells the (mostly-true) story of Mughal Emperor Akbar and his marriage of alliance to Rajput princess Jodhaa. Do they fall in love? -- C'mon, guess!

For your very own Bollywood experience, catch a film at Totem Lake Cinema in Kirkland.

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Jodhaa-Akbar

 

Grace of My Heart
Well, this is just a little jewel of a film.
Though it garnered little attention upon release in 1999, and is a portrait of just one woman's highs and lows, Grace of My Heart is ambitious. It follows Edna (renamed "Denise") from the late '50s through early '70s, beginning as a songwriter for the popular groups of the day and finally coming into her own as an artist. Along the way she suffers heartbreak -- and experiences the '60s in every possible way -- but it's a funny, touching, exhilarating story at every turn. I am very, very happy this movie exists.

Grace of my Heart

 

The Painted Veil
In 2006, I thought that China was fascinating, rough, and full of contradictions. I can only imagine how dumbfounding it would have been to Westerners a century earlier.
The Painted Veil is lovely and ugly all at once as it follows the struggles of a new marriage in a very harsh climate
. And it is beautifully told. (Cholera notwithstanding.

The Painted Veil

 

Into The Wild
What exactly is the appeal of watching this tale of a young man ditching his future and journeying (so ill-prepared) to his inevitable death in an abandoned bus in the wilds of Alaska? Well, for one thing, it is fascinating. And it is beautiful. Chris, aka Alexander Supertramp, is more idealistic than most of us could ever (or should ever) be, but his cross-country travels expose more of the beauty of nature and humanity than many see in a lifetime. (And Eddie Vedder’s soundtrack captures it all brilliantly. Enjoy.)

Into The Wild

     

 

Design:

Rest in peace, Blueprint Magazine
I had fallen in love and thought it was The One.
But after just eight issues,
Blueprint Magazine folded and the remainder of my subscription is being fulfilled with issues of its parent publication, Martha Stewart Living.
Which is of course impeccably designed, too. But if you did decorate your Easter eggs by patting them all over gently with lace -- why would you use fifty-dollar lace...?
Blueprint still keeps their blog archived online -- check it out!

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Blueprint Magazine

  orlakiely.com
Florals + symmetry = heaven!
I discovered Orla Kiely a couple of years ago when I was shopping for an overnight bag. Couldn't quite justify the cost then, but I continue to admire her designs from a practical distance. Also found in clothing, stationery, and housewares, too, as if I didn't need more temptation.

orlakiely.com

  Home Studio (on Etsy)
I must have spent twenty minutes turning over a bowl of these pendants, one by one, in a Portland shop. But you can get a really good look right here. They are cute, inexpensive, and (nearly) one of a kind. I think I was almost as obsessed with finding an “S” on the back as I was with discovering a design I loved; happily, it worked out beautifully. (Sometimes, these things find you!)

Home Studio on Etsy

     
 

Fonts & Graphic Design:

Kimera Type
...is a brilliant firm out of Mexico City headed by typographers Gabriel Meave and Leonardo Conde. Their prolific body of typefaces draws on Mayan and Arabic influences. See more at kimera.com.mx.

 

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kimeratype.com

  Insigne
Jeremy Dooley's hip and elegant fonts exemplify many different personalities, but all of them are just classic. (Florencia saved me over and over in 2008.)
Watch Insigne's blog--he's producing new typefaces every month, bless him.

Insigne

  Mark Simonson Studio
He’s based in the Twin Cities (such good stuff comes out of MSP...), with three decades of design experience. I became familiar with him through the fine resource that is MyFonts.com, when I discovered that he is the creator of Coquette, a font that’s so appealing I’m afraid it will get loved to death. He’s done other great work, too, of course—I love his Font Sightings photoset on Flickr!

Mark Simonson Studio

     
 

Paper:

French Paper - Pop Ink
A paper manufacturer is so much more when it not only produces some of the greatest product out there (Speckletone, Frostone) -- but then parlays it into a line of stylish goodi-ness. Greeting cards and wrapping paper -- yes, French Paper makes that. Plates and napkins -- that, too.
(I am partial to the book, "Happy Kitty Bunny Pony.")

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French Paper Pop Ink

  Paper Source
Those of you fortunate enough to live in an upscale metropolitan area-- ugh, that doesn't really sound the way I wanted it to.
Well, a check online shows that it's true: Paper Source is situated in very nice places. Fair enough; their paper is very, very nice. Besides fabulous greeting cards and wrapping paper that makes me want to drive there,
NOW, they carry great office and art supplies. And tons of ideas.

Paper Source

  Louella Press
Pretty, pretty, pretty. The renaissance of letterpress printing has birthed so much great design; Louella’s wedding stuff is particularly gorgeous. So just sit and watch the Flash animation go by! Their blog is really fun, too.

Louella Press