Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Window Shopping

I am on a buying hiatus while I sort out my apartment (nothing is allowed to come in until we find a place for everything I currently own), but that hasn't stopped me looking.

DaisyCakeSoap's soaps and MirasolFarm's jelly are consumables, so technically won't take up permanent residence in my home, but still I'm sticking to the original plan.

Once I'm done though, I'm rewarding myself with these and
TwoTtringJane's Avant Garde Handmade Gold Studded All Over Leather Ankle Boots, and I'm sure I can find some wall space for BethRetroPhotography's ethereal print.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Toronto Style

I went to Toronto in July to visit my friend, and fellow metalsmith, Tosca. She took me to milliner Wildhagen Wear to see a hat she thought I'd like. She was right, I did. So much so that I ordered one and it arrived today.

Though as NYC hit 90 today I won't get to wear it for a while.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cleaning My Clutter

A colleague lent me Karen Kingston's Clean Your Clutter with Feng Shui early last year. Since reading the book I have donated, given or thrown away more bags of clutter than I care to admit, yet I still feel over whelmed by my space and the stuff that made it through my marathon cleaning sessions.

I have decided to hand the problem over to the experts and am meeting with
Laura Cattano, an Organizational Design maven tomorrow morning.

Just looking at Laura's website is a calming experience and after seeing photos of her beautifully put together apartment I knew I had to work with her.

Photo from

Admittedly, I'm a little nervous about having someone become so intimately acquainted with the depth of total chaos and lack of style that make up my living and work space, but not as excited as I am about finally being comfortable in my home.

I'll make sure to post before and after pics.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Toronto Trash Strike '09

The Toronto garbage removal people are striking.

Currently businesses are paying out of their own pockets to have private trash removal companies pick up their waste. Obviously this is on top of the taxes and fees they already pay for this service - because us small business owners have the cash to pay for such "luxuries".

The trash is being dumped into PUBLIC SWIMING POOLS while the city workers are walking around taping up trash cans with plastic.

Union jobs for all!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pride, 2009

Sunday was the Pride Parade. We caught a bit of the parade in the West Village and took a stroll through Pridefest, the street fair.

It was actually a day of street fairs as Sunday was also our local one so there was lots of food, music, dancing and friends.

Sunday also marked the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, an event which is credited with the rise of the US Gay Rights movement.

Given the ongoing battle for basic rights likes like marriage, military service and adoption (to name only a few), it is more important than ever to get involved and support the LGBT community.

Marriage Equality NY
The Audre Lorde Project

Friday, June 26, 2009

Brooklyn Tornado

Tonight when I got out the subway I noticed that not only was it very windy and a bit dark, but all the families who are usually in the playground next to my apartment building were leaving the block.

After a strong gust of wind that made a little boy cry, a neighbour told me that our part of the 'hood was under a "30 minute tornado watch".

It wasn't that hard to believe as both of us were having trouble walking down the street and we both remembered the
'07 Brooklyn Tornado. But still, tornado watches in Brooklyn?

Fortunately (not least of which being that my apartment building shakes when the downstairs neighbor's kid runs down the hallway), we just got some rain, wind and awesome cloud formations.

After the storm passed the sky gave off an impressively unnatural bridesmaid's pallet of lilac and pink that I wasn't quite able to capture.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sony Cybershot DSC T-90 vs Canon Rebel XT with 50mm/2.8 Macro Len

Is a dSLR really necessary? Is a macro lens worth the money? Common questions on the Etsy forums (and I'm sure many other online selling venues).

As I have both a dSLR and a Point & Shoot I decided to put them head-to-head and see for myself.

I took these photos using a tripod, my
Ez-cube light tent and three lamps with high-output daylight balanced compact fluorescent bulbs.

Below are the best shots I got from both cameras during this session.

Sony Cybershot

Canon Rebel

I was happy with the results I got with the Sony, but taking the pictures was a lot more difficult.

I had to remove the camera from the tripod, hold it over the ring and angle it at really awkward angles to get the shot.

The camera seemed quite bothered by the lights, and had a bit of difficulty focusing on the metal (something I remember well from my days of shooting with my old Nikon Coolpix), whereas with my Rebel I could leave the camera on the tripod, take multiple shots and focus wherever I wanted.

I had to take a lot more shots with the Sony before I found one I was happy with, but I think the shots I'm happy with are very good.

The shots with the Sony do not have the depth and the ring doesn't pop as much. I also wasn't able to get the shot as stylized as I usually like for my product photos as I had less control over lighting and angles.

In my opinion the shots really show that a dSLR and a macro lens are worth the money if you're going to be shooting for sales.

That said, with good lighting and some creative angles you can get perfectly serviceable shots from the Sony Cybershot DSC T-90.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Money Tree (Pachira Aquatica)

When my neighbor moved back to Atlanta she gave me her Money Tree. I was quite excited as she works with plants professionally so it was in great shape and I've never been able to keep store-bought plants alive.

It did really well for about 6 months until I started to feel bad that it was in such a tiny pot. From my limited knowledge of plants I knew that they should be re-potted so they can grow (you know what they say about a little bit of knowledge).

I re-potted the plant and it started looking sickly. I tried everything I could but it never picked back up. I still have it, and it's still rather poorly looking.

I needed a plant for the corner of my lounge and on Sunday when I was in
Pearl River (one of my favorite stores) I saw a selection of large Money Trees and decided to get another one.

This time I looked up the care instructions and it turns out that they like to be "root bound", which basically means not to re-pot them into much larger pots

On the upside I also found out that they eventually grow into their pots, so fingers crossed I'll have two happy, healthy Money Trees.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sony Cybershot DCS T-90

I have a Canon Rebel d-SLR which I love, but sometimes I just don't want to lug a big camera and lenses around, not to mention the worry that I'll leave it all in the back of a cab or some random bar, so I decided to get a little Point and Shoot that I could carry around.

My main criteria were "small" and "shoots well in low light". After doing some research I found out that poor low light performance seems to be the price we pay for small cameras.

I tried out a few at J & R and decided on the Sony Cybershot DSC T-90.

It's super slim and has a nice weight to it. It fits perfectly into the back pocket of my jeans which is a bonus as I rarely carry a purse and I almost always wear jeans.

One of my favorite features is the touch screen. I was a bit skeptical at first as I'd read mixed reviews, but it makes operating the camera really quick and easy. The icons are also intuitive and I was able to use it without opening up the manual.

Like all P&Ss the T-90 has a ton of preset modes, but what I really like about this camera is that it allows you to easily set manual options for settings like white balance and ISO, something my previous Point and Shoot didn't allow.

I haven't tried it for product shots but will take a few next time I set up my light tent just for comparison.

Overall I am pleased with this camera and feel it does what I bought it for.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Kyoto - Smith Street, Brooklyn

Whenever I fall off the Vegan wagon (which I do more often than anyone who calls themselves a Vegan should), I go to Kyoto.

Everyone who works there is enthusiastic about the dishes and proud of the restaurant, and rightly so; the sushi is some of the freshest I've ever eaten and definitely the best on Smith Street.

The Sake menu is limited. While they have a decent selection of mid- to low-priced Sake, you won't try anything new.

The food however more than makes up for this. The menu is full of seasonal specials, the current highlights being live scallops and baby yellow tail.

Though the storefront is nondescript, don't walk past it as the food is anything but and they have one of those hidden urban gardens out back.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cocktail Hour – Classic Martini

My favorite drink is the classic, extra-dry Martini.

The secret to a good Martini, or any gin-based drink, is to store the gin at room temperature and to stir, not shake the cocktail. Gin is an infusion and gets its flavor from botanicals so it's easily bruised by extreme cold or rough treatment.

I use
Beefeater in my cocktails as it's a good, dry gin perfect for mixing. Gins like Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire have strong flavors that are overpowering in classic cocktails.

My Classic Martini Recipe
  • Fill cocktail glasses with water and ice. Set aside to chill.

  • Add ice cubes to your cocktail shaker and pour in one dash of Dry Vermouth for each glass

  • Pour in gin and stir with a cocktail stirrer or similar. Do not stir for more than 20 seconds. The drink mix should be transparent and a tiny bit viscous.

  • Dump out ice in the glasses

  • Strain drink into glasses immediately after stirring - the worst thing you can do to any drink is to leave it sitting in the cocktail shaker so the ice starts to melt and dilute your carefully mixed flavor.

  • Add classic cocktail olives and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In The Studio - Flush Setting Tools

These are the tools I use for flush setting stones.

1. A broken bur with the tip filed to a 45 degree angle and set in a pin vise. To shape the bur I used sharpening stones.

2. A graver which I use to clean up and polish the metal around the stone. I bought this pre-polished and cut set from Rio Grande.

3. A burnisher which I use to polish and clean up the area around the setting. I have a flat and a curved burnisher, both of which I got at Metaliferous (my favorite tool store).

Here are some of the rings I've created with these tools a