Sep 30, 2010

little box with a big window

How cool is this?

This "cabin" designed by Olson Kundig Architects features a giant wall of glass that can be cranked open to completely remove any barrier between the indoors and outdoors in this lakeside setting.

Head over to their website to view more photos of this project and videos showing the window being opened.

Sep 29, 2010

fun and practical cafe wall decor

Reward Wall (photo via Flickr, courtesy of Melissa Mongiat)
Ran across a reference to this while poking around on IDEO's website. This London cafe -- charmingly named "Tina, We Salute You" -- uses the wall by their coffee machine to keep track of how many coffees their loyal customers have bought. Buy 10, get one free.

In addition to serving a useful (and loyalty-promoting) function, it also strikes me as a cool, evolving work of art. Kinda makes me want to write on my own walls!

Sep 25, 2010

pine nut warning

File this one in the "bizzarre but true" category...

"Basic Pesto" (photo courtesy of Val Lyashov)
Foodies beware! Ever heard of "pine mouth syndrome"?  I hadn't either until earlier this month, when I realized thanks to some online research that I was in fact afflicted by this strange condition. If you're a fan of pine nuts (a.k.a., pignoli, pinon), you might one day find yourself suffering as well.

For four days straight, everything I ate left a bitter, metallic taste in my mouth. After a couple frustrating days of this, I started to worry that something might be really wrong. So I went online to "The Google", where I quickly turned up news reports implicating the pine nuts I had eaten in my homemade pesto a couple nights before this all started.

Pine mouth syndrome can develop one or two days after you consume pine nuts, and it can last for up to two weeks or more. (Miserable as I was, I felt really lucky that my own case went away after only four days.) The only symptom is the taste disturbance. But trust me that it is one symptom you'd really prefer to live without, even for as "short" a period as four days.

If this alone isn't weird enough for you, here are a few other baffling facts:
  • This is a relatively new phenomenon. No cases were reported prior to 2001, and the incidence rate has surged since 2009. (Source: ABC News.)
  • Implicated pine nuts have been chemically tested and compared to pine nuts that did not cause any taste disturbances. Researchers could find no differences between the two. (Source: USA Today.)
  • Not everyone is susceptible. People can eat the same affected batch of pine nuts, and some will develop this reaction whereas others won't. (Source: Daily Mail.)
Apparently, the majority (but not all) of the implicated nuts have been grown in China. The ones that gave me trouble were organic pine nuts that I had purchased just a few days earlier at my local natural foods store. After reading all this online, I dug out the package and squinted at the fine print to learn where they had actually been grown. And you guessed it: China.

I'm not ready to completely write off pine nuts yet. But I think I'm going to be a little more selective from now on when purchasing them.

Sep 24, 2010

creative sheds

The Washington Post Magazine recently ran an article about some of the creative ways people use (and design) their sheds. On the front cover of the magazine, I instantly recognized the Luminhaus shed that I recently featured here on NestingBlog.

The article also featured this cool shed created by Chuck Witmer of SCALEhouse design.

Not all the sheds featured in the article are in the modernist vein, but they're interesting nonetheless. And if you get really hooked, head over to We ♥ Sheds to view hundreds of photos of sheds in varying styles -- from the pirate ship look, to classic cottage style, to others more like the two mentioned above. One I stumbled across that I just love is the Eco Shed by James Glave (see below). Read more about it in his memoir, Almost Green, available from Amazon.

Sep 23, 2010

house warming

Life seems to be returning to normal. I hardly know where to begin as I return to blogging, though. There's so much in my mental queue! How 'bout just a promise of more to come, and a then a recounting of the big "nesting" event of the summer...

You know what they say about the difference between a house and a home, right? Well, how about the difference between a construction project and a home. That's the transformation that finally happened last month when we held our big open house to finally declare the "project" phase over.

We spent several weeks scrambling to do a little last-minute cleaning, decorating, landscaping, and "staging" of bookshelves and such. Not that everything is perfect -- we still have temporary paper blinds at our windows, unplanted shrubs and grasses scattered around outside, etc. -- but we at least got it to the point where nothing looked blatantly unfinished. It was nice to have a deadline to get us to finally make it look "done".

On the day of the open house, countless friends, neighbors, and colleagues from various spheres of our lives joined us to sip some champagne, wander through the house, and peek at a slide show we had running on our laptops showing "before" and "during" photos of the house and construction project. (The "after" they got to see first hand!) It lasted about three hours and was a giant blur of one friendly face after another. Much like our wedding fifteen years ago, it was a delight to have so many people we care about gathered together in one place.

At the end of the open house, we had a three-part house blessing that was the magic ingredient in completing the transformation from "project" back to "home". We're eternally grateful to our friend Cathie (who in addition to being our friend is also a Unitarian Universalist minister) for this gift. In part one of the blessing, everyone gathered outside for the ritual removing of the construction signs from our yard, followed by some words from Cathie, silent prayers and meditations, and then Bob and I smashing a bottle of champagne on the side of the house to officially "launch" it. In part two, some friends who had shared special times with us in our house over the years stayed to light candles, share memories, and sing a house-warming hymn (and, Wow!, were they good!). Then, finally, in part three, Bob and I walked Cathie through the entire house. We paused in each room to share our hopes for that space, and then Cathie said a short blessing and left a small "totem" object (a shell, a button, etc.) in each room to remind us of our intentions and of the blessings lingering throughout the house.

The next morning we awoke to a clean, beautiful, flower-bedecked bedroom and a kitchen and foyer that were scattered with cookies, muffins, soaps, bouquets, and other tasty and creative items that many unidentified guests had thoughtfully left behind for us, despite the "no gifts please" clause in our invitation. But the house was filled with something else too: The love and good wishes of so many dear friends, and our own sense that this house had become not just a home, but a sacred space that will help elevate the simplest moments of our lives and make them all seem just a little more special.