Sunday, May 1, 2016

modern monday: favorite modern (nouveau) toile wallpaper


About 4 years ago I came across some photos from the then-new Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg. The design was incredible, the anchoring restaurant looked terrific, but what really caught my eye was the custom wallpaper: a nouveau toile (designed by Dan Funderburgh) featuring illustrations that paid tribute to the industrial past of the historic hotel's structure. That was the beginning of my obsession with modern toile (and in case you're wondering how to say toile, it's pronounced twäl)

Toile, or really Toile De Jouy, literally translates to a cloth from Jouy-en-Josas, the French town where the printed fabrics were first commercialized. The pattered style of linen or cotton, which became in vogue during the 18th century, usually featured a bucolic country setting, pastoral scene or contemporary mid-1700s life. The toile could have floral motifs, maidens or heroes in typical landscapes, and the colorways were often limited to red, blue, black or green.

Today the narrative of toile fabrics and prints has grown. While there are still many contemporary companies who favor a more traditional pattern, increasingly there are modern designers putting a twist on the classic look. In the modern toile, the landscapes have been updated, the colorways have expanded, prints incorporate more inclusive depictions of city life, and some have even woven powerful social commentary into their work.  

Toile is even inspring digital installations at LACMA!


Here are some of my favorite toile, y'all!
xx,
Batya 


Sheila Bridges' "Harlem Toile De Jouy" - a satirical piece that lampoons (some of) the stereotypes deeply woven into the African American experience.





Bay Area Toile by Matt Ritchie and JormaTaccone
 featuring Too $hort, Humpty Hump and Mac Dre, Alice Waters, Joe Montana, and Angela Davis. 




I FLIPPED out when I saw this custom wallpaper at the Henry Howard Hotel in New Orleans. I lived in the city for 6 years and fell in love with this design faster than beads fly off a float during Mardi Gras! Here, take a closer look:

Follow Me on Pinterest

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

hawaii



About a decade ago Ayelet Waldman wrote “Motherlove” – a controversial essay that ignited a firestorm and outraged those in the parenting community. The piece (reprinted in the New York Times column “Modern Love”) explored the nature of intimate spousal relationships and set forth a simple premise, one that was hard for some to digest. Waldman wrote that her children were not the center of her world, that “they were satellites, beloved but tangential.” That was the controversial part. Though Waldman proclaimed her love for her four children, she said “if you focus all of your emotional passion on your children and you neglect the relationship that brought that family into existence... eventually, things can go really, really wrong.”


Now don’t worry, things aren’t dire on this end, but I have been thinking a lot about how to balance life’s demands, which include work, marriage and motherhood. I don’t agree with all of Waldman’s points (Otis and Theo, you’re not satellites to me!), but there are parts of her essay that resonated with me. I agree with the idea that marriages need nurturing, and in our fast-paced world, quality time can be elusive.
Raising children has lots of rewards, but it can also be exhausting. I love my boys dearly, but by the end of the day I’m spent and it seems like the only thing I have energy for is scrolling through Pinterest (or some other activity that doesn’t require a lot of brain power). Once I pick those little energized bunnies up from school there’s cooking to do, books to read, baths to take, lots of cleaning (I’m very particular), laundry to be folded, and I’ve got to identify and remove the foul and mysterious odors emanating from the car. By the time everything is done it’s about 10 p.m. and I’ve got very little gas left in the tank, no pun intended.



Look, this is part of the life I wanted and it’s what I signed up for. However, I have come to recognize the need to reorganize things a bit and shift priorities a little. I definitely need more quality time with my husband. It’s sometimes hard to carve out the hours needed to reconnect and remind us why we decided to couple in the first place. But where’s there’s a will, there’s a way!

With that in mind….

Follow Me on Pinterest

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

walking rino: street art with theo


I’ve got two little wildlings, Otis and Theo. We spend a lot of quality time together as a group, but it’s incredibly rare that I get to have one-on-one time with either one of them. So the other day, upon realizing that Otis had class and Theo’s school was closed, I decided to take Theo on a special adventure-- just the two of us. I toyed with the idea of journeying up to the mountains for a hike near Kenosha Pass, but then decided it would be fun to stay in the city and put on our explorer caps since we have plans to see fall foliage for the next three weekends…


Of course I had to seize the moment and catch up on some overdue appointments too, so before we took off on our local adventure, I took Theo to the doctor for a wellness check-up. In hindsight that might not have been the best way to start off our special day, for it was temporarily marred by the 4-year-old vaccination schedule. But eventually he stopped crying, and the experience led us to have an interesting conversation about viruses. It also helped us choose our word of the day: “antibodies.”


As a reward for displaying courage and good behavior (all things considered), I treated Theo to a chocolate croissant. He was amazed by its construction and started yelling, “There’s a real live chocolate bar right in the very middle of my treat? It’s real live!! Isn’t that amazing, mommy?” Oh that Theo. He’s got “a million sweet tooths” and is truly a little boy after my own heart. Not wanting to leave the coffee shop without something savory, I grabbed two spinach empandas before we set out in the direction of the RiNo Arts District…



Follow Me on Pinterest

Monday, November 9, 2015

modern monday: concrete + cement



Concrete (that durable composite material made from a mixture of broken stone or gravel, sand, cement, and water) and cement (the main ingredient in concrete) have been popping up everywhere in the design world...from lighting to tiling to jewelry, and even inspired wallpaper.

Recently I won a fiberglass-reinforced concrete Kreten Candelabra from Souda (thanks Instagram contest!). It's a strong statement piece which sits on the mantle in our living room, and it provides a nice contrast from my other tabletop and décor objects, which tend to be softer and lighter. The Kreten is always a topic of conversation, so naturally it sparked a new interest in concrete.

Here are some designs I’m really fond of right now. Got any favorites? Feel free to share them.

Happy modern Monday!
xx,

Batya

Top Row (L to R):
Concrete Earrings from Konzuk Shop 


Middle Row (L to R):
Rainbow Shades from Julien Renault Objects 
Edgy Tiles from Kaza Concrete  
100% Sand from Anabella Vivas

Bottom Row (L to R):
Vases from Seung Yong Song 
JWDA Concrete Lamp designed by Jonas Wagell for Menu 


Follow Me on Pinterest

Thursday, November 5, 2015

berry patch farms + ina's zucchini vichyssoise




“I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel when introducing a young child to the natural world. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil.”  -Rachel Carson, A Sense of Wonder

On Tuesday, Otis and his kindergarten class took their first field trip together, and since I’m all about outings and adventures I signed up to be one of the parent chaperones. The destination was BerryPatch Farms located in Brighton, Colorado, about 25 minutes from Denver…


Follow Me on Pinterest

Thursday, October 1, 2015

steamboat springs (the aspen show)


When I was growing up, my favorite tree was a Japanese Maple in my parents’ backyard. Every September the tree put on a show and its leaves would turn the most brilliant shade of red before they fell to the ground. Some people lament the end of summer and view fall as a harbinger of the cold winter to come. But I love the cycle of the seasons and see September and October as a time for renewal and introspection, which might not be such a coincidence since I grew up in a household that took Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur (the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement) very seriously.

In Denver, the day time temperatures have been really warm (maybe even a bit unseasonal) but the nights have already turned cool. It’s sit-on-the-porch-and-watch-the-stars-while-drinking-a-glass-of-red-wine sort of weather. And as much as I love fall in the city, it’s up in the mountains where the season really shines. Groves of Quaking Aspens have started to turn their bright yellow, gold and orange hues. The colonies look like streaks going down the mountain and lend a shock of color to an otherwise green pine backdrop… basically, it’s an arborist's dream.



Last weekend, while my husband was celebrating his 40th birthday out-of-town with a group of childhood friends (all of whom are reaching the milestone this year), I took the boys on what I hope will become an annual pilgrimage to Steamboat Springs. I’ve been feeling more intrepid, adventurous and confident as a mother, so I didn’t think twice about taking this solo-parenting vacation. Severe temper tantrums are becoming a thing of the past, which means my nerves are less shot and I’m better able to deal with minor behavior issues. On this trip, thankfully, there were none.

We hiked for hours around Fish Creek Falls, drove down the most bucolic country roads, soaked in the hot mineral springs at Strawberry Park ($10 adult/ $5 kids) and even dined out...

Follow Me on Pinterest

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

at the denver botanic gardens: corpse flower + butterfield + everything else



Late this afternoon, upon hearing the corpse flower was beginning to bloom, I dropped everything and ran over to the Botanic Gardens. I mean that literally. I dropped my magazine on the floor and ran down the street, made a right turn, and headed in the direction of the garden’s main gate. The live stream had been running on my computer screen all day, but I wanted to see this in person. It’s not everyday you get to view an Amorphophallus titanium bloom! The event is a rare occurrence and annually only about 5-10 plants bloom in captivity worldwide. I’m not sure how frequently they bloom in nature, but the plant’s native habitat in Sumatra (Indonesia) is being destroyed at a record pace, so I’m sure blooms in the wild are down in number. 


This particular event will mark the first bloom in Denver and the Rocky Mountain states, which is pretty exciting if you live here and giant blooming plants are your thing. Oh, and the plant will release an odor (really, a stench) that smells like a rotting corpse for approximately 48 hours in order to attract its pollinators (the carrion beetle), so there’s that too…

Follow Me on Pinterest

Monday, August 17, 2015

moab: arches and canyonlands


Three weeks before Theo celebrated his 4th year on Earth, I asked him what he wanted to do to mark the special occasion. His emphatic response was: adopt 32 Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaurs (apparently they would live happily in our backyard and he assured me he would be in charge of water and food distribution) or see "81 hundred million billion stars” (he’s really into the cosmos). I explained that there’s this pesky little thing called extinction and he was about 65 million years too late for his first wish, but I did know just the place where he could see all those stars. I told Theo about a little desert town in Utah called Moab and he was elated.


On a warm summer evening, we piled into the car, crossed our fingers and hoped for a smooth ride, free of tantrums and backseat fighting. This was the first family road trip we had taken the boys on that exceeded the 4-hour mark, but they did really, really well.  After movie and a quick roadside dinner, Theo and Otis both fell asleep…


The next morning, armed with our annual National Parks pass (one of the best things that money can buy), we headed out in search of area’s two main local attractions- Canyonlands and Arches.

Believe me when I tell you that two places are extraordinary. The giant canyon, which has been shaped over millions of years, is how I imagine the surface of Mars might look. Arches is equally spectacular. The formation of arches rarely occur in nature, but the national park, which features the largest collection of arches found anywhere in the world, boasts over 2,000 natural stone arches…along with enormous fin rocks, pinnacles and boulders. If you love geology, this is the place for you.


Now it’s really hot this time of year so we planned our hikes accordingly. We did one in the morning after breakfast and one after dinner, just as the sun was setting and the stars were becoming omnipresent in the summer sky...

Follow Me on Pinterest

Friday, July 31, 2015

friday favorites: wallpaper, 2.0



Our home is an historic structure, built in1895, the year Grover Cleveland was President and serving out his second non-consecutive term. I often find myself thinking about the people who lived here. I wonder about the Colorado women of the 1890s who occupied our space. What did they read? Did they spend time in mountains over long weekends? Did they cook? Enjoy cocktails? Gather around the fireplace? Look up at the stars? Garden or discuss politics? Raise a family here? Love wallpaper as much as I do? The list goes on…

Follow Me on Pinterest

Monday, July 13, 2015

denver's avanti food & beverage (it's a winner!)



There was this game I played when I was a teenager. It went something like, “If you were stranded on a desert island, name three things you would take with you.” Everyone always included something to eat, which made sense because you wouldn’t want to starve, would you? I haven’t been asked that question in years, but if I did have to come up with an answer, a Venezuelan arepa from Quiero Arepas would be coming with me. It's my desert island dish and yes, they're that good...
Follow Me on Pinterest

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

saguaro national park (+ hello again)


Hey there,

It’s me! I know, it’s been a really long time. About 7 months, give or take...a lengthy absence, which in the online world usually translates into blog death. But what can I say? I’ve been enjoying life and I thought it would be best to spend my small amounts of free time away from the computer, actually living in the moment instead of writing about it. But I have a more relaxed work schedule now since many of our clients take time off during the summer, and with the craziness of Design Week behind me I thought it would be fun to get back into it.  

The other reason for the long break has a lot to do with the difficulties of last year. I typically spend the end of December/early January being reflective and writing some sort of “wrap up.” But 2014 was a doozy and I really didn’t know where to start. I faced the biggest challenges of my life, for it was the year my father passed away. But it was also a year where I grew closer to my friends, my children and my family in ways that only death can bring people together. The "silver lining," if there can even be  such a thing during such a relentlessly strenuous time, is coming to understand how fortunate I am to have such an incredible community around me. Also, tragedy has shown me what truly matters and what doesn’t. Life is pretty simple when you boil things down.

Anyway, here we are and 2015 is already halfway over…

Follow Me on Pinterest

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

gunnison's black canyon + ina's salted caramel nuts (perfect for hiking, the holidays, or any other time!)



Some of my fondest memories of childhood are those of the travels we did together as a family. There were trips overseas, an Amtrak ride from New York to Orlando, and a vacation whereby we drove down California's coastal Highway 1. But my favorite had to be the “Great Stepelman Family Road Trip of ’86.” We flew to Phoenix, rented a motor home, and my dad drove us around the Southwest for a few weeks. My brother and I  had a blast discovering New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah. It was really the first time I saw the beauty of our National Parks system and I knew one day I'd be back…(and here we are!).

Travel and exploration are things Otis and Theodore enjoy too, and we had every intention of heading south this fall. But after a failed Aspen weekend - immediately followed by a stellar Rocky Mountain excursion- Matt and I decided we should end our hiking season on a positive note. We took a moment to think about whether or not a trip to Gunnison's Black Canyon was a good idea, and determined that the lengthy car ride plus the strenuous hiking inside the canyon should be saved for next spring or early fall. The boys would be almost a year older by then and better equipped to deal with the trip...

Follow Me on Pinterest