Friday, December 12, 2008

Tangobaby Crowned Princess of the Blogosphere

Yesterday überblogger tangobaby was bestowed a great honor: her blog was named Blog of Note by Google's Blogger team. I don't know anyone more deserving. This is a huge deal, she was named right there on the same page as Linus Torvalds’ blog. Linus Torvalds is a rock star in the geek world; he is the founder and chief architect of Linux. He gathered no less than 1656 followers since his first post on October 2nd.

I met tangobaby 3 years ago when she still lived here in Palo Alto. She started her blog when she moved to San Francisco, a few months after she discovered the world of tango down here at Stanford. I knew nothing about the blogging world, I just loved the engaging way she shared her passion for dance:

her unabashed love for food, even if it's not the most nutritious:

her passion for classic movies:

and how she recounted all her San Francisco adventures with her beautiful photos:

It didn't take long for me to get reeled into tb's world. We share a lot of the same passions so the inevitable time came when I wanted to come out of the shadows of lurkerdom and leave a comment. When faced with the option of using my real name (thanks, but no thanks), an anonymous note (too cowardly), or a pseudonym (interesting idea), I had to come up with a name. I looked at the top of the comment screen and saw the tangobaby heading. Hm, that might work. I'm only one fourth Dutch but I liked the dutchbaby pun. I had no idea that this moniker would stick!

After a while leaving comments wasn't enough, I started feeding tb ideas for her blog and the inescapable time came when tb put her foot down and said: "Get your own damn blog!" She was right of course. So on June 4th of this year, I took the plunge . Then was faced with the next challenge: what should I use for my profile photo? Fortunately, I remembered that tb posted a very cute photo on my birthday last year. Perfect!

I feel so grateful to have been introduced to the fantastic world of blogging, which is so brilliant at bringing like-minded folks together, and to become part of this community of kindred spirits, all because of my friend tb!

I congratulate and thank you, tangobaby! You have been more than an inspiration to me, you opened up a whole new world for me!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fabrics in New York City

The next chapter I covered in Pamela Keech’s book The Curious Shopper’s Guide to New York City, Inside Manhattan’s Shopping Districts, was “The Lower East Side – Drapery and Upholstery Fabrics”.

Raul (above) at Joe’s Fabric Warehouse was extremely helpful; I was in search of black and white fabric for our guest room.

Modern Décor had some very nice options:

Most of these places are not exactly glamorous. For example, here is Zarin’s Fabrics staircase:

But you will be greeted with oceans of fabric boalts:

They had lots of black and white fabrics:

I had a nice lunch at 88 Orchard:

But I knew to save room for dessert. Il Laboratorio del Gelato had the most amazing gelato ever:

Since it's bitter cold for many of you out there, I will do a full post when the weather is more conducive to ice cream talk. I will tell you, however, that I had guiness-flavored gelato on one day and the next day I opted for the black sesame gelato - both produced in this gleaming lab, both delicious.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Olde Good Things Antiques in New York City

On the same day that I found all of the Bakelite treasures, I followed Pamela Keech’s other recommendations in the “Chelsea – Antiques, Collectibles, and Vintage Stores” chapter of her excellent book The Curious Shopper’s Guide to New York City, Inside Manhattan’s Shopping Districts. First, I was greeted by a lovable pair of laughing lions. Maybe the Circus Center that Tangobaby recently mentioned should procure them. I think they are water fountains; how fun would it be to stick your head in to take a drink of water? Then I stepped inside Olde Good Things:

While I waited for assistance from one of the “architecturologists”, the self-anointed title of the staff, I came across a striking statue of Diana the Huntress:

Keech promised that this was the place for architectural antiques. Staff members follow wrecking balls all over North and South America hunting for architectural treasures. I’ve heard of ambulance chasers, but I’ve never heard of wrecking-ball chasers. Once it was my turn, I got the undivided attention of one of the architecturologists. My husband is from New Orleans and I was planning to decorate our guestroom in a New Orleans style with a modern twist. I told her I was looking for vintage door hardware. Was I looking for strike plates?

Or was it escutcheons?

No, I was looking for door knobs. 

Like these?

Yes, very nice, but do you have glass door knobs?

I guess you do have glass door knobs. These porcelain ones in this glass case look very interesting to me, do you have more?

My goodness! I’ve never seen brown porcelain door knobs before; I love the black ones.

You wouldn’t happen to have matching black porcelain cabinet hardware would you?

Pretty remarkable isn’t it? It turns out I couldn’t quite make a set of ten compatible knobs, but I have the photo and I was told that I can put an order in and they will call me when the wrecking ball scores some mates for these cabinet knobs. This is only one example of the depth of merchandise they carry. You can even own a piece of history and buy a piece of stained glass window by glass artist Robert Sowers that were excavated from JFK International Airport. Their website states that they have over 2,000 doors in stock. I believe it! Down the street, I saw a couple of light fixtures that caught my eye. This chandelier is not really my style, but I'd never seen turquoise teardrops like these before:

This light fixture, however, is very much my style:

Oh to have an infinite amount of wall space!

Next time, we go fabric shopping!

Olde Good Things (New York)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bakelite and Lucite in New York City

Since it's the height of the biggest shopping season of the year, I find myself recalling some of my favorite shopping trips during my three-week stay in New York City this past summer.
The book I used as my primary shopping guide is The Curious Shopper’s Guide to New York City Inside Manhattan's Shopping Districts, written by Pamela Keech. This tiny book is extremely well-organized and all the recommendations I followed were spot on.

It is organized by neighborhood, which in New York City means it is loosely organized by shopping category. She reveals Manhattan’s secrets behind finding the best antiques, fabrics, kitchenware, lingerie, jewelry, lighting, and flowers to name a few.
In addition to her excellent shopping suggestions, I appreciate the very practical information she provides like cross-streets for every address plus subway stops and delicious restaurant suggestions for every neighborhood she covers. Even in some of the more unsavory districts, I could count on Keech to recommend a place to grab a quick, yummy, and affordable lunch. The book fits comfortably in the palm of my hand so it was a snap to carry around in my Mary Poppins bag. I had four days before my son would join me and my shopping binge would come to a screeching halt. This book was the perfect guide to keep me focused.

On the day I went to the Chelsea district, Keech led me to a couple of vintage shops that specialized in vintage plastics like Bakelite, Lucite and celluloid.

Bakelite is an early form of plastic developed by Dr. Leo Baekeland in 1909 and Lucite is a resin created by DuPont in 1937. Celluloid is also one of the first plastics originally developed in England in the 1850’s. What I love about all of them is that they come in fantastic rich colors and they are often used in art deco pieces. Learn more about the care and feeding of these plastics here.

The first shop I visited was This ‘n’ That Collectibles:

You can’t miss the store because it has a bubblegum pink awning. Please don’t judge a store by its awning because the proprietor, Anita Stern, has impeccable taste for vintage accessories. I mean, look at these:

and these:

I think she raided Betty Boop’s jewelry stash here:

The second shop had the most amazing collection of bakelite handbags I have ever seen in my life!

These are the two I was seriously considering to take home with me. I like this one because I think it would be very versatile:

and I love the shape and amber colors of this one:

My problem is that I already own a kazillion handbags and I can't store another thing. I'd have to decide which of my handbags would get the heave-ho before I can move in a new one. I kept the shop's card in case I caved later in my trip. Alas, the rest of our stay was so frenzied, I did not have a chance to return.

Double, triple, quadruple alas! I just went to my New York folder and the card is not there! Believe me; no one is more upset about this than me. I tried googling to see if I could find the store - no success. It would help if Iremembered the shop's name, but I don't. I promise to update this post as soon as I find it. I will look in other likely places around my house. Maybe it ended up in the early Pleistocene strata of my paperwork. If anyone out there in the blogosphere recognizes this store, please leave word!
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