Archives for category: Good design

Erstwhile Dear has bought a domain name, taken a photo and moved to new lands!


Soon there will be a new pervasive standard for web coding in which elegance and clarity is prized beyond all else. Dancing web ads, auto-play videos, and tiny text will be severely frowned upon.

I forgot to tell you the one thing I actually wanted to share about Lux’s party: our invitation. Joe designed it so that when you opened the email your eyes alighted upon this:

We were inspired by this wedding invitation, which we saw on the wall at a friend’s cottage two years ago:

it is magnificent, no? The garish year was editorialized in later, of course.

Last night we planned to go listen to the orchestra that plays outside. I roasted the chicken, spread bread with salty Irish butter, and went to Savenors to buy a packet of those crispy Tate’s cookies.

Then Lux’s mood seemed suspiciously explosive, like we might traipse over to the park put down our blankets settle in with our paper cups of wine and then she would start shouting and pointing with no reasoning whatsoever, just shouting and pointing.

So instead we invited our friend and her boston terrier over to have dinner at our house. We ate the chicken sandwiches at the table and poured the wine into real glasses and Lux tried to feed the dog, Murray, her spicy sesame noodles. After Lux was asleep we started talking about trends lately and the crafting trend of Brooklyn came up. You know, the one where studios have opened and beautiful watches are being made by hand, and crazy inventive sweaters are being knitted, and fine cloth is being tie-dyed in the best way possible. Whenever this comes up I begin reviewing my closet in my mind; wondering if I own anything of that caliber—that I would save for years to come—and more importantly: that would last for years to come.

I have a dress that I bought for my rehearsal dinner four years ago and I’ve since worn it to parties of all sorts, and some weddings, and just recently I wore it to the party we had in the park. The funny thing about this dress is that it’s from Anthropologie. In general I have a very difficult time shopping at Anthropologie. The trouble is that almost every item in that store is so heirloom. Usually there are two floors, both of them brimming with beautiful clothes, every single item could be that dress, or that sweater, or that jacket that you are known for, that embodies your style and makes you the richly dressed girl with lots of character.

I end up not shopping because I have this collision of “who am I?” thoughts: am I the bookish artist? am I the frivolous gardener? am I the spirited crafter? And I leave after admiring the lace bralette and examining the embroidery on the sweater and watching how the skirts’ soft cotton falls just so. And I also might have twinges of fear that say: that dress will try to make you, instead of you making it.

But nonetheless once I got my dress out of the store and into my closet, it became the clutch piece that I rely on and hope to wear for years to come. I’m grateful to Anthropologie for this lovely dress that was available to buy when I needed it and I’m especially grateful for how easygoing and accommodating it has turned out to be. Do you have these pieces like this in your closet? That despite the trend of $10 dresses from H&M or awfully sewn editions from Target, that you’ve managed to get home and love and make part of your life? Or are you considering investing in something truly made by hand?*

The loveliest illustrations taken from Danielle Kroll’s blog. 

*I am! Right now I’m working with a local jeweler to make stud earrings just like I want. But more on that when it happens.

Don’t mind the survey, it will be up all week in order to cull the Erstwhile readers who are erstwhile, ok?

Thank you so much to the 30+ of you who jumped right in yesterday! I’ve already learned so much, seriously.

I love an artist who shows the behind-the-scenes work. It must be the wannabe baker in me; I really like to know how things look along the way. So I loved seeing this photo on Pounding Mill Press’s tumblr:

It’s the invite-in-progress for a wedding, showing the library where the couple got engaged. I mean, really.

I love Ming’s work because each design always has a story behind it, or a reason the design developed the way it did. It’s a one-woman show (plus, she has a day job!) and I imagine she has thoughtful interviews with her clients, gets lots of personal details, and then develops something totally unique to them. Amazing.

Like this one: a burger themed announcement suite because the parents had nicknamed their baby Whopper, Jr.

all this and much more, over at Pounding Mill Press. (also, lots of photos on their facebook page)

Our favorite all American advocate and blogger ACL posted about lawn chair season beginning last weekend and he’s right! What I’ve been missing in my active walk-to-the-park, sit, walk-home lifestyle is a something like this. Light, foldable, tightly webbed, I’ll be the envy of the senior citizens!

He links to these American made beauties, here’s my favorite:

$27.49, friends.

A few things I love to see in the kitchen lately..

I like how it says “Ready to Eat.” I keep it in the front of my cupboard for encouragement. “There’s always me, if you can’t find anything else in here. And I don’t have any bpa to worry about either!” it says.

This is the mustardiest mustard you’ve ever had. For real. If you like mustard, you have to try this.

One of those things I always ponder in the grocery aisle, and then decide it’s too expensive. But really, $6 for organic peanut butter with real chocolate and vanilla? Happy Mother’s Day to me.

You know how some products are name brand scams? Like, the product is exactly the same, no matter which brand you buy?

Well. This is apparently not true for floss.

My mom put Reach “woven” floss (the pink package) in our stockings at Christmas. I loved it and used it all up. Then I went to the store, and thought, “oh they don’t have it. I’ll just get this Market Basket floss instead.” So much worse! Awful. I’m putting it in the toolbox for craft projects.

Friends, advancements have been made in the floss arena. Reach for Reach. Seriously.


Guess what’s on my desktop right now?

This pretty little number, designed by my friend Kellyn. I love the green wood frame and the graph paper.

She was inspired by The Happy Show, a free show in Philadelphia right now. We stopped by when we were there two weeks ago. I highly recommend. It’s on until August 12th. Everything about it was unlike any art show I’d ever been to.

If you click on the image, it will give you a bigger size for closer examination.

So far I’ve watched this Japanese motocycle crafter video 3x. It takes my breath away.

I first saw it on Seesalt, a beautifully simple website for encountering little moments of art.

This quote helps me understand motocycle drivers, as I never have before:

It feels nothing like how violent it looks from the outside

It’s very serene

The ground and the sky are so white, there is no boundary between them

I have never flown, but it feels like flying in an airplane using a reciprocating engine

I can’t tell you how peaceful it is.


I swoon smile happily over these pretty earrings and elegant embroidery every time I walk past E.R. Butler on Charles Street. I like the varying textures of the tree with the thickly knotted trunk. That texture combined with the steely butterflies and droplet pearls is so lovely.

Recently I learned that the woman who made the embroidery hoops for the shop is on Etsy, and lives in Boston!

She, Mary Louise, says she was inspired by the changing tree colors in the Public Garden, a spot Lux and I escape to regularly. Look at these pretty options!

 I would love make something like this someday, but mostly I would love to pay someone else to do it better and more beautifully than me! These are $45 each. Which color are you drawn to?

Sharing a good sandal find among women is a sacred tradition. I picked these up at Steven Alan while I was in L.A. and have worn them around Boston for several straight days. No blisters and no tired feet! And I love the colors (I bought the hip orange ones, which are called “clay” for some awful reason). If you are loving the nude-on-nude shoe trend, they even have a color for that!

How much? Less than your grocery bill but more than your Comcast bill….$88. And they run small. I’m seriously considering ordering another pair, because I dread the sandal hunt each summer.

Goodreads is the yelp of the book world. Like yelp, they are the chosen venue for their genre of reviews: they have more than 7 million users and offer a variety of ways to track your interactions with their chosen field: progress updates, themed bookshelves, snooping your friends recent reads, and of course: reviews.

Just like Yelp, read the reviews, and you are are plagued by the problem of no-elected-critic: some people seem to trash a book for personal reasons, some careful cite their opinions and then forget what they were talking about and meander on a different topic,  some arbitrarily nominate their recent read as the greatest book of all time because they happend to be drunk while reading (this last one happens more with yelp than goodreads, but still).

And yet, just like Yelp, I read dozens of these strange strangers’ opinions; squinting as I read, trying to spot their neuroses and discover whether they match mine or not. If you both think slow service is cause for complaint (oh my goodness no. stop reading of this person’s frantic life immediately), or if you both think quirky signage makes it worth the trip (yes!) perhaps you can share an opinion or two.

I liked my friend Kate’s careful specification of what exactly each star means to her (you can click the photo for a close up). Goodreads should adapt her specifications and suggest these boundaries to you as your review. She’s a librarian, so of course we can count on her to guide society towards agreed upon organization.

ps: Here’s my account.