Tuesday, January 24, 2012

84th Academy Awards Nominations

The 84th Academy Awards show is fast approching!
Early this morning, the final nominations were announced in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Below are the nominees for the categories that I care about the most, though I am always curious about each Oscar awarded. There are a lot of hard working people in Hollywood and around the world! These are listed in the order of their importance to me.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fish Tagine - Sunday Dinner

I decided to go bold and make a real, and exotic, dinner last night. I've been wanting to use my tagine dish for a long while and finally decided the time had come. 
In an attempt to figure out exactly what sort of dish I was in the mood for, I scoured my cookbooks and then Food.com. I love how this website gives you so many search options - course, occasion, cuisines, ingredients (great when you have leftovers or need to use certain things sooner than later) and even by special diets. What I also love about this site is that it gives you the Nutritional Facts and you can adjust the number of servings and it'll update the quantities on the recipe. 
I finally decided on a Fish Tagine With Olives (Morrocan Stew). My boyfriend and I paid a quick visit to our local Mar Vista Farmer's Market on Sunday to pick up some fresh, local, in-season (loose term in Cali!) and/or organic produce to compliment the dish. We grabbed quite the color bounty from two of the veggie vendors plus some flounder from Smart Fish Co
Below (and after the break) are some photos of the process.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

To Buy Or DIY: Papier-Mâché Animal Heads

Over the holidays, I noticed stylish safari papier-mâché animal heads everywhere. Now, it could've been my search for interesting gifts for friends and family but I was seeing them all over the web. 
Now I'll admit, I'm not really sure where I stand on the issue. I love that they're cruelty-free and some are downright breathtaking but I'm still not sure how I feel about hanging an animal head on my wall. On the other hand, it sounds like a fun weekend project to try with some friends. The French translation of papier-mâché is chewed paper and it's an an eco-friendly and versatile material that I remember getting down right messy with as a child. The ones below are so wonderfully done that I'd be tempted to buy in order to support artists from around the world.

Images © 2012 Williams-Sonoma Inc.
These animals from West Elm were the first to catch my eye. These whitewashed beauties are handmade in Port au Prince by over 100 Haitian artisans still trying to recover from 2010's devastating earthquake. The Brooklyn-based design team and creative locals at Caribbean Craft work hard transforming recycled cement bags and waste from box factories into these sophisticated animals. Check out this article on the West Elm blog for more information on the partnership, Haiti's papier-mâché history and how this is helping the local economy and people of Haiti. Prices range from $69 for a small Turtle Shell to $79 for a small Wildebeest (bottom left) to $149 for a large Gemsbok (top right).

Images © Dwell Studio

The second spotting occurred at DwellStudio.com. These colorful animals are also produced by hand in Haiti in collaboration with a non-profit organization. I just love how whimsical these look with their beautiful colors, vintage French book pages and shiny, oil-based varnish. Prices: Gazelle (bottom right) $70, Giraffe & Zebras $76.

Now that my curiousity was piqued, and I was already browsing Etsy, I easily found The Paper Turtle. Partners Laura Bruzzese and Aly Abraham design papier-mâché sculptures that are handcrafted with recycled materials in a small artisan shop in... you guessed it, Port au Prince, Haiti. Laura remains in the States, based in Albuquerque, NM while Aly stays in Port au Prince to rebuild his workshop and fund his artists. You can read more about their collaborative efforts here. I love that this team has gone beyond the safari and have such a variety of animals. The birds are priced between $24-$35, while the others vary in price (cw from left): billy goat $69, rhino $110, giraffe $45, rooster $120, and crab $25. 

Other Etsy finds included this zebra and giraffe ($45 ea.) from Jeff Boyer, a psychology student in Seattle, WA that uses art to escape his busy, chaotic city life and this life-size rhino head ($500) from Lisa Provencher, a nature enthusiast and eco-artist, at the NatureCurios shop.

Last but certainly not least are these magnificent creations from self proclaimed compulsive creator Jennifer Khoshbin. Above are her beautiful (made to order) resin deer creations, available in a variety of papers from her Etsy shop Ruby's Lounge for $335. Below are some additional, and equally amazing creations. I love the wolf head with it's piercing eyes but I also love the comic book paper she used on the bird. There's just so many possibilities! Additional articles on this uber-talented Texan can be found at Apartment Therapy, IndieFixx, and Great Green Goods.              

So what do you guys think? Would you buy or try to DIY?
Unmarked images are from the artists websites and/or shops which are linked in the article. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Chic Camera Bags

Have you ever noticed how bulky and unimaginative camera bags are? They scream "tourist!", "I contain expensive equipment," or "Don't I look like a professional?" A little over a year ago, I purchased a bag similar to this one so that I would have an updated bag (I was still using the disintegrating (circa 1970) bag handed down to me) that would hold all of the camera equipment I had - an SLR camera with a few lenses, my little Canon Elph and my Holga and all it's accessories. 
Now, with the prospects of getting a DSLR camera sometime this year, comes an interest in getting a bag that looks a lot less conspicuous and potentially even, dare I say it... chic. 
Well ladies, it looks like there's some great potential out there...

Image Copyright © 2011 THEIT Designs

THEIT Bossi Bag was introduced to me this morning by Aarean of The Color Issue who is currently having a contest to win this bag in the Gravel color. According to her website, founder Nicole Fajardo came up with the idea while working as an international flight attendant. Her interest in photography grew as she jet-setted around the globe and she quickly realized she was missing “a fashionable camera bag to protect her gear. A fruitless search sparked a dream and a vision, and THEIT was launched in 2010.” I love that this bag is a simple style - feminine, functional, modern yet classic and incredibly versatile. It comes with padded dividers and can hold a camera body along with multiple lenses and accessories. The bag is made of water-resistant, high-quality man-made polyurethane and is priced at $159 CAD (about $155 US). 

Images via Jo Totes
For those of you that prefer a more vintage feel, look no further than Jo Totes. I couldn't find much on the history of the company, besides that it started in 2009, but what I did find were some beautifully bright, cute camera bags. These bags are also simple but stylish, not too embellished. The Rose version (left) comes with four padded dividers while the Millie (right) comes with two. Both are made of water-resistant, top quality faux leather in a lambskin pattern with complementary patterned fabrics on the interior and brushed silver hardware. While the bags seem a little smaller than THEIT bag, they're also a little more affordable at $89 and $87 US respectively.

left image from Jessica Turner; right image © Robyn Pollman
A third, and just as colorful, option are the luxurious bags from Epiphanie by Maile Wilson, a professional portrait photographer and mother of three. Maile's bags have gorgeous details without being too over the top and certainly far from geeky. The red Lola bag ($165 US) is so striking with it's knots and grommets! The purple Paris bag ($185 US) is a bit larger but no less stunning. It can even fit a laptop! These bags are also constructed of water-resistant, high quality synthetic leather and include interior padding, movable panels and cross-body straps.

Now that I've found all these gorgeous and animal-friendly bags, how am I ever going to choose which one to get?!

For even more choices, check out VeraLana's 2010 blog post