Monday, December 15, 2014

A Fuzzy Little Flower

The other day as I was walking home from having dropped off my 10-year-old son at school, I found this flower by the road. It was a nice clear Hawaii day and I took some photos of it. Though somewhat small and unassuming, it has a vibrant beauty to it. Just another perfect little thing for this blog. I hope you are having a great day, wherever in the world you may be.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Great Architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West

Lucky me got to take a short trip to Arizona last week. The entire sojourn lasted only four days, and two of those were really mostly travel. When you live in Hawaii, even the closest thing is five plus hours away by air. The flight from Honolulu to Phoenix was a little under 6 hours. 

Not to be intimidated my the wealth of sights and our lack of time, we crammed quite a few adventures into our brief stay. At the top of my Scottsdale list was a visit to the winter home of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wrignt: Taliesin West. 

The entry area with a fountain and the entrance to the book store

Taliesin (Welsh for "Shining Brow") West is located on the desert hillside overlooking Scottsdale, Arizona. It is run by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. The property is also home to the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. 

A large rock with ancient petroglyphs greets visitors

The Foundation offers a wide range of guided tours to the estate every day, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  There are other special tours available, though not daily, including some evenings. We opted for a 90-minute Insights Tour that took us not only around the grounds and the public areas such as Wright's office, the Cabaret Theater, or the Music Pavilion, but also into the private living quarters of Mr. and Mrs. Wright.

Taliesin West, the winter home of the Wrights and their students, was built between 1937 and 1959. Wright kept changing and modifying the buildings and spaces, and the current state of the complex reflects how everything looked at the time of his death in 1959.

The house and surrounding buildings blend organically into the landscape. Nature was Wright's greatest muse, and Taliesin West is a great example of combining the man-made with the natural.

The buildings are complexly simple, with clean lines and a unified color palette, but there are many different changes of elevation, to take advantage of the hillside setting. The prevailing color is called Taliesin Red, a rich earthy brownish red. The day after I got home from Arizona, the internet was abuzz with (dis)approval over the Pantone Color of the Year 2015 - a brownish red called Marsala - that though it is different in hue from Taliesin Red, nevertheless I think Wright would have approved of it.  You can check Marsala out at Pantone

Wright created Taliesin Red to match the mountains of the Sonoran Desert. The color is everywhere: on the floors, upholsteries or the outside of the buildings.  Considering that the complex dates back to 1937, it is an amazingly modern structure. 

Japanese art and design were another inspiration for Wright, who during most of his long life made a better living by dealing in art than in architecture. Taliesin West has many references to Japanese design, and there are several Japanese art pieces on the property.

The buildings used to be completely open to the outside, with only canvas panels protecting them from the elements.  Windows were only installed years later. The house kept changing and evolving up until Wright's death.  

Small red windows provide ventilation to the living quarters. 

The landscaping surrounding the buildings is also an integral part of the scene, creating a harmony between inside and outside. Desert plants like agave and bougainvillea add color to the rocky countryside.

In 1991, the American Institute of Architects named Frank Lloyd Wright the greatest American architect of all time. His homes, Taliesin and Taliesin West are National Historic Landmarks, and are currently being considered along with some of Wright's other work for World Heritage Site status. 

 Inside one of the three theaters on the property.

You can find more information about the estate and book tickets at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation's Taliesin West page

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

An Evening With The Makk Family in Kailua

Last week I was invited to a lovely soiree combining art with architecture. The home, where the event took place, and which I have written about before (you can see it here) is a sprawling Kailua beach estate, and the art displayed within is by the Makk family. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Make Your Own Advent Calendar

Advent is only two days away (can you believe it?!?) and it is time to reveal the advent calendar I have created for this year. First of all, let me say, that buying the chocolate filled calendars at Trader Joe's is definitely the easier way to go.  They also only cost 99 cents, I believe - what a bargain. However, if you want something a tad more personal and upscale, and have the time, why not make your own?  

I searched the internet for inspiration (see it here), and decided on making a calendar out of brown paper bags.  To jazz them up a bit I added a sparkle trim, and little cards to mark the days.

I found the tags on Etsy.  Asked my daughter (who has a much nicer handwriting than I do), to write the numbers from 1 to 24 on the tags.  This is a step that could be also stamped, that is if you have number stamps, which I do not.

After the tags were done, I cut the top of each brown bag off, and then folded about three inches down. Then used a hole punch to punch a hole through the folded top area of the bag.

The next step was to use an edge punch (this particular one is by Martha Stewart) that I found at our local craft store to create the trim of the bag. I picked this garland pattern because I thought it suited the occasion.

Finally, I brushed the some Mod Podge (I suppose you could also use some other glue) over the punched out pattern and added silver and white sparkle to it.

Voila, the baggies were done.  Now it was time to fill them with small goodies for my three kids.  After that was accomplished, I cut thin silvery ribbon into lengths of about a foot, threaded the ribbon through the punched hole in the bag and tied the number on it.

My friend Amy helped me with the finishing touches.  She has also kindly provided the bottle of wine you can see amongst the bags. I am a firm believer that a glass of good wine helps every project turn out even better. One person making something is a craft. Two or more people? It's a party! (Check out my pumpkin painting party here.)

Here are the finished bags all lined up by number.  The final step was to add small clothes pins (also found on Etsy) to the tops of the bags and clip them onto a ribbon we tied to the wall.  

Now they all hang there patiently awaiting the first day of Advent.  My ten-year-old is already excited to start unclipping and opening them.

The entire project took about two hours, plus the time gathering the supplies.  I am happy with how it turned out.  What do you think?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Deer, Deer and Some More Deer

Some days are just like this one: instead of doing productive work, here I am browsing the internet for cute stuff.  Lately I fancy deer, probably because Christmas is coming.  My first deer sighting was in a Pottery Barn catalogue. This reindeer pillow is just fab!