Archive for Art & Design

Lawn Alternative: Naturescaping

This year California may be facing a severe drought. Our heavy rain season starts around autumn and continues through spring. I can say this year’s rainy season was not so good. I think we had some cloudy winters, but not much rain. Mostly fog in parts of northern California.

nscapeConcerned homeowners and avid gardeners may want to look into finding ways to conserve water. But I have mostly desert plants that are in pots, so it won’t be much of a problem for me. My mom said she may cut down on what she will be planting this year too. The latest idea suggest replacing the common lawn and yards with native plants. This idea is termed “naturescaping”. These two front yards are good examples of naturescaping. Photos were taken by City Steward of Portland, Oregon.

There are many benefits for naturescaping and to growing native plants. A great landscape design practice also located in Portland, Oregon named Plant Native gave us 6 good reasons. They are listed below:

1. Low Maintenance – Native plants evolved to grow in local conditions and to predictable sizes. They do not require watering (except during establishment), chemical pesticides and fertilizers, or frequent cutting.

2. Public Health (lowers cancer rates) – Traditional landscaping uses large amounts of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, some of which are suspected carcinogens. During rains, these chemicals often run off into public water supplies. Traditional landscaping also contributes to air and noise pollution.

3. Saves you Money – The cost of maintaining a naturescape is dramatically less than that of a traditional landscape because a naturescape essentially takes care of itself. Naturescapes also save you time – and how valuable is your time?

4. Water – In the West, 60% of consumed water goes to lawns; in the East, 30%. This water diversion harms the environment, kills fish, and returns polluted water to our streams and rivers. It also costs you – on irrigation system installation and maintenance, and on your water bill.
5. Song Birds – Our song bird populations having dropped steadily – 5-10%, per year!, depending on the species – for the last several decades, and there is no end in sight. The loss is primarily due to habitat loss. Adopting naturescaping is critical if song birds are to remain.
6. Enhances Livability – An ecologically functional landscape offers so much more than a sterile, static landscape. It offers imagination to our children, and color, sound and wonder to all of us. It is cleaner, quieter and healthier, and may increase property values.

Continue reading post here.


Leave a Comment

Movie: Coraline

Every now and then, the little kid in me still enjoys watching cartoons and eating cupcakes. So I am planning to see this movie when it comes out soon. And I will give my movie review later.


This will be the first movie project for Laika Animation Studio in Portland, Oregon. The movie was filmed using stop-motion animation. This is where the hands and every other part of the characters (puppets) in the movie are manipulated frame by frame. This is done to achieve movement and expression and to tell a very realistic looking story. I am a big fan of claymation and am looking forward to seeing how this movie will compare. Other features in this movie people will notice is that some theatres (including one near our city) will offer 3-D screenings. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (1)


My favorite classic suede Converse has seen better days and the side is starting to rip. With a little bit of Shoe Goo, it will not end up in the landfill just yet. I plan to use it as my dirty chores shoe now.

simplesustainSince it’s time to shop for another comfortable walking shoe, I’ve decided to get something made by Simple. They are an interesting green company that was started in Santa Barbara, CA back in 1991. Simple Shoe company is committed to making their product 100% sustainable. Finding materials and processes that make the products sustainable is a method called “Green Toe”. Some of the products found in their shoes are listed in the colorful bubble drawings here – from hemp to bamboo.

The company follows the Deckers Ethical Supply Chain Guidelines. I’ve never heard of it until I came across Simple’s website. It’s a good concept and more companies should strive to do the same. You can read more about it here. A little excerpt below:

“Deckers Outdoor Corporation respects internationally recognized human rights and environmental standards and places them at the core of our business practices. We believe that no business should ever be complicit in human rights abuses. We promote greater environmental responsibility and we encourage the development and use of environmentally friendly technologies. Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a Comment

Rooftop Gardens & Urban Farmers

A great way to bring a bit of nature into city living is having a rooftop garden. People usually think of rooftop city gardens as only being in New York City. Usually places used to hold cocktail parties. But rooftop gardening is nothing new, it has been seen in the Hanging Garden of Babylon to the Kensington Roof Garden in London , England.

The popularity of roof gardens have grown in many other cities in the United States as well. Even people in Vancouver, B.C. are joining in on rooftop gardening too. From hotels, restaurants to local organizations. I think that is a great use of extra space and a way to add a bit of green space. It may even help clean the air too.

englandrtgarden2Photo credit: Risc’s Rooftop Garden.

Another successful rooftop garden comes from England. The one pictured here is of Risc’s edible roof garden. The garden is complete with over 120 species of edible and medicinal trees, shrubs, vines and plants from around the globe. You can read more about the place here.

Rooftop gardens are usually seen as ornamental gardens, but the idea of growing your own food is gaining popularity. A great organization based out of Vancouver, B.C. by the name of City Farmer’s has a collection of stories about their work in Vancouver, Canada, and about urban farmers from around the world.

Continue reading post here.

Comments (4)

Book Review: Classic Knits

I just saw the most pretty yet subdue knitting book ever. It’s Classic Knits: 15 Timeless Designs to Knit and Keep Forever by Erika Knight. I am not the expert knitter, as I have never successfully knit anything more than a scarf.

If you are interested in classic design and can’t really knit any of the patterns in the book, you can still find ready made items and include them into your wardobe. Personally, I always like the idea of mixing a few classic items with trendy ones. Classic designs are the best since the style will last much longer for years to come. Unlike trendy pieces that can only be worn for a few seasons.

The photography in this book is also very beautiful. The background feels like somewhere in an Irish or English country cottage mixed with Parisian city apartments. Katya de Gunwald, who is the photographer, did a great job highlighting the clothing and setting. At first, it felt a bit solemn, but it’s still bright enough to feel like spring is just around the corner.


This picture above is a classic, but mix the nice leather boots and it looks modern. I love the combination of polka dot dress and a simple sweater. The decor reminds me of a drafty English home. It could probably use some fresh flowers, or maybe even a sleeping cat.

The three pictures in the photo gallery are some of my favorite from the book. I also like the cute little navy vest. I think I have one like it in wool, but unfortunately it was thrown in the washing machine and shrunk! I love the classic knit messenger bag. Just the right size for all your magazines and books. And finally, the soft caramel color sweater is sweet, but with an air of elegance.

If you like classic designs, I think you’ll like this book. And if you can’t knit, just keep it as an inspirational picture book. Please note, all pictures are copyrighted by Erika Knight and Katya de Grunwald. Please do not take photos without permission of artist. Thank you!

Comments (2)

Happy Chinese New Year

These are very beautiful paintings by Caroline R. Young. Caroline’s works can be seen at the permanent collection of the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, and the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena. Chinese New Year is on January 26th. If you have a girl born in 2009 – she will be Year of the Ox. This one is funny, the ox is trying to eat her hair. Playful ox and girl. I also really like is the purple morning glory, one of my favorite climbing flowers. I think it would make great art wall for a child’s room too.


There are more fine arts and selection from this website: “Zodiac Children’s Series Girl Year of the Rabbit. All the beauty, wonder and magic of childhood come alive in the paintings of the renowned Chinese painter, Caroline R. Young. This exquisite limited edition print is done on ceramic coated polyethylene paper using hand embellished giclee.” This one represents “Year of the Rabbit” which represents prosperity.


I really like the varieties of flower arranged in the vase. This cute little girl and her black and white rabbit are very expressive. So if you have a little girl born in the year of the rabbit, I think this would make a really great framed gift.Each 9X12 print is signed and numbered and has been given some individual touch by the artist so that no two prints are exactly the same. The print run is limited to 88. But they are very expensive from about $200 to $700 each! Copyright © 2004, Caroline R. Young Studios, LLC

Comments (2)

Pretty Bracelets

Debenhams has these very pretty bracelets. I never heard of Debenhams, but they have 153 stores in the UK and Ireland. Maybe just like another department store in the U.S. But I haven’t seen anything like this over here. Found out about Debenhams at ShopStyle – there are lots more pretty jewelries there.silverbracelet1
Silver enamel flower cuff

There are some neat textile and jewelry designers coming out of Europe. They must have a somewhat different taste over there, the sweaters are usually very happy and bright in colors. As these bracelets are too. And the price isn’t too bad, about $20. You can order them here.

Silver enamel stone bracelet

Leave a Comment

Older Posts »