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SHANE POWERS: BRING THE OUTDOORS IN

SHANE POWERS: BRING THE OUTDOORS IN

I love having fresh flowers around the office. I dream of flower beds surrounding the building and vases of camellia blooms on each desk. Shane Powers’ book, Bring the Outdoors In: Garden Projects for Decorating and Styling Your Home, has inspired me to perhaps be more ambitious in my plans for floral décor – both at home and in the office. I first met Shane through his work with my friend, Li Edelkoort. He worked on her (amazing) magazine, Bloom, and I met him again in Finland as he was helping curate and install Li’s exhibition, A World of Folk, and the Design Seminar, Folk Futures. Shane went on to work for prestigious titles like Vogue Living Australia, Blueprint, and Martha Stewart Living, and he recently created an indoor garden collection for West Elm. He is a busy man, to say the least.

Bring the Outdoors In is not a traditional gardening book. Rather, Shane presents ideas and instructions for projects that are akin to floral art installations. The results are astonishing, especially when compared to the traditional potted plant. This type of project would be perfect alongside traditional décor and would fit right into any unconventional home design. It is also ideal for apartment dwellers who lack the outdoor space for a garden plot of their own.

SHANE POWERS: BRING THE OUTDOORS IN

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A RECIPE FOR HOMEMADE PAINT

A RECIPE FOR HOMEMADE PAINT

I’ve been thinking about painting my back porch and deck white since it was built last summer. After all, we spend about fifty percent of our time out there. I’ve long disliked the toxicity of commercial paints on the market. Most common indoor and outdoor household paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs contain a variety of chemicals, some of which give off noxious fumes and may have short term or long term adverse health effects. According to the EPA, levels of some VOCs are 2 to 5 times higher inside a home than outside; when you are painting or stripping paint in your home, particularly in older homes where lead paint may have been used in the past, indoor levels of VOCs may be 1000 times that of outdoor levels. I’ve used VOC-free paints for all of my indoor and outdoor painting since they came on the market some years back.

In thinking about my outdoor living area, I wanted to investigate additional ways to paint more safely, and came across two options that I could possibly make myself: whitewash and milk paint. Whitewashing, which many of us remember from Tom Sawyer whitewashing the fence in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, was commonly used for years because it is inexpensive, can be homemade, and homeowners could use ingredients they had on-hand, improvising their own recipes. It is still used in rural areas to protect wooden surfaces like fences and barns, or by designers who want to give furniture a rustic look. The mixture’s base is always lime and water, which makes a chalky type of plaster. Then, ingredients might be added to thicken or strengthen the mixture, like flour, glue, sugar, soap, soil, or milk.

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IN THE (KITCHEN) GARDEN

IN THE KITCHEN GARDEN - photo by Abraham Rowe Photography

Popular culture, social media, and our peers are all embracing a trend in home gardening across the country (though few of these gardens are as radical as Ron Finley’s median-turned-vegetable-garden project in Los Angeles). A guest for dinner last night mentioned that “even Oprah is on trend now,” having planted her own garden. Here in North Alabama, the home garden is hardly a trend. Most people grow at least a couple of tomato and pepper plants every summer. And if you take a drive down one of our many county roads, you’re likely to see large swaths of lawn devoted to food, with neat rows of summer vegetables stretching over red blankets of Alabama clay.

I’ve had a garden since I moved into my house in 2006. Putting it in might take only a weekend, but the cultivation takes years. However, it’s the week-to-week management that becomes difficult. When temperatures reach 98 degrees in the shade (and stays there for days on end) keeping up with the insects, weeds, the harvest, and watering becomes quite the challenge. Making time becomes stealing time. This is why my generous fall garden was still in the ground in late May, every kale or broccoli plant flowered and well on its way to seed.

IN THE KITCHEN GARDEN - photo by Abraham Rowe Photography

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NEUTRA NUMBERS

NEUTRA NUMBERS

The practice of numbering houses supposedly began in Paris in the 1500’s. Having a house number is something we don’t give a second thought to these days, but they have not always been used and they certainly have not always been popular.

Some countries have numbered zones, requirements for the number of digits, double sets of numbers, and different color street numbers for different purposes, like upstairs and downstairs. Every country, state, city, or county seems to have their own numbering system. Early numbering systems were developed for the controversial purposes of census taking, drafting men into the military, taxation, creating borders, and other government functions. They were not created for their current purpose: ease of navigation. No matter the country, modern day houses are often required to be numbered for purposes of delivering mail or in case emergency services are needed.

Early identification methods didn’t involve numbers at all. If you wanted to identify or contact the residents of a home, you used the house’s name. But house names were not always displayed, there was no central directory, and sometimes there was more than one house with the same name. This meant that locals could find other locals, but outsiders had a difficult time finding their way around. When the idea of numbering houses was introduced, the idea was not incredibly popular, as it was seen by many as a form of government control.

Today, in modern day America, there is no set standard for how streets get numbered, but there are some practices that are used often. For instance, odd numbered houses are almost always on one side of the street, and even numbered houses are on the opposite side. Some cities are designed as grids with a center point; each block that moves farther from the center increases by 100 (2nd, 3rd, 4th Avenue, etc.) and directional modifiers are determined based upon this point (2nd Avenue North, for example).

My father has been hounding me for years about numbering my house. I’ve never been sure why it was important, since I get my mail and people seem to find the place pretty easily. But, when I saw these numbered tiles, part of a collaboration between House Industries and Heath Ceramics, I coveted house numbers. House Industries creates beautiful fonts and designs, often from unusual or inspired origins. Their typography can take inspiration from a number of sources, blending musical, cultural, and graphic elements. Their design aesthetic works perfectly with the Heath brand. Both companies focus on craftsmanship and forming partnerships and each of them use a hands-on approach when creating products. I purchased the Neutra numbers, but there is also an Eames-inspired collection that is just as beautiful.

I guess my house will not remain incognito anymore. I like that the house numbers add warmth to the entrance and my father is happy to know my house is now properly attired.

 

DESKTOP OF THE MONTH: JUNE 2013

DESKTOP OF THE MONTH - CAMELLIA - JUNE 2013

June’s Desktop of the Month celebrates the idea of collaboration. Alabama Chanin @ Heath Ceramics have worked together to create some beautiful pieces that we have loved and put to good use. But, this pattern, The Camellia, highlights the intersection of design and craftsmanship perfectly; the white glaze shows off the intricate hand-etched floral pattern and the pattern, itself, compliments the curves and shapes of the place settings. You can purchase the available pieces from Heath Ceramics or our online store. Or, download this desktop image to brighten your workspace.

This hi-resolution photograph, for use as your computer desktop background, is now available to download from our Resources page.

 

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

MOTHERS DAY

Lately, we’ve dedicated several journal posts to Mom in anticipation of her holiday this Sunday.  Mother’s Day often feels like a holiday remembered at the last minute – a rush to find a card, a brunch reservation in lieu of a gift. But when we started brainstorming for posts about mom a few months ago, we began looking at women, and mothers, through a different lens and gained a deeper appreciation for the women who birthed us, nurture us, care for us, and stand by us through everything.

The Dust-to-Digital book and CD compilation Never a Pal Like Mother is a collection of vintage photographs of and commercial recordings about mother. It’s an unusual and unique gift for any book lover. Just one of several Dust-to-Digital publications we sell in our online store, it may be our favorite.

Our post on Mom and the Casserole  explored the history of the American casserole, a memory most of us share and strongly associate with Mom.

We dug deeper into The Craft of Midwifery, possibly the oldest DIY pursuit known to (wo)mankind, and the growing interest in home births.

Mark Twain’s Advice to Little Girls added some much needed humor to our routine.

We look forward to Sunday and sharing a few moments (not just a card) with our mothers (and those who have mothered us) and perhaps a few moments mothering ourselves.

We wish you all a HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY—whatever that means for you…
xo from all of us @ Alabama Chanin

 

 

HEATH + ALABAMA CHANIN: CAMELLIA

ALABAMA CHANIN + HEATH - CAMELLIA PATTERNWe’ve loved every plate, bowl and serving dish from our collaboration with Heath Ceramics that has come through the studio. But it’s this newest addition, the Camellia pattern, that is easily my favorite, and the most elegant. Each piece is hand-etched by a Heath Ceramics artisan and comes in Opaque White. The design is offered on the Deep Serving Bowl, Dinner Plate, and a Serving Platter, and is a natural addition to the current Alabama Chanin @ Heath Ceramics collection.

The Alabama Chanin @ Heath Ceramics collection is available in Heath Ceramics stores, on the Heath Ceramics website, and our online store.

 

 

KITCHEN TWINE + SCISSORS

KITCHEN TWINE AND SCISSORS

We spend a good bit of time in the kitchen, planning meals and testing out new recipes to share, while I spend evenings trying to please the taste buds of my picky eater. I’ve found that kitchen twine has a number of uses, including trussing or tying meat when cooking or when you want to keep a stuffing firmly placed inside of something. Use it to tie fresh herbs in a bouquet garni or bouquet garnish (see recipe below) or wrap bacon on the outside of your roast or bird. I also use my twine for tying up birthday presents and pony tails—and stuffed animals at my house are often doctored with bits of twine.  You might also try making our Knotted Necklace with this twine. It is thinner than our Cotton Jersey Pulls but made in the same way.

Twine, especially for use in the kitchen, shouldn’t be made from synthetic materials (they can melt or chemicals can seep into your food), and we’ve found this organic, non-toxic option works perfectly.

KITCHEN TWINE AND SCISSORS

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SPRING CLEAN RECIPES

SPRING CLEANING RECIPESIt’s been unseasonably cool these last weeks. Most days, it’s been too chilly to fling the windows wide open and really enjoy the weather. Though we’re only just beginning to see the signs of an Alabama spring season, we’re preparing our supplies to begin the task of spring cleaning. We’ve previously shared some wabi-sabi cleaning tips, but thought we would share another post of our favorite cleaning tips and recipes for those of you who are also in the spring cleaning spirit.

SPRING CLEANING RECIPES

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MAIDEN’S BLUSH (AND COCKTAIL NAPKINS)

MAIDEN'S BLUSH (AND COCKTAIL NAPKINS)

We’re not quite in the cocktail business (yet), though we seem to be sneaking behind the bar more and more lately. Our collaboration with Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. brought about the Jack Rudy Bar Towel, which we featured early last month along with the Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic, both available for purchase on our website.

Last week, our friend Brooks Reitz of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. sent us a beautiful, hand-written thank you note, along with a bottle of their newest creation – Small Batch Grenadine. Handcrafted in Napa Valley, the grenadine arrived just in time for our latest addition: the Alabama Chanin Cocktail Napkin.

MAIDEN'S BLUSH (AND COCKTAIL NAPKINS)

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