A Creative Gesture

Throughout the year, elaborate paper sculptures have been left anonymously at literary venues and libraries across Edinburgh, Scotland. These intricate handmade pieces are lovely gestures that showcase support for cultural institutions in a creative way. Having worked in the nonprofit arts field for the past decade, I have witnessed some pretty unique ways that people in varying financial situations have contributed to arts and cultural organizations. Since the economic downturn, I have noticed people getting more creative with their means of giving. Some people volunteer their time, some utilize their resources and relationships to help out, some designate $10 from each paycheck to donate to their favorite nonprofit organization, and others create pieces of art for fundraising auctions. The list goes on and on, and every little bit helps - whether it's donating your money or sharing your artistic skills with your community.

Even though this particular example doesn't impact me on a local level, it had a positive impact on me and triggered a smile (from ear to ear). I also must admit...the new media nerd in me thinks the inclusion of Twitter handles in the artist's notes is pretty darn cool [to read the notes, go to the original post here]. This anonymous artist knows that social networking = free marketing = press coverage = people like me, millions of miles away, reading this inspiring story = more coverage = more social networking. Which generates interest from all over the world and raises awareness about these literary institutions - which in theory, brings new donors, supporters, and volunteers.

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Found at the Scottish Poetry Library in March:

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Found at the National Library of Scotland in June:

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Found at Filmhouse Cinema Edinburgh in June:

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Found at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in July:

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Found at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August:

Read the full story (as well as the notes left with each sculpture) and see more photos here.

Alexandra Grecco

I first took notice of Alexandra Grecco while browsing a friend's "favorites" on Etsy a while back, but for some reason never really stopped to look at her lovely creations until today. The Brooklyn-based designer is an FIT graduate and former Ballet dancer, which appears to inspire elements of her designs. Some pieces have a vaudeville quality while others are simply feminine and enchanting. You'll find everything from flirty silk crepe dresses to delicate flowered headbands in her Etsy store.

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>> Her Etsy shop here.

>> Her Blog here.

Reupholster Project!

Six years ago, I acquired a ratty old stool covered in white vinyl from a friend who randomly picked it up at an Express store that was going out of business. I loved the square shape and height of the stool, so my intention from day one was to reupholster it...but life happens and I let it slip my mind. Besides, the cats are OBSESSED with this thing for some reason so one of them has basically been parked on it since I've had it. Because of this "wear" on the stool, the vinyl started cracking and peeling back, revealing some kind of mold growing underneath it (ewwww!). So, it obviously became a priority to fix that baby up! Matt and I happened to be visiting his family in Wilmington, so his lovely and extraordinarily crafty mom (Mimi) and I decided we were up for a reupholstering project. Let me also say that neither of us have a clue how to "correctly" reupholster, so this is by no means a "how to" post. We just went with what seemed like would work...and it did!

First, we tore off all of the nasty vinyl and the molded cotton lining and padding underneath of that. We didn't get photos of this process because it was just too gross :P Next, we fitted and attached some new cotton batting.

We flipped it over and plucked out dozens of rusty staples using pliers, and removed some of the particle board and old trim they were attached to.

After that, I took it outside and scrubbed the legs with steel wool and Bar Keeper's Friend in an attempt to remove some rusting...I was only partially successful! But it was worth a try.

We pre-cut the material, laid the stool on top, and prepared our "tool board."

Thanks to Mimi's "German hands," we folded perfect hospital corners then secured each corner with black steel carpet tacks. Pulling tightly, we hammered in additional carpet tacks all the way around - one about every inch. This was my favorite part because I looooove hammering stuff!

Last, we hot-glued some beautiful vintage braided trim around the edge, and BOOYA! A revamped classic piece.

Mimi also made me a matching slipcover (not pictured) that is washable, since we knew the minute the stool was back in our house both cats would be all over that business! And they are! Luckily, they are front-declawed...

Super excited. On that note, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Fire Escape Farms

I took up an interest in urban gardening after I moved to Florida, since I haven't had the space for an actual yard garden while living here. I researched what crops could survive in this insane heat, bought a book called Grow Great Grub, and began to utilize our small porch to grow tomatoes, bell peppers, herbs, and other veggies. I wish a place like Fire Escape Farms, a new pop-up shop in San Francisco's Mission District, would have been around to help get me started out right. Spacial limitations like mine are common in city living, and even more extreme in densely populated cities like San Francisco where the only suitable location for a garden to grow MIGHT be your fire escape. Maybe you don't have the space or money for a raised bed, but all you really need is a window sill, a rooftop, a fire escape, or a porch. Fire Escape Farms can fix you up with everything you need to transform your urban space into a lush and thriving garden. The shop offers local organic soil, adorable eco-friendly garden accessories, and even carries their own line of carefully purveyed seeds. They also offer delivery via bio-diesel wagon for all San Francisco orders!

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Fire Escape Farms is the brainchild of the lovely and multifaceted Naya Peterson Fross, a San Francisco native who fell in love with gardening while living in Napa a few years ago. Also an uber-talented barista, Naya worked with my sister to help open the Oxbow Market location of Ritual Coffee Roasters. After moving back to the city, she began considering ways to make her country fantasies a reality while remaining in the city and came up with the pop-up shop concept.

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Fire Escape Farms will be open at its current location (3041 24th St. in San Francisco) through August. After that, the website and Facebook page will remain active resources as Naya considers locations for her next pop-up shop, most likely in the Mission. If you're thousands of miles away from California like I am, get your fix at the online shop!

[All photos courtesy of Daniel Dent]