Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Fall Friday!

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird
I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."
-George Eliot

I might not love the fall quite as much as George Eliot,
but I do love the colors that it brings with it...

Picture credits: © 2009 Suzy Rohan

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Picture Credit: © 2008

Do you ever feel like sometimes your stuff is taking over your life? If you're like me, you tend to get busy and suddenly you have piles. A pile for filing, a pile for random things like birthday cards from five years ago that you for some reason or another can't get rid of, or that pile that keeps accumulating that you've meant to donate, but somehow has taken over your closet...the list can go on and on...

I'm a stickler for associating a thing with a loved one...I still have a few of my Grandma's scarves that I know I will never part with (even though I never wear them) and my Grandpa's old cowboy hat that will never look right on anyone else but him. I think it's ok to keep these things because it keeps their memory alive, as for the birthday cards from five years ago - I think your time has come!

I read an interesting article in Real Simple written by, Erin Doland, Editor-in-Chief of I like her suggestion in #8 to scan papers that you might need rather than keeping them (this could work for sentimental things as well - like that ticket stub collection that you will never look at again, but can't seem to part with).

Erin Rooney Doland, a reformed hoarder, offers her best cures for clutter.

1. Tear down the museum. In my youth, I was fearless. I forged strong friendships and created a history for myself that seemed worth remembering. So I held on to every trinket from my past. But I kept so many of these historical artifacts (see Hair, Matt's) that I didn't have any room for the present. I wanted to throw parties and have friends to visit in a home where they could actually sit down. So I photographed those hold things, then cleared them out to make space for the next chapters of my life.

2. Assess true value. A hefty chuck of what I moved into our home was obsolete computer equipment. When I looked at it, I saw dollar signs. Then my economist friend, Stephen, reminded me of the fallacy of sunk costs. I was sizing up those old computers based on what I had spent rather than their present value: close to zero. I sold the lot to a used-electronics store for $60 (not bad, considering) and got a much needed haircut with the cash.

3. Know thyself. I liked to think of myself as someone who exercised every day by running on a giant motorized treadmill, read all the literary classics, and baked cookies for every special occasion. The reality? I am not a runner, I like to read pop fiction, and cookies aren't really my thing. The treadmill, the boxes of books, and some kitchen gadgets all found new homes.

4. Trust me: You won't fix it. Most of the broken things I had brought with me were shoes. Heels or straps had come off, and I was convinced I would someday have them repaired. My husband held the shoes up in front of me, pair by pair, and asked two questions: "If you saw these shoes in a store today, would you buy them?" and "If you say yes, how much would you pay for them?" In all but one case, I admitted that I wouldn't buy the shoes again. And those red kitten heels with the broken sole? The amount I was wiling to pay was less than the cost of having them fixed.

5. Do look a gift horse in the mouth. My decorating tastes may change over time, but I am fairly certain I will never enjoy a home filled with a series of rhinestone-accented paintings of scary clowns. Yet I had hoarded these and other unattractive presents because I thought that was the decent thing to do. I also wasn't sure what I would say if someone noticed his gift missing and asked why. Well, you know what? No one has. Not even the bestower of scary clowns.

6. Adapt to your surroundings. I had a used Volvo 740 GLE that was the first car I had purchased after college. Before I moved Washington, I lived in the Midwest, where it was tough to get around without a car. In D.C., however, we lived next to a metro station, and there was a grocery store two blocks away. The price of parking―$150 a month―sealed it: The GLE was G-O-N-E.

7. Just admit that you don't like it. As I sorted through my stuff, I became aware of the fact that I didn't even want some of it. There were things I didn't exactly like but didn't exactly hate―and so lived with them out of pure apathy. This was the easiest clutter to set free. All it took was a little motivation to pack up a few boxes and drop them off at a local charity.

8. Know what you really need. Often what we need is only related to the thing we have. For instance, I had a huge popcorn maker but could easily pop the modest amount of corn we consumed in a small pot on the stove. Out it went. I also had thousands of documents in bulky filing cabinets. But I needed the information on the pages, not the paper itself. I kept just the documents I had to have in their original form, scanned and saved others as digital files, and tossed the rest-eliminating 300 pounds of paper.

9. Let go of the guilt. When my grandparents passed away, I inherited a collection of 27 rusty knives, a warped cookie sheet, and a copper bracelet my grandmother had loved to wear. I kept all these items for more than a decade. Eventually I realized that if my grandparents were alive, they would have replaced the cookie sheet and knife set (and been mortified that my aunts had passed on such dangerous accoutrements). I recycled the kitchen implements, but I kept the bracelet, which I wear and enjoy as much as my grandmother did.

10. Face it: "One day" almost never comes. I justified keeping half my wardrobe on the basis that I would use it one day. The hot pink bridesmaid dress from my cousin's first wedding took up space in my closet for four times the length of her marriage. I hate throwing out potentially useful things. But we couldn't afford a larger apartment; storing all those "one day" items would cost more than they were worth; and, an even simpler truth, I have yet to be invited to an event at which a fuchsia dress with taffeta bows might seem appropriate.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A New Look for an Old Book

Thought this was interesting article from It makes you remember that design applies to pretty much everything out there...

A Fresh New Look for The Bible

  • Fonts in Use
Fonts in Use
| Yves Peters | October 3, 2008

We’re doing a little balancing act today. As we’re barely a month away from the American elections, it was to be expected that polit i cally charged subjects might pop up, even on a primarily type-​oriented blog. We are ultimately part of the world. So we thought it would be a sound idea to post two entries with different world views one after the other, to prevent people from accusing us of any bias. ;)

UK publishing house Hodder & Stoughton have published a new paperback edition of the Bible with a remarkable cover designed by Crush Design & Art Direction Ltd. On their website the Brighton based creative agency explains:

“We were set a tough challenge with this brief to create a fresh new look for The Bible and make it a best selling summer read. Our illus­tra tions made this book the summer’s must have accessory for any non card carrying Christian.

Crush was formed ten years ago in Hoxton, London and relocated to Brighton in 2001, but their client-​base remains primarily in London and overseas. Founder Carl Rush attributes their success to being “a small company with big ideas and a great working atmos phere; we have music playing, good vibes and work bloody hard putting in long hours”, he admits. Crush is made up of five designers and illus trators working for clients that span TV, music, publishing, adver tising and packaging. Their illus tration agency AgencyRush got them the commission from the religious division of Hodder &Stoughton.

The idea behind this edition of the Bible was to encourage people who might never have owned a Bible to feel comfortable buying a copy. Whether or not you believe in its content, you can’t deny its signif i cance – even in today’s world – yet many people would probably be reluctant to buy a more tradi tional looking Bible. Eventually 4000 copies were sold; the booksellers liked the innov ative approach and seemed very happy to stock the Bible. Crush experi enced a fantastic reaction from the public sending them e-mails, asking where to get the book and commenting on how strong the cover is.

The complete cover illus tration without any typographical elements (click the image for a full resolution version).

The inspi ration for the cover illus tration came from the back cover copy lines. Carl Rush considers them one of finest write ups he has seen, and would certainly make him inter­ested enough to read the book. The text mentions “Mankind’s poisoning of a beautiful world” and asks “The cause of wars and intol erance, or the most important book ever written? How well do you know the bible?” So the idea germi nated to conjure up a really contem porary image of the Garden of Eden. On the flip side of the image Crush tried to illus trate the possible “poisoning and destruction of a beautiful world”. Therefore the illus tration shows Adam and Eve fat with the overindul gence of a consumer society gone out of control. The trees have died from pollution and skulls illus trate the destruction of the animal kingdom.

Carl Rush admits that the question he heard the most was: “How did you get away with this design?” The studio proposed three visuals and the client picked Adam and Eve – it’s as simple as that. They didn’t make Crush change a thing. Indeed – as unbelievable as it may sound – there were no correc tions. Crush just put some more detail into the image and polished it. Unfor tu nately they didn’t get to add the type as it was taken care of by the publisher’s in-​house art department. Carl told that if it was up to him he would have kept a very simple sans serif, so he’s not sure what font they used.

Detail of the cover illus tration
The cover is an arresting design. The first thing that hits you are the glowing colours and the surprising vertical division in a positive and a negative mirror image. The illus­tration style is an unexpected blend of
naive art and infor mation design reminiscent of the pictograms developed by Otl Aicher for the 1972 Munich Olympics. Examining the illus tration up close reveals a number of intriguing details begging for inter pre tation. Crush definitely succeeded in what they set out to do – the eye-​popping cover looks fresh and inviting. And even if some people may dismiss it as eye-​candy, it is damn good candy, and a very effective design.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

To Laugh is to Learn

Change is in the air...and it's not just because the leaves have changed color. I just got back from a wonderful weekend in Minneapolis, where I attended the Me Ra Koh Confidence Photography Workshop. I loved every moment! I haven't laughed so hard and so much in a long time - it was so refreshing. Spending time with a such a gifted group of women who weren't afraid to share so much of themselves was a wonderful way to begin the new season...

Picture credits: © 2009 Suzy Rohan

Thursday, October 1, 2009

California Trip (aka the longest post ever)

We're back from a very eventful visit to California. All in all we visited family, harvested zinfandel grapes at a vineyard, saw two wineries in Napa and went to a wedding (oh, and yes, celebrated my 30th Birthday - I am sadly no longer in my twenties). I definitely used the camera that Steve got me - and spent the last few days sifting through all 441 images. I've included my favorites in this post... To see the rest, visit my new flickr site.

First stop: I visited my friend Kiri who is a WWOOFer intern on a farm outside of Ukiah, CA

The evening I arrived, we took a very winding trip over to the Mendocino County Fair & Apple Show...

...and the next day I was put to work at the Chiarito Vineyard where we helped with the harvest of Zinfandel grapes (that's John Chiarito, the winemaker below) ...

...after all of the grapes were sorted, de-stemmed and put into storage to begin their journey to the bottle, we enjoyed a wonderful lunch with a beautiful view...

(that's Americo Chiarito (aka John's Father) above - the sweetest, most sprightly 96yr old I've ever met!)

Second Stop: Napa - Quixote Winery and Chateau Montelena
This part of the trip was planned by Steve, I suggested the wineries, but he planned everything else. I loved the B & B he picked (The Blackbird Inn) and the restaurant was amazing (La Toque)...

Quixote Winery

Chateau Montelena

Blackbird Inn

Next Stop: Visiting Family and Desiree & Brendan's Wedding, Fresno, CA

Last Stop: Back to San Francisco where we caught up with more family (and got great pics of our little cousin Stella) and had a couple of hours to enjoy the beach...

Before and After shot of Stella trying mustard... look at that face!

Whew! Now I'm off to the Me Ra Koh workshop in Minneapolis... stay tuned for more pics!