A global guide to LIVING CREATIVELY

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Frances Mayes-Living in Italy

National Geographic Events
Frances Mayes is interviewed - speaking about life in Cortona, Italy and telling the story of how she came to write, Under the Tuscan Sun.

Please see our earlier posting, Bella Sorpresa - about re-reading, Ms. Mayes', Bella Tuscany.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Young Take Care of Mother Earth

by Blythe Copeland, Great Neck, NY
Please see story on TreeHugger
Caitlyn Larsen 

Cake Recipe

from Food & Wine magazine
It's been quite awhile since we shared a recipe. The first was Almost Veggie Pizza (March 30, 2010). 
Below, we share a delicious cake recipe we found in Food + Wine magazine. We wish we could also share a slice of the cake with you - it was (notice past tense) so good!
Cake, before dusting with Confectioner's sugar
Dry bread crumbs, for dusting
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
Finely grated zest of 3 limes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 pint raspberries
4 figs, cut into eighths, or additional 1/2 pint
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

*see note, below
•Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a
9-inch springform pan and coat with
bread crumbs. In a bowl, using a
handheld mixer, beat the granulated
sugar and eggs at high speed until
fluffy, 2 minutes. Beat in the butter and
two-thirds of the zest. At low speed,
alternately beat in the flour and lime
juice until almost incorporated. Using a
rubber spatula, gently fold the batter
until smooth.
•Scrape the batter into the prepared pan
and smooth the surface. Gently press
in the raspberries and figs. Bake the
cake on the bottom third of the oven for
40 minutes. Transfer to the upper third
of the oven and continue baking for 35
minutes longer, until a cake tester
inserted in the center comes out clean
with a few crumbs attached.
•Transfer the cake to a rack to cool.
*Note: We found that less sugar works fine. We used less than a cup. Also, check the cake in the final cooking at about 20 minutes into the baking. It might be done earlier.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Silverlake Garden


New Dalias and Cosmos

Close-up, pebble pond

Bird bath, early morning

Thyme path, Plumeria with new leaves, Blue Nile

Aerial view
From garden to sky

From garden to sky

A Summer Journey

"I came to Italy expecting adventure. What I never anticipated is the absolute sweet joy of everyday life - la dolce vita."
Frances Mayes, Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy
After finishing my most recent book and with a Los Angeles summer in full force, I perused my bookcases for something more to read. Thinking it best to join the sustainable battalion, I decided to arm myself with a book from my very own library; a "recycled" book, if you will.  From across the room, in the middle of a square shelf, I spotted the dust cover with white print on a green background - Bella Tuscany - the Sweet Life in Italy, by Frances Mayes. Thinking I wouldn't read beyond the first few pages (I usually don't enjoy re-reading a book), I am now well into it. I've traveled with Frances and Ed to Sicily, planted the garden alongside the author and her real estate broker / gardener, Anselmo, and this morning we were in Venice, sailing in a gondola.
Ms. Mayes is not just a travel writer, but, a very fine writer. I would like to share a line just read. In writing about her childhood in  Georgia and balancing her career, her teaching, her life generally, she writes, "What comes from my own labor and creativity, regardless of what anyone else thinks of it, stays close to the natural joy we all were born with and carry always." This can only be proven through experience; the experience of performing a creative work - the process of creating - shifts us into a position of "...natural joy".
This is the perfect book for summer reading - or for that matter, any time where dreaming and imagining are desired. Fine writing about travel, Italy, food, wine and garden. Perfect.
If you haven't been to Italy - or if you haven't read this or Ms. Mayes' other books, you must begin with her first book concerning the purchase and restoration of an old Tuscan farmhouse: Under the Tuscan Sun. Then make your way to and through her other books. Without leaving your home, you will imagine yourself becoming an informed and seasoned traveler.
Jacket Photographs by Steven Rothfeld
Jacket Design by Aiako Hosono, Matteo Bologna and Roberto De Vico Ce Cumptich

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Silverlake Garden

"Gardens are a form of autobiography." ~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture magazine, August/September 1993
We consider ourselves very fortunate. Our small garden, which we have tended very lovingly over the past years, continually bestows its peaceful energy upon us.
In May, several rose bushes were in bloom. Nearby, a small birdbath was added - and already birds fly in to drink and bathe. Wasps and bees engage in their busy activities - and because there are so many plants to attract them - they, totally, ignore us!
Vegetables and herbs include Swiss Chard, Marzano and Cherry Tomatoes, Zucchini, Basil, Parsley, Sage, Carrots, Chamomile, Arugula and Lettuces. Beautiful Dwarf Blue Nile edges a small patch of lawn.

We use only organic products, such as those from Dr. Earth, Gardner + Bloome, Seeds of Change, E.B. Stone and Whitney Farms.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Balls of Seeds - Greenaid Seedbombs

So, what's a seedbomb? Well, it's kind of like this - it's a ball or clump which is made of clay, compost and seeds. The seeds or seed mixes are specially formulated for various planting regions - and contain either wildflower seeds, or the seeds of edibles, trees and other beneficial species - or combinations, thereof.
Do you have a vacant lot, nearby - or any other forgotten and neglected spaces? If so, you have the power to recreate them. You can purchase a seedbomb from one of the gumball machines now found in various parts of Santa Monica, CA -  and soon to be found in other cities throughout the country. (Give them time - it's a growing business!) Or you can purchase these and other associated products from their website.
Using sustainable packaging and local materials, Greenaid seedbombs are "hand-rolled" in Culver City, CA. From the website:
"Working in partnership with Chrysalis, a local non-profit, Commonstudio offers employment opportunities and a living wage to formerly homeless or economically disadvantaged men and women from the Los Angeles area.  Every seedbomb you purchase is an investment in our shared future on a greener, more equitable planet."
For more information, please see the links, below. And while you are at it, why not support such a wonderful - sustainable - business?

Greenaid website

Greenaid blog
Chrysalis website

Monday, June 6, 2011

Creative ways to change behavior

According to the Fun Theory (TheFunTheory.com):
"...something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better."
And since we are all children at heart, perhaps they are on to something! Millions of people have viewed their YouTube videos. Please visit their website, listed below, for more information.

TheFunTheory website

Friday, June 3, 2011

Artist, Tony Orrico

Artist, Tony Orrico
unison symmetry standing, Ed. of 8, 40x26", photo: Michael Hart
Referred to as a "human spyrograph", Tony Orrico makes drawings - issued directly from a whole-body experience - and literally "dances" the work into being. Each mark, each movement is carefully choreographed as his performance discharges the artwork. Paper or wall become the performance space and his body - drawing implements in each hand - moves with concentrated tension as the work materializes and dancer and artist unify in a concerted effort to create.
As a professional dancer, Mr. Orrico performed with various companies, including Trisha Brown Dance Company and Shen Wei Dance Arts. Artist, Marina Abramovic selected him to re-perform one of her works, recently, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He is creating the visual design, along with John Jasperse, for a work entitled, Canyon, to be performed November, 2011, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Currently, his work is exhibited at Shoshana Wayne Gallery in Santa Monica, CA, May 28 - July 9, 2011.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Typecasting in Architecture / Design

A Posting by Ron Frink, Ronald Frink Architects

Sam Mendes
So often, we all are tempted to categorize people, places, ideas, etc. into respectively preconceived pigeon holes or boxes – seemingly to make our choices easier and/or less risky.  As a result, new opportunities for professionals in the applied and creative arts are all too often constrained or defined by the professional’s prior works and accomplishments.  For architects, not unlike actors and artists, one of the most gratifying creative experiences evolves from the challenge to design a project type or style that is different or beyond one’s prior works.
Certainly, our experience in any specialized design area is of real value and yet, some of the best design can result when one is challenged to work in a new project type or stylistic genre.  Although every project design is unique due to its distinct site, context, client and budget, the design methodology for any given project is actually quite consistent.
Academic curriculums in architecture typically include in-depth study of architectural history through the various periods, styles and technologies of building design, all of which serves as a great foundation for good design in our contemporary times.  Academic design studios focus on design methodologies enabling the architect to develop the respective observation and problem solving skills required to define the realities and creative potentials for any given project.  Having an informed or educated frame of reference for historical precedents seems essential for any architect to find the most appropriate, if not provocative and creative concept in any new design challenge.
A client’s critical question of an architect for a new project might well be, “Can you design this project and how would you approach the design?” as opposed to “How many projects have you designed that are similar to this project?”
Since starting my own practice, some of our best design experiences and projects have come through relationships that generated design opportunities beyond our prior works.   With most of my prior professional experience in the planning and architectural design of larger scale commercial and corporate projects in the private sector, my team’s adventures with new project types have included the successful and recognized designs for the projects such as the following:
·       Geffen Playhouse:  Our project scope included the master planning, architectural and interior design for the adaptive reuse, renovation and historic restoration of a historical building into a “state of the art” live theater complex.  Having not designed a theater previously, the challenge was tremendous and resulting success of the project even more gratifying.  The Geffen Playhouse has since been recognized with multiple design and preservation awards and featured in the book, American Spaces by Image Publishing Group in 2007.
·       Pacific BMW:  Our project scope included the architectural and interior design of a full service multi-story auto dealership and service center in an urban setting.  Although I had prior experience in the design of an auto maker’s corporate headquarters, I had not designed an auto dealership before and like many had some preconceptions about the extent of architecture relevant to a dealership.  With the ongoing increase in land values, for dealerships to expand in their current market, the options don’t always allow for acquiring more land with open auto display parking lots.  To work with the available site area, the successful design of Pacific BMW took on a more urban form and scale, which has since afforded the client a consistent increase in its business.  The project has also been featured in the book, 1000X Architecture of the Americas by Braun in 2008.
·       Montecito Residence:  In our first large custom residence, our project scope included the architectural and interior design of the private residence for a client who had raised their family on a Phillip Johnson house in New Canaan, CT.  By working with the clients and observing the site context, the design has proven extremely successful. The house has been featured in the following books:  West Coast Rooms by Rockport Publishing in 2000 ; Pacific Houses by Loft Publications in 2004 and Another 100 of the World’s Best Houses by Images Publishing Group in 2006.  Subsequently, we have been fortunate to design custom homes in such varied contexts as old Santa Barbara, the Sierra Mountains in Plumas County, CA and rural Weston, VT.
We did not come to design these projects, mentioned above, based on our past experience of designing multiple similar projects, but through relationships and the skill sets to understand the challenges of the projects and to conceive and execute successful designs.  The concept of stretching beyond our past experience is natural to continuing creative growth.

Ron Frink, prior to starting his own practice in 1994 worked with such prestigious firms as Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), William L Pereira Associates and AC Martin Associates.
Ronald Frink Architects has had projects published in various publications, including: 200 Houses, Architecture & Design: Los Angeles, American Spaces: An Overview of What’s New, Spaces-Interiors of the USA & Canada, and Another 100 of the World’s Best Houses. The firm is also the recipient of awards, including: LEED Certification (Lakeshore Plaza), Award of Excellence (Southern California Development Forum), Award of Excellence (California Council of the Society of American Register Architects), Preservation Award (Los Angeles Business Council and Los Angeles Conservancy) and Grand Prize (Southern California Development Forum).
For more information:
Ronald Frink Architects website
Please see our earlier postings for Ronald Frink Architects:
Designing a Theater, October 6, 2010
Brief Encounters, July 12, 2010
Designing a Theater - An Architectural Journey, November 11, 2010 

Santa Barbara Remodel, February 16, 2010
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