Archive for the 'Fantastic Finds' Category

A visit to Heath

I have the good fortune to live across the bay from Heath Ceramics. Heath makes tiles and dishes in a fantastic mid-century style in their factory in Sausalito, California.

A few years ago I helped my parents re-tile their kitchen counters and bathroom floor (I’ve written about the process before) and we used a large selection of tiles from Heath. My Mom decided that she wants to tile her shower too, so we went back to Heath to pick out more material for the project. While we were there I had a great time drooling over the dishes, mugs, teapots and especially the brightly colored serving bowls.

Another treat greeted us at the factory store, SkinnylaMinx! I knew that Heather had done some work for Heath before, but I didn’t realize that they stocked a full array of her tea towels and napkins! I’ve been giving sets of napkins from SkinnylaMinx as wedding presents the last few years. I love her sense of design and I see why it works so well with Heath.

We ended up buying mostly subway tiles in off white and gray for the shower, but we did get a few of the signature Heath oval tiles to add to the mix. I think we will use them as a long skinny row around the shower, but I’m not totally decided yet. Occasionally I’ll spot Heath tiles like these ovals around town – they are so recognizable and distinctive.

One of the wonderful things about the factory store is that it is part of the actual factory. To get to the tile room you actually have to wind your way through the factory floor! Seeing the factory really gives you a sense of how small scale an operation Heath still is and how special the pieces they make are.

What I appreciate most about Heath is the functionality of their products. They make beautiful dishes which are meant to be used everyday. Owning something beautiful that you get to enjoy all the time makes so much more sense to me than owning dishes which only get used a few times a year. That being said, though I am officially an adult I’m not in a place in life where I feel like I can buy a set of dishes from Heath. I aspire to it someday, but I’m just not there yet. Maybe when I have an actual income? At least my lack of current ownership can’t stop me from dreaming about the shapes and colors!

City Museum

A few weeks ago I went to a wedding in St. Louis MO. I had never been there before and I didn’t know anything about the city other than the fact that it was on the Mississippi River and has a big arch. I was pleasantly surprised about quite a few aspects of the city (public transportation, re-purposed industrial spaces, pedestrian oriented streetcar communities still in tact) but I was in complete awe of the City Museum.

The ethic of the place was all about exploration and it appeared to be built completely from recycled and salvaged materials. It was a place that I am pre-disposed to adore – in fact, I’m actually fairly shocked that I had never heard of it before!

From their website:

Reaching no farther than municipal borders for its reclaimed building materials, CITY MUSEUM boasts features such as old chimneys, salvaged bridges, construction cranes, miles of tile, and even two abandoned planes!

We went to the museum on the recommendation of some other visitors from the wedding. There were 5 adults, but from the smiles on our faces and eagerness to acquire rug-burns you might have mistaken us for 10 year olds. The place is one giant maze/jungle gym. It was a little bit like a 10 story tactile dome taken to the extreme. On Fridays it is open until 1am! The place was decidedly not an amusement park, nor was it a traditional museum in any way. Participation was encouraged (or required?). We even heard a museum employee telling all of the parents sitting around the outdoor structure that they needed to show the kids how it was done – i.e. get up and play!

The place had no maps (although I did find one on their website) and not much in the way of directional signage. This required visitors to find their own way and keep exploring to discover what other fantastic-ness awaited them. Several times I overheard kids discussing how to get back to some part of the maze that had a feature they really liked (a slide, or ladder perhaps). Problem solving and creative thinking were require everywhere. Everywhere I looked there were structures made from everyday objects. The top floor even had a vintage clothing store including vintage clothing printed with the museum logo.

We didn’t have adequate time to explore the place (and I didn’t have nearly enough time to take pictures because I was more excited about running around) but there were two main features that were big winners with our group.

The outdoor area, called the MonstroCity, featured airplane fuselages, construction cranes, a fire engine, a giant ball pit, and large metal mesh tubes suspended several stories in the air (you can see one coming off of the plane’s wing). Everything was meant for climbing on or through. I saw people problem solving to navigate their way, overcoming their fear of heights and mostly grinning from ear to ear.

The biggest single attraction was the 10 story spiral slide made from shoots welded from sheet metal. It looked like the shoots were part of the original shoe factory (in which the museum was built) that were connected together to make one long, very twisty, slide.

The slide is the spiral all the way on the left. There were no elevators to the top, you had to walk up a spiral staircase (into increasingly hot air) all the way to the top floor to earn your ride down. While sliding down it I kept thinking the ride would end but 10 stories in circles is a long way to go! The bottom of the slide dumps you out in a series of caves which were dark, eerie, and refreshingly cool.

If you ever happen to be in St. Louis you MUST visit the City Museum. The scope and scale of this place was inspiring and exploring within the museum brought back feelings of wonder and excitement from childhood that little else can replicate. My adult side was amazed by the structures made from re-purposed materials and inspired to build large scale sculpture. My child side just wanted to play like crazy and skin as many joints as possible.


N’s grandmother’s kitchen wallpaper. One word: fantastic.

N’s brother got married last weekend. The weather could not have been more perfect.

I couldn’t get enough of uniform + bubbles.

I’ve been sewing in all of the spare seconds I can find. I’m trying to get ready for Color Fiber Festival and the SF Bazaar Bizarre. Color happens tomorrow (!) so if you are in the Berkeley area and want to check out some local fiber artists and socialize with fellow fiber enthusiasts you should stop by the Pacific School of Religion. The hours are 10am to 5pm – see you there?


First there was one

then there were twins

and now a whole family!

Ive been keeping a bit of a secret from you… In November after a tip-off from Karrie I went to the East Bay Depot and adopted a twin of my singer 301 sewing machine. The new 301 looks pretty, has a nice box and all of its attachments, but it also looks as if someone poured motor oil everywhere inside and then let it sit for 30 years. It was completely seized when I took it home but after some elbow grease and a good dose of advising from my dad the gears are all turning. With enough time spraying solvent into it I think I can get it running again.

Fast forward to January 2008 and an unanticipated craigslist find. Ive been looking on craigslist for the table which goes with the singer 301. I’ve seen them on there before and I’m not in a hurry so I figure that if I look long enough I’ll find one. My RSS feed picks up a lot of other sewing machines though and yesterday I saw a little featherweight listed for $100 (they usually go for $200-$400). I couldn’t resist and drove down to Mountain View to pick it up last night.

Its not in perfect condition – it looks well used – and thats the way I like it. I dont want a machine that cant be used! It runs and all the parts and attachments are there – even the original manual!

Look how tiny it is!

Just about everyone I talked to said I was crazy. 3 sewing machines in a studio apartment?

Well there is another bit of news I have yet to share…. We are moving. Our new place is still in Berkeley about 2.5 miles south of where we are now. It will have walls. More on that later…

the EC

Or, more accurately, the ECCWGS (El Cerrito City Wide Garage Sale). I love the idea of a whole town organizing garage sales on the same day. It makes any particular junk-finding probability so much higher! This year’s find? A crock pot. A fantastic shade of red-orange and free to boot!

the instructions were with in in the box — dated 12/29/1973. There are some “exciting” recipes in the booklet made even more fantastic by the by-lines for the titles and the super cute little illustrated vegetables and meats. They are quite similar to the box of recipe cards we found last year but without the heart stopping photos.

The cat had to check it out also. He even had his head stuck down inside but I was too slow with the camera, so all you get is the feet.

new family members

meet my new plants, they eat bugs!

Words cant do this justice

Except maybe moo-oo-oo-oooo.

The best thing Ive heard in quite a while

You need to hear it to believe it

pork chop!

I bought this stuffed pork chop from Sweet Meats at the craft mafia trunk show in SF this last weekend. It even came all wrapped in butcher paper with a deli sticker. So cute! I think apollo likes it too…

this weekend really did have too much shopping involved. I may or may not have the energy to talk about it (yes it really was that exhausting) except to say it involved BOTH the Mountain Hardware wharehouse AND the Patagonia outlet and that some items were cheap enough that I had to buy them and Ive already started pawning jackets off on other people… (I have two more – anyone my size?)


Nick discovered this recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (p 306). It feeds 12-16 people! Below is a description of how the dish is to be served.

The host starts the proceeding as usual by spearing out the beef and lacing it on a platter. Then he finds a sausage, and after that a big piece of pork. Finally, to wild acclaim he brings out a chicken.

It’s t-3 days until judgments day….


DSCN2075.JPG, originally uploaded by abmatic.

This is a “hollywood yarn reel” in action that I bought at an estate sale. It makes a pretty good swift so long as your skein lenght is pretty standard and i love how simple it is. the four arms are just dowels that stick into the center cog and have a few holes for the posts at the end for different skein lengths. the cog in the middle is held in place by another dowel that sticks into the base. The whole thing comes apart and fits in a small little box. Its not as versitle as those fancy pants expanding swifts I see at the store and it cant accomodate all skeins but it only cost $3!